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Poole on 1 Samuel 30:11-20: David's Rescue of the Women and Children of Ziklag

Verse 11:[1]  And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water…

 They found an Egyptian, whom by his habit they guessed to be a soldier that had been engaged in that expedition.

[In a field]  Understanding, lying (Vatablus).

[They brough him to David (thus Pagnine), וַיִּקְח֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ אֶל־דָּוִ֑ד]  And they took (taking [Junius and Tremellius], or him taken [Tigurinus], they led [Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus]) him to David (Montanus).

[They gave to him bread, etc.]  Note the humanity of David, and his soldiers.  In the martial course and ardor they assist a wretched man, and that when they still did not know, who or whence he was.  But David’s effort is not wasted.  By his information, David pursued the enemy (Martyr).

They made him drink water; partly out of humanity and compassion to a perishing creature; and partly in prudence, that by him they might learn the true state of their enemies.


Verse 12:[2]  And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins:  and (so Judg. 15:19; 1 Sam. 14:27) when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him:  for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.

[A piece of a lump of carics, etc.]  Concerning which see 1 Samuel 25:18 (Vatablus).  The soldiers were carrying with them some provisions for the journey; certainly was this prudently done, since they took their journey toward desert places (Menochius).  דְּבֵלָה properly signifies a cake of dried figs, as it is perceived out of 2 Kings 20:7[3] (Piscator).

[His spirit returned]  That is, either, 1.  his respiration; or, 2.  the spirit itself; then it is a hyperbolic metonymy of the efficient, as if he were altogether lifeless; for one lifeless is not able to breathe (Piscator).

Three days and three nights:  Which is to be understood synecdochically of one whole day, and part of two others, as the same phrase is taken Matthew 12:40, as appears from the next verse, where he saith, three days agone I fell sick, but in the Hebrew it this is the third day since I fell sick.[4]


Verse 13:[5]  And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou?  And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.

I am a young man of Egypt; God by his providence so ordering it, that he was not one of that cursed race of the Amalekites, who were to be utterly destroyed, but an Egyptian, who might be spared.

[My Lord left me behind, because I began to be sick]  This Lord was inhuman and savage, who left his servant like a brute beast, whom yet he was easily able (with the plunder [Menochius]) to put in his chariot, especially since the enemy was not pressing (Martyr).  But he was punished for this inhumanity (Menochius, similarly Martyr).  For God made use of that servant for the destruction of the whole army (Martyr).

My master left me, in this place and condition; which was barbarous inhumanity; for he ought, and easily might have carried him away with the prey which they had taken.  But he paid dearly for this cruelty, for this was the occasion of the ruin of him and of all their company.  And God by his secret providence ordered the matter thus for that very end.  So that there is no fighting against God, who can make the smallest accidents serviceable to the production of the greatest effects.

[כִּ֥י חָלִ֖יתִי הַיּ֥וֹם שְׁלֹשָֽׁה׃]  Because I was sick, today are three days (Pagnine) (or since the third day [Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Syriac, Arabic]; this is the third day [Piscator]); because I had been sick three days (Tigurinus).  Because I was sick three days ago (Munster, similarly Strigelius).


Verse 14:[6]  We made an invasion upon the south of (1 Sam. 30:16; 2 Sam. 8:18; 1 Kings 1:38, 44; Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5) the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of (Josh. 14:13; 15:13) Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.

[Upon the southern region of the Cherethites]  The Cherethites were Philistines (thus Kimchi in Menochius, Junius, Piscator, Malvenda), as it is shown in 1 Samuel 30:16; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5 (Malvenda and Piscator out of Junius); 2 Samuel 8:1 (Malvenda).  It is a tribe, or a province in Philistia (Vatablus, Tostatus in Menochius); but if it so, that place was pertaining to the Satrap of Gaza, which was extending to the Southern most part (Menochius).  From this region David recruited incredibly mighty legions, thence called the Cherethites, that is, those razing to the ground;[7] and the Pelethites, that is, liberators[8] (Tirinus, Lapide).

The Cherethites, that is, the Philistines, as is manifest from verse 16, who are so called Zephaniah 2:5.

[And against Judah, וְעַל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִֽיהוּדָ֖ה]  Against that which is to Judah; that is, which pertains to the tribe of Judah; that is, against the country of Judah (Vatablus).  The mountainous land of Judah, in which the posterity of Caleb were dwelling (Menochius, similarly Junius).

And upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb:  this is added by way of explication:  that is to say, that part of the south of Judah which belongs to Caleb’s posterity, Joshua 14:13.


Verse 15:[9]  And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company?  And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.

[Canst thou bring me to that company?]  Question:  Whether David did rightly, in that he was inciting a servant to perfidy against his Master?  Response:  The Roman Laws also established this:  a servant, dismissed by his Master in grave illness, shall be free.  And elsewhere, if an owner will have denied to his servant sustenance, and another furnishes instead, let him belong to the one filling the position.  Therefore, David does not drive the servant to perfidy.  That servant owed David his life.  And by right of war he had fallen into his power (Martyr).

[Swear to me that thou wilt not kill me,[10] etc.]  Hebrew:  if thou wilt kill me, etc., that is, thou callest down evils upon thyself.  A common ellipsis (Piscator).

[Thou wilt not deliver me into the hands of my master]  If perhaps by any convention there had to be a bargain with the Amalekites, and he demand me back (Menochius).

[I will breing thee to that company]  Question:  How was he able, since he was three days removed?  Response:  Brigands are wont to designate certain places in which they might gather and distribute the prey, or even amuse themselves (Sanchez).  Perhaps he had learned from those departing where they were going (Menochius).

I will bring thee down to this company:  For his master had told him whither they intended to go, that he might come after them as soon as he could.

[And David swore to him[11]]  He recompenses information with impunity, as Tacitus expresses it, Annals 15 (Grotius).


Verse 16:[12]  And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, (1 Thess. 5:3) eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.

[They were reclining, נְטֻשִׁים[13]They were left (Montanus), spread abroad (Pagnine), prostrated (Munster, Vatablus), or lying down and resting (Vatablus), scattered (Malvenda), dispersed (Junius and Tremellius), extended (Jonathan), diffused (Septuagint); having been dispersed, they were lying down (Tigurinus); they had encamped (Syriac); they lowered themselves (Arabic).

[Even as if celebrating a feast day (similarly Pagnine, Vatablus), וְחֹגְגִים]  Dancing (Pagnine, Menochius), in honor of their gods, to whom they were professing themselves to owe the prey (Menochius).  The enemy secure, and acting more sluggishly because of the success of their affairs, they invaded; the sentries were slaughtered, and the camp broken up, Tacitus’ Histories 2.  Favorable affairs generally create negligence, says Livy, History of Rome 26.  Titus Marcius, a Roman cavalryman, having attacked the enemy, discomposed by confidence of victory, did not leave even heralds of the slaughter.  Frontinus[14] narrates this, Stratagems 2:10 (Grotius).  But why are they living so carelessly and securely?  Responses:  1.  Because they were far from the land of the Jews (Martyr):  because they were now in the borders of their native land (Sanchez).  2.  Because they believed that David was far away (Martyr).  Both the Philistines and the Hebrews were having battlelines prepared on both sides, and were not able to divide their strength (Sanchez).  And so there were no scouts, no watches.  We see that security is not far from crisis (Martyr).

Spread abroad upon all the earth; secure and careless, because they were now come almost to the borders of their own country, and the Philistines and Israelites both were otherwise engaged, and David, as they believed, with them.  So they had no visible cause of danger; and yet then they were nearest to their destruction.


Verse 17:[15]  And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day (Heb. their morrow[16]):  and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.

[And David smote them from the evening unto the evening of the next day, מֵהַנֶּ֥שֶׁף וְעַד־הָעֶ֖רֶב לְמָֽחֳרָתָ֑ם]  From the twilight unto the evening, unto their tomorrow (Montanus), or, and all the way to their tomorrow (Pagnine), or, on the day following their expedition against them (Junius and Tremellius), or simply of the next day; Hebrew, of the tomorrow of them.  Namely, of David and his soldiers.  That is, on the day after David and his soldiers overtook the Amalekites (Piscator).  That is to say, in the morrow of the departure of them (David and his men) they smote them from dawn to dusk (certain interpreters in Munster).  From twilight unto the evening of the following day, and unto the morrow of those (Tigurinus).  [They take נֶשֶׁף variously, namely, for twilight, or evening, or dawn.  1.  Some understand it of evening, and thus translate the passage:]  From that evening (or from the darkness [Jonathan], from the obscure moon [Aquila], from when it began to grow dark [Symmachus in Nobilius], from twilight, understanding, of the night [Vatablus]) unto the evening of the morrow (or following [Vatablus]) day (Munster, similarly Strigelius, Osiander, English).  Unto the morrow day of those, understanding, evenings; that is, unto the day following those two evenings; that is to say, he smote them three whole days (Vatablus).  They take נֶשֶׁף/twilight for the first evening, and עֶרֶב/evening for the second evening, and לְמָחֳרָתָם, to the morrow of them, for the day after both evenings; that is, for the third day of the first evening (certain interpreters in Munster).  The Hebrews have two evenings [concerning which see the comments on Exodus 12:6[17]].  Therefore, the sense is, from the prior evening, that is, from the ninth hour, when either they were attending to their supper, or they were lying down for drunken and heavy sleep, unto the nocturnal evening, that is, unto the eleventh hour (Sanchez).  This slaughter lasted from dinner to evening (Josephus in Sanchez).  That was enough time to execute such a slaughter.  And if night had interrupted, it would have opened various and convenient avenues for flight.  But this rationale does not press over much; for battle raged even at night; and those that had withdrawn themselves from the camp, and had hidden themselves in the pass, etc., were not daring to move, lest by their noise they draw the Hebrews to themselves, who were keeping watch on every side, as for trapped prey.  Therefore, when the next day had begun to dawn, they were searching out the enemy for the better part of the day, etc.  For, it is not to be doubted, that the slaughter was prolonged into the following day (Sanchez).  Evening twilight is to be understood here, 1.  Because at morning twilight it was not customary to revel in drinking and dancing.  2.  Because it is more likely that David, on account of the fewness of his troops, chose the darkness of night, rather than morning light (certain interpreters in the Dutch).  [Others take it of morning twilight.]  From dawn unto the evening of the following day (Castalio), or of the morrow (Osiander), that is, unto the evening of that day; for the Hebrews refer the evening of the present day to the next day (Osiander).  From the morning twilight, when he began to slaughter them, unto the evening of the same dayThe following day they refer to the beginning of the pursuit.  For about the evening he began to pursue them, and, following them the whole night, in the morning found them sprawled out upon the earth (certain interpreters in Munster).  נֶשֶׁף usually signifies evening twilight, but here morning, as it is evident from the antithesis of נֶשֶׁף/twilight and עֶרֶב/evening, which are here set in opposition as the bounds of one day.  Thus it is also taken in Psalm 119:147, in the very twilight,[18] in the place of which is used in Psalm 88:13, in the very morning.[19]  And it is not probable that they were immediately attacked, when they had come to them under the dusk of the evening, because they were weary:  but that they continued quiet through the night, and at the top morning rushed upon the careless and sleeping.  This exposition is confirmed by the following words, on the day following their expedition (Piscator).  [The Syriac and Arabic thus translate it, from morning to evening from behind them:  Perhaps they were reading לְאַחֲרִתָם, to the latter part, or latter parts, of them.]

From the twilight:  the word signifies both the morning and evening twilight.  But the latter seems here intended, partly because their eating, and drinking, and dancing was more customary and proper work for the evening than for the morning; and partly because the evening was more convenient for David, that the fewness of his forces might not be discovered by the daylight.  Objection:  It is not likely that David would fall upon the Amalekites before his men, who had been tired with a long and hasty march, were refreshed.  Answer:  Nor is it said that he did.  It is probable that when he came near them, he reposed himself and his army in some secret place, whereof there were many in those parts, for a convenient season; and then marched on so as to come to them at the evening time.

[No one escaped except, etc.]  It is strange that not many escaped.  It is likely that the situation of the place fuisse/was for [I think that it is to be read, favisse/favored] David; and that those, as if enclosed in a hollow, were not able easily to have the ability to escape (Menochius).  It was not a raging battle; the whole work was to dispatch men drunk with wine, distended with food, and weary with dance, and to pursue those taking flight (Menochius).  Unarmed and drowsy, they put up no resistance.  We see here, 1.  How changeable are human affairs.  2.  How differently matters turn out for the pious than for the impious.  For the calamity of the pious issues in joy:  but the unruly joy of the impious in consummate misery (Martyr).


Verse 18:[20]  And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away:  and David rescued his two wives.


Verse 19:[21]  And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them:  (1 Sam. 30:8) David recovered all.

[Whatever they had carried off]  With those things excepted, that the conflagration had consumed:  or had become food and drink (Menochius).


Verse 20:[22]  And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.

[And he carried off all the flocks and the herds, and drove them before his face,וַיִּקַּ֣ח דָּוִ֔ד אֶת־כָּל־הַצֹּ֖אן וְהַבָּקָ֑ר נָהֲג֗וּ לִפְנֵי֙ הַמִּקְנֶ֣ה הַה֔וּא ]  And he took, or carried off, or received (or brought back [Syriac]) all the flocks and the herds (Tigurinus, Pagnine, Septuagint, English, Osiander) (understanding, of the enemy [Osiander], or sheep and ox [Montanus, similarly Jonathan, Syriac], sheep and oxen [Dutch, Strigelius], the whole remaining flock and herd [Junius and Tremellius], namely, which the enemy had pillaged from elsewhere [Junius]), and they were leading them (Pagnine, Munster, Tigurinus) (or, which carrying off [Junius and Tremellius]; I would prefer, leading, or driving [Piscator]) before the sheep (Pagnine), before those possessions (Tigurinus), before their sheep (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Jonathan, Munster).  Which had been taken from them by force, in the preceding verse (Junius).  Before these other cattle (English).  And they drove before those possessions; that is, they drove herds and flocks before the recovered captives, and before the recovered spoils (Osiander).  They led to the face of that acquisition (Montanus).  He carried off all the flocks, etc., which the Amalekites had plundered from Judah and other regions.  Before the sheep; that is, which the Amalekites had plundered from Ziklag.  Now, the flocks of Ziklah they were not calling prey:  for those were being restored to their Owners (Vatablus).  The sense is, either, 1.  The drove those sheep that were common to all, before another flock, which they were willing to be a singular tribute, as it were, to David (certain Hebrews in Munster).  2.  They drove before their sheep, which the Amalekites had plundered, another flock of of sheep which they had taken from the land of the Amalekites (other interpreters in Munster).  The flocks and the herds, in which there was no right of return, which was having place in free persons.  See Concerning the Law of War and Peace 3:9:5, 14 (Grotius).  Question:  Why does David save the prey from the Amalekites, since Saul was rejected by God on account of it?  Response:  Because it was forbidden to Saul, but not likewise to David (Martyr).

All the flocks and the herds, to wit, which the Amalekites had taken from the Philistines, or others.  Before those other cattle; before those which belonged to Ziklag.

[And they said]  The soldiers, or companions, of David (Menochius, Tirinus, Martyr, Sanchez).  These chant back this victory song to David, their general, the author of so great a victory, and patron (Sanchez).

[This is David’s spoil (similarly all interpreters)]  This is what David recovered (Syriac).  This spoil, etc., that is to say, in addition to your things, which are restored to you, David led away these things (Vatablus).  It is a verse inserted in the victory song (Tirinus).  They were singing a hymn, and celebrating triumph in the Roman manner, at least to a certain extent.  Moreover, these soldiers were previously on the verge of stoning him.  Now, after his success, etc., they immoderately thank him.  Thus men are wont to measure events by outcomes, rather than by counsels (Martyr).

This is David’s spoil, that is, the soldiers, who lately were so incensed against David, that they spake of stoning him; now upon this success magnify him, and triumphantly celebrate his praise; and say concerning this spoil, David purchased it by his valour and conduct, and he may dispose of it as he pleaseth.

[1] Hebrew:  וַֽיִּמְצְא֤וּ אִישׁ־מִצְרִי֙ בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה וַיִּקְח֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ אֶל־דָּוִ֑ד וַיִּתְּנוּ־ל֥וֹ לֶ֙חֶם֙ וַיֹּ֔אכַל וַיַּשְׁקֻ֖הוּ מָֽיִם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּתְּנוּ־לוֹ֩ פֶ֙לַח דְּבֵלָ֜ה וּשְׁנֵ֤י צִמֻּקִים֙ וַיֹּ֔אכַל וַתָּ֥שָׁב רוּח֖וֹ אֵלָ֑יו כִּ֠י לֹֽא־אָ֤כַל לֶ֙חֶם֙ וְלֹא־שָׁ֣תָה מַ֔יִם שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה יָמִ֖ים וּשְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה לֵילֽוֹת׃

[3] 2 Kings 20:7:  “And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs (דְּבֶ֣לֶת תְּאֵנִ֑ים).  And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.”

[4] Hebrew:  חָלִ֖יתִי הַיּ֥וֹם שְׁלֹשָֽׁה׃.

[5] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר ל֤וֹ דָוִד֙ לְֽמִי־אַ֔תָּה וְאֵ֥י מִזֶּ֖ה אָ֑תָּה וַיֹּ֜אמֶר נַ֧עַר מִצְרִ֣י אָנֹ֗כִי עֶ֚בֶד לְאִ֣ישׁ עֲמָֽלֵקִ֔י וַיַּעַזְבֵ֧נִי אֲדֹנִ֛י כִּ֥י חָלִ֖יתִי הַיּ֥וֹם שְׁלֹשָֽׁה׃

[6] Hebrew:  אֲנַ֡חְנוּ פָּשַׁ֜טְנוּ נֶ֧גֶב הַכְּרֵתִ֛י וְעַל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִֽיהוּדָ֖ה וְעַל־נֶ֣גֶב כָּלֵ֑ב וְאֶת־צִקְלַ֖ג שָׂרַ֥פְנוּ בָאֵֽשׁ׃

[7] כָּרַת signifies to cut off, or to cut down.

[8] פָּלַת signifies to escape, or to free.

[9] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ דָּוִ֔ד הֲתוֹרִדֵ֖נִי אֶל־הַגְּד֣וּד הַזֶּ֑ה וַיֹּ֡אמֶר הִשָּׁבְעָה֩ לִּ֙י בֵֽאלֹהִ֜ים אִם־תְּמִיתֵ֗נִי וְאִם־תַּסְגִּרֵ֙נִי֙ בְּיַד־אֲדֹנִ֔י וְאוֹרִֽדְךָ֖ אֶל־הַגְּד֥וּד הַזֶּֽה׃

[10] Hebrew:  הִשָּׁבְעָה֩ לִּ֙י בֵֽאלֹהִ֜ים אִם־תְּמִיתֵ֗נִי.

[11] Thus the Vulgate.

[12] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣רִדֵ֔הוּ וְהִנֵּ֥ה נְטֻשִׁ֖ים עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֑רֶץ אֹכְלִ֤ים וְשֹׁתִים֙ וְחֹ֣גְגִ֔ים בְּכֹל֙ הַשָּׁלָ֣ל הַגָּד֔וֹל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לָקְח֛וּ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים וּמֵאֶ֥רֶץ יְהוּדָֽה׃

[13] נָטַשׁ signifies to leave.

[14] Although little is known about his life and origins, Sextus Julius Frotinus (c. 40-103) rose to become a senator, a general, and a civil engineer.  He wrote De Aquæductu and Strategemata.

[15] Hebrew: וַיַּכֵּ֥ם דָּוִ֛ד מֵהַנֶּ֥שֶׁף וְעַד־הָעֶ֖רֶב לְמָֽחֳרָתָ֑ם וְלֹֽא־נִמְלַ֤ט מֵהֶם֙ אִ֔ישׁ כִּי֩ אִם־אַרְבַּ֙ע מֵא֧וֹת אִֽישׁ־נַ֛עַר אֲשֶׁר־רָכְב֥וּ עַל־הַגְּמַלִּ֖ים וַיָּנֻֽסוּ׃

[16] Hebrew:  לְמָחֳרָתָם.

[17] Exodus 12:6:  “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month:  and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the eveningבֵּ֥ין) הָעַרְבָּֽיִם׃, between the evenings).”

[18] Psalm 119:147, 148:  “I prevented the dawn (בַנֶּשֶׁף), and cried:  I hoped in thy word.  Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.”

[19] Psalm 88:13:  “But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning (וּבַבֹּקֶר) shall my prayer prevent thee.”

[20] Hebrew:  וַיַּצֵּ֣ל דָּוִ֔ד אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר לָקְח֖וּ עֲמָלֵ֑ק וְאֶת־שְׁתֵּ֥י נָשָׁ֖יו הִצִּ֥יל דָּוִֽד׃

[21] Hebrew: וְלֹ֣א נֶעְדַּר־לָ֠הֶם מִן־הַקָּטֹ֙ן וְעַד־הַגָּד֜וֹל וְעַד־בָּנִ֤ים וּבָנוֹת֙ וּמִשָּׁלָ֔ל וְעַ֛ד כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר לָקְח֖וּ לָהֶ֑ם הַכֹּ֖ל הֵשִׁ֥יב דָּוִֽד׃

[22] Hebrew:  וַיִּקַּ֣ח דָּוִ֔ד אֶת־כָּל־הַצֹּ֖אן וְהַבָּקָ֑ר נָהֲג֗וּ לִפְנֵי֙ הַמִּקְנֶ֣ה הַה֔וּא וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ זֶ֖ה שְׁלַ֥ל דָּוִֽד׃

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Reader, let me assist you in your response. Have you been "born again"? If you have, you belong to Christ, but without the new birth, you cannot be his. In whom do you trust? For those who believe in Jesus are the sons of God. Whose work are you doing? You are sure to serve your master, for he whom you serve is thereby owned to be your lord. What company do you keep?…


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