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Poole on 1 Samuel 30:1-10: David Pursues the Marauding Amalekites

Verse 1:[1]  And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the (see 1 Sam. 15:7; 27:8) Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire…

[On the third day]  Namely, after which David had departed from the camp of the Philistines; that there was so great a journey coming between the camp and Ziklag, is taught by the beginning of the following book, 2 Samuel 1:2 (Malvenda out of Junius).

On the third day, to wit, after David’s departure from Achish; for Ziklag was at a great distance from the camp and place of fight, as appears from 2 Samuel 1:2; and David’s men being all footmen, could make but slow marches.

[The Amalekites]  Knowing that David was away, they made use of the occasion to avenge themselves (Menochius, Tirinus).

The Amalekites; the remainders of that people who lived near those parts where David had destroyed their brethren, 1 Samuel 27:8, 9.  The south, to wit, the southern part of Judah, and the adjacent parts.  See below, 1 Samuel 30:14.

[They had smitten Ziklag]  He writes וַיַּכּוּ, and they had smitten, in the place of וַיַּהַרְסוּ, and they had overturned, pulled down, or destroyed (Munster, Vatablus) (for no one was killed, verse 2); as elsewhere Scripture says that an edifice is healed, or vivified, when it is restored and repaired (Vatablus).  God here recalls David from an unjust war (against his own people) to a just one; He awaits and endures reprobate men for a long time.  But He immediately recalls his own, lest they stick fast in their sins (Martyr).

Smitten Ziklag, that is, sacked and spoiled it.


Verse 2:[2]  And had taken the women captives, that were therein:  they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.

[And they had led the women from there as captives, from the least to the great]  As much those lesser by birth, as those greater.  These terms do not agree in Grammatical gender with the preceding term, women.[3]  And so it appears, that after the words אֶת־הַנָּשִׁים, the women, are wanting the words וְאֶת־טַפַּן,[4] and their children.  Which opinion is supported by the following verse (Piscator).  Thus the Greeks after τὰς γυναῖκας, the women, rightly supply καὶ πάντας τοὺς,[5] etc., and all those (Castalio).  He makes mention of the women alone, because the men had gone with David to the army (Vatablus).  [But the Syriac and the Arabic, in the place of הַנָּשִׁים, the women, read אֲנָשִׁים/men, which is not agreeable with the truth of the actual event.]

[They had not killed any]  Which is strange, seeing that David had killed all, 1 Samuel 27:9, 11.  But, 1.  God mitigated their fury; and He extinguished either the memory of, or the appetite for, like vengeance (Tirinus).  Thus God always provides for His own, even when they are often thinking otherwise.  By the wonder disposition of God (was this accomplished), who did not will anything to perish to David, or to others because of David (Grotius).  This action was not of humanity, but of avarice (Martyr); because they were wanting to sell them for slaves and maid servants (Lyra).  Moreover, all these things at length happened to David, when it seemed to him that he was in safety.  For he had escaped from the hand of Saul (Martyr).

They slew not any; which was strange, considering how David dealt with them, 1 Samuel 27:9.  But this must be ascribed partly to their selfish or fleshly interest; for they might reserve them, either to make sale of them for their profit, or to abuse them for their lust; or, it may be, to revenge themselves upon David and his men, by reserving them to extraordinary, and lingering, and repeated punishments; but principally to God’s overruling and wonderful providence, who set these bounds to their rage; and though he designed to chastise David’s sin and folly, yet would not deliver him nor his up to death.


Verse 3:[6]  So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.


Verse 4:[7]  Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

[Until tears failed in them]  This happens, either when men are stupefied, or when that humor fails (Sanchez).

Until they had no more power to weep:  Till either the humour was wholly spent, or the consideration of their calamity had made them stupid.


Verse 5:[8]  And David’s (1 Sam. 25:42, 43; 2 Sam. 2:2) two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.


Verse 6:[9]  And David was greatly distressed; (Ex. 17:4) for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved (Heb. bitter;[10] Judg. 18:25;[11] 1 Sam. 1:10;[12] 2 Sam. 17:8;[13] 2 Kings 4:27[14]), every man for his sons and for his daughters:  (Ps. 42:5; 56:3, 4, 11; Hab. 3:17, 18) but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

[And he was vexed, וַתֵּ֙צֶר לְדָוִ֜ד מְאֹ֗ד]  And it was a difficulty for David greatly (Montanus).  Very anxious, etc. (Munster, Tigurinus).  To David is attributed a feminine verb, because of his soul, broken at that time, and grievously dismayed.  Others:  And to David was greatly straitened, understanding, his soul [for תֵּצֶר is in the feminine gender] (Malvenda).

[For the people was wishing to stone him]  As the author of this disaster; or, because of the provoked Amalekites; or, because, with all the soldiers led away, he had left the city without defense (Menochius, similarly Tirinus, Martyr).  Excessive sorrow was overwhelming reason:  fickleness of soul, innate in the Hebrews, was added, whereby they were easily being turned this way and that.  See Exodus 17 (Tirinus out of Sanchez).  Sedition often follows a defeat received, as Tacitus observes, Histories 2 (Grotius).

The people spake of stoning him, as the author of their miseries, by coming to Ziklag at first, by provoking the Amalekites to this cruelty, by his forwardness in marching away with Achish, and leaving their wives and children unguarded.

[David was comforted in the Lord, וַיִּתְחַזֵּק]  And he was made strong (strengthened himself [Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus]) in the Lord (Vatablus).  In the Word of the Lord (Jonathan).  In the promises made to him concerning the kingdom (Piscator); he recovered his courage, supported by hope and trust in God (Vatablus).  Patiently enduring, he trusts in God (Arabic).  Imbued with a good hope of recovering the things lost, with the help of God (Menochius).

[His God]  That is, whom he had always previously found favoring him and propitious, and at that time was especially sensing Him to be (Martyr).

In the Lord his God, that is, in this, that the all-wise and all-powerful Lord was his God by covenant relation, and special promise, and true and fatherly affection, as he had showed himself to be in the whole course of his providence towards him.


Verse 7:[15]  (1 Sam. 23:6, 9) And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod.  And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.

[Bring to me the Ephod]  So that, clothed with it, David might consult the oracle.  The Republic of the Jews is called a kingdom of Priests, Exodus 19:6.  And their Kings were persons ἱερωμέναι, that is, consecrated (that is, because they were initiated by anointing); and they not only moderated civil matters, etc., but they were also put in charge of sacred rites and ceremonies (Cunæus’ Concerning the Republic of the Jews[16] 1:14).  [Others otherwise:]  David does not ask to be clothed with the Ephod, but he desires that the priest apply it to himself (Menochius, similarly Estius, Piscator).  Translate it, Bring the mantle, at the same time understanding, and put it on before me, etc.  A Brachylogy[17] (Piscator).  He is not read to have consulted the Lord, when he flew from Judah, nor when he asked a town of Achish, nor when he ravaged the Amalekites, etc., 1 Samuel 27, nor when he followed Achish to war against his own people.  But now, after he sensed the hand of the Lord, and truly repented, he orders the Ephod to be brought, etc.  And so God, having been invoked, was present, and blessed him in many ways (Martyr).

Bring me hither the ephod, and put it upon thyself, that thou mayst inquire of God according to his ordinance, Numbers 27:21.  See above, 1 Samuel 23:9.  David was sensible of his former error in neglecting to ask counsel of God by the ephod when he came to Achish, and when he went out with Achish to the battle; and his necessity now brings him to his duty, and his duty meets with success.


Verse 8:[18]  (1 Sam. 23:2, 4) And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them?  And he answered him, Pursue:  for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

[Shall I pursue, etc.?]  He does not ask whether it were a just war to recover his own taken by force, for that was certain (Martyr).

[He said, Pursue[19]]  These three letters shined forth, רדף, that is, in the names of יִשָּׂשכָר/Issachar, דָּן/Dan, and נַפְתָּלִי/Naphtali; the remaining things are added ἐξηγητικῶς/exegetically (Grotius).  [But concerning the method of consultation and response by the Ephod, etc., see what things we previously prolixly gathered on Exodus 28:30.]

And He answered him, etc.:  Before God answered more slowly and gradually, 1 Samuel 23:11, 12, but now he answers speedily and fully at once, because the business here required more haste.  So gracious is our God, that he considers even the degree of other necessities, and accommodates himself to them.


Verse 9:[20]  So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.

[To the torrent Besor]  This torrent, drawn from the mountains of Judah, flows into the Western sea near Gaza (Menochius).

[And certain weary ones halted, וְהַנּֽוֹתָרִ֖ים עָמָֽדוּ׃]  And those remaining, or left (that is, a part [Mariana], some [Strigelius], those left [Junius and Tremellius], two hundred, as indicated in the next verse [Junius]) halted (Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius, Mariana, Vatablus), or stayed (Tigurinus).  Something of this sort is to be understood, now, the good part crossed over, but the rest halted (Vatablus).


Verse 10:[21]  But David pursued, he and four hundred men:  (1 Sam. 30:21) for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

[He pursued, etc.]  1.  Because he was ignorant of the multitude of them.  2.  He was trusting in the promise of God (Tostatus).  3.  He knew the Amalekites to be condemned by God (Martyr).

Four hundred men; a small number for such an attempt; but David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness.

[Who, being weary, were not able to go over the torrent,אֲשֶׁ֣ר פִּגְּר֔וּ מֵעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־נַ֥חַל]  Who were growing sluggish from going over the torrent[22] (Montanus); they were more sluggish, that is, out of feigned weariness; that is, who were feigning such weariness that they were not able to cross over (Vatablus).  Or, who were weary, that they might not pass over, etc. (Pagnine, Vatablus).  Thus they were left without a sufficiency of strength, etc. (Junius and Tremellius).  The verb פִּגֵּר (which signifies to grow sluggish and to be weary) is from the noun פֶּגֶר, whereby is signified a body without a spirit, or a corpse (Munster, Piscator).  Thus אִזֵּן, and likewise הֶאֱזִין, to give ear, borrow their signification from the noun אֹזֶן/ear (Piscator).  They were hindered from passing over, etc. (Jonathan).  They set up near the bank of the torrent, so that they might take precautions, lest anyone pass through the torrent (Arabic, similarly the Syriac).  Who were positioned, lest they pass through, etc. (Tigurinus).  [Munster thus connects it with what precedes, for two hundred men stayed, who were weary, on the other side of the torrent.]

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֞י בְּבֹ֙א דָוִ֧ד וַאֲנָשָׁ֛יו צִֽקְלַ֖ג בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֑י וַעֲמָלֵקִ֣י פָֽשְׁט֗וּ אֶל־נֶ֙גֶב֙ וְאֶל־צִ֣קְלַ֔ג וַיַּכּוּ֙ אֶת־צִ֣קְלַ֔ג וַיִּשְׂרְפ֥וּ אֹתָ֖הּ בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

[2] Hebrew:  וַיִּשְׁבּ֙וּ אֶת־הַנָּשִׁ֤ים אֲשֶׁר־בָּהּ֙ מִקָּטֹ֣ן וְעַד־גָּד֔וֹל לֹ֥א הֵמִ֖יתוּ אִ֑ישׁ וַיִּֽנְהֲג֔וּ וַיֵּלְכ֖וּ לְדַרְכָּֽם׃

[3] 1 Samuel 30:2:  “And had taken the women (הַנָּשִׁים, in the feminine gender) captives, that were therein:  they slew not any, either great or small (מִקָּטֹן וְעַד־גָּדוֹל, in the masculine gender), but carried them away, and went on their way.”

[4] In the masculine gender.

[5] In the masculine gender.

[6] Hebrew:  וַיָּבֹ֙א דָוִ֤ד וַֽאֲנָשָׁיו֙ אֶל־הָעִ֔יר וְהִנֵּ֥ה שְׂרוּפָ֖ה בָּאֵ֑שׁ וּנְשֵׁיהֶ֛ם וּבְנֵיהֶ֥ם וּבְנֹתֵיהֶ֖ם נִשְׁבּֽוּ׃

[7] Hebrew:  וַיִּשָּׂ֙א דָוִ֜ד וְהָעָ֧ם אֲשֶׁר־אִתּ֛וֹ אֶת־קוֹלָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּ֑וּ עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁ֧ר אֵין־בָּהֶ֛ם כֹּ֖חַ לִבְכּֽוֹת׃

[8] Hebrew:  וּשְׁתֵּ֥י נְשֵֽׁי־דָוִ֖ד נִשְׁבּ֑וּ אֲחִי֙נֹעַם֙ הַיִּזְרְעֵלִ֔ית וַאֲבִיגַ֕יִל אֵ֖שֶׁת נָבָ֥ל הַֽכַּרְמְלִֽי׃

[9] Hebrew: וַתֵּ֙צֶר לְדָוִ֜ד מְאֹ֗ד כִּֽי־אָמְר֤וּ הָעָם֙ לְסָקְל֔וֹ כִּֽי־מָ֙רָה֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ כָּל־הָעָ֔ם אִ֖ישׁ עַל־בְּנ֣וֹ וְעַל־בְּנֹתָ֑יו וַיִּתְחַזֵּ֣ק דָּוִ֔ד בַּיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהָֽיו׃

[10] Hebrew:  מָרָה.

[11] Judges 18:25:  “And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows (אֲנָשִׁים֙ מָ֣רֵי נֶ֔פֶשׁ, men bitter of soul) run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.”

[12] 1 Samuel 1:10:  “And she was in bitterness of soul (וְהִ֖יא מָ֣רַת נָ֑פֶשׁ), and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.”

[13] 2 Samuel 17:8:  “For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds (וּמָרֵ֥י נֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ הֵ֔מָּה, and they be bitter of soul), as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field:  and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.”

[14] 2 Kings 4:27:  “And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet:  but Gehazi came near to thrust her away.  And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her (כִּֽי־נַפְשָׁ֣הּ מָֽרָה־לָ֔הּ, for her soul is bitter to her):  and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.”

[15] Hebrew:  וַיֹּ֣אמֶר דָּוִ֗ד אֶל־אֶבְיָתָ֤ר הַכֹּהֵן֙ בֶּן־אֲחִימֶ֔לֶךְ הַגִּֽישָׁה־נָּ֥א לִ֖י הָאֵפֹ֑ד וַיַּגֵּ֧שׁ אֶבְיָתָ֛ר אֶת־הָאֵפֹ֖ד אֶל־דָּוִֽד׃

[16] Peter Cunæus (1586-1638) studied under Scaliger and Drusius, and in 1611 he became Professor of Law at Leiden.  His De Republica Judæorum was based upon Bertram’s work of the same title, but enlarged with his own research.  The republic of the ancient Israelites is set forth as a pattern for the republic of the Dutch.  His wrok was well-received by Hebraists and Calvinists in the Netherlands.

[17] That is, a concise form of speech.

[18] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁאַ֙ל דָּוִ֤ד בַּֽיהוָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אֶרְדֹּ֛ף אַחֲרֵ֥י הַגְּדוּד־הַזֶּ֖ה הַֽאַשִּׂגֶ֑נּוּ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ רְדֹ֔ף כִּֽי־הַשֵּׂ֥ג תַּשִּׂ֖יג וְהַצֵּ֥ל תַּצִּֽיל׃

[19] Hebrew:  וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ רְדֹ֔ף.

[20] Hebrew:  וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ דָּוִ֗ד ה֚וּא וְשֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתּ֔וֹ וַיָּבֹ֖אוּ עַד־נַ֣חַל הַבְּשׂ֑וֹר וְהַנּֽוֹתָרִ֖ים עָמָֽדוּ׃

[21] Hebrew:  וַיִּרְדֹּ֣ף דָּוִ֔ד ה֖וּא וְאַרְבַּע־מֵא֣וֹת אִ֑ישׁ וַיַּֽעַמְדוּ֙ מָאתַ֣יִם אִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֣ר פִּגְּר֔וּ מֵעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־נַ֥חַל הַבְּשֽׂוֹר׃

[22] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

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