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Ziklag Sacked by the A malekites.
I. SAMUEL, XXX.
David Consults the Ephod.
and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; (2) and had taken the women captives, that were therein : they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on
(3) So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. (1) Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. (5) And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the
1 Heb., bitter.
wife of Nabal the Carmelite. (6) And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters : but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
(7) And David said to Abiathar the priest, Abimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. (8) And David enquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop ? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue : for thou
(2) They slew not any.-There was no one in But David encouraged himself in the Lord the hapless city to resist the attack of the fierce sons his God.-He encouraged himself in prayer, thus of the desert. David-never dreaming of the sudden casting himself and his fortunes on the God who, years invasion—had marched with Achish, accompanied by before, had chosen him to be “His anointed.” It was his whole force. The Amalekites slow none of their this trust, as we have before seen in his own case, in captives ; they were, we read, women and children. the case, too, of Jonathan, as it had been in old days These possessed a marketable value, and were carried with all the heroes of Israel--this perfect, childlike, off to be sold into slavery, probably in Egypt, with implicit trust in the “ Glorious Arm”—which had been which country the Amalekites, as neighbours, had con- the source of the marvellous success of the chosen stant dealings. We read a few verses on specially of people. When they forgot the invisible King, who for an Egyptian slave in the army.
His own great purposes had chosen them, their fortunes (3) And behold, it was burned with fire.- at once declined; they fell to the level, and often below A terrible reception for David and his free lances, the level, of the surrounding nations. We have many on their return from their ill-omened expedition with conspicuous examples of this; for instance, in the lives the great Philistine army, to find only the charred and of Samson and Saul, how, when with weeping and with smoking ruins of their homes; not one of all their dear mourning, they returned to their allegiance, and again ones, whom they had left behind-as they thought in leaned on the “ Arm," success and victory returned security-left to tell the story of the disaster. It was to them. This is what happened now to David at the Egyptian slave who had fallen sick, and, in con. Ziklag, while about the same time Saul, alone and sequence, had been deserted, and whom they came upon distrustful, fought and fell on the bloody day of in the course of the pursuit, who gave them the details, Gilboa. David, with the help of his God, on whose and told them the story of the invasion, and described mercy he had thrown himself, obtained his brilliant the route taken by the marauding force on their return success over Amalek, and restored his prestige not to their country.
only among his own immediate followers, but through (4) Then David and the people.- Verses 1-4 all the cities and villages of Southern Canaan. form one period, which is expanded by the introduction (7) Abiathar.-Abiathar had doubtless been with of several circumstantial clauses. The apodosis to “it David, and he had joined him at Keilah. Through all came to pass when,” &c., verse 1, does not follow till his wanderings we hear, however, nothing of prayer verse 4, “ Then David and the people,” &c.; but this is and of consultation of the Urim. As regards the formally attached to verse 3. The statement, “So unfortunate Philistine sojourn, David seems to have David and his men came," with which the protasis determined upon that step entirely of himself; dis. commenced in verse 1, is resumed in an altered form : trustful and despairing, he had fled the country, and “It came to pass, when David and his men were come taken refuge with the enemies of his people. One to Ziklag the Amalekites had invaded . .. and unbroken series of sin and calamity was the result he had taken away the women captive . . . and had gone sees of his fatal error.
and David and his men came into And Abiathar brought thither the ephod. the city, and behold, it was burned. ... Then David - Modern commentators, as a rule, prefer to disbelieve and the people with him lifted up their voice.”— in any response coming through the medium of the Keil.
Urim in the ephod. They either pass over the whole (6) For the people spake of stoning him.- transaction in silence, or assume that some Divine inProbably the discontent and anger of the people had spiration came to the high priest when vested with the been previously aroused by David's close connection sacred garment. The plain meaning, however, of the with Achish, which had entailed upon these valiant frequent references tells us in some way or other the Israelites the bitter degradation of having had to Divine will was made known through the agency of the march against their own countrymen under the banner mysterious Urim and Thummim. See, for instance, in of the Philistine King of Gath; and now, finding that the case of Saul, where definitely it is stated that the David had neglected to provide against the Amalekite Lord answered him not “ by Urim” (chap. xxviii. 6), raid, their pent-up fury thus displayed itself. Then where this peculiar Divine response is carefully distinDavid, we shall see, threw himself, with all his old guished from the manifestation of the will of God in a perfect trustfulness, upon the mercy of his God. dream or a vision, or through the Divine instrumentality
David is Guided in his Pursuit
I. SAMUEL, XXX.
by an Egyptian Captive.
shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. (9) So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. (10) But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were
so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.
(11) And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water;
(12) and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins : and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him : for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. (13) And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou ? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick. (14) We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and
of the prophet or seer.
The ancient Hebrews had no extermination with Amalek was discussed. They seem hesitation in attributing to the sacred precious stones to have been a ruthless, cruel race, the scourge of the an occasional special power of declaring the oracles of desert, and of the people dwelling near its borders. God. The Talmudical traditions are clear and decisive From the narrative, they had evidently many camels in here. Now, without attaching anything like an im- their force (verse 17), so the abandonment of the sick plicit credence to these most ancient Hebrew traditions- slave, left, without food or water, to die of hunger, was many of them fanciful and wild, many of them written a needless act of barbarity on their part. in a cryptograph, or secret cypher, to which Christians (12) Three days and three nights. — This in most cases do not possess the key—it does seem was a note of time as to the amount of start the in the highest degree arbitrary to reject the ancient Amalekite leader with the plunder had. It may well traditional belief of the Hebrew race contained in the be conceived there was no time to lose. The cruelty Talmud with respect to this most mysterious ephod and of the Amalekites to their slaves was the cause of their its sacred gems, and to adopt another interpretation, ultimate discomfiture, for with the very considerable which fits in very lamely with the plain text. The start they already had, if David had not been quite whole question respecting the traditions of the Urim certain, through the information of the Egyptian, and Thummim is discussed at some length in the short of their route, the pursuit would have been utterly Excursus M on the Urim, at the end of this Com- | hopeless. mentary on the First Book of Samuel.
(14) We made invasion
The (9) Só David went.-Immediately on receiving Egyptian, who apparently was a man of education, acthe answer of the Urim, David started in rapid pursuit. curately describes to David the nature and scope of the The “six hundred” by no means represented his pre- Amalekite raid, which had closed with so signal a dissent force; but these were probably the old band aster to the inhabitants of his city of Ziklag. Taking of veteran soldiers, whose speed and endnrance he advantage of the war between Israel and Philistia, and could depend upon-men tried, no doubt, by many a of the northerly march of the troops of both countries, weary night march, by many á rough, wild piece of Amalek made a swift and sudden descent upon the work. A large contingent even of these veterans south country. The Cherethites were a Philistine could not stand the forced march of their leader on this people dwelling in the south, and along the sea-coast. occasion.
Some have supposed that the name “Crēthites ” which In the words “ for two hundred abode behind,” the represents the Hebrew more accurately—came origi. narrator anticipated what is told in verse 10. It is a nally, as the name seems to indicate, from the island of proleptical expression, arising from the vivacious de. Crete. Capthor, the home of the Philistines (Amos ix. scription of David's rapid march with four hundred 7), not improbably is identical with Crete. The whole men (Lange). The Vulg. paraphrases, or rather seeks question of the history of this singular Philistine people, to amend the text here : " and certain tired ones stayed.” who were certainly not indigenous to Canaan, but who The Syriac changes the text into “ David left two hun- were settlers in it at a comparatively recent date, and these men who had fallen out of the rapid who gave
Palestine” to the whole land, is march were gathered together, and kept the baggage most obscure. and everything that could be left behind at the encamp- Before the arrival of Israel in Canaan the Philistines ment at the brook Besor. It is to be supposed that held a very strong position on the southern coast, and not owing to the hurried departure, but scanty provision long before Samson's time they had been strengthened for the forced march was made, hence the falling out by fresh arrivals from Crete and other western regions, through weariness in the course of the rapid advance. and from this date rapidly gained power and influence, The brook Besor cannot be identified with certainty; and at more than one period disputed the supremacy and Raumer (Palestine) supposes it to be the Wady with the Hebrew race, whom they threatened to supShariah, which falls into the sea below Askelon.
plant altogether. (11) An Egyptian.- The Amalekites, as above We hear subsequently of the Cherethites mentioned stated, were a nomad race; their wanderings would have in the passage under the command of Benaiah, as a taken them to the frontiers of Egypt, hence the pro
portion of King David's body-guard. This troop or bability of their having Egyptian slaves in their tribe. regiment of Philistines was first, no doubt, enrolled The savage nature of these untamed sons of the desert during his residence at Ziklag. He retained this body has been already commented upon when the war of of foreigners, of course continually recruited, about his
I. SAMUEL, XXX.
the Amalekite Invaders.
upon the south of Caleb; and we burned
upon camels, and fled.
(18) And David Ziklag with fire. (15) And David said
recovered all that the Amalekites had to him, Canst thou bring me down to
carried away: and David rescued his this company? And he said, Swear un
two wives. (19) And there was nothing to me by God, that thou wilt neither
lacking to them, neither small nor kill me, nor deliver me into the hands
great, neither nor daughters, of my master, and I will bring thee
neither spoil, nor any thing that they down to this company.
had taken to them : David recovered (16) And when he had brought him
all. (20) And David took all the flocks down, behold, they were spread abroad 1 Heb., their mor and the herds, which they drave before upon all the earth, eating and drink
those other cattle, and said, This is ing, and dancing, because of all the
David's spoil. great spoil that they had taken out
(21) And David came to the two hunof the land of the Philistines, and out
dred men, which were so faint that they of the land of Judah. (17) And David
could not follow David, whom they had smote them from the twilight even un
made also to abide at the brook Besor: to the evening of the next day : and
and they went forth to meet David, there escaped not a man of them, save
and to meet the people that were with four hundred young men, which rode
him: and when David came near to
person all through his reign. Such a body-guard, made these desert robbers, who evidently far out-numbered up of foreiguers, has always been a favourite practice them. among sovereigns. The Scottish archers and the corps (17) From twilight even unto the evening of of Swiss Guards, at different periods of the French the next day.-Keil thinks the fighting went on monarchy, and, on a larger scale, the Varangian from the evening twilight till the evening of the guard of the Greek emperors of Constantinople in next day. Bishop Hervey, in the Speaker's Commen. the tenth century, are good examples of this preference tary, with greater probability, supposes that "the for foreigners in the case of the body-guards of the twilight is the morning twilight, as the contrast sovereign.
between twilight and evening rather suggests.” David And upon the coast which belongeth to thus arrived at night, and finding his enemies eating Judah.- The eastern portion of the Negeb or south and drinking, put off his attack until the morning country, reaching from the Mediterranean to the Dead dawn or twilight, when they would be still sleeping Sea.
after their debauch. Although thus taken by sur. And upon the south of Caleb.-One district prise, their great numbers and their natural bravery of the Negeb or south country was given to Caleb, the enabled them to prolong the fierce struggle all through companion of Joshua, as a reward for his faith and his the day, and when the shades of evening were falling courage. His portion, which was called Caleb after the four hundred (we read) of the young men, a body of famous chieftain, included all the country and villages fugitives equal to David's own force, managed to get round about Hebron, which became subsequently a city
clear of the rout and escape. The number of slain of the priests.
on this occasion must have been very great. And we burned Ziklag with fire.-This act, (20) The flocks and the herds, which they which closed the reign of Amalek, was intended as drave.- In the English translation the word “which," a piece of stern revenge for the late incursion of David inserted in italics, obscures the sense; the literal read. into their country, and for the cruelties practised on ing is, “ And David took all the flocks and the herds; the captives.
they drove them before their cattle, and said, this is (15) By God.-The oath was to be by “Elohim," David's spoil.” David took, no doubt, by popular not by Jehovah, of whom the Egyptian kuew nothing. acclamation as his share of the plnnder, all the flocks
And I will bring thee down.-His accurate and herds belonging to the Amalekites, mostly ac. knowledge of the route taken by the Amalekites, and quired, no doubt, in the late raid; these were driven his clear account of the late raid, show that he was in front of “those cattle” thus particularising the a person of no ordinary ability; he was probably an cattle of Ziklag belonging to David's own people. Egyptian merchant or wealthy trader captured in some Of course, this plunder went back to the original border fray.
Israelitish owners. The drovers, as they marched (16) Spread abroad upon all the earth, eat- behind the vast herds of Amalekite cattle, sung of ing and drinking and dancing.–We have here the prowess of their leader in words long remembered, a vivid picture of the wild license which these bar- * See all this. This is David's spoil.” It was “these barians allowed themselves, now that they were secure, herds”-numerically, probably very great—that David as they thought, from all pursuit. When the picked distributed among the friendly cities of the south. warriors of David's troops looked on the scene of (See verses 26, 31.) All the other plunder of the revelry and debauch, and thought who were among camp-arms, accoutrements, ornaments, jewels, camels' the captives in that disorderly encampment, and re- cloths, &c.—was divided, as Bishop Hervey well sugmembered what homes had been made desolate to gests, among the little army. David's motive in provide much of that great spoil over which Amalek choosing the sheep and oxen (for his warriors cer. was rejoicing, we may well conceive with what strength tainly the least desirable part of the Amalekite posand fury the little veteran force of Israelites fell upon session) is evident from verses 26–31. They were The Dispute respecting
I. SAMUEL, XXX.
the Amalekite Spoil.
houc they did.
the people, he 1 saluted them. (22) Then 1 orasked them that goeth down to the battle, so shall answered all the wicked men and men
his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: of Belial, of ? those that went with
they shall part alike. (25) And it was David, and said, Because they went not
80 from that day 3 forward, that he with us, we will not give them ought
made it a statute and an ordinance for of the spoil that we have recovered, 2 Heb., men. Israel unto this day. save to every man his wife and his
(26) And when David came to Ziklag, children, that they may lead them away,
he sent of the spoil unto the elders of and depart. (23) Then said David, Ye
Judah, even to his friends, saying, Beshall not do so, my brethren, with that 3 Heb. and for hold a * present for you of the spoil which the LORD hath given us, who
of the enemies of the LORD; (27) to them hath preserved us, and delivered the
which were in Beth-el, and to them company that came against us into our
which were in south Ramoth, and to hand. (24) For who will hearken unto
them which were in Jattir, (28) and to you in this matter? but as his part is 1 Heb., blessing.
them which were in Aroer, and to them
the most acceptable presents he could make to his Israel, is not without its meaning. In the Heavenly friends in Judah.
Church of God (22) Then answered all the wicked men and
“ His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed, men of Belial.-The scene here related chronicles
And post o'er land and ocean without rest : an act of greed and of heartless covetonsness-an
They also serve who only stand and wait."
MILTOX : Sonnet xix. act that has been many times repeated in the world's history. The wise compiler of the book chose it as Moses praying on the hill contributed to the victory part of the memoirs of David, which were to be pre- over Amalek even more than Joshua fighting in the served in the sacred volume, because it was another plain (Exod. xvii. 11). “ All Christians are not of authoritative declaration on the part of the beloved equal strength, and some follow Christ to the conflict, king respecting a question which would crop_up others tarry with the stuff. Some fight the Lord's again and again on the conclusion of a campaign. The battles in the din of active life; others, aged men chronicler was justified in his selection, for this famous and women, the Simeons and Annas of the Church decision of David continued in force until the time .. weak in body but strong in faith, fight with of the Maccabees. (See 2 Macc. viii. 28–30.) A
the peaceful arms of prayers and tears; Christ is somewhat similar law was enacted by Moses. (See omnipotent and merciful. He rewards those who tarry Num. xxxi. 27.) The dispute arose thus : The vic- in patience with the stuff, as well as those who go torious troop with their enormous booty quickly re- forth in the march to fight valiantly in the battle.” turned to the brook Besor, where the 200 that had
—Bishop Hall, in Wordsworth. broken down on the rapid march had been left to (26) He sent the spoil.—To have made it worth guard the baggage. David salutes these with all while to have sent presents to all the places enume. kindly courtesy; but the harmony which prevailed in rated below, the spoil of the Amalekites captured the little camp is speedily broken owing to the high- on this occasion must have been enormous. One handed claims of the 400 who had actually taken special circumstance connected with the history besides part in the rescue. These refused to share the booty leads us to this conclusion. Although these desert with their comrades who had been left behind, only | Arabs were surprised and attacked at a terrible disproposing just to restore to them their wives and advantage after a debauch, they seem (so great evi. those things of their own which had been recovered | dently was their numbers) to have held their ground from the Amalekites. David, however, refused to from early morning until evening, and then 400 listen to these iniquitous claims, and decided that all managed to escape on their swiftest camels. It was the fighting part of the force, and those men who not improbably the main division of the great tribe, had stayed behind and guarded the baggage at the and they had with them the bulk of their flocks and brook Besor, should share alike.
herds, besides what they had just captured in their (23) Ye shall not do so my brethren.-Trans- raid in southern Canaan. No doubt the cities to late “Do not so my brethren with that which the whom rich gifts of cattle were sent were those places Lord hath_given us,” that is, “in respect to that where, during his long wanderings, he and his fol. which the Lord,” &c. Ewald prefers to render the lowers had been kindly received and helped. phrase as an ejaculatory oath, "By that which the (27) Bethel ... South Ramoth ... Yattir.Lord,” &c. Some commentators here quote a passage Here follows an enumeration of the cities of Judah from Polybius, where a similar scene is depicted as to whom David sent, most of which have been iden. having taken place after the capture of Nova Car- tified. Bethel-evidently not the well known place thago, where Publius Scipio decided that the spoil of that name, but Bethuel or Bethul in the tribe of then taken should be divided equally among the troops Simeon. The LXX. read here Baithsour. Sonth that had been actually engaged, and the reserves and Ramoth, i.e., Ramah of the South. Shimei, who was over the sick among the soldiery, and those in the army who David's vineyards, was most likely a native of this had been detached from the main body on special service. town (1 Chron. xxvii. 27). The place has not been
(25) A statute and an ordinance for Israel.- identified. Yattir—the present Attir in the southern The decree that they, who for good reasons tarry with part of Judah. Its ruins are still visible. the stuff, shall share alike with those who go down (28) Aroer . . . Siphmoth and ... Eshtemoa. to the battle, which became & received ordinance in -Aroer, a city, with colossal ruins of foundation walls, David sends his Share
I. SAMUEL, XXXI.
to the Cities of Judah.
places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.
which were in Siphmoth, and to them
CHAPTER XXXI. — (1) Now a the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down 1 slain in mount Gilboa. (2) And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan,
south of Hebron. Of Siphmoth nothing is known. generations should honour the devoted loyalty of the Zabdi, the Shiphmite (1 Chron. xxvii
. 27), who grateful men of Jabesh-Gilead. But the narrator hurries was over King David's cellars, clearly comes from over his unwelcome task; very curtly he picks up the Siphmoth. Bishop Hervey well calls attention to a dropped threads of chaps. xxviii. 1-5, xxix. 2. The remarkable proof of the grateful nature of David march of the Philistines northward into the valley of and his fidelity to his early friendships, “ that we find Jezreel has been told, and their gallant array-as under among those employed by David in offices of trust in the many banners of their lords they passed on by the height of his power so many inhabitants of these hundreds and by thousands—has been glanced at. The obscure places, where he found friends in the days of assembling of the armies of Israel at Shunem, overlookhis early difficulties. Ezri, the son of Shemei the ing the Jezreel vale, has been narrated; and there the Ramathite, Zabdi the Shiphmite, and many others, historian dwelt on the terror of King Saul, which led were among the friends of his youth.” Eshtemoa, a to the visit to the witch of En-dor. David's fortunes priestly city, still survives, with ruins still visible, in at this juncture then occupied the writer or compiler of the village of Semna.
the Book; but now he returns, with evident reluctance, (29) Rachal.—The name Rachal never occurs again, to the battle which rapidly followed the En-dor visit and is quite unknown. Here the LXX., instead of of Saul, Rachal, have five different names-Ged, Kimath, Sa- He simply relates that the hosts joined battle. The phek, Themath, Karmel. No satisfactory explanation locality of the fight is not mentioned, but it was most has been suggested for this strange addition; three of likely somewhere in that long vale which was spread them are unknown, and the other two-Gad (Gath) and out at the foot of the hills occnpied by the hostile camps. Carmel-places we should certainly not expect to meet Israel was defeated, and fled upwards, towards their old in this catalogue.
position on the slope of Gilboa. The cities of the Jerahmeelites and Ke- (2) And the Philistines followed hard upon nites.- These places were situated in the south of Saul and upon his sons.—“The details of the Judah; they cannot be traced.
battle are but seen in broken snatches, as in the short (30) Hormah . . . Chor-ashan ... Athach.- scene of a battle acted upon the stage, or beheld at reHormah, called by the Canaanites Zephath, still exists mote glimpses by an accidental spectator. But amidst in the modern village of Zep-ata. Chor-ashan is probably the showers of arrows from the Philistine archers, or the same as Ashan (Josh. xv. 30): it has not been dis. pressed hard even on the mountain side by their covered in modern times. Athach is quite unknown. charioteers, the figure of the king emerges from the
(31) Hebron.-Hebron is one of the most ancient darkness. His three sons have fallen before him; his known cities in the world. It is now called El-Khalil armourbearer lies dead beside him.”-Stanley: Jewish (" friend of God”), owing to Abraham's residence there. Church, Lect. xxi. During the early years of David's rule, which followed And the Philistines slew Jonathan, and the death of Saul, Hebron was the residence and royal Abinadab, and Melchi-shua, Saul's sons.-But city of David. Beneath the building of the present while, in his own record of the national disaster, the Mosque of Hebron is the famous Cave of Machpelah, compiler or historian, in his stern sorrow, expunges where Abraham and Sarah and the patriarchs Isaac every detail, and represses every expression of feeling, and Jacob, and his wife Leah, are buried.
he gives us in the next chapter (2 Sam, i. 1–27) the
stately elegy, in the beautiful moving words which the XXXI.
successor to the throne wrote on the death of the first (1–13) Battle of Mount Gilboa-Death of Saul and king and his heroic son. Without comment he copies his three Sons — Panic in Israel — The Philistines into his record the hymn of David on Saul and Jonaexpose the King's Body on the Wall of Beth-shan- than, just as he found it in the Book of Jashar (the The Citizens of Jabesh-Gilead rescue the Royal Corpse. collection of national odes celebrating the heroes of the
Theocracy). “There David speaks of the Sand of (1) Now the Philistines fought against Israel. earlier times—the mighty conqueror, the delight of his - The narrator here is very abrupt. No doubt a de- people, the father of his beloved and faithful friendvoted patriot, it was very bitter for him to write the sike him in life, united with him in death.” (Stanley). story of the fatal day of Gilboa. Yet there were certain
" Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, things belonging to that fated day which were necessary And in their death they were not divided. for every child of Israel to know. It was right that
Than eagles they were swifter, than lions more strong."
(2 Sam. i. 23.) From the lost Book of Jashar. the punishment of the rejected king should be known; right too that the people should be assured that the Nothing is known of the two younger princes who fell remains of the great first king lay in no unknown and fighting here by their father's side, sword in hand, unhonoured sepulchre. It was well too that coming against the enemies of their country.