top of page

Poole on 1 Samuel 11:3, 4: A Cry for Help!

Verse 3:[1] And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us (Heb. forbear us[2]) seven days’ respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee.

[Grant to us seven days] Of such grants made for a day under condition, we set down certain examples in the notes on Concerning the Law of War and Peace 3:24:14 (Grotius). They ask seven days, because the Ammonites would not concede more, nor were fewer sufficient muster auxiliaries. Moreover, that Nahash conceded this, Josephus rightly gathers from this passage, with Tostatus and Carthusianus. Otherwise the messengers had not been sent. Nahash conceded either out of foolishness, or out of arrogance (Mendoza). Not out of pity, but out of animosity; thinking that no one would dare to meet him, and that an army equal to his would not be able to be gathered in so few days (Lapide).

Give us seven days’ respite; which it is very probable, and Josephus and others affirm, that Nahash granted, out of a foolish self-confidence, and contempt of the broken condition of the Israelites, which he thought utterly unable to give them any relief; at least, in so short a time.

[That we might send to all the coasts of Israel] No mention is made of the king, because Saul as a country peasant was despised (Menochius out of Tostatus); or so that they might more easily lull Nahash into an unwary security, as if the business would be with sheep destitute of a shepherd (Menochius).

[And, if there be none to defend us, we will come out to thee] Question: Is this the right decision? Responses: 1. I answer in the affirmative: because thus they were looking after their lives in a manner better than they were able (Mendoza). 2. Others answer in the negative. They act impiously, because they tempt God, and prescribe to Him in what manner, time, and place, He is obliged to bring help to them (Martyr).

Verse 4:[3] Then came the messengers (1 Sam. 10:26; 15:34; 2 Sam. 21:6) to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and (Judg. 2:4; 21:2) all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.

[They came to Gibeah of Saul] Some take it in this way, as if the legation were sent principally to Saul (Hugo and Carthusianus in Mendoza). But to him the hope of the men of Jabesh was not at all fixed; therefore, not to him, but to the city in which he was living, did they send messengers. And among the other cities of Israel, to which the legation was sent, this alone is mentioned, so that from it the subsequent History might continue. Now, that they sent them to all the coasts of Israel, just as they had resolved, Josephus rightly teaches, although it be not expressed here. For the Scripture had said what was to be done: frequently afterwards it does not narrate that it was done, but rather supposes it (Mendoza).

Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul; partly, because it was not far from them; and partly, because it belonged to the Benjamites, who had a special obligation to take more care of that place, from whence they had their wives, Judges 21:10, etc.; and partly, because Saul, their new-chosen king, was there.

[And all the people wept] Both because they feared for themselves, and because they were touched by the suffering of their neighbors (Martyr). The They weep, not the Messengers, but rather those to whom the legation was sent; as if they would grieve unfortunate strangers, much more than the men of Jabesh would their own (Mendoza).

The people lifted up their voices, and wept, both in compassion towards them, and for fear of themselves, lest it should shortly be their own lot.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֙וּ אֵלָ֜יו זִקְנֵ֣י יָבֵ֗ישׁ הֶ֤רֶף לָ֙נוּ֙ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים וְנִשְׁלְחָה֙ מַלְאָכִ֔ים בְּכֹ֖ל גְּב֣וּל יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְאִם־אֵ֥ין מוֹשִׁ֛יעַ אֹתָ֖נוּ וְיָצָ֥אנוּ אֵלֶֽיךָ׃ [2] Hebrew: הֶ֤רֶף לָ֙נוּ֙. [3] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֤אוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים֙ גִּבְעַ֣ת שָׁא֔וּל וַיְדַבְּר֥וּ הַדְּבָרִ֖ים בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיִּשְׂא֧וּ כָל־הָעָ֛ם אֶת־קוֹלָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּֽוּ׃

Recent Posts

See All


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 16, 2021

Matthew Henry: 'The besieged desire, and obtain, seven days' time to consider of this proposal, 1 Samuel 11:3. If Nahash had not granted them this respite, we may suppose the horror of the proposal would have made them desperate, and they would rather have died with their swords in their hands than have surrendered to such merciless enemies: therefore Nahash, not imagining it possible that, in so short a time, they should have relief, and being very secure of the advantages he thought he had against them, in a bravado gave them seven days, that the reproach upon Israel, for not rescuing them, might be the greater, and his triumphs the more illustrious. But there was a providence in it…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 16, 2021

Study 1 Samuel with the Illustrious Matthew Poole!

bottom of page