Poole on 1 Samuel 14:1-4: Saul's Hesitancy; Jonathan's Intrepidity

[circa 1067 BC] Verse 1:[1] Now it came to pass upon a day (or, there was a day[2]), that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.


[It happened on a certain day (thus Pagnine, Tigurinus)] Hebrew: and there was a day (Jonathan, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius), understanding, one (that is, a certain), Numbers 11:27, הַנַּעַר, one young man. See Exodus 21:10;[3] Numbers 7:3 (Drusius). Day here is taken indefinitely for a time, as in 2 Kings 4:11; Job 1:6; Isaiah 2:17; that is to say, at a certain time, more specifically, at night, as Josephus, Tirinus, Sabellicus,[4] and others teach (Mendoza, similarly Menochius). Night was a more suitable time for clandestine assaults (Menodoza).


[To his armor-bearer] Whom he knew to be altogether faithful and honest (Mendoza). See 1 Samuel 14:14; 16:21. Such was Automedon to Achilles, Achates to Æneas. The Vulgate calls him a scutarium/shield-bearer (Grotius). Hebrew: bearing his arms[5] (Munster).



[Veni/Come (thus Jonathan, Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Septuagint), לְכָה] Ito, go to (Montanus), age/come, or it is to be done (Pagnine, Arabic, Junius).


[Let us go over to the outpost of the Philistines, אֶל־מַצַּב[6]] To the outpost (garrison [Pagnine, Tigurinus], battle line [Arabic]) of the Philistines (Montanus, Jonathan, Junius, Munster). The Hebrew word signifies a gathering of the bravest soldiers, armed, and well-ordered in the first battle line, so that they might undertake an assault (Vatablus). This undertaking certainly seemed rash, and dangerous in the highest degree; but let us not judge rashly of the counsels of pious men, although they appear absurd at first glance (Osiander). Jonathan was depending upon the promises of God in Deuteronomy, one shall chase a thousand, etc.,[7] and enemies are going to come one way, and flee seven ways.[8] To this had been added the particular promise, that it was going to happen that the people would be freed from the Philistines under King Saul.[9] Therefore, Jonathan followed both his calling and the promise of God (Martyr). Example of others that undertook things no less hard are not wanting, of which sort are Samson, Judges 15, and David’s mighty men, concerning whom 2 Samuel 23; 1 Chronicles 11 (Tostatus). This was not done rashly, because it had been divinely inspired (Mendoza out of Cajetan, similarly Tostatus, Lapide), as it is evident from the miraculous victory (Lapide).


Let us go over, etc.: This was a rash and foolish attempt, if it be examined by common rules; but not so, if we consider the singular promises made to the Israelites, that one should chase a thousand, etc., and especially the heroical and extraordinary motions which were then frequently put into the minds of gallant men by God’s Spirit, whereby they undertook and accomplished noble and wonderful things; as did Samson, and David, and his worthies.


[Which is on the other side of that place, אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעֵ֣בֶר הַלָּ֑ז] Which from that passage[10] (Montanus). Which on the other side of that place (Munster, Vatablus, Pagnine); which is on (or, from [Vatablus, Piscator]) that side (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Hebrew), on that passage (Junius, Piscator), over against this place (Tigurinus). On that, that is, the distant, side (Vatablus in Tigurinus Notes). הַלָּז/that is used of the remote, but הַזֶּה/this of the near (Vatablus).


On the other side; beyond that rocky passage described below, 1 Samuel 14:4, 13, which he pointed at with his hand.


[But he did not reveal it to his father] Question: Why thus? Responses: 1. So that he might avoid all ostentation. 2. So that he might keep secret, what is to be disclosed only to those without whom it was not able to be done (Mendoza). 3. Lest he should be hindered by his father (Lyra, Mendoza out of Tostatus). For Saul would not have allowed the young man to rush headlong unto destruction. When God calls, it is to be performed promptly, with no other counselor employed; lest, when human counsel is taken, the divine precept is despised (Mendoza). Those that are moved by God to do something, ought not to await the opinions of others. Objection: But it was not lawful to fight unbidden by the Ruler. Response: I do indeed acknowledge that this is military discipline: But this stratagem was not human, but divine (Martyr).


He told not his father, lest he should hinder him in so improbable an enterprise. Nor was it necessary he should inform him of it, because he had a commission from his father to fight when he saw occasion, as he had done without his father’s privity, 1 Samuel 13:3.


Verse 2:[11] And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were (1 Sam. 13:15) about six hundred men…



[He was tarrying in the uttermost part of Gibeah (similarly Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus), in the uttermose ends and borders of the city, or field, of Gibeah (certain interpreters in Malvenda), בִּקְצֵ֣ה הַגִּבְעָ֔ה] In the extremeity (summit [Septuagint], ends [Jonathan]) of the hill[12] (Junius and Tremellius).


In the uttermost part of Gibeah; in the outworks of the city, where he had intrenched himself to observe the motion of the Philistines.


[Under malogranato, a pomegranate tree (thus the Septuagint, Pagnine, Montanus, Syriac, Arabic, Drusius)] Or malo[13] punico (Junius and Tremellius), which is the same thing; and it is called granatum from its multitude of grains/ seed: from the Punic region it was first brought into our world (Drusius). In the plain of the pomegranate (Jonathan). To others it is the proper name of a place, so call either from the Pomegranates that were there, or because it was rendering the form of a Pomegranate (Malvenda).


[תַּ֥חַת הָרִמּ֖וֹן] Under Rimmon (Munster, Tigurinus). This is the same place as in Judges 20:47, where those six hundred men had fled. For it was near Gibeah and a place heavily fortified (Tirinus out of Sanchez, similarly Menochius). Saul was lurking in the caves, observing what the Philistines were going to do or how they were going to advance (Junius, Piscator).


[In Magron[14]] Migron (Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius). It is the name of the field on the other side of the straits towards Gibeah, Isaiah 10:28 (Junius). In Greek it is ἐν Μαγδὼν, in Magdon, a ד/Daleth/d in the place of the ר/Resh/r (Drusius).


In Migron, or towards (as the Hebrew ב/beth is oft used) Migron, which was another place, but near Gibeah. See Isaiah 10:28.


Verse 3:[15] And (1 Sam. 22:9, 11, 20, called Ahimelech) Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, (1 Sam. 4:21) Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, (1 Sam. 2:28) wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.



[And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, who in turn was the brother of Ichabod[16] (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Drusius, Castalio, Osiander)] Others have: and Ahiah, the son of Ahitub and the brother of Ichabod (thus the Arabic, Tigurinus, Strigelius, Dutch, English). But the former is correct, as the matter itself shows. For not Ahiah, but Ahitub, was the brother of Ichabod (Mariana, Piscator). For, if he had been the brother of Ichabod, he would have been the son of Phinehas, properly so called; that concerning this sort of sons the speech is here delivered, is manifest from the very succession of generations; and so he would not have been the son of Ahitub, properly so called (Piscator). Question: How is it Ahiah here, when in 1 Samuel 22:9 Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, was High Priest? That he was the same does not appear doubtful (Estius). Responses: 1. Therefore, some deny that this Ahiah is the high priest. And, if you should say that he carried the Ephod, which was proper to the high priest; they respond that it was not by law, but by privilege; either with his father hindered, whether on account of old age, or for some other reason; or with his elder brother hindered (Tostatus in Mendoza). Or, 2. Ahimelech, the younger brother, in the Pontificate succeeded Ahiah, the elder brother, dying without children (Lapide out of Mendoza). Or, 3. Ahiah was called by another name, Ahimelech (Estius, Menochius, Tirinus, Mendoza, Lapide, Sanchez). אֲחִיָּה/Ahiah means brother of God; and אֲחִימֶלֶךְ/Ahimelech, brother of the king. But God is the King of Kings[17] (Lapide). Saul had now brought the Ark into the camp (as was formerly done in 1 Samuel 4), and so he was having the high priest with him (Sanchez).


Ahiah; the same who is called Ahimelech, 1 Samuel 22:9, 11, 20, the high priest, who was here to attend upon the ark, which was brought hither, 1 Samuel 14:18.


[He was carrying an Ephod] A Periphrasis of the high priest. Hebrew: he was bearing it;[18] a common Ellipsis. He was bearing, that is, in the camp of Saul, when necessity was requiring (Piscator).


An ephod, to wit, the high priest’s ephod, wherein the Urim and Thummim was.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י הַיּ֗וֹם וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יוֹנָתָ֤ן בֶּן־שָׁאוּל֙ אֶל־הַנַּ֙עַר֙ נֹשֵׂ֣א כֵלָ֔יו לְכָ֗ה וְנַעְבְּרָה֙ אֶל־מַצַּ֣ב פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעֵ֣בֶר הַלָּ֑ז וּלְאָבִ֖יו לֹ֥א הִגִּֽיד׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י הַיּ֗וֹם. [3] Exodus 21:10: “If he take him another (understanding, one); her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.” [4] Marcus Antonius Coccius Sabellicus (1436-1506) was a Venetian historian. He is most remembered for his universal history, Enneades sive Rhapsodia historiarum. [5] Hebrew: נֹשֵׂ֣א כֵלָ֔יו. [6]נָצַב signifies to stand. [7] See Deuteronomy 32:30. [8] Deuteronomy 28:7. [9] See 1 Samuel 9:16. [10] A woodenly literalistic translation. [11] Hebrew: וְשָׁא֗וּל יוֹשֵׁב֙ בִּקְצֵ֣ה הַגִּבְעָ֔ה תַּ֥חַת הָרִמּ֖וֹן אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּמִגְר֑וֹן וְהָעָם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמּ֔וֹ כְּשֵׁ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת אִֽישׁ׃ [12]גִּבְעָה can signify Gibeah or a hill. [13]Malum signifies fruit. [14] Hebrew: בְּמִגְרוֹן. [15] Hebrew: וַאֲחִיָּ֣ה בֶן־אֲחִט֡וּב אֲחִ֡י אִיכָב֣וֹד׀ בֶּן־פִּינְחָ֙ס בֶּן־עֵלִ֜י כֹּהֵ֧ן׀ יְהוָ֛ה בְּשִׁל֖וֹ נֹשֵׂ֣א אֵפ֑וֹד וְהָעָם֙ לֹ֣א יָדַ֔ע כִּ֥י הָלַ֖ךְ יוֹנָתָֽן׃ [16] Hebrew: וַאֲחִיָּ֣ה בֶן־אֲחִט֡וּב אֲחִ֡י אִיכָב֣וֹד׀. [17] See Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16. [18] Hebrew: נֹשֵׂ֣א אֵפ֑וֹד.

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