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Poole on 1 Samuel 4:14-17: Judgment upon a Wayward Nation

Verse 14:[1] And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.

[He hastened and came[2]] That is, he hastily came. Thus in Psalm 102:2;[3] 106:13.[4] For, when two verbs of the same tense are conjoined, either with the copula, or without, the former is often expressed by the Latin translators with an adverb. Thus in Genesis 24:18, and she hasted and let down, that is, she swiftly let down[5] (Glassius’ “Sacred Grammar” 346).

Verse 15:[6] Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and (1 Sam. 3:2) his eyes were dim (Heb. stood[7]), that he could not see.

[And his eyes had darkened (thus Pagnine, Jonathan), וְעֵינָ֣יו קָ֔מָה] And his eyes had become heavy (Syriac, Arabic). They had stiffened, either as if they had thrust themselves beyond their place; or they were not longer performing their function (Complutensian in Nobilius[8]). Some translate it, they had failed, that is, כָּלוּ, they failed, as in Jeremiah 14:6.[9] Others, they had become wrinkled. For, when the eyes become wrinkled in old age, the humor is dried up, and and the sinews of the eye are raised, and the eye enters its own aperture: says a learned man of the Hebrews (Vatablus). A Singular is put in the place of a Plural; it grew dark, understanding, each eye (Vatablus). It is a Hebraism, whereby a plural subject is joined with a singular verb [thus it is undoubtedly to be read, not as plural, as it is found incorrect in the Author], to not a collection of individual things (Piscator). And the sight of his eyes was darkening (Junius and Tremellius). But that supplement appears too bold (Piscator). And his eyes were standing (Munster, Tigurinus). Verbatim: it stood (Montanus, Drusius). His eyelids were not moving; which is characteristic of the blind (Mariana). The eye is said to stand in old age, when it no longer moves itself; with its native moisture dried; with its sinews having entered into its own aperture. Then is a man’s vision completely clouded, and he sees nothing clearly (Drusius). Just as activity is displayed by motion; so its privation, by rest. Moreover, there is a plural subject with a singular verb here: Thus also in Genesis 26:35;[10] 27:29;[11] 49:22;[12] Proverbs 14:1[13] (Mendoza).

Verse 16:[14] And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, (2 Sam. 1:4) What is there done (Heb. is the thing?[15]), my son?

[I am he that came, etc.] With these words he grasps the confidence of his hearers; that is to say, I was an eye-witness, and a most recent spectator (Mendoza).

I am he that came out of the army; I speak not what I have by uncertain rumours, but what mine eyes were witnesses of.

Verse 17:[16] And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.

[He that was bringing word responding, הַמְבַשֵּׂר] They note that בִּשֵּׂר is to bring glad tidings, to proclaim, namely, a joyful announcement (Malvenda). Thus it is taken in 2 Samuel 18:19;[17] 2 Kings 7:9.[18] But here it is taken in the contrary signification, by antiphrasis: just as קִדֵּשׁ is properly to sanctify;[19] but, by antiphrasis, to pollute:[20] And to bless is in the place of to curse, Job 2:9[21] (Mendoza). Specific verbs are sometimes taken in a general way by the Hebrews; like בִּשֵּׁל, to boil in water,[22] and to cook[23] (Malvenda). בִּשֵּׂר appears on one occasion to be taken for one that announces glad tidings, 2 Samuel 4:10.[24] [Thus it is to be read, not 1 Samuel 4:17, as it is incorrectly read in Critici Sacri.] Elsewhere it signifies one that announces new things, whether they be joyous, or sad. Hence, when it is used of glad tidings, טוֹב/good is added, 2 Samuel 18:27;[25] Isaiah 52:7[26] (Drusius).

[And the Ark has been captured, נִלְקָחָה]With a verb in the feminine gender; it is more commonly construed in a masculine way, אֲרוֹן נִלְקַח:[27]For its termination is masculine.But it is also construed in the feminine in that place; whereunto the Ark of the Lord hath come:[28]for בָּאָה is in the feminine (Drusius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע עֵלִי֙ אֶת־ק֣וֹל הַצְּעָקָ֔ה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מֶ֛ה ק֥וֹל הֶהָמ֖וֹן הַזֶּ֑ה וְהָאִ֣ישׁ מִהַ֔ר וַיָּבֹ֖א וַיַּגֵּ֥ד לְעֵלִֽי׃ [2] Hebrew: מִהַ֔ר וַיָּבֹ֖א. [3] Psalm 102:2: “Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily (מַהֵ֥ר עֲנֵֽנִי׃, make haste and answer me; velociter exaudi me, hear me swiftly, in the Vulgate).” [4] Psalm 106:13: “They soon forgat (מִֽ֭הֲרוּ שָׁכְח֣וּ, they hastened, they forgot; cito fecerunt, obliti sunt, quickly they acted, they forgot, in the Vulgate) his works; they waited not for his counsel…” [5] Genesis 24:18: “And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let downוַתְּמַהֵ֗ר) וַתֹּ֧רֶד; celeriterque deposuit, and swiftly she let down, in the Vulgate) her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.” [6] Hebrew: וְעֵלִ֕י בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים וּשְׁמֹנֶ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וְעֵינָ֣יו קָ֔מָה וְלֹ֥א יָכ֖וֹל לִרְאֽוֹת׃ [7] Hebrew: קָמָה. [8] Flaminius Nobilius (died 1590) was a Roman Catholic text critic, who labored in the reconstruction of the Itala, the Old Latin version. [9] Jeremiah 14:6: “And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail (כָּל֥וּ עֵינֵיהֶ֖ם), because there was no grass.” [10] Genesis 26:35: “Which were a grief of mind (וַתִּהְיֶ֖יןָ מֹ֣רַת ר֑וּחַ) unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” [11] Genesis 27:29: “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to theeוְיִֽשְׁתַּח֤וּ לְךָ֙) לְאֻמִּ֔ים): be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.” [12] Genesis 49:22: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run (בָּנ֕וֹת צָעֲדָ֖ה) over the wall…” [13] Proverbs 14:1: “Every wise woman buildeth her house (חַכְמ֣וֹת נָ֭שִׁים בָּנְתָ֣ה בֵיתָ֑הּ): but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” [14] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר הָאִ֜ישׁ אֶל־עֵלִ֗י אָֽנֹכִי֙ הַבָּ֣א מִן־הַמַּעֲרָכָ֔ה וַאֲנִ֕י מִן־הַמַּעֲרָכָ֖ה נַ֣סְתִּי הַיּ֑וֹם וַיֹּ֛אמֶר מֶֽה־הָיָ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר בְּנִֽי׃ [15] Hebrew: הָיָ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר. [16] Hebrew: וַיַּ֙עַן הַֽמְבַשֵּׂ֜ר וַיֹּ֗אמֶר נָ֤ס יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לִפְנֵ֣י פְלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וְגַ֛ם מַגֵּפָ֥ה גְדוֹלָ֖ה הָיְתָ֣ה בָעָ֑ם וְגַם־שְׁנֵ֙י בָנֶ֜יךָ מֵ֗תוּ חָפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣ינְחָ֔ס וַאֲר֥וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים נִלְקָֽחָה׃ [17] 2 Samuel 18:19: “Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings (וַאֲבַשְּׂרָ֖ה אֶת־הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ), how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies.” [18] 2 Kings 7:9: “Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings (יוֹם־בְּשֹׂרָה), and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household.” [19] For example, Genesis 2:3: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified (וַיְקַדֵּשׁ) it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” [20] For example, Deuteronomy 22:9: “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled (תִּקְדַּשׁ).” [21] Job 2:9: “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse (בָּרֵךְ) God, and die.” [22] For example, Numbers 11:8: “And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and boiled it in pots (וּבִשְּׁלוּ֙ בַּפָּר֔וּר), and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” [23] For example, 2 Samuel 13:8: “So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake (וַתְּבַשֵּׁל) the cakes.” [24] 2 Samuel 4:10: “When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings (וְהֽוּא־הָיָ֤ה כִמְבַשֵּׂר֙ בְּעֵינָ֔יו, and he was as one bearing good tidings in his own eyes), I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings (בְּשֹׂרָה)…” [25] 2 Samuel 18:27: “And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings (וְאֶל־בְּשׂוֹרָ֥ה טוֹבָ֖ה יָבֽוֹא׃).” [26] Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings (מְבַשֵּׂר), that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of goodמְבַשֵּׂ֥ר) ט֖וֹב), that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” [27] 1 Samuel 4:11: “And the ark of God was taken (וַאֲר֥וֹן אֱלֹהִ֖ים נִלְקָ֑ח); and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.” [28] 2 Chronicles 8:11: “And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the Lord hath come (אֲשֶׁר־בָּֽאָ֥ה אֲלֵיהֶ֖ם אֲר֥וֹן יְהוָֽה׃).”

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