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Poole on 1 Samuel 14:4-7: Jonathan, Bold as a Lion

Verse 4:[1] And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over (1 Sam. 13:23) unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.

[Now, there were between the ascents…eminent rocks, וּבֵ֣ין הַֽמַּעְבְּר֗וֹת וגו״] And between the passages, etc. (Montanus, Pagnine, Vatablus). But how does he say that these boulders were between the ascents, as if the boulders themselves were in the middle; when the boulders were on each side of the ascent, and the ascent was between the boulders? These two things are inconsistent. Response: It is an Hypallage,[2] which sort is in Judges 1:8, they sent the city into fire,[3] in the place of, they sent fire into the city. Thus, and they load in baskets Gifts of the labor of Ceres,[4] in the place of, they load baskets with gifts. Thus in this passage, there were between the ascents boulders, in the place of, there were ascents between the boulders (Mendoza). [The Arabic thus renders the passage, Now, the approach to them was between two rocks.] By passages or channels the Hebrews understand a certain valley, over which were leaning to steep rocks; and one was laid out towards Israel, and the other towards the Philistines (Munster).

[Rocks on either side, etc., שֵׁן־הַסֶּ֤לַע מֵהָעֵ֙בֶר֙ מִזֶּ֔ה וגו״] A tooth of a rock (understanding, was [Junius and Tremellius]) from the passage hence or thence, etc. (Pagnine, Montanus). One rock, etc. (Arabic); a boulder (Junius and Tremellius); one promontory of rock (Syriac); a steep rock (Tigurinus, Hebrews in Munster). A tooth of rock he calls a promontory, a boulder, a projection, a pointed boulder; because after the manner of a tooth it is sticking up and projecting farther (Vatablus). In Hebrew, it is in the absolute, not the construct, state, a tooth rock; apposition and hypallage, that is, a rock which was a tooth, namely, steep and toothed (Malvenda).

The passages; so these might be two known and common passages, both which Jonathan must cross, or pass over, to go to the Philistines, between which the following rocks lay. But the words may be rendered thus, In the middle (for so the Hebrew particle בֵּין/ben signifies, as Isaiah 44:4;[5] and ב/beth, in, is understood by a very frequent ellipsis) of the passage; the plural number being put for the singular, as is frequent. A sharp rock on the one side, and on the other side; which is not so to be understood, as if in this passage one rock was on the right hand, and the other on the left; for so he should have gone between both; and there was no need of climbing up to them, which is mentioned below, verse 13. But the meaning is, that the tooth (or prominency) of the one rock (as it is in the Hebrew) was on the one side, that is, northward, looking towards Michmash, (the garrison of the Philistines,) and the tooth of the other rock was on the other side, that is, southward, looking towards Gibeah, (where Saul’s camp lay,) as the next verse informs us; and Jonathan was forced to climb over these two rocks, because the other and common ways from one town to the other might now be obstructed, or were not so fit for his present design.

[The name of the one was Bozez, בּוֹצֵץ] It signifies either slippery places (Jonathan in Drusius), or on it a flower.[6] Perhaps the place was abounding in flowers (Menochius out of Sanchez). Thus Rimmon was named after the pomegranate[7] (Sanchez).

[And the name of the other, וְשֵׁ֥ם הָאֶחָ֖ד] And the name of the one; that is, of the second (Rabbi Salomon in Drusius), that is, of the other. Thus they interpret אֶחָד/one, when it is put twice in a speech (Drusius).

[Seneh, סֶנֶּה] It signifies a bramble. Perhaps brambles and thorns were there (Menochius out of Sanchez). Others render it, a treading place (Jonathan and Rabbi Salomon in Drusius).

Verse 5:[8] The forefront (Heb. tooth[9]) of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.

[One boulder projecting Northward, הַשֵּׁ֧ן הָאֶחָ֛ד מָצ֥וּק מִצָּפ֖וֹן] One tooth or boulder was standing (or, was situated [Junius and Tremellius, Drusius], or, was set, that is, מָעֳמָד [Kimchi in Munster and in Drusius], or was projecting [Vatablus], or draws [Syriac], or looking toward [Jonathan, Strigelius], or was inclining [Munster], or was extended [Arabic], or, fixed [Castalio]) from the North (Tigurinus, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). From the side of the North (Drusius). Others: Northward (Piscator, Jerome in Drusius). Which מִן/from does sometimes signify, and denotes a position without motion, as in Genesis 13:11;[10] 2 Samuel 6:2,[11] compared with 1 Chronicles 13:6.[12] Here the Greeks have ὁδὸς/way in the place of ὀδοὺς/ tooth, by a mistake of the scribes, as I suppose (Drusius). The word מָצוּק some make a past participle of the uncommon verb מָצַק, to set up; others, a substantive noun of the verb צוּק, to press; and they translate it, the station (thus Montanus), or foundation, of one tooth. Properly: one tooth was a pressing, a tightening from the North, that is, it was pressing, compressing those straits on the northern side: an elegant Hebraism (Malvenda).

[Over against Michmash[13] (similarly most interpreters)] [But the Septuagint has, to one coming to Michmash.]

[To the south over against Gibeah] That is, the boulder was projecting over against Gibeat; moreover, the Hebrews and Saul were in Gibeah, verse 2. Therefore, it indicates that Jonathan ascended by the boulder that was southward (Mariana).

Verse 6:[14] And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD (Jug. 7:4, 7; 2 Chron. 14:11; 1 Mac. 3:18[15]) to save by many or by few.

[Let us pass over to the outpost of the uncircumcised] Just as the Gentiles in contempt or sport were calling the Hebrews Apellas, that is, circumcised;[16] Horace’s Satires 1:5, …Let Apella the Jew credit that. Thus, vice versa, the Hebrew by reproach were calling the Gentiles the uncircumcised, Genesis 34:14; Judges 14:3; and elsewhere. Compare Joshua 5:9 (Mendoza). This is not without emphasis: For he understands men cast away, hateful, and foreigners to the covenant of God;[17] and so those able more easily to be conquered by those that fear God (Martyr, similarly Piscator). Or he was thus challenging the noble youth, that he not suffer enemies altogether contemptable to insult the armies of the God of Israel[18] (Mendoza).

These uncircumcised; so he calls them, partly in contempt, and principally to strengthen his faith by this consideration, that his enemies were enemies to God, and without any hope in God, or help from him; whereas he was circumcised, and therefore in covenant with God, who was both able and engaged to assist his people.

[If perchance, etc. (thus Munster, Tigurinus), אוּלַי] Perhaps (Pagnine, Montanus, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). Question: Did Jonathan then doubt of divine aid? Response 1: Perhaps sometimes does not include doubt, John 4:10; 5:46; 8:19. Response 2: He was able to doubt; for, although he was urged by the divine Spirit to undertake that deed, yet he was able to be ignorant of the event’s outcome yet future: thus the Israelites, fighting because of a divine oracle, were yet ignorant of the outcome of the fight, Judges 20. Thus in Joshua 14:12, if perchance the Lord is with me.[19] Where he was displaying hope mixed with fear: because, although he was justifiably hoping for divine mercy; yet he was standing in fear of his own sense of guilt (Mendoza). He thus speaks, because he did not have a specific promise of victory: but he was relying only on a general promise, which was depending on the condition of piety. And on this very thing he was relying with this exception, if it should be pleasing to God to give him the victory: indeed, a bodily good (Piscator). The strength of our faith in asking corporal blessings from God is one thing; but it is another in awaiting spiritual goods from God; concerning the receiving of which we have absolutely no occasion for hesitations (Willet out of Osiander). Jonathan does not doubtfully pronounce those things; for he perceived himself to have been instigated by God, and the people to be soon liberated: But whether in this way, or at this time, it was going to be, he did not know: But concerning the salvation of the people he was not doubting (Martyr). Even if with a confident hope Jonathan was expecting victory; nevertheless, he was also prepared (if it should seem good to God) to meet death for the sake of the people committed to him (Osiander).

It may be; he speaks doubtfully; for though he found and felt himself stirred up by God to this exploit, and was assured that God would deliver his people, yet he was not certain that he would do it at this time, and in this way.

[The Lord might work for us, יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה לָ֑נוּ] The Lord might work for us (Montanus). Or, on our behalf (Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). Thus the Lord is לִי, for me.[20] To do, in the place of to do a work, is well-known. Hence they did one hour;[21] that is, they worked. For עָשָׂה, to do, and פָּעַל, to do, expound each other. Now, the work of God is the judgment that He executes upon the wicked; when He punishes them, He saves His own. He works, therefore, when He gives salvation to believers. Thus it is taken in Exodus 13:8;[22] Malachi 3:17;[23] 4:3;[24] likewise Psalm 119:126, a time of doing for the Lord,[25] that is, that He might do judgment. Thus in Psalm 22:31, the He hath done,[26] understanding, judgment (Drusius). He will work for us (Vatablus, English, Dutch); or He will work together with us; that is, He will give us victory (Vatablus). He will help us (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); He will stand by us (Castalio); He will do something on our behalf (Dutch). He will accomplish something through us (Strigelius). He will work for us a sign, or miracle (Jonathan in Drusius). He will work by us (Pagnine); or He will accomplish for us (Piscator), understanding, salvation (Pagnine, Piscator). I seek this supplement, partly from a comparison with the following explanation; partly from a comparison with Isaiah 26:18, where that full expression is extant[27] (Psicator). The language of doin, posited absolutely, has great emphasis, if perchance Jehovah will do things marvelous for us, and worthy of Himself. Thus in Psalm 36:5;[28] Isaiah 44:23;[29] 1 Samuel 14:45[30] (Malvenda). Moreover, they render לָנו either for us, that is, unto our advantage; or on our behalf, that is, in our favor; or through us, that is, in the use of our labor (Mendoza).

The Lord will work, to wit, great and wonderful things.

[For it is not difficult for the Lord, אֵ֤ין לַֽיהוָה֙ מַעְצ֔וֹר[31]] Not to the Lord restraint (Montanus), a thing restrained (Septuagint), a thing difficult (Jonathan, Tigurinus, Mariana, Arabic), a restraining (Drusius), prohibition (Pagnine, Drusius), a delaying, hindering; that is, He is not delayed or hindered from saving (Vatablus). Restriction or restraint (Piscator), obstacle or impediment (Syriac, Munster, Junius and Tremellius). מַעְצוֹר properly signifies restraint; here, impediment, or difficulty (Munster). Some render it adjectivally, for there is no restrainer of Jehovah; that is, there is not one restraining or detaining Jehovah (Malvenda).

There is no restraint to the Lord; there is no person nor thing which can hinder God from thus doing.

[To save either in many or in few] Or with many, etc. (Pagnine). This sentence was in use among the Hebrews. It appears in 2 Chronicles 14:11; 1 Maccabees 3:18;[32] 2 Maccabees 15:27.[33] See examples in Judges 7:4; 1 Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 25:8; a similar sentence in Psalm 147:10 (Grotius).

Verse 7:[34] And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.

[Do all things that please] He expresses singular readiness. 1. He offers himself for more than was required. 2. The armorbearer by a lesser authority than Jonathan was submitting himself to equal difficulty with him. For Jonathan was moved by divine instinct; the armorbearer was roused merely by a human voice (Mendoza).

[Go whither thou wilt, נְטֵ֣ה לָ֔ךְ] Turn aside or divert thyself (Vatablus, Piscator, Drusius, Junius and Tremellius). A Pleonasm (Piscator). Some: incline thyself, or indulge thyself (Malvenda).

Turn thee; march on to the enemies.

[And I will be with thee wheresoever thou wilt] Hebrew: Behold, I am with thee, etc.;[35] that is, I will follow thee wherever thou shalt will to proceed (Vatablus). I am with thee according to thy heart, or as thy heart; that is, thou art able to entrust such to me, as to thine own heart; I shall cleave to thee as closely as thine own heart (Malvenda). Behold, I am going to act with thee according to the sentence of thy mind (Piscator out of Junius).

[1] Hebrew: וּבֵ֣ין הַֽמַּעְבְּר֗וֹת אֲשֶׁ֙ר בִּקֵּ֤שׁ יֽוֹנָתָן֙ לַֽעֲבֹר֙ עַל־מַצַּ֣ב פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים שֵׁן־הַסֶּ֤לַע מֵהָעֵ֙בֶר֙ מִזֶּ֔ה וְשֵׁן־הַסֶּ֥לַע מֵהָעֵ֖בֶר מִזֶּ֑ה וְשֵׁ֤ם הָֽאֶחָד֙ בּוֹצֵ֔ץ וְשֵׁ֥ם הָאֶחָ֖ד סֶֽנֶּה׃ [2] An hypallage is an interchange of cases. [3] Hebrew: וְאֶת־הָעִ֖יר שִׁלְּח֥וּ בָאֵֽשׁ׃. [4]Æneid 8:180, 181. Ceres, or Demeter (to the Greeks), is the goddess of agriculture. [5] Isaiah 44:4: “And they shall spring up as among the grass (בְּבֵ֣ין חָצִ֑יר), as willows by the water courses.” [6]צִיץ signifies a flower. [7] See verse 2. [8] Hebrew: הַשֵּׁ֧ן הָאֶחָ֛ד מָצ֥וּק מִצָּפ֖וֹן מ֣וּל מִכְמָ֑שׂ וְהָאֶחָ֥ד מִנֶּ֖גֶב מ֥וּל גָּֽבַע׃ [9] Hebrew: הַשֵּׁן. [10] Genesis 13:11: “Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east (מִקֶּדֶם, from the east): and they separated themselves the one from the other.” [11] 2 Samuel 6:2: “And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah (מִֽבַּעֲלֵ֖י יְהוּדָ֑ה), to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.” [12] 1 Chronicles 13:6: “And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah (בַּעֲלָתָה), that is, to Kirjath-jearim (אֶל־קִרְיַ֥ת יְעָרִ֖ים), which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.” [13] Hebrew: מ֣וּל מִכְמָ֑שׂ. [14] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹנָתָ֜ן אֶל־הַנַּ֣עַר׀ נֹשֵׂ֣א כֵלָ֗יו לְכָה֙ וְנַעְבְּרָ֗ה אֶל־מַצַּב֙ הָעֲרֵלִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אוּלַ֛י יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה לָ֑נוּ כִּ֣י אֵ֤ין לַֽיהוָה֙ מַעְצ֔וֹר לְהוֹשִׁ֥יעַ בְּרַ֖ב א֥וֹ בִמְעָֽט׃ [15] 1 Maccabees 3:18: “Unto whom Judas answered, It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company…” [16]Apella may be a proper name, or it may be derived from a/from and pellis/skin. [17] See Ephesians 2:12. [18] See 1 Samuel 7:26, 36, 45. [19] Joshua 14:12: “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me (אוּלַ֙י יְהוָ֤ה אוֹתִי֙), then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said.” [20] Psalm 118:6: “The Lord is on my side (יְהוָ֣ה לִ֭י); I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” [21] Matthew 20:12: “Saying, These last have wrought but one hour (μίαν ὥραν ἐποίησαν), and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” [22] Exodus 13:8: “And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me (עָשָׂ֤ה יְהוָה֙ לִ֔י) when I came forth out of Egypt.” [23] Malachi 3:17: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels (אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י עֹשֶׂ֣ה סְגֻלָּ֑ה); and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” [24] Malachi 4:3: “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do (אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנִ֣י עֹשֶׂ֔ה) this, saith the Lord of hosts.” [25] Psalm 119:126: “It is time for the Lord to work (עֵ֭ת לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת לַיהוָ֑ה): for they have made void thy law.” [26] Psalm 22:31: “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done (כִּ֣י עָשָֽׂה׃).” [27] Isaiah 26:18: “We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earthיְשׁוּעֹת֙ בַּל־נַ֣עֲשֶׂה) אֶ֔רֶץ); neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.” [28] Psalm 37:5, 6: “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (וְה֣וּא יַעֲשֶֽׂה׃). And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.” [29] Isaiah 44:23: “Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath wrought (כִּֽי־עָשָׂ֣ה יְהוָ֗ה): shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” [30] 1 Samuel 14:45a: “And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation (אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָ֠שָׂה הַיְשׁוּעָ֙ה הַגְּדוֹלָ֣ה הַזֹּאת֮) in Israel? God forbid…” [31]עָצַר signifies to restrain. [32] 1 Maccabees 3:18: “Unto whom Judas answered, It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company…” [33] 2 Maccabees 15:27: “So that fighting with their hands, and praying unto God with their hearts, they slew no less than thirty and five thousand men: for through the appearance of God they were greatly cheered.” [34] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ נֹשֵׂ֣א כֵלָ֔יו עֲשֵׂ֖ה כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ נְטֵ֣ה לָ֔ךְ הִנְנִ֥י עִמְּךָ֖ כִּלְבָבֶֽךָ׃ [35] Hebrew: הִנְנִ֥י עִמְּךָ֖ כִּלְבָבֶֽךָ׃.

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