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Poole on 1 Samuel 13:3, 4: Jonathan's Assault on the Philistines

Verse 3:[1] And Jonathan (1 Sam. 10:5) smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba (or, the hill[2]), and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

[And Jonathan smote the outpost, etc., נְצִיב] They render it variously. Nasib the foreigner (Septuagint in Drusius), as if it were the proper name of a man (Drusius). Others: the commander, or governor, or captain (Montanus, Jonathan, certain interpreters in Vatablus, Rabbi Salomon in Drusius). נִצָּבִים/ nitsabim, the plural of נְצִיב, signifies commanders, 1 King 4:7,[3] 27[4] (Mendoza); the elders of the Philistines, etc. (Arabic). Others: the outpost, or garrison (Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Vatablus, Drusius, the Septuagint in the Royal Bible, Aquila and Theodotion in Mendoza); the soldiers of the outpost (Junius and Tremellius). For the Philistines (as Josephus, Theodoret, Procopius, and others explain) had placed garrisons in more fortified locations, to check rebellions (Mendoza); and so that they might take precautions, lest any arms be forged by the Jews. Therefore, blacksmith shops were permitted only to the Philistines; who in various places in Judea had their own outposts, to which the Israelites were forced to have recourse (Tirinus). Question: In what manner did Jonathan do this, if he had no swords, as it is said in verses 19-22? Response: This smiting was able to be done, either, 1. by flame, not sword: or, 2. by undermining the ground, rotation of stone, etc.: or, 3. by rustic instruments and arms, as the Rutuli[5] were fighting in Virgil’s Æneid 7, it was done with hard posts, and with fire-hardened stakes: or, 4. with craft and deceit: They were able to rush upon them unexpectedly, and to seize their arms beforehand, etc. (Mendoza). [But, if you translate נְצִיב as prefect, this difficulty completely vanishes.]

And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines, etc.: The first design of Saul and Jonathan was to free then land from the garrisons which the Philistines had in it; and they first begin to clear their own country of Benjamin.

[Which was in Gibeah (thus Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic)] In Gibeah of Benjamin (Rabbi Salomon in Drusius). But previously he said, a thousand men were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. How do these things cohere? Should we say that those thousand men were at Gibeah, in which afterwards, when they had begun this, they killed the prefect, or the outpost that was there? Thus Joshua is said to have been in Gibeon. Kimchi says that Geba and Gibeah were diverse places. Certainly among the cities of Benjamin a גֶּבַע/Geba is mentioned, Joshua 18:24, and a גִּבְעָה/Gibeah, Joshua 18:28 (Drusius).

[בְּגֶבַע[6]] Others translate it otherwise; on the hill (Septuagint, Pagnine, Munster, Tigurinus), on a certain hill. That is, he scattered the garrison that they had in the borders of Israel (Osiander). On the hill, understanding, Kirjath-jearim, where the Ark of God was. For there was a garrison of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 10:5 (Vatablus).

Geba; not the same place called Gibeah, verse 2, (for if the place were the same, why should he vary the name of it in the same story, and in the next verse? nor is it likely that Jonathan would choose that place for his camp where the Philistines had a garrison,) but another place in the same tribe, in which there were two distinct places, Geba and Gibeah, Joshua 18:24, 28.

[When the Philistines had heard it, Saul sounded] Hebrew: and they heard…and he sounded,[7] etc. They heard, and so were moved to make war against the Israelites. A metonymical Synecdoche of member: in which the effect is understood together with the efficient cause (Piscator). Since Saul wisely surmised that the report of the defeat had already come to the Philistines, he sounded, etc. (Mendoza).

[Saying, Let the Hebrews hear (thus nearly all interpreters)] Let the Hebrews hear, even those Hebrews that were dwelling on the other side of the Jordan. For it is evident from what follows that these Hebrews were called (Osiander). Let them hear, namely, that the garrison of the Philistines was smitten by Jonathan; and let them gird themselves for war (Vatablus, Menochius). This was perhaps the customary formula of heralds, when anything was being set forth to the people in the name of the prince. To which that in Daniel 3:4 is not dissimilar (Malvenda out of Sanchez). Let them hear, so that they might take precautions against the Philistines, and take up arms. The Jews are called Hebrews from Eber,[8] although others had also descended from him; but they restricted the general name to a certain subset. Thus the living, and creatures, and flesh, are often restricted to men. The Septuagint has here οἱ δοῦλοι, the servants. It is an error of reading ד/Daleth[9] in the place of ר/Resh.[10] Contrariwise, in chapter 17 עִבְרֵי/Hebrews is read instead of עַבְדֵי/servants, of Saul. The error is often found in these letters (Drusius).

Let the Hebrews hear, that is, he sent messengers to tell them all what Jonathan had done, and how the Philistines were enraged at it, and made great preparations for war; and therefore what necessity there was of gathering themselves together, and coming to him, for his and their own defence.

Verse 4:[11] And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination (Heb. did stink,[12] Gen. 34:20;[13] Exod. 5:21[14]) with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

[All Israel heard a rumor of this sort, שָׁמְע֣וּ לֵאמֹ֗ר] They heard men saying (Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Septuagint), that is, men spreading word of the matter conducted (Mendoza). Verbatim: in saying (Vatablus); that it was said (Pagnine, Vatablus, Tigurinus); from one saying (Munster). They heard it to be said (English).

[Saul smote] But in verse 3 it is attributed to Jonathan. Response: Jonathan smote at the commandment of Saul. A minister is joined to his lord as an associate (Piscator). The victory of the soldiers is ascribed to the prince (Carthusianus in Mendoza). Or they say this as flatterers, and favoring Saul (Mendoza).

Saul had smitten, that is, Jonathan by Saul’s direction and encouragement. The actions of an army are commonly ascribed to their general.

[And Israel roused itself against the Philistines, וְגַם־נִבְאַשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בַּפְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים] And also stunk, or was made to stink, Israel in, or before, or among, the Philistines (Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Drusius). That is, the Philistines were abhorring Israel as a thing ill-smelling and rotten; that is to say, they hated the Israelites exceedingly (Vatablus, similarly Munster), on account of the deed of Jonathan (Munster). And Israel was assembled against the Philistines (Jonathan); and Israel defeated the Philistines (Syriac, Arabic). They were afflicted with shame (the Septuagint in Drusius).

[The people cried out, וַיִּצָּעֲקוּ] They were summoned (Montanus, Drusius) by the clamor (Drusius, Mariana); they were assembled (Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus).

[After Saul[15] (thus Malvenda,Piscator)] To follow Saul (Junius and Tremellius). Others thus: the people cried out after Saul at Gilgal (Strigelius); that is, they invoked the help of their king, who was at that time in Gilgal; asking that he take care, lest the republic suffer loss. Now, it is not doubtful that many spoke ill of Jonathan, as if he had unseasonably provoked their enemies, namely, the Philistines (Osiander). But why were they assembling at Gilgal? Response: Because Samuel had thus commanded, as often as they were brought into any danger, 1 Samuel 10:8 (Mendoza, similarly Martyr).

Gilgal; the place before appointed by Samuel, 1 Samuel 10:8.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּ֣ךְ יוֹנָתָ֗ן אֵ֣ת נְצִ֤יב פְּלִשְׁתִּים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּגֶ֔בַע וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֖וּ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים וְשָׁאוּל֩ תָּקַ֙ע בַּשּׁוֹפָ֤ר בְּכָל־הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר יִשְׁמְע֖וּ הָעִבְרִֽים׃ [2] Hebrew: בְּגֶבַע. [3] 1 Kings 4:7: “And Solomon had twelve officers (נִצָּבִים) over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.” [4] 1 Kings 4:27: “And those officers (הַנִּצָּבִ֙ים הָאֵ֜לֶּה) provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.” [5] The Rutuli were an ancient Italian people group, dwelling southeast of Rome. [6]גבע signifies to be high, projecting. [7] Hebrew: וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֖וּ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים וְשָׁאוּל֩ תָּקַ֙ע בַּשּׁוֹפָ֤ר. [8] See Genesis 10:21, 24, 25; 1 Chronicles 1:18, 19, 25. [9] The Septuagint translators appear to have read הָעֲבָדִים, the servants. [10] The reading in the text is הָעִבְרִים, the Hebrews. [11] Hebrew: וְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֞ל שָׁמְע֣וּ לֵאמֹ֗ר הִכָּ֤ה שָׁאוּל֙ אֶת־נְצִ֣יב פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וְגַם־נִבְאַשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בַּפְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים וַיִּצָּעֲק֥וּ הָעָ֛ם אַחֲרֵ֥י שָׁא֖וּל הַגִּלְגָּֽל׃ [12] Hebrew: נִבְאַשׁ. [13] Genesis 34:20: “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink (לְהַבְאִישֵׁנִי) among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.” [14] Exodus 5:21: “And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred (הִבְאַשְׁתֶּם אֶת־רֵיחֵנוּ) in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.” [15] Hebrew: אַחֲרֵ֥י שָׁא֖וּל.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Feb 11, 2022

Matthew Henry: 'In his second year [Saul] did as follows:—1. he chose a band of 3000 men... 2. He ordered his son Jonathan to surprise and destroy the garrison of the Philistines that lay near him in Geba, 1 Samuel 13:3. I wish there were no ground for supposing that this was a violation or infraction of some articles with the Philistines, and that it was done treacherously and perfidiously. The reason why I suspect it is because it is said that, for doing it, Israel was had in abomination, or, as the word is, did stink with the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:4), as men void of common honesty and whose word could not be relied on. If it wa…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Feb 11, 2022

Study 1 Samuel with Matthew Poole!

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