Poole on 1 Samuel 17:16-19: David's Errand to the Army, Part 1

Verse 16:[1] And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.


[He was proceeding morning and evening, הַשְׁכֵּ֣ם וְהַעֲרֵ֑ב] Verbatim: setting out in the morning and setting out in the evening, that is, coming in the morning, and coming in the evening (Vatablus). And infinitive, added to a finite verb, is sometimes put in the place of an adverb (Glassius’ “Grammar” 348).


[He was presenting himself forty days] That is, setting himself each day in the view of the children of Israel, and shaming them (Munster).


Verse 17:[2] And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren…


[Take for thy brethren, etc.] From this painstaking care of Jesse, that he might make provision of food for his sons, it appears to be able to be gathered that in those first times of Royal government Israelts went to war, not at Royal expense, but upon their own contributions (Tirinus out of Sanchez on verse 18).


[קַח־נָא] Take now, understanding, so that thou mightest deliver (Vatablus).


[An ephah of parched grain (thus Pagnine)] Parched grain was a suitable food for soldiers in camp (Menochius, Tirinus), for shepherds in the country, for travelers on the way (Tirinus). It is made from barley-corn, soaked, then dried and roasted, and finally crushed with millstones, and ground into meal (Menochius). From this they were preparing for themselves foods various and fine, mixed either with water, or milk, butter, honey, oil, etc. (Tirinus). Now, an Ephah is a measure that would suffice ten men for daily nourishment[3] (Tirinus, Osiander). אֵיפַ֤ת הַקָּלִיא֙, an Ephah (measure [Jonathan]) of this parched (Montanus, Tigurinus) grain (Tigurinus), of meal of parched ears (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius). See Leviticus 23:14[4] (Vatablus). A satum[5] (measure [Arabic]) of parched wheat (Syriac, Arabic).


Parched corn; a food then much in use, which they used to mix with water, or milk, or oil, etc.


[And run to the camp, וְהָרֵ֥ץ הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה] And run to the army, that is, make the deliver at once (Vatablus). Make to run[6] (Munster, Piscator). A καταχρηστικὴ/catachrestic[7] Metaphor (Piscator), that is, deliver at the run (Tirinus out of Lyra).


Verse 18:[8] And carry these ten cheeses (Heb. cheeses of milk[9]) unto the captain of their thousand (Heb. captain of a thousand[10]), and (Gen. 37:14) look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.


[And ten little molds of cheese] That is, ten small cheeses, fresh, so called from the form of the vessel (Tirinus out of Lyra). This translation is less proper; for the little molds are small wicker-baskets, out of which cheese is pressed (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:33:316). חֲרִצֵ֤י הֶֽחָלָב֙, little molds of milk (Montanus), made from milk (Vatablus); cheeses of milk (Dutch, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Syriac); fresh cheeses (Castalio, Strigelius); small cheeses (Mariana). Properly condensations, compressions, or out-growths, condensings, of milk (Malvenda). Or perhaps they are called חֲרִצֵי/cuts from the form serration (Kimchi in Munster). The Arabs call soft cheese כריץ, changing ח/ch into כ/ch, which is common among them. The Greeks render it τρυφαλίδας, that is, with Hesychius as interpreter,[11] τμήματα/sections of soft cheese; which the Hebrew directly expresses: for חָרַץ is to cut (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:33:316).

[Thou shalt carry to the tribune] Hebrew: to the captain of thousands, under which thy brethren are serving (Vatablus). Doubtlessly soldiers suffer many things, hard and undeserved from those that are in charge (Sanchez).


Unto the captain of their thousand; in whose power it was in a great measure, either to preserve them, or to expose them to utmost hazards.


[And thou shalt look in on thy brethren, if they are well, תִּפְקֹ֣ד לְשָׁל֔וֹם] And thou shalt visit for peace (Septuagint, Jonathan, Malvenda), or in peace (Pagnine, Montanus, Syriac, Vatablus), that is, so that thou mayest know in what condition they are (Vatablus). Either peace (Arabic), or for peace (Munster). And thou shalt ask after their peace, that is, welfare (Malvenda); visiting, thou shalt inquire concerning their prosperity (Junius and Tremellius), or concerning their peace (Piscator).


[And learn with whom they are placed, וְאֶת־עֲרֻבָּתָ֖ם תִּקָּֽח׃] Which words the Vulgate rendered in the best manner (Sanchez). Their mixture (עֲרֻבָּה[12] signifies this) thou shalt take; or thou shalt find out with whom they are mixed (Mariana). Although עָרַב signifies many things, yet they all are referred to mixing, assembling, and commerce. It is certainly taken as society and familiar commerce in Psalm 106:35;[13] Proverbs 20:19;[14] 24:21,[15] so that here it is able right to signify society, or unanimity, of soldiers under the same banner. And to take (לָקַח) signifies to become acquainted with among the Latins. Thus they say, This we received (that is, we learned) from the ancients, or from the philosophers, etc. (Sanchez; it does not displease Buxtorf). [Others translate it otherwise:] And what they desire, or what they need, learn (Septuagint). Evidently some Manuscripts read צָרְכָּתָם, their needs, instead of עֲרֻבָּתָם, from the affinity of the letters ע and צ, and ב and כ (Cappel’s Sacred Criticism 4:286). And their mixture, or mingling, thou shalt take. [But they do not explain this in one way:] Either thus, the mixture of their garments; or their garments either dirty, or worn (certain interpreters in Malvenda). Or thus, learn their mixture, or Arrangement, in the battle line; thou shalt signify to me the way and place of their encampment. Thus Rabbi Samuel Laniado[16] out of Abarbanel (Buxtorf’s Vindication 2:11:782). With whom are they stationed; under whom are they serving (certain interpreters in Vatablus). Yet it is not likely that their father did not know under whom they were serving (Vatablus). By עֲרֻבָּה/mixture others understand the diverse events, which the father was desiring to be related to him; whence they also explain עִנְיָנִים (Munster). And their state or condition shalt thou bring, that is, relate (Jonathan in Buxtorf). He took עֲרֻבָּתָם, that is, their business, from עָרַב, to do business; that is to say, with what success they are meeting, etc. (Buxtorf’s Vindication 2:11:782). News of them convey to me (Syriac, Arabic). Finally, take what things of diverse sort thou wouldest convey to them (Tigurinus). Receive commandments from them (Strigelius). Others: and their deposit, or pledge, or token shalt thou receive (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Munster, Castalio, Vatablus, Dutch, English, Hebrews, a number of ours [says Malvenda]). [But they vary in sense:] 1. Take money with thee; so that, if thy brethren have offered anything in the place of a pledge (as soldiers, with money running short, are wont to do [Vatablus]), thou mightest loose that pawning with money (Munster, thus Vatablus, Kimchi and Rabbi Salomon in Buxtorf). Rabbi Salomon maintains that עֲרֻבָּתָם here is of the signification of הַצָּלָה/ liberating, as it is taken in Psalm 119:122, עֲרֹ֣ב עַבְדְּךָ֣ לְט֑וֹב, give pledge for thy servant for good (Buxtorf). 2. Take a symbol, that is, something from them, that might make me more certain of their welfare; thou shalt brig it with thee (Junius, Piscator). 3. They had sent to their father for necessities; to him whom they had sent they gave a pledge to be carried to their father; which, since their father would recognize it as theirs, he would send back (Rabbi Levi ben Gershon in Buxtorf).


Take their pledge, that is, bring me some token of their welfare from them.


Verse 19:[17] Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.


[In the valley they were fighting (similarly all interpreters)] But I translate it, near the valley, as in verse 2. For they were not taking position in the valley, but on the mountain, as it is taught in verse 3 (Piscator).


Fighting with the Philistines: that is, In a posture and readiness to fight with them; as it is explained, 1 Samuel 17:20, 21. Men are oft said in Scripture to do what they intend and are prepared to do, as hath been showed formerly by instances.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּגַּ֥שׁ הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖י הַשְׁכֵּ֣ם וְהַעֲרֵ֑ב וַיִּתְיַצֵּ֖ב אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יֽוֹם׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יִשַׁ֜י לְדָוִ֣ד בְּנ֗וֹ קַח־נָ֤א לְאַחֶ֙יךָ֙ אֵיפַ֤ת הַקָּלִיא֙ הַזֶּ֔ה וַעֲשָׂרָ֥ה לֶ֖חֶם הַזֶּ֑ה וְהָרֵ֥ץ הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה לְאַחֶֽיךָ׃ [3] An ephah was approximately eight dry gallons. [4] Leviticus 23:14: “And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn (וְקָלִי), nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” [5] The σάτον appears to be a little larger than an English peck (two dry gallons). [6] The Hiphil conjugation frequent conveys a causative sense. [7] That is, involving an improper use of words. [8] Hebrew: וְ֠אֵת עֲשֶׂ֜רֶת חֲרִצֵ֤י הֶֽחָלָב֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה תָּבִ֖יא לְשַׂר־הָאָ֑לֶף וְאֶת־אַחֶ֙יךָ֙ תִּפְקֹ֣ד לְשָׁל֔וֹם וְאֶת־עֲרֻבָּתָ֖ם תִּקָּֽח׃ [9] Hebrew: חֲרִצֵ֤י הֶֽחָלָב֙. [10] Hebrew: לְשַׂר־הָאָלֶף. [11] Hesychius of Alexandria (fifth century AD) composed a Greek lexicon of almost fifty-one thousand entries, filled with explanations of rare and obscure words and phrases. [12] Here, עֲרֻבָּה is being related to the verb ערב, to mix. [13] Psalm 106:35: “But they were mingled (וַיִּתְעָרְבוּ) among the heathen, and learned their works.” [14] Proverbs 20:19: “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore with him that flattereth with his lips meddle not (לֹ֣א תִתְעָרָֽב׃).” [15] Proverbs 24:21: “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and with them that are given to change meddle not (אַל־תִּתְעָרָב)…” [16] Samuel ben Abraham Laniado (died 1605) was a Syrian Rabbi and Bible commentator. He rose to become the leader of his community in Aleppo; and he composed commentaries on much of the Hebrew Bible, including כלי יקר, Precious Vessel, on the Former Prophets. [17] Hebrew: וְשָׁא֤וּל וְהֵ֙מָּה֙ וְכָל־אִ֣ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּעֵ֖מֶק הָֽאֵלָ֑ה נִלְחָמִ֖ים עִם־פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃

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