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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 11

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Nahash was king of the children of Ammon, as appears from 1 Samuel 12:12. He seems to have been connected with the family of David, since Abigail, David’s sister, was “the daughter (perhaps granddaughter) of Nahash” 2 Samuel 17:25; 1 Chronicles 2:16-17; and, perhaps, in consequence of this connection, he and his family were very friendly to David 2 Samuel 17:27.

Jabesh-Gilead must have been re-populated after its destruction (see marginal reference). The Ammonites and Moabites resented the possession of Gilead by the Israelites Judges 10:6-18; Judges 11:0.

Verse 3

The elders - Observe the universal form of civil government among the Israelites, by elders (Judges 8:14, Judges 8:16, etc.).

Verse 4

They came to Gibeah on account of the connection between the Benjamites and the people of Jabesh Judges 21:0.

In the ears of the people - They did not even inquire for Saul, so little was he looked upon as king. 1 Samuel 11:5 shows how completely he was still in a private and humble station.

Verse 6

This time the Spirit of God came upon him, as upon the Judges before him, as a Spirit of supernatural energy and power.

Verse 7

Though not expressly stated, it is doubtless implied that he sent the portions by the messengers to the twelve tribes, after the analogy, and probably in imitation, of Judges 19:29. He made use of the revered name of Samuel to strengthen his own weak authority. Samuel accompanied Saul in the expedition 1 Samuel 11:12.

Verse 8

He numbered them - This was done to see who was absent (compare Judges 21:9).

Bezek has been conjectured to be the name of a district rather than of a town. Two villages retained the name in the time of Eusebius 17 miles from Nablous, on the way to Beth-shean.

The children of Israel and the men of Judah - This looks like the language of later times, times perhaps subsequent to the establishment of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Israel here (including Benjamin) is as ten to one compared with Judah. This is about the true proportion.

Verse 9

The distance from Bezek to Jabesh-Gilead would perhaps be about twenty miles.

Verse 10

Tomorrow - Probably the last of the “seven days’ respite” 1 Samuel 11:3. Their words were spoken in guile, to throw the Ammonites off their guard.

Verse 11

The march from Bezek may have begun the night before. This disposition of the forces “in three companies” (imitating Gideon’s strategy, compare the marginal reference.) would not have been made until the morning when they were very near the Ammonitish forces. “The morning watch” was the last of the three watches, of four hours each, into which the night was anciently divided by the Hebrews. (See Judges 7:19 note.) The time thus indicated would be between two and six in the morning.

Verse 13

There shall not a man ... - An instance of great moderation, as well as good policy, on the part of Saul. Compare David’s conduct (marginal reference).

Verse 14

Let us go to Gilgal - i. e., to Gilgal by Jericho, where was a famous sanctuary, in the tribe of Benjamin.

Verse 15

Made Saul king - The Septuagint has another reading, “and Samuel anointed Saul king there.” The example of David, who, besides his original anointing by Samuel 1 Samuel 16:12-13, was twice anointed, first as king of Judah 2 Samuel 2:4, and again as king over all Israel 2 Samuel 5:3, makes it probable that Saul was anointed a second time; but this may be included in the word “made king” (see 1 Samuel 12:3, 1 Samuel 12:5).

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/1-samuel-11.html. 1870.
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