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AND it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight: and Israel went out to war against the Philistines, and camped by the Stone of help. And the Philistines came to Aphec,

Ver. 1.  And.  Heb. inserts here the conclusion of the last verse, whence some would infer that Samuel told the Israelites to make war upon the Philistines.  But as it turned out so ill, this would have tended to discredit him; and we find that the  Philistines were the aggressors.

 

--- Days.  this war took place immediately after the threats denounced to Heli; (Sararius) or according to Usher, and the best chronologists, about 27 years after that event.  C.

 

--- The addition of the Sept. seems to insinuate, that the sons of Heli persevered for a long time in their wicked course.  C. iii. 20.  H.

 

--- Josephus says that Phinees was his father's coadjutor.

 

--- Salien observes that this must be considered as a fresh blot in the character of the latter, since he ought to have delivered the delinquents up to execution.  Deut. xxi. 21.  Tirin, on the contrary, adduces the power of his sons, and the debilitated state of Heli, to excuse his neglect.  H.

 

--- Help.  In Heb. Eben-ezer; so called, from the help which the Lord was pleased afterwards to give to his people, Israel, in that place, by the prayers of Samuel, C. vii. 12. (Ch.) about 21 years afterwards.

 

--- Aphec, in the tribe of Juda, not far from Maspha.



Aphec

Aphec 1- (Josh 12:18; N.W. Juda): poss. Merj-Fikieh (Conder). 2- (Josh 19:30, etc.; Aser). 3- (1Sam 4:1; Benjamin): perhaps Qastûl. 4- (1 Sam 29:1; Issachar): El-'Afûleh, N.W. of Zerâ 'în. 5- (1Ki 20:26, etc.) Assyr.: Apqu: prob. Fîq, E. of the Lake of Tiberias. --- Aphec. A place of this name was in the tribe of Aser, another in that of Juda. --- Aphec, beyond Antilibanus, from which city the Israelites could not drive the Chanaanites. Judg. i. 31. Here the kings of Syria assembled their forces to attack the people of God, 1 K. xx. 26. Profane authors speak of the temple of Venus Aphachitis, who appeared in the eyes of the superstitious to shed tears. The city lay between Biblus and Heliopolis. Zozimus, i. 58. Euseb. (laud. Const.) Macrobius i. 21. --- Aphec, belonging to the tribe of Aser, though it does not appear that they ever obtained possession of it. Jos. xix. 30. A subterraneous fire and earthquake have caused the city to sink; and a lake, nine miles in circumference, now occupies its place. The ruins may still be discerned in its waters. It is about two hours walk from the plains of Balbec, (Paul Lucas. Levant i. 20.) at the foot of Libanus. The waters must be very thick and bituminous, if what is related by the ancients be true; namely, that the presents, offered to the Aphacite goddess, were tried by them, and deemed agreeable to her, if they sunk; as wool would do, while tiles, and often metals, would swim. C. --- Adrichomius places this Aphec on the great plain of Esdrelon, not far from Jezrahel. M

2 And put their army in array against Israel. And when they had joined battle, Israel turned their backs to the Philistines, and there was slain in that fight here and there in the fields about four thousand men.

Ver. 2.  Here, &c.  Heb. "in the field" of battle.  C.

 

--- Sept. "in the ranks, in the field."  H.



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3 And the people returned to the camp: and the ancients of Israel said: Why hath the Lord defeated us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch unto us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Silo, and let it come in the midst of us, that it may save us from the hand of our enemies.

Ver. 3.  Ancients; the commanders of the respective tribes. Heli was not able to lead on the people to battle, on account of his blindness and great age.

 

--- Enemies.  All nations attribute much to the exterior marks of religion.  The Israelites had witnessed the victories which had been obtained while the ark was present.  Jos. vi. 4.  See Num. xiv. 45.  But they ought to have considered, that their infidelity rendered them unworthy of the divine protection; and that God was more displeased at their profanations, than at the indignity to which the sacred vessels would be exposed.  He would know how to vindicate his own honour and glory.  The symbols of religion were thus carried in the army, by the Persians, &c.   Herod. vii.

 

--- The Romans regarded their standards as so many deities.  Halicar. vi.  See 2 K. vi. 21.  2 Par. xiii. 8.  C.

 

--- The confidence which the Israelites placed in the ark was commendable, but their sins deserved to be punished.  W.  Num. x. 35.




4 So the people sent to Silo, and they brought from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts sitting upon the cherubims: and the two sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees, were with the ark of the covenant of God.

Ver. 4.  Ark.  On this extraordinary emergency they thought it lawful.  Abulensis, q. 6.

 

--- They easily obtained the consent of Heli; and his sons went to take it down, and to attend it to the army, as he was incapable of doing duty.  We know not what ceremonies were used, nor whether the brothers acted as high priests alternately.  C.

 

--- Cherubim.  The Scripture often represents God in this manner.  Ex. xxv. 22.  Ps. xvii. 10.  Ezec. x. 1.  The commonality of the Jews attributed bodies to the angels, but to denote that they were not like those with which we are acquainted, they called them cherubim, or complex and unusual figures.  C.



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5 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord was come into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, and the earth rang again. 6 And the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, and they said: What is this noise of a great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid, saying: God is come into the camp. And sighing, they said:

Ver. 7.  God: "Elohim."  Sept. "these gods."  They speak of the true God according to their false ideas.  C.

 

--- Sighing.  Sept. "deliver us, O Lord, this day."


8 Woe to us: for there was no such great joy yesterday and the day before: Woe to us. Who shall deliver us from the hand of these high gods? these are the gods that struck Egypt with all the plagues in the desert.

Ver. 8.  Joy.  A few days ago the Hebrews were dismayed, now they shout for joy, as they did at the taking of Jericho.  Heb. and Sept. "it was not so heretofore."  H.

 

--- Gods.  Heb. may be rendered in the singular, with the Chal. and Arab.  But the Sept. and most commentators, explain it in the sense of the Vulg.  The title of high, (adirim) or magnificent, was given by the Philistines to Dagon, whom they styled Atergatis.  C.

 

--- Sept. sterewn, means, "stable, perfect," &c.  H.

 

--- Plagues, till they were overwhelmed in the Red Sea, which is surrounded with deserts.  Some supply, "and (his people) in the desert."  Sept. Syr. &c.  C.




9 Take courage and behave like men, ye Philistines: lest you come to be servants to the Hebrews, as they have served you: take courage and fight.

Ver. 9.  Fight.  To serve those whom they had lately oppressed, would be doubly afflicting.  Salien.

 

--- If these people had seriously attended to the instructions, which they might have derived from the fall of others, they would surely never have exposed themselves to fight against the high God.  But they looked upon him in no other light than their own contemptible idols.  Homer often represents them as wounded, and conquered by  mortal men.


10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was overthrown, and every man fled to his own dwelling: and there was an exceeding great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.

Ver. 10.  Footmen.  They had no cavalry, (C.) as God seemed to discourage any.  H.

 

--- Even after Solomon's time, they had not many horsemen.  C.

 

--- The Israelites had before lost 4,000: now when they were full of confidence, and fought with valour, they behold 30,000 fall.  The ark proved thus fatal to them.  H.



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11 And the ark of God was taken: and the two sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees, were slain.

Ver. 11.  Slain.  Abulensis (q. 17,) thinks they were fighting in defence of the ark, when they might have saved themselves by flight; so that he does not despair of their salvation.  God permitted them to lose their lives in the exercise of a holy ministry, which they had so scandalously profaned.  C.




12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Silo the same day, with his clothes rent, and his head strewed with dust.

Ver. 12.  Man.  The Jews say that Saul carried these melancholy tidings, and that Goliah slew the sons of Heli.  H.




13 And when he was come, Heli sat upon a stool over against the way watching. For his heart was fearful for the ark of God. And when the man was come into the city, he told it: and all the city cried out.

Ver. 13.  Stool.  Heb. cisse; "a throne or tribunal," where Heli sat to decide any controversies, and where he had blessed the mother of Samuel.  C.

 

--- God.  He had great reason to fear that this was the day when his sons would perish, and he apprehended that the ark would be in danger.  H.


14 And Heli heard the noise of the cry, and he said: What meaneth the noise of this uproar? But he made haste, and came, and told Heli. 15 Now Heli was ninety and eight years old, and his eyes were dim, and he could not see. 16 And he said to Heli: I am he that came from the battle, and have fled out of the field this day. And he said to him: What is there done, my son? 17 And he that brought the news answered, and said: Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter of the people: moreover thy two sons, Ophni and Phinees, are dead: and the ark of God is taken.

Ver. 17.  Taken.  Every sentence expresses something more distressing to the aged judge and father; the flight and slaughter of his people, the ruin of his children, and the loss of the ark, which must have filled all Israel with a mortal gloom and terror, lest God should have abandoned them.  So many dismal circumstances oppressing the heart of Heli, he fainted away, and falling backwards, expired.  H.

 

--- The Scripture takes notice of his great age, that we might not think that he killed himself in despair.  Salien.



Death Of Heli

Death Of Heli

And he that brought the news answered, and said: Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter of the people: moreover thy two sons, Ophni and Phinees, are dead: and the ark of God is taken.



18 And when he had named the ark of God, he fell from his stool backwards by the door, and broke his neck, and died. For he was an old man, and far advanced in years: and he judged Israel forty years.

Ver. 18.  Named the ark, &c.  There is great reason, by all these circumstances, to hope that Heli died in the state of grace; and by his temporal punishments, escaped the eternal.  Ch.

 

--- But many of the Fathers condemn him, and the Scripture says nothing of his conversion, or of that of his children, so that the matter is doubtful.  C.

 

--- Years.  Heb. "and heavy."

 

--- Forty.  Sept. "twenty," in which they are followed by many Fathers.  Euseb.  Sulpit. &c.

 

--- Some reconcile the two texts by saying, that Heli and Samson judged together for twenty years.  But the Sept. is probably corrupted, as the other versions agree with the original.  C.


19 And his daughter in law the wife of Phinees, was big with child, and near her time: and hearing the news that the ark of God was taken, and her father in law, and her husband, were dead, she bowed herself and fell in labour: for her pains came upon her on a sudden.

Ver. 19.  Sudden, through extreme affliction.  M.

 

--- Josephus says the child was only in his seventh month, but alive.  Abulensis thinks he did not long survive his mother.


20 And when she was upon the point of death, they that stood about her said to her: Fear not, for thou hast borne a son. She answered them not, nor gave heed to them. 21 And she called the child Ichabod, saying: The glory is gone from Israel, because the ark of God was taken, and for her father in law, and her husband:

Ver. 21.  Ichabod.  That is, Where is the glory? or, there is no glory.  We see how much the Israelites lamented the loss of the ark, which was but the symbol of God's presence amongst them.  How much more ought Christians lament the loss of God himself, when by sin they have drove him out of their souls?  Ch.

 

--- The ark is often called the glory of Israel.  Isai. lxiv. 21.  Ps. xxv. 8.  Ichabod might remind the people that the greatest loss had been sustained by them, as well as by his family.  His mother had both in view the ark, Heli, and Phinees, her husband, (H.) when she exclaimed, ichabod, "Woe! or, Alas! the glory."  Mendoza.

 

--- The Scripture does not mention Ophni's posterity.  But besides this posthumous son, Phinees had one elder, who now succeeded Heli in the pontificate, (C. xiv. 3.  Josephus.  Salien, A. 2940, A.C. 1113,) while Samuel took possession of the civil administration, and almost totally eclipsed the glory of Achitob.  Many of the Fathers have even looked upon him as the high priest.  But he was only a Levite, though, by dispensation, he acted sometimes as an extraordinary priest.  S. Jerom c. Jov. i. and in 1 Cor.  He reduced the people to a sense of their duty, and taught them to trust in the true God alone, and they would be protected, though deprived of the ark.  This was also presently restored to them.  H.



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22 And she said: The glory is departed from Israel, because the ark of God was taken.
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