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NOW it came to pass one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man that bore his armour: Come, and let us go over to the garrison of the Philistines, which is on the other side of yonder place. But he told not this to his father.

Ver. 1.  Day, while it was yet dark.  Josephus.

 

--- This action would seem rash, and contrary to military discipline, which requires that the general should be apprised of any hazardous enterprise.  C.

 

--- But it is thought that Jonathan was directed by God, who granted him success.  A. Lapide.

 

--- The Rabbins say, "every augury which is not like that of Eleazar and Jonathan, is null.  If they had done ill,...God would not have heard them."  Kimchi.


2 And Saul abode in the uttermost part of Gabaa under the pomegranate tree, which was in Magron: and the people with him were about six hundred men.

Ver. 2.  Magron, a village between Gabaa and Machmas.  Isai. x. 28.  Heb. reads "Remmon," which means "a pomegranate tree," and denotes a famous impregnable rock, with extensive caverns, where an equal number of men had formerly saved themselves.  Judg. xx. 47.  C.  T.  M.




3 And Achias the son of Achitob brother to Ichabod the son of Phinees, the son of Heli the priest of the Lord in Silo, wore the ephod. And the people knew not whither Jonathan was gone.

Ver. 3.  Ephod; or was high priest, v. 18.  Achias is called Achimelech, C. xxii. 9.  C.

 

--- He had succeeded his father, Achitob, in the beginning of Saul's reign, after the former had held the dignity twenty-two years.  Salien, A. 2962.



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4 Now there were between the ascents, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the garrison of the Philistines, rocks standing up on both sides, and steep cliffs like teeth on the one side, and on the other, the name of the one was Boses, and the name of the other was Sene:


5 One rock stood out towards the north over against Machmas, and the other to the south over against Gabaa.


6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bore his armour: Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised, it may be the Lord will do for us, because it is easy for the Lord to save either by many, or by few.

Ver. 6.  Uncircumcised.  The Hebrews looked upon the Gentiles as unclean and they, in their turn, spoke of the Jews  in the most contemptuous manner.  C.

 

--- It may.  Lit. "if perchance."  H.

 

--- This does not express any doubt.  The hero found himself impelled to undertake this work, but he knew not by what means God would crown it with success.  He therefore prays to him in this manner, as Abraham's servant had done.  Gen. xxiv. 12.  He does not tempt God no more than Gedeon and Moses, who begged that the Lord would manifest his will by miracles.  C.

 

--- Few.  These words are often repeated, (2 Par. xiv. 11.  1 Mac. iii. 18,) and were verified.  C. xvii. 47.  Judg. vii. 4.  M.



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7 And his armourbearer said to him: Do all that pleaseth thy mind: go whither thou wilt, and I will be with thee wheresoever thou hast a mind. 8 And Jonathan said: Behold we will go over to these men. And when we shall be seen by them, 9 If they shall speak thus to us: Stay till we come to you: let us stand still in our place, and not go up to them. 10 But if they shall say: Come up to us: let us go up, because the Lord hath delivered them into our hands, this shall be a sign unto us.

Ver. 10.  This shall be a sign.  It is likely Jonathan was instructed by divine inspiration, to make choice of this sign; otherwise, the observation of omens is superstitious and sinful.  Ch.  M.  W.


11 So both of them discovered themselves to the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said: Behold the Hebrews come forth out of the holes wherein they were hid.

Ver. 11.  Philistines, probably on the northern rock, as they afterwards climbed up that on the south, (C.) where they had not been discovered.  Salien.


12 And the men of the garrison spoke to Jonathan, and to his armourbearer, and said: Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said to his armourbearer: Let us go up, follow me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hands of Israel.

Ver. 12.  A thing, making you pay dear for  this temerity.  Herodotus (v.) mentions, that the Peonians were commanded by the oracle not to attack the Perinthians, unless they were challenged.  They did so, and gained a complete victory.



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13 And Jonathan went up creeping on his hands and feet, and his armourbearer after him. And some fell before Jonathan, others his armourbearer slew as he followed him. 14 And the first slaughter which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was of about twenty men, within half an acre of land, which a yoke of oxen is wont to plough in a day.

Ver. 14.  Day.  Varro, &c. allow 120 feet, Columella only 70, for a day's work, so that these twenty men were slain in the space of 60 or 35 feet.  Louis de Dieu rejects all the other versions, and would translate the Heb. "in almost the half of the length of a furrow, and in the breadth which is between two furrows in a field," so that the enemy would be very close together.  Lit. "almost in the half of a furrow of a yoke of the field," which seems rather to be understood of the length, (C.) if indeed it have any meaning.  Prot. are forced to help out the text: "within as it were a half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plough."  H.

 

--- But a whole acre was the usual allowance.  M.

 

--- Hallet observes, "the Sept. read the Heb. in a different manner, and have rendered the verse thus, 'That first slaughter was...of about twenty men, with darts, and stones, and flints of the field:' I suppose the read, Betsim ubomauth."  Kennicott adds, and ubgomri, as the Arabs still use gomer, to denote "a small flint."  Golius.  H.


15 And there was a miracle in the camp, through the fields: yea and all the people of their garrison, who had gone out to plunder, were amazed, and the earth trembled: and it happened as a miracle from God.

Ver. 15.  Miracle.  Heb. charada, "consternation or trembling," a panic fear, as the Philistines imagined that all the army of Israel had got into the camp.  "In the terrors sent by demons, (or superior beings) even the sons of the gods flee away."  Pindar. Nem.  The earth quaked (C.) to increase the enemies' apprehensions, so that those who had gone out to plunder, hearing of the disaster, which report had greatly magnified, and all the people feeling this unusual and alarming motion of the earth, perceiving that God was fighting against them, and trembled.  H.


16 And the watchmen of Saul, who were in Gabaa of Benjamin looked, and behold a multitude overthrown, and fleeing this way and that.

Ver. 16.  Gabaa, where they were stationed to observe the enemies' motions, and to give notice of them to Saul, at Remmon, v. 2.  C.

 

--- Overthrown.  Heb. "melted down, (without courage) and they went crushing" one another is the narrow passes, (H.) and turning their arms against all they met.  Josephus.




17 And Saul said to the people that were with him: Look, and see who is gone from us. And when they had sought, it was found that Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.

Ver. 17.  Were not.  Heb. "when they had numbered, behold Jonathan, &c. not" in the number.  H.


18 And Saul said to Achias: Bring the ark of the Lord. (For the ark of God was there that day with the children of Israel.)

Ver. 18.  Ark.  Sept. "the ephod."  Kimchi, &c.

 

--- Spencer follows the sentiment of the Rabbins, and explains it of a little box, in which the ephod and pectoral were placed, when they were brought to the army.  But what need of this explication?  C.

 

--- How the oracle was given is uncertain.  M.


19 And while Saul spoke to the priest, there arose a great uproar in the camp of the Philistines: and it increased by degrees, and was heard more clearly. And Saul said to the priest: Draw in thy hand.

Ver. 19.  Hand.  He prayed with his hands extended.  Saul believed that God had sufficiently intimated his will, by affording such a favourable opportunity.  "The best of omens is to revenge our country's wrongs."  Hector. Iliad.  M.

 

--- Optimis auspiciis ea geri, quæ pro Reip. salute fierent, was the observation of Q. F. Maximus. Senect.  C.

 

--- Saul did not wait for God's answer, and therefore had nearly lost his son by a rash vow, and by too eager zeal.  W.


20 Then Saul and all the people that were with him, shouted together, and they came to the place of the fight: and behold every man's sword was turned upon his neighbour, and there was a very great slaughter. 21 Moreover the Hebrews that had been with the Philistines yesterday and the day before, and went up with them into the camp, returned to be with the Israelites, who were with Saul and Jonathan.

Ver. 21.  Before; that is, for some time, as slaves.  M.

 

--- Having retired to their camp, to avoid the plunderers, (C.) they rose upon their oppressors, as Christian slaves have often done upon the Turks, when a galley has been engaged, and fallen into the hands of their friends.  M.

 

--- Camp.  Heb. adds, "round about," as if they guarded the baggage, (Piscator) or had retreated thither from the environs.  C.


22 And all the Israelites that had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, hearing that the Philistines fled, joined themselves with their countrymen in the fight. And there were with Saul about ten thousand men.

Ver. 22.  And there, &c.  This is not found in Heb. &c. nor in many Latin copies.  The Sept. specify the number, (v. 24) where it is not in the original.  C.




23 And the Lord saved Israel that day. And the fight went on as far as Bethaven.

Ver. 23.  Bethaven.  They pursued the stragglers thither, as well as to Aialon, v. 31.  H.



Bethaven

Bethaven (Gen 12:8): poss. Kh, Haiyân, also called El-Jîr, E. of Beitîn. — 1 Samuel 13:5, Bethoron should probably be read instead of Bethaven. --- Bethaven and Bethel are the same place; (S. Jerom. C.) though many distinguish them, with Cellarius. The former name means "the house of iniquity," because Jeroboam there set up a golden calf. Bethel was its former appellation, in consequence of the vision of Jacob. Gen. xxviii.

24 And the men of Israel were joined together that day; and Saul adjured the people, saying: Cursed be the man that shall eat food till evening, till I be revenged of my enemies. So none of the people tasted any food:

Ver. 24.  Together.  Which interpretation is more natural (C.) than the Prot. "where distressed,...for Saul had adjured," &c.  H.

 

--- Sept. "And all the people was with Saul, about 10,000, and the war was spread through all the city in Mount Ephraim, and Saul was guilty of great ignorance that day, and he adjures (H. or cursed) the people," &c.  He saw not that he was acting against his own interest.  The sequel does not evince that God approved of his conduct.  But the people were to be taught not to make light of oaths, nor to neglect the curses which their rulers should denounce.  C.

 

--- Food.  Lit. "bread," which comprises all sorts of food, honey, &c. (v. 25.  H.) but not drink, which might lawfully have been taken, as thirst is more difficult to bear.  M.

 

--- Salien (A. 2964) defends the conduct of Saul, and condemns Jonathan.


25 And all the common people came into a forest, in which there was honey upon the ground.

Ver. 25.  Ground.  Even still travellers perceived the smell of honey very frequently in that country.  Maundrell.

 

--- The people use honey almost in every sauce and in every repast.  Virgil assures us, that "bees dwell in holes under ground, in hollow stones, and trees."  Georg. iv.  The Scripture frequently mentions honey flowing.  Ex. ii. 8.  Ps. lxx. 17.  Job xx. 17.

            Mella fluant illi, ferat & rubus asper amomum.  Virg. Ec. iii.

Sanctius says, that in Spain, streams of honey may be seen on the ground; and Maldonet observes, that the countrymen get a livelihood by gathering it from the trees in Betica, or Andalusia.


26 And when the people came into the forest, behold the honey dropped, but no man put his hand to his mouth. For the people feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard when his father adjured the people: and he put forth the end of the rod, which he had in his hand, and dipt it in a honeycomb: and he carried his hand to his mouth, and his eyes were enlightened.

Ver. 27.  Enlightened.  Extreme hunger and fatigue hurt the eyes.  Jer. xiv. 6.  Sanctius saw a man who through fasting lost his sight, and recovered it again as soon as he had eaten.  This is conformable to the observations of Hippocrates, and to nature.  C.

 

--- Tenebræ oboriuntur, genua inedia succedunt.  Perii, prospicio parum.  "Through hunger...I see but little."  Plautus.  H.


28 And one of the people answering, said: Thy father hath bound the people with an oath, saying: Cursed be the man that shall eat any food this day. (And the people were faint.) 29 And Jonathan said: My father hath troubled the land: you have seen yourselves that my eyes are enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey:

Ver. 29.  Land.  Chal. "the people of the land."  M.

 

--- He speaks his sentiments freely.  But we ought not to find fault, in public, with the conduct of the prince.  C.

 

--- The people might have eaten a little without stopping the pursuit, as they generally carried provisions with them, or might find some easily on the road, so as to run with fresh vigour, (See Jos. x.) and make ample amends for the time that they were delayed.  H.


30 How much more if the people had eaten of the prey of their enemies, which they found? had there not been made a greater slaughter among the Philistines? 31 So they smote that day the Philistines from Machmas to Ailon. And the people were wearied exceedingly.

Ver. 31.  Aialon, in the tribe of Dan.  It might be about ten miles from Machmas.




32 And falling upon the spoils, they took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people ate them with the blood.

Ver. 32.  Blood, contrary to a two-fold law.  Gen. ix. 4.  Lev. xvii. 14.  The blood ought to have been carefully extracted and buried.  C.

 

--- This was another bad effect of Saul's rash oath.  W.


33 And they told Saul that the people had sinned against the Lord, eating with the blood. And he said: You have transgressed: roll here to me now a great stone. 34 And Saul said: Disperse yourselves among the people, and tell them to bring me every man his ox and his ram, and slay them upon this stone, and eat, and you shall not sin against the Lord in eating with the blood. So all the people brought every man his ox with him till the night: and slew them there.

Ver. 34.  With the blood, as you have done.  M.


35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord and he then first began to build an altar to the Lord.

Ver. 35.  First.  Saul begins to exercise himself in acts of religion, which only belonged to a prophet, &c.  He thought he might do so in quality of king, thus consecrating a monument of his victory to the God of armies.  It was perhaps the very stone on which the oxen had been just before killed for the people.  C.


36 And Saul said: Let us fall upon the Philistines by night, and destroy them till the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And the people said: Do all that seemeth good in thy eyes. And the priest said: Let us draw near hither unto God.

Ver. 36.  God, to consult him, whether the enterprise met with his approbation.  Saul is too eager to follow his own prudence.  H.

 

--- He would not before wait for God's answer; (v. 19)  now he can get none.  W.


37 And Saul consulted the Lord: Shall I pursue after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hands of Israel? And he answered him not that day. 38 And Saul said: Bring hither all the corners of the people: and know, and see by whom this sin hath happened to day.

Ver. 38.  Corners, to the very last; or all the princes.  Judg. xviii. 9.


39 As the Lord liveth who is the saviour of Israel, if it was done by Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. In this none of the people gainsaid him.

Ver. 39.  Gainsayed him, out of respect.  Saul gives another proof of his precipitation, in swearing; and the people, by this silence, acquiesce, not suspecting that Jonathan could have offended in what he had done.  C.

 

--- One of them, at least, knew that he had transgressed the order of his father, v. 28.  But extreme necessity might plead his excuse.  H.

 

--- They might be silent through fear, or reverence, without giving their consent.  Salien.


40 And he said to all Israel: Be you on one side, and I with Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people answered Saul: Do what seemeth good in thy eyes. 41 And Saul said to the Lord: O Lord God of Israel, give a sign, by which we may know, what the meaning is, that thou answerest not thy servant to day. If this iniquity be in me, or in my son Jonathan, give a proof: or if this iniquity be in thy people, give holiness. And Jonathan and Saul were taken, and the people escaped.

Ver. 41.  A sign, (judicium;) "pass sentence;" declare why, &c.  H.

 

--- Heb. "give purity."  Shew who is innocent.  C.

 

--- Sept. "give the proofs" by the Thummim, which they seem to have read.  C.


42 And Saul said: Cast lots between me, and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.

Ver. 42.  Jonathan was taken.  Though Jonathan was excused from sin, through  ignorance of the prohibition, yet God was pleased on this occasion to let the lot fall upon him, to shew to all, the great obligation of obedience to princes and parents, (Ch.) the sacred nature of an oath, and at the same time to give Saul a warning not to swear rashly.  C.

 

--- How must he have been afflicted, when he saw that he had brought his beloved son into such danger!  M.


43 And Saul said to Jonathan: Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said: I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod, which was in my hand, and behold I must die. 44 And Saul said: May God do so and so to me, and add still more: for dying thou shalt die, O Jonathan.

Ver. 44.  Die.  We may here admire the respect which the ancients had for an oath, without seeking for any modification; and the blindness of Saul, who condemns his son with as much haste as he had pronounced the curse, thinking thus to honour God.  The thing surely required some deliberation, and he ought to have consulted the Lord about it.  The action of Jonathan was not criminal, and the former silence of God did not prove that he deserved death.  C.

 

--- If it had, the people would never have been able to have rescued him, no more than the unhappy Achan.  Jos. vii.  H.

 

--- If Saul had been more enlightened, and more humble, he would have concluded that God was displeased at him, and not at Jonathan.  C.

 

--- Yet Cajetan and Serarius find fault with the latter.  M.


45 And the people said to Saul: Shall Jonathan then die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? This must not be. As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people delivered Jonathan, that he should not die.

Ver. 45.  The people, directed probably by the high priest, who pronounced the oath null.  Salien.

 

--- Ground.  He shall not be hurt.  M.

 

--- With God.  He has been visibly "the minister of God's mercy."  Sept.

 

--- Die.  They obtained his pardon.  They ought not to have permitted the king's oath to be put in execution, as it was so horribly unjust.  Grot. Jur. ii. 13. 6.  C.


46 And Saul went back, and did not pursue after the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own places. 47 And Saul having his kingdom established over Israel, fought against all his enemies round about, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and Edom, and the kings of Soba, and the Philistines; and whithersoever he turned himself, he overcame.

Ver. 47.  Soba, in the north.  M.

 

--- Rohab was the capital of another part of Cœlosyria.  1 Par. xviii. 3.  2 K. x. 6.

 

--- Overcame.  We are not to judge of the virtue of a man from his success in the world.  C.

 

--- Under the reign of Saul, the tribe of Ruben overcame the Agarites.  1 Par. v. 10. 18.  Salien, A. 2965.




48 And gathering together an army, he defeated Amalec, and delivered Israel from the hand of them that spoiled them.

Ver. 48.  Amalec.  The particulars of this war will be given C. xv. as it explains the cause of Saul's rejection, and David's advancement to the throne.  Salien.



Amalec

The people dwelt in tents, and removed from one place to another. So in Ethiopia there are properly no cities, the place where the prince encamps is deemed the capital. C.

49 And the sons of Saul, were Jonathan, and Jessui, and Melchisua: and the names of his two daughters, the name of the firstborn was Merob, and the name of the younger Michol.

Ver. 49.  Sons, who accompanied Saul in his wars.  Isboseth was too young.

 

--- Jessui is called Abinadab, 1 Par. viii. 33.  C.


50 And the name of Saul's wife, was Achinoam the daughter of Achimaas; and the name of the captain of his army was Abner, the son of Ner, the cousin german of Saul.

Ver. 50.  Achinoam.  After he came to the throne, he had Respha.  2 K. iii. 7.  M.


51 For Cis was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner, was son of Abiel.

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52 And there was a great war against the Philistines all the days of Saul. For whomsoever Saul saw to be a valiant man, and fit for war, he took him to himself.
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