top of page

Poole on 1 Samuel 19:8-17: Delivered from Saul by Saul's Daughter!

[circa 1062 BC] Verse 8:[1] And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him (Heb. his face[2]).


[Now, war was agitated again (Pagnine, similarly the Syriac, Arabic), וַתּ֥וֹסֶף הַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה לִֽהְי֑וֹת] And war added to be[3] (Montanus, similarly Munster). And those causing war to be increased (Jonathan). War proceeded to be (Junius and Tremellius). War proceeded to become (Septuagint). It added to be; that is, it was again. For a finite verb conjoined with an infinitive is often to be explained adverbially; thus in Genesis 8:10, וַיֹּ֛סֶף שַׁלַּ֥ח, and he added to send forth; that is, he sent out again; and in Genesis 12:11;[4] Psalm 78:17;[5] etc. (Glassius’ “Grammar” 347).


Verse 9:[6] And (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10, 11) the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.


[The spirit of the Lord became evil] From the victory of David, and from morose wallowing, he reverts to his nature, and begins to rave (Martyr). Hebrew: and it was…אֶל־שָׁאוּל, before (upon [Septuagint]) Saul (Jonathan). It became…in Saul (Tigurinus, Munster). When it was in Saul (Junius and Tremellius). Hebrew: it was towards Saul; or rather, it arose to Saul: that is, it entered him (Piscator). It rushed upon Saul (Arabic). God permitted this, so that He might chasten Saul’s envy with torment (Lapide).


The evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul: David’s successes against the Philistines, which should have cheered his heart, made him sad, and the devil watched the opportunity to improve his melancholy, as before he bad done.


[He was holding a javelin] That was almost perpetual for him, even at table, 1 Samuel 20:33; again, near the couch, below[7] (Menochius).


Verse 10:[8] And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.


[He strove to fasten David] Exasperated by the triumphal successes of David, and his advancements (Menochius).


[And David turned aside from the face of Saul (thus Pagnine), וַיִּפְטַר וגו״] He declined (Montanus), withdrew (Septuagint, Syriac), fled (Arabic), carried himself away (Munster, Tigurinus), was removed (Kimchi in Munster), was set free (Jonathan, Vatablus); he fled, namely, to his house (Vatablus). And he opened a place for himself; he made a way for himself between those that had been present, so that he might flee; he burst forth, loosed himself (Malvenda).


Verse 11:[9] (Ps. 59 title) Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain.


[Saul sent…so that they might watch him, and kill him in the morning] Question: But why would he not kill him at night, which was easily able to be done? Responses: 1. It seems disgraceful, the behavior of traitors, to fall upon a man in his own house, and in his own bed (Menochius, Lyra in Tostatus). 2. He did not attack him at night, lest he should escape through the darkness of night (Salian in Menochius). 3. He delayed the slaughter until dawn, so that the man to death, called forth unto judgment, and beset with false accusations, he might condemn to death (Josephus and Tostatus in Menochius). Saul was wanting to have a pretext for killing: lest all Israel should clamor against him, since all were loving David. 4. God was willing, that David should not die, and so He put this in the mind of Saul (Tostatus). 5. So that he might see him killed before his face, and so with certainty (Lapide).


To slay him in the morning: why not in the night? Answer: Partly, because it would have been barbarous, and most dishonourable to Saul, to break into David’s house by night, and kill him in his own house and bed; and it seemed more expedient to kill him as he came out of his house in the morning; partly, because the night might give David some opportunity of escaping, which the daylight would prevent; and principally, by God’s singular providence, infatuating Saul’s mind to take the worst course, that David might be delivered from him.


[When she had reported this] Question: Whence was Michal able to learn this? Responses: 1. It was reported to her from the court. 2. Or, since David had related his danger to her, and she had seen the house beset with courtiers, she prudently gathered this (Martyr).


Tomorrow thou shalt be slain; which she might learn, either by information from Jonathan, or some other courtier that was privy to the design; or from her own observation of some suspicious or dangerous persons hovering about the house.


Verse 12:[10] So Michal (so Josh. 2:15; Acts 9:24, 25) let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.


Michal let David down through a window; because they lay in wait for him at the doors of the house, whensoever he should come forth there.


Verse 13:[11] And Michal took an image (Heb. teraphim,[12] Gen. 31:19;[13] Judg. 17:5), and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.


[Michal took a statue, אֶת־הַתְּרָפִים] Images, or likenesses (Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus). One statue, or a certain Image (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Strigelius, English). In this place it does not signify idols, as in Genesis 31:13, 30 (Munster). For David would not have tolerated such (Estius). But what if Michal, without the knowledge of David, worshipped Teraphim, and substituted one of the household gods in the bed? (Malvenda). This word is taken here for whatever image setting forth the appearance of a man (Vatablus out of Munster). Teraphim here are life-sized dolls, of which sort Michal made one in haste, which to some extent approached the form of a man; of which sort are μορμολύκεια/scarecrows, wont to be placed in gardens or fields to scare birds (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:51:623). Moreover, it was the counsel of Michal, by the imposture of the image to delay the courtiers of Saul, until David was further away (Menochius).


An image; Hebrew, teraphim, which was an image made in human shape; which she might keep secretly, either out of a superstitious regard to it, or out of mere curiosity. This stratagem she used, because knowing her father’s unquiet, and jealous, and furious temper, she suspected he might come or send to see whether David was there or no.


[A shaggy pelt of goats she placed at his head, וְאֵת֙ כְּבִ֣יר הָֽעִזִּ֔ים שָׂ֖מָה מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֑יו] Interpreters disagree here to a remarkable extent. And a liver of goats she place at his head (Septuagint). In the place of כְּבִיר, something netted, they read כָּבֵד/liver (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:51:623); under the covers she placed a goat’s liver, recently removed and hot, which might given the appearance of palpitations (Josephus and the Greeks in Martyr). For that is wont, after it has been cut out, to palpitate yet for some time (Tirinus). But this does not have even a shadow of the truth; and whatever it (כְּבִיר) was, it was not lying under the covers, but was projecting מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו, toward the bolster of him, namely, David (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:51:623). Others thus: and the pelt of goats (a bolster of goat [Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine]) she placed for his heads[14] (Montanus), under his head (Pagnine), as a pillow (near the pillow) of him (Jonathan). A pillow of goat she put in the place of his head (Munster). The כְּבִיר Jonathan translates as a skin; Aquila, an orb of hair; Kimchi, a bolster. Pomarius[15] translates it, a modius, or a flask. For Kimchi’s כָּר/ car/bolster, he reads as כּוֹר/cor, or kor, a unit of measure;[16] Jerome, a shaggy pelt; but I myself think it to be כְּבִיר in construct, and כָּבִיר in the absolute state, which signifies much, or great, Job 8:2;[17] 15:10;[18] 31:25;[19] 34:17,[20] 24;[21] 36:5;[22] likewise Isaiah 17:12;[23] 28:2;[24] etc. Therefore, I translate it, and she put a great (or longer) of goats, supply, hair; the ellipsis of which is very common, as in Exodus 25:4, וְשֵׁ֥שׁ וְעִזִּֽים׃, and byssus, and goats, that is, as hair of goats; and in Exodus 26:7, יְרִיעֹ֣ת עִזִּ֔ים, curtains of goats, that is, from the hair of goats; and in Exodus 35:26, טָו֖וּ אֶת־הָעִזִּֽים׃, they spun goats, that is, the hair of goats; in Song of Songs 4:1, thy hair is כְּעֵ֣דֶר הָֽעִזִּ֔ים, like a flock of goats, that is, like the hair of a flock of goats. So here, great hair of goats. For elsewhere goats have longer hair, and are shorn, like sheep, and their hair is applied to various uses; indeed, from it are made cloaks and tents. Now, such hair is rightly called כָּבִיר; that is to say, daily growing and becoming thick; for the Arabic כבר/cabara signifies the increases of hair; and the Hebrew הִכְבִּיר signifies to increases, and to multiply, Job 35:16;[25] 36:31.[26] Now, there are two sorts of this; one rougher, whence cloth is made, the use of which is sacks and rugs; the other is finer by far, from which wavy fabrics of such fineness, that they yield little to silks; and they say this down lies hidden, as it were, under the coarser hairs of the goats. But, that Michal had this in readiness, is not at all strange; since the wives of those times learned, among other things, to spin the hair of goats. See Exodus 35:26 (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:51:623). Moreover, Michal tried in some degree to imitate her husband’s hair (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals, similarly Sanchez, Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus). For the hair of goats in the East is not altogether unlike the hair of men: Whence Callisthenes[27] says that the goats in Lycia[28] are well-haired, in such a way that you might say certain ringlets of hair hand down from them (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:51:623). Note: The goats in Palestine grow tawny fleece, or hair, as it is evident from Song of Solomon 4:1, where it is said of the hair of the bride, thy hair is as flocks of goats (Menochius out of Sanchez). Neither is this strange, since in various regions, because of diversity of water and grazing, the cattle also have various colors. By nature the wool is tawny on the Bætis,[29] as testify Pliny in his Natural History 8:48, and Martial[30] in Epigrams 12:100; likewise on the Sybaris and Crathis[31] rivers, as Ovid testifies in his Metamorphoses 15; and on the Xanthos,[32] Pliny’s Natural History 2:103; and on the Scamander[33] (Sanchez). Whence that shaggy pelt, which was surrounding the image, was naturally rendering the tawny hair of David (Tirinus, Lapide out of Theodoret and Tostatus). Or surely she was seeming tenderly to care for the head of David in his illness with this soft pelt; whence Vatablus translates it, a pillow (Lapide). A pillow of goats; that is, from the skin of goats, still hairy (Vatablus).


Put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, or, put great goats’ hair upon his bolster, that is, upon the head and face of the image, which lay upon his bolster, that it might have some kind of resemblance of David’s head and hair, at least in a sick man’s bed, where there useth to be but a glimmering light. Goats is here put for goats’ hair, as it manifestly is Exodus 25:4; 26:7; 35:26. It is acknowledged by learned writers, that in those eastern countries goats had much longer hair than ours have, and were shorn like sheep, and that their hair was not unlike to a man’s or woman’s hair; as may also be gathered from Song of Songs 4:1, Thy hair is as a flock of goats, that is, as the hair of a flock of goats. And as there was goats’ hair of several colours, (as the wool of sheep in divers parts is of very differing colours, as white, or black, or yellow, etc.) so it is most probable she took that colour which was likest the colour of David’s hair. And she took this rather than the hair of another man, because the procuring and ordering of that would have taken up some time; whereas she had goats’ hair of all sorts at hand, as being used in spinning or weaving, etc. Or the sense may be this, according to our translation, that she put a pillow of the softest part of goats’ hair under the head of the image, as they used to put under the heads of sick men; whereby also the head of the image sinking into the pillow might be less discerned, especially when it was either wholly or in part covered with a cloth. And all this art was used, that David being supposed, and, some persons who were sent to inquire, perceived, as thought, to be in the bed, Saul might be hindered from pursuing and overtaking him before he had got into some place. Covered it with a cloth, upon pretence of being sick, and needing some such covering, but really to prevent the discovery of her deceit.


Verse 14:[34] And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick.


[Saul sent lictors] That is, new ones, who might invade the home of David, and drag him from there. Seeing the prior watchmen to delay, he was thinking that David was keeping himself in the house; and he was impatient of delay, and fearing that David would escape, or (as envy is suspicious) that the watchmen were corrupted with bribes or promises. In these straits David composed Psalm 59, Deliver me from mine enemies, etc. (Lapide).


Messengers, to wit, other messengers in the morning, supposing the former to be either slow or perfidious.


[He was sick] And at the same time to the lictors of Saul, not believing, or doubting, Michal showed at a distance the image of David at an obscure angle and lying in the bed; they, supposing it to be David himself, they reported the whole matter to Saul (Lapide).


Verse 15:[35] And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.


Again to see David, or only, to see David, which they did not before, but went away satisfied (as it was fit they should) with her report and testimony of his sickness.


Verse 16:[36] And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster.


Verse 17:[37] And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; (2 Sam. 2:22) why should I kill thee?


[Otherwise I will kill thee] Hebrew: Why should I kill thee?[38] that is to say, Why wilt thou bring it to pass, that I should kill thee? (Malvenda, Vatablus, similarly Junius). An officious lie on the part of Michal (Menochius).


Why should I kill thee? If thou dost not permit me to escape without discovery, I shall be forced for my own defence to kill thee. Though it is most likely this was a lie and a fiction of her own.

[1] Hebrew: וַתּ֥וֹסֶף הַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה לִֽהְי֑וֹת וַיֵּצֵ֙א דָוִ֜ד וַיִּלָּ֣חֶם בַּפְּלִשְׁתִּ֗ים וַיַּ֤ךְ בָּהֶם֙ מַכָּ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֔ה וַיָּנֻ֖סוּ מִפָּנָֽיו׃ [2] Hebrew: מִפָּנָיו. [3] A woodenly literalistic rendering. [4] Genesis 12:11: “And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter (הִקְרִ֖יב לָב֣וֹא) into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon…” [5] Psalm 78:17: “And they sinned yet more against him (וַיּוֹסִ֣יפוּ ע֭וֹד לַחֲטֹא־ל֑וֹ) by provoking the most High in the wilderness.” [6] Hebrew: וַתְּהִי֩ ר֙וּחַ יְהוָ֤ה׀ רָעָה֙ אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל וְהוּא֙ בְּבֵית֣וֹ יוֹשֵׁ֔ב וַחֲנִית֖וֹ בְּיָד֑וֹ וְדָוִ֖ד מְנַגֵּ֥ן בְּיָֽד׃ [7] 1 Samuel 26:7 may be intended. [8] Hebrew: וַיְבַקֵּ֙שׁ שָׁא֜וּל לְהַכּ֤וֹת בַּֽחֲנִית֙ בְּדָוִ֣ד וּבַקִּ֔יר וַיִּפְטַר֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י שָׁא֔וּל וַיַּ֥ךְ אֶֽת־הַחֲנִ֖ית בַּקִּ֑יר וְדָוִ֛ד נָ֥ס וַיִּמָּלֵ֖ט בַּלַּ֥יְלָה הֽוּא׃ [9] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַח֩ שָׁא֙וּל מַלְאָכִ֜ים אֶל־בֵּ֤ית דָּוִד֙ לְשָׁמְר֔וֹ וְלַהֲמִית֖וֹ בַּבֹּ֑קֶר וַתַּגֵּ֣ד לְדָוִ֗ד מִיכַ֤ל אִשְׁתּוֹ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אִם־אֵ֙ינְךָ֜ מְמַלֵּ֤ט אֶֽת־נַפְשְׁךָ֙ הַלַּ֔יְלָה מָחָ֖ר אַתָּ֥ה מוּמָֽת׃ [10] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֧רֶד מִיכַ֛ל אֶת־דָּוִ֖ד בְּעַ֣ד הַחַלּ֑וֹן וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ וַיִּבְרַ֖ח וַיִּמָּלֵֽט׃ [11] Hebrew: וַתִּקַּ֙ח מִיכַ֜ל אֶת־הַתְּרָפִ֗ים וַתָּ֙שֶׂם֙ אֶל־הַמִּטָּ֔ה וְאֵת֙ כְּבִ֣יר הָֽעִזִּ֔ים שָׂ֖מָה מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֑יו וַתְּכַ֖ס בַּבָּֽגֶד׃ [12] Hebrew: אֶת־הַתְּרָפִים. [13] Genesis 31:19: “And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images (אֶת־הַתְּרָפִים) that were her father’s.” [14] A woodenly literalistic rendering. [15] Samuel Baumgarten Pomarius (1624-1683) was a German Lutheran churchman, controversialist, and theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Wittenberg. [16] A kor was about thirty modii; a modius contained about two dry gallons. [17] Job 8:2: “How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind (וְר֥וּחַ כַּ֜בִּיר אִמְרֵי־פִֽיךָ׃)?” [18] Job 15:10: “With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father (כַּבִּ֖יר מֵאָבִ֣יךָ יָמִֽים׃).” [19] Job 31:25: “If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much (וְכִֽי־כַ֜בִּ֗יר מָצְאָ֥ה יָדִֽי׃)…” [20] Job 34:17: “Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just (וְאִם־צַדִּ֖יק כַּבִּ֣יר תַּרְשִֽׁיעַ׃)?” [21] Job 34:24: “He shall break in pieces mighty men (כַּבִּירִים) without number, and set others in their stead.” [22] Job 36:5: “Behold, God is mighty (כַּבִּיר), and despiseth not any: he is mighty (כַּבִּיר) in strength and wisdom.” [23] Isaiah 17:12: “Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters (מַ֥יִם כַּבִּירִ֖ים)!” [24] Isaiah 28:2: “Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters (מַ֣יִם כַּבִּירִ֥ים) overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.” [25] Job 35:16: “Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth (יַכְבִּר) words without knowledge.” [26] Job 36:31: “For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance (לְמַכְבִּיר, to make many).” [27] Callisthenes of Olynthus (c. 360-327) was a Greek historian. He accompanied Alexander the Great on his expedition into the East, and wrote a history of that journey, which survives only in fragments. [28] Lycia was on the south-western coast of Asia Minor. [29] A river in Spain, now called Guadalquivir. [30] Marcus Valerius Martialis was a first century Roman poet. [31] Both rivers in southern Italy. [32] A river in Lycia. [33] Apparently another name for the Xanthos River. [34] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֥ח שָׁא֛וּל מַלְאָכִ֖ים לָקַ֣חַת אֶת־דָּוִ֑ד וַתֹּ֖אמֶר חֹלֶ֥ה הֽוּא׃ [35] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח שָׁאוּל֙ אֶת־הַמַּלְאָכִ֔ים לִרְא֥וֹת אֶת־דָּוִ֖ד לֵאמֹ֑ר הַעֲל֙וּ אֹת֧וֹ בַמִּטָּ֛ה אֵלַ֖י לַהֲמִתֽוֹ׃ [36] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ הַמַּלְאָכִ֔ים וְהִנֵּ֥ה הַתְּרָפִ֖ים אֶל־הַמִּטָּ֑ה וּכְבִ֥יר הָעִזִּ֖ים מְרַאֲשֹׁתָֽיו׃ [37] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר שָׁא֜וּל אֶל־מִיכַ֗ל לָ֤מָּה כָּ֙כָה֙ רִמִּיתִ֔נִי וַתְּשַׁלְּחִ֥י אֶת־אֹיְבִ֖י וַיִּמָּלֵ֑ט וַתֹּ֤אמֶר מִיכַל֙ אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל הוּא־אָמַ֥ר אֵלַ֛י שַׁלְּחִ֖נִי לָמָ֥ה אֲמִיתֵֽךְ׃ [38] Hebrew: לָמָ֥ה אֲמִיתֵֽךְ׃.

18 views5 comments
bottom of page