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Poole on 1 Samuel 23:19-29: Ziph's Treachery

Verse 19:[1] Then (see 1 Sam. 26:1; Ps. 54 title) came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south (Heb. on the right hand[2]) of Jeshimon (or, the wilderness[3])?


[The Ziphites came up] Fearing (just like the men of Keilah previously) that the same thing would happen to them that happened to the men of Nob[4] (Martyr). The Ziphites were descended from Ziph, who was of the stock of Caleb, 1 Chronicles 2:42; 4:16, and so was of the tribe of Judah (Lyra, Martyr). The Edomites treat David far more humanely than the Ziphites, his fellow tribesmen. For which reason he calls them strangers in the Psalms, not by lineage, but in heart (Martyr).


The Ziphites were of David’s own tribe, though for this their unnatural and strange carriage to him he calls them strangers, Psalm 54:3.


Verse 20:[5] Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and (Ps. 54:3) our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand.


[Just as thy soul has desired to come down, come down,לְכָל־אַוַּ֙ת נַפְשְׁךָ֥ הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ לָרֶ֖דֶת רֵ֑ד] To, or according to, all the desire of thy soul, in descending descend (Jonathan, Syriac, Tigurinus, Montanus, Pagnine). Thou shalt be able to come down according all thy wish (Tigurinus). According to all the desire of thy soul thou shalt be able to descend; descend, thou (Munster). It belongeth unto thee to descend, if it seem good to thee (Castalio).


[It shall be ours to deliver, etc. (thus Munster, Pagnine, Castalio, English, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Dutch), וְלָ֥נוּ הַסְגִּיר֖וֹ] Verbatim: and to us to shut him up (Montanus). We will deliver him (Jonathan, Syriac, Tigurinus).


Our part shall be to deliver him, etc.: It shall be our care and business to the utmost of our power. Or, we will undertake to deliver him, or betray him to thee.


Verse 21:[6] And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me.


[Blessed be ye of the Lord] That is, the Lord attends you with singular favor (Vatablus). Instead of fidelity Saul commends their perfidy. How differently did David conduct himself towards those perfidious men that had killed Saul[7] and Ishbosheth![8] (Martyr).


For ye have compassion on me: Whilst others harden their hearts against me, and join with David in his treasonable conspiracy, you show your pity to me by your readiness to help me.


Verse 22:[9] Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is (Heb. foot shall be[10]), and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly.


[Depart, etc., לְכוּ־נָ֞א הָכִ֣ינוּ ע֗וֹד] Go, I pray, prepare yet (Septuagint, Montanus, thus Pagnine, Jonathan, Tigurinus, English), prepare ye (understanding, the matter) yet (Dutch). Search out the matter more carefully (Strigelius). Inform yourselves more certainly (Junius and Tremellius). Diligently and exact investigate yet (Vatablus).


Prepare yet, to wit, the matter; inform yourselves certainly of things, and dispose them so that we may not be frustrated in our attempt.


[The place where his foot may be, אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּֽהְיֶ֣ה רַגְל֔וֹ] In which his foot may be (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Munster, similarly Munster, Junius and Tremellius). In which he is staying (Jonathan). On which the prints of his feet have been impressed (Strigelius). In which place he may be (Castalio). Where are the dens, or places, that he is haunting (Dutch, English); the place in which he is dwelling (Vatablus).


Where his haunt is; in what cave, or wood, or mountain he is most frequently.


[For he recognizes this about me, that I cunningly lie in wait for him,כִּ֚י אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י עָר֥וֹם יַעְרִ֖ם הֽוּא׃] For he said to me, that he is extraordinarily cunning (Pagnine, similarly Montanus). [They take it variously:] Saul said, lest perchance he, being cunning, act cunningly (Septuagint, Complutensian Polyglot) [in the place of אֵלַי, to me, they appear to have read אֻלַי, lest perchance]. They said to me that he is most clever (Syriac). It, that is, my soul, said; that is, it thus has a presentiment, that he is going to escape by his cunning (Vatablus). He was saying to me (namely, David, when he was dwelling familiarly with me, having been asked by what means he was so easily gaining the mastery over our enemies [Junius, Piscator]), that he was quite accustomed to using craft and subtlety (Junius and Tremellius, certain interpreters in Vatablus). He said to me, that is, concerning me [thus אֵלַי is sometimes taken], that is, he thinks: what does he think? Saul himself acts cunningly (Mariana). [Others take it passively:] He said, in the place of it was said to me (Tigurinus, Arabic, Strigelius, Dutch, Glassius). After a manner quite common among the Hebrews, the third person active of the perfect is set down in the place of the impersonal (Malvenda). Thus in Genesis 16:14, קָרָא, he called, that is, everyone;[11] that is, the well was called: in Exodus 10:21, וְיָמֵשׁ, and he shall feel;[12] that is, the darkness shall be felt (Glassius’ “Grammar” 302). He, that is, a certain one, said to me (Mariana). David, as one well-endowed with natural ability, was easily able to guess Saul’s counsels from his knowledge of Saul’s mind, verse 15; thereafter he was making use of numerous spies, as provident Generals are wont (Grotius).


Verse 23:[13] See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah.


[Come ye again to me, with the matter certain, אֶל־נָכוֹן] According to a straight line (Montanus), that is, directly (Malvenda). [At the provided (Septuagint, Complutensian Polyglot in Nobilius)] at a certain time (Tigurinus); with the certainty (Junius and Tremellius, English). With the matter certain (Pagnine, Dutch). With the response, or report, certain (Munster, Vatablus, Kimchi in Munster). So that ye might make me more certain (Syriac); in the truth (Jonathan). Come ye again to me, so that with you I might proceed with the matter verified (Castalio).


[But if he will have hidden himself in the earth] In caverns (Lyra). Hebrew: if he be in the land,[14] that is, in your region (Vatablus).


[I will seek him in all the thousands of Judah] That is, with all the chiliads of Judah employed (Vatablus). With all the troops of the tribe of Judah, in which he dwells (Menochius). In order to animate the Ziphites, he signifies that the warriors of that tribe were against David. And perhaps in this way the were either in the fear, or the favor, of the king (Lyra). Others thus: among all the thousands of Judah: for I hold it for certain that he is hidden among the men of his own tribe. The individual tribes were distributed into Chiliads. See Judges 6:15[15] (Malvenda).


Throughout all the thousands of Judah: that is, Through all the parts of that tribe. Every tribe was divided into thousands, as counties are now with us into hundreds. See Judges 6:15. Or, with all the thousands of Judah, that is, I will raise against him all the forces of that tribe in which he trusteth and hideth himself. This he saith to animate them to the more vigorous prosecution of him.


Verse 24:[16] And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness (Josh. 15:55; 1 Sam. 25:2) of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.


Before Saul, to prepare things for Saul, who marched after them.


[In the Desert of Maon] This was a part of the desert of Ziph opening more broadly (Tostatus in Menochius).


In the wilderness of Maon, whither he went from the wilderness of Ziph, upon suspicion or information that Saul was coming thither.


Verse 25:[17] Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock (or, from the rock[18]), and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.


[He came down to the rock (thus the Septuagint, Pagnine, thus Jonathan, Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus)] He descended first, that is, into the intervening valley; thence he ascended unto the rock (certain interpreters in Malvenda, thus Vatablus).


[הַסֶּלַע] Others: from that rock (Junius and Tremellius), that is, from the hill of Hachilah, out of verse 19 (Junius, Piscator). To Selah (Syriac, Arabic).


Into a rock, that is, into a cave which was in the rock; or which might, be called a rock, not for the height, but the strength of its situation; where at first he might think to hide himself, but upon further intelligence or consideration he removed from thence upon Saul’s approach. Or, he came down from the rock, that is, either, first, From the mountain mentioned in the next verse, whence he came down, that so he might get out of Saul’s sight and reach. Or, secondly, From the hill of Hachilah, where David hid himself, which is said to be on the south of Jeshimon, verse 19, as this place where he now was is also described, verse 24, only that speaks of the plain, and this of the rock or hill adjoining to it, or in the midst of it. Or, he came down to Selah, as the Syriac and Arabic translate it; a place so called from the many rocks or stones which were in it, or near it.


Verse 26:[19] And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: (Ps. 31:2) and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men (Ps. 17:9) compassed David and his men round about to take them.


[He was despairing that he would be able to evade, נֶחְפָּ֤ז לָלֶ֙כֶת֙] He was hastening to go (Pagnine, Vatablus, Piscator, similarly Montanus, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius). He hastened precipitously to flee (Tigurinus). Concealing himself in going (Septuagint) [they appear to have read נֶחְפֶּה/covered]. He was anxious over how he might depart (Munster). He was removed; that is, he removed himself swiftly (certain interpreters in Malvenda). He was anxious and swiftly moving (Hebrews in Munster). Hence the noun חִפָּזוֹן, which signifies anxiety of soul, and mobility or instability, which has fear attached[20] (Munster).


[After the manner of a ring they were surrounding David, etc., עֹֽטְרִ֛ים אֶל־דָּוִ֥ד] Surrounding to David (Montanus); they were surrounding, etc. (Munster, Tigurinus, similarly Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius). They were encamped upon David (Septuagint). Lying in ambush, etc. (Jonathan). They were wandering around David (Syriac). They were anxious in seeking David (Arabic).


Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them: Dividing themselves into several parties, each marching a several way after him.


Verse 27:[21] (see 2 Kings 19:9) But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded (Heb. spread themselves upon, etc.[22]) the land.


[They have poured themselves out, פָשְׁטוּ] They have diffused themselves (Montanus); they have made an attack (Pagnine, similarly Tigurinus); an assault (or incursion [Septuagint, Castalio]) have they made (Strigelius); the have invaded (Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius); they have spread themselves (Munster); they were extracted (Jonathan); they have occupied the land (Arabic). Thus an external enemy often brings some relief to civil evils. The examples in Livy are many (Grotius).


The Philistines have invaded the land: God stirring them up by his all-disposing providence to do it at this time for David’s rescue. Compare 2 Kings 19:9.


Verse 28:[23] Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth (that is, the rock of divisions[24]).


[The dividing rock, סֶ֖לַע הַֽמַּחְלְקֽוֹת׃][25]] The rock of divisions (Munster, Strigelius, Arabic, Osiander, Mariana, Vatablus), or of separations (Junius and Tremellius, thus the Syriac), or of distractions (Vatablus out of the Hebrews). Either, 1. that is to say, of various sentences. Some refer this to Saul, whose soul was pulled in various directions, whether he should capture David first, or go to meet the Philistines. Others refer this to the soldiers of Saul, who were thinking diverse things (Vatablus). Or, 2. Because that rock, cast between the two camps, was dividing them (Sanchez, Malvenda). Or, 3. Because in that very place the Lord, as if by a miracle, had divided and drawn Saul from David; for it is fitting to preserve with grateful mind the memory of the blessings of God (Osiander).


Sela-hammahlekoth: that is, The rock of divisions, because there Saul was separated, and in a manner pulled asunder from David, who was now almost within his reach.


Verse 29:[26] And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at (2 Chron. 20:2) En-gedi.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲל֤וּ זִפִים֙ אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל הַגִּבְעָ֖תָה לֵאמֹ֑ר הֲל֣וֹא דָ֠וִד מִסְתַּתֵּ֙ר עִמָּ֤נוּ בַמְּצָדוֹת֙ בַּחֹ֔רְשָׁה בְּגִבְעַת֙ הַֽחֲכִילָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר מִימִ֥ין הַיְשִׁימֽוֹן׃ [2] Hebrew: מִימִין. [3] Hebrew: הַיְשִׁימוֹן. [4] 1 Samuel 22:9-19. [5] Hebrew: וְ֠עַתָּה לְכָל־אַוַּ֙ת נַפְשְׁךָ֥ הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ לָרֶ֖דֶת רֵ֑ד וְלָ֥נוּ הַסְגִּיר֖וֹ בְּיַ֥ד הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ [6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שָׁא֔וּל בְּרוּכִ֥ים אַתֶּ֖ם לַֽיהוָ֑ה כִּ֥י חֲמַלְתֶּ֖ם עָלָֽי׃ [7] 2 Samuel 1:1-16. [8] 2 Samuel 4. [9] Hebrew: לְכוּ־נָ֞א הָכִ֣ינוּ ע֗וֹד וּדְע֤וּ וּרְאוּ֙ אֶת־מְקוֹמוֹ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּֽהְיֶ֣ה רַגְל֔וֹ מִ֥י רָאָ֖הוּ שָׁ֑ם כִּ֚י אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י עָר֥וֹם יַעְרִ֖ם הֽוּא׃ [10] Hebrew: תִּֽהְיֶ֣ה רַגְל֔וֹ. [11] Genesis 16:14: “Wherefore the well was called (קָרָ֣א לַבְּאֵ֔ר, he called the well) Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.” [12] Exodus 10:21: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt (וְיָמֵ֖שׁ חֹֽשֶׁךְ׃, and he shall feel the darkness).” [13] Hebrew: וּרְא֣וּ וּדְע֗וּ מִכֹּ֤ל הַמַּֽחֲבֹאִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִתְחַבֵּ֣א שָׁ֔ם וְשַׁבְתֶּ֤ם אֵלַי֙ אֶל־נָכ֔וֹן וְהָלַכְתִּ֖י אִתְּכֶ֑ם וְהָיָה֙ אִם־יֶשְׁנ֣וֹ בָאָ֔רֶץ וְחִפַּשְׂתִּ֣י אֹת֔וֹ בְּכֹ֖ל אַלְפֵ֥י יְהוּדָֽה׃ [14] Hebrew: אִם־יֶשְׁנ֣וֹ בָאָ֔רֶץ. [15] Judges 6:15: “And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family (אַלְפִּי, my thousand) is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” [16] Hebrew: וַיָּק֛וּמוּ וַיֵּלְכ֥וּ זִ֖יפָה לִפְנֵ֣י שָׁא֑וּל וְדָוִ֙ד וַאֲנָשָׁ֜יו בְּמִדְבַּ֤ר מָעוֹן֙ בָּעֲרָבָ֔ה אֶ֖ל יְמִ֥ין הַיְשִׁימֽוֹן׃ [17] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ שָׁא֣וּל וַאֲנָשָׁיו֮ לְבַקֵּשׁ֒ וַיַּגִּ֣דוּ לְדָוִ֔ד וַיֵּ֣רֶד הַסֶּ֔לַע וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב בְּמִדְבַּ֣ר מָע֑וֹן וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע שָׁא֔וּל וַיִּרְדֹּ֥ף אַחֲרֵֽי־דָוִ֖ד מִדְבַּ֥ר מָעֽוֹן׃ [18] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֣רֶד הַסֶּ֔לַע. [19] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ שָׁא֜וּל מִצַּ֤ד הָהָר֙ מִזֶּ֔ה וְדָוִ֧ד וַאֲנָשָׁ֛יו מִצַּ֥ד הָהָ֖ר מִזֶּ֑ה וַיְהִ֙י דָוִ֜ד נֶחְפָּ֤ז לָלֶ֙כֶת֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י שָׁא֔וּל וְשָׁא֣וּל וַאֲנָשָׁ֗יו עֹֽטְרִ֛ים אֶל־דָּוִ֥ד וְאֶל־אֲנָשָׁ֖יו לְתָפְשָֽׂם׃ [20] See, for example, Exodus 12:11: “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste (בְּחִפָּזוֹן): it is the Lord’s passover.” Also, Isaiah 52:12: “For ye shall not go out with haste (בְחִפָּזוֹן), nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.” [21] Hebrew: וּמַלְאָ֣ךְ בָּ֔א אֶל־שָׁא֖וּל לֵאמֹ֑ר מַהֲרָ֣ה וְלֵ֔כָה כִּֽי־פָשְׁט֥וּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ [22] Hebrew: פָשְׁט֥וּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃. [23] Hebrew: וַיָּ֣שָׁב שָׁא֗וּל מִרְדֹף֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י דָוִ֔ד וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ לִקְרַ֣את פְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים עַל־כֵּ֗ן קָֽרְאוּ֙ לַמָּק֣וֹם הַה֔וּא סֶ֖לַע הַֽמַּחְלְקֽוֹת׃ [24] Hebrew: סֶ֖לַע הַֽמַּחְלְקֽוֹת׃. [25]חָלַק signifies to be smooth (perhaps to escape), or to divide. [26] Hebrew: וַיַּ֥עַל דָּוִ֖ד מִשָּׁ֑ם וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב בִּמְצָד֥וֹת עֵֽין־גֶּֽדִי׃

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