« PreviousContinue »
besieged and took a certain garrison of the over all the country, that they should try to Philistines, '
not far from *Galgal. For the regain their liberty, and called them to the Philistines of Gibeah had beaten the Jews, and war against the Philistines, diminishing their taken their weapons away: and had put gar- | forces, and despising them, as not so great, risons into the strongest places of the country, but they might hazard a battle with them. and had forbidden them to carry any instru-But when the people about Saul observed ment of iron, or to make use of any iron in how numerous the Philistines were, they were any case whatsoever. And on account of this under great consternation; and some of them prohibition it was that the husbandmen, if they hid themselves in caves, and in dens under had occasion to sharpen any of their tools, ground: but the greater part fled into the whether it were the coulter, the spade, or any land beyond Jordan, which belonged to Gad other instrument of husbandry, they came to and Reubel. the Philistines to do it. Now as soon as the But Saul sent to the prophet, and called Philistines heard of this slaughter of their gar-him to consult with him about the war, and rison, they were in a rage about it: and look- the public affairs. So he commanded him to ing on this contempt as a terrible affront of stay there for him, and to prepare sacrifices; fered them, they made war against the Jews,t for he would come to him within seven days, with three hundred thousand footmen, thirty that they might offer sacrifices on the seventh thousand chariots, and six thousand horses ; day, and might then join battle with their and they pitched their camp at the city enemies. So he waited, as the prophet Michmash. I When Saul, the king of the commanded him to do. Yet did not he obHebrews, was informed of this, he went down serve the command that was given him. But to the city Gilgal, and made proclamation when he saw that the prophet tarried longer
critical notes on the Old and New Testament. If the text quered the country. Le Clerc's Commentary, and Uni-
§ Saul seems to have staid till near the time of the * This was Galgal by Michmash and Bethel, not the evening sacrifice, on the seventh day; which Samuel bad famous Galgal, or Gilgal near Jericho.
appoinled bim; but not till the end of that day, as he + The words in the original, and in our translation of ought to have done; and Samuel appears, by delaying the Bible, are, thirty thousand; but the Syriac and Ara to come till the full time of the evening sacrifice on that bic versions (which we bave thought proper to follow) | day, to have tried him (who seems to have been already make them no more than three thousand : and indeed for some time declining from his strict subordination to whoever considers that Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he God, and his prophet; to have taken life-guards for himhad mustered all his forces together, could bring no more self and his son, which was an entirely new thing in than six hundred of these cbariots into the field, and all | Israel, and savored of a distrust of God's providence; the other princes, whose equipages are related in Scrip- and to have affected more than he ought that independent ture, much fewer, inust needs think it a thing incredible, |authority which the Pagan kings took to themselves :) that the Philistines, out of their small territories, which || Samuel, I say, seems here to have tried Saul, whether he extended no farther than the two tribes of Simeon and would stay till the priest came, who alone could law. Dan, along the coasts of the Mediterranean sea, could fully offer the sacrifices, or would boldly and profanely ever be able to raise so vast an armament: no, nor all usurp the priest's office; wbich he venturing upon, was the nations that they could possibly call in to their assist- || justly rejected for his profaneness. See Constitut. Apost.
For besides that, in ihe account of all armies, the | 11. 27. And, indeed, since Saul had accepted kingly cavalry is always more numerous than the chariots of power, which naturally becomes ungovernable and tywar, (which is different here, the largest armies that we rannical, as God forelold, and the experience of all ages ever read of were able to compass a very few of these has shewn; the divine settlement by Moses bad soon chariots, in comparison of the number here specified. been laid aside under the kings, had not God, by keeping Mithridates, in his vast army, had but a hundred; Darius strictly to his laws, and severely executing the threatenbut two; and Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Mac. xiii. 2) butinys therein contained, restrained Saul and other kings in three. So that we must either say, that the transcribers some degree of obedience to himself.
Nor was even made a mistake in the Hebrew copy, or (with some other this severity sufficient to restrain most of the future kings commentators) suppose that these thirty thousand chariots of Israel and Judah from the grossest idolatry and imwere not chariots of war, but most of them carriages piety. Of the advantage of which strictness, in the obonly, for the conveyance of the baggage belonging to serving divine laws, and inflicting their threatened pesuch a vast multitude of men, or for the deportation of nalties, see Antiq. VI. 12, where Josephus speaks of the plunder they hoped to be master of by having con- that matter. Though it seems at least in three instances,
than he expected, and that he was deserted | thou hadst been a * righteous man, and · badst by the soldiers, he took the sacrifices, and not disobeyed me, nor slighted the commands offered them. At this juncture he heard that which God suggested to me concerning the Samuel was come, and went out to meet him. present state of affairs, and hadst not acted But the prophet said he had not done well in more hastily than the present circumstances disobeying the injunctions he had sent him; required, thou wouldst have been permitted and had not stayed till his coming; which to reign a long time, and thy posterity after being appointed according to the will of God, thee. † So Samuel, being grieved at : what he had prevented him in offering those prayers had happened, returned home. But Saal and sacrifices that he should have made for came to the city Gibeah, with his son Jonathe multitude; and that he therefore had per- than; having only six hundred men with formed divine offices rashly, and in an ill him ; and of these the greater part had.no manner. Hereupon Saul made an apology weapons, because of the scarcity of iron in for himself, and said, that he had waited as that country, as well as of those that could many days as Samuel had appointed ; that make such weapons : for, as we shewed a lithe had been so quick in offering his sacrifice, tle before, the Philistines had not suffered upon account of the necessity he was in, and them to have such iron, or such workmen. I because his soldiers were departing from him, Now § the Philistines divided their army into out of their fear of the enemies' camp at three companies, and took as many roads, and Michmash : the report being gone abroad laid waste the country of the Hebrews: while that they were coming down upon him to Saul and his son Jonathan saw what was Gilgal. Samuel replied, “Nay, certainly, if done, but were not able to defend the land,
enorme that good men did not always immediately approve of of a revolt, took from them the use of arnis, and, instead such divine severity. There seems to be one instance, of a laborious lite spent in war, suffered them to sink into 1 San. vi. 19, 20. Another, 1 Sam. xv. 11. And a third, softness and luxury, so that they soon lost their ancient 2 Sam. vi. 8, 9. Jos. Antiq. VI. 7, though they all at last valor: and (10 instance in one prince more) Nebuchadacquiesced in the divine conduct, as knowing that God is nezzar, when he had made himself master of Judea, took wiser than men.
along with him into Babylon all the craftsmen and smiths, By this answer of Samuel, and that from a divine that the poorest of the people, which be left behind, commission, which is fuller in 1 Sam. xiii. 14, and by might be in no condition to rebel, 2 Kings xxiv. 14. The that parallel note in the Apostolical Constitutions, just only wonder is, why the Israelites, after ihey had regain. quoted, concerning the great wickedness of Saul in ven ed their liberty under the government of Samuel, and turing, even under a seeming necessity of affairs, to usurp given the Philistines so total an overthrow at Ehen-ezer, the priest's office, and offer sacrifice without the priest, did not restore those artificers, and so provide themselves we are in some degree able to answer that question, with proper arms against the next occasion. But, besides which I have ever thought a very difficult one : viz. the extreme sloth and negligence which appear in the Whether if there were a city or country of lay Christians, || Israelites' whole conduct during this period, it was not so without any clergymen, it were lawful lor the laity alone easy a matter, in so short a time, to recover a trade that lu baptize, administer the sacrament, &c. or indeed wlie was lost; especially among a people that had no iron ther they alone could ordain theniselves either bishops, | mines, and were so wholly addicted to the feeding of priests, or deacons, for the due performance of such sacer cattle, that they made no account of any mechanical art. dotal ministrations ? or whether they ought not rather, || In the famous victory which they gained over Sisera, till they procure clergymen to come among them, to con we are told that there was not a shield or spear seen fine themselves within those bounds of piety and Chris | among fifty thousand men in Israel, Judges v, 8; but not. tianity which belong alone to the laity; such particularly || withstanding this, they had bows and arrows, and slings as are recommended in the 1st Book of the Apostolical which the men of Gibeah could manage to a wonderful Constitutions, which peculiarly concern the laity, and are advantage, Judy. xx. 16. And besides these, the Israel intinyated'in Cleinent's undoubted Epistle, $ 40? To which ites, upon this occasion, might convert their instruments latter opinion I incline.
of husbandry, their batchels, their spades, their forks, of 1 Sam. xiii. 19.
their mattocks, &c. into instruments of war: a much bet* The precaution which the Philistines took to hinder ter shift than what we read of some, who, in ancient times, the Israelites from providing themselves with weapons is had no other arms than clubs and sharpened stakes, hardno more than what other conquerors have done to the na ened in the fire. tions they have vanquished. Porsenna, when be made
Non jam certamine agresti peace with the Romans, restrained them from the use of Stipitibus duris agitur, sudibusque præustis. all iron but what was necessary in the tillage of their
Virgil, Æneid. 7. B. ground. Cyrus, when he subdued the Lydiaus, for fear § About An. 1108.
as having no more than six hundred men with || saw them, they said to one another,
66 The them. But as he, and his son, and Abiah the Hebrews come out of their dens and caves ;" high-priest, who was of the posterity of Eli, and they said to Jonathan, and to his armorwere sitting upon a very high bill, and see-bearer, “Come on, ascend up to us, that we ing the land laid waste, they were greatly may inflict a just punishment upon you for disturbed at it. Now Saul's son agreed with your rash attempt.
So Saul's son accepted his armor-bearer, that they would go privately that invitation, as indicative of victory ; and to the enemy's camp, and make a tumult, and immediately came out of the place whence a disturbance among them. And when the they were seen by their enemies : so he armor-bearer had readily promised to follow changed bis place, and came to the rock, whitherspever he should lead him, though he which had none to guard it, because of its should be obliged to die in the attempt, Jona- own strength,
own strength. From thence they crept up than made use of the young man's assistance, with great labor and difficulty, and overcame and descended from the bill, and went to their by force the nature of the place, till they were enemies Now the enemy's camp was upon able to fight with their enemies. So they fell a precipice, which had three tops, that ended upon themf as they were asleep, and slew in a small but sharp and long extremity : about twenty of them; and thereby filled while there was a rock that surrounded them, them with disorder and surprise: insomuch like lines made to prevent the attacks of an that some of them threw away their armor, enemy. There it happened, that the out- and fled: but the greatest part not knowing guards of the camp were neglected ; because one another, because they were of different of the uatural security of the place, and be-nations, suspected each other to be enemies : cause they thought it altogether impossible,|| (for they did not imagine that there were only not only to ascend up to the camp on that two of the Hebrews that came up,) and so quarter, but so much as to come near it. As they fought one against another.
And some soon therefore as they came to the camp, Jo- of them died in the battle; and some, as they nathan encouraged his armor-bearer, and said were flying away, were thrown headlong from to him, “Let us attack our enemies : and if the rock. I when they see us, they bid us come up to
Now Saul's watchman told the king, that them, take that for a signal of victory. But the camp of the Philistines was in confusion. if they say nothing, as not intending to invite Then he inquired, whether any body were use to come up, let us return back again." gone from the army ? and when he heard that So when they were approaching to the camp, his son and his armor-bearer were absent, be just after break of day, and the Philistinesbade the high-priest take the pontifical gar
* 1 Sam. xiv. 2, 10.
was asleep; that even, had they been all awake, Jona+ This action of Jonathan's, considered in itself, was than might have so posled himself, (as Horatius Cocles doubtless a very rash attempt, and contrary to the laws || did on a bridge,) as to be able to defend this pass of war, which prohibit all under command (as he was) | against all the force of the enemy; that those who made from engaging the enemy, or entering upon any enter at him, (as only one, perhaps, could at a time, he with prise, without the general's order; but what may very one stroke miglit lay flat on the ground, and his armorjustly be said in excuse of it is,—That he had a divine || bearer immediately dispatch them; that the rest, seeing incitation to it, which he might probably feel upon the them act thus intrepidly, might take them for two scouts, sight of the Philistines appearing as if they intended to or van couriers only, of a great army that was coming up assault Gibeah, and upon the information which he and ready to fall upon them; that ihe army of the Phi. might receive of the great spoil which the three par- | listines, being made up of different nations, might be in ties made of the poor people in the country. Patrick's the greatest confusion, as either not understanding, or Commentary. B.
else suspecting, one another; and (what might complete How two men could put the whole army into such a tbeir consternation) that God at this time might send a consternation may seem somewhat extraordinary ; but it | panic fear upon them, which, whenever he does it, even should be considered, that Jonathan and his armor-bearer, in the opinion of Heathens themselves, is enough to make climbing up a way that was never attempted before, the stoutest tremble, and the most heroic spirits betake might come upon them unawares, and surprise them : themselves to flight. that this action might happen, as Josephus thinks, early
Εν γαρ δαιμογιοισι φοβοις in the morning, when a great part of the Philistines' army
Φευγογίαις και παιδες Θεων. . Pind. Nemes, 9. vol. 1.-(17.)
ments, and predict what success they should || taken and slain many more of their enehave. The high-priest said, they should get mies.t the victory, and prevail against their enemies. When therefore they had slain many tén So he went out after the Philistines, and set thousands of the Philistines, they began spoilupon them, as they were slaying one another. |ing their camp, but not till late in the evenThose also came running to him, who had ing. They also took a great deal of prey, fed before to dens and caves : upon their hear- | and cattle, and killed them and ate them ing that Saul was gaining a victory.
When with their blood. The scribes therefore told therefore the number of the Hebrews that their sovereign that the multitude were sincame to Saul amounted to about ten thou- | ning against God, as they sacrificed ; and sand, he pursued the enemy, who were scat were eating before the blood was well washtered all over the country. But then he felled away, and the flesh was made clean. Then into an action, which was a very unhappy one, did Saul give order, that a great stone should and liable to be very much blamed. For be rolled into the midst of them, and he made whether out of ignorance, or whether out of proclamation that they should kill their sacrijoy for a victory gained so strangely, (for it fices upon it, and not feed upon the flesh with frequently happens that persons so fortunate the blood, for that was not acceptable to are not able to use their reason consistently :) || God. And when all the people did as the he was so desirous to avenge himself, and to | king commanded, Saulf erected an altar, and exact a due punishment of the Philistines, that offered burnt-offerings to God. This was the he denounced a * curse on the Hebrews, to first altar that Saul built. §
“If any one put a stop to his So when Saul was desirous of leading his slaughter of the enemy, and began eating, men to the enemies' camp before it was day, and left off the slaughter, or the pursuit, be- || in order to plunder it, and when the soldiers fore night came on; and obliged them so to were not unwilling to follow him, but indeed do; he should be accursed.” Now after Saul shewed great readiness to do as he commandhad denounced this curse, since they were ined them; the king called Abitub the higha wood belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, priest, and enjoined him to know of God whewhich was thick and full of bees; Saul's son, ther he would grant them permission to go who did not hear his father denounce that agaiost the camp in order to destroy those curse, nor hear of the approbation the multi-that were in it. But the priest said that God tude
gave to it; brake off a piece of a honey would not give any answer. Then said Saul, comb, and ate part of it. But in the mean “ It is not withont some cause, that God retime, he was informed with what a curse his || fuses to answer what we inquire of him; who. father had forbidden them to taste any thing yet a little while ago declared to us all that before sun-setting : so he left off eating, and we desired beforehand, and even prevented us said his father had not done well in this in his answer. To be sure there is some sin prohibition ; because, had they taken some against him that is concealed from us, which food, they had pursued the enemy with | is the occasion of his silence.
Now I swear greater vigor and alacrity, and had both | by bimself, that though he that hath committed
* This rash vow, or curse of Saul's, which Josephus + 1 Sam. siv, 29, 30. says was confirmed by the people, and yel not executed, (I suppose principally because Jonathan did not know of Here we have still more indications of Saul's affecit,) is very remarkable : it being of the essence of the tation of despotic power, and of his intrenching upon the obligation of all laws, that they he sufficiently known | priesthood, and making and endeavoring to execute a and promulgated. Otherwise the conduct of Providence, || rash vow or curse, without consulting Samuel or the Sanas to the sacredness of solemn oaths and vows, in God's || hedrin. In this view it is also that I look upon this erecrefusing to answer by Urim, till this breach of Saul's vow tion of a new altar by Saul, and his offering of burnt or curse was understood and set right, and God propitiated offerings himself upon it, and not as any proper instance by public prayer, is here very remarkable; as indeed l of devotion or religion. it is every where else in the Old Testament. See Scriptare Politics, pp. 54-65.
§ I Sam. xiv. 35.
this sin should prove to be my own son Jona- || Melchi-shua, with Merah and Michal, his than, I will slay him; and by that means will daughters. He had also Abner his uncle's appease the anger of God against us; and son for the captain of his bost; that uncle's that in the very same manner as if I were to name was Ner. Now Ner and Kish the fapunish a stranger, and one not at all related ther of Saul were brothers. Saul had also a to me, for the same offence.”* So when the great many chariots and horsemen; and multitude cried out to him so to do, he pre- against whomsoever he made war, he returnsently set all the rest on one side, and he anded conqueror, and advanced the affairs of the his son stood on the other side, and he sought | Hebrews to a great degree of success and to discover the offender by. lot. Now the lot prosperity, and made them superior to other appeared to fall upon Jonathan himself. So l nations, . And he made such of the young when he was asked by his father what sin he men as were remarkable for talness an bad been guilty of ? and what he was conscious | liness his body guards. of in the course of his life that might be esteemed instances of guilt or profaneness ?
CHAP. VII. his answer was this, “O father! I have done
OF SAUL'S WAR WITH THE AMALERITES, AND HIS CONQUEST nothing more than that: yesterday, without knowing of the curse and the oath thou hadst denounced, while I was in pursuit.of the ene
TOW Samuel came unto Saul,t and said my, I tasted of a honey-comb.” Saul imme unto him, that he was sent by God to diately. swore that he would .slay him; and put him in mind, that God had preferred him prefer the observation of his oath before all I before all others, and ordained him king; and the ties of birth and of nature. But Jona- || he therefore ought to be obedient to him, and than was not dismayed at this threatening ; || to submit to his authority; as considering, that but offering himself to it generously, and un- | though he had the dominion over the other dauntedly, he said, “Nor do I desire you, tribes, yet that God had the dominion over . father, to spare me. Death will be to me him, and over all things. That accordingly very acceptable, when it proceeds from thy | God said to him, " Because the Amalekites piety, and after a glorious victory: for it is did the Hebrews a great deal of mischief the greatest consolation to me, that I leave while they were in the wilderness, and when, the Hebrews victorious over the Philistines." upon their coming out of Egypt, they were Hereupon, all the people were greatly afflict-making their way to that country, which is ed for Jonathan; and they sware that they now their own, I enjoin thee to punish the would not see him die, who was the author of Amalekites by making war upon them; and their victory. By which means they snatch- || when thou hast subdued them, to leave none ed him out of the danger he was in from his of them alive; but to pursue them through father's curse ; while they made their prayers | every age, and to slay them ; beginning with to God also for the young man, that he would the women and the infants : and to require remit his sin,
this as a punishment to be inflicted on them So Saul, having slain about sixty thousand for the mischief they did to our forefathers. of the enemy, returned to his own city, and To spare nothing, neither asses, nor other reigned happily. "And he also fought against beasts ; nor to reserve any of them for your the neighboring nations, and subdued the own advantage and possession : but to devote Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and Amalek- | them universally to God; and, in obedience to ites; as also the king of Zobah. He had the commands of Moses, to blot out the name three male children, Jonathan, Ishui, and of $ Amalek entirely.”
* 1 Sam. xiv, 39.
larly seeking to injure, and utterly to destroy, the nation | The reason of this severity is distinctly given, 1 Sam. of Israel. See Exod. xvii. 8–16. Numb. xiv. 45. Deut. xv. 18. Go and utterly destroy the sinners, ibe Amalek. xxv. 17, 18, 19. Judg. vi. 3,6. vii. 12. x. 12. 1 Sam. ites. Nor indeed do we ever meet with these Anjalek xv. 33. 888. 1, 2. Psal. Ixxxiii. 7. and above all, the ites, but as very cruel and bloody people; and particu- most barbarous of all cruelties, that of Haman the Agag.