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Poole on 1 Samuel 14:31-35: Pursuit and Blood!

Verse 31:[1] And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.

[Therefore, they smote (thus a great many interpreters), וַיַּכּוּ] Nevertheless, they smote, etc. (Dutch). [Others connect it with the prior verse, and indeed we had slaughtered (Syriac, similarly the Arabic).]

[All the way to Aijalon] Which was in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:42 (Junius, Piscator). Therefore, the Philistines were afflicted with a great slaughter (Martyr).

Aijalon; either that in Dan, Joshua 19:42; or rather, that in Judah, 2 Chronicles 11:10.

Verse 32:[2] And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them (Lev. 3:17; 7:26; 17:10; 19:26; Deut. 12:16, 23, 24) with the blood.

[And turning to the spoil, וַיַּ֤עַשׂ הָעָם֙ אֶל־שָׁלָ֔ל] And the people made for the spoil (Montanus); the people turned itself, etc. (Munster, similarly Castalio). Thus the Chaldean explains the וַיַּעַשׂ, and they did/made (Munster). And they did, that is, they gathered (Kimchi in Drusius). And the people prepared the spoils (Strigelius). [Thus עָשָׂה, to do/make is taken elsewhere.] Moreover, in the Kethib it is וַיַּעַשׂ, and they did/made; but in the Qere it is וַיַּעַט (Drusius, similarly Munster, Vatablus), from עָטָה, which they interpret as to approach, and to divert (Drusius); it regarded, or turned itself back to the prey (Jonathan); it gaped at the prey (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); hastening towards the prey (Junius and Tremellius). It gathered, that is, the people turned to the prey (Vatablus). And the people diverted (Septuagint, Pagnine): other [codices], it rushed (Septuagint in Drusius, thus Tigurinus); the people was scattered (Rabbi Isaiah in Drusius); they flew upon the spoil (Dutch, English, Rabbi Salomon in Drusius, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals), after the manner of a rapacious bird, which is called an עַיִט/ayit, bird of prey, whence the Greek αἰετὸς/aietos/eagle (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:46:520); because it is first among the rapacious, and especially excellent (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 839). And certainly that expression, וַתַּ֙עַט֙ אֶל־הַשָּׁלָ֔ל, and thou didst fly upon the spoil, occurs a little afterwards in 1 Samuel 15:19, whence perhaps the conjecture of this Masoretic Qere arose. But it is not at all necessary to disturb the Kethib; since it is able aptly to be read as יָעֻשׁ, from the root עוּשׁ [for thus it is to be read in Cappel, not יָעֻט, from the root עוּט, as it is read with a manifest error], which signifies to assemble and to come together by squadrons;[3] that is to say, the people had assembled by troops to the spoil (Cappel’s Sacred Criticism 3:9:110).

The people flew upon the spoil, to wit, at evening, when the time prefixed by Saul was expired.

[And the people ate with the blood (thus the Septuagint, Munster, Pagnine, Vatablus)] With the very blood (Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, Piscator); without completely discharging and expressing the blood because of haste (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda, similarly Munster, Lyra, Sanchez, Lapide, Drusius). They were slaughtering the cattle on the ground, and thus the flesh was soaking up the expressed blood. Or, the people was not waiting until the blood had flowed out, which appears closer to the truth. Others: the blood had not yet been allowed to drain. It shows with what great hunger they were urged (Vatablus). This was prohibited in Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14; Deuteronomy 12:16 (Menochius out of Sanchez). For that reason he asked for a stone, so that from it animals might be slaughtered, where the blood might be better able to flow forth (Drusius). עַל־הַדָּם, upon the blood (Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Montanus), next to the blood, like idolaters, which was forbidden (certain interpreters in Vatablus). A little afterwards it is, אֶל־הַדָּם, to/with the blood, verse 34. But it is quite well known that עַל/upon is put in the place of עִם/with (Drusius). [Which almost all translate upon the blood.] It is necessary to hang sheep up, so that the blood might flow out (Martyr). They were devouring the flesh raw, or almost raw, after the likeness of wolves (Lapide).

With the blood; not having patience to tarry till the blood was perfectly gone out of them, as they should have done. See Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14; Deuteronomy 12:16. So they who seemed to make conscience of the king’s commandment for fear of the curse, make no scruple of transgressing God’s command.

Verse 33:[4] Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed (or, dealt treacherously[5]): roll a great stone unto me this day.

[They related to Saul] Rightly. For it is to be reported to the magistrate, if any sin is committed publicly. Otherwise sins are not able to be punished (Martyr).

[Who saith, Ye have transgressed] He rightly reproves the people; but it was necessary to reprove himself also, who had given occasion to this evil (Martyr). But Saul, after the manner of hypocrites, is angry, not with himself, but with the people (Osiander).

Ye have transgressed: He sees their fault, but not his own, in giving the occasion to it.

[Roll ye to me even now a stone] To raise an altar, concerning which verse 35, so that they might slaughter the animals before God, and with himself looking on (Piscator, Junius, Malvenda). So that, with the head of the animal with its throat cut hanging from it, the blood might immediately flow forth: but previously they were slaughtering them on flat earth, where the blood was scarcely able to flow forth, except sluggishly and slowly, for which they were not able to wait on account of hunger (Lapide out of Cajetan). Moreover, הַיּוֹם, this day, is very well interpreted as even now: because יוֹם/day among them often signifies the time, Numbers 3:13;[6] Psalm 78:42;[7] Isaiah 30:26.[8] What follows shows that it was now night (Grotius).

Roll a great stone unto me; that the cattle might be all killed in one place, under the inspection of Saul, or some other appointed by him for that work; and upon the stone, that the blood may sooner and better flow out.

Verse 34:[9] And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him (Heb. in his hand[10]) that night, and slew them there.

[Be ye scattered in the midst of the multitude, or among the people (thus most interpreters), פֻּ֣צוּ בָעָ֡ם] Fan out, or roam, through the people (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius); scatter among the people this commandment (Strigelius).

[And slay upon that, בָּזֶה] In this, understanding, place (Drusius). Upon this stone (Vatablus, Drusius). Jerome: upon that, understanding, stone. I would approve this; except אֶבֶן/stone is feminine, as Mercerus maintains. But Clenardus[11] and Chevallier[12] make it common. Certainly in Ecclesiastes 10:9, בָּהֶם/therewith is referred to אֲבָנִים/stones.[13] In addition, one stone is not sufficient to erect an altar. Therefore, in Genesis 28:18, 22, they think that אֶבֶן/stone is put in the place of a heap of stones. Others translate בָּזֶה, with this knife. Thus the ancient Hebrews (Drusius).

[And ye shall not sin] He that wants his own laws to be rigidly observed, wants the divine laws to be softened sometimes. In God’s law it is forbidden to eat in the presence of blood; that is, with the blood of the sheep not taken away or covered, Leviticus 17:13; 19:26. Josephus well says here, συμβαίνει μὴ κρατεῖν λογισμοῦ τοὺς εὐτυχήσαντας, it scarcely happens that one enjoying good fortune acts according to reason (Grotius).

[With the blood[14]] אֶל/to is in the place of עַל/upon.[15] Thus elsewhere, אֶל/upon the mountains they eat,[16] that is, עַל (Drusius).

[His ox] Under which understand also other animals to be slaughtered (Vatablus, Mariana).

All the people brought every man his ox: And his sheep, which is to be understood out of the foregoing words.

Verse 35:[17] And Saul (1 Sam. 7:17) built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD (Heb. that altar he began to build unto the LORD[18]).

[Saul built an altar] 1. So that peace-offerings might be offered on it for the campaign successfully conducted (Menochius, similarly Vatablus, Sanchez, Lapide, Martyr). 2. So that posterity might have a monument of the victory obtained by divine blessing (Menochius out of Lapide, Sanchez out of Tostatus). I think that, first, upon this stone sheep were slaughtered, and then an altar was raised from it, both for a monument, and for sacrifices (Malvenda).

Saul built an altar unto the Lord: Either for a monument of the victory; or rather, for sacrifice, as the next words imply.

[And at that time he first began to build an altar to God] You will say, Saul had already previously built an altar, 1 Samuel 13:9, and had sacrificed there (Lapide). Responses: 1. This was the first altar agreeable to God (Lapide out of Lyra). 2. The other altar had not been constructed by him, but by another (Menochius out of Lapide).

[אֺת֣וֹ הֵחֵ֔ל לִבְנ֥וֹת מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לַֽיהוָֽה׃ (thus the Hebrew words)] [They render it variously:] That he began to build as an altar to the Lord (Septuagint, Jonathan, Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius), or, so that it mght be an altar to the Lord (Munster); that is, that was the first altar that Saul raised (Vatablus out of Munster). Others thus: of that stone he began to build, etc. (certain interpreters in Vatablus, thus Rabbi Levi). אֺתוֹ/it, the same, refers to אֶבֶן, the stone, which term, says he, is sometimes masculine and sometimes feminine (Drusius). These latter words are to be taken ἐξηγητικῶς/exegetically (that is, they explain the preceding words): Saul built an altar, that is, he began to build, he was the first to cast a stone for the building of the altar (Grotius). [These words are wanting in the Syriac: The Arabic connects them with the following words in this way, and, when he began to raise an altar to the Lord, Saul said, Let us go down to the Philistines, etc.: this appears to indicate that Saul only began the work, and afterwards negligently left off, as he did previously, when he was consulting the Lord.]

The same was the first altar, though he had occasion to do so oft ere this time. So this is quoted as another evidence of his neglect of God and his worship. It is true, Saul sacrificed before this, as at Gilgal; but that was upon an old altar, erected by others.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּכּ֞וּ בַּיּ֤וֹם הַהוּא֙ בַּפְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים מִמִּכְמָ֖שׂ אַיָּלֹ֑נָה וַיָּ֥עַף הָעָ֖ם מְאֹֽד׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיַּ֤עַשׂ הָעָם֙ אֶל־שָׁלָ֔ל וַיִּקְח֙וּ צֹ֧אן וּבָקָ֛ר וּבְנֵ֥י בָקָ֖ר וַיִּשְׁחֲטוּ־אָ֑רְצָה וַיֹּ֥אכַל הָעָ֖ם עַל־הַדָּֽם׃ [3] See Joel 3:11: “Assemble yourselves (עוּשׁוּ), and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord.” [4] Hebrew: וַיַּגִּ֤ידוּ לְשָׁאוּל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הִנֵּ֥ה הָעָ֛ם חֹטִ֥אים לַֽיהוָ֖ה לֶאֱכֹ֣ל עַל־הַדָּ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר בְּגַדְתֶּ֔ם גֹּֽלּוּ־אֵלַ֥י הַיּ֖וֹם אֶ֥בֶן גְּדוֹלָֽה׃ [5] Hebrew: בְּגַדְתֶּם. [6] Numbers 3:13: “Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day (בְּיוֹם) that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord.” [7] Psalm 78:42: “They remembered not his hand, nor the day (יוֹם) when he delivered them from the enemy.” [8] Isaiah 30:26: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day (בְּיוֹם) that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” [9] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שָׁא֣וּל פֻּ֣צוּ בָעָ֡ם וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֣ם לָהֶ֡ם הַגִּ֣ישׁוּ אֵלַי֩ אִ֙ישׁ שׁוֹר֜וֹ וְאִ֣ישׁ שְׂיֵ֗הוּ וּשְׁחַטְתֶּ֤ם בָּזֶה֙ וַאֲכַלְתֶּ֔ם וְלֹֽא־תֶחֶטְא֥וּ לַֽיהוָ֖ה לֶאֱכֹ֣ל אֶל־הַדָּ֑ם וַיַּגִּ֙שׁוּ כָל־הָעָ֜ם אִ֣ישׁ שׁוֹר֧וֹ בְיָד֛וֹ הַלַּ֖יְלָה וַיִּשְׁחֲטוּ־שָֽׁם׃ [10] Hebrew: בְיָדוֹ. [11] Nicolas Cleynærts (1495-1542) was a Flemish humanist, grammarian, and orientalist. He published grammars on Hebrew and Greek, and acquired a knowledge of Arabic. [12] Antione Rodolphe Chevallier (1523-1572) was a French Protestant Hebraist. He studied under Francis Vatablus, and taught in England, Strasbourg, and Geneva. John Drusius and High Broughton were among his pupils. [13] Ecclesiastes 10:9: “Whoso removeth stones (אֲבָנִים) shall be hurt therewith (בָּהֶם, in the masculine gender); and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.” [14] Hebrew: אֶל־הַדָּם. [15] 1 Samuel 14:32: “And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood (עַל־הַדָּם).” [16] Ezekiel 22:9: “In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and upon the mountains (וְאֶל־הֶהָרִים) in thee they eat: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.” [17] Hebrew: וַיִּ֧בֶן שָׁא֛וּל מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לַֽיהוָ֑ה אֹת֣וֹ הֵחֵ֔ל לִבְנ֥וֹת מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לַֽיהוָֽה׃ [18] Hebrew: אֹת֣וֹ הֵחֵ֔ל לִבְנ֥וֹת מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לַֽיהוָֽה׃.

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