Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 18:25

Saul then said, "Thus you shall say to David, ‘The king does not desire any dowry except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king's enemies.'" Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   David;   Jealousy;   Malice;   Marriage;   Michal;   Philistines;   Prudence;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Circumcision;   Philistines, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Dowry;   Michal;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Benjamin;   David;   Marriage;   Michal;   Saul, king of israel;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Dowry;   Marriage;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - David;   Saul;   Holman Bible Dictionary - David;   Dowry;   Michal;   Saul;   Vengeance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Marriage;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Betrothal;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Dowry;   Michal ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - War;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Dowry;   Foreskin;   Marriage;   Samuel, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Circumcision;   Marriage;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

But a hundred foreskins - That is, Thou shalt slay one hundred Philistines, and thou shalt produce their foreskins, as a proof, not only that thou hast killed one hundred men, but that these are of the uncircumcised. A custom similar to this still prevails among the Abyssinians, according to Bruce. See his Travels.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

An hundred foreskins - This is merely another expression of the spirit which led to the constant application of the epithet uncircumcised to the Philistines 1 Samuel 14:6.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-18.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Saul said, thus shall ye say to David,.... In answer to his objections, and in order to remove them, and especially what concerned the dowry:

the king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies; that is, he required or desired no other dowry of David, but that he would slay an hundred Philistines, and bring their foreskins to him; by which he would be able to know that they were Philistines he slew, not Israelites who were circumcised; though it cannot well be thought that Saul should have any suspicion of that, or take such a method to prevent it; but as those were almost, if not altogether, the only uncircumcised persons that were their neighbours, since the Arabians, Edomites, Midianites, &c. received circumcision from their ancestors, it would be a clear case to him that these were the men he slew; and whom he the rather pitched upon, because they were his enemies, and the enemies of Israel, and abhorred of the Lord; which carried in it a show of zeal for the glory of God, and the good of his people, and because he hoped David would fall by them in the enterprise, or however render himself very odious to them, and they would bear him ill will, and seek his ruin. StraboF25Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. l. 1. c. 24. reports of the people in Carmania, that no man among them marries a wife before he cuts off the head of an enemy, and brings it to the king; and the king lays up the skulls in a treasury, and he is the most famous that has the most heads brought unto him. Saul chose not heads, but foreskins, for the reasons before given:

but Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines; he hoped in the enterprise the Philistines would be too powerful for him, and kill him.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-18.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The king desireth not any dowry — In Eastern countries the husband purchases his wife either by gifts or services. As neither David nor his family were in circumstances to give a suitable dowry for a princess, the king intimated that he would be graciously pleased to accept some gallant deed in the public service.

a hundred foreskins of the Philistines — Such mutilations on the bodies of their slain enemies were commonly practiced in ancient war, and the number told indicated the glory of the victory. Saul‘s willingness to accept a public service had an air of liberality, while his choice of so difficult and hazardous a service seemed only putting a proper value on gaining the hand of a king‘s daughter. But he covered unprincipled malice against David under this proposal, which exhibited a zeal for God and the covenant of circumcision.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 18:25 And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

Ver. 25. !!An hundred foreskins of the Philistines.] Not a hundred heads, as Josephus hath it, but foreskins; the more to enrage the Philistines against David: for besides the loss of so many men, they would take it for a foul disgrace and despite done to their whole nation: as also that this victory might be the more ignominious.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-18.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

An hundred foreskins: these he desires rather than their heads; partly, for the greater convenience of bringing them, and presenting them before him; partly, to cover his malice against David with a pretence of zeal for God, and for his people, and for the covenant of circumcision; and partly, that the Philistines might be the more enraged against David for this reproachful and barbarous usage of them, and might therefore watch all opportunities to destroy him.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-samuel-18.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

25.A hundred foreskins — This demand savours of the spirit and manners of that age, and reminds one of the American Indians preserving as trophies the scalps of their victims.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-samuel-18.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 18:25. The king desireth not any dowry — It was customary in those times for the husband to give a present, or, as it is rendered, a dowry, to his father-in-law when he received his wife. But a hundred foreskins of the Philistines — Saul made this demand of David, probably thinking that the necessity he would be under of attacking the Philistines at a disadvantage, or, at all hazards, in order to get the proposed number of foreskins within the time limited, would bring him into such dangerous encounters, as he could scarcely escape from. It is likely that Saul required the foreskins rather than the heads of the Philistines, to take away all possibility of David’s deceiving him, by bringing the heads of such of his own men as might fall in battle, and passing them on him for the heads of the Philistines.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-samuel-18.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Dowry. Among the Hebrews, the man had to purchase his wife. --- Philistines. They were the nearest nation of those who were not circumcised; and thus Saul would prove that David had attacked them, which would greatly irritate them against him. (Calmet) --- Josephus specifies six hundred heads, (Haydock) falsely, (Horn) as he frequently disguises what might give his readers offence, as being either mean or incredible. (Calmet) --- Hundred is not specified in the original Hebrew copies, (Capel, iii. 17,) and David gives 200, ver. 27. But Saul only stipulated for 100. See 2 Kings iii. 14. (Calmet) --- Wife, "thinking it mean to be guilty of an untruth," &c., says Josephus; "yet his disposition was not altered. He resolved, therefore, to take away his life, and wished Jonathan and his most trusty servants to put his designs in execution." He then mentions the friendship of these two. But he takes no notice of the proffered marriage of Merob, and he seems not to have known that she was ever promised. See ver. 17., and 19., and chap. xvii. 12. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-samuel-18.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

The king desireth not any dowry. In Eastern countries the husband purchases his wife either by gifts or services. Since neither David nor his family were in circumstances to give a suitable dowry for a princess, the king intimated that he would be graciously pleased to accept some gallant deed in the public service.

An hundred foreskins of the Philistines. Such mutilations on the bodies of their slain enemies were commonly practiced in ancient war, and the number told indicated the glory of the victory. Saul's willingness to accept a public service had an air of liberality, while his choice of so difficult and hazardous a service seemed only putting a proper value on gaining the hand of a king's daughter. But he covered unprincipled malice against David under this proposal, which exhibited a zeal for God and the covenant of circumcision.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(25) An hundred foreskins.—Wordsworth’s note here, which he derives from Theodoret, is curious. Foreskins! why not heads? Here is a sign of Saul’s suspicious and malignant spirit. He, judging for himself, impiously suspects that David would go forth and destroy some of the Israelites—Saul’s own subjects—as he himself desired to destroy David, his own deliverer; and the foreskins were required as a proof that they who were killed were not Israelites. Josephus, however, with a strange exaggeration, mentions 600 heads as the price of Michal.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
dowry
Genesis 29:18; 34:12; Exodus 22:16,17
but an hundred
That is, Thou shalt slay one hundred Philistines, and thou shalt produce their foreskins as a proof, not only that thou hast killed one hundred men, but that these are of the uncircumcised Philistines.
foreskins
17:26,36; Genesis 17:11-14; Joshua 5:3
to be avenged
14:24
thought
17; 2 Samuel 17:8-11
Reciprocal: Numbers 35:20 - by laying;  1 Samuel 18:13 - removed;  2 Samuel 3:14 - an hundred;  2 Samuel 11:15 - Set ye;  2 Samuel 19:9 - The king;  Hosea 3:2 - I bought

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:25". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-samuel-18.html.