Poole on 1 Samuel 4:19, 20: The Sorrow of Labor upon the Sorrow of Loss

Verse 19:[1] And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered (or, to cry out[2]): and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came (Heb. were turned[3]) upon her.



[She was pregnant, and near to birth, הָרָ֣ה לָלַת֒] Pregnant, near to birth (Junius and Tremellius). Hebrew: to give birth, that is, exerting herself (Piscator). She was great with child, and near to birth (Syriac, thus the Arabic, English, Dutch, Castalio, Vatablus). Pregnant to give birth (Jonathan, Pagnine). לָלַת, to give birth, appears to have been put in the place of עֲתִידֶה לָלֶדֶת, ready to give birth (Drusius). לָלַת, to give birth, is in the place of לָלֶדֶת, with the Daleth (ד) rubbed out (Drusius, Munster, Vatablus). Thus אַחַת[4] in the place of אַחֲדַת. For the masculine is אֶחַד, with a Daleth (ד) on the end. It happens contrariwise in עִמָּדִי, with me;[5] where the Daleth (ד) has been inserted (Drusius). Others translate it, pregnant to shriek (Montanus), or to cry out (certain interpreters in Vatablus, the English in the margin, Mariana), that is, near to crying and wailing, which women giving birth are wont emit; so that it might be from יָלַל, to cry out (Vatablus out of Munster). לָלַת in the place of לָלֶלֶת; just as we say that לָתֵת[6] is in the place of לְתֶנֶת. Thus Kimchi. Which, as it is said by him with probability, there is no reason why we should prefer this new opinion to that which has been received by all (Drusius).


[With the announcement heard, that the Ark of God was taken, and her father-in-law was dead,[7] etc. (thus Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus)] [Concerning these things, see on verse 21.[8]]


[She bowed herself, וַתִּכְרַע] She lay back; that is, she composed her body after the manner of those giving birth (Vatablus).


[And she gave birth] Sorrow hastens birth, or any grievous and sudden agitation (Sanchez); as it happens in hinds, when they, frightened with sudden thunder, bring forth; according to Psalm 29:9 (Mendoza).


She bowed herself and travailed: To wit, before her time, which is oft the effect of great terrors, both in women and in other creatures, Psalm 29:9.


[For sudden pains had rushed upon her, כִּֽי־נֶהֶפְכ֥וּ עָלֶ֖יהָ צִרֶֽיהָ׃[9]] Because had been turned (or were agitated [Munster], or had rushed [Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius]) over or upon her, or on her, her pains (Syriac, Tigurinus, similarly Junius and Tremellius), or, her straits, or anxieties (Montanus, Pagnine), her contractions (Piscator). They had been poured out upon her, etc., that is, she was overwhelmed with the pains of childbirth. It is a metaphor taken from water that is suddenly poured out from a height (Vatablus). The pains of childbirth had overtaken her, because of the vehemence of her fear (Arabic). Hebrew: her hinges had inverted upon her. For the womb of a pregnant woman has its own hinges, just like a gate, with which opened the fruit is dropped. Others call these hinges חֲבָלִים, cords and bands, which hold the fetus in the uterus, until they are broken, and the fetuscomes forth (Munster). צִירִים are the hinges of a door, and the pains of one giving birth. As a door is turned on its hinge, so one laboring was turning herself on these pains (Drusius). Were dislocated upon her the joints, or hinges on which the joints are turned: Forster. Others: they were turned back, etc. (Malvenda).


Verse 20:[10] And about the time of her death (Gen. 35:17) the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard (Heb. set not her heart[11]) it.



[Neither did she regard] Hebrew: she did not set, or apply, her heart, or mind, understanding, to that which was being said to her. That is to say, she did not appear to be moved by their words (Vatablus, similarly Piscator). Mothers were rejoicing over the masculine sex, more than over the feminine. Thus in Genesis 4:1, I have gotten a man, that is, the masculine sex (Drusius). See Genesis 35:17; John 16:21. But she was lying there, exhausted by such pains, so that she might receive not even the slightest solace thence (Mendoza). When God decreed to punish, He removed all force from consolations (Martyr).


She answered not, neither did she regard it: Being overwhelmed with sorrow, and so uncapable of comfort.

[1] Hebrew: וְכַלָּת֣וֹ אֵֽשֶׁת־פִּינְחָס֮ הָרָ֣ה לָלַת֒ וַתִּשְׁמַ֣ע אֶת־הַשְּׁמֻעָ֔ה אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וּמֵ֥ת חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָׁ֑הּ וַתִּכְרַ֣ע וַתֵּ֔לֶד כִּֽי־נֶהֶפְכ֥וּ עָלֶ֖יהָ צִרֶֽיהָ׃ [2] Hebrew: לָלַת. [3] Hebrew: נֶהֶפְכוּ. [4] The feminine construct form of אֶחָד/one. For example, Deuteronomy 13:12: “If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities (בְּאַחַ֣ת עָרֶ֗יךָ), which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying…” [5]עִמִּי is the expected form. [6] An infinitive construct form of נָתַן. [7] Hebrew: וַתִּשְׁמַ֣ע אֶת־הַשְּׁמֻעָ֔ה אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וּמֵ֥ת חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָׁ֑הּ. [8] 1 Samuel 4:21: “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband (אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וְאֶל־חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָֽׁהּ׃).” [9]הָפַךְ signifies to turn. [10] Hebrew: וּכְעֵ֣ת מוּתָ֗הּ וַתְּדַבֵּ֙רְנָה֙ הַנִּצָּב֣וֹת עָלֶ֔יהָ אַל־תִּֽירְאִ֖י כִּ֣י בֵ֣ן יָלָ֑דְתְּ וְלֹ֥א עָנְתָ֖ה וְלֹא־שָׁ֥תָה לִבָּֽהּ׃ [11] Hebrew: וְלֹא־שָׁ֥תָה לִבָּֽהּ׃.

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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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