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And the men of Kirjath-je'arim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
Brought it into the house of Abinadab. Why it was not transported at once to Shiloh, where the tabernacle and sacred vessels were remaining, is difficult to conjecture.
Sanctified Eleazar his son. He was not a Levite, and was therefore only set apart or appointed to be keeper of the place.
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-je'arim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
The ark abode ... twenty years. It appears in the subsequent history that a much longer period elapsed before its final removal from Kirjath-jearim, (2 Samuel 6:1-23; 1 Chronicles 13:1.) But that length of time had passed when the Israelites began to revive from their sad state of religious decline. The capture of the ark had produced a general indifference either to its loss or its recovery.
All the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. They were then brought, doubtless by the influence of Samuel's exhortations, to renounce idolatry, and returned to the national worship of the true God.
And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel. A great national reformation was effected through the influence of Samuel. Disgusted with their foreign servitude, and panting for the restoration of liberty and independence, they were open to salutary impression; and, convinced of their errors, they renounced idolatry [Septuagint, tas Baalim. Baal is here represented as a goddess; but it is the masculine in the original text, the Hebrew having no name signifying a goddess, because the Israelites owned no sex in the Deity], and the re-establishment of the faith of their fathers was inaugurated at a great public meeting held at Mizpeh in Judah, and hallowed by the observance of impressive religious solemnities. The 'drawing water, and pouring it out before the Lord,' seems to have been a symbolical act by which, in the people's name, Samuel testified there sense of national corruption, their need of that moral purification of which water is the emblem, and their sincere desire to pour out their hearts in repentance before God.
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
Samuel judged ... Israel in Mizpeh. At the time of Eli's death he could not have much exceeded twenty years of age; and although his character and position must have given him great influence, it does not appear that hitherto he had done more than prophets were accustomed to do. Now he entered on the duties of a civil magistrate.
And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. When the Philistines heard ... The character and importance of the national convention at Mizpeh were fully appreciated by the Philistines. They discerned in it the rising spirit of religious patriotism among the Israelites, that was prepared to throw off the yoke of their domination; and, anxious to crush it at the first, they made a sudden incursion while the Israelites were in the midst of their solemn celebration. Unprepared for resistance, they besought Samuel to supplicate the divine interposition to save them from their enemies.
And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord. Samuel was not a priest, nor of the priestly tribe; yet, as the priesthood lay at that time prostrate, he offered sacrifices, no doubt with the divine sanction: the sacrifices were not offered at the altar of the tabernacle, but at Mizpeh, in that as in other things exempting himself from the law in a troublous and corrupt age (Delitzsch). This fact will serve to explain several anomalies in the life of Samuel-not only his offering sacrifices, but his wearing an ephod, consecrating kings, and being classed (Psalms 99:6) with persons of the priestly order. He was only a Levite, and therefore, by an unalterable statute in the divine law, which guaranteed the priesthood to Aaron's family, incapable of being appointed to the sacerdotal office, as there was probably no need-for Hophni and Phinehas might have sons old enough to enter upon the priestly function. The other acts, such as sacrificing away from the sanctuary, wearing an ephod, and anointing kings, were performed by other commissioned servants of God (Judges 8:27; 1 Samuel 6:14; 1 Kings 18:1; 1 Kings 19:16; 2 Kings 9:6); while the association of his name with those of Moses and Aaron, by the Psalmist, is done in a manner that shows him to have been only in the common order of the Levites.
The prophet's prayers and sacrifice were answered by such a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning that the assailants, panic-struck, were disordered, and fled. The Israelites, recognizing the hand of God, rushed courageously on the foe they had so much dreaded, and committed such immense havoc that the Philistines did not recover for long from this disastrous blow. This brilliant victory secured peace and independence to Israel for twenty years, as well as the restitution of the usurped territory.
And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen - on an open spot between the town and 'the crag' (some well-known rock in the neighbourhood). A huge stone pillar was erected as a monument of their victory (Leviticus 26:1).
The name ... Eben-ezer - i:e., stone of help [Septuagint, Abenezer, lithos tou boeethou]; a memorial of the signal and seasonable deliverance granted by Yahweh. "Set it between Mizpeh and Shen" [ ha-Mitspaah (H4709), the watch-tower] - a conspicuous height a few miles north of Jerusalem [ ha-Sheen (H8129), the tooth or crag], not yet identified. Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 6:, ch. 2:, sec. 2) says, 'The place was called Beth-car, where Samuel set up a stone as a boundary of their victory and the enemy's flight, and called it the stone of power, as a monument of that power which God had given them against their enemies.'
Saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us, [ `azaaraanuw (H5826)]. All large stones in the East receive names, of which there are several instances in Scripture (cf. 1 Samuel 20:19; 1 Kings 1:9).
So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
The cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored ... from Ekron even unto Gath, [Septuagint, apo Askaloonos (Alexandrian, akkaroon) heoos Azob].
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
Samuel judged Israel ...
And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
In all those places, [Septuagint, en pasi tois eegiasmenois toutois, in all these consecrated (holy) places]. He voluntarily performed the functions of an itinerant judge, for the convenience of the people residing in different districts of the country, and for the adjustment of all controversies.
And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD.
His return was to Ramah - not at Nabi-Samuel; the site uncertain (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, pp 40, 141, 331-334; Wilson's 'Lands of the Bible,' 2: p. 36). [But the expression, haa-Raamaataah (H7414) (with the article), shows it is the same as Ramathaim-zophim (see the note at 1 Samuel 1:1: cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities' b. 6: ch. 4:, sec. 6; also ch. 13:, sec. 5).]
There he built an altar unto the Lord. Here is another instance of his deviation from the prescribed ordinance of the law (Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:13). The reason probably was, that at that period of public disorder the tabernacle and its altar were both destroyed; and as Samuel, being a pious man, was desirous of animating his devotions by prayer and sacrifice, Yahweh sanctioned the erection, by accepting the person and services of the worshiper.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
Eve of Ascension