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Poole's on 1 Samuel 27:8-12: David's Deception of Achish

Verse 8:[1] And David and his men went up, and invaded (Josh. 13:12) the Geshurites, (Josh. 16:10; Judg. 1:29) and the Gezrites (or, Gerzites[2]), and the (Ex. 17:16; see 1 Sam. 15:7, 8) Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, (Gen. 25:18) as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.

[They were pillaging Geshur] The Geshurites were the remains of the Canaanites, Joshua 12:5 (Grotius out of Junius, Piscator), who at the coming of the Israelites left Geshur in Gilead, so that they might escape to the Amalekites (certain interpreters in Malvenda). A twofold Geshur is found in Scripture; 1. on the other side of the Jordan, called Geshur of Syria, because it shared a border with Syria, and pertained to the tribe of Manasseh. (Concerning which see 2 Samuel 3:3, etc.; 13; 15 [Tirinus]). 2. The other near the Amalekites, of which mention is made only in this place; as is also the case with Gerzi (Menochius, Tirinus, Salian in Lapide).

[And Gerzi] The Gerzites, with the letters transposed (as the Masoretes note [Junius]), are the same as the Gezrites, who themselves were also a part of the Canaanites, Joshua 16:3 (Grotius out of Junius). Therefore, he did no harm to sojourners, nor to his countrymen (Grotius).

The Gezrites were anciently seated in other places, Joshua 12:12; 16:3, but for some reasons not now known they changed their seats, as was then very usual, and seated themselves, and had for some considerable time lived, near the Amalekites.

[And the Amalekites] Saul had wiped the Amalekites from the nearby placed into which they had penetrated; but those that were dwelling farther off he had not touched (Martyr).

The Amalekites; the remnant of those whom Saul destroyed, 1 Samuel 15, who fled from his sword, and retired into remote and desert places.

[For these regions were inhabited in the land from antiquity, with men going to Shur, כִּ֣י הֵ֜נָּה יֹשְׁב֤וֹת הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר מֵֽעוֹלָ֔ם בּוֹאֲךָ֥ שׁ֖וּרָה] For these were inhabiting the land, which (understanding, had been [Pagnine]) from of old, with thee entering into Shur (Montanus, Pagnine, Jonathan, Vatablus). Which was from of old, that is, ancient, and so populous (Vatablus). It signifies that those regions had not changed lords, neither were they experiencing wars; that they were dwelling secure in the land that they had received from their ancestors, and so they were open to assault (Martyr). That inhabiting imports security and ease, and that they had endured the depredation of no enemy (Jerome in Sanchez). But it is objected to this exposition, that here are numbered the Amalekites, who a little before this time had been nearly wiped out by Saul (Sanchez). [But Junius refers the they had dwelt to the Geshurite and the Girzite, but not to the Amalekite.] See 1 Samuel 7:16 (Junius). For these were inhabitants of the land from antiquity (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); but they were going forth against Geshur (Syriac); he departed, I say, from the border of Geshur (Arabic). [In the place of שׁוּרָה, to Shur, both appear to have read גְּשׁוּרָה, to Geshur.] For those are the nations that of old inhabited that land, by which route thou comest to Shur (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Munster, Tigurinus, Castalio). But the term nations, which is masculine,[3] is not able to be supplied; because the pronoun is feminine.[4] I would prefer, for these cities (he understands Geshur and Gezer) were inhabitants of that land, which already of old had been inhabitants of it. Cities are mentioned in the place of the inhabitants of the cities (Piscator). They had inhabited the land, that is, Judah on the near and far side of Jordan (Junius). But they were not rushing upon these cities, but upon villages (Tirinus nearly out of Sanchez), where they were living, especially men that were tending flocks; therefore, they had completely destroyed those villages, and had led away the flocks. For, those six hundred men were neither able, nor daring, to storm those cities. Wherefore afterwards the Amalekites, Geshurites, and Gerzites remained; whom the Kings of Israel could subdue, or join to themselves in a confederated alliance (Sanchez).

Verse 9:[5] And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.

[And he was smiting all the land] That is, the inhabitants of that region (Vatablus). Question: By what right? Responses: 1. The Amalekites were to be destroyed, in accordance with Exodus 17:14. 2. The rest were comprehended within the borders of the promised land (Menochius); which sort the Lord had commanded to be killed. 3. Or David did this by inspiration of the Lord (Estius), whom he was consulting from time to time through Abiathar (Menochius, Estius).

[Neither was he leaving alive] That is, lest he be discovered by them, and come into danger through the hatred of his religion among his hosts, verse 11 (Grotius).

Left neither man nor woman alive, to wit, in that part where he came; but there were more of the Amalekites yet left in another part of that land, 1 Samuel 30:1.

[Taking away sheep, etc.] You will say, that Saul was commanded to lay all things waste, 1 Samuel 15. Response: Either that precept was imposed upon Saul only; or David was released from that law by the Lord (Menochius). Fear makes men, in other respects mild, more savage. See Concerning the Law of War and Peace 3:4:9, 10 (Grotius).

[And he was coming to Achish] Both so that he might relate what had been done by him (Sanchez), and so that he might impart the spoil to him (Sanchez, similarly Menochius).

Verse 10:[6] And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road (or, did you not make a road,[7] etc.) to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of (see 1 Chron. 2:9, 25) the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of (Judg. 1:16) the Kenites.

[Upon whom didst thou rush today? אַל־פְּשַׁטְתֶּ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם[8]] Whither did ye extend today? (Montanus). Whither (against whom [Junius and Tremellius], upon whom [Septuagint]) didst thou rush? (Septuagint). Whither were ye drawn out? (Jonathan). Where were ye? (Syriac, Arabic). Where did ye make an assault? (Tigurinus), or an incursion? (Munster). אַל/not is put in the place of אָן/whither, according to the Chaldean, which has לְאָן/whither: or in the place of עַל/upon, with the pronoun מִי/whom understood, against whom? which interpretation is confirmed in the following words (Glassius’ “Grammar” 477 after Vatablus, Piscator). Ibn Ezra explains אַל as לֺא/not, but interrogatively. Did ye not harry the prey today? Were ye not drawn out to prey today? (Munster).

[Against the south of Judah, עַל־נֶ֤גֶב יְהוּדָה֙] Upon the south, etc. (Vatablus, Montanus); against, or opposite to, Judah. But this was not in the land of Judah, as Achish understood it, but in regions bordering Judah (Dutch), on the southern side of it (Sanchez). Thus David, in human infirmity, deceived the king, and imposed upon him with ambiguous words (Dutch). David here spoke in a cryptic manner, so that Achish might indeed believe that he had inflicted losses on the Judahites and their allies; but he himself understands that he invaded their neighbors. See what things are on 1 Samuel 21:2, and Concerning the Law of War and Peace 3:1:10 (Grotius). David was disguising the truth, in such a way that he might add nothing false to the truth (Sanchez). He answers in such a way that David might tell the truth, and the King might not understand, yet not be hurt in any way. He was indeed making excursions to the south of Judah; but was wasting those nations that were yet possessing the inheritance of Judah there (Clario[9]). With these words he was sporting with Achish, turning aside from simplicity more than is seemly for a good man (Junius, Piscator).

Against the south of Judah: these and the following words are ambiguous; for they may be understood, either of the southern parts from Judah, etc., which he would have Achish understand; or of another country lying southward from Judah, etc., which David meant, and which was the truth. So though it was not a downright lie; yet it was an equivocation, with an intention to deceive, which is the formality of a lie, and was contrary to that simplicity which became David, both as a prince, and as an eminent professor of the true religion.

[And against the south of Jerahmeel] [They here take and in the place of that is:] That is to say, against the region of Judah that is possessed by the posterity of Jerahmeel (Malvenda), the firstborn of Hezron, concerning whom 1 Chronicles 2:9, 25, etc. (Malvenda out of Junius, Piscator, thus Vatablus).

And against, for that is against; for in the following words he particularly expresseth what part of the south of Judah he went against, even that which was inhabited by the Jerahmeelites, and by the Kenites. The Jerahmeelites; the posterity of Hezron, a family of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:9, 25.

[And against the south of Keni] Or of the Kenite, concerning whom see Judges 1:16 (Malvenda). It was the family of Jethro, dwelling in the midst of the sons of Judah, Judges 1:16 (Vatablus). These were the names of certain parts of the lot of Judah (Menochius).

The Kenites; the posterity of Jethro, which chose to dwell in the south of Judah, Judges 1:16. See Numbers 24:21.

Verse 11:[10] And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.

[He was not vivifying] That is, he was killing: in the Style of the Hebrews; among whom one who lost nothing is said to receive something. Just as not to sanctify is the same thing as to pollute; and to sanctify is the same thing as not to pollute. See what things are on Judges 21:5 (Sanchez, Tirinus).

[Neither was he bringing any to Gath, לְהָבִ֥יא גַת֙] Not to bring to Gath (Montanus, Septuagint); that he might introduce (Pagnine); whom he might bring in (Junius and Tremellius); or woman, who could come to Gath (Arabic); neither was he allowing those to come to Gath (Munster).

[Saying, Lest perchance they speak, etc., לֵאמֹ֔ר פֶּן־יַגִּ֥דוּ עָלֵ֖ינוּ] Saying, Lest perchance they report against us (Pagnine). Namely, with this purpose, So that they might not make anything known concerning us (Tigurinus). Saying (understanding, either care had to be taken [Junius and Tremellius], or let us leave no one behind [Arabic, similarly Vatablus]), lest they inform, etc. (Junius and Tremellius); saying in himself (Vatablus, Piscator), that is, thinking (Piscator).

Lest they should tell on us; that the tidings of this action against this people (who were, it seems, either tributaries to or confederates with Achish) might neither come quickly nor certainly to Achish’s court; which he might the rather promise himself, because Achish and all his men were now busily employed in their warlike preparations against the Israelites; and if any flying rumour came thither, he thought by his interest and artifices he could easily discredit and dash it. Besides, the consideration of God’s curse denounced against the people whom he had now destroyed, and of God’s particular promises made to him, and of his special providence which he constantly experienced watching over him, made him more secure and confident in this and in many other hazardous attempts.

[David did these things; and this was his ordinance all the days, etc.,כֹּֽה־עָשָׂ֤ה דָוִד֙ וְכֹ֣ה מִשְׁפָּט֔וֹ כָּל־הַ֙יָּמִ֔ים וגו״] Thus David did, and thus was his custom all the days, etc. (Pagnine, thus nearly all interpreters). The division of the text appears to support this exposition. But the sense is clearly inept, that is, as if those would have said, thus David did, would be the same to say, and thus was his manner all his days, etc. Therefore, I think that a new sentence is to be connected here, and that these are the words of the writer (Piscator).

Verse 12:[11] And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor (Heb. to stink[12]) him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.

[Therefore, Achish believed David] As the Babylonians did Zopyrus,[13] as testify Herodotus, Histories 3, and Justinus;[14] and Gabii the son of Tarquinius,[15] concerning whom Livy[16] and Florus[17] (Grotius). We readily believe those things that we wish to be true (Martyr). This is to be attributed chiefly to the providence of God, who was favoring David’s counsels and prayers, otherwise such things could hardly have been hidden (Sanchez). God sent inadvertency and blindness upon Achish, and upon his courtiers (Lapide). Perhaps those country districts were small and obscure (Martyr). Hebrew: he believed upon David,[18] which is able to be understood as, he trusted in David. Compare Exodus 14:31[19] (Piscator).

Achish believed David; partly, because of his confidence in David’s authority and fidelity; partly, because most men easily believe what they heartily wish to be true; and partly, from God’s providence, which blinded him in this and in divers other particulars relating to David’s coming hither, and abiding here.

[He hath wrought many evils, הַבְאֵ֤שׁ הִבְאִישׁ֙ בְּעַמּ֣וֹ בְיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל] In abominating he has abominated his people Israel (Pagnine), or among his people (Septuagint); he has great nausea over his people (Munster). He turns from his people (Mariana). The Israelite people is altogether vile to him (certain interpreters in Vatablus). Others thus: He has made himself completely fetid to his people (Junius and Tremellius), or among his people (Piscator), or unto the people (Vatablus), that is, odious, and invidious has he made himself to his countrymen (Vatablus, similarly Piscator, Osiander, Strigelius). Others: he has made to stink, that is, he has made his works fetid and hated by his countrymen; for we abhor a thing fetid, rotten, and stinking. A similar expression is found in Genesis 34:30;[20] Exodus 5:21[21] (Vatablus).

[He shall be to me a servant forever] That is, because he carries on irreconcilable hostilities with his people (Menochius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּ֤עַל דָּוִד֙ וַֽאֲנָשָׁ֔יו וַֽיִּפְשְׁט֛וּ אֶל־הַגְּשׁוּרִ֥י וְהַגִּרְזִ֖י וְהָעֲמָלֵקִ֑י כִּ֣י הֵ֜נָּה יֹשְׁב֤וֹת הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר מֵֽעוֹלָ֔ם בּוֹאֲךָ֥ שׁ֖וּרָה וְעַד־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ [2] Hebrew: וְהַגִּרְזִי (Kethib); וְהַגִּזְרִי (Qere). [3]גּוֹי/nation is masculine. [4] 1 Samuel 27:8b: “…for those (הֵנָּה, in the feminine gender) wereof old the inhabitants of the land…” [5] Hebrew: וְהִכָּ֤ה דָוִד֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְלֹ֥א יְחַיֶּ֖ה אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשָּׁ֑ה וְלָקַח֩ צֹ֙אן וּבָקָ֜ר וַחֲמֹרִ֤ים וּגְמַלִּים֙ וּבְגָדִ֔ים וַיָּ֖שָׁב וַיָּבֹ֥א אֶל־אָכִֽישׁ׃ [6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אָכִ֔ישׁ אַל־פְּשַׁטְתֶּ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר דָּוִ֗ד עַל־נֶ֤גֶב יְהוּדָה֙ וְעַל־נֶ֣גֶב הַיַּרְחְמְאֵלִ֔י וְאֶל־נֶ֖גֶב הַקֵּינִֽי׃ [7] Hebrew: אַל־פְּשַׁטְתֶּם. [8]פָּשַׁט signifies to strip off, to make a dash. [9] Isidore Clario (1495-1555) was a Benedictine monk. He served as the Prior of the Monastery of St. Peter in Modena, in northern Italy (1537) and as the Bishop of Foligno, in central Italy (1547). He was present at the Council of Trent. Clario produced a corrected edition of the Latin Vulgate, accompanied by his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. [10] Hebrew: וְאִ֙ישׁ וְאִשָּׁ֜ה לֹֽא־יְחַיֶּ֣ה דָוִ֗ד לְהָבִ֥יא גַת֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר פֶּן־יַגִּ֥דוּ עָלֵ֖ינוּ לֵאמֹ֑ר כֹּֽה־עָשָׂ֤ה דָוִד֙ וְכֹ֣ה מִשְׁפָּט֔וֹ כָּל־הַ֙יָּמִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָשַׁ֖ב בִּשְׂדֵ֥ה פְלִשְׁתִּֽים׃ [11] Hebrew: וַיַּאֲמֵ֥ן אָכִ֖ישׁ בְּדָוִ֣ד לֵאמֹ֑ר הַבְאֵ֤שׁ הִבְאִישׁ֙ בְּעַמּ֣וֹ בְיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְהָ֥יָה לִ֖י לְעֶ֥בֶד עוֹלָֽם׃ [12] Hebrew: הַבְאֵ֤שׁ הִבְאִישׁ֙. [13] Zopyrus (flourished circa 520 BC) was a Persian nobleman. After the revolt of Babylon from Persian rule, Zopyrus cut off his own nose and ears to gain the confidence of the Babylonians, pretending abuse by the Persians. He won the trust of the Babylonians, was put in charge of the army, and betrayed the city into the hands of the Persians. [14]History of the World 1:10. Junianus Justinus was a Roman historian of the third century. [15] Gabii was an ancient city, eleven miles east of Rome. According to legend, the Gabines revolted from the Latin League, under the jurisdiction of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome. Sextus Tarquinius, the king’s son, went to Gabii, under the pretense of joining the revolt against his father. He gradually won the trust of the Gabii, and was made a general, winning some minor skirmishes against his father. He betrayed the Gabines by plotting the death of their nobles. In the ensuing confusion, the king was able to subdue Gabii in battle. [16]Ab Urbe Condita 1:53, 54. [17]Epitome 1:7. Florus (early second century) was a Roman historian; he wrote an Epitome of the Histories of Titus Livy. [18] Hebrew: וַיַּאֲמֵ֥ן אָכִ֖ישׁ בְּדָוִ֣ד. [19] Exodus 14:31: “And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses (וַיַּֽאֲמִ֙ינוּ֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה וּבְמֹשֶׁ֖ה עַבְדּֽוֹ׃).” [20] Genesis 34:30: “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink (לְהַבְאִישֵׁנִי) among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.” [21] Exodus 5:21: “And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred (הִבְאַשְׁתֶּ֣ם אֶת־רֵיחֵ֗נוּ) in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.”

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Study 1 Samuel in detail with Matthew Poole!

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