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Poole on 1 Samuel 18:6, 7: David Magnified in Song

Verse 6:[1] And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine (or, Philistines[2]), that (Ex. 15:20; Judg. 11:34) the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick (Heb. three-stringed instruments[3]).

[When he was returning, with the Philistine smitten, etc.] Almost all understand this of the slaying of Goliath. But some take it generally concerning some other fight successfully conducted against the Philistines (Malvenda). It is an Enallage of number, just as in 1 Samuel 19:5; Genesis 25:19. Philistine in the place of Philistines (Junius, Piscator). Thus Virgil’s Æneid 2, …and they fill the belly with armed soldier.[4] Thus they maintain the sense to be, that is to say, with them returning from some other fight against the Philistines (Malvenda). They argue that this is not able to be referred to Goliath: 1. Because David was at that time a minister of the king, verse 5, when the women sang that victory song. But, when he killed Goliath, he was not yet a minister of the king, indeed, he was unknown to him, 1 Samuel 17:55. 2. Saul, offended by that victory song, would not have taken David into his court: whence it is evident that he was already in his court. 3. Those words, what can he have more but the kingdom?, signify that he was already at that time in honor. But before the killing of Goliath, he bore no office (Piscator).

When David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine; either, first, From some eminent victory obtained by him against the Philistines, though not particularly related, wherein also Saul might be present and concerned. Or rather, secondly, From the slaughter of Goliath, and the other Philistines with him. Against this it is objected, that this song was sung either after David was advanced and employed, as is related verse 5, and therefore not immediately after that great victory; or, before he was so advanced; and then it would have raised Saul’s jealousy and envy, and consequently hindered David’s advancement. But it may be replied, that this song, though placed afterwards, was sung before David’s advancement, related verse 5. And that this did not hinder David’s preferment, must be ascribed partly to Saul’s policy, who, though he had an eye upon David, and designed to crush him upon a fit occasion; yet saw it necessary for his own reputation, and the encouragement of other men’s valour, and for the satisfaction of Jonathan’s passionate desire, and the just and general expectation of the whole army and people, to give him some considerable preferment for the present; and principally to God’s providence overruling Saul, against his own inclination, and his mistaken interest.

[Women went forth] For that was a solemn observance in that age, that in victories virgins in joyful song would rehearse the praises of God, and of the victors. Thus in Exodus 15:20 (Menochius out of Sanchez, Tirinus).

[Out of all cities] Through which the victors were passing, while on their way to Jerusalem (Menochius, Tirinus).

[Singing, לָשִׁור] [Thus the Kethib or writing; but the Qere, or reading, is לָשִׁיר.] To sing, that is, songs with the mouth unto the praise of the victors (Vatablus).

[Conducting dances, וְהַמְּחֹלוֹת] With flutes (Tigurinus). And pipes, understanding, were in their hands; that is, singing with their mouth, and playing on their pipes, they went forth, I say, to the meeting (Vatablus). מְחֹלוֹת signifies that, rather than choruses. But the term also signifies the instruments of the chorus; concerning which at greater length on Psalm 149:3[5] (Mariana). Others translate it, and choruses (Montanus, Pagnine, Munster) of woman (Pagnine), choruses of them (Junius and Tremellius). Leading choruses, as in public rejoicing. See what things are on Matthew 11:17 (Grotius).

Out of all cities of Israel, that is, out of all the neighbouring cities, by or through which the victorious army marched. Singing and dancing, according to the custom of those times and places; of which see Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34.

[On timbrels of joy, בְּתֻפִּ֥ים בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה] On timbrels, in joy (Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Tigurinus, Munster). With instruments of joy (Pagnine, Vatablus), that is, with musical instruments, wherewith joy is wont to be excited (Vatablus).

[And on sistra, וּבְשָׁלִשִׁים] And on cymbals (Septuagint, Arabic, Vatablus); the instrument is thus called from its three chords[6] (Vatablus, Kimchi in Munster). On panduras[7] (Junius and Tremellius), of which Athenæus makes mention, Banquet of the Learned 4:23, 25; and Julius Pollux, Onomasticon[8] 4:9:2, But a Trichord, says he, which the Assyrians call a pandura, was also their invention (Malvenda). And with stringed instruments (Tigurinus), musical instruments (Munster). With the lyre of three strings (Mariana); on three-pronged instruments (Montanus). Others: with songs noble and excellent (Vatablus). Some derive the signification from שָׁלִישִׁים/SCHALISCHIM, princes, captains,[9] and render it, on magnificent, that is, songs; or simply in songs, so called because songs obtain the first place among sorts of speech (Malvenda).

Verse 7:[10] And the women (Ex. 15:21) answered one another as they played, and said, (1 Sam. 21:11; 29:5; Ecclus. 47:6[11]) Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

[And they were precenting (thus Vatablus), וַתַּעֲנֶינָה] And they were answering (Malvenda, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Jonathan). They were singing alternately (Piscator, Tigurinus, Strigelius); they were answering, that is, this alternate verse (Piscator, thus Malvenda). It belonged to ancient custom, that to the victors boys, girls, and soldiers sang ballistea[12] of this sort. Concerning which see Vopiscus on Aurelian, and upon him, Casaubon and Salmasius[13] (Malvenda).

Answered one another; singing by parts alternately.

[Saul hath smitten a thousand, בְּאֲלָפָו] In his thousands (Septuagint, Jonathan, Montanus); he hath smitten thousands (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius).

[And David his ten thousands, בְּרִבְבֹתָיו] His myriads (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius). Others: in myriads, or in his ten thousands (Septuagint, Jonathan, Montanus); that is to say, he hath smitten so many men, as if he had been helped by myriads of men (Vatablus out of Munster). Now, the personal pronoun his is used for both. That is, the conquered belonged to the victors by right of war (Estius). The praise is well founded and applicable to David, to whom the slaughter of the whole army ought to have been referred (Menochius). For, with the giant destroyed, the rest, with their courage and arms cast aside, were either given to slaughter, or dispersed in a disgraceful flight (Tirinus). Moreover, as they had a familiar form in lamentation, Jeremiah 22:18; 34:5, so also in triumph (Sanchez).

David his ten thousands; so they said, because David killed Goliath, which was the principal cause of all the following slaughter of the Philistines.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בְּבוֹאָ֗ם בְּשׁ֤וּב דָּוִד֙ מֵהַכּ֣וֹת אֶת־הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֔י וַתֵּצֶ֙אנָה הַנָּשִׁ֜ים מִכָּל־עָרֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לָשׁוּ֣ר וְהַמְּחֹל֔וֹת לִקְרַ֖את שָׁא֣וּל הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ בְּתֻפִּ֥ים בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה וּבְשָׁלִשִֽׁים׃ [2] Hebrew: אֶת־הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי. [3] Hebrew: וּבְשָׁלִשִׁים. [4] Thus Æneas concerning the Trojan Horse. [5] Psalm 149:3: “Let them praise his name in the dance (בְמָחוֹל): let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.” [6]שָׁלשׁ signifies three. [7] A three-stringed lute. [8] Julius Pollux (second century AD) was a Greek grammarian and rhetorician. Only his Onomasticon, a dictionary of Attic phrases and an invaluable source of information concerning classical antiquity, survives. [9]שָׁלִישׁ signifies an officer, perhaps so called from the third man in a chariot. [10] Hebrew: וַֽתַּעֲנֶ֛ינָה הַנָּשִׁ֥ים הַֽמְשַׂחֲק֖וֹת וַתֹּאמַ֑רְןָ הִכָּ֤ה שָׁאוּל֙ בְּאֲלָפָ֔ו וְדָוִ֖ד בְּרִבְבֹתָֽיו׃ [11] Ecclesiasticus 47:6: “So the people honoured him with ten thousands, and praised him in the blessings of the Lord, in that he gave him a crown of glory.” [12] That is, songs accompanied by dancing. [13] Aurelian was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275, winning an unprecedented series of military victories, preserving the Empire from disintegration. One Flavius Vopiscus Syracusanus is credited with the composition of the biography of Aurelian (circa 306) in the Scriptores Historiæ Augustæ (Augustan History), a series of biographies on the various emperors from 117-284 AD. Salmasius (a French Protestant scholar of classical antiquity [1588-1653], who succeeded Joseph Scaliger in the professorship at Leiden) produced an edition of the Augustan History, which included Casaubon’s notes.

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