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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 30

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-31

The Annihilation of the Amalekites (30:1-31)

David returned to Ziklag only to discover that in the absence of his armed band the Amalekites had seized the opportunity to burn the city, carry away the women and children, including his own two wives, and loot everything. Even David’s own followers turned against him in the first moment of desperation at this calamity, but David took refuge in his religious faith and consulted the divine oracle through Abiathar. Instructed to pursue the Amalekites and assured of success, David and his band set out on the expedition. Lack of food, which had been taken by the raiders, made some of the party drop out exhausted, but an Egyptian slave of the Amalekites gave welcome assistance and offered to lead David to the enemy camp. The Amalekites were totally annihilated, the women and children released, and much more booty recovered than they themselves had lost, especially flocks and herds.

When the returning victors came to those who had dropped out from exhaustion, the question arose about the division of the spoil. Those who had fought sought to deny to those who had fallen by the way the right to a share. David showed his sense of justice by ruling that all should have an equal share, and thereby created a precedent which received official formulation in the priestly legal tradition (Numbers 31:27-47). The story affords one example of Israelite law in the making. The law codes contained in the Pentateuch are composite documents emerging out of the traditions preserved in the various centers of worship. The religious sanctuaries were the most stable centers of a community in process of settlement; the priests thus became custodians of all law, civil and moral as well as ceremonial. Some of this law grew out of their own oracular consultations or from pronouncements of the cult prophets. Other legal rules arose from decisions of kings, elders, and military leaders like David, which established precedents for future occasions. We have here an example of the latter.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Samuel 30". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/1-samuel-30.html.
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