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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 13

 

 

Introduction

1 Samuel 13, 14. Saul's Early Struggles with the Philistines.—(J), chiefly from the ancient narrative concerning Saul. Editorial notes, or additions from other sources, are 1 Samuel 13:1; 1 Samuel 13:7 b, "but as for Saul . . . Benjamin," 1 Samuel 13:15 a; 1 Samuel 13:19-22; 1 Samuel 14:47-51.


Verses 1-22

1 Samuel 13, 14. Saul's Early Struggles with the Philistines.—(J), chiefly from the ancient narrative concerning Saul. Editorial notes, or additions from other sources, are 1 Samuel 13:1; 1 Samuel 7 b, "but as for Saul . . . Benjamin," 1 Samuel 13:15 a; 1 Samuel 13:19-22; 1 Samuel 14:47-51.

1 Samuel 13:1. If the present Hebrew text were regarded as correct and complete, the translation (cf.mg.) would be, "And Saul was a year old when he became king, and he reigned two years over Israel." Both periods are absurd. The editor intended to provide for Saul the usual introductory formula, as in 1 Kings 14:21, etc. Not having any express information on the subject, he intended to calculate the periods later on; meanwhile, that he might not forget, he inserted the blank schedule, "Saul was . . . years old, when he became king; and he reigned . . . years"—leaving blanks to be filled afterwards; and then forgot. The fact that the blanks were not filled in by copyists, shows that from a certain date, later than the time of the editor or scribe who inserted this verse, the text was copied with mechanical fidelity, without correcting patent absurdities. As the words for "two" and "years" are very similar in Hebrew, it seems that the word for "years" was accidentally repeated, and then one of the words was slightly modified to read as "two." The "thirty" of RV is derived from two late MSS of the LXX the verse is wanting in most MSS of the LXX, and is probably a very late insertion. As Jonathan was grown up when Saul became king, the latter must have been about forty at the time of his accession. Acts 13:21 and some texts of Josephus (Ant. VI. xiv. 9) give Saul a reign of forty years, but this is clearly too long; Ant. X. viii. 4 and some texts of VI. xiv. 9. give twenty years, which is probably much nearer the mark.

1 Samuel 13:2-7 a (to "Gilead"). Saul institutes a standing army. Jonathan having slain a Philistine official (not "garrison), [Saul makes a general levy of Israel at Gilgal?]. But when the Philistines advanced in force, the Israelites were seized with a panic, and fled to hiding-places or across the Jordan.

1 Samuel 13:2. Michmash: Mukhmas, 7 miles N. of Jerusalem (p. 31).—Gibeah: here and in 1 Samuel 13:15; 1 Samuel 14:2; 1 Samuel 14:16, read Geba, as in 1 Samuel 13:3; 1 Samuel 13:16, 1 Samuel 14:5.

1 Samuel 13:3-5. These verses can hardly be in their original form. "Hebrews" is out of place in Saul's mouth; it is the name given to Israelites by foreigners. There are grounds for reading instead of "And the Philistines . . . hear," "And the Philistines heard saying: The Hebrews have revolted." The assembly at Gilgal, and the impossible numbers in 1 Samuel 13:5, are editorial. Probably in the ancient narrative, the Philistines drove Saul back from Michmash to Geba, where we find him in 1 Samuel 13:16 (ICC).

7b. but as for Saul . . . Benjamin, 1 Samuel 13:15 a.—An extract from a late document, whose history and date cannot be further determined. The editor has prepared the way for this section by inserting 1 Samuel 10:8 and 1 Samuel 13:4, which may be based on the same document. It is not quite clear what Saul's sin was, but the following gives a probable interpretation:—Samuel had arranged with Saul to come to Gilgal on a certain day to offer the sacrifices which were necessary to inaugurate the campaign (p. 99). Samuel did not keep his appointment; time pressed, and Saul offered the sacrifices himself. Immediately Samuel appears and declares that Yahweh will punish Saul's impatience by transferring the kingship to "a man after his own heart," i.e. David. Possibly in the document, in its complete form, the condemnation of Saul seemed less harsh and arbitrary than it does here.

1 Samuel 13:15 b - 1 Samuel 13:18. The ancient narrative, continuing 1 Samuel 13 :L7a. Saul and Jonathan remain at Geba with 600 men; the Philistines make Michmash their headquarters and send out detachments to plunder the country.

1 Samuel 13:17. Ophrah: Joshua 18:23.

1 Samuel 13:18. Shual: not identified.—Beth-horon: p. 31, Joshua 10:10.—Zeboim: not identified.

1 Samuel 13:19-22. An editorial note representing the Israelites as almost entirely disarmed, which would be an exaggeration (p. 57, Judges 4:2*). As regards details the text is corrupt and it is not clear how it should be restored.


Verse 23

1 Samuel 13:23 to 1 Samuel 14:15. The ancient narrative, continuing 1 Samuel 13:18. Saul was at Geba (see on 1 Samuel 13:2), having with him the priest Ahijah, carrying the ephod—here not a garment, but some article used in casting the sacred lot (see 1 Samuel 2:28*, Judges 8:27). A valley lay between the two camps, dominated on either side by a steep crag, called respectively Bozez, "Shining," and Seneh, "Thorny." Unknown to Saul and the Israelites, Jonathan and his armourbearer descended into the valley, exchanged taunts with the Philistines on the crag above, climbed up, took the enemy by surprise, and, assisted by an earthquake (1 Samuel 13:15), created a panic amongst them.

1 Samuel 13:2. Migron: not identified.

1 Samuel 13:14 b. The text is corrupt and it is not clear how it should be restored.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-samuel-13.html. 1919.

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