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IX. David at Ziglag in the land of the Philistines
1 Samuel 27:1-12
1And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better1 for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair2 of me to seek me any more in any 2coast of Israel; so shall I escape out of his hand. And David arose and he [om. he] passed over with [he and] the3 six hundred men that were with him unto Achish,4 3the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men; every man with his household, even [om. even] David with [and] his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess,5 Nabal’s wife 4[Nabal’s wife, the Carmelitess]. And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath; and he sought no more again for him.
5And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country [in one of the country-cities], that I may dwell there; for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? 6Then [And] Achish gave him Ziklag that day; wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto 7[to] the kings of Judah unto this day. And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full [om. full] year and four months.
8And David and his men went up and invaded the Geshurites and the Gezrites6 and the Amalekites; for7 those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as 9thou goest to Shur, even [and] unto the land of Egypt. And David smote the land, and left [saved] neither man nor woman alive, and took away [om. away] the8 sheep and the oxen and the asses and the camels and the apparel, and returned 10and came to Achish. And Achish said, Whither9 have ye made a road [an inroad] to-day? And David said, Against the south of Judah and against the south of the 11Jerahmeelites and against the south of the Kenites. And David saved neither man nor woman alive to bring tidings [om. tidings] to Gath, saying, lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be10 his manner all the while he dwelleth 12in the country of the Philistines. And Achish believed [confided in] David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him, therefore [and] he shall be my servant forever.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
V. 1. David flees to Philistia to king Achish of Gath. That this is not the continuation of 1 Samuel 24:23 [1 Samuel 24:22], but of 1 Samuel 26:25, has already been established, against Thenius. In spite of Saul’s renewed assurances that he would desist from his hostility, David, on account of his repeatedly exhibited vacillation in feeling and purpose, could no longer remain in the land of Judah; the event which he hints at in 1 Samuel 26:19, which his increased suffering (the explanation of which is given in chap. 26) predicts, now occurs; he is obliged by Saul’s renewed machinations (comp. 1 Samuel 27:4) to leave the country, to go to Philistia.11 And David said to his heart=“thought, reflected”—thus dramatically is David introduced, taking counsel with himself what he is to do in respect to Saul’s continued hostility. The word “now” (עַתָּה) refers to his present dangerous position. I shall now be carried off into Saul’s hand—not: “by the hand” (Keil, De W., and others). This expression: “into the hand” (בְּיַד שׁ׳) has led the ancient versions to modify the proper meaning of the verb “snatch away” into “He delivered” (Sept.), “fall” (Vulg.). [Cahen and Philippson render “perish by the hand;” Bible Commentary: “fall into the hand.” The Niph. is used in the sense of “perish” in 1 Samuel 12:25 (so Erdmann) and 1 Samuel 26:10—and this sense suits here, though the others are also good.—Tr.] There is nothing good for me.—That is, here, or, if I remain here, as the connection suggests. On account of this negation the כִּי is to be rendered simply “but” (Chald., Syr.), not “yea, I will flee” (Maur., De W.), nor “is it not better that I flee?” (Vulg.), nor (supplying אִם with Sept.), “there is nothing good for me, unless” (Thenius).—His ground for this determination: Saul will desist from me …… and I shall escape him is borne out by the result (1 Samuel 27:4 referring expressly back to these words). [See “Text and Gram.”—Tr.]
1 Samuel 27:2. The number six hundred has remained unchanged—1 Samuel 25:13; 1Sa 23:13; 1 Samuel 22:2.—Achish is identical with the Achish of 1 Samuel 21:10 sq. As a man persecuted by Achish’s enemy, Saul, David might confidently hope to be received by him. The Philistine king Achish of 1 Kings 2:39 may be the same person—though he would then have reigned about fifty years, and must have been very old. He is the son of Maachah, this Achish the “son of Maoch,” probably two forms of the same paternal name. Gath had been before conquered by the Israelites, (1 Samuel 7:14), but appears here and 1 Samuel 21:10 sq. as the residence of an independent king hostile to Saul. See 1 Chronicles 18:1, which states that David afterwards conquered it. That the event here described is a different one from that in 1 Samuel 21:10 sq. has been already there shown by pointing out the difference in the circumstances. There he is a solitary deserter, feigning madness to procure safety, being recognized as Goliath’s conqueror. Here he appears in princely style with all his retinue, and so gains the confidence of Achish. Cler.: “The long enmity that Saul had shown him had made him acceptable to the enemies of the Hebrews and of Saul.”
1 Samuel 27:3. The formal settling of this emigrant colony. Each of the warriors had a family, as appears from the words: With his house.—The same statement is found in 2 Samuel 2:3. A little ambulant kingdom.—His two wives.—See 1 Samuel 25:42-44. [These facts are mentioned to prepare the way for the narrative in chap. 30. (Bib. Com.).—Tr.]
1 Samuel 27:4. See 1 Samuel 27:1. (Read Qeri יָסַף.) David gained his end by this immigration. [In Gath David seems to have studied music—see title of Psalms 8:0 (Ew.)—and may here have become acquainted with Ittai the Gittite, 2 Samuel 15:19 (Bible Com.).—Tr.]
1 Samuel 27:5-7. Achish gives David Ziklag as a residence.
1 Samuel 27:5. If I have found favor with thee.—This is presupposed as a fact in this request. Achish regarded David and his band as allies against Saul, because he sought refuge with him from Saul. He must indeed, as Ewald (III. 137) well remarks, “long since have seen his error as to this strange man, and the more bitterly he regretted it, the more disposed he would now be to receive the distinguished leader of a considerable armed band, who was so often and so sorely persecuted by Saul.” Grotius: “David’s fame and the expectation excited by him must have been great, that a city……should have been granted him for safety.” Give me one of the country-cities.—David asked such a city as property; in 1 Samuel 27:6 it is expressly said that Achish gave it him for a possession. David’s alleged reason for the request is that it was not suitable for him, Achish’s servant and subject to remain in the capital city with his large retinue. The words do not support the explanation (Then.): “it is not fitting that I, who am as thou, a prince, should reside here with thee.” The idea “to burden thee” (Buns.) is not contained in the expression “with thee,” but is involved in the situation. [David subtly suggests the expensiveness of his presence in Gath; his real motive was to be out of the way of observation, so as to play the part of Saul’s enemy without acting against him (Bib. Com.).—Tr.]
1 Samuel 27:6. Ziklag pertained first to Judah (Joshua 15:31), then to Simeon (Joshua 19:5), was afterwards taken by the Philistines, and perhaps remained uninhabited (Keil); according to 1 Samuel 30:1 it lay far south near the Amalekite border. Its position in the Negeb (South country) has not yet been determined. According to Ritter (Erdk. XVI. 133) it was perhaps the present Tel el Hasy north-east of Gaza, “whence one enjoys a wide view, westward to the sea, eastward to the mountains of Hebron, northward to the mountains of Ephraim, and southward to the plains of Egypt.” Comp. Raumer, §225. Knobel conjectures that it was south-west of Milh, in Gasluj [Asluj], on the way to Abdeh (Rob. III. 154, 862 [Am. ed. II. 201]). This would put it much farther south. [See “Ziklag” in Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Mr. Grove does not favor this identification.—Tr.] The remark that it consequently became the property of the kings of Judah confirms the view that the words and he gave him mean that the city was a present from Achish to David. Though the distinction between Judah and Israel appears already in the time of Saul and David (1 Samuel 11:8; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 2:9 sq.; 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Samuel 5:1-5; 1Sa 19:41 sq.; 1 Samuel 20:24), yet the phrase “kings of Judah” indicates that the narrative supposes the division of Israel into two kingdoms and the existence of the kingdom of Judah [so that this Book was composed between Solomon and the Babylonian exile.—Tr.]
1 Samuel 27:7. A year and four months. The first expression (יָמִים) = “some time, a considerable time,” Gen. 4:40; 1 Samuel 29:3, then = “a year,” Leviticus 25:29; Jdg 17:10; 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 2:19, etc.12 This exact statement of time attests the historical value of the narrative (Then., Keil).
1 Samuel 27:8-12. David makes incursions from Ziklag into the territory of the neighboring tribes on the south border of Palestine, returns with rich booty, and has the confidence of king Achish.
1 Samuel 27:8. And he went up, not “he went out” (De W., Keil); the tribes dwelt on higher ground than Ziklag, probably on the mountain-plateau of the northern portion of the wilderness of Paran. “Invaded” (פָּשַׁט), literally “spread themselves out;” the word is used especially of a hostile army (1 Chronicles 14:9; 1 Chronicles 14:13), and so means to attack a city or land. (Here with אֵל, as 1 Samuel 30:1; Judges 20:37,=“to attack towards,” with עַלit=“fall on,” as 1 Samuel 23:27; Judges 9:33; Judges 9:44.)—The district of the Geshurites (to be distinguished from the little Aramæan kingdom of Geshur, 2 Samuel 15:8; comp. 2Sa 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37; 2 Samuel 14:23, and from the northern Geshurites near Hermon on the border of Bashan (Gilead), Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:13) lay south of Philistia near the district of the Amalekites, along with which it is here named.—[Comp. Joshua 13:2-3.—Tr.]—The Gezrites (Qeri) or Girzites (Kethib), a tribe not elsewhere mentioned, who, since the scene of David’s incursions was the south of Philistia and Palestine, must not be identified (Grot., Ew.) with the inhabitants of Gezer (Joshua 10:33) in the west of Ephraim. Nor can we think of the Gerrenni (2Ma 13:24), inhabitants of the city Gerra between Rhinocoloura and Pelusium (Cler.), since this would carry us beyond the Arabian desert, in which the Gezrites at any rate dwelt.—[In Smith’s Bib. Dict., Art. “Gerzites,” Mr. Grove, following Gesenius, Fürst, Stanley, suggests a connection between this people and the tribe which was connected with Mount Gerizim in central Palestine. This is an ingenious, though as yet unestablished conjecture.—Tr.]—Here, after Saul’s war of extermination against them (1 Samuel 15:7), the Amalekites had collected their scattered remnant and established themselves.—The13 safest rendering of the following (very difficult) clause seems to be: “David … invaded. … the Amalekites (for these were inhabitants of the land, who inhabited it of old) as far as Shur and Egypt.” The second verb “inhabited” is naturally to be supplied from the preceding participle [“inhabitants”]. David carried his incursions as far as Shur and the Egyptian border. That the Amalekites as nomads held this district is involved in 1 Samuel 15:7, where Saul is said to have smitten them “up to Shur, which is on the border of Egypt.” Their old seats in the south of Palestine stretched into Arabia Petræa (Exodus 17:8 sq.; comp. Numbers 13:29). The narrator here, in accordance with 1 Samuel 15:7, assumes this in the remark that David extended his incursions to Shur and Egypt. Perhaps he describes them as the original inhabitants of these regions with reference to their opposition to Israel in the Exodus (Exodus 17:8 sq.), and to their defeat by Saul (1 Samuel 15:7), which, however, did not prevent their re-collection and settlement here. “To make military expeditions from Ziklag, at the best mere incursions for booty, was at that time a necessity for David and his men” (Ew.).14
1 Samuel 27:9. As nomads these tribes had large herds.—He left neither man nor woman alive; the reason for this is given in 1 Samuel 27:11. He needed the rich booty partly for the support of himself and his men, partly to retain and increase the king’s favor. It was for this latter reason that, after his return from his expeditions, he went to Gath, instead of going immediately to Ziklag, in order to make report of his movements to Achish and deliver him a part of the spoil.
1 Samuel 27:10. The verb “said,” like the “went up” in 1 Samuel 27:8, here expresses customary, repeated acting. The meaning is: Achish used to say: “Against whom have ye made an incursion this time?”15 David’s answer: Against the south of Judah and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, comp. 1 Samuel 30:29, the posterity of Jerahmeel, the first-born of Hezron (2 Chronicles 2:9, 25), and so “one of the three great families of Judah descended from Hezron who probably dwelt on the southernmost border of the Tribe of Judah” (Keil), and against the south of the Kenites,—who were under the protection of Judah (comp. 1 Samuel 15:5-6; Judges 1:16), mentioned along with Amalek in Numbers 24:21, where it is said of them: “in rocks thou hast put thy rest,” referring to their dwellings in the rocks and caves south of Palestine, to which also their name points.16—All the tribes mentioned here and in 1 Samuel 27:8 dwelt near one another in the district bordering on the Negeb (south country) of Judah, and stretching between the hill country of Judah and the Arabian desert (see Joshua 15:21). David’s expeditions were really against the tribes named in 1 Samuel 27:8, who extended close into the south of Judah. It was his interest, however, to make Achish believe that he had made an expedition against Saul, and consequently against the men of Judah. He therefore says nothing of his incursion against the tribes named in 1 Samuel 27:8, which were on friendly terms with Achish (1 Samuel 27:11), but declares that he has marched against the south of Judah, that is against the Israelites there and the tribes under their protection. This deception was made possible only by the fact that those tribes dwelt so near together that “that when the march began, no one could tell its destination” (Then.).
1 Samuel 27:11. Confirmation of David’s endeavor to deceive Achish as to the object of his attack. He spared neither man nor woman to bring them to Gath, though he was accustomed to carry thither the richest booty. The narrator thus resumes the statement in 1 Samuel 27:9 in order to add the explanation: “he did not, as was the custom in war, carry them to Gath, but slew them, that he might not be betrayed by them to Achish.” Contrary to the Masoretic accentuation a stronger punctuation mark is to be put after the words: saying, lest they tell on us, saying, So did David (Sept. Vulg., Maur., Then., Keil), since the following words: And so was his manner all the while he dwelt in the land of the Philistines, are naturally not a part of the preceding speech, but are the continuation of the narrator. מִשְׁפָּט = his constant, habitual conduct, as in 1 Samuel 27:8-9.
1 Samuel 27:12 refers back to 1 Samuel 27:10; David’s deception succeeded completely with Achish. From David’s reports (which he received for pure coin), Achish drew two favorable considerations: 1) To preserve my favor and friendship, he has made himself thoroughly hateful to his people, or better (from the literal meaning of the Heb. “stench,”) made himself “a loathing” (comp. 1 Samuel 13:12), and 2) completely alienated from his people, as their enemy, he will now be my servant forever. The word “forever” (עוֹלָם) refers to the present, when David already stood in the relation of vassal and dependent to Achish, who is now sure that he will always be subject to him.
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. David’s removal to Philistia, regarded in the light of his previous divine guidance, was a self-willed act, which had its ground in little faith, and produced one sin after another. Though a prophet, David had received the divine command to take up his abode not in a foreign land, but at home, in the land of Judah (1 Samuel 22:5). He disobeyed this command under the conviction that there was no escape for him from Saul but in Philistia. Hitherto in important undertakings and difficult positions he had repeatedly sought the divine counsel and will through God’s word and through prayer to God. Here he proceeds in his own strength, and nothing is said of his inquiring of the Lord. He was certain of his divine calling as the Anointed of the Lord; he knew the divine promises, which could not lie; he had had most excellent experiences of the divine deliverance (1 Samuel 17:37) and the saving power of the Lord; and yet in the difficult position produced by Saul’s persistent hate, he becomes timid and faint-hearted; in littleness and weakness of faith he goes his own way.
2. But, along with God’s people’s experiences of His goodness and faithfulness, there are manifestations of His punitive, chastening righteousness, as a witness against the unbelief and disobedience (and the connected unfaithfulness) which are concealed behind their littleness and weakness of faith. David was to feel painfully removal from association with God’s people (1 Samuel 26:19); as “Anointed of the Lord” he was to feel in his conscience the punishment of dependence on a heathen king, which he had himself assumed, and which was only externally somewhat softened by the somewhat freer position which his residence in Ziklag gave him; yet he found himself obliged in order to preserve the king’s favor, to take a stand and maintain a conduct towards not only Saul but also his people, whereby he would appear to the heathen to be their enemy. Further, he saw himself forced into paths of untruthfulness and prevarication, and with king Achish to have recourse to trickery and lies.—F. W. Krummacher: “Was not David again guilty of open lying and denial of his people? In the eyes of God—undoubtedly. To himself David may indeed have attempted to justify himself by saying that his ambiguous language was only an allowable stratagem of war, and that it was a heathen to whom he veiled the truth. … But he will soon find out that God weighs those who will belong to Him in the scales of the Sanctuary, in which there is, among others, as weight-stone, the indestructible word: Thou shalt not bear false witness.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
[1 Samuel 27:1. Hall: The over-long continuance of a temptation may easily weary the best patience, and may attain that by protraction which it could never do by violence. David himself at last begins to bend under this trial. … The greatest saints upon earth are not always upon the same pitch of spiritual strength: he that some time said, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands,” now says, “I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul.”—Tr.]. 1 Samuel 27:1 sq. Schlier: We suppose that when one has attained to faith, then everything must go on straight and smooth, that there must always be progress from faith to faith; and if it turns out otherwise, we suppose the whole has been only an appearance. He who so thinks knows neither the human heart nor human life.—Starke: Even the heroic power of faith in the servants of God alternates with human weaknesses.—Hedinger [from Hall]: “The best faith is but like the twilight, mixed with some degrees of darkness and infidelity.
1 Samuel 27:5 sq. Schlier: We suppose that when one comes to be of little faith, and in weakness enters upon wrong ways, now God’s judgments would of necessity follow immediately, that now the Lord’s chastening hand will take hold and by punishments re-establish the old faith. And it is true that in a case of unbelief things often happen so. But little-faith is not unbelief; the Lord helps the little-faith of His people in other ways. … The Lord goes after His children with love alone; and when one becomes weak in faith He first heaps up benefits upon him, and when one loses heart, He lets him find out what a faithful and thoroughly kind God he has.
1 Samuel 27:10 sq. Hedinger [from Hall]: The infirmities of God’s children never appear but in their extremities. [Hall: It is hard for the best man to say, how far he will be tempted. If a man will put himself among Philistines, he cannot promise to come forth innocent.—Tr.].—Berl. B.: So one sin rises out of another; out of mistrust towards God comes fear of man, dissimulation and lying. [Taylor: Mark the prolific progeny that sprang from the one parent sin of unbelief in this dark chapter of David’s life; prayerlessness; desertion of the sphere of duty; theft; murder; falsehood. All these have germinated from the one innocent-looking seed, loss of confidence in God.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:1. A good man in a season of dejection. He forgets past blessings and promises, ignores present mercies, exaggerates coming evils, forms unwise plans without consultation or prayer, and often involves himself in great difficulties, from which only some special providence can deliver.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:1. So the Vulg.; Chald. and Syr. have: “there is nothing good for me, but I will escape,” which is the rendering adopted by Erdmann. Very near this is the Sept. ἐὰν μή. It is more literally exact, but Eng. A. V. gives the sense.—It is not necessary to read כִּי אִם instead of כִּי.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:1. Or, “desist from me.” The idea of the word is “to give a thing up as impossible or useless.”—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:2. The Art. is properly inserted as in Sept.; it is required by the connection and permitted by the Heb.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:2. The origin and meaning of these names are uncertain; conjectures may be found in the lexicons of Gesenius and Fürst. Hitzig’s comparison of the Sept. form Ἀκχοῦς with Ἀγχἰσης is groundless.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:3. Sept. has “wife of Nabal the Carmelite,” and so Arab.; Syr., Vulg., and Chald., are ambiguous. The Greek text is supported by 1 Samuel 30:5, and 2 Samuel 2:2, and is probably to be preferred here.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:8. So the Qeri; Kethib is “Girzites,” both unknown names. Sept. has merely “Gesirites and Amalekites,” whence Wellhausen supposes the Heb. “Geshurites” and “Gezrites” to be a duplet or double reading (by clerical error) of the same name, of which there are many examples in the Sept., but very few in the Heb. As the Sept. might easily have omitted one name accidentally or from not understanding it, and as the other VSS. all give three names (Syr. and Arab. putting “Gedola” for the second) it is bettor to retain the Heb. text.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:8. On this difficult clause see Erdmann in the Exposition. Instead of “as thou goest to,” we may render “unto,” “unto Shur and Egypt.” On the text (which the VSS. treat variously) it may be remarked 1) that the אֲשֶׁר refers to the הָאָרֶץ, and Erdmann’s translation “the land which they of old inhabited” is so far correct; 2) the sentence requires a name of a place instead of עוֹלָם, a terminus a quo to correspond to the terminus ad quem, and the parenthetic rendering of Erdmann “and David invaded … the Amalekites—for these were the inhabitants of the land, which (they inhabited) of old—as far as Shur and Egypt” is against the connection of the words, while the insertion of “they inhabited” after “which” is violent, and here not permissible.—If we provisionally read טֶלֶם (as some Grk. MSS. read and the Vat. MS. suggests), we may render: “David invaded … the Amalekites, for those inhabited the land which reached from Telem to Shur and to Egypt” (so Thenius and Wellhausen). By omitting אֲשֶׁר we get a simple sense: “for these inhabited the land of old, etc.” (so Syr. and Vulg., followed by Eng. A. V.); but, as Then. remarks, what is the propriety of referring here to the antiquity of these tribes?—Sept. (Vat.) hero has a duplet.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:9. The Articles are here proper, because the Heb., though without the Art., supposes that all the animals and clothing were carried off.—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:10. Instead of אַל several MSS. of De Rossi read אָן, which is safer (so Eng. A. V.). The MSS. and Edd. in the succeeding words waver between עַל and אֵל (as in 1 Samuel 27:8).—Tr.]
[1 Samuel 27:11. Syr., Chald., Arab., and some MSS., regard this clause as the word of the narrator, not of the informers, and this is better, since the informers would not express an opinion as to David’s future conduct. Put a full stop after David, and render: “And this was his custom all the while he dwelt, etc.”—Tr.]
[The reason why David goes to Philistia rather than to friendly Moab is perhaps partly because he would be more secure with this strong military nation (being no longer able with his large band, in which were many women and children, to hide or subsist in mountain-caves), and partly because he wished to be near his country, to help his people, or to take advantage of whatever might happen.—Tr.]
[Rashi and others, on the assumed ground that Saul reigned only two years, render “some days” (Philippson).—Tr.]
[In the Germ. this paragraph follows the text-criticism below.—Tr.]
Text-criticism of latter half of verse 8.—ישְׁבוֹת כִּי הֵנָּה is as to its gender (fem.) const. ad sensum, as if מִשְׁפְחוֹת, gentes, familiœ, preceded. Expositors have dealt variously with the words אֲשֶׁר, etc. (which are attached to הָאָרֶץ), on account of the difficulties in them which centre in אֲשֶׁר. Thenius regards the אֲשֶׁר in the present text as inexplicable, since it is without connections, and thinks it strange that no term. a quo accompanies the term. ad quem, as is usual (Genesis 10:19; Genesis 10:30; Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Judges 11:33), and, supposing the error to be in מֵעוֹלם, he reads מִטֶּלֶם after the Sept. ἀπὸ Γελὰμ, the latter word being taken as miswritten for Τελάμ. This reading would certainly give a simple and natural explanation, as Telem = Telaim (1 Samuel 15:4) was on the south border of Palestine (Joshua 15:24; 1 Samuel 15:4 sq.), not far from the Amalekite territory, which Saul thence invaded. But to read Telem we must suppose a clerical error in the Sept.; and then all the other VSS. presuppose our Hebrew text. Perhaps the Sept. read wrongly מֵעֵילָם, and rendered it ἀπὸ Γελάμ, though elsewhere, as Thenius rightly objects, this word “Elam” is rendered by them ’Ελάμ or Αἰλάμ. For the rest we find בּוֹאֲךָ without term. a quo in Genesis 13:10 [where, however, a term. a quo is implied in the “garden of Egypt.”—Tr.] Resort has been had to the omission of אֲשֶׁר; so the ancient VSS. [and Eng. A. V.] and Bunsen, who translates: “for these were of old the inhabitants of this land as far as,” etc. But it is found in all codices, and its great difficulty makes a clerical error improbable. The example of the ancient VSS. is not authority for omitting it, since they often smooth down or go around difficulties. Seb. Schmid takes אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם as parenthesis: “they dwelt in the land, which was of old, as thou goest.” But there was no need to state the antiquity of the land in itself. Keil takes אֲשֶׁר as adverb and בּוֹאֲךָ as Inf., so that the literal rendering would be: “where of old thy coming is to Shur;” that is, where of old one travels to Shur up to Egypt. But בּוֹאֲךָ in such geographical and local statements is always used in the sense of “as far as.” Moreover, one does not see the reason for such a local statement here. If it means that of old the road to Shur or Egypt passed through this land, then the term. a quo, namely, Palestine, may easily be supplied from the context; but why this remark, when there was no other road to Egypt? And the suffix does not fit in with the “of old,” because it would necessarily refer to present going. It seems safest with Ewald to regard the words from כִּי to מֵעוֹלָם as parenthesis—and to take the following as stating how far southward David pushed his incursions. [On this reading see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]
Text-criticism.—The אַל is difficult. To take it as particle of subjective negation, like μή =“ye went not out [seid nicht ausgezogen) to-day” (Gesenius, Keil), is unsatisfactory, since it cannot be supposed that Achish expected a negative answer (Then.). [Gesen. and Keil both take it as interrogative.—Tr.] De Wette’s rendering; “did ye not make an incursion to-day?” = Aben Ezra’s nonne irruistis? requires לֹא or הֲלֹא, for which אַל is never used. Maurer explains: nihil hodie invasistis? sc. nullam in regionem hodie invasistis! referring to 1 Samuel 30:14, where also the verb is construed first with the Acc., and then with עַל. But to connect such an accusatival relation with אַל is unsafe, and the difficulty from the constant meaning of the latter remains. The reading אָך, whither, has therefore been adopted by some (Chald., Syr., Arab., R. Jesh., Rashi, D. Kimchi, Bunsen, et al.). But if a text-error must be assumed, it is better (following the Sept. ἐπὶ τίνα, Vulg. im quem) to suppose that מִי has fallen out, and instead of אַל to read אֶל (as in 1 Samuel 27:8), or עַל, which latter is preferable because of the עַל in David’s answer (Then.) = עַל־מִי, “against whom?” So also R. Jonah and R. Levi.
[The name, of uncertain origin, is surmised by Gesen. to mean “smith.”—Tr.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12