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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 14

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-52

See on 1 Samuel 9:1. There are clearly two accounts of the institution of the kingship. In 1 Samuel 8, the wish for a king is regarded as a sign of disloyalty to the real King, Jehovah, and, as such, Samuel protests against it. In 1 Samuel 9 - 1 Samuel 10:16, Jehovah himself chooses Saul to deliver his people from the Philistines: cp. Intro. § 2.

Verses 1-52

Jonathan’s Exploit. The Battle of Michmash. A Summary of Saul’s Reign

3. Ahiah] RV ’Ahijah,’ probably merely another form of Ahimelech (1 Samuel 21:1). Melech (king) was one of the titles of Jah or Jehovah.

4. Between the passages] RV ’between the passes.’

9. It has been suggested that the reply would show that the Philistines were brave men, and Jonathan would give up the enterprise as impossible; but in view of 1 Samuel 14:6, it is better to take the sign as a purely arbitrary one: cp. Judges 7:4.

14. An half acre of land.. plow] RV ’half a furrow’s length in an acre of land,’ i.e. half the length of one of the sides of an acre.

15. There was a trembling both in the (fortified) camp and in the (open) country; all the people, both garrison and. plundering bands, trembled.

16. Behold, the multitude.. one another] LXX reads, ’Behold the multitude melted away’ (i.e. dispersed in confusion) ’hither and thither.’

18. LXX reads, ’Bring hither the ephod. For he wore the ephod.’ It was the Urim and Thummim in the ephod and not the ark which was used to discover the will of God: see 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7.

19. Withdraw thine hand] Saul had not patience to wait: cp. 1 Samuel 13:9.

24. The purpose of this ’taboo ’on food was probably to secure by fasting the continued presence of Jehovah with the victorious army. Israel’s battles were Jehovah’s, and Saul’s motive, according to the ideas of his time, was religious. The people acquiesce: cp. Judges 21:18

25. All they of the land] Heb. ’all the land.’ Saul’s success had made all the country rise against the foreigners.

27. His eyes were enlightened] lit. ’became bright,’ a sure sign of health and vigour. He had been weary with the day’s exertions, and now recovers.

31. Aijalon] see on Judges 1:35. It was the natural route by which the defeated Philistines would retreat to their own country.

32. Eat them with the blood] in direct opposition to the command of God: Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 20:26. This prohibition to eat with the blood is still carefully observed by strict Jews.

33. Transgressed] RV ’dealt treacherously,’ i.e. disobediently, as if they had been enemies of Jehovah.

34. The stone would allow the blood to run down from the carcase.

35. Built an altar] to commemorate his victory: cp. Exodus 17:15; Joshua 22:34 or in reference to Joshua 22:33 the word for ’altar’ means, properly, ’place for slaughtering.’

41. Give a perfect lot] RV ’shew the right.’

43. And, lo, I must die] rather, ’Here am I, I will die.’ Jonathan does not flinch. This ’taboo,’ or ’ban,’ which Saul had placed upon the taking of food (see on 1 Samuel 14:24) is regarded with as much reverence as Jephthah’s vow (Judges 11:35); but Jonathan’s life, unlike that of Jephthah’s daughter, is important to the whole nation, and Saul finds that his power is very strictly limited by the popular will.

45. Rescued] Heb. ’ransomed.’ This does not mean that another person was killed in Jonathan’s place. The ransom paid might be the life of an animal or a sum of money (1 Samuel 13:13, 1 Samuel 13:15).

47-51. These vv. form a conclusion to the life of Saul, after which the editor turns to another section of his history, ’Saul and David.’

47. The disastrous ending of the life of Saul must not blind us to his many virtues. The earlier part of his reign was a series of successes. To the end the nation was contented with his rule, and it remained faithful to his dynasty even after his death. See Intro. § 7. We know nothing from other sources as to any expedition against Zobah, and the victories over the Philistines would appear to be more sweepingly stated than seems warranted by the last disastrous battle on Mt. Gilboa. This brief summary aptly illustrates the fragmentary and episodic nature of the history of Saul.

48. Gathered an host] RV ’did valiantly.’

49. The two daughters are mentioned because of the important part they play in the later history.

51. Probably the v. originally ran, ’and Kish the father of Saul and Ner the father of Abner were the sons of Abiel.’ Saul and Abner were first cousins.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 14". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/1-samuel-14.html. 1909.
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