Page images
PDF
EPUB

4 And Saul gathered the people together, the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred anointed thee king over Israel ? thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of 18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, Judah.

and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners 5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and the Amalekites, and fight against them until 6 "And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, 1913 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the depart, get you down from among the Ama- voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the lekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, 20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I when they came up out of Egypt. So the have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have Kenites departed from among the Amale- gone the way which the LORD sent me, and kites.

have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and 7 | And Saul smote the Amalekites from have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep over against Egypt.

and oxen, the chief of the things which should 8 And he took Agag the king of the have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the LORD thy God in Gilgal. the people with the edge of the sword.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, and ‘of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken that was good, and would not utterly destroy than the fat of rams. them : but every thing that was vile and 23 For rebellion is as the sin of 'witchcraft, refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. 10 | Then came the word of the LORD Because thou hast rejected the word of the unto Samuel, saying,

LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being 11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul king. to be king: for he is turned back from follow- 24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have ing me, and hath not performed my command- sinned : for I have transgressed the comments. And it grieved Samuel; and he mandment of the LORD, and thy words: becried unto the Lord all night.

cause I feared the people, and obeyed their 12 9 And when Samuel rose early to meet voice. Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, 25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he sin, and turn again with me, that I may worset him up a place, and is gone about, and ship the Lord. passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not 13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul return with thee: for thou hast rejected the said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected I bave performed the commandment of the thee from being king over Israel. LORD.

27 And as Samuel turned about to go 14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and mantle, and it rent. the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD 15 And Saul said, They have brought hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee them from the Amalekites: for the people this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, thine, that is better than thou. to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the 29 And also the 'Strength of Israel will rest we have utterly destroyed.

not lie nor repent : for he is not a man, that 16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, he should repent. and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said 30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet to me this night. And he said unto him, honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders Say on.

of my people, and before Israel, and turn 17 And Samuel said, When thou wast again with me, that I may worship the LORD little in thine own sight, wast thou not made thy God.

1

3 Or, fought.

4 Or, of the second sort.

7 Heb, divination.

5 Feb, they consume.

6 Ecclus. 5. 1. Hos. 6. 6. Matth. 9. 13, and 12, 7. 8 Or, eternity, or, victory.

31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in and Saul worshipped the Lord.

Gilgal. 32 4 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither 34 | Then Samuel went to Ramah; and to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. And Agag came unto him delicately. And 35 And Samuel came no more to see Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is Saul until the day of his death : nevertheless past.

Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD 33 And Samuel said, 'As thy sword hath repented that he had made Saul king over made women childless, so shall thy mother Israel. be childless among women.

And Samuel

9 Exod. 17. 11. Num. 14. 45.

Verse 2. · Amalek.' - This is the name of a grandson of Esau, from whom the Amalekites are supposed to have descended. This supposition is entirely founded on the fact that Esau's grandson was so named; for there is nothing in Scripture which points to, or even hints at, this commonly assigned origin of these bitter enemies of the Hebrew nation. Indeed, there are some rather strong considerations which seem to bear against it. These are : that Moses, in Gen. xiv., relates that in the time of Abraham, long before Amalek was born, Chedorlaomer and his confederates.smote all the country of the Amalekites' about Kadesh : and that Balaam calls Amalek. the first of the nations,' which, if understood of priority, could be by no means correct of a nation descended from the grandson of Esau. To these considerations, however, it may be answered, that Moses speaks, in the first instance, proleptically, of the country which the Amalekites afterwards occupied; and that, in the other, ' first' does not refer to priority of time, but to rank. But besides this, it is to be observed that Moses never reproaches the Amalekites with attacking the Israelites, their brethren ; though it is not likely that he would have omitted to notice this aggrava. tion of their offence, if it had existed. In the Pentateuch there is continual reference to the fraternal relation of the Hebrews and Edomites. But no term implying consanguinity is ever applied to the Amalekites; and instead of their name being connected with that of the Edomites, they seem always associated in name and action with the Canaanites and Philistines. It is also difficult to understand how the Amalekites could become so powerful a people as they were when the Israelites left Egypt, if their origin ascended no higher than the grandson of Esau. On these grounds Calmet concludes that they were descended from Canaan, and were, in fact, among the devoted nations -that devotement being the more strongly marked in their instance, on account of their early and persevering enmity to the Hebrews. This view does not materially differ from that of the Arabians, who make Amalek to be a son or descendant of Ham, who, according to them, became the founder of one of the original pure Arabian tribes, but which afterwards became mixed, by blending with the posterity of Joktan and Adnan. This Amalek had a famous son called Ad, who reigned in the south-east of Arabia (Hadramaut) in the time of Heber, the ancestor of Abraham, and whose age is the remote point of Arabian chronology and fable, so that, as old as king Ad' is a proverbial expression of extreme and obscure antiquity: This Adite branch of Amalekites, after having sustained a fearful destruction from the anger of Heaven at its impiety, was so weakened that the kings of Yemen were able to prevail over it, and, after great losses, obliged it to withdraw and disperse. These, and other Amalekite families, then spread in Arabia Petræa, in the peninsula of Sinai, and in the southern parts of Palestine. The Arabs believe these to have been the enemies of the Israelites, and entertain an opinion that some of them, being defeated by Joshua, went into Northern Africa and settled there. The tribes of Amalek and Ad they number with those that have, from very remote ages, been completely lost, unless

so far as they may have been incorporated with other tribes. There is nothing in this account adverse to the Scriptural intimations. Indeed, it would be easy to shew that the Amalekites, whether accounted as Arabians or not, were a people who, although they had some towns and hamlets, were of essentially Bedouin habits. In fact, we may, perhaps, best estimate the position they bore with respect to the Israelites, by regarding them as an unsettled, predatory people, who, from their situation on the immediate borders of the Hebrews, exhibited and experienced the full effect of that opposition of social principle which never fails to operate in similar circumstances. In the same countries, at this day, a settled or settling people, on the one hand, and the wild, aggressive, plundering Bedouins, on the other, exhibit the same feelings towards each other which the Hebrews and Amalekites respectively entertained. Independently of the first deep cause of offence, and the high command under which the Hebrews acted, there was an obvious social necessity that such dangerous neighbours as the Amalekites should be extirpated or driven from the frontiers. The transaction of this chapter was a fatal blow to the Amalekites. We indeed find that they still subsisted as a people, for David undertook an expedition against them while he was living in the country of the Philistines (chap. xxvii. 8; 2 Sam. i. 1). After that they cease to be historically noticed ; but in the book of Esther we find Haman, an individual of that nation, high in the favour of the Persian king. See further on this subject in-Iperen, Hist. Crit. Edumæorum et Amalekitarum, 17688 Calmet, art. · AMALEK;' D'Her. belot, Bibliothèque Orientale, arts. ' AD,' 'AMLAK;' and Michaelis's Commentaries, art. xxii.

4. * Telaim. —This is supposed to be the same as Telem, mentioned in Josh. xv. 24, among the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah towards the coast of Edom southward.'

-Two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.'— This is a very small proportion for so important and populous a tribe as that of Judah to supply: and the deficiency in its contributious is probably recorded on this as on a former occasion, in order to intimate that, since the sceptre had been of old promised to this tribe, it was not generally content to see a Benjamite upon the throne, and was less hearty than the other tribes in its obedience.

7. Havilah:—This certainly was not the district mentioned in the description of the garden of Eden as "the land of Havilah.' Some indeed suppose it so: and be lieving, with us, that the Havilah near Eden was about the head of the Persian Gulf, they think that Saul traversed all! the wide distance between, in pursuit of the Amalekites. This is absolutely incredible, and is contrary to the text, which makes the pursuit be towards Egypt, whereas this would be exactly away from Egypt. The text evidently places this Havilah near the south of Judah. There are : two explanations: one is, that the whole breadth of country forming the north of Arabia, from the Persian Gulf to the south frontiers of Palestine, was called Havilah, and that the statement in Gen, ii. refers to the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

eastern part of this land, and the present account to the probably the design of Saul's monument. It is difficult to Festern; or else, that there was more than one Havilah, say what it was. Perhaps it was a pillar or obelisk : and this is exceedingly probable, when we recollect that Jerome makes it a triumphal arch; and he says it was the name is taken from Havilah the son of Cush, and who usual to make an arch of myrtle, palm, and olive branches may, like his father, have left his name to different regions on such occasions. The trophies, however, with which in which his descendants successively settled. Josephus ancient authors make us best acquainted, were originally very properly describes the Amalekites of this history as a heap of the arms and spoils taken from the enemy. Such occupying the country between Pelusium in Egypt and the spoils were in later times hung in an orderly manner upon Red Sea.

a column or decayed tree; and, in the end, representations 9. Saul and the people spared Agag.'—Josephus says of such trophies, in brass or marble, were substituted. that they were won upon to spare him by the beauty and They were consecrated to some divinity, with a suitable tallness of his person. It is remarkable, by the by, that inscription; and the sanctity with which they were inthe Arabians make the Amalekites to have been giants ; vested prevented people from disturbing or throwing them and they believe that Goliath himself was an Amalekite. down; but when they fell down, or were destroyed by

12. Carmel.' - This must not be confounded with accident or time, they were never restored, under the imMount Carmel. It is mentioned in Josh. xv. 55, among pression that ancient enmities ought not to be perpetuated. the southern cities of Judah, and its name occurs between In the eleventh book of the Æneid Virgil has fully dethose of Maon and Ziph. Nabal, who resided at Maon, scribed the process of forming the most usual trophy, that had his possessions in Carmel (1 Sam. xxv. 2). The place of arms fixed on a denuded or decayed tree. is probably the same as the “Carmelia,' which Jerome de- The word 7 yad, applied to this monument and to scribes as being in his time a village, ten miles east of

Absalom's pillar, literally means a hand, and is so transHebron, where there was then a Roman garrison.

lated in the Septuagint; whence it has been supposed by - He set him up a place.'— This undoubtedly means that he set up a trophy or monument of his victory over

some that the trophy in question was surmounted by the

figure of a hand, which is, in Scripture, the general emthe Amalekites. This we learn from 2 Sam. xviii. 18, where we read that Absalom set up a pillar and called it

blem of strength and power. In the note to Num. ii. 2,

we have mentioned instances of standards surmounted by the monument (7), the same word here rendered .place') the figure of a hand : and the cut of Roman standards exof Absalom. It was usual in ancient times to erect some hibits two of this description. To which we may add monument or other, in commemoration of a victory, gene- that, in the mosques of Persia, generally, the domes (for rally on the spot where it had been obtained. This was they have seldom minarets like the Turks) are surmounted

by the figure of an outspread hand, in the place where the Turks would put a crescent, and we a cross or a vane.

26. The Lord hath rejected thee from being king.'-It would be wrong to consider Saul's transgression in the matter of the Amalekites as the sole act or occasion for which this rejection was incurred. It was but one of many acts by which he indicated an utter incapability of apprehending his true position, and in consequence manifested dispositions and conduct utterly at variance with the principles of government which the welfare of the state, and indeed the

very objects of its foundation, made it most essential to maintain. Unless the attempts at absolute independence made by Saul were checked, or visited with some signal mark of the Divine displeasure, the precedents established by the first king were likely to become the rule to future sovereigns. And hence the necessity, now at the beginning, of peculiar strictness, or even of severity, for preventing the establishment of bad rules and precedents for future kings.

29. The Strength of Israel will not lie.'— The original is more emphatic—He who gives victory to Israel; an expression probably designed to convey a further rebuke to the perverse king for the triumphal monument which he had set up in Carmel, and whereby he had secured to himself that honour for the recent victory which, under the principles of the theocracy, was due to God alone. 32, .

Agag came unto him delicately.' — Cheerfully' would be a more intelligible rendering of the original (ninyo maadannoth) than . delicately. It seems that Agag thought he had nothing further to apprehend, now that he had obtained the protection of the king,

33. • Samuel hewed Ayag in pieces.'-It is not clear whether Samuel did this himself or commanded others to do it. The latter is certainly rendered possible by the frequent practice of describing a great personage as doing that which he commanded to be done. But, on the other hand, there is nothing in the act incompatible with Oriental usage, or with the position which Samuel occupied. Samuel was not a priest, but only a Levite; and the Levites seem to have held themselves bound to act for the Lord with their swords when required; as in the instance of the slaughter with which they punished their brethren for their sin in worshipping the golden calf: and, on a later occasion, even a priest-Phinehas, afterwards highpriest,-in the fervour of his zeal, took a javelin and slew

therewith Zimri and Cosbi, as recorded in Num. xxv. It MONUMENTAL TROPHY,

135

[graphic]

is not, and never was, in the East, unusual for persons in of this form of death in Abyssinia; and it is mentioned power to slay offenders with their own hands. In the pre- among the atrocities of Djezzar, the notorious pacha of ceding book, we have seen Gideon himself destroying the Acre, that he caused fifty or sixty officers of his seraglio, two captive kings of Midian; and in illustration of more whom he suspected of fraud, to be hewed in pieces, each modern usage there is an anecdote in Chardin, which illus- by the sword of two janissaries. It was not a Hebrew trates not only this point, but the hewing in pieces, and form of punishment, but appears to have been resorted to also the idea concerning the connecting bond formed by in the present instance in order to inflict on Agag the same the eating of another's salt, to which we have had previous kind of death which he had been accustomed to inflict on occasions to refer. The circumstance occurred in Persia others: for the "as,' with which Samuel's answer comwhen Chardin was there. The king, rising in wrath mences, implies analogy of action, that is, that his against an officer who had attempted to deceive him, drew (Agag's) mother should be made childless, in the same his sabre, fell upon him, and hewed him to pieces, at the manner as he had made women childless. feet of the grand vizier, who was standing; and looking 35. • Samuel mourned for Saul.' - The prophet had fixedly upon him, and the other great lords who stood much personal regard for a man who, with all his faults, had on each side of him, he said, with a tone of indignation, many fine natural qualities which would well have fitted “I have then such ungrateful servants and traitors as him to rule with credit under a merely human monarchy; these to eat my salt. Look on this sword, it shall cut off and who, moreover, was faithful, and even jealous of Je. all these perfidious heads." Hewing in pieces is still hovah as his God, however deficient in obedience to him sometimes resorted to as an arbitrary punishment in dif- as his king. He therefore continued to mourn greatly for ferent eastern countries; but we believe it is nowhere him, and to bewail the doom which it had been his painful sanctioned by law, which indeed seldom directs the mode duty to declare. by which death shall be inflicted. Bruce notices instances

sons.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XVI.

looketh on the Soutward appearance, but the

Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel, sent by God under pretence of a sacrifice,

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made cometh to Beth-lehem. 6 His human judgment is reproved. 13 He anointeth David. 19 Saul sendeth him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neifor David to quiet his evil spirit.

ther hath the LORD chosen this.

9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have re- this. jected him from reigning over Israel ? fill 10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto to Jesse the Beth-lehemite : for I have pro- Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these. vided me a king among his

11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are 2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if here all thy children? And he said, There Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he said, Take an heifer 'with thee, and say, I am keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto come to sacrifice to the Lord.

Jesse, 'Send and fetch him: for we will not 3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I sit 'down till he come hither. will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful thee.

countenance, and goodly to look to. And 4 And Samuel did that which the LORD the LORD said, Arise, anoint him : for this spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the is he. elders of the town trembled at his 'coming, 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and and said, Comest thou peaceably?

anointed him in the midst of his brethren : 5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he and went to Ramah. sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them 14 | But the Spirit of the Lord departed to the sacrifice.

from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD 6 | And it came to pass, when they were Stroubled him. come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, 15 And Saul's servants said unto him, BeSurely the LORD's anointed is before him. hold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look thee. not on his countenance, or on the height of 16 Let our lord now command thy servants, his stature; because I have refused him : for which are before thee, to seek out a man, who the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall 2 Heb. mecting.

[ocr errors]

4 1 Chron, 28. ?, Psal. 7.9, Jer. 11. 20, and 17 10, and 20. 12. 7 Ileb. fair of cyes.

8 Os, terrified.

1 Heb. in thine hand,

5 2 Sam. 7.8.

3 lleb, cyes.

Psal. 78. 70.

6 lieb. round,

come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is 20 And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them and thou shalt be well.

by David his son unto Saul. 17 And Saul said unto his servants, Pro- 21 And David came to Saul, and stood bevide me now a man that can play well, and fore him: and he loved him greatly; and he bring him to me.

became his armourbearer. 18 Then answered one of the servants, and 22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the David, I pray thee, stand before me ; for he Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and hath found favour in my sight. prudent in 'matters, and a comely person, and spirit from God was upon Saul, that David the LORD is with him.

took an harp, and played with his hand : so 19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which spirit departed from him. is with the sheep.

9 Or, speech.

a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and 23 And it came to pass, when the evil

Verse 12. He was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.'-Rather, · He was ruddy, with beautiful eyes, and a goodly appearance.?. Calmet, with whom Dr. Hales concurs, makes David to have been fifteen years of age at this time. Josephus, indeed, says that he was but ten; but this is perhaps too young for him to have charge of the sheep; and twenty-five, the age given by Lightfoot, is too old for the context.

14. * An evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.'—The doom of exclusion had been pronounced upon Saul at a time when he was daily strengthening himself on the throne, and increasing in power, popularity, and fame; and when his eldest son, Jonathan, stood, and deserved to stand, so high in the favour of all the people, that no man could, according to human probabilities, look upon any one else as likely to succeed him in the throne. But when the excitement of war and victory had subsided, and the king bad leisure to consider and brood over the solemn and declaredly irrevocable sentence which the prophet had pronounced, a very serious effect was gradually produced upon his mind and character; for he was no longer prospered and directed by God, but left a prey to his own gloomy mind. The consciousness that he had not met the requirements of the high vocation to which, “when he was little in his own sight,' he had been called, together with the threatened loss of his dominion and the possible destruction of his house, made him jealous, sanguinary, and irritable, and occasionally threw him into fits of the most profound and morbid melancholy. This is what, in the language of Scripture, is called the evil spirit that troubled him.' That it was not a case of demoniacal possession, as some have been led by this form of expression to suppose, is obvious from the effects to which we shall presently advert. Nor was it needful; for, as acting upon the character of man, earth contains not a more evil spirit than the guilty or troubled mind, abandoned to its own impulses.

21. 'David came to Saul:—Thus, in the providence of God, an opening was made for David, whereby he might become acquainted with the manners of the court, the business of government, and the affairs and interests of the several tribes, and was put in the way of securing the equally important advantage of becoming extensively known to the people. These were training circumstances for the high destinies which awaited him. Saul himself, ignorant that in him he beheld the man worthier than himself' on whom the inheritance of his throne was to devolve, contributed to these preparations. He received the yoathful minstrel with favour; and, won by his en

gaging dispositions, and by the beauties of his mind aud person, not less than by the melody of his harp, became much attached to him. The personal bravery of David, also, did not long remain unnoticed by the veteran hero, who soon elevated him to the honourable and confidential station of his armour-bearer-having obtained Jesse's consent to allow his son to remain in attendance upon him. His presence was a great solace and relief to Saul: for when. ever he fell into fits of melancholy, David played on his harp before him; and its soft soothing strains soon calmed his troubled spirit, and brought peace to his soul.

23. Saul was refreshed and was well!—That the proposal of employing a skilful musician emanated from the courtiers of Saul, evinces that the Jews were of opinion that music had much power in soothing mental disorders; and from the instance of Elisha's preparing his mind by the notes of a minstrel for the prophetic inspiration (2 Kings iii. 15), we gather the opinion that was entertained of its influence over even sane minds. Every nation bears witness to the power of its ancient music; and if the accounts left to us are to credited, the ruder art of ancient times had some mysterious access to the heart and mind, which the more artistical combinations of modern musical art do not in the same degree possess. It may be, how. ever, that the power of the music lay more in the susceptibilities of the auditors than in the skill of the musicians. Dryden's fine Ode of Alexander's Feast is founded upon the notions of the power of music which the ancients enter: tained, and is scarcely an exaggerated representation of the effects they ascribed to it. They even assigned to it marked effects not only upon the mind, but, by sympathetic influences, upon the body. Thus Aulus Gellius (Noctes Atticæ, ii. 13) says, “It has been credited by many, and has been handed down to memory, that when the pains of sciatica are most severe, they will be assuaged by the soft notes of a flute-player. I have very lately read in a book of Theophrastus, that the melody of the flute, skilfully and deli. cately managed, has power to heal the bites of vipers. The same is related in a book of Democritus, which is entitled, “Of Plagues and Pestilential Disorders :" in this he says that the melody of flutes is a remedy for many human complaints. So great is the sympathy betwixt the bodies and the minds of men, and betwist the maladies and remedies of mind and body.' Even the Chinese writers of every age, according to Grosier, affirm that their ancient music could call down superior spirits from the etherial regions, raise up the manes of departed beings, inspire men with a love of virtue, and lead them to the practice of their duty.

« PreviousContinue »