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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 13

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-23

1 Samuel 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

1 Samuel 13:1 Comments - The text of 1 Samuel 13:1 is difficult for translators. The Hebrew text literally reads, “a son of a year in his reigning,” while the KJV translates “Saul reigned one year.” Many English translations reflect the difficulty of translating this phrase.

ASV, “Saul was (1) forty years old when he began to reign; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, 1) The number is lacking in the Hebrew text, and is supplied conjecturally.”

DRC, “Saul was a child of one year when he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel.”

Rotherham, “Saul was (thirty) years old when he began to reign; and, when he had reigned two years over Israel.”

HNV, “Sha'ul was [forty] years old when he began to reign; and when he had reigned two years over Yisra'el.”

RSV, “Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel.”

YLT, “A son of a year is Saul in his reigning, yea, two years he hath reigned over Israel”

Peter Pett, in his work “The Use of Numbers in the Ancient Near East and In Genesis,” suggests that 1 Samuel 13:1 gives us a primitive example of the ancient Hebrew numbering system. He translated this verse to literally read, “Saul was one year old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem.” He explains that the later kings beginning with David had recorders who recorded the ages of the kings when they started and ended their reigns. When these recorders looked back on the reign of Saul, there was no record of his age when he began to reign. Therefore, since they knew that Saul began to reign as a youth and died in his maturity, they referred to his youth as “a son of a year” and to his reign as “two years.” The number two represents “a few” as seen in other verses written during this period of Hebrew history (see 1 Kings 17:12, 2 Kings 6:10). [27]

[27] Peter Pett, “The Use of Numbers in the Ancient Near East and in Genesis,” [on-line]; accessed 3 August 2009; available from http://www.geocities.com/genesiscommentary/numbers.html; Internet.

1 Kings 17:12, “And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks , that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

2 Kings 6:10, “And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice .”

1 Samuel 13:3-4 Comments Saul’s Display of Pride - This was a touch of pride on Saul's part, to boast in his strength. Yet, Jonathan and one thousand men were in the battle, not Saul with his two thousand men.

1 Samuel 13:6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.

1 Samuel 13:6 “in a strait” Comments - Or, “hard pressed.”

1 Samuel 13:8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

1 Samuel 13:8 “And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed” Comments - When Saul wanted to inquire of the Lord, Samuel had told him to go and wait seven days at Gilgal for Samuel (1 Samuel 10:8).

1 Samuel 10:8, 'And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.”

1 Samuel 13:11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

1 Samuel 13:11 Comments - Saul’s reaction to his wrongdoing was to give excuses. This is human reason.

1 Samuel 13:12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

1 Samuel 13:12 Comments - Saul was justifying his sin and making an excuse (Proverbs 28:13).

Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

1 Samuel 13:14 Comments - After the Lord took the kingdom from Saul, He looked for a man after His own heart. This qualification was found in David (Acts 13:22).

Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart , which shall fulfil all my will.”

1 Samuel 13:22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.

1 Samuel 13:22 Comments - Neither did the children of Israel have swords and spears in the days of Deborah and Barak.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 13". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-samuel-13.html. 2013.
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