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Poole on 1 Samuel 11:9-11: Saul's First Victory!

Verse 9:[1] And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help (or, deliverance[2]). And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.

[Tomorrow] [Some take it properly (Mendoza out of Cajetan and Vatablus).] For verse 10 follows, in the morning we will go out; and verse 11, when the next day had come (Mendoza). Marvel here at the prudence and swiftness of Saul; who in one day brought together and disposed so great an army, fought, and conquered (Lapide). And, as I suppose, Nahash was thus deceived (Cajetan in Mendoza). It is obscure when that tomorrow was to be reckoned; not, I think, from the time when the messengers had been sent away. In so brief a time all those things were not able to be accomplished (Sanchez); but rather, on the day after their return, when they announced their going forth, verse 10 (Sanchez, Menochius). Josephus says that this deliverance was promised for the third day. Others take tomorrow of the near future, but not a specific time, as it is often done elsewhere (Dionysius and Hugo in Mendoza). Tomorrow, that is, in the future, but near (Lyra).

To-morrow, to wit, the day after your departure hence, or return home; for it seems probable that some few days had been spent in the gathering and disposing of the forces, and bringing them towards those parts.

[Ye shall have salvation] Either, salvation is put metonymically for saving help (Junius, Piscator); or they promise to them a definite salvation by divine power (Malvenda). Now, this promise proceeded, both from the prophetic spirit of Samuel, and from the supernatural faith of Samuel and Saul (Mendoza).

Verse 10:[3] Therefore the men of Jabesh said, To morrow (1 Sam. 11:3) we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you.

[In the morning we will go out, etc.] They speak ironically, or in sport, inasmuch as they knew that help was going to come (Lyra, Hugo in Mendoza). They conceal their expectation of help, so that Saul might find the enemy free of concern (Menochius). Which was the greatest sort of stratagem. Prudent and cunning deceits of this sort are not condemned. For, if it is lawful to make use of arms against an enemy, why not also trickery? Provided that faith, or a covenant, be not violated with the enemy (Martyr). The enemy, whom it is lawful legitimately to kill, it is lawful to deceive (Osiander). Every deceit that by the intention of the dissembler himself signifies a falsehood is sin; but not one that by the acceptation of the hearers only is twisted to a false signification. Therefore, they rightly say that they are going to come out, understanding, if helps do not arrive; for thus they themselves were not so much deceiving their enemies, as they were permitting them to be deceived (Mendoza). We will go out, etc. They understand, unless help arrives: but they pass over the coming of help in silence, so that they might be found unprepared; as if they should say, we persist in the agreed upon conditions (Junius).

To morrow we will come out unto you, etc.: They did and might reasonably and justly understand their own condition before proposed, 1 Samuel 11:3, if none came to save them; which they were not now obliged to repeat, although they conjectured that their enemies would understand it absolutely, whose error therein they were no more obliged to correct, than to prevent their destruction. Nor did they tell any lie herein, but only concealed part of their intentions, to render their enemy more secure and fit for ruin; which kind of stratagems are usual, and allowed by all persons.

Verse 11:[4] And it was so on the morrow, that (see 1 Sam. 31:11) Saul put the people (Judg. 7:16) in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.

[He arranged the people into three parts] Hebrew: into three heads;[5] that is, columns or troops (Malvenda). 1. So that, attacking suddenly from diverse directions, they might more greatly terrify them (Lyra). 2. Lest anyone of them should escape. 3. So that, if one troop should falter or succumb, another might come to its aid (Lapide, Mendoza).

Into three companies; that so invading them on several sides with a great force, he might both strike them with the greater terror, and prevent their escape.

[And it came into the midst of the camp] He calls it the middle with respect to his own, who were invading the enemy at the same time on the right and left sides (Menochius). It is likely that the camp, in the part that was turned from the city, was not well fortified; because the Ammonites were fearing nothing so sudden from there (Grotius). Hebrew: into the midst of the camp,[6] that is, into the army of the Ammonites (Vatablus).

[In the morning watch] That is, in the third watch of the night; that is, just before the dawn itself. Among the Hebrews, night is divided sometimes into four watches, sometimes into three, as in this place (Vatablus). They were secure at that time because of the promise of the day before (Piscator).

In the morning watch; having marched all the day and night before it.

[They were dispersed, etc., וַיְהִ֤י הַנִּשְׁאָרִים֙ וַיָּפֻ֔צוּ] Verbatim: and it was, those remaining and they were dispersed[7] (Montanus). And it happened, and those remaining were dispersed (Septuagint). And it was that those that were remaining were dispersed (Junius and Tremellius, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus). The ו/and in וַיָּפֻצוּ, and they were scattered, is superfluous. For it converts; it does not conjoin (Drusius).

[No two together, יָחַד] At the same time, understanding, fleeing (Vatablus). Individuals, so that they might secure themselves, fleeing in diverse directions (Menochius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ לַמַּלְאָכִ֣ים הַבָּאִ֗ים כֹּ֤ה תֹֽאמְרוּן֙ לְאִישׁ֙ יָבֵ֣ישׁ גִּלְעָ֔ד מָחָ֛ר תִּהְיֶֽה־לָכֶ֥ם תְּשׁוּעָ֖ה בְּחֹ֣ם הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וַיָּבֹ֣אוּ הַמַּלְאָכִ֗ים וַיַּגִּ֛ידוּ לְאַנְשֵׁ֥י יָבֵ֖ישׁ וַיִּשְׂמָֽחוּ׃ [2] Hebrew: תְּשׁוּעָה. [3] Hebrew: וַֽיֹּאמְרוּ֙ אַנְשֵׁ֣י יָבֵ֔ישׁ מָחָ֖ר נֵצֵ֣א אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֣ם לָּ֔נוּ כְּכָל־הַטּ֖וֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶֽם׃ [4] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י מִֽמָּחֳרָ֗ת וַיָּ֙שֶׂם שָׁא֣וּל אֶת־הָעָם֮ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה רָאשִׁים֒ וַיָּבֹ֤אוּ בְתוֹךְ־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה֙ בְּאַשְׁמֹ֣רֶת הַבֹּ֔קֶר וַיַּכּ֥וּ אֶת־עַמּ֖וֹן עַד־חֹ֣ם הַיּ֑וֹם וַיְהִ֤י הַנִּשְׁאָרִים֙ וַיָּפֻ֔צוּ וְלֹ֥א נִשְׁאֲרוּ־בָ֖ם שְׁנַ֥יִם יָֽחַד׃ [5] Hebrew: שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה רָאשִׁים֒. [6] Hebrew: בְתוֹךְ־הַמַּחֲנֶה. [7] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

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Study 1 Samuel in detail with the illustrious Matthew Poole!

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