As though he had not been - In stead of בלי (beli), Not, I read כלי (keley), Instruments.
Anointed with oil - See the observations at the end.
2 Samuel 1:18, etc.: He bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow, קשת (kasheth).
The word (kasheth) is to be understood of the title of the song which immediately follows, and not of the use of the bow, as our translation intimates.
Many of David‘s Psalms have titles prefixed to them; some are termed Shosannim, some Maschil, Nehiloth, Neginoth, etc., and this one here, Kadesh or The Bow, because it was occasioned by the Philistine archers. 1 Samuel 31:3: “And the archers hit him.”
But especially respecting the bow of Jonathan, “which returned not back from the blood of the slain,” as the song itself expresses. And David could not but remember the bow of Jonathan, out of which “the arrow was shot beyond the lad,” 1 Samuel 20:36. It was the time when that covenant was made, and that affection expressed between them “which was greater than the love of women.”
On these accounts the song was entitled Kasheth, or The song of the Bow, and David commanded the chief musicians, Ethan, Heman, and Jeduthun, to teach the children of Judah to sing it.
“It is written in the book of Jasher.” Sept., επι βιβλιου του ευθους , “in the book of the upright.”
ספרא דאוריתא (siphra deoraitha), “The book of the Law.” - Jonathan.
The Arabic says, “Behold it is written in the book of Ashee; this is the book of Samuel;” the interpretation of which is, “book of songs or canticles.”
This lamentation is justly admired as a picture of distress the most tender and the most striking; unequally divided by grief into longer and shorter breaks, as nature could pour them forth from a mind interrupted by the alternate recurrence of the most lively images of love and greatness.
His reverence for Saul and his love for Jonathan have their strongest colourings; but their greatness and bravery come full upon him, and are expressed with peculiar energy.
Being himself a warrior, it is in that character he sees their greatest excellence; and though his imagination hurries from one point of recollection to another, yet we hear him - at first, at last, everywhere - lamenting, How are the mighty fallen!
It is almost impossible to read the noble original without finding every word swollen with a sigh or broken with a sob. A heart pregnant with distress, and striving to utter expressions descriptive of its feelings, which are repeatedly interrupted by an excess of grief, is most sensibly painted throughout the whole. Even an English reader may be convinced of this, from the following specimen in European characters: -
19. (Hatstsebi Yishrael al bamotheycha chalal); (Eych naphelu gibborim);
20. (Al taggidu begath), (Al tebasseru bechutsoth Ashkelon); (Pen tismachnah benoth Pelishtim), (Pen taalozenah benoth haarelim).
21. (Harey baggilboa al tal), (Veal matar aleychem usedey terumoth); (Ki sham nigal magen Gibborim). (Magen Shaul keley Mashiach bashshamen)!
22. (Middam chalalim), (mecheleb gibborim), (Kesheth Yehonathan lo nashog achor); (Vechereb Shaul lo thashub reykam).
23. (Shaul Vihonathan), (Hannee habim vehanneimim bechaiyeyhem), (Ubemotham lo niphradu). (Minnesharim kallu), (mearayoth gaberu)!
24. (Benoth Yishrael el Shaul becheynah); (Hammalbishchem shani im adanim), (Hammaaleh adi zahab al lebushechen).
25. (Eych naphelu gibborim bethoch hammilchamah)! (Yehonathan al bamotheycha chalal)!
26. (Tsar li aleycha achi Yehonathan), (naamta li meod Niphleathah ahabathecha li meahabath nashim)!
27. (Eych naphelu gibborim), (Vaiyobedu keley milchamah)!
The three last verses in this sublime lamentation have sense and sound so connected as to strike every reader.
Dr. Kennicott, from whom I have taken several of the preceding remarks, gives a fine Latin version of this song, which I here subjoin: -
O decus Israelis, super excelsa tua Miles!
Quomodo ceciderunt Fortes!
Nolite indicare in Gatho,
Nolite indicare in plateis Ascalonis:
Ne laetentur filiae Philistaeorum,
Ne exultent filiae incircumcisorum.
Montes Gilboani super vos
Nec ros, nec pluvia, neque agri primitiarum;
Ibi enim abjectus fuit clypeus fortium.
Clypeus Saulis, arma inuncti olec!
Sine sanguine Militum,
Sine adipe Fortium.
Arcus Jonathanis non retrocesserat;
Gladiusque Saulis non redierat incassum.
Saul et Jonathan
Amabiles erant et jucundi in vitis suis,
Et in morte sua non separati.
Prae aquilis veloces!
Prae leonibus fortes!
Filiae Israelis deflete Saulem;
Qui coccino cum deliciis vos vestivit,
Qui vestibus vestris ornamenta imposuit aurea!
Quomodo ceciderunt Fortes, in medio belli!
O Jonathan, super excelsa tua Miles!
Versor in angustiis, tui causa, Frater mi, Jonathan!
Mihi fuisti admodum jucundus!
Mihi tuus amor admodum mirabilis,
Mulierum exuperans amorem!
Quomodo ceciderunt fortes,
Et perierunt arma belli!
Dissertation I., p. 122.
In 2 Samuel 1:21 I have inserted כלי (keley) for בלי (beli). Dr. Delaney rightly observes that the particle בלי (beli) is not used in any part of the Bible in the sense of quasi non, as though not, in which sense it must be used here if it be retained as a genuine reading: The shield of Saul as though it had not been anointed with oil.
In a MS. written about the year 1200, numbered 30 in Kennicott‘s Bible, כלי (keley) is found; and also in the first edition of the whole Hebrew Bible, printed Soncini 1488. Neither the Syriac nor Arabic versions, nor the Chaldee paraphrase, acknowledge the negative particle בלי (beli), which they would have done had it been in the copies from which they translated. It was easy to make the mistake, as there is such a similarity between ב (beth) and כ (caph); the line therefore should be read thus: The shield of Saul, weapons anointed with oil.
In 2 Samuel 1:22 נשוג (nashog), to obtain, attain, seems to have been written for נסוג (nasog), to recede, return. The former destroys the sense, the latter, which our translation has followed, and which is supported by the authority of 30 MSS., makes it not only intelligible but beautiful.
In 2 Samuel 1:19, 2 Samuel 1:22, and 2 Samuel 1:25, חלל and חללים (chalal) and (chalalim) occur, which we translate the Slain, but which Dr. Kennicott, I think from good authority, renders soldier and soldiers; and thus the version is made more consistent and beautiful.
חלל (chalal) signifies to bore or pierce through; and this epithet might be well given to a soldier, q.d., the Piercer, because his business is to transfix or pierce his enemies with sword, spear, and arrows.
If it be translated soldiers in the several places of the Old Testament, where we translate it Slain or Wounded, the sense will be much mended; see Judges 20:31, Judges 20:39; Psalm 89:11; Proverbs 7:26; Jeremiah 51:4, Jeremiah 51:47, Jeremiah 51:49; Ezekiel 11:6, Ezekiel 11:7; Ezekiel 21:14. In several others it retains its radical signification of piercing, wounding, etc.
After these general observations I leave the particular beauties of this inimitable song to be sought out by the intelligent reader. Much has been written upon this, which cannot, consistently with the plan of these notes, be admitted here. See Delaney, Kennicott, Lowth, etc.; and, above all, let the reader examine the Hebrew text.