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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
1 Samuel 14

 

 


Verse 1

Now … - Rather “and,” since this verse is in immediate dependence upon the preceding. When Jonathan saw the garrison come out again and again, in defiance “of the armies of the living God,” at length “upon a day” he determined to attack them.


Verse 2

Under a pomegranate - Compare 1 Samuel 22:6; Judges 4:5. Saul was at the northern extremity of Gibeah, about an hour‘s march from Geba, where Jonathan was.

Migron, if the reading is correct, must be a different place from the Migron of Isaiah 10:28.


Verse 3

Whether “Ahiah” or “Ahijah” is the same person as “Ahimelech the son of Ahitub” (see the marginal reference), or whether Ahimelech was the brother or son of Ahijah, and his successor in the priesthood, it is impossible to say certainly. Most probably “Ahijah” and “Ahimilech” are variations of the same name; the latter element in each alone being different, מלך melek (king) being substituted for the divine name יה yâhh Compare “Eliakim” and “Jehoiakim” 2 Kings 23:34, “Eliab” and “Eliel” 1 Chronicles 6:27, 1 Chronicles 6:34.

This fragment of a genealogy is a very valuable help to the chronology. The grandson of Phinehas, the son of Eli, was now High Priest; and Samuel, who was probably a few years older than Ahitub the son of Phinehas, was now an old man. All this indicates a period of about 50 years or upward from the taking of the ark by the Philistines.

The Lord‘s priest in Shiloh - But as Eli was so emphatically known and described in 1 Chronicles 13:3-5), it is better to refer these words to Eli, and not to Ahijah, to whom the next words, “wearing an ephod,” apply. (See 1 Samuel 2:28; Judges 1:1 note.)


Verse 4

(The southern cliff was called “Seneh,” or “the acacia,” and the same name still applies to the modern valley, dotted by acacias. The northern cliff was named “Bozez” or “Shining.” The valley runs nearly due east, and the northern cliff is of ruddy and tawny tint, crowned with gleaming white chalk, and in the full glare of the sun almost all the day. (Conder.))


Verse 6

It is remarkable that the epithet “uncircumcised,” used as a term of reproach, is confined almost exclusively to the Philistines. (Compare 1 Samuel 17:26, 1 Samuel 17:36; Judges 14:3; Judges 15:18, etc.) This is probably an indication of the long oppression of the Israelites by the Philistines and of their frequent wars.


Verse 10

Though it is not expressly said, as in the case of Gideon Judges 6:34, Othniel Judges 3:10, and others, that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, yet the whole course of the narrative, especially 1 Samuel 14:13-16, indicates an extraordinary divine interposition.

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Verse 12

We will show you a thing - Said mockingly.


Verse 14

Within as it were an half acre … - The Hebrew text is extremely obscure. Hence, there is some probability that the true reading is preserved by the Septuagint which translates the clause “with darts and stones and flints of the field.” Others take the words to mean: “in about half the time that a yoke of oxen draw a furrow in the field.”


Verse 15

The earth quaked - This naturally increased the panic to the utmost. Compare 1 Samuel 7:10; Joshua 10:11; Psalm 114:4.


Verse 16

Multitude - The word is in 1 Samuel 14:19 (margin) rendered tumult. It must have the same meaning here. The sentence is obscure and probably corrupt; perhaps it means, “and behold the tumult! and it went on” (increased) “melting away and beating down.”


Verse 18

For “the ark,” some read “the ephod,” owing to the improbability of the ark being with Saul at this time, and from the verb “Bring hither” being never applied to the ark, but regularly to the ephod 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7. Moreover, not the ark, but the ephod with Urim and Thummim, was the proper instrument for inquiring of the Lord. If, however, the Hebrew text is correct, they must have brought the ark into Saul‘s camp from Kirjath-jearim 1 Samuel 7, possibly to be safe from the Philistines.


Verse 19

Withdraw thine hand - i. e., “Desist from what thou art about.” Saul in his impatience to join the battle would not wait for the answer from God, which he had desired Ahijah to inquire for; just as later 1 Samuel 14:35 he would not wait to finish the altar which he had begun to build. Had he now waited he would doubtless have avoided the error into which he fell.


Verse 20

Assembled themselves - See marg. Many versions give the sense “shouted,” which is far preferable, and only requires a different punctuation.


Verse 25

All they of the land - literally, all the land, probably meaning all those named in 1 Samuel 14:21-22, who now flocked to the wood as a rendezvous.


Verse 26

The honey dropped - Rather, “Behold a stream of honey.” The same thing may be seen in Spain, where in woody and rocky ground copious streams of honey are often found.


Verse 27

Were enlightened - i. e., he was refreshed, when he was faint.


Verse 28

And the people were faint - Read, “are faint,” the words are part of the man‘s complaint.


Verse 29

Hath troubled - The same word as was applied to Achan Joshua 7:25, and gave its name to the valley of Achor. This additional reference to Joshua is remarkable (compare 1 Samuel 14:24).


Verse 31

Aijalon. - The modern Yalo. It lies upon the side of a hill to the south of a fine valley which opens from between the two Bethhorons right down to the western plain of the Philistines, exactly on the route which the Philistines, when expelled from the high country about Michmash and Bethel, would take to regain their own country. Aijalon would be 15 or 20 miles from Michmash.


Verse 33

Sin against the Lord - See the marginal reference “u.” But the prohibition was older than the Law of Moses Genesis 9:4. Compare Acts 15:20, Acts 15:29.


Verse 35

And Saul built … - i. e., of the great stone which they had rolled to kill the oxen and sheep upon, he began to build an altar to Yahweh (see the margin); but he did not finish it (compare 1 Chronicles 27:24), in his haste to pursue the Philistines that night.


Verse 36

Then said the priest … - Ahijah, with equal courage and faithfulness, worthy of his office as “the priest,” when every one else yielded to Saul‘s humor, proposed that they should draw near to God to inquire of Him. (Compare 1 Kings 22:7.)


Verse 37

Asked counsel - The technical phrase for inquiring of God by Urim and Thummim, and applied also to inquiry of other oracles.


Verse 39

Saul‘s rashness becomes more and more apparent. He now adds an additional oath, to bring down yet further guilt in “taking God‘s name in vain” The expressions in 1 Samuel 14:36, 1 Samuel 14:40, indicate the fear in which the people stood of Saul. None dared to resist his will.


Verse 41

Give a perfect lot - The phrase is obscure, but the meaning is probably as in the margin.


Verse 47

Compare 2 Samuel 8:15. The preceding narrative shows that before this time Saul had been king in name only, since his country was occupied by the Philistines, and he could only muster 600 men, and those but half armed and pent up in a narrow stronghold. Now, however, on the expulsion of the Philistines from his country, and the return of the Israelites from their vassalage and from their hiding places 1 Samuel 14:21-22, Saul became king in deed as well as in name, and acted the part of a king through the rest of his reign in defending his people against their enemies round about. A comprehensive list of these enemies, including the Ammonite war which had already been described 1 Samuel 11:1-15, and the Amalekite war which follows in 1 Samuel 14:47-48. There is not the slightest indication from the words whether this “taking the kingdom” occurred soon or really years after Saul‘s anointing at Gilgal. Hence, some would place the clause 1 Samuel 14:47-52 immediately after 1 Samuel 11:1-15, or 1 Samuel 31:1-13, preceded by the formulary, 1 Samuel 13:1, would then follow according to the common method of Hebrew historical narrative.

Zobah - This was one of the petty Ara-roman kingdoms flourishing at this time (Psalm 60:1-12 title). It seems to have been situated between Damascus and the Euphrates.


Verse 49

This enumeration of Saul‘s children and chief officers is according to the analogy of the subsequent annals of David and Solomen‘s reign. But the one here called Ishui, is elsewhere (marginal references) called Abi-nadab; and a fourth son, Esh-baal or Ish-bosheth, is here omitted.


Verse 50

The only other “Ahimaaz” mentioned in Scripture was the son of Zadok the priest. The word “Ahi” (brother) is frequently found in composition in names in the High Priest‘s family, e. g. in Ahijah, Ahimelech. It is not improbable that Ahimaaz may have been of this family, as marriages between the reval and priestly houses were not unusual 2 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 22:11, and perhaps it may have been owing to such a connection that Ahijah was brought into prominence by Saul. If there be any truth in the above supposition, it would be an indication that Saul was not married until after his election to the throne.


Verse 51

Read, “And Kish the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner, were the sons of Abiel.” Ner was Saul‘s uncle.

 


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 14:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-14.html. 1870.

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