Poole on 1 Samuel 2:4: Hannah's Song, Part 4

Verse 4:[1] (Ps. 37:15, 17; 76:3) The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.



[The bow of the mighty is overcome, קֶ֥שֶׁת גִּבֹּרִ֖ים חַתִּ֑ים] A bow, mighty men are broken (Montanus). The bow of the broken mighty, that is, the broken bow. For, sometimes to two substantives is subjoined an adjective agreeing with the latter, while it ought to agree with the first; thus in Exodus 25:5, skins, of rams dyed red,[2] that is, skins dyed red. Thus some take that in Genesis 4:10, the voice of the bloods of thy brother are צֹעֲקִים/crying to me,[3] that is, crying, so that it might be referred to the voice; yet others refer it to the bloods. The voice of the bloods crying (Glassius’ “Grammar” 52). Thus the voice of Princes are hidden,[4] in the place of, is hidden (Drusius). The bow and the mighty were broken (Pagnine, Vatablus, similarly Kimchi in Drusius). The bow of the powerful was weak (Septuagint). The bows of giants will be broken (Syriac, similarly the Arabic). With the bow the mighty or strong are worn out (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). Hebrew: the bow of the strong, an Hypallage[5] (Junius, Drusius). As if it were בַּקֶּשֶׁת, by the bow. But that would have been better expressed, גִּבוֹרֵי קֶשֶׁת, the mighty of bow, or with the bow (Drusius). The bow of the mighty was worn out (Tigurinus). The bow with the mighty was worn out. God wears out the mighty with their arms (Munster). The bow of the strong, individually they are worn out. The singular bow is joined with a plural to denote a collection of individuals (Piscator). Perhaps the Singular is in the place of the Plural, as it is often the case; or the singular noun is signifying a multitude, as in pars in frusta secant,[6] a part divides into crumbs. Grammarians call it Synthesis (Drusius). The sense: Arms are of no advantage to the strong; those that were only seeming to be superior are conquered at once; and those that were conquered are made superior (Vatablus). Bow is here set down for power, especially martial, as in Psalm 37:15; 44:6; 46:9. For, formerly the greatest might of war was posited in Arrows; especially among the Easterners, even indeed among the Israelites, 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Chronicles 12:1, 2 (Mendoza). Properly, the biting tongue of Peninnah, which was shooting mockery and grimaces (as if arrows) at Hannah, she calls a bow (Lapide out of Lyra).


The bows of the mighty men are broken: This notes either, 1. The strength of which they boasted. See Psalm 44:6; 46:9. Or, 2. Their malicious or mischievous designs. See Psalm 7:12; 11:2; 37:14. Or, 3. Their virulent tongues, which are compared to bows that shoot their arrows, even bitter words; as it is said Psalm 64:3: compare Jeremiah 9:3. Or, 4. Their procreating virtue, which may well be compared to a bow, both because it is called a man’s strength, Genesis 49:3, and because children, which are the effects of it, and are as it were shot from that bow, are compared to arrows, Psalmi 127:4, 5. And this seems best to agree with the following verse.



[And the infirm are girded with strength, וְנִכְשָׁלִ֖ים אָ֥זְרוּ חָֽיִל׃[7]] And the tottering (weak or infirm [Pagnine, Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Vatablus, Munster]; those that were stumbling [Drusius]; and those collapsed [Junius and Tremellius]: I might prefer, but those collapsed, for it is an Antithesis [Piscator]) are girded, or have girded themselves, with strength (Montanus, Pagnine, Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius), or with vigor (Piscator). In the place of men strong and ready for war, they are said to be girded with strength, as in Genesis 49:19;[8] Deuteronomy 33:20;[9] Job 38:3.[10] By the Latins also bene cinctus, well-girded, and by the Greeks εὔζωνος/well-girded, are used for a vigorous man. The soldiers of the Romans were always girded and shod (Mendoza). It is able to be translated in this way, they were girded with an army, and troops, that is, of sons, out of verse 5. Thus Livy, History of Rome 20, concerning Hannibal, he lives, girded with arms and legions (Malvenda). Bow signifies arms, and generally that in which one places his protection. The Bow of Peninnah was fruitfulness (Menochius). God made men strong, women weak, etc.; as He now made Peninnah, who in bearing so many children appeared strong, weak, so that she might no longer bear; and He made me, barren Hannah, strong to bear, so that I might bear Samuel, and am going to bear five others.[11] For this verse depends upon the following, until the barren hath born, etc. (Lapide). Nevertheless, others take this sentence more generally, and refer it whatever proud and humble men. Thus Dionysius, Cajetan, Euthymius, and others, which is more probable. For, although the occasion of this invective proceeded from Peninnah alone, it was just that, for the sake of richer teaching, it be extended to all the proud (Mendoza). The bow of the strong is overcome. Those things that happen contrary to expectation especiall show the Providence of God (Grotius). Observe here that extreme weakness is divinely transformed into supreme strength. Those that were stumbling, that is, were so infirm that they were not able to stand upon their feet, are girded, etc. The girdle/belt, as a symbol of strength, was sacred to Mars, as Homer testifies, Iliad 13 (Mendoza).


They that stumbled; or, were weak, or feeble, in body and spirit, that had no strength to conceive, which was once Sarah’s case, Hebrews 11:11; or to bring forth, which was Israel’s condition under Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19:3. Are girt with strength; are enabled both to conceive and to bring forth, as the church was, Isaiah 66:9.

[1] Hebrew: קֶ֥שֶׁת גִּבֹּרִ֖ים חַתִּ֑ים וְנִכְשָׁלִ֖ים אָ֥זְרוּ חָֽיִל׃ [2] Exodus 25:5: “And rams’ skins dyed red (וְעֹרֹ֙ת אֵילִ֧ם מְאָדָּמִ֛ים), and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood…” [3] Genesis 4:10: “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me (ק֚וֹל דְּמֵ֣י אָחִ֔יךָ צֹעֲקִ֥ים אֵלַ֖י) from the ground.” [4] Job 29:10: “The nobles held their peace (קוֹל־נְגִידִ֥ים נֶחְבָּ֑אוּ), and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.” [5] An hypallage is an interchange of cases. [6] Æneid 1:212.. The singular subject, pars, does not agree in number with the plural verb, secant. [7] כָּשַׁל, in the Niphal, signifies to stumble. [8] Genesis 49:19: “Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last (גָּ֖ד גְּד֣וּד יְגוּדֶ֑נּוּ וְה֖וּא יָגֻ֥ד עָקֵֽב׃).” In the Syriac, גדוד signifies a young man, and young men are generally well-girded. [9] Deuteronomy 33:20: “And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad וּלְגָ֣ד) אָמַ֔ר בָּר֖וּךְ מַרְחִ֣יב גָּ֑ד): he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.” [10] Job 38:3: “Gird up now (אֱזָר־נָא) thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” [11] Verse 21.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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