1Samuel 13

 

1Samuel 13:1–23

Israel Versus the Philistines


Outline of Chapter 13:

 

       vv.    1–4        Jonathan Initiates Aggressions Between the Israelites and the Philistines

       vv.    5–7        The Huge Philistine Force Causes the Bulk of Saul’s Army to Desert

       vv.    8–9        Saul Offers a Burnt Offering to God

       vv.   10–14      Samuel Chastises Saul for Offering this Burnt Sacrifice

       vv.   15–18      Saul Organizes and Moves His Troops While the Philistine Army Strikes Israel at Will

       vv.   19–23      The Israelites Lack Iron Weapons Which the Philistines Have


Charts and Maps:

 

       v.      1           Theories Concerning the Time Frame of Saul’s Reign and v. 1

       v.      1           Just How Old Was Saul and for How Long Did He Reign?

       v.      1           Saul’s Palace

       v.      2           Map of Michmash and Surrounding Area

       v.      2           The Time Line of 1Samuel 13

       v.      7           V. 7 Refers to Gilgal in the Jordan Valley and not to Jiljilia

       v.      7           Troop Locations

       v.      8           1Sam. 10:8 is to be Understood as a Directive and not as a Prophecy

       v.      9           Why Saul Should not have Offered up Animal Sacrifices

       v.     11b         What Was Wrong with Saul Offering Up Sacrifices?

       v.     12c         Saul’s Argument to Samuel

       v.     14           God’s Message to Saul and to Eli

       v.     15           1Samuel 13:15 Text from the Greek Septuagint

       v.     15           A Summary of Gibeah, Geba and Gibeon

       v.     15           Should 1Samuel 13:15 Include the Text from the Septuagint?

       v.     15           The Troop Movement

       v.     16           How Do the Modern Translations Differ on 1Samuel 13:15–16?

       v.     16           Why is Gibeah the More Likely City to be Found in V. 16?

       v.     20           Agrarian Instruments from 1Samuel 13:20

       v.     20           The Bronze Age

       v.     20           The Iron Age


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

Gibeah, Gibeon and Geba

 

 


I ntroduction: 1Sam. 13 begins with Jonathan attacking and defeating a garrison of Philistines in Geba. This sets into motion a series of events which costs Jonathan the throne of Israel. The Philistines will move en masse against Israel. Saul will panic and begin offering up sacrifices to God when Samuel doesn’t show up in time (actually, Samuel does show up in time; Saul simply jumped the gun here). Then Samuel does show and tells Saul that his dynasty has just ended. Saul cannot take the place of Samuel as a priest to Israel. Finally, this chapter ends where one would not expect—the Philistines aggressively move out against Israel.


What we have in this chapter is the revealing of Saul’s true nature. Saul is not a heathen; he does not worship foreign gods; but his obedience to God is less than stellar. In this chapter, Jonathan will take out a garrison of Philistines, but Saul will blow the trumpets, signaling the land that Saul was victorious over the Philistines.


However, what Jonathan does will set off a war between the Philistines and the Israelites. Saul panics. Samuel has already instructed him to wait until Samuel came to him (Samuel still provided divine guidance for Saul). When Samuel makes known Saul’s act of disobedience known to him, no where does Saul express regret or repentance. He does not even admit that he screwed up—he simply gives Samuel a long list of reasons why he did what he did.


Application: God knows the long list of reasons for every screwed up thing that you do. He doesn’t need to hear you justify yourself. What is important is, did you do the right thing before God? Anything else is irrelevant. We may view Saul’s act of disobedience as minor; God did not, and God’s opinion is herein expressed against Saul. This simply prepares us for continued disobedience throughout Saul’s reign over Israel.


Because the Philistines play a prominent part in the life of Israel over the next several chapters, we would do well to quickly examine their background. They were a non-Semitic people who originally settled in the southern coastal regions of the Land of Promise, being a part of the great invasion of the sea peoples referred to by Rameses III of Egypt circa 1200 b.c. Both their knowledge of metallurgy and access to sources of iron gave them a great advantage over other nations, despite the fact that the Philistines were comparatively small in number. Footnote At the time of this chapter, the Philistines will have the iron weapons and the technology to build and maintain these weapons and Israel does not. The animosity of the Philistines toward Israel began during the time of Samson and continued throughout the reign of David (although David did strike up an uneasy alliance with the Philistines during the time he was at odds with Saul). Although we no longer have Philistines with us, they are preserved in the name Palestine.


Saul finally, with this chapter, begins ruling over Israel as king. There are a lot of people who think that all they need is power, and they could accomplish something great. Or, they think that would be happy. Saul now has all of the power that he could desire, and we will find out that he is not happy. In v. 2, he chooses an elite force of 3000 men of those who defeated the Ammonites, and they will function as his and Jonathan’s personal guard, local police force, and quick military response team. Then Jonathan takes his 1000 men and strikes an outpost of Philistines in Geba (v. 3). This sets into motion a series of events which will result in the end of Saul’s dynasty (1Sam. 13:4–15:35).


Almost simultaneously, Saul gathers Israel to Gilgal (v. 4) and the Philistines gather their troops to Michmash (v. 5). The latter is the most aggressive of the moves, because Michmash is right in the center of Israel. Saul perhaps chooses Gilgal because it is barely west of the River Jordan and it may be the route that he will have to take to escape. The writer of this chapter, who is not necessarily Samuel, seems to know a great deal about the Philistines—he knows that they have 30,000 chariots and 6000 horsemen (v. 5). Footnote Because of the great buildup of Philistine forces, many of the Israelites desert their army. They hide in every conceivable hiding place and some flee to the other side of the Jordan (vv. 6–7). Saul begins to panic. He began with 3000 crack troops and called for the assemblage of the other men of Israel, and suddenly, he finds himself down to 600 men, none of whom has an iron weapon of any sort (vv. 2, 4, 6–7, 15, 22). Now, Samuel had promised to come to him after seven days (1Sam. 10:8), but here he was in Gilgal, it was the 7th day, and there was no Samuel. So Saul does the unthinkable—he offers up animal sacrifices himself (vv. 8–10). He’s seen Samuel do it many times and it appears to be easy enough. Just as he offers the sacrifices, it is told to him that Samuel is arriving. Saul goes out to meet him and to feel out the situation (v. 10). Saul had a long excuse put together for Samuel. It was inevitable that Saul would find out about his offering animal sacrifices to God and Saul had a long list of reasons why he had to do it (vv. 11–12). The problem was that this was clearly outside of God’s plan and Saul should have known better. Samuel pronounces a curse over Saul’s dynasty and leaves (v. 14). Saul takes Jonathan and his troops and stations them in Gibeah (vv. 15–16). At the same time, the Philistines are running military maneuvers by sending troops out east, west and north to attack any of the cities near to Michmash (vv. 17–18). Finally, to add to the inequity of it all, it turns out that only the Philistines have iron weapons and the Israel has none, apart from Saul and Jonathan (vv. 19–22). Then the Philistines advance south toward the army of Israel (v. 23). And, believe it or not, that ends 1Sam. 13.


1Sam. 13–15 essentially form a unit in the book of Samuel, and, although Israel will emerge victorious over Philistia, the overall tenor of these 3 chapters is one of defeat. Saul will make several critical mistakes, the chief being that he will disobey God on several occasions. It appears that he will take credit for Jonathan’s victory over the Philistines in 1Sam. 13:4. Saul will usurp Samuel’s spiritual authority in 1Sam. 13:9. The fact that none of his men at the end of this chapter will have iron weapons is an error reasonably placed at Saul’s doorstep. And that is just this chapter. His mistakes will continue in the next several chapters, culminating with God regretting that He made Saul king in the first place (1Sam. 15:35—this is an anthropopathism, of course).


Now, because I have more of a Greek mind than a Hebrew mind, things that I ponder in this chapter are: how old was Saul when he took office? How old was Jonathan when he takes a thousand men into battle against a Philistine outpost? What about the prophecy of Samuel’s and how he would come to Gilgal in 7 days—was this prophecy meant to be delivered 10–15 years previously? Then the geography concerns me—where is Geba, Gibeon and Gibeah? Are they all different forms of the same noun and therefore refer to the same city? We also have Saul offering up sacrifices—was that so wrong? He is facing a major war with the Philistines and Samuel is nowhere to be found—shouldn’t Saul communicate with the God of his fathers? Finally, near the end of this chapter, we have Israel functioning without weapons (or, without iron weapons). How was such a thing enforced? At the time that I write, we are having a hell of a time keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the Iraqis (as per satellite photographs and armies of inspectors). I think any reasonable person knows that Iraq definitely has chemical weapons and probably has untested nuclear capabilities (I am writing in the year 2002). However, given the satellite pictures, the inspectors and the UN resolutions, we cannot keep them from developing these weapons; so how could the Philistines keep Israel from acquiring weapons? In short, we are going to take several side trips and discuss various aspects of this chapter and reference other passages throughout Scripture so that we can get a handle of many of the details which we crave, but do not have.

 

As I begin to exegete this chapter, I have noticed several things about the writing. When it came to narrative, Samuel (or, the previous author) used the wâw consecutive continually. There were a lot of simple phrases beginning with the wâw consecutive, then the verb, the subject, the direct object and then another wâw consecutive. Furthermore, his vocabulary was fairly simple. It was rare for Samuel to use a word which he had not used before. This chapter is different. We have slightly more complex sentence structure; a slightly expanded vocabulary, and we are dealing with incidents that Samuel would not necessarily observed first-hand. What made me think that Samuel may not be the writer is the continual use of the proper noun ׳Iberîy (י.רב̣ע) [pronounced ģibe-VREE], which is transliterated Hebrews. We found this used twice in 1Sam. 4:6, 9; but the Philistines were using the term to refer to the Jews. Here we have this terms used several times from the standpoint of the Jews. Whereas, these few things do not necessarily rule out Samuel as the author, it does cause me to question whether he was the author of this and the next several chapters.


There’s one more thing that I should mention: the correct text in several places is difficult to ascertain. We have a number of variant readings in this chapter and the next. This means that we will plow through several alternate readings and spend a fair amount of time determining the correct reading.


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Jonathan Initiates Aggressions Between the Israelites and the Philistines


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

Saul [was] a son of a year in his reigning and a pair of years he reigned over Israel,...

1Samuel

13:1

Saul [was] a son of a year when in his reign and he reigned over Israel two years,...

Saul took a year to began to reign over Israel. He had reigned over Israel two years, when...


First, this is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Dead Sea Scrolls                   All of 1Sam. 13 and most of 1Sam. 14–15 are missing from the Dead Sea Scrolls due to degraded manuscripts.

Latin Vulgate                         Saul was a child of one year when he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel.

Masoretic Text                       Saul [was] a son of a year in his reigning and a pair of years he reigned over Israel,...

Peshitta                                 And when Saul had reigned one or two years in his kingdom over Israel,...

Septuagint                             [in my version of the LXX, there is nothing here for v. 1]

 

Significant differences:          There are obviously more problems here than we want to deal with in one paragraph, so we will discuss this in much greater detail in the exegesis below.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Saul was a young man when he became king, and he ruled Israel for two years.

The Message                         Saul was a young man when he began as king. He was king over Israel for many years.

NLT                                Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years.

REB                                       Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel for twenty-two years.

TEV                                       [there’s nothing here for v. 1]


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Saul was [thirty] years old when he became king, and he was king of Israel forty-two years.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul was...years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel two years.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Saul was [forty—The complete numbers in this verse are missing in the Hebrew. The word “forty” is supplied by the best available estimate] years old when be began to reign; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,...

NASB                                     Saul was forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-two years over Israel. Recall that italicized text in certain literal translations mean these words are not found in the original text.

Young's Updated LT              A son of a year is Saul in his reigning, year, two years he has reigned over Israel,...


What is the gist of this verse? Although it appears as though originally the age of Saul and the length of his reign was given, I think that this verse simply tells us that it takes Saul about a year to assume his kingly responsibilities, then, after two years go by, we face the crisis of the Philistines (which is to follow in the remainder of this chapter and the next).


So that we know what to expect, there are some late Greek manuscripts which tell us that Saul was 30 years old when he began his reign. The Hebrew does not have a number here. Some Greek manuscripts, like Brenton’s, lacks a first verse entirely. This suggests to me that this number had been lacking for a long time, and that the later manuscripts indicate that someone figured that they had better put something there. Josephus and Acts 13:21 tell us that Saul actually ruled for 40 years. Now, let’s delve into the Hebrew text, after which, we will examine this topic in greater depth:


1Samuel 13:1

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

shânâh (הָנָש) [pronounced shaw-NAW]

year

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

mâlake ( ַל ָמ) [pronounced maw-LAHKe]

to reign, to become king or queen

Qal infinitive construct with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #4427 BDB #573

With the bêyth preposition, the Qal infinitive construct serve as a temporal marker which denotes an event which occurs simultaneously with the action of the main verb. Footnote The bêyth preposition can reasonably be rendered when.

Some try to weasel out of this first phrase by rendering it Saul had been king for a year or Saul reigned for one year; however, the only way we can correctly translate this is, Saul was a year old when [becoming] king [more literally, ...in his becoming king]. Apparently, one version of the LXX and the Vulgate both render this as we find it in the Hebrew; and the Chaldee tries to interpret this, rendering the first portion of this verse: Saul was an innocent child when he began to reign. Footnote

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

This little wâw conjunction wreaks havoc on interpreting this verse as it stands. Remove it and one could almost make a case for taking the verse as is, where is. However, this word indicates that a number should have preceded shetayîm below.

shetayîm (ם ̣י ַ ׃ש) [pronounced sheTAH-yim]

two, two of, a pair of, a duo of

feminine numeral construct

Strong’s #8147 BDB #1040

shânâh (הָנָש) [pronounced shaw-NAW]

year

feminine plural noun

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040

mâlake ( ַל ָמ) [pronounced maw-LAHKe]

to reign, to become king or queen

3rd person masculine singular Qal perfect

Strong’s #4427 BDB #573

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

Masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: Saul was a son of a year in his reigning and a pair of years he reigned over Israel. You may already have an opinion about this, but let’s think about this for a moment—why would we have, at the beginning of Saul’s reign, the total number of years that he reigned over Israel? Prior to this, it was at the end of someone’s life, that we are given the time that they functioned in whatever office they held (compare Deut. 34:5–7 Joshua 24:29 Judges 16:21 1Sam. 7:15). We may reasonably assert that Samuel, at 1Sam. 7:15–17, figured that he had come to the end of his time and was simply adding an ending to his ministry. It is at the end of one’s life or reign when we expect to see the numbers indicating how long they have reigned. Saul is going to be with us for another 19 chapters.


Now, although it is possible that someone sat down at the end of Saul’s reign and began writing this or piecing it together from memory and from the available documents, and he would therefore have indicated the number of years that Saul reigned. However, it is more likely that the writer or writers wrote this information down at more than one sitting. This introduces another issue—who recorded the life and reign of Saul? Given the simplistic style found in 1Sam. 1–12, we may reasonably guess that Samuel recorded everything up until that time (or, at least, the same person recorded 1Sam. 1–12). If this simple style continues, there would be no reason to assume that a different author picked up the pen right at this time. Samuel is still the spiritual leader; therefore, we would expect (1) him to continue to record the history of Israel; and (2) we would therefore expect his simple style to continue. With regards to the latter, note that already in this first verse we have a repetition of two words. Therefore, to what conclusion are we forced? First of all, we would expect Saul’s age to be given here; however, it appears to have been dropped from the text. It is also possible that the original author wrote this verse in with the expectation that someone (perhaps even himself) would, at a later date, insert the correct number of years.


The problem here goes way back. The Chaldee paraphrase reads Saul was an innocent child when he became king (this was there way of dealing with the problem). The Latin and Greek both lack the number of years that we would expect to find. We do not even have a 1Sam. 13 in the Dead Sea Scrolls to help us out here. Since the addition of these years that we do have occurs in late Greek texts, my opinion is that the years were added at that time, realizing that something should be there.


Furthermore, there is no reason to think that we would have the length of Saul’s reign here. What we should expect is to find is perhaps how many years went by before Saul had to spring into military action again (as per the next verse). However, subsequent kings will have their ages given and the number of years that they ruled over Israel (2Sam. 2:10 5:4 1Kings 14:21 22:42 2Kings 8:26) using the exact same verbiage, except that they insert the actual number of years that the king ruled and his actual age when he took office.


Before we examine the various theories, let me insert Acts 13:21, so that can have that as a guiding beacon: Paul stands up in the synagogue in Antioch, after the reading from the Law and the Prophets, and he says, “And then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.”

 

Of course, what Josephus offers us may be of some help, and he tells us that Saul reigned for 18 years while Samuel was alive and then ruled an additional 22 years after his death. Footnote However, Dr. Doddridge (note in loco) has shown that this cannot be correct, and that he probably reigned, as some copies of Josephus have it, but two years after the death of Samuel. Many critics suppose that the term of 40 years mentioned here includes also the time in which Samuel judged the people. Footnote


Let me add a few more points: (1) there is no way that we can allow the text to stand as is; it makes little sense as it is, and it cannot be twisted to make sense. (2) Similar passages do insert actual numbers here. (3) This problem goes way back. If we have the same missing text in the Chaldee, the Greek and the Latin, without a solution to be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, then we can rest assured that the corruption of this passage goes way back, easily to 300 b.c. or earlier.


Given that we have so many problems, we should examine the various theories about this verse and the length of Saul’s reign.

Theories Concerning the Time Frame of Saul’s Reign and v. 1

Theorist

Theory

Arguments For and Against

Barnes

The numerals denoting Saul’s age and the length of his reign are omitted or faulty. Saul would have been about 30 years old at the beginning of his reign and would have reigned about 32 years. At his death, his grandson Mephibosheth was 5 years old (2Sam. 4:4). There would be about 7½ years between the death of Saul and that of Ishbosheth, which gives us the 40 years assigned to his dynasty in Acts 13:21. Footnote Numbers have to be inserted, as this verse makes no sense without them and this format is used with many of Israel’s kings.

Jonathan would have been very young when Saul became king, making him a soldier in his early or mid-teens (this is not out of the question, by the way). Furthermore, we would expect the total reign of Saul to be given at the end of his life, as we have seen in other similar reigns (compare Deut. 34:5–7 Joshua 24:29 Judges 16:21 1Sam. 7:15). Finally, it appears the Paul’s reference to Saul does not sound like he is speaking of Saul’s dynasty but of Saul himself.

NASB

Saul was 40 when he began to reign and he reigned 32 years.

This means that Saul would be 72 years old and still going into battle (he dies in battle at the end of his life).

NEB

Saul was 50 years old when he began to reign and he reigned for 22 years.

The length of his reign cannot be reconciled with Acts 13:21 (And from there they asked for a king. And God gave Saul the son of Kish to them, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years) and Saul is 72 in his last battle, which is rather old.

NIV Study Bible

Saul is about 30 when he begins his reign and rules for 42 years. This wording (in the Hebrew and the English) follows the formula found in 2Sam. 2:10 5:4 1Kings 14:21 2Kings 8:26 14:2 15:2 16:2. Footnote

Again, Jonathan would have been very young when Saul became king and Saul would have been very old (72) when going to war for the last time.

REB

Saul begins ruling at age 30 and rules for 22 years. The REB footnote simply reads: twenty-two: prob. rdg; Heb. two.

The big problem is that Paul tells us that Saul ruled for 40 years, not 22. However, age 52 is reasonable for a man’s last battle.

Keil and Delitzsch

Their theory on this passage was actually revolutionary to me. I actually came to the same conclusion independently, and, reading it in their commentary, recognize the ring of truth of this interpretation.


Almost everyone assumes that there are two missing numbers in this passage. We don’t know how old Saul is when he becomes king and we do not know the length of his reign. Keil and Delitzsch suggest that there is one missing letter, the letter which tells us Saul’s age. However, this pair of years indicates the length of time which passed between Saul assuming authority as king and our passage, where he (and his progeny) is rejected by God as king. Footnote The implication is that we no longer have to assume that Saul reigned for 22, 32 or 42 years.

It is more reasonable that we are missing only one letter in this passage rather than two in two separate and semi-crucial areas.


This verse reads more as though the number was accidentally dropped out of the text rather than left intentionally blank. We can pretty much eliminate the 22 and 42 years for reasons which will be discussed later. Even the 32 years can be problematic. This theory eliminates a great many conflicts and questions.


The strongest argument against this is that this became the formula used in naming a king’s inaugural age and the length of his reign. However, this is the first time this phrasing is used, which mitigates against its traditional use at a later date.

Kukis #1

Saul took about a year to assume his position as king and two years passed before the incidents of this chapter take place.

The strongest argument against this is that, apart from the obviously missing years, this exactly follows the format of the record of the reigns of later kings.

Kukis #2

An alternate theory which occurs to me is that the historical recorder (who no longer appears to be Samuel), here, with Saul, sets up this formula for the age of a king at the beginning of his reign, as well as the length of his reign. His expectation was that he, or someone else, would fill in the numbers later. No one ever did.

This theory appears to be dangerously close to violating the inspiration of Scripture. However, there is nothing wrong with a writer setting up a formula which was later followed, but not filled in, in this passage. However, the original author would have known Saul’s age, so there would have been no reason to leave that out. Furthermore, the addition of the language, a pair of years implies that some number had to come before that.

Kukis #3

A theory related to the one above: let’s say that this is exactly what the original author wanted to say; that is, it took Saul a year to assume his kingship and a pair of years went by before Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost. This would not preclude a later author from taking this passage and making a formula from it to use later on.

This theory does not violate the inspiration of Scripture. It is in agreement with the reasonable age range for Saul and his son Jonathan, although we would have to assume that Saul fathered Jonathan very early in life and that Jonathan took command of the thousand men very early in life—say, as early as age 15 and perhaps even earlier. Again, the main problem is that, it appears that a number is missing here; the passage does not stand on its own. However, a counter argument is, the wâw conjunction in the middle of the verse should be a wâw consecutive; which distinction was made over a millennium later by the Masoretes (based upon readings in the synagogues). The mistaken inflection of a wâw conjunction could have come about simply because this is very similar to later passages where a king’s age and length of reign are given.

Kukis #4

Maybe what Paul indicated was not the length of Saul’s reign, but of his entire life. God gave Saul to Israel for 40 years—total.

It does not seem as though this was Paul’s point. Furthermore, we have, then a very short reign for Saul (which is fine—but there is a lot crammed into this reign). And, we have Saul beginning his reign at a very young age, and Jonathan would be in his teens at that time (and his other sons would be even younger).

Kukis #5

A later editor added this phrase, expecting to fill it in at a later date.

This would not explain why we have the phrase ...and a pair of years he reigned over Israel. If this were the case, this would be completely devoid of numbers.

Concluding Remarks: Now, although I am leaning toward inserting a number, like thirty (or younger) into this verse, as did the ancient Greek Christians, I still have some reservations. Originally, I was concerned that the word year is in the singular. However, this is how it is found in the other passages with the same formula. My original interpretation, which actually could be reasonable, was that Saul went roughly a year before he actually began to rule over Israel. First Samuel anointed him as per God’s instructions. Later, Samuel presented Saul as king over Israel as a result of being chosen by lot (again, something which we have assumed). Later, when Israel was under attack by Nahash the Ammonite, Saul was pressed into service as the most reasonable man to turn to in a crisis, even though he had not assumed his office as ruler over Israel. It would not be unreasonable for approximately a year to have passed from his anointing until his assumption of office (recall that we are allowing some time for Nahash to make inroads into eastern Israel and that there would be some time for Saul to gather his troops and to attack Nahash (the actual battle appears to take a very short time, as per 1Sam. 11:11). If we simply took the Hebrew at face value, what we possibly have here is that, it has been two years since Saul has been anointed king over Israel and a year has gone by of his actual rule when v. 2 occurs. We might render this verse: Saul [was] a son of a year when he reigned, and [so] a pair of years he ruled over Israel, [when]... I am assuming here that the second conjunction is a wâw consecutive (rather than a wâw conjunction); and that the second half of this verse is more closely associated with v. 2 than with v. 1. Neither of these assumptions are invalid. Distinguishing between wâw consecutives and wâw conjunctions was probably a vocal inflection heard when this was read in the synagogue. There would have been perhaps long periods of time where this was not read so that, at some point, a reader changed the inflection, changing the way the Masoretes pointed this verse. Since verse designations are also add much later, there is nothing which requires v. 1b to be here instead of with v. 2.

However, because this exactly follows the formula found elsewhere (2Sam. 2:10 5:4), and since Saul is a king and not a judge or a priest-ruler, it is reasonable to assume that the years were left out or became unreadable at some point in time: Saul [was] a son of [thirty] years when he reigned, and he ruled over Israel [thirty-] two years. What we are doing at this point is taking a formula which had not yet been necessarily established and applying it to this verse.

One theory which I offered was that the original writer of Scripture here wrote during the reign of Saul, but felt that setting up a formula to be filled in later would be apropos. The main argument against this would be the inclusion of a pair of years. If no numbers were to be used originally, why put a pair in there? That would make no sense for an author or editor to do such a thing and it would more likely suggest that the actual number of years were lost. The only way around this would be that it took Saul a year to assume his power and that there were two years between that and the events of this chapter, which the author intended to put there in order to help a later editor out.

Additional Note: You may wonder why I introduce additional theories, particularly under my own name, if I do not wholeheartedly subscribe to said theories. When an interpretation is in doubt, then I like to examine as many different interpretations as is possible before coming to a conclusion of my own. If I come up with a theory which I believe is, on its face, has some validity, even though I don’t agree with it, I will share that theory. It helps me to explore the pros and cons of the other various theories which have been offered. Also, it saves you the trouble.


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So, where do we stand on this verse? I was at first more apt to agree with the insertion of missing years than not, primarily because this is the format found with other kings. However, that is not absolutely necessary; and the fact that a later author used this same formula to give the age of a king as well as the number of years that he reigned does not mean that this author had something else in mind when he wrote these words. After letting this gel for awhile, I am more apt to simply let this verse stand as is. Because this verse apparently puzzled very early translations, we may assume that they grappled with the exact same questions that we are grappling with.


One item which should be at the back of your mind is that, if you choose this age or that for Saul, it will of course affect the age of Jonathan when Saul began to reign, as well as impact the number of years which transpire between this verse and those following. If Saul is, say, 30, Jonathan would be, at most, 15 or 16, when Saul began his reign. When Saul takes out 3000 men (v. 2a), and sends the remainder home, it appears as though he has just begun to reign, that the men who went to war with him against the Ammonites are still with him in force, and that he takes out 3000 of the best and sends the remainder home (v. 2b). Entrusting Jonathan with a 1000 men may have actually occurred several years later; however, it appears that this all occurred at once. If Jonathan is old enough to command these troops, I would assume that he is between 18–25 years of age, making Saul at least 35 years old at this time (however, I am thinking the thoughts of an American—the king’s son could head an army at age 12). The other option, which Barnes proposes, is that Saul is about 30 when he begins to reign, and that the incidents of this chapter actually occur at least 10–15 years later. However, it is not out of the question for Saul to be 29–30 when he begins to rule over Israel; and for his son to be 15 (or even younger) when he takes this 1000 men in the next verse to war against the Philistines. For a man of this age to command a thousand men might seem unthinkable today, but bear in mind, this is the king’s son and this is a long time ago when a young man was much more mature in his early teens than now. Furthermore, Jonathan would have also had many of Saul’s physical characteristics (height and physical attractiveness, as well as some natural leadership ability).


What we need to examine next, is what was Saul’s reasonable age and length of reign?


Bear these things in mind as we examine Saul’s age and the length of his reign:

1.Saul is called a young man in the Hebrew of 1Sam. 9:2.

2.Secondly, Paul tells the synagogue worshipers in Antioch that God gave them Saul for forty years. Almost all take this as a round number (the reign referred to could be anywhere from 36–44 years). Some interpret this as referring only to Saul; others include with in this 40 years, the reign of Ishbosheth over the northern kingdom. Since Paul gives us no intervening time between Saul and David’s reign, we might allow for the 40 years to refer to the reign of Saul’s dynasty, although there is nothing which demands this interpretation.

3.Most translations add in the extra two years, as v. 1 of this chapter reads ...and a pair of years...

4.If the text is corrupt, then is it absolutely necessary to include this pair of years in the final determination? Could that not be part of the corrupted text? On the other hand, it is dangerous to call text corrupt simply because we don’t like it.

5.It is also important to bear in mind that Saul will die in battle, which will signal the end of his reign.

6.Saul’s son, Jonathan, in this chapter, is put in charge of 1000 men, which he takes into battle against the Philistines. This gives us an idea as to how old could Saul be at his death and how young could Jonathan be when he goes into battle against the Philistines.

7.My point in all of this is, what we do no, even apart from this difficult verse, still has to make sense.

Just How Old Was Saul and for How Long Did He Reign?

Saul’s Age at the Beginning of his Reign

The Length of Saul’s Reign

Implications and/or Problems

25 years old

35–40 years

This means that Jonathan is 12–14 when commanding a royal army, which is not out of the question. Since 40 years is probably an approximation, that makes Saul 60–65 in his final battle, which is not out of the question.

30 years old

32 years

Saul is age 62 when going into battle against the Philistines for the last time, which is not out of the question. Jonathan could be, at most, 15 years old when Saul begins to reign. More than likely, Jonathan is 10 years old or so, and Saul entrusts him with these troops roughly 10 years later. Therefore, Jonathan’s attack on the Philistine outpost in v. 3 occurs 10–15 years after Saul’s assumption of power. This would tend to place Samuel’s prediction of come to Saul after 7 days way into the future from when he made this prediction (10–15 years into the future). Another option is that the prophecy is not related to this chapter. However, this is not in agreement with Paul giving Saul’s reign as 40 years.

30 years old

42 years

This length of reign alluded to by Paul would include only Saul’s reign. However, Saul would be 72 when going into battle against the Philistines for the last time, which is quite old. Again, Jonathan’s exploits in this chapter and the next would follow Saul’s assumption of power by 10–15 years.

35 years old

32 years

If Saul is 35 or older, this would seem to contradict him being called a young man in 1Sam. 9:2. In this scenario, Saul is 67 when going to war against the Philistines for the last time, which seems to be pretty much a reasonable upper limit. Footnote However, the exploits of Jonathan could have occurred almost immediately after Saul’s final taking of power. Furthermore, this does not agree with Paul’s time frame which he assigns to Saul.

35 years old

42 years

It seems that if Saul is 77 years old, that is far too old to go to war against the Philistines. This is also too old for Saul to be called a young man in 1Sam. 9:2 (which can be applied to the next couple options as well).

40 years old

32 years

Like one of our other options, Saul is 72 years old in going to war against the Philistines for the final time. This seems to be quite old to go into battle. The events of 1Sam. 13 could have all have reasonably taken place within a month’s time, however. And, again, this contradicts Paul.

40 years old

42 years

Age 82 just seems far, far too old for Saul to go into battle. That alone makes this an untenable pairing of ages.

Conclusion: Saul needs to be 30 or younger in order to be called a young man. Now, even though Jonathan is probably Saul’s firstborn, we must insert at least 13 years between Saul’s age and his (if not 20). This makes Jonathan a commander in Saul’s army in his teens, and possibly early teens, which is not out of the question, being the king’s son. Jonathan will operate in this chapter and the next in great faith, which is often the gift of a very young man. Finally, Saul’s reign cannot extend to 42 years without making him too old to fight against the Philistines. Therefore, we must go with the following numbers:

Saul’s Probable Age at the Beginning of his Reign

A reasonable Length for Saul’s Reign

Comments

25–30 years old

32–37 years

These seem to be the most reasonable ages to assign to Saul and to his reign. Saul’s age at the beginning of his reign would qualify him as a young man (1Sam. 9:2). At the end of his life, he would still be young enough to go to war (we are assuming that, in any case, Saul is very fit for an older man). The attack of Jonathan in v. 3 would have occurred within 2–15 years of vv. 1–2. Samuel’s prophecy of 1Sam. 10:8 would have to take Saul several years into the future, which is not out of the question. Finally, the length of Saul’s reign would have been in agreement with Paul’s speech to the men of Antioch.

Addendum: I realize that this seems to be a lot of space devoted to some rather minor issues. However, if we are to accept the Scripture as inspired, then we should also expect it to make sense. When it comes to making sense, we need to examine all time frames, geographical considerations and historical issues. Scripture must be able to endure the most careful scrutiny in any realm.

One of the things I am hoping to do in this commentary is deal with a lot of the minutia so that you don’t have to. You can quickly glance at the various options, read the pros and cons if you like, and then go directly to my conclusion. Also, I list out the various options for myself, so that I can see them in black and white, as I try to determine for myself what is the most reasonable explanation.

In my commentary, I have the luxury of taking as much time as I want and of going into as much detail as I want. Most commentators have their opinions in place when it comes to difficulties in the text; or they study and form an opinion—but you don’t really see much of the process. You see the conclusion, a couple remarks to support that conclusion, and, once and awhile, a couple remarks on other views. Here, I often give as much time to discussing opposing views as I do to the views that I adhere to.

If I am able to come to a reasonable conclusion, as I was able to here, then you can always go right to the conclusion; if you doubt it, then you can go back and check the other options.


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An interesting topic, which is barely alluded to in Scripture, is Saul’s palace.

Saul’s Palace

1.    Saul had to live somewhere. Even though after he was anointed by Samuel, Saul returned to his father’s home (1Sam. 10:26), at some point in time, he had to establish a royal residence.

2.    Saul spent a great deal of time in the field, and on the battlefield. In the next verse, we will begin dealing with Saul’s army. In 1Sam. 14:47–48, it will be clear that Saul spend a great deal of his time at war with the surrounding nations.

3.    However, logic would dictate that Saul would have some time away from war; that he would have to live somewhere, and that, just like kings from surrounding nations, Saul would require some sort of a palace to live in. We know nothing about the actual construction of this palace nor of the details of its structure.

4.    I can only think of a few instances where there is an allusion to Saul’s palace:

       a.    In 1Sam. 16:15–18, Saul, when his character begins to degenerate, brings in a musician, David, to calm his soul with music. Quite obviously, Saul has to be somewhere at this point in time, and not out among his troops, as his behavior would be quite disconcerting. Furthermore, when Saul goes to take a stand against Goliath and the Philistines, David is no longer with him. Therefore, it logically follows that David must have played music to Saul when he was in his palace-home.

       b.    In 1Sam. 19:9–10, Saul is sitting in his house being tormented by an evil spirit. At this time, he makes an attempt on David’s life. He throws a spear and it sticks into a wall. Whatever this house is that Saul is sitting in would logically be his palace.

       c.     In 1Sam. 20:24–34 we have a confrontation between Saul and his son Jonathan over David at the New Moon Banquet. Saul has a regular place to sit and there appears to be an expected guest list (David did not show up, but was expected). We might reasonably suppose that this is a banquet area in the courtyard of Saul’s palace.

5.    Obviously, what we can put together here are nothing more than reasonable speculations.

6.    We do have an archeological find which may be in agreement with what we have supposed: keller writes: In 1922 a team from the American Schools of Oriental Research began digging [in Tell el-Ful, which was once Gibeah]. professor W. F. Albright, who promoted the expedition, directed the operations. Remnants of walls came to light. After a long interval, Albright continued his work at Tell el-Ful in 1933. A lot-shaped corner turret was exposed, and then three more. They are joined by a double wall. An open courtyard forms the interior. The total area is about 40X25 yards. The uncouth looking structure of dressed stone gives an impression of rustic defiance. Albright examined the clay sherds which were scattered among the ruins. They came from jars which had been in use about 1020 to 1000 b.c. Albright had discovered Saul’s citadel, the first royal castle in Israel, where “the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall” (1Sam. 20:25). It was here that Saul reigned as king, surrounded by his closest friends, with Jonathan his son, with Abner, his cousin and commander of the army, and with David, his young armour-bearer. Here he forged his plan to set Israel free and from here he led his partisans against the hated Philistines.1

7.    We should always be careful about interpreting archeological finds. Although this very well might be Saul’s palace, this is in no way proof positive of Saul’s palace or even that Saul’s palace truly existed.

1 Werner Keller, The Bible as History (second revised edition); New York, 1981; p. 184.


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Let’s continue with Saul’s reign:


And so chooses to himself Saul a trio of a thousand from Israel and so are with Saul two thousand in Michmash and in [the] hill-country of Bethel and a thousand have been with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. And [the] rest of the people he sent away each one to his tents.

1Samuel

13:2

So Saul chose 3000 [soldiers] out of Israel and 2000 are with Saul in Michmash and in the hill-country around Bethel and 1000 are with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. He sent the rest of the people each one to his tent.

Saul handpicked 3000 soldiers from this group; 2000 were stationed with him in Michmash and the hill country around Bethel; and 1000 were stationed with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The remainder of the soldiers were sent home.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so chooses to himself Saul a trio of a thousand from Israel and so are with Saul two thousand in Michmash and in [the] hill-country of Bethel and a thousand have been with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. And [the] rest of the people he sent away each one to his tents.

Septuagint                             And Saul chooses for himself three thousand men of the men of Israel; and there were with Saul two thousand who were in Michmas, and in mount Bethel, a thousand were with Jonathan in Gabaa of Benjamin; and he sent the rest of the people every man to his tent.

 

Significant differences:          There is one phrase in the Greek which is not found in the Hebrew. My thinking is, this short phrase (or, in this case, actually just a word) was not readable in whatever manuscript family the MT is taken from. Rather than make a good guess at the actual words, they were simply left out. On the other hand, the Greek translator may have felt this word was needed in the text and added it, which did not violate the meaning of the verse. This word is found in my translation of the Peshitta and Vulgate (however, I don’t know if it is there in the original, and it makes so little difference that I’m not going to fool with the actual Vulgate in order to figure it out).


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Then he chose three thousand men from Israel to be full-time soldiers and sent everyone else home. Two thousand of these troops stayed with him in the hills around Michmash and Bethel. The other thousand were stationed with Jonathan at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.

NLT                                Saul selected three thousand special troops from the army of Israel and sent the rest of the men home. He took two thousand of the chosen men with him to Micmash and the hill country of Bethel. The other thousand went with Saul’s son Jonathan to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Saul chose 3,000 men from Israel; 2,000 of them were stationed with Saul at Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and 1,000 were stationed with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. But the rest of the people he sent home.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul picked 3,000 Israelites, of whom 2,000 were with Saul in Michmas and in the hill country of Bethel, and 1,000 with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin; the rest of the troops he sent back to their homes.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Mishmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent.

Young's Updated LT              ...and Saul chose for himself three thousand men out of Israel; and two thousand are with Saul in Michmash, and in the hill country of Bethel; and a thousand have been with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin; and the remnant of the people he has sent each to his tents.



What is the gist of this verse? After the successful battle with the Ammonites, Saul has 2000 of his best troops remain with him as the palace guard and police/military force. He appears to move his personal headquarters to Michmash. Saul stations his son Jonathan in Gibeah with 1000 crack troops.


1Samuel 13:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bâchar (ר ַח ָ) [pronounced baw-KHAHR]

to choose

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #977 BDB #103

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

shelôwshâh (הָשלש) [pronounced shiloh-SHAW]

a three, a trio, a triad, a threesome

feminine numeral construct

Strong’s #7969 BDB #1025

ălâphîym (מי.פָלֲא) pronounced uh-law-FEEM]

thousands, families, [military] units

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

What we would expect here is the masculine noun men, but we do not find it in the Hebrew, although it is in the Greek Septuagint. Now, although it makes sense for îysh to be here, it is not and we do not have any reason, apart from the Septuagint to include it. This is a case of textual criticism where we go with the reading which does not go along with our sensibilities; the author here simply did not use or need the word man, even though it seems quite natural to insert it here.

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: Then Saul chose 3000 from Israel... You may recall that a group of men took it upon themselves to follow Saul back to his hometown after he was chosen by God by lot (or by ceremony) to be king over Israel. These are not from that group (which, I assume, was a much smaller group of men). However, the original small guard may be a part of this 3000 or in addition to them.


Saul has just defeated Nahash the Ammonite with the army (according to the text and according to our present translation, that is 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 from Judah—1Sam. 11:8). After the battle, the army, Saul and Samuel went to Gilgal to install Saul as king over Israel. Confusion and disagreements over number aside, Saul takes from that group of 330,000 Israelites and Judæans (which may or may not be an accurate amount) 3000 men (the term Israel occasionally stands for those of northern Israel, as we have in 1Sam. 11:8; and, it mostly refers to those from Israel, as we have in this verse).


1Samuel 13:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

elepayim (מ̣י-פְל-א) pronounced al-pah-YIM]

two thousand, two families, (1000?) (because of the dual form of the noun); two military units

masculine dual noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Mikemas (-מכ̣מ) [pronounced mike-MAHS]

transliterated Michmash

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #4363 BDB #485

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

har (ר ַה) [pronounced har]

hill, mountain, hill-country

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #2042 (and #2022) BDB #249

Bêyth-êl (ל̤אֿתי̤ב) [pronounced bayth-AYHL]

house of God; transliterated Bethel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1008 BDB #110


Translation: ...and 2000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel... Saul chose 3000 men altogether for his standing army and personal guard. What we have in the remainder of this verse is how he split them up. 3000 is actually a fairly small number. This would tend to support the relative peace that Israel had enjoyed, which peace was disturbed by Nahash the Ammonite. Apart from that, there has been an extended period of peace when Samuel was the spiritual and political leader of Israel (see 1Sam. 7:13–17). However, now that Saul has been named king, this peace was broken by Nahash and will be shattered by Jonathan.


Keil and Delitzsch pondered about what was meant by the mountain of Bethel, as Bethel is situated on very high ground and is surrounded by mountains and hills. The word har refers to hill-country as well as to a particular mountain; so we would reasonably interpret this as the hill country of Bethel.


The hill country of Ephraim refers to a set of mountains which extends from the southern portion Sea of Chinnereth down along the western side of the Dead Sea, with the Jordan River to the east of these mountains. Although many of these mountains and hills are in Ephraim, they extend north through Manasseh and south through Benjamin and deep into Judah. Recall that I theorized that the Philistines made a wide cut through Ephraim, separating Shiloh from northern and southern Israel and burning Shiloh to the ground. This troop movement also split Israel in half. At this time, we will have a similar attack by Philistia.


Now, recall that we have two basic options with respect to the age of Saul. If he begins his reign at an early age (say, 25–35), then Jonathan is a very young teen at that point, and Saul entrusts him with these troops years later (as Barnes suggests, at least 10–15 years later, if not more). Footnote Option #2 is that Saul is 35–40 and that these couple verses all occur over the short period of say a month or so. The latter appears to easily work with the flow of this chapter; however, the former view can be easily reconciled to this chapter. Option #3, which is somewhat of a compromise, is, Saul is 28–32 when assuming power; and two years later, a very young Jonathan (say, age 13–15), takes control of 1000 crack troops. As we have discussed, the number of this 3rd option are more in keeping with the Hebrew text than any others (again, bear in mind that Saul was a young man when he was chosen to rule over Israel (1Sam. 9:2). The impetuousness of the next verse, along with Saul’s lack of criticism, would indicate that Jonathan is a teen at this time.


A Map of Michmash

Michmash has not been mentioned before. It is not a city cited in the book of Joshua, where we would expect to find it. It seems to come out of nowhere. We know that Saul will station troops here and in the hill country of Bethel because of this verse. We know that the Philistines will later station their troops there (1Sam. 13:16). This city or location will figure into Jonathan’s attack in 1Sam. 14. So, I have had three guesses: (1) Michmash was originally an encampment of the Philistines. Although they retained some troops in Israel, this general area was taken back in 1Sam. 7:13. (2) Michmash was simply the camp of the Philistines during this attack; however, Saul placed his troops here first. (3) Michmash was simply a city which sprung up since the time of Joshua; which is not an unlikely scenario. (4) It is possible that Saul originally had thoughts of establishing a royal city in Michmash, and that placing his troops there was the first step.


This map gives us a better idea of the location of Michmash, which is on the northern edge of the great Wady Suweinit. Footnote For whatever reason, it appears as though a great deal of Israeli civilization was building up in the territory of Benjamin, despite the fact that the tribe of Benjamin had been reduced to practically nothing in size. However, this was the area within which Samuel ministered (recall that he was a circuit judge over Bethel, Mizpeh and Gilgal; and his house was in Ramah—1Sam. 7:16–17). This was central Israel, so it was the most convenient place for Israelites to come for worship and to come for judgments. Saul also lived in this general area, his city being Gibeah.

areaofsaulbitmaprevised.gif

Scanned and edited from The MacMillan Bible Atlas; 3rd Edition; Aharoni, Avi-Yonah, Rainey, and Safrai; MacMillan; ©1993 by Carta; p. 90. Michmash was added by me.

According to The Open Bible, Footnote Michmash is Northwest of Gibeah, rather than northeast as my map shows.

To get an idea of the positioning of the troops, Saul has 2000 men in northern Benjamin, in the cities of Michmash and Bethel, which are relatively close. Jonathan is about an hour and a half Footnote south of these cities in Gibeah with 1000 men of his own. The Philistines (in v. 5), will move their troops into Michmash, after Jonathan assaults them in Geba.


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Saul did not simply say, “Hey, let’s station 2000 men Michmash and in the hill country of Ephraim.” It is very likely that his intelligence indicated that there was Philistine movement in these areas or, Saul suspected that if there was any Philistine movement, that this is where it would occur. Or, much more simply, it was simply well-known that there was a Philistine outpost in that general area (which is the most likely case). Because of the decimation of the Benjamite tribe in the book of the Judges, that particular area was quite vulnerable to enemy invasion. In any case, this was the general area where Saul would be and provide for the defense of Israel. Certainly, even though Saul was a wack job later on in his reign, that does not mean that he lacked intelligence or military savvy. Another option, which I have already mentioned, is that Saul may have looked upon this area as a reasonable place to establish a royal city (however, I doubt that option, as it strikes me that Saul would rather look upon his hometown of Gibeah as being the royal city).


This is as far as we will examine Michmash at this point in time. However, we must take careful note that the number of troops which Saul has culled from his army represent a small national security force which in place primarily for intelligence and to protect him. They are a holding force, but not one that Saul would necessarily mobilize for a major war. No real military moves could be made apart from a redrafting of those who fought against Nahash.


1Samuel 13:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

eleph (ף ל א) [pronounced EH-lef]

thousand, families, (500?); military units

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

Yôwnâthân (ןָטָני) [pronounced yoh-naw-THAWN]

transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3129 (& #3083) BDB #220

There are two primary ways of spelling Jonathan; the other is: Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN], which we find used 71 times, whereas Yôwnâthân is found 41 times.

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Gibe׳âh (ה ָע ׃ב ̣) [pronounced gibve-ĢAW]

transliterated Gibeah; this same word means hill

proper feminine singular noun construct

Strong’s #1390 BDB #149

Bineyâmîyn (ןי.מָינ̣) [pronounced bin-yaw-MEEN]

transliterated Benjamin, it means son of [my] right hand

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1144 BDB #122


Translation: ...and a thousand were with Jonathan near Gibeah of Benjamin. Note how this is written. There is no explanation as to who Jonathan is, even though this is the first time he is named in Scripture. This would indicate to me that Jonathan was very well-known at the time that this was written, which would suggest that this account was recorded relatively soon after the events occurred. This would also indicate that Saul has wisely delegated some of his authority to his son, Jonathan, whose integrity is far greater than the integrity of Samuel’s sons.


It is interesting that Saul would place his son here, near where there is apparently a Philistine garrison (see v. 3). I would have expected Saul to put himself in harm’s way before putting his firstborn in harm’s way. What we are observing here is possibly a lapse of personal character on Saul’s part or a lack of realization of where the Philistines are (which I doubt). Another possibility is that Saul places Jonathan there knowing that he, in his youthful exuberance, will start something—which possibility, I doubt as well. Geba is between Michmash and Gibeah, and the placement of himself and Jonathan apparently sealed off the Philistines from going north or south. So I think the idea that Saul had was simple peaceful containment.


The REB footnotes Gibeah and tells us Gibeah: Geba in verse 3. There are several translators and commentators who struggle with these two cities throughout this chapter. Are we in Gibeah or Geba? Did Jonathan just strike Gibeah or Geba? Are they the same? When we get to vv. 15–16, we will discuss this situation in great detail. However, for the time being, simply understand that Gibeah, Geba and Gibeon are three different cities, all located in the territory of Benjamin, and all fairly close to one another. This accounts for their confusion more than anything else. I have shown the three cities on the map above in order to get an idea as to what is occurring.


1Samuel 13:2d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

yether (ר ת י) [pronounced YEH-the

residue, remainder, [the] rest [of]

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #3499 BDB #451

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

shâlach (ח ַל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LAKH]

to send off, to send away, to dismiss, to give over, to cast out, to let go, to set free, to shoot forth [branches], to shoot [an arrow]

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

man, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ohel (ל הֹא) [pronounced OH-hel]

tent, tabernacle, house, temporary dwelling

masculine plural noun with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #168 BDB #13


Translation: And the rest of the people he sent away each to his tents. I originally assumed that the events of this chapter closely followed in time the war against the Ammonites. The scenario I pictured was first, the whole of Israel’s fighting force had been gathered to fight the Ammonites (1Sam. 11:8). These men would have remained with Saul during the inaugural celebration (1Sam. 11:14–12:25). However, at this point, Saul sees no reason to keep this entire army on active duty. Instead, he maintains a small force of crack soldiers; and the rest of Israel he sends back to their homes. The indication is that there is not an immediate threat of any kind (i.e., the Philistines are not, at this moment, breaking out of their area and encroaching on Israel again). We may assume that the retention of these 3000 men was (1) a show of force to contain and check the indigenous Philistine force; (2) a portion of these men acted as Saul’s personal bodyguard force; and (3) they were Saul’s immediate, emergency military force. This is exactly what we would expect of a nation going from wartime to peace time.


After completely exegeting chapters 13–14, I am not so certain that these events immediately follow those in 1Sam. 11–12. In 1Sam. 14:47–48, we have a long list of peoples whom Saul defeated in battle; which battles are not all recorded in Scripture. So, at some point in time, Saul and Jonathan had to fight against the several other nations named in that passage. My thinking is that v. 2 does not necessarily describe just what happened after Saul’s defeat of the Ammonites, but sets a pattern. When Saul is at war, he summons up all of the forces in Israel, and they generally meet in Gilgal. They wait on Samuel for seven days (who is, of course, also summoned) who offers sacrifices on their behalf and gives the troops guidance. The war is fought, and, when it is over, Saul maintains a small army of 3000, handing a thousand of these men over to Jonathan. In other words, 10–20 years may have passed since Saul fought and defeated the Ammonites. What we have here is typical. The only thing which might be specific to this time period is where Saul and Jonathan place their troops—Saul is in northern Benjamin in Michmash, and Jonathan is south of him in Gibeah. Between them is a garrison of Philistines, and the stationing of Israeli troops was not necessarily an aggressive action (in Saul’s mind), but a containment action.


I offer the alternate scenario above just in case; however, there is nothing which prevents us from understanding that vv. 1–2 follow shortly after 1Sam. 12. There is no particular time interval between 1Sam. 13:2 and 3, however.


Recall that the Hebrew writer does not think linearly but topically. Therefore, there is nothing in the Hebrew which indicates that Jonathan was given control over a thousand men the day that Saul culled out the best of his military, immediately after the inauguration and war with the Ammonites. The topic of this chapter is the war against the Philistines which Jonathan set into motion. Therefore, we have to realize that the writer will first concentrate on the catalyst of this war. The fact that possibly a number of years go by between Saul’s culling out of the 3000 soldiers and Jonathan taking his group against the Philistines is not a problem for this passage. So, to help follow what is occurring, Saul has completed a successful war against the Ammonites. Jonathan is never mentioned in that campaign, possibly because he did not participate, and possibly because he was not old enough at that time. The people of Israel are 100% behind Saul (recall that most United States presidents in war time have a very high approval rating), so he finally assumes the reins of his kingship.


A couple years later (and possibly even 10–20 years later), the young man that Saul trusts the most, his son Jonathan, is old enough to command a small army. Footnote Therefore, Saul puts him in charge of 1000 of the men that he had culled out. It is possible that several wars have occurred since Saul’s victory over Ammon. My guess is that Jonathan, at the time of 1Sam. 13, is between 14–25 years of age. Perhaps he was even conceived about the time of Saul’s inauguration. Knowing the psychology of the teen, that they see themselves as indestructible, it would be most reasonable that Jonathan is a middle or late teen when he takes command of these thousand men and attacks the Philistine outpost in Geba (or, wherever the outpost is). His youthfulness explains a lot of what is about to occur. Also, young people tend to be stronger in faith, particularly after they have just believed; and Jonathan acts with great conviction throughout the next two chapters.


The biggest problem with this sort of gap is, this leaves the ending of v. 1 unexplained. What I believe to be the case is, it took a year for Saul to become king of Israel and what is about to be described occurs 2 years after he became king. So, despite what I have suggested, if we want to accept v. 1 at face value, as it stands in the Hebrew, without requiring that anything be added to it, then Jonathan’s attack against the Philistines will have to occur about 2 years after Saul’s ascension to the throne of Israel.


Vv. 2–4 possibly occur two years after the inauguration Footnote , and the v. 5 picks up possibly 10–20 years later. For reasons which I will go into when I exegete 1Sam. 14, I think that the division of the troops occurred two years after Saul’s inauguration and that the events which follow occurred 15–20 years later, including the stationing of the troops. In between, I think that there is a rich history of many successful wars led by Saul which are not recorded. Jonathan, with this crack team of 1000 soldiers, will act on his own in a surprise attack against the Philistines (concerning which action, the exact series of events are not given to us). Regardless of the time frame, at this time, the Philistines are contained in the city of Geba with Saul north of them and Jonathan is south of them. Even though Saul’s standing army is rather small, this move completely contains the Philistine troops in Geba. In the next verse, I will give you more information as to the geography of all this.


Let me present this in a more organized fashion; there are two possible time frames here.

The Time Line of 1Samuel 13

A Short Time Line

A Long Time Line

Saul defeats the Ammonites and is inaugurated as king (1Sam. 11–12).

Saul defeats the Ammonites and is inaugurated as king (1Sam. 11–12).

 

After Saul’s defeat of Ammon and his inauguration, Saul spends several years at war with the enemies of Israel (1Sam. 14:47).

Within 2 years of his inauguration, Saul sets up a standing army of 3000, placing 1000 of them under Jonathan’s control.

After these wars, Saul sets up a pattern which is followed for the next decade or so. He keeps a standing army of 3000. At some point in time, maybe several years later, 1000 of these men are assigned to Jonathan (someone else could have been an interim commander until Jonathan was old enough to take on this responsibility).

Jonathan attacks the Philistines and is successful.

10–15 years after Saul has this split standing army set up and functioning, and Jonathan is commander of the 1000, Jonathan successfully attacks the Philistines (either this insertion of time, or the time spent warring with other nations provides us a respectable period of time during which Jonathan becomes old enough to lead an army).

The Philistines respond militarily.

The Philistines respond militarily.

All the above occur within 2 to 2.5 years after Saul begins to reign.

1Sam. 13:1–4 and 1Sam. 14:47 all occur within 15 years of Saul’s inauguration. The split standing army was in place within two years after that.

The only reason that I suggest any of this is, Saul begins his kingship as a young man. Jonathan may or may not be old enough at that time to command an army. However, whereas we look upon some at age 18 as being an adult, a boy shortly after entering puberty could be considered an adult. This would allow for Saul to be as young as 25 or so at the beginning of his reign (even slightly younger) with a 12 year old son. His son, at age 13 or 14, would be considered old enough to command a force of a 1000.

With the longer time frame, many of these problems are solved. Saul can begin ruling Israel at a very young age. He can spend perhaps a decade destroying Israel’s enemies (something which is briefly recorded in 1Sam. 14:47). Then, Jonathan can be put in charge of one division of Israel’s standing army. This even allows for Jonathan to be born around the time Saul is inaugurated. .

As with the Geba vs. Gibeah controversy, I have flip-flopped on this issue of time as well. Even though the shorter time frame is reasonable and could be made to work, the longer time frame allows time for Saul to do what he is expected to do and it allows more than enough time for Jonathan to be born and to grow up.

Saul spends a great deal of time at war, as per 1Sam. 14:47, and we do not know when these wars took place. The Philistines are named fifth in this list of enemies that Saul defeated, which possibly suggests an order. We also may have a precedent set here as well. When faced with a military conflict, Saul garnered up his forces in Gilgal where Samuel offered sacrifices on his behalf. After any war, Saul would reduce the size of the army to 3000.


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I realize that I did not take a position here. There are other options as well. What I don’t want is for you to get a specific idea that things just happened within such and such a time table, when the passage does not demand it. All this passage demands (accepting v. 1 as is) is, within 2 years of his inauguration, that Saul establish a split standing army (and even that is not a certainty). This passage does not really require Jonathan to be the commander of the smaller force immediately (although that scenario seems to be the most likely).


The reason I explore these options is, there are times that you develop some pre-conceived notion of what is going on in a passage, and you set up a time frame or a series of incidents in your mind, which the passage does not necessarily support. Then, when you come across something later which contradicts what is in your head (but not what is in Scripture), you become confused.


Now, actually, the armies of Saul and Jonathan are positioned well for an attack upon the Philistine camp. They were strategically in a good place. The Philistines are in Geba. Saul is north of them in Michmash and Jonathan is southwest in Gibeah. If we move northwest from Geba, there is a deep descent today known as the Wady-es-Suweinit. According to Edersheim, Footnote there are two very steep rock-covered eminences, one to the southwest, towards Geba, and the other to the northwest, towards Michmash. Other wadys moving north and south, render these eminences quite abrupt and isolated (more on these in the next chapter). The Philistine army in Geba is actually in a difficult spot, since Saul and his 2000 men occupied Michmash and Mount Bethel to the northeast, north and northwest, threatening their communications through the Wady-es-Suweinit with Philistia, while Jonathan and his 1000 men were in Gibeah, southwest of Geba.


And so strikes Jonathan a garrison of Philistines which [was] in Geba and so hear [the] Philistines. And Saul blew in the horn in all the land to say, “Hear the Hebrews!”

1Samuel

13:3

Later, Jonathan struck the garrison of Philistines which [was] in Geba and the Philistines heard [about it]. Then Saul blew the horn in all the land, saying, “Hebrews will hear this!”

Soon thereafter, Jonathan struck down the garrison of Philistines which was located in Geba; through their intelligence sources, the Philistines heard about this. Saul responded by sending out a call for men by blowing a ram’s horn through all the land, and then crying, “Listen up, Hebrews!”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so strikes Jonathan a garrison of Philistines which [was] in Geba and so hear [the] Philistines. And Saul blew in the horn in all the land to say, “Hear the Hebrews!

Peshitta                                 And Jonathan struck the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews and all Israel hear the news.”

Septuagint                             And Jonathan struck Nasib the Philistine that lived in the hill; and the Philistines hear of it, and Saul sounds the trumpet through all the land, saying, “The servants have despised [us].”

 

Significant differences:          The first difference is one of translation vs. transliteration. The second will require a more careful examination. The Latin and Hebrew are identical.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Jonathan led an attack on the Philistine army camp at Geba. The Philistine camp was destroyed, but the other Philistines heard what had happened. Then Saul told his messengers, “Go to every village in the country. Give a signal with the trumpet, and when the people come together, tell them what has happened.”

NJB                                Jonathan killed the Philistine governor stationed at Gibeah and the Philistines were informed that the Hebrews had risen in revolt. Saul had the trumpet sounded throughout the country.

NLT                                Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba. The news spread quickly among the Philistines that Israel was in revolt, so Saul sounded the call to arms throughout Israel.

REB                                       Jonathan defeated the Philistine garrison in Geba, and the news spread among the Philistines that the Hebrews were in revolt. Saul sounded the trumpet all through the land;...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Complete Jewish Bible          Y̓honatan assassinated the governor of the P̓lishtim in Geva. The P̓lishtim heard of it; so Sha̓ul had the shofar sounded throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!”

God’s Word                         Jonathan defeated the Philistine troops at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. With the sounding of the ram’s horn throughout the land, Saul announced, “Listen, Hebrews!”

JPS (Tanakh)                        Jonathan struck down the Philistine prefect in Geba; and the Philistines heard about it. Saul had the ram’s horn sounded throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.”

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan smites the garrison of the Philistines which is in Geba, and the Philistines hear, and Saul hath blown with a trumpet through all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.”


What is the gist of this verse? There are apparently garrisons of Philistines stationed throughout Israel (or, at least one garrison in Geba as well as one in Gibeah—1Sam. 10:5). Jonathan is stationed in Gibeah with 1000 men; he attacks and destroys the Philistine garrison in nearby Geba (because of the similarity of the names Geba, Gibeah and Gibeon, we cannot be 100% certain that we are speaking of Geba right here).


Obviously, given the various translations, Jonathan struck the Philistines. However, when comparing these various renderings, it is not clear exactly which of them he struck, or whether it was an entire garrison or whether Jonathan assassinated their ambassador-leader in Israel (which will be discussed in the exegesis).


1Samuel 13:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâkâh (ה ָכ ָנ) [pronounced naw-KAWH]

to smite, to assault, to hit, to strike, to strike [something or someone] down, to defeat

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong #5221 BDB #645

Yôwnâthân (ןָטָני) [pronounced yoh-naw-THAWN]

transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3129 (& #3083) BDB #220

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

netsîyb (בי.צנ) [pronounced neTZEEBV]

pillar, prefect, garrison, post, outpost

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #5333 BDB #662

If you will notice, the Septuagint, at this point, transliterates netsîyb instead of translating it. The REB suggests in a footnote that this could mean governors; however, the singular makes that less likely. Other translations suggest that Jonathan assassinated a Philistine governor here (which is possibly legitimate, as per the Hebrew). We’ll discuss this further in the exegesis.

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Geba׳ (ע-ב∵) [pronounced GEHb-vahģ]

transliterated Geba

proper noun

Strong’s #1387 BDB #148

The Greek at this point renders this hill instead. What this means is that it is very likely that the Greek translators saw the Hebrew word for hill, which is Gibeah, and rendered it hill rather than by the proper noun. So, instead of transliterating Gibeah (which is how most translators deal with proper nouns), they translated it instead.


Translation: Later, Jonathan struck the garrison of Philistines which was near Geba. Many interpret here that Geba should be Gibeah instead. Footnote There are even some who consider them the same city. As is mentioned above, the Greek translation at this point is hill, which possibly means that the Greek translators came across the word Gibeah and rendered it hill rather than as a proper noun. Either Jonathan has taken out the garrison of Philistines which are in the city that he was assigned (which is reasonable); or that he struck the Philistines in nearby Geba. Geba and Gibeah are within 2–3 miles of one another, so taking 1000 men from one city to the other is not that big of a deal. Furthermore, had the Philistines gone from Geba to Gibeah, then they would have been the ones to strike Jonathan and not vice versa. Furthermore, if this is supposed to read Gibeah, then Jonathan was stationed in a city where there was a Philistine garrison (meaning that this garrison is the same one mentioned in 1Sam. 10:5), which is unlikely. Stationing Saul and Jonathan in cities above and below the Philistine camp makes sense (particularly because the geography of Geba now isolates the Philistines). Therefore, our passage is probably correct the way it reads, and all that has occurred is that the Philistine garrison moved from Gibeah (1Sam. 10:5) to Geba (1Sam. 13:3). Relocating a few thousand troops a distance of a few miles is not that big of a deal and should cause us no concern. That the Philistine moved and we are not told when they moved does not indicate that there is any sort of a contradiction, nor does it indicate that the reading of the Masoretic text is wrong. Furthermore, there is nothing which would prevent the Philistines from having several outposts established in Israel (which is probably the more likely scenario).


Now, had Jonathan been deployed in the same city as the Philistines (Gibeah), then this would have been seen as an act of aggression and would have provoked an immediate confrontation. Furthermore, if there is a Philistine outpost in Gibeah at this time, why would Jonathan go to Geba to strike the Philistines. Taking our passage as is simply means that Saul and Jonathan stationed their troops to contain the Philistines. It also suggests that the Philistines had an outpost in Gibeah which is no longer active; and that there present outpost (which may be one among several) is in Geba.


Geba is situated between Gibeah and Michmash. It is located just south of Michmash on the other side of a ravine, and Geba is northeast of Gibeah. Edersheim: Geba...lay on a low conical eminence, on the western end of a ridge which shelves eastwards towards the Jordan. Passing from Geba northwards and westwards we come to a steep descent, leading into what now is called the Wady-es-Suweinit...On the opposite steep brow, right over against Geba, lies Michmash, at a distance of barely three miles in a north-westerly direction. Footnote It would make sense for Saul to place his crack divisions on both sides of the indigenous Philistines population for containment purposes. When we get to v. 13, we will cover Geba, Gibeah and Gibeon in much greater detail.


The strike force that Jonathan commands is close enough to the garrison of the Philistines to successfully attack them. The impression given is that Jonathan acts on his own here, and there is nothing said one way or the other about possible provocation. There is no indication that Jonathan did this in obedience to an order from his father; the inference that we can draw is that Jonathan acted impetuously and aggressively on his own. I do not say this in such a way as to denigrate what Jonathan does here. Given that he commands a significant portion of Israel’s standing army, given the natural animosity between the Israelis and the Philistines, and given his youthful exuberance, this is completely within Jonathan’s character to do this.


Some other translations suggest that this reads And Jonathan struck down a governor of the Philistines who was in Geba... The reaction of the Philistines would have been the same, whether Jonathan had assassinated a governor or taken out a garrison of Philistines. However, given Jonathan’s later actions, I would suggest that Jonathan did more than assassinate one man. If he had 1000 men at his disposal, it seems that he would have set his sights higher than just taking out a particular Philistine leader.


1Samuel 13:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâma׳ (ע ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

to listen, to hear, to listen intently, to listen and obey, to listen and act upon, to listen and give heed to, listen and take note of

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: ...and the Philistines heard [about this]. Obviously, there was a group of Philistines that lived within the borders of Israel, not unlike the situation which has existed in Israel since 1947 when Jews reclaimed their God-given land. The impression is not that Jonathan assassinated a local Philistine leader, but that he took out an entire garrison, one which has existed in that area for some time. Also, it is important to note that there was a Philistine intelligence system in place where, when this occurred, the Philistines knew about it immediately. Given their mutual animosity, the Philistines were aware that, at any time, their forces which were within Israel could be attacked and destroyed. Obviously, this was not expected; but it was not out of the question either. This is not unlike the situation to day. The Jews at any time could go throughout their area and kill the Arabs who live there. The could send a detachment of troops to a foreign embassy and destroy it. This is unlikely, but that does not mean that it could not happen. The relationship between Israel and the Philistines was at least equally antagonistic and even more volatile than between Israel and neighboring Arab nations today.


A reasonable question is: what the hell is Jonathan doing? There has always been a careful balance of power in Israel, as there is even today. An all-out war changes things dramatically. Jonathan was aware of the strengths of the Philistines, but he was also aware that nowhere had God told Israel to back off from her enemies. The Philistines were Israel’s enemies, they lived within Israel’s borders, and they were heathen who did not worship of the God of Israel. Possibly, it would have been better to consult Samuel who would have then consulted God. However, even without conferring with his father, Jonathan is not out of line here.


1Samuel 13:3c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

tâqa׳ (ע ַק ָ) [pronounced taw-KAHĢ]

to fasten, to thrust, to clap, to give a blow, to give a blast

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #8628 BDB #1075

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

shôwphâr (רָפ̣ש) [pronounced shoh-FAWR]

horn, trumpet

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7782 BDB #1051

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

the whole, all of, the entirety of, all

masculine singular construct followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

erets (ץ ר א) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land

feminine singular noun with a definite article

Strong's #776 BDB #75

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

shâma׳ (ע ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

to listen, to hear, to listen intently, to listen and obey, to listen and act upon, to listen and give heed to, listen and take note of

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

In my version of the Septuagint, it reads the servants have despised [us]. Although I know the noun servants is there, I could not confirm the meaning of the verb. According to the REB and the NJB, another version of the LXX reads, The Hebrews have rebelled. The Dead Sea Scrolls are unreadable here, unfortunately. For this reason, and given the context, I would go with the simple Hebrew. The only thing that gives this rendering of the LXX credence is the fact that the noun Hebrews is generally used of the Jews by non-Jews (1Sam. 4:6, 9 13:19).

׳Iberîym (םי .רב̣ע) [pronounced ģibe-VREEM]

those from beyond; transliterated Hebrews, Eberites

proper masculine plural gentis/noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5680 BDB #720


Translation: And Saul blew in the horn in all the land, saying, “The Hebrews will hear [this].” Footnote Saul essentially had to back his son at this point, as well as protect Israel. In Saul’s own mind, his crack force of 3000 men would not be enough to fend off an invading horde of Philistines. Therefore, this is a call to the men of Israel to come together as soldiers again. It should be obvious that there was more to be said than, “Listen, Hebrews,” which is all we find in this verse. The blowing of the horn was a call for Israel to gather with the strong likelihood of going to war (Judges 3:27 6:34).


In the next verse, we find out actually what was said after the blowing of the trumpet—there was more to this than Saul sending men out to blow the trumpet throughout the land.


And all of Israel heard, to say, “Struck Saul a garrison of Philistines and also had become malodorous Israel in the Philistines.” And so calling out the people after Saul the Gilgal.

1Samuel

13:4

(And all Israel heard). It was said: “Saul struck down a garrison of Philistines and therefore, Israel has become offensive to the Philistines.” So the people were called out after Saul at Gilgal.

All of Israel heard this. This was announced to them as well: “Saul has defeated the garrison of the Philistines and Israel has become offensive to the Philistines because of that.” Therefore, the people responded to this calling by assembling with Saul at Gilgal.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And all Israel heard this report: Saul hath smitten the garrison of the Philistines: and Israel took courage against the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Galgal.

Masoretic Text                       And all of Israel heard, to say, “Struck Saul a garrison of Philistines and also had become malodorous Israel in the Philistines.” And so calling out the people after Saul the Gilgal.

Peshitta                                 [...and let all Israel hear the news,...] that Saul has struck the garrison of the Philistines and that Israel has prevailed over the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

Septuagint                             And all Israel heard said that Saul had struck Nasib the foreigner; now Israel had been put to shame before the Philistines; and the children of Israel went up after Saul in Galgala.

 

Significant differences:          The Hebrew word garrison could be transliterated Namib, which explains the difference between the MT and the LXX (however, Philistines is in the plural in the MT and foreigner is in the singular in the LXX). The middle verb is different in all 4 translations. And, thirdly, in the MT, the people are called to Gilgal; in the LXX, they go up to Gilgal. These differences are significant, but they affect not major doctrines and they do not affect the overall narrative.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The messengers then said to the people, of Israel, “Saul has destroyed the Philistine army camp at Geba. Now the Philistines really hate Israel, so every town and village must send men to join Saul’s army at Gilgal.”

NLT                                He announced that the Philistine garrison at Geba had been destroyed, and he warned the people that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever. So the entire Israelite army mobilized again and met Saul at Gilgal.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         (So all Israel listened) “I, Saul, have defeated the Philistine troops, and now Israel has become offensive [lit., became malodorous to] to the Philistines!” All the troops rallied behind Saul at Gilgal.

JPS (Tanakh)                        When all Israel heard that Saul had struck down the Philistine prefect, and that Israel had incurred the wrath of the Philistines, all the people rallied to Saul at Gilgal.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And all Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.

Young's Updated LT              And all Israel have heard, saying, “Saul has struck the garrison of the Philistines,” and also, “Israel has been abhorred by the Philistines;” and the people are called after Saul to Gilgal.


What is the gist of this verse? Immediately, Jonathan’s strike against the Philistines reverberates throughout Israel. Saul see to that by sending out a trumpeter and the announcement, “Saul struck down a garrison of Philistines and has therefore become malodorous to the Philistines.” Then the people are called to Gilgal. Saul simply takes credit for this raid. Jonathan accepts this, because he, as his son, is under the authority of Saul, the commander-in-chief and king over all Israel; and therefore, his victories are Saul’s victories. Saul, fully aware of the possible consequences, bolsters his forces in Gilgal by calling upon the men of Israel to join him there (actually, Saul is not really the subject here, so even Samuel could have summoned all of the people to Gilgal, based upon the events which transpired).


As should be obvious from these various translations, the key to understanding this verse will be where the quotation begins and ends.


1Samuel 13:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

every, each, all of, all

masculine singular construct not followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

shâma׳ (ע ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

to listen, to hear, to listen intently, to listen and obey, listen and take note of

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033


Translation: (And all Israel heard) I believe that God’s Word™ most closely conveys what is going on. The representatives of Saul go throughout Israel (these could, by the way, be the representatives of Samuel as well), blowing the horns, and saying, “Hear [this], Hebrews!” The trumpet was used to convey certain messages, and this was the sort of trumpet blast to gather the people of Israel to the messenger with the trumpet. This verse indicates that all the Israelites heard this message (obviously, some would get the word second-hand). The repetition of to say in the next portion of this verse make it clear that what is said is continued thereafter.


This would be a three-fold message.


1Samuel 13:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

nâkâh (ה ָכ ָנ) [pronounced naw-KAWH]

to smite, to assault, to hit, to strike, to strike [something or someone] down, to defeat

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong #5221 BDB #645

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

netsîyb (בי.צנ) [pronounced neTZEEBV]

pillar, prefect, garrison, post, outpost

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #5333 BDB #662

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: And they said, “Saul has struck down the garrison of the Philistines.” I had to take some liberties with the wording here. The phrase to say simply indicates that what the messengers have to say is being continued. Now, you may be wondering, “Didn’t Jonathan strike this garrison? Is there a contradiction? Is Saul lying?” Well, Saul is taking credit for this victory, even though he really had nothing to do with it. The rationale behind this taking the credit would be as follows: Saul represents all Israel as commander-in-chief. He could simply direct his troops to do this or that and not even show up for the battle, and still those defeated would be said to be defeated by Saul. Jonathan, as his son and one of his commanding generals, represents Saul in battle. Also, since this is a message broadcast throughout Israel, everyone in Israel knows Saul and who he is. Perhaps half or fewer of them know Jonathan, his son. A call to come out and support their king is more likely to be heeded then a call to come out and support something that Saul’s son did; in fact, such a call might even imply that what Jonathan did was unauthorized (which, at least by Saul, it probably was; however, Jonathan was acting within the commandments of God).


Like I said, that was the rationale for the messengers saying, “Saul has struck down the garrison of the Philistines.” The message could have just as easily been, “Jonathan ben Saul has struck down the garrison of the Philistines.”


One of the things that makes me grimace is when I read that an exegete points to a passage like this and attributes the differences between vv. 3 and 4 to different traditions which came down to us, and that they were placed side-by-side by some redactor at a much, much later date. Just because it is clear that Jonathan led the raid against the Philistine garrison in v. 3, and just because Saul seems to take credit for it in v. 4 does not necessarily mean that we have two separate traditions. There are three simple alternate explanations: (1) Jonathan, acting as an agent of Saul’s (as he was a general in Saul’s army) defeated this Philistine garrison. Because he was a general under Saul, this can be seen as a victory of Saul’s. The fact that Jonathan did this apart from Saul’s orders does not change anything. He still represents Saul and Israel’s army. (2) Saul may have chosen to credit himself with this victory because of name recognition. He is the great king who beat back the Ammonites; in order to gather Israel, he needs to be the one in front as the victor over the Philistines. Had Jonathan’s name been a part of this message, the people of Israel would have been confused, as they identify Saul as their military savior.

 

(3) McGee gives us a third option below: He is even less charitable toward Saul than I am. Saul blew his own horn. He did not give his son credit for winning the battle. He called all of Israel together and gave a phony report. The army knew Saul’s report was not true and so did the followers of Jonathan. Folks are beginning to suspect that there is a weakness in Saul’s army and that it is his Achilles’ heel. Is he humble? I said at the beginning that Saul had a case of false humility, and this fact is coming to light now. Footnote


In other words, Saul took credit for Jonathan’s action simply because he could and because he was that kind of man. No doubt he will have a rationalization for taking credit (like #’s 1 and 2 above), just as he has a rationalization for Samuel later on in vv. 11–12. (4) It is possible that the entire message was “Jonathan ben Saul has struck down the garrison of Philistines” but we only got a portion of that message. Although this sort of explanation explains a lot in the gospels, I don’t think that is what happened here.


Application: Some people completely fall to pieces over something like this. They orchestrate a successful project, and the head of their department, who had very little to do with anything in the first place, seems to take credit for the project. First of all, for a believer in Jesus Christ, there is no reason to ever worry about who is getting credit for what. This is not now, nor will it ever be, a true issue. What God recognizes is important; what man sees is unimportant. Some of the greatest spiritual giants might be people who log 2–3 hours a day in prayer, and these people may seem like nobody’s to you in church. You’ve possibly never noticed them, or, having seen them, thought, “Hey, I really don’t feel like socializing with them—they just don’t seem like fun people.” But their prayers might be running interference for the pastor, for your church and for you, whether you know them or not. Now, if your superior looks successful because of your work on a project and he gives you some credit, great; if he does not, then don’t give it a second thought. God is in charge of promotions.


Application: Speaking of promotions, I felt denied for many years, due to a personality conflict with a superior (there are some people who just do not like me). But, when all is said and done, God made the choice. God placed me where He felt I should be placed. Now, does this mean you should not seek a higher position? Does this mean that you should not hope to ever be advanced in your field? Of course not. There is nothing wrong with ambition. However, the key is your priorities. If Bible doctrine is your priority in life, then everything else will fall into place. If moving up a level socially or economically is your priority, then regardless of what happens to you, you are going to be miserable.


Now, let’s talk about the idea that there are two different historical accounts here woven together by some editor at a later date: when other great works of history are involved, most historians take them first at face value. Then, if there is no explanation for the text as written, then they look at alternate possibilities (exaggeration, for instance). Historians rarely look at old historical accounts and automatically assume that they were combined and smoothed out by some later editor, who also allowed his own imagination to fill in the gaps. However, there are many who do exactly that to Scripture. All the normal rules of historical interpretation are thrown out the window for some theologians when they examine Scripture. For a passage like this, you automatically look at the simplest explanations first before offering wild theories of two traditions combined by one redactor hundreds of years later. Footnote This is lame. A convoluted explanation like this makes little sense, and yet some cling to it like they have really explained away an apparent contradiction (where no such contradiction even exists). Let me explain what is actually going on: Satan looks to discredit Scripture whenever possible; therefore, he will look to inspire man to come up with convoluted theories, which, at their root, suggest this or that passage is inaccurate. That is all that these weird theories are. No one reads Josephus and suggests, “Well, in this chapter, I think that maybe Josephus A and Josephus B wrote it, about 100 years and 300 years after the historical event took place; and then Josephus C, who was a devout Catholic, went back and put these two different traditions together and then sprinkled it with his own theology.” If anyone suggested something like this at an ancient history symposium, most people would look and say, “So, what are you? An idiot?” Yet, when someone suggests the exact same approach to the Bible, this becomes the stuff of liberal theology courses, and nobody blinks an eye. Again, when interpreting a passage, keep it simple to begin with. The convoluted theories about this or that passage of Scripture which I have been exposed to in my readings would be absurd if applied to any other historical work. So, the next time you hear some theory which involves the interweaving of various traditions by a person far removed from the events, in order to explain a verse or two, step back and give it some thought.


Now, this does not mean that there are not a variety of historical sources for various books of the Bible. In 1Sam. 14, we will have a relatively detailed account of something that neither Saul, nor David, nor Samuel observed. Therefore, someone had to record the event or tell (for instance) Samuel about it. The Ark of God spent several months in Philistine territory—there are too many details in the Bible to assume that some Israelite wrote this from the top of their head. Someone had to observe these events and that someone was probably a Philistine who was saved because of what he observed. Samuel may have written the final draft, but Samuel did not observe any of what occurred. Do you see how these are reasonable and simple explanations? This is much different than saying 1Sam. 4–6 were observed by 3 different Philistines, whose accounts were verbally passed down for several hundred years, and then some priest wrote down these traditions and slipped in a little of his own theology as well? That would be a goofy explanation and reasonable only if all other simpler and more logical explanations had first been examined and rejected.


1Samuel 13:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

gam (ם ַ) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

bâash (ש-אָ) [pronounced baw-AHSH]

to make oneself odious, to become odious, to cause to stink, to become malodorous

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #887 BDB #92

Although the ancient translations differ greatly when it comes to this verb, it is logical and it is found 16 times in Scripture, each time meaning roughly the same thing. We really have no reason to take any other reading over and above the MT at this point.

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: “Furthermore, Israel has made herself odious to the Philistines.” The Niphal form of a verb can be passive; however, it can also refer to an action in a state of progress or development; therefore we often add in the word being. It can express adjectival ideas and it can, in plural forms, stress the individual effect upon each member of the group. Here, because of what Jonathan has done, Israel has become odious to the Philistines. Jonathan’s attack had this metaphorical effect upon each Philistine (i.e., the Israelites had became objects of the intense hostility of the Philistines). We find a similar usage of this word in Gen. 34:30 Ex. 5:21 2Sam. 10:6. In almost any televised interview with a non-Jewish middle eastern person, you can easily hear their intense hatred of the Jew. The Jew is odious to many of the arabs today.


This completes the quote of what was said; what follows is additional narrative.


1Samuel 13:4d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

tsâ׳aq (ק-עָצ) [pronounced tsaw-ĢAHK]

to cry, to cry out, to call, to summon

3rd person masculine plural, Niphal imperfect

Strong’s #6817 BDB #858

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

achar (ר ַח ַא) [pronounced ah-KHAHR]

after, following, behind

preposition

Strong’s #310 BDB #29

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

Gilegâl (ל ָ  ׃ל  ̣) [pronounced gilg-GAWL]

wheel, whirl, whirlwind; it is transliterated Gilgal

masculine proper noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1537 BDB #166


Translation: And so the people were summoned after Saul in Gilgal. This essentially gives us the manner in which the people were summoned to Saul. The messengers were sent out throughout the land. They would gather at the entrance of the various cities, blow the ram’s horn, make the announcement; and tell the people to go to Gilgal (the entirety of each messenger’s message is, of course, not given).


This is interesting that Saul is not said to be the initiator of this proclamation (although, we have no reason to assume that he did not issue this proclamation). There is a 3-fold message: Saul defeated a Philistine garrison, therefore the Israelites are odious to the Philistines, so all males are hereby summoned to follow Saul to Gilgal. Saul may have issued this proclamation and Samuel may have issued it—we simply aren’t told.


Now, why did Saul choose Gilgal? Let me give you my theory: Gilgal was right next to the Jordan, across which was eastern Israel. It was a distinct possibility that Saul thought of retreating across the Jordan if necessary. Furthermore, his personal army was originally situated in Michmash, which is where the Philistines will gather (see v. 5). Saul would simply take his men and follow the Wady Suweinit down to the Jordan valley to Gilgal. It is also reasonable to assume that there was a pattern established—during times of a military crisis, Saul would gather Israel in Gilgal, Samuel would offer up a sacrifice (promising to be there within 7 days of the proclamation) and Israel would do whatever God chose for them to do at that point. This viewpoint suggests that 1Sam. 10:8 was not exactly a prophecy, but a pattern or a general policy which Samuel sets up: “You will go down before me to Gilgal and, listen, I will go down to you and offer up burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You will wait seven days until I come to you to show you what you will do.”


There is also something which is unspoken here. Given the circumstances, Saul wanted all Israel to join him in Gilgal—this would include Jonathan. Jonathan did not remain with his troops in Geba, where he had attacked the Philistine outpost. Saul called for all to come to Gilgal. The idea was to regroup, wait for Samuel, and plan the next move. Also, Saul did not want Jonathan (this is what is left unspoken) out commanding 1000 men striking who knows where and pissing off who knows who. Nowhere in our narrative does Saul blame Jonathan for anything, and I believe that during this time period, he did not express any concern with what Jonathan did. However, with all the men in one place, Saul then assumes command over all of the troops. He does not actually relieve Jonathan of his duties; it is just assumed that Saul is in charge over all, since all Israel’s army is in one place. What follows in the next chapter will make more sense. Jonathan and his armor bearer will go to the camp of the Philistines in Michmash. If Jonathan had his 1000 men, then it wold be more reasonable for him to move with some of these men. However, Saul will assume complete command, yet, at the same time, he does not officially remove Jonathan from his command. The psychology behind this explains several things: (1) why we never see a riff between Saul and his son Jonathan, although Jonathan’s actions could easily have precipitated such a riff; and (2) why Jonathan approaches the Philistine camp in the next chapter with only his armor bearer.


Let’s see if I can lay out an analogy here that might help. I, as a teacher, might split my class into groups and appoint a leader over each group. Partway into the activity, I may begin teaching again, although the students are still left in their groups. I have not officially removed the leaders from the group or rescinded their leadership position; I have simply taken back my authority. Therefore, at my command, the entire class could return to group work with their original group leaders. No one has lost face, no leadership positions were disturbed. I merely reassumed the complete authority which I had in the first place.


Return to Chapter Outline

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The Huge Philistine Force Causes the Bulk of Saul’s Army to Desert


And Philistines were gathered to war with Israel—3000 chariots [the Hebrew reads 30,000] and 6000 horsemen and people like the sand which [is] on a shore of the sea for multitude. And so they came up and so they encamp in Michmash east of Beth-aven.

1Samuel

13:5

Then the Philistines were gathered to war with Israel—3000 chariots and 6000 horsemen and [their] soldiers [lit., people] [were] like the sand which [is] on the sea shore with respect to multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, [which is] east of Beth-aven.

The Philistines then were summoned to war against Israel. There were 3000 chariots, 6000 horsemen and their infantry appeared to be as the sand of the sea shore in number. They came up into Israel and encamped in Michmash, which is east of Beth-aven.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And Philistines were gathered to war with Israel—30,000 chariots and 6000 horsemen and people like the sand which [is] on a shore of the sea for multitude. And so they came up and so they encamp in Michmash east of Beth-aven.

Peshitta                                 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, 3000 chariots and 6000 horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And the come up and encamp in Michmash, east of Beth-el.

Septuagint                             And the Philistines gather together to war with Israel; and then come up against Israel 30,000 chariots, and 6000 horsemen, and people as the sand by the seashore for multitude; and they come up, and encamp in Michmas, opposite Bæth-oron southward.

 

Significant differences:          Here is a very unusual thing: the Syriac reads 3000 (a reasonable number) and the Greek, Latin and Hebrew all read 30,000. Which Mishmash is, is in question as well. The Latin and Hebrew have it east of Beth-aven; the Syriac has it east of Eth-el, and the Greek has it north of Bæth-oron.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The Philistines called their army together to fight Israel. They had three thousand chariots, six thousand cavalry, and as many foot soldiers as there are grains of sand on the beach. They went to Michmash and set up camp there east of Beth-Aven.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The Philistines assembled to fight against Israel. They had 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and as many soldiers as the sand on the seashore. They camped at Michmash, east of Beth Aven.

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Philistines, in turn, gathered to attack Israel; 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and troops as numerous as the sands of the seashore. They marched up and encamped at Michmas, east of Beth-aven.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven.

Young's Updated LT              And the Philistines have been gathered to fight with Israel; thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and a people as the sand which is on the sea-shore for multitude; and they come up and encamp in Michmash, east of Beth-Aven.


What is the gist of this verse? The Philistines immediately put together a huge army of men and then encamp in nearby Michmash (Geba, Gibeon, Gibeah, Gilgal, and Michmash are all within the borders of Benjamin and are within 10 miles of one another—see the Map of Michmash).


1Samuel 13:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

âçaph (ף ַס ָא) [pronounced aw-SAHF]

to be assembled, to be gathered, to assemble, to gather

3rd person plural, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #622 BDB #62

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

lâcham (ם ַח ָל) [pronounced law-KHAHM]

to fight to do battle, to war

Niphal infinitive construct

Strong’s #3898 BDB #535

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

shelôshîym (םי.שֹלש) [pronounced shelow-SHEEM]

thirty

plural numeral

Strong’s #7970 BDB #1026

eleph (ף ל א) pronounced EH-lef]

thousand, families, (500?); military units

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

In the Hebrew, 30,000 = ף ל א םי.שֹלש; 3000 = ף ל א הָשֹלש As you can see, the difference is simply the last couple letters in the first word (this is the word on the right, as Hebrew is read from right to left). So we should not be surprised if this is an error in the manuscripts which we have today. The Arabic, Syriac and some versions of the LXX read 3000.

merekâbâh (הָבָר∵מ) [pronounced mere-kawb-VAW]

chariot, war chariot

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #4818 BDB #939

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shishshâh (הָ̣ש) [pronounced shish-SHAW]

six

feminine form of numeral

Strong’s #8337 BDB #995

ălâphîym (מי.פָלֲא) pronounced uh-law-FEEM]

thousands, families, [military] units

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

pârâsh (שָרָ) [pronounced paw-RASH]

horseman

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6571 BDB #832


Translation: So the Philistines were gathered to war with Israel—3000 chariots and 6000 horsemen;... Again, although I can buy into the 6000 horsemen, the number of chariots seems incredibly excessive (recall that Sisera in Judges 4 had 900 chariots), besides being way out of proportion (you expect fewer chariots than horsemen—2Sam. 10:18 1Kings 10:26 2Chron. 12:3). However, this is how it reads in the Greek and the Hebrew. Barnes proposes that this is a copyist’s error for three hundred, and suggests comparing 1Chron. 18:4 with 2Sam. 8:4, where an obvious copyist error occurred. Footnote If the number of chariots is correct for Sisera, we might expect the Philistines to bring in 3000 chariots. The Syriac, the Arabic and some of the Septuagint manuscripts are in agreement with what seems to be intuitively correct, and they have the number 3000 here. Footnote If 3000 is the correct number, we are still out of proportion, but at least it is not unimaginable as 30,000 is.


In any case, what we have here is a huge mobile force against Israel, who will mostly be on foot.


1Samuel 13:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

chôwl (לח) [pronounced kohl]

sand

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #2344 BDB #297

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

yâm (ם ָי) [pronounced yawm]

sea, lake, river, seaward, west, westward

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #3220 BDB #410

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bv (בֹר) [pronounced rohbv]

multitude, abundance, greatness

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7230 BDB #913


Translation: ...and people [are] like the sand which [is] by the sea with reference to multitude. Even given the fact that we have a huge number of chariots and horsemen, there are an uncountable number of Philistine soldiers.


What we have in this phrase is a rarity for the book of Samuel; we have the word sand which occurs nowhere else. However, this phrase (or a similar phrase) is found several times previously in the Old Testament (see Gen. 22:17 Joshua 11:4). Therefore, even though it is unusual for Samuel, the author, to leave his normal vocabulary, this was an extraordinary situation, and Samuel takes the phrasing from books that he is familiar with.


1Samuel 13:5c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

to go up, to ascend, to rise, to climb

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5927 BDB #748

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

chânah (ה ָנ ָח) [pronounced khaw-NAW]

to bivouac, to camp, to encamp in [or, against], to set up camp

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2583 BDB #333

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Mikemas (-מכ̣מ) [pronounced mike-MAHS]

transliterated Michmash

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #4363 BDB #485

qidemâh (הָמד̣ק) [pronounced kide-MAW]

front, East, to the east of

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #6926 BDB #870

bêth âwen (ן∵וָא ת̤) [pronounced bayth-AW-wen or bayth-AW-ven]

transliterated Beth-aven; it means house of iniquity

proper noun locality

Strong’s #1007 BDB #110


Translation: Then they came up and they encamped in Michmash to the east of Beth-aven. We talked about Beth-aven back in Joshua 7:2, but let’s review: first off, for whatever reason, ZPEB Footnote suggests that Beth-aven is equivalent to Beth-el, and is simply a perversion of the meaning. Beth-el means house of God and Beth-aven means house of iniquity. However, it is clear that Bethel and Beth-aven are two separate cities from Joshua 7:2 18:12–13 (although they are near one another). They also suggest Beth-aven is the archaic name for Ai, for which we have no actual evidence. Furthermore, Ai and Beth-aven are mentioned together in Joshua 7:2 in such a way as to indicate that they are different cities.


Now, let’s regroup: there is no reason to say that Beth-aven is another name for any city. It is mentioned in Joshua 7:2 as being near Jericho, Bethel, and Ai. It is a border city of Benjamin (on the northern border, between Benjamin and Ephraim), mentioned in Joshua 18:12, and, again, placed near Jericho and Bethel. All that is new in this passage is the introduction of the city of Michmash (also mentioned back in v. 2); and Beth-aven would be situated west of Michmash, which helps us to place Michmash on the map. The prophet Hosea mentions Beth-aven thrice (Hosea 4:15 5:8 10:5); however, there is nothing which helps us there with its history. It is suggested, however, that its use in Hosea is as a perversion and mockery of Bethel Footnote and that actually Bethel is being referred to in that book (Bethel is mentioned by name in Hosea 10:15 12:4). Our only other mention of Beth-aven will be in 1Sam. 14:23, where the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines extends beyond Beth-aven.


In any case, all of these cities are fairly close to one another, in the territory of Benjamin. It is nice when we can identify them and make exact determinations as to their specific locations; but it is not a great loss when we cannot. In this case, it would be nice to determine if this is Beth-aven or Beth-el—but there will not be a great loss of understanding by not knowing.


And a man of Israel saw [plural verb] that an oppression to him for oppressed were the people; and so hid themselves the people in the caves and in the brambles and in the clefts and in the underground chambers and in the pits.

1Samuel

13:6

And when the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble [lit, oppression to him], for the people were hard-pressed [harassed or oppressed]; therefore, the people hid themselves in caves, in overgrown vegetation, in the clefts (of cliffs), in underground chambers and in pits.

When the men of Israel realized the severity of the situation (from the position of human viewpoint), they hid themselves in caves, in heavily forested areas, in the clefts of cliffs, in underground chambers and basements and in pits.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And when the men of Israel saw that they were straitened (for the people were distressed), they hid themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in dens, and in pits.

Masoretic Text                       And a man of Israel saw [plural verb] that an oppression to him for oppressed were the people; and so hid themselves the people in the caves and in the brambles and in the clefts and in the underground chambers and in the pits.

Peshitta                                 And when the men of Israel saw them, they were afraid; so they hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in clefts and in pits.

Septuagint                             And the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait so that they could not draw nigh, and the people hid themselves in caves, and sheepfolds, and rocks, and ditches, and pits.

 

Significant differences:          The second phrase as to what the men of Israel saw or felt is not completely clear. Obviously, they feel afraid, although that is not clear in some versions. The second place where they hide is uncertain—in some places, it is brambles or thickets; and in others, we have holes and sheepfolds.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The Israelite army realized that they were outnumbered and were going to lose the battle. Some of the Israelite men hid in caves or in clumps of bushes, and some ran to places where they could hide among large rocks. Others hid in tombs or in deep dry pits.

NLT                                When the men of Israel saw the vast number of enemy troops, they lost their nerve entirely and tried to hide in caves, holes, rocks, tombs, and cisterns.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         When the Israelites saw they were in trouble because the army was hard-pressed, they hid in caves, in thorny thickets, among rocks, in pits, and in cisterns.

JPS (Tanakh)                        When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble—for the troops were hard pressed—the people hid in caves, among thorns, among rocks, in tunnels, and in cisterns. [the JPS footnotes that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain for this and v. 7]


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits.

Young's Literal Translation    And the men of Israel have seen that they are distressed, that the people have been oppressed, and the people hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.


What is the gist of this verse? Although apparently some Israelites did join Saul in Gilgal, when they considered their relative military strength, they began to desert and to hide anywhere that they could. Near the end of this chapter, we will see just how mismatched Israel and Philistia were.


From the translations, the general idea of this verse is clear. The New Living Translation, although a thought-for-thought translation, gives us the general idea—the Israelites realize how huge the Philistine army is, and they deserted their posts, hiding anywhere that they could find.


1Samuel 13:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

man, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular construct

Strong's #376 BDB #35

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

rââh (ה ָא ָר) [pronounced raw-AWH]

to see, to look; look, see, behold, view (in the Qal imperative)

3rd person plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #7200 BDB #906

Note the unusual construction; the subject of the verb is a masculine singular; but the verb is a plural. The next noun which is associated with the subject will be a masculine singular.

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory conjunction

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

tsar (ר ַצ) [pronounced tsar]

an adversary, an enemy; narrow, tight and therefore, distress, affliction, intense distress [caused by an adversary]

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6862 BDB #865

Owen lists this as a masculine singular noun, which matches the spelling of this word in his Analytical Key. The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament lists this as the Qal perfect of the verb cognate of tsar.

Generally speaking, when tsar means enemy, adversary, it is found in poetry, in the plural, and without a definite article. When in prose, in the singular, and with a definite article, it usually means distress, oppression, affliction. Here, it is in prose, in the singular, but it lacks a definite article.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

This 3rd person masculine singular suffix either refers to Israel or to each man of Israel (which amounts to almost the same thing).


Translation: And when the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble [lit, oppression to him],... There are some obvious problems with the translation of this verse. First of all, men of Israel is actually a man of Israel, but it is associated with the plural noun rââh. People will take on a masculine singular verb in this phrase, but a masculine plural verb in the next. My point is, there is more here than meets the eye. The singular use of man of Israel does often refer the men of Israel; the emphasis is simply upon each man’s personal reaction to the situation.


The soldiers of Saul are too far away from Mishmash to actually see the buildup of troops. However, Saul put out a directive to all Israel to meet him in Gilgal. I would assume when these various men travel to Gilgal, they also observe the build-up of the Philistine force and tell Saul’s army about it. Another option is, Saul has intelligence forces out there who trade out and report to him daily or every other day as to the state of things in Michmash (and in that general area) and his reports indicate a great buildup of Philistine troops. Either one of these scenarios would explain how Saul’s troops know what is going on 15–20 miles west of them.


1Samuel 13:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory conjunction

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

nâgas ( ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAS

to be pressed, harassed, to press or harass one another, to be harassed with toil, to be wearied out

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #5065 BDB #620

Unless I mention this, you would not realize that this is the same word used to impel, to urge, to drive a slave to work (Isa. 58:3). As a participle, it refers to the taskmasters of Egypt (Ex. 3:7). It also can mean to urge a debtor [to pay]; to demand tribute (Deut. 15:2–3). Thirdly, this means to reign over, to rule as a participle, it means ruler, tyrant (Isa. 3:12 14:2 60:17 Zech. 10:4).

In the Niphal, this means to be hard-pressed, to be oppressed (1Sam. 13:6 14:24); as well as to be treated harshly (Isa. 53:7); and to tyrannize one another (Isa. 3:5). To be frank, I am not comfortable with this menagerie of meanings and will feel better when I am able to tie them together.

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766


Translation: ...for the people were hard-pressed [harassed or oppressed];... The verb found here is not what I would have expected. I would have expected to find a verb of fear or panic. I think the people find themselves in a very difficult situation. Saul is pressing them into service, but, at the same time, they seem to be waiting around Gilgal for a long time (a week). The Philistines could strike them at any time, and yet they have no encouragement from God, because Samuel is not there (possibly no encouragement from God is a factor). Furthermore, they feel hard-pressed by the Philistines striking various cities without these cities being defended.


What has happened is that the people have forgotten God, again. They look to Saul as their leader. He brings them together into battle; and then suddenly, they see the odds, and, from human viewpoint, they recognize that there is no way that they will defeat all these Philistines. They are just too great in number. Furthermore, they are just sitting there, for a week, which allows their fear to build. Therefore, the Israelites will panic and, if you will forgive the colloquialism, head for the hills.


Now, again, fear and panic are the motivating factors, so the verb, although it has some application here, does not seem to fit. For this reason, you see a variety of opinions in the ancient translations (as well as in the modern translations). The Peshitta actually uses the verb to fear; but I think they chose that verb for the same reasons which I have given—it just fits here. There are about 10 Hebrew verbs which can be translated to fear, to be afraid; but the one we find here is not one of them nor does it look anything like one of these other verbs (so we cannot blame this on a faulty manuscript). In fact, the verb found here is a verb associated with slaves being oppressed by their master; it is a verb for a slave being urged to work (and not in a nice way). I think the idea is, these soldiers were already enslaved in their minds. At best, at the outcome of this war, they saw themselves as slaves to the Philistines. They were already in subjection in their minds to the Philistines. It is in the next verse that we will have a verb which means to be afraid, to be in fear.


There is another interpretation which may be valid here: as the Philistines move into position in MIchmash, they harass and oppress the people of Israel that they come in contact with. If they need to have a barbecue, they stop at an Israeli ranch and take some of their livestock. If they want biscuits and olive oil with that, they take from an Israeli’s farm. This is a very large influx of soldiers and when a few hundred soldiers step onto the land of an Israelite, even one with a large family, there is not much that family can do but willingly assent to whatever demands these soldiers make.


1Samuel 13:6c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

châbâ (אָבָח) [pronounced khawb-VAW]

to withdraw, to hide; to hide themselves (in the plural Hithpael)

3rd person masculine plural, Hithpael imperfect

Strong’s #2244 BDB #285

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

me׳ârâh (ה ָר ָע  ׃מ) [pronounced me-ģaw-RAW]

cave

feminine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4631 BDB #792

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

chôwach (-חח) [pronounced KHOH-ahkh]

a brier, a bramble, a hook, ring, fetter

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #2336 & #2337 BDB #296

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

çela׳ (ע ַל ס) [pronounced SEH-lahģ]

rock, cliff, jagged cliff, split, cleft, crag, stone

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5553 BDB #700

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

tserîyach (-חי.ר צ) [pronounced tze-REE-akh]

underground chamber, excavation, stronghold, basement

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6877 BDB #863

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

bôwr (ר) [pronounced bohr]

pit, cistern, well

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #953 BDB #92

Owen says that this is a feminine plural noun, but I don’t see any evidence of that.


Translation: ...therefore, the people hid themselves in caves, in overgrown vegetation, in the clefts (of cliffs), in underground chambers and in pits. Now, here is one area wherein these Israeli soldiers did not do a half-assed job. They hid themselves and they hid themselves well. Even to this day, the middle east is known for its thousands upon thousands of caves. With all our modern weaponry and with our orbital spy satellites, we (at the date of this writing), have been unable to locate Osama ben Laden in the caves in Afghanistan. So, if he and his small cadre of villains can hide from the United States for months, and we have spy satellites which can pinpoint almost any movement of soliders, I imagine that the Jewish soldiers would quite handily be able to successfully hide themselves from the Philistines in the caves of Palestine as well. The most difficult word in this list of hiding places is chôwach, as it can mean briers, brambles, hooks, rings, fetters. However, what ties these words together is that they attach themselves to one another. So, what we are talking about is the very thick, forested areas with large sections of briers and brambles. The third hiding place was where men hid when they could not be found is a cave. They would go to a mountainous area and hide in the crags or clefts of the cliffs.


The fourth hiding place were excavations or underground storage areas which had been previously built. No matter how cold or how warm it is, in most inhabited regions of the world, if you dig down into the ground, you can reach a fairly constant temperature for storage (around 65°). Mankind for thousands of years has built underground storage areas for storing food to prolong its life. The soldiers of Israel began to use these areas to hide out in. Some translations suggest that this could be a grave dug into the ground; although that is not out of the question, I would think that cellar is the probable meaning here.


The final hiding place listed was that of the pit, or well. Mankind discovered early on that one could dig down and eventually hit water. I own a well and I can tell you that, even though this well might be 150 feet deep, it is possible to tap out that water supply. The wells of the Hebrews are going to be much less deep and it is reasonable that many of them would run out of water. These dry wells were also excellent places to hide. We find a parallel situation back in the days of the judges when Midian oppressed Israel; the people of Israel hid themselves in a similar fashion (Judges 6:2).


And Hebrews crossed the Jordan [into] a land of Gad and Gilead. And Saul, still him in the Gilgal and all the people trembled after him.

1Samuel

13:7

The Hebrews crossed the Jordan [into] the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul—he [was] still in Gilgal—and the people trembled [in fear] behind him.

Some of the Hebrew soldiers crossed over the Jordan River into the lands of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained in Gilgal and the people who remained there with him trembled in fear.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And Hebrews crossed the Jordan [into] a land of Gad and Gilead. And Saul, still him in the Gilgal and all the people trembled after him.

Septuagint                             And they that went over went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Galaad; and Saul was yet in Galgala, and all the people followed after him in amazement.

 

Significant differences: 


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Still others went to Gad and Gilead on the other side of the Jordan River. Saul stayed at Gilgal. His soldiers were shaking with fear,...

NLT                                Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Some Hebrews cross the Jordan River into the territory of Gad and Gilead. But Saul remained in Gilgal, and all the people who followed him trembled [in fear].

JPS (Tanakh)                        Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan, [to] the territory of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and the rest of the people rallied to him in alarm. [JPS tells us that the meaning of the Hebrew of this verse is uncertain]


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Young's Updated LT              And Hebrews have passed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead; and Saul is yet in Gilgal, and all the people have trembled after him.


What is the gist of this verse? Some of the citizen-soldiers who were with Saul also began to cross over the Jordan into eastern Israel, hoping that the Philistines will not pursue them there. The people who remain with Saul are afraid and trembling.


1Samuel 13:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳Iberîym (םי .רב̣ע) [pronounced ģibe-VREEM]

those from beyond; transliterated Hebrews, Eberites

proper masculine plural gentis/noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5680 BDB #720

׳âbar (ר ַב ָע) [pronounced ģawb-VAHR]

to pass over, to pass through, to pass on, to pass, to go over

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #5674 BDB #716

There is a paronomasia here that you might miss: Hebrews pass over is ģibe-VREEM ģawb-VROO (we are no longer dealing with the vocabulary forms). The Hebrews appear to be so named as they crossed over the River to be in the Land of Promise. Whether this refers to the great Euphrates River or to the Jordan might be up for debate; however, in this verse, we find them crossing back over to the other side. There are exegetes who have problem with the use of the word Hebrew here and assume there must be some kind of mistake, as it is generally a word used by others nationalities to refer the Jews. However, here it is used to make a point: they became Hebrews by crossing over the river into the Land of Promise and then they crossed back, implying that they were no longer true Hebrews.

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

Yâredên (ן̤רָי) [pronounced yare-DAYN]

transliterated Jordan

proper noun (with the definite article)

Strong’s #3383 BDB #434

erets (ץ ר א) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land

feminine singular noun

Strong's #776 BDB #75

Gâd (דָג) [pronounced gawd]

invader; troop; fortune; transliterated Gad

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1410 BDB #151

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Gile׳âd (דָע ל ̣) [pronounced gil-ĢAWD].

transliterated Gilead

Masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1568 BDB #166


Translation: The Hebrews crossed the Jordan [into] the land of Gad and Gilead. If you will note the Hebrew, what we have here are a play on words. Hebrew is based upon the verb to pass over, to cross over; you will note that the primary consonants are the same (׳BR). The original meaning of Hebrew was probably a reference to Abraham who crossed over the Euphrates in order to separate himself from the heathenism of his family. Also, there was the entire Hebrew tribe which left Egypt to go to the other side of the Jordan. That these men are now leaving what was properly the Land of Promise for the other side belies their own name, which is the point the author is making.


Quite obviously, since a large group of Hebrews were already hiding in the places listed at the end of v. 6, this is not that group, but another group that simply chose to move out of state. Footnote The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh lived east of the Jordan (Num. 32).


Several translations, e.g., the CEV and the NLT, begin a new paragraph with v. 7b.


1Samuel 13:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

׳ôwd (דע) [pronounced ģohd]

still, yet, again, besides, in addition to, even yet

adverb with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5750 BDB #728

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Gilegâl (ל ָ  ׃ל  ̣) [pronounced gilg-GAWL]

wheel, whirl, whirlwind; it is transliterated Gilgal

masculine proper noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1537 BDB #166

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

the whole, all of, the entirety of, all

masculine singular construct followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

chârad (ד ַר ָח) [pronounced chaw-rahd]

to tremble, to be terrified, to be frightened

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #2729 BDB #353

achar (ר ַח ַא) [pronounced ah-KHAHR]

after, following, behind

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #310 BDB #29


Translation: Saul—he [was] still in Gilgal—and the people trembled [in fear] behind him. Although it does not specifically say so, it sounds as though Saul was trembling in fear as well; and the people who were with him followed his example. It is unclear as to what the Israelites did. My educated guess is that spies were sent out to Michmash, and, once they had observed the huge number of Philistine soldiers, they came back crying and in great fear—not unlike the 10 of the first 12 spies who traversed the Land of Promise under Moses. When they laid out before the army of Israel what was going on, the army scattered to the four winds; either hiding or running until they were on the other side of the Jordan. Saul, the new leader and king, fresh from his great victory and realizing that he could detain 3000 soldiers to function as his personal force, suddenly faces a desperate situation. He was probably just warming up to this king thing. He could do a great deal in peace; and now, it appeared as though that he, as commander-in-chief of Israel’s army, was going to die. So, yeah, he was trembling and the few who stayed with him were also trembling.


I read some commentaries that just make be grimace as I read them—one of those is Gnana Robinson’s Let Us Be Like the Nations. Here he suggests a problem because in v. 2, Saul is in Michmash, but in this verse, he is still in Gilgal. Are you kidding me? In v. 2, Saul is in Michmash, and in v. 4, he summons the able-bodied Israelites to join him in Gilgal. That’s how he got to Gilgal! Whenever there was a military crisis, Saul was to regroup in Gilgal and wait 7 days for Samuel. When the Philistines gather in Mishmash (which is an incredibly bold move), Saul is still in Gilgal. The word still is used because Saul moved around somewhat prior to this time. There is no mystery, there is no redaction of similar traditions, and there is no contradiction. Robinson is making something out of nothing.


When I read the ramblings of liberal theologians, I must admit to getting rather huffy. They find passages like this, where there is no real problem, no contraction of any sort, and then act as though the difference of location (or whatever other minor thing they observe) is some great contradiction, when it is not. Their purpose is to cast doubt upon the inspiration of the Scriptures—they may act as though they are searching for the kernel of truth, or some other bs, but their true interest is to make it sound as though we cannot take the Scriptures at face value. They try to make it sound as though we cannot simply accept this as the historical account of what took place. Let me see if I can deal with their evidence in another way: Saul’s army is in Michmash in v. 2, in Gilgal in v. 4 and in caves (and other hiding places) in v. 5. I guess that makes 3 separate accounts, right? Of course not! Don’t be an idiot! People do not move to one place and stand there forever. These people have feet. They are an army. Therefore, they are able to function as a unit and move from point A to point B. That is not a contradiction, that is not indicative of a different historical account, that is simple movement. You see? When I think about what some idiot scholar puts out, it makes me extremely huffy.


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I have read in some commentaries that the location of Gilgal is in question. Actually, there is no question that this is the Gilgal in the Jordan valley as opposed to being Jiljilia. A list of reasons are found below.

V. 7 Refers to Gilgal in the Jordan Valley and not to Jiljilia

1.    Because of the similarity of names, the modern Jiljilia is thought to be the location of Gilgal (or, more precisely, one of the Gilgal’s).

2.    Jiljilia is located seven miles north of Bethel situated on high ground.

3.    Gilgal is close to where the Philistines are and would allow for Jonathan’s approach from the south; Jiljilia is about 12 miles north of where the Philistines are, which is a considerable distance for foot soldiers.

4.    Many of Saul’s soldiers escaped into Gad and Gilead; this is a reasonable direction for deserters to flee if they are located in Gilgal, as it is just across the Jordan River from Gad and Gilead. Deserters in Jiljilia would have gone further north into the territory of Manasseh or above.

5.    The Philistines will go down from Michmash to Gilgal (1Sam. 13:12). Since Gilgal is located in the Jordan valley, this is the correct direction for the Philistines to move.

6.    Samuel will go up from Gilgal (not necessarily to Gibeah, however) which also makes sense, if we are speaking of a city in the valley (1Sam. 13:15).

7.    Since the raiding parties which went out from the Philistine camp went north, east and west, we would expect Saul’s army to be located south of MIchmash, which is where Gilgal is located. Jiljilia is north of MIchmash.

8.    The movement of the Philistine and Israeli troops in the next couple of chapters is consistent with Saul’s initial location in the valley of the Jordan River. Saul will approach the Philistines from the south in the next chapter. If Saul and his troops were in Jiljilia, then they would have been north of Michmash and therefore, would have attacked the Philistines from the north.

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It might help to note where everyone is located at this point in time:

Troop Locations

Scripture

Map

1.    Saul had been celebrated and publically inaugurated as king down in Gilgal (1Sam. 11:14–15).

2.    He kept a standing army in peace time of 3000; he commanded 2000 of them in Michmash and Jonathan commanded the remaining troops in Gibeah (1Sam. 13:2).

3.    Between them is Geba, where the Philistines had an outpost (1Sam. 13:3).

4.    Saul reassembles his troops in Gilgal, summoning all Israel to join him (1Sam. 13:4).

5.    Jonathan attacks this Philistine garrison, which precipitates an influx of Philistine soldiers to Mishmash, which Saul’s army was previously (1Sam. 13:3, 5).

6.    The soldiers under Saul were deserting his army in droves, moving eastward across the Jordan into Gad and Gilead (1Sam. 13:7). Other men hid wherever they could find a hiding place (1Sam. 13:6).

7.    While all of this is taking place, Saul will wait nervously with his few remaining troops for 7 days in Gilgal.

areaofsaulbitmaprevised1.gif

 

The map was taken from The MacMillan Bible Atlas; 3rd Edition; Aharoni, Avi-Yonah, Rainey, and Safrai; MacMillan; ©1993 by Carta; p. 71. Mishmash and Geba were added by me.


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Saul Offers a Burnt Offering to God


And so waited [with confidence] seven of days to an appointed time which Samuel [had said] and did not come Samuel the Gilgal and so scattering the people from upon him [Saul].

1Samuel

13:8

[Saul] waited [with confidence] [for] seven days to the appointed time that Samuel had set; however, Samuel did not come to the Gilgal and the people were scattering from attachment to him.

Saul did wait for seven days for Samuel, as per the appointed time that Samuel had set; however, Samuel did not come to Gilgal and the people were simultaneously scattering away from him.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And he waited seven days, according to the appointment of Samuel, and Samuel came not to Galgal, and the people slipped away from him.

Masoretic Text                       And so waited [with confidence] seven of days to an appointed time which Samuel [had said] and did not come Samuel the Gilgal and so scattering the people from upon him [Saul].

Peshitta                                 And he waited seven days, according to the set time appointed by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were deserting Saul.

Septuagint                             And he continued seven days for the appointed testimony [or, set time], as Samuel told him and Samuel came not to Galgala, and his people were dispersed from him.

 

Significant differences:          The Greek has one additional verb and pronoun [told him] which appears necessary to the sense of this verse. Note that the Latin leaves out the relative pronoun found in the Hebrew text. This verse makes more sense with that relative pronoun left out (or with an additional verb added). None of these differences are significant.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...and they were starting to run off and leave him. Saul waited there seven days, just as Samuel had ordered him to do, but Samuel did not come.

NLT                                Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel. But Samuel had not come to Gilgal, and the troops began to scatter.

JPS (Tanakh)                        He waited seven days, the time that Samuel [had set]. But when Samuel failed to come to Gilgal, and the people began to scatter,...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him.

Young's Updated LT              And he waits seven days, according to the appointment with Samuel, and Samuel had not come to Gilgal, and the people are scattering from off him.


What is the gist of this verse? This actually takes us to the final prophesy made by Samuel to Saul (we do not necessarily have the record of every prophecy that Samuel gave to Saul on that morning that Saul was anointed king). Saul waits seven days, as he was told to do, and as Samuel prophesied, and begins to panic, noticing that with each hour, more and more men desert him.


1Samuel 13:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâchal (ל ַחָי) [pronounced yaw-KHAHL]

to expect, to wait in [or, with] trust and confidence, to hope in, to trust in, to place confidence in

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #3176 BDB #403

shibe׳âh (הָעב̣ש) [pronounced shibve-ĢAW]

seven

numeral feminine construct

Strong's #7651 BDB #987

yôwm (םי) [pronounced yohm]

days

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

môw׳êd (ד̤עמ) [pronounced moh-ĢADE]

a specific time, a pre-determined time, an appointed time

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4150 BDB #417

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

This phrase seems to stop suddenly; however, 3 early printed editions, the Septuagint and the Aramaic both add the word said, giving us ...with respect to the appointed time which Samuel had said [or, designated]... Apparently there are other codices with instead add the word appointed. Footnote Bullinger tells us that this is probably an ellipsis, that we may infer the verb (said or appointed) from the noun Samuel. There must be a verb to go with this, and the way that this was said implies such a verb. Footnote

Without the relative pronoun in the Hebrew, and if the appointed time was in the construct form, then the Hebrew would be a complete thought; however, it is the relative pronoun which requires that there be some verb affixed to Samuel.


Translation: So he waited [in expectation] seven days with regards to the appointed time that Samuel [had set]. Now, this could be a problem passage. They key is understanding the prophecy and understanding its fulfillment. The passage which is referred to is 1Sam. 10:2–8, which reads: “After your departure today from me, you will come upon two men near the tomb of Rachel in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went out to seek have been found and your father has therefore forsaken the matter of the donkeys and has become concerned about you two, saying, “What shall I do about my son?” ’ And you will go from there and beyond until you come to an oak in the plains [where] three men, [who] are going up to Bethel to [be with] God, will come upon you there. One is carrying three young goats, another is carrying three loaves of bread and one is carrying a skin-container of wine. And they will ask you concerning your welfare and they will give to you two [loaves] of bread and you will take from their hand. Afterwards, you will come to Gibeath of God where there [is] the garrison of Philistines and it will be as you come to the city that [or, then] you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place and before them [or, in front of them] [is] a harp, tambourine, flute and lyre; and they are [animatedly] speaking divine viewpoint [amongst one another]. Then the Spirit of Yehowah will fall upon [and penetrate] you so that you will prophesy [or, speak divine viewpoint] with them and you will be changed into another man. And when it is that these signs come to you, then you will do (with respect to yourself) whatever your hand happens upon, for God [is] with you. Then you will go down to Gilgal before me and, note, I am coming down to you to cause to ascend burnt sacrifices and to slaughter peace offerings. You will wait seven days until I come to you and I have shown you what you will do.


If you recall my exegesis of this passage, my main point was that v. 7 closes out the prophetical portion of what Samuel said to Saul: “And when it is that these signs come to you, then you will do (with respect to yourself) whatever your hand happens upon, for God [is] with you.” That completes the signs which Samuel predicted. And further recall that Saul pretty much doubted what Samuel told him then—that he had been chosen by God to be king over Israel. Therefore, Samuel gave Saul that long list of signs to substantiate God’s selection of him; and Samuel concluded that list of signs in v. 7. There is no, “Oh, yeah, I just remembered another sign, you’re going to go down to Gilgal...” You see, you have to read the entire context so that, when you come to v. 8, you do not mix it in with the signs in vv. 2–6.


I guess we should make a quick pit stop at one of the many false interpretations of this passage. Some maintain that 1Sam. 10:8 should be tied directly to our passage, 1Sam. 13:7, both prophetically and in time. That is, some believe that, if we were on a time line, we would go directly from 1Sam. 10 to 1Sam. 13. Let me give you a list of reasons why that is way stupid: (1) I have already shown that 1Sam. 10:8 was not a part of the prophecies in the previous vv. 2–6. (2) Even ignoring that, there is no reason that all of Samuel’s prophecies had to fall within a very short time frame; a prophet typically prophesied that which was near, to give credence to his gift, and that which was far off in time, so that spiritual preparations could be made for the fulfillment. (3) Most importantly, however, is how lame such a time line would be. In 1Sam. 10, Saul is too taken aback to share with his family the news that he would become the new ruler of Israel. He has not been publically recognized as the new ruler of Israel. So how in hell is he going to suddenly organize an army of Israelites as King Saul in Gilgal as a man who is essentially unknown to Israel? That’s just goofy. Footnote


We need to begin with a good understanding of what 1Sam. 10:8 tells us. Then you will go down to Gilgal before me and, note, I am coming down to you to cause to ascend burnt sacrifices and to slaughter peace offerings. You will wait seven days until I come to you and I have shown you what you will do.” This is not a prophecy, per se, but a directive. The prophecies given by Samuel to Saul are over with, as per 1Sam. 10:7. Let me give you another reason why this does not prophesy our passage: in 1Sam. 10:8, Samuel says he will offer up burnt sacrifices and slaughter peace offerings; in 1Sam. 13:9, Saul does this instead. The prophecies of the prophets of God come to pass. What Samuel said did not come to pass. Again this is a directive, which apparently became a pattern of sorts.


Of course, we appear to have obedience to this directive of 1Sam. 10:8 obeyed in 1Sam. 11:15, which reads: So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before Jehovah in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before Jehovah; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. In the next chapter (1Sam. 12), we have a great speech given by Samuel, which implies (1) he was obviously present at the convocation of Saul, and (2) he was the one to offer up the sacrifices to God. Even though nothing is said about seven days, that does not mean that Samuel’s directive was not followed in that passage.

 

Now, to move on to our passage: what we find here in 1Sam. 13:8 is the magic word môw׳êd (ד̤עמ) [pronounced moh-ĢADE], which means a specific time, a pre-determined time, an appointed time. This was the predetermined time with reference to Samuel. We also have the mention of seven days. I think this clearly points back to the directive of 1Sam. 10:8. Therefore, we must realize that there was something missing in what Samuel has said to Saul. Either it was clear to Saul that 1Sam. 10:8 set up a pattern—that is, when Samuel was needed for guidance, Saul was to go down to Gilgal and wait seven days. Or, at Saul’s convocation, Samuel spoke to Saul privately and indicated that would be their pattern—when Saul needed guidance, he was to go down to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel. Why is this a reasonable hypothesis? Let’s take it in points:


1Sam. 10:8 is to be Understood as a Directive and not as a Prophecy

Hypothesis: Samuel has directed Saul that, during times of crisis, he is to go to Gilgal and to wait seven days for Samuel.

1.    We are told here in 1Sam. 13:8 that Saul waits seven days, according to the pre-determined time.

2.    In 1Sam. 10:8, Samuel tells Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days. In our passage, Saul does wait until the 7th day, but he gets antsy on that 7th day and acts impulsively.

3.    In our passage, in v. 10, Samuel will arrive in Gilgal on the 7th day.

4.    In 1Sam. 13:11, Saul alludes to the pre-determined time frame again.

5.    Finally, as a kicker, Samuel will berate Saul in v. 13 for “...acting foolishly and not keeping the commandment of Jehovah God.” So, this meeting in Gilgal and this pattern of behavior was more than a simple agreement between Saul and Samuel—this was the commandment of God that Saul was to obey.

6.    Therefore, either in the context of 1Sam. 10:8, or at Gilgal during Saul’s confirmation as king, Samuel indicated to Saul that this would be how Saul would deal with a crisis—he would go to Gilgal, wait seven days, and Samuel would come and first offer sacrifices, and then provide the guidance. Then you will go down to Gilgal before me and, note, I am coming down to you to cause to ascend burnt sacrifices and to slaughter peace offerings. You will wait seven days until I come to you and I have shown you what you will do.” Although in itself, 1Sam. 10:8 may not clearly tell us that this is to set up a typical practice; our context clearly tells us that both Saul and Samuel understood it as such.


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Now, before we go further, let me offer you an additional hypothesis, one for which I have no proof. Let’s say that Saul and Samuel had a predetermined signal—if Saul went to Gilgal, this would mean that Saul needed spiritual guidance or help and Samuel would have 7 days to get to him. 1Sam. 10:8 does not indicate that is their agreement, although it would not contradict such an agreement. But we have no text which would indicate that such a plan was in existence. However, the tenor of this verse and Saul’s excuse to Samuel in v. 11 indicates that Saul fully expected to see Samuel within seven days, and that this was a predetermined timetable.


In the Hebrew, it is difficult to distinguish between a Qal imperfect and a Qal imperative. It sounds as though Samuel is instructing Saul as to what he should do (in 1Sam. 10:8). However, what appears to be the actual case is that Samuel is continuing to prophesy as to what Saul will do. We do not know how many additional prophesies were found between these verses. That is, Samuel may have prophesied to Saul for 10 minutes, giving him a great deal of information. However, all we find here are the first three prophesies and the final prophesy. The final prophesy given is that Saul will wait for Samuel for seven days for Samuel to come down to Gilgal and offer burnt offerings. Samuel will also tell Saul what to do at that time (and Saul will be in desperate need of guidance). However, Saul waits the seven days, he’s in desperate straits, and there is no Samuel; so he goes ahead and tries to assume Samuel’s responsibilities. Then, Samuel shows up. The deal is that we are dealing with something which was both an order and a prophecy. Saul was to wait on Samuel. He began to get nervous and he does what he was not supposed to do on that seventh day. Then Samuel shows up, on time, as he had promised.


Now, we do not know if there is more to this than what we read. Samuel made the prophesy of 1Sam. 10:8 at least 2 years previous to this verse and possibly as many as 15 years prior to this verse (recall our recent discussion on the age of Saul and the length of his reign). This is what we know, and there are some exegetes who say that these verses are not related; however, the only reason for taking that tact is that the first 3 prophesies found in 1Sam. 10 came to pass on that particular day, and this one comes to pass 2–15 years later. And, as I have explained, there is no reason to assume that these were the only 4 prophesies that Samuel gave to Saul. They were the only four which were recorded. These four prophesies take us from Saul beginning to take Samuel’s anointing seriously to the point at which Saul failed as king of Israel. What is possibly missing is Saul finds himself in desperate straights, so, what does he do? He sends for Samuel. This is not recorded, but this is probably what happened. Saul is in Michmash, and he suddenly calls upon all the men of Israel to meet him in Gilgal. As he escorts his personal force to Gilgal, he also sends a messenger to Samuel, who then sends a message back to Saul saying that he will be there in Gilgal in seven days. Now, this is not recorded in Scripture, but very likely what took place. Or, as I suggested before, Saul’s movement to Gilgal was supposed to spark a response in Samuel (however, Samuel must know somehow that Saul is going to Gilgal). Now, why do we know that Saul would contact Samuel when he is in a jam? Easy—even after Samuel dies, Saul will still try to get in touch with him (1Sam. 28). In other words, in Saul’s mind, he expects to hear from Samuel in 7 days according to Samuel’s prophecy and according to a message sent between them (which message is not recorded in Scripture).


Obviously, I go into great detail about situations like this, and you may wonder why, as it does not tell you what you are supposed to do. Furthermore, you may read the Bible and still be uncertain as to what your course of action should be. God’s Word is His Scripture. God does not always fill in all of the details. Furthermore, most of the issues which I have brought up with respect to this verse and 1Sam. 10 you have barely given a second thought to (if you read this on your own at some point in time). My point is, you need Bible doctrine in order to have spiritual guidance; you do not get Bible doctrine by reading the Bible for yourself; you get Bible doctrine through a good Bible teacher, your pastor-teacher. If you are going to a church and you feel as though you have no direction or guidance, then you are in the wrong church. When I was first saved, I worried about all kinds of things with regards to spiritual direction—I never knew if I should turn left at the next corner, head to point B in a roundabout way, or what. After a few years of solid Bible teaching, these issues faded as they are unimportant. Guidance and direction came with good Bible teaching, by a pastor-teacher filling in some of the details which I had not thought about before. Guidance and direction came from getting a good understanding of God’s Word. By the way, you will never get a spiritual grip of things by listening to a pastor teacher once a week, even if you go twice on Sunday. I don’t even see three times a week as being enough. You need Bible teaching, ideally, every single day (and more than a 15 minute devotional). You get that, and you are going to find out that spiritual direction becomes easy.


1Samuel 13:8b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

generally negates the word immediately following it; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

Gilegâl (ל ָ  ׃ל  ̣) [pronounced gilg-GAWL]

wheel, whirl, whirlwind; it is transliterated Gilgal

masculine proper noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1537 BDB #166

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

pûwts (ץ) [pronounced poots]

to be dispersed, scattered

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #6327 BDB #806

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

Together, they mean from upon, from over, from by, from beside, from attachment to, from companionship with, from accompanying [in a protective manner], from adhesion to


Translation: And Samuel did not come into Gilgal and the people were caused to scatter from him [Saul]. Saul did not have a lot to offer the people at this point. He had defeated an Ammonite force 2–15 years ago; but these were Philistines who were great warriors with the latest weapons technology (iron weapons and chariots—1Sam. 13:5, 19–22). There were a huge number of Philistines who showed up to war with the Israelites and their weapons were more formidable than Israel could contend with. All that these men would hear day after day is rumors about the increasing size of the Philistine force and of their raiding parties which would strike Israel with impunity (we will see this in 1Sam. 13:17–18). Saul was not a particularly religious man—recall that we studied this when Saul first met Samuel in 1Sam. 9; Saul’s servant knew of Samuel and Saul apparently did not. Therefore, the people could not look to Saul for religious inspiration. So, for seven days, Saul and the men of Israel were in Gilgal and Saul had nothing to offer these men by way of realistic encouragement. Finally, Saul will give up waiting on Samuel and offer burnt offerings to God.


I am hoping that you can see the obvious application. We often take our first few victories with God’s help in stride, as Saul did when he defeated Nahash the Ammonite. Everything went as God had planned for him. However, God just upped the ante here, but God also gave Saul more to hold onto. Samuel told Saul what would happen. Samuel told Saul that he would come to Saul on the seventh day and he would tell him what to do. All Saul had to do was to kick back for a few more hours and wait on God. It should be easy to grasp that all we need to do at times is to wait on God. He has helped us with this situation and that; He has guided us here; the idea is that, when faced with a bigger crisis, that we can turn to God as well; we can trust God for the big things and the little things. Saul did not appear to trust God for any of it.


And so says Saul, “Bring unto me the ascension [burnt] offering and the peace offerings.” And so he causes to ascend the ascending offering.

1Samuel

13:9

Finally, Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering and the peace offerings to me.” Then he caused to ascend the burnt offering.

Finally Saul commanded, “Bring the burnt offering and the peace offerings to me.” Then he offered up the burnt offering.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Saul, “Bring unto me the ascension [burnt] offering and the peace offerings.” And so he causes to ascend the ascending offering.

Septuagint                             And Saul said, “Bring here, that I may offer whole-burnt offerings and peace-offerings.” and he offered the whole-burnt offering.

 

Significant differences:          Although there is some difference in the structure of the Greek as opposed to the Hebrew, the idea is essentially the same.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Finally, Saul commanded, “Bring me some animals, so we can offer sacrifices to please the Lord and ask for his help.” Saul killed one of the animals,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Then Saul said, “Bring me the animals for the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” So he sacrificed the burnt offering.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the sacrifice of well-being”; and he presented the burnt offering.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.

Young's Updated LT              And Saul says, “Bring near unto me the burnt-offering and the peace-offerings.” And he cause the burnt-offering to ascend.


What is the gist of this verse? Saul, at this time, probably out of fellowship due to extreme fear, views Jehovah-God as good luck more than the God of the Universe Who has sworn to protect Israel. Therefore, rather than wait on Samuel (which would be waiting upon God), Saul offers up offerings to God to appease God and to possibly give the people who were still with him some confidence in the matter. Napoleon did not necessarily subscribe to Catholic theology, but he valued it, as it gave him a predictable control over his population. Saul, facing ever dwindling protection, offers these sacrifices partially to placate God and partially to gain the confidence of the people.


1Samuel 13:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

nâgash (ש ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GASH]

to bring near, to bring hither, to be brought

2nd person masculine plural, Hiphil imperative

Strong's #5066 BDB #620

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, preposition denoting direction (respect or deference may be implied) to, regarding, against

preposition denoting direction (respect or deference may be implied) with 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

׳ôlâh (ה ָלֹע) [pronounced ģo-LAW]

burnt offering, ascending offering

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong #5930 BDB #750

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shelem (םל ש) [pronounced SHEH-lem]

peace-offerings, sacrifice for alliance or friendship

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #8002 BDB #1023


Translation: So Saul said, “Bring near to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” Saul here is out of his depth. He has no direct contact with God. He is looking to placate God much the same way a heathen would placate their heathen god. He is looking to bribe God. Saul is also looking to inspire confidence in the men who are still with him. Men have been deserting him continually. Now, he has seen Samuel offer sacrifices before. It did not appear to be difficult. Therefore, Saul has determined to simply go ahead and offer up these animal sacrifices, with or without Samuel.


We have a reference to two types of sacrifices here—burnt offerings and peace offerings. The burnt offering represents the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, not that Saul would have known that. The peace offering represents two things (1) the resultant peace with God from the sacrifice of the burnt offering, because we were previously at enmity with Him. (2) Secondly, these are offerings for prosperity as a result of relationship with God. To me, the offering which would be apropos is the sin offering. There are men deserting left and right; Saul and his men are afraid. Why not a sin offering? The reason is that Saul is just doing whatever seems expedient. He doesn’t know one sacrifice from another.


1Samuel 13:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

to go up, to ascend, to rise, to climb

3rd person masculine plural, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5927 BDB #748

׳ôlâh (ה ָלֹע) [pronounced ģo-LAW]

burnt offering, ascending offering

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong #5930 BDB #750


Translation: Then he caused to ascend the burnt offering. Saul had the burnt offerings delivered to him and he offered them up (or, caused them to ascend) in a semi-improvised ceremony. The Hiphil stem indicates that he probably had someone of the priesthood carry out his directives. As far as he was concerned, how hard could it be? He had seen Samuel perform these ceremonies time and time again and they did not appear to be that difficult to do. You simply gather up some animals, cut their throats, and then burn them on the altar.


Now, we have already discussed why Saul was wrong (and will do so in great detail in v. 11); one minor area to be dealt with is, did Saul or someone he appointed offer up the sacrifices? Apparently this is a point of disagreement among some theologians. The reason some think that Saul pressed someone else into service is that we find the Hiphil (the causative stem) in the morphology of both verbs. However, this would be the morphology whether Saul or someone he designated offered up the animals. A possibility which is offered is that Saul had some priest prepare these animals and offer up the burnt offering. However, we have nothing in this context about the assemblage of any priests; and it appears much more likely that Saul did this suddenly. With each passing day, he became more and more afraid of what was going to happen. On the seventh day, he could stand it no longer—Samuel had not shown up so Saul acted impetuously on his own. In other words, the tenor of these events do not suggest that Saul sent out for a priest (which, in fact, would have been a reasonable idea, if he thought that Samuel truly would not show up on time). Saul simply saw himself as being in a fix; he needed to bolster the confidence of the people with him; and he had seen Samuel offer sacrifices before, so he just did what he saw Samuel did, without regard to what sacrifices he was offering. Samuel’s rebuke will not concern any other person, so we may reasonably assume that there was no priest involved and if others had been ordered to bring and prepare the sacrifices, to build the altar and then to offer up the animals, all the responsibility was still upon Saul, who was acting outside of God’s plan.


Now, you may know that King David will offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to God in 2Sam. 24:25 and you may wonder why this was okay for him, but not for Saul. In the context of 2Sam. 24:25, the prophet Gad had told David that he must personally offer these sacrifices; therefore, David is functioning within the plan of God. David is a shadow of the Christ-King to come; Saul was not a shadow of the Christ-King; therefore, it is appropriate for David to be associated with animal sacrifices whereas it is not appropriate for Saul to be associated with them. In several generations, we have a Christ figure presented, and only one Christ figure—at the time we are studying, this is Samuel (as we examined in great detail in 1Sam. 2). When David comes on the scene, he will become a Christ figure after he becomes king. In the past, Abraham and Moses were Christ figures as well. Therefore, they should be closely associated with animal sacrifices. Footnote However, Saul was never given the directive to offer up animal sacrifices, so he is clearly outside God’s plan. Furthermore, Saul does this in a panic, which means that he is filled with mental attitude sins. Nothing can turn out right when a person operates from a plethora of mental attitude sins.


King Solomon also offered up 1000 sacrifices to God, but his motivation was different—he loved Jehovah God (1Kings 3:3–4). No such motivation is ascribed to Saul. Saul was simply trying to bribe God and to manipulate those in his command.

Why Saul Should not have Offered up Animal Sacrifices

1.    Saul had no authorization to offer up burnt offerings to God.

2.    God had not told him by any prophet or priest to offer these offerings.

3.    Saul was not in an officially designated area to offer these offerings (compare Deut. 12:5–14).

4.    Samuel had already assured Saul that he was coming to advise him (1Sam. 10:8 13:8–11) and this was Samuel’s duty—to offer up the animal sacrifices (1Sam. 3:8 7:9, 10, 17).

5.    Saul is not a shadow of Jesus Christ; therefore, he should not be closely associated with the animal sacrifices.

What Saul needs to do, despite the fact that he is in a difficult situation, is to sit back and let God’s plan work. He will not be able to kick-start God’s plan on his own.


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Application: One of the virtues which is developed by spiritual growth and by the filling of the Spirit is patience. When a person is saved, sometimes, they want to start doing great things for God. You are not going to go from being saved to a great ministry for God in a few weeks; often not in a few years. Let me give you an analogy: you have raised a young son right, and he loves his mother and on mother’s day he is going to cook you breakfast. Now, let’s say this son is 6 years old, how is that going to turn out? Breakfast made by a 6 year old may involve a call to the fire department and a visit by an insurance adjuster. He is too young; he does not have the training to use sharp knives, a stove or to do much else other than bring you a bowl of cereal and maybe a side of fruit. As the child grows, there will be a point in time when he can serve mom breakfast in bed and the food will be edible. It takes time. It takes growth. It takes training and maturity. If you are a young believer and you are raring to go and do great things for God, then focus this enthusiasm on His Word. Don’t run out and try to do everything that you think is spiritually commendable. Spiritually, you do not have the brains of a chicken.


Application: Every believer has a spiritual gift or several spiritual gifts. As we are filled with the Spirit and grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, we are better able to identify this gift and to use it appropriately. If my gift is that of a pastor teacher, then I do not necessarily need to handle money, lead a prayer group, visit the sick, etc. I should operate within the confines of my spiritual gift. I have a place on the team and that is where I should play. On a football team, the center does not get to suddenly carry the football. He does not pick up the football and start running; that is not his position. If you are a guard assigned to a particular running back position, then you do not grab the football and boot it over the goal posts. That is not your position. Saul has a narrowly defined role, both by Scripture and by Samuel, and this role did not involve offering up animal sacrifices. Whatever your spiritual gift is, that is the gift you should be nurturing and that is the gift which should function.


Now, please allow me a tangent: spiritual gifts are designed for the team; spiritual gifts are not given to you to build up you. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (I Cor. 12:7). So you also, since you are zealous for spiritual things, then seek to abound in [these things] for the edification of the church (I Cor. 14:12). Let all things be done for building up (or, edification) (I Cor. 14:26b). And He gave some Apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastor-teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11–12). To continue with Paul’s analogy of I Cor. 12:12–26, each member of the body does not function for itself or by itself. The hand does not handle everything with respect to the maintenance of the hand; the eye does not do everything with regards to the maintenance and growth of the eye (see Eph. 4:16). The body works as a whole. When a church does not recognize that, or when individuals do not recognize that, then that church becomes weak. Now, this local church may bring in money and it may increase greatly in size, but it is weak and does not do God’s work. Let me be more specific, when you speak in tongues, either at home by yourself, or in a church service when another dozen or so people are also speaking in tongues, are you building up the congregation? Is your spiritual gift functioning in such a way to help others within the local church? The great push of I Cor. 14 is the fact that when one spoke in a foreign dialect (the gift of tongues), what was happening is, when someone simply stood up and did that, it did not build up the congregation, because no one understood what was being said (I Cor. 14:6–11, 16, 19). This gift was only worthwhile if someone else stood up and translated what someone else said in a foreign dialect (I Cor. 14:13, 27–28). We have even a great distortion of that today with believers speaking in gibberish during a church service. This has no effect on the edification of the saints. Oh, well; back to the exegesis:


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Samuel Chastises Saul for Offering this Burnt Sacrifice


And so he was as his finishing to offer the burnt offering and, behold, Samuel coming in. And so goes out Saul to meet him, to bless him.

1Samuel

13:10

And it was as he finished offering the burnt offering that, observe, Samuel arrived. Then Saul went out to meet and to bless him.

Just as Saul finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel came into the city. Therefore, Saul went out to meet him and to bless him.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so he was as his finishing to offer the burnt offering and, behold, Samuel coming in. And so goes out Saul to meet him, to bless him.

Septuagint                             And it came to pass when he had finished offering the whole-burnt-offering, that Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to meet him, and to bless him.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...and just as he was placing it on the altar, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to welcome him.

NLT                                Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         As he finished sacrificing the burnt offering, Samuel came, and Saul went to greet him.

JPS (Tanakh)                        He had just finished presenting the burnt offering when Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and welcome him.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And it came about as soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, that behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet [lit., bless] him.

Young's Updated LT              And it comes to pass at his completing to cause the burnt-offering to ascend, that lo, Samuel has come and Saul goes out to meet him, to bless him;...


What is the gist of this verse? As soon as Saul had completed offering the final sacrifice, he was told that Samuel was arriving, on time, as expected. Saul apparently hears that Samuel is nearby and approaching, so he goes out to meet Samuel, both to greet and to bless him. Evidently, Saul is going to feel out the situation before Samuel actually walks into the city to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel. What is not said is that Saul is mentally formulating a long list of reasons which justify his actions.


1Samuel 13:10a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately; combined with an infinitive, it can also take on the meaning as, often, when, as soon as

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

kâlâh (ה ָל ָ) [pronounced kaw-LAWH]

to complete, to finish, to accomplish, to be fulfilled; to be consumed, to be wasted, to be destroyed, to perish

Piel infinitive construct affixed to the 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #3615 BDB #477

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

to go up, to ascend, to rise, to climb

Hiphil infinitive construct

Strong's #5927 BDB #748

׳ôlâh (ה ָלֹע) [pronounced ģo-LAW]

burnt offering, ascending offering

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong #5930 BDB #750

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hinnêh (הֵ ̣ה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97


Translation: And it was as he finished offering the burnt offering, and, observe, Samuel arriving. Samuel had promised that he would come to Saul in seven days, and he did. I guess you could say that God gave Saul just enough rope to hang himself with. God knew what was in the heart of Saul, and He gave Saul to opportunity to reveal this to everyone else.


Application: God has given us free will and He does not overrule all of our decisions (sometimes He does). In your life, you are going to be faced with a tremendous number of decisions and you will make a tremendous number of bad decisions. Simply recognize it, confess it, and move on. Get some more doctrine. Don’t make the same mistake again. Some decisions are obviously more important than others. Who you marry? That is extremely important. This is one decision you do not want to screw up. You don’t get to marry someone, and then turn around and blame God for allowing you to marry that bozo or that bitch. If you spend some time getting to know that soul of that person, their bozo-ness or their bitchiness is going to become clear, and you can act accordingly. And once you get married, you don’t get to divorce based on the fact that you have made a huge mistake. God’s plan is greater than your mistakes. Furthermore, we have the old adage, two wrongs do not make a right. Saul has made a horrible mistake here. He can either acknowledge it before Samuel or, he can make excuses and blame everyone else. This, by the way, is the key to Saul’s complete failure as the king of Israel—he made a mistake, which we all do. He made an horrendous mistake, which we all do. What he needs to do is rebound and move forward in spiritual growth. He does not need to justify his mistakes to Samuel. Samuel won’t buy into it nor will God.


1Samuel 13:10b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâtsâ (א ָצ ָי) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to go out, to come out, to come forth

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qârâ (א ָר ָק) [pronounced kaw-RAW]

to encounter, to befall, to meet; to assemble [for the purpose of encountering God or exegeting His Word]; to come, to assemble

Qal infinitive construct; 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7122 & #7125 BDB #896

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition, 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bârake ( ַר ָ) [pronounced baw-RAHKe]

to kneel down, to bend there knees, and therefore to bless, to make happy, to prosper

Piel infinitive construct, 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1288 BDB #138


Translation: Then Saul went out to meet him [and] to bless him. Saul, from this point on, will continue to screw up. God will give him an unequivocal order in 1Sam. 15:1, which he will disobey in 1Sam. 15:9, and again, we will see Saul traipsing out to meet Samuel, to bless him, when he knows that he has done wrong (1Sam. 15:13–19—just classify this under Preview of Coming Attractions).


As far as Saul is concerned, the calvary has arrived. It is not clear at this time whether he realizes the depth of the wrong that he has done, but he knows that he has done wrong. Samuel will make the profundity of his sin unbearably clear. Now, Saul definitely obviously knows that he has screwed up (this will come out in the context). Samuel had promised that he would be there within seven days, and he was. Samuel was the one to be in charge of offering sacrifices to God, and Saul usurped that responsibility. In the next couple verses, it is obvious that Saul, as he goes out to meet Samuel, is organizing his long list of excuses. There are some people that believe, if they can make up a list long enough, this will explain away anything. As a teacher, I deal with kids who do something that they know is absolutely wrong. They continue to talk to justify their actions, talking a mile a minute, putting together this long list of justifications. I have been sued before, and in the original complaint, there is a long list of infractions, both real and imagined, which are enumerated, with the hopes that one or two of them will emerge as reasonable enough to take to trial. I believe the saying is something like, if you throw enough feces against the wall, something will stick. However, that is a false saying (I don’t want you to get any bad habits).


And so says Samuel, “What have you done?” And so says Saul, “When I saw that had scattered the people from upon me and you [even] you had not come to an appointment of the days, and Philistines were gathering [at] Michmash,...

1Samuel

13:11

Then Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul answered, “When I saw that the people were scattering from attachment to me and that you [especially you] had not come in the appointed days, and [that] the Philistines were gathering at Michmash,...

Then Samuel remarked, “What have you done?” And Saul answered him, “When I saw that the people were scattering away from me, and that you had not come within the specific period of time that you had told me to wait, and that the Philistines were gathering in Michmash to war against us,...


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Samuel, “What have you done?” And so says Saul, “When I saw that had scattered the people from upon me and you [even] you had not come to an appointment of the days, and Philistines were gathering [at] Michmash,...

Septuagint                             And Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw how the people were scattered from me, and you were not present as you purposed according to the set time of the days, and the Philistines were gathered to Machmas.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences; the LXX appears to be slightly more wordy (which is not unusual when translating from one language to another).


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “What have you done?” Samuel asked. Saul answered, “My soldiers were leaving in all directions, and you didn’t come when you were supposed to. The Philistines were gathering at Michmash,...

NLT                                ...but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Samuel asked, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “I saw the troops were scattering. You didn’t come when you said you would, and the Philistines were assembling at Michmash.

JPS (Tanakh)                        But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “I saw the people leaving me and scattering; you had not come at the appointed time, and the Philistines had gathered at Michmas.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash,...

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel says, “”What have you done?” And Saul says, “Because I saw that the people were scattered from off me, and you had not comes at the appointment of the days, and the Philistines are gathered to Michmash,...


What is the gist of this verse? Either Saul confesses to have offered the animal sacrifices, or, when arriving at the altar, it is apparent that Saul took matters into his own hands. Saul quickly explains why he did what he did. “The people were deserting me, it appeared that you were not going to come, and the Philistines are gathered en masse in nearby Michmash.” The moment that he was told that Samuel was approaching, Saul began to mentally put together all of these excuses.


1Samuel 13:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793


Translation: Then Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul had no spiritual standing to perform the spiritual tasks which he did. He simply took it upon himself to placate or to bribe God, as he felt Samuel had done in the past. Samuel recognizes that Saul is performing functions for which he has no authorization.


What follows is another example of a very sloppy verse separation. If any separation would be called for, it would be between v. 11a and vv. 11b–12. V. 11a is a complete quotation from Samuel; vv. 11b–12 is the answer which Saul gives—v. 11b is the protasis and v. 12 is the apodosis of his answer to Samuel.


1Samuel 13:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when,at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

rââh (ה ָא ָר) [pronounced raw-AWH]

to see, to look; look, see, behold, view (in the Qal imperative)

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #7200 BDB #906

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

nâphats (ץ-פָנ) [pronounced naw-FATS]

to break, to smash into pieces; to scatter, to disperse; to disperse selves, to be scattered or dispersed

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #5310 BDB #658 & 659

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity (with 1st person singular suffix)

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

Together, they mean from upon, from over, from by, from beside, from attachment to, from companionship with, from accompanying [in a protective manner], from adhesion to

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

attâh (הָ-א) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #859 BDB #61

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word immediately following it; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

môw׳êd (ד̤עמ) [pronounced moh-ĢADE]

a specific time, a pre-determined time, an appointed time

masculine singular construct

Strong's #4150 BDB #417

yôwm (םי) [pronounced yohm]

days

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

âçaph (ף ַס ָא) [pronounced aw-SAHF]

to be assembled, to be gathered, to assemble, to gather

masculine plural, Niphal participle

Strong’s #622 BDB #62

Mikemas (-מכ̣מ) [pronounced mike-MAHS]

transliterated Michmash

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #4363 BDB #485


Translation: Then Saul replied, “When I saw that the people had scattered from me and you had not arrived with respect to the days appointed and the Philistines were gathering in Michmash,...” It’s not really clear whether Saul had all of this on his mind to begin with or whether he started talking and the excuses just came pouring out (I think that Saul began to formulate his excuses the moment he heard that Samuel was approaching). The gist is that Saul is in a tight spot. He depended upon Samuel to come and do the spiritual stuff and Samuel did not appear when Saul expected him to (Samuel did appear on time; but Saul was too antsy to wait another hour).


There are several considerations for us to deal with. First, is this a fulfillment of 1Sam. 10:8? Let me remind you of the circumstances. Samuel has just told Saul that he is God’s choice to rule over Israel as her first king. This flabbergasts Saul. Despite Samuel’s reputation, such a pronouncement seems pretty amazing to Saul, so Samuel then gives Saul a list of events which will transpire in the near future, so that Saul can confirm Samuel’s divinely-inspired knowledge. 1Sam. 10:2–6 constitute prophecies that will come to pass that confirm to Saul that God has chosen him to be king over Israel. V. 7 is clearly a conclusion to these prophecies: “And it will be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you.” Then we have Samuel’s final words to Saul (which is no longer part of the prophecy): “And you will go down before me to Gilgal and, listen, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You will wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”


Before I excoriate Saul, let me make it clear that he was in dire straights. It was not as though you or I would have done a better job under these circumstances.

 

Barnes writes: Saul had come from Michmash to Gilgal, expecting to gather the force of the whole nation around him. Instead of that, the people fled, leaving him in the exposed plain with only 600 men...The Philistines occupied Michmash, and might at any moment pour down the valley upon Gilgal. Saul’s situation was obviously one of extreme peril. [Even] a few hours’ delay might prove fatal to him and his little army. Footnote

 

Keil and Delitzsch were also sympathetic (up to a point): If Saul’s sin did not consist, as we have observed above, in his having interfered with the prerogatives of the priests by offering the sacrifice himself, but simply in the fact that he had transgressed the commandment of God as revealed to him by Samuel, to postpone the sacrifice until Samuel arrived, the punishment which the prophet announced that God would inflict upon him in consequence appears a very severe one, since Saul had not come to the resolution either frivolously or presumptuously, but had been impelled and almost forced to act as he did by the difficulties in which he was placed in consequence of the prophet delaying his coming. But wherever, as in the present instance, there is a definite command given by the Lord, a man has no right to allow himself to be induced to transgress it, by fixing his attention upon the earthly circumstances in which he is placed. As Samuel had instructed Saul, as a direct command from Jehovah, to wait for his arrival before offering sacrifice, Saul might have trusted in the Lord that he would send His prophet at the right time and cause His command to be fulfilled, and ought not to have allowed his confidence to be shaken by the pressing danger of delay. The interval of seven days and the delay in Samuel’s arrival were intended as a test of his faith, which he ought not to have lightly disregarded. Moreover, the matter in hand was the commencement of the war against the principal enemies of Israel, and Samuel was to tell him what he was to do (ch. 10:8). So that when Saul proceeded with the consecrating sacrifice for that very conflict, without the presence of Samuel, he showed clearly enough that he thought he could make war upon the enemies of his kingdom without the counsel and assistance of God. This was an act of rebellion against the sovereignty of Jehovah, for which the punishment announced was by no means too severe.


So, from the position of human viewpoint, Saul was in a very tight spot. He was in a hopeless situation and there was nothing that he could do to solve this problem. Now, here is the key: why appeal to God if you are not going to obey God? If Saul is in such a difficult spot from the standpoint of human viewpoint and he is therefore tempted to act outside the plan of God, then why not act outside the plan of God completely apart from God?


So, a reasonable question, which I have already answered in part: just what is the problem with Saul offering up a sacrifice? He is in a hopeless situation; why not call upon God himself for help? Is there something so wrong with that? Did not Gideon offer a sacrifice (see Judges 6:19–21)? Didn’t David offer up animal sacrifices (2Sam. 24:25)? And Solomon too (1Kings 3:4)? So what is so wrong here with Saul’s actions?

What Was Wrong with Saul Offering Up Sacrifices?

1.    First of all, Gideon was authorized by an angel of God to offer sacrifices; no angel authorized Saul.

2.    David was also authorized to offer up sacrifices in the instance named.

3.    Solomon’s motivation was completely different. He acted as he did based upon love for God; Saul did that which was expedient. Saul was using God to keep his men there; he was bribing God to give them victory or escape.

4.    Samuel had specifically told Saul to wait for him to tell him what to do (1Sam. 10:8).

5.    It is clear in Scripture that the priest and his family are the only ones who are to offer up sacrifices to God. “So you will appoint Aaron and his sons that they may keep their priesthood, but the layman who comes near will be put to death.” (Num. 3:10; see also Num. 18:7 2Chron. 26:16–21).

6.    God is careful about the shadows which He sets up. We approach God via a mediator. We approach God through Jesus Christ. It is His sacrifice, not ours, which gains us entry to God. Saul is not a shadow figure of Jesus Christ; Samuel is (see the exegesis of 1Sam. 2:36). Therefore, it is proper for Samuel to offer up a sacrifice; it is not proper for Saul to.

7.    There were specific sacrifices which were shadows of specific things to come. Saul had no clue in this area. He had observed a lot of burnt offerings and peace offerings, so that’s what he went with. There was no thought as to what they stood for. In fact, Saul himself had no clue as to what the animal sacrifices stood for or why they were offered. God is God; He wants sacrifices from man—so here they are. That is Saul’s thinking.

8.    Saul had a specific group of functions which he was to perform as king. Offering animals as sacrifices was not among those functions. Samuel both enumerated the guidelines for a king and wrote them down (1Sam. 8:9–10 10:25).

9.    There are no shortcuts in the plan of God. There is no other savior besides our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot go to God directly; we cannot go to Him via another savior, prophet or teacher.

10.  Samuel, as a priest, was a shadow of Jesus Christ. His offering up an animal sacrifice illustrated Jesus Christ coming to this earth and dying for our sins. We have gone into great detail as to the parallels between Samuel and Jesus Christ (1Sam. 2). These parallels are applicable to Samuel, but not to Saul. Therefore, Samuel is the one to offer up sacrifices to God.

11.  Saul cannot act as the go-between for Israel and God; he is not a shadow of our Lord-to-come. There are no clear parallels between Saul and Jesus Christ.


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Let’s look at some specific items. When Saul said that the people were scattering away from him, we would expect the imperfect tense, as there were still some people with him in Gilgal. Obviously, he was not alone. However, to make a point to Samuel, he speaks as though all of the people had scattered from him. Hence the perfect tense. It is a little more dramatic and makes the situation appear more tense (and it was a very tense situation). Next, you will note the use of the 2nd person, singular pronoun—in the Hebrew, this is an unnecessary particle; however, it is used for emphasis; Saul is blaming Samuel in part for not arriving when he said he was going to arrive (and, again, Samuel did arrive within the time frame that he had promised; Saul only had to wait an additional hour).


Application: This is easy—there are times that we are to wait upon God. When we go ahead with our own plan and under our own speed, we often screw things up, as did Saul. Sometimes, all we needed to do was to wait an additional hour or so, and God would have taken care of the problem. As we will see, God will not require a large army to defeat the Philistines. Those who fell away, fell away for a reason. God wanted those soldiers to be gone. God wanted the situation to appear more hopeless. There was no human solution to Saul’s situation. There was no human viewpoint way of getting out of the hopeless position that Saul was in. God was testing Saul and the people and they all failed.


If God has done the most for us at salvation; if God has taken us out of a completely hopeless status and has saved us; then what situation in life could be more hopeless than that?

More application: We, as men born into the world, are born into a hopeless situation. There is nothing that we can do to extricate ourselves from our sin. Being born men, we have Adam’s imputed sin. Think of it in this way: there are some families who simply have a bad reputation. No matter who is born into that family, they will stand in the realm of this bad reputation. Everyone who looks at them will first see the name and the reputation which goes with that name. Next, we are born with an old sin nature. It is our nature to sin. As soon as we are able to distinguish between right and wrong, we will do that which is wrong. In recent times, much has gone into showing that homosexuals carry a gene which causes them to prefer those of their own gender. We are all born with a predilection to sin; for each of us, those areas of weakness vary considerably. So, yes, the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin, and we can therefore expect that there will be those whose natural inclination is to engage in homosexual behavior. Similarly, there are those who have the natural inclination to be child molesters and I don’t doubt that there will be shown, at some time in the future, a genetic preponderance to be sexually attracted to children. This does not make it right; having the natural inclination to do so does not make anything right. We are all born with the natural inclination to sin. It is in every cell of our being. That is being in a hopeless, helpless situation. Finally, because we have an old sin nature, we will eventually begin racking up thousands if not tens of thousands of personal sins. Imagine a criminal who has committed hundreds of crimes and suddenly he is discovered and clearly linked to all of his crimes. That’s it. That’s the end of the story. He is now guilty of those crimes and must pay the price for committing those crimes. Our personal sins stack up in the same way. Even if we committed but one personal sin, that is all that it would take to separate us from God. So here we are in a complete hopeless situation—we have Adam’s imputed sin, we have our old sin natures, and we have tallied up thousands of personal sins. Any one of these three categories would separate us from God for all eternity. There is nothing more hopeless than the life that we are born into; and with each passing moment of our lives, we dig ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole. Our only extrication from our position is Jesus Christ, Who took upon Himself all of our personal sins. By believing in Him, we are placed in Him, and we no longer possess Adam’s imputed sin, but His imputed righteousness. And, when we die, we will have our old sin nature excised from our resurrection bodies and we will possess His nature. Now, here is the point that I am trying to make: if God has done the most for us at salvation; if God has taken us out of a completely hopeless status and has saved us; then what situation in life could be more hopeless than that? We are never worse off than we are between birth and the moment prior to our salvation. We are never in a more hopeless situation than we our as sinners separated from His grace. So if God can and does the greatest thing that He can do while we are in the worst situation that we could be in, then God can and will carry us through any situation that we face in life after salvation.


...and so I say, ‘Now are coming down Philistines against me the Gilgal and faces of Yehowah I had not entreated’ and so I restrain myself and so I cause to ascend the ascending-offering.

1Samuel

13:12

...and I thought, ‘The Philistines will now come down against me in Gilgal and I had not entreated the face of Yehowah;’ therefore, I restrained myself [from taking military action] and I offered a burnt offering.”

...so I realized that the Philistines were ready to attack me in Gilgal and I had not asked for the grace of God to be with me, so I ceased all military action and I offered to Him this burnt offering.”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       ...and so I say, ‘Now are coming down Philistines against me the Gilgal and faces of Yehowah I had not entreated’ and so I restrain myself and so I cause to ascend the ascending-offering.

Septuagint                             Then I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down to me to Galgala, and I have not sought the face of the Lord;’ so I forced myself and offered to burnt-offering.”

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...and I was worried that they would attack me here at Gilgal. I hadn’t offered a sacrifice to ask for the Lord’s help, so I forced myself to offer a sacrifice on the altar fire.”

NLT                                So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         So I thought, ‘Now, the Philistines will come against me at Gilgal, but I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor.’ I felt pressured into sacrificing the burnt offering.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        I thought the Philistines would march down against me at Gilgal before I had entreated the Lord, so I forced myself to present the burnt offering.” [the meaning of forced myself is uncertain in the Hebrew]


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”

Young's Updated LT              ...and I say, ‘Now do the Philistines come down unto me to Gilgal, and the face of Jehovah I have not appeased;’ and I force myself, and cause the burnt-offering to ascend.”


What is the gist of this verse? Saul continues with his litany of Excuses: the Philistines were about to come down to Gilgal and Saul realized that he had not appeased Jehovah-God; therefore, he felt compelled to offer a burnt offering to God, even though he realized that this was not the textbook approach.


One of the things that you will note as we begin to exegete this verse—this is all about Saul. In this verse and the previous verse, apart from partially blaming Samuel for this condition, Saul uses the 1st person singular suffix twice and 1st person singular verbs five times. Saul is the king of Israel and is responsible for Israel’s protection and future—however, first and foremost in Saul’s mind is Saul.


1Samuel 13:12a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

׳attâh (ה ָ ַע) [pronounced ģaht-TAWH]

now, at this time, already

adverb of time

Strong’s #6258 BDB #773

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

to descend, to go down

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun), masculine plural with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, directional preposition to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied) (with 1st person singular suffix)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Gilegâl (ל ָ  ׃ל  ̣) [pronounced gilg-GAWL]

wheel, whirl, whirlwind; it is transliterated Gilgal

masculine proper noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1537 BDB #166


Translation: “So I said, ‘Now, the Philistines are coming down against me at Gilgal...” It is with this phrase that we get a better notion as to what Saul is thinking. First of all, he communicates to Samuel that this is what he said (or thought to himself). Then he tells Samuel that the Philistines were coming down against him personally. He doesn’t even say that the Philistines were coming down to do battle against Israel. They were coming down against Saul.


1Samuel 13:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

pânîym (םי̣נ ָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM

face, faces

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3069 BDB #217

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word immediately following it; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

châlâh (ה ָל ָח) [pronounced chaw-LAW]

to mollify, to appease, to entreat the favor of

1st person singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #2470 BDB #318


Translation: ‘...and I had not entreated the face of Jehovah;’... Saul realizes that he is in desperate straights and he has not made any attempt to gain God’s favor. Saul’s solution to all that he faced is in the next line:


1Samuel 13:12c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âphaq (ק ַפ ָא) [pronounced aw-FAHK]

to hold onself back, to restrain oneself

1st person singular, Hithpael imperfect

Strong’s #662 BDB #67

This is a difficult word to translate here; notice the different ways that âphaq is dealt with:

 

God’s Word“ I felt pressured into sacrificing the burnt offering."

NAB“So in my anxiety I offered up the holocaust.”

NJB ‘So I felt obliged to make the burnt offering myself.’

NRSV“...so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”

REB‘...so I felt compelled to make the whole-offering myself.’

TEV“So I felt I had to offer a sacrifice.”


You will see that I will give this a different but more accurate twist below in my translation of this verse.

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

to go up, to ascend, to rise, to climb

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5927 BDB #748

׳ôlâh (ה ָלֹע) [pronounced ģo-LAW]

burnt offering, ascending offering

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong #5930 BDB #750


Translation: “Therefore, I restrained myself [from taking any military action] and I caused to ascend the burnt offering.” The attempt here is to sound extremely holy. Saul was commander-in-chief over the troops of Israel and one would expect him to gather the men of Israel and attack the Philistines. However, Saul tells Samuel that he exercised restraint and appealed first to God concerning this situation. Saul’s audience is a priest-prophet, so Saul wants to appeal to him specifically. “I kept myself from immediately engaging the military and I communed with God first.” This is what he is saying to Samuel. What actually had occurred is this: Saul was offering burnt offerings to God for good luck. Do you recall the Israelites in 1Sam. 4 grabbing up the Ark of God and taking it into battle against the Philistines? The idea was that this Ark would provide them good luck. Saul had done the same thing here.


On the surface, it appears as that Saul is making a good argument to Samuel.

Saul’s Argument to Samuel

1.    Saul’s citizen-army was rapidly deserting him.

2.    Samuel had not come to Gilgal when he said he would (this is what Saul thought by the way; Samuel did show up in time).

3.    The Philistines were assembling their troops in Michmash, which is in central Israel.

4.    The Philistines would certainly attack Saul, and he could expect the attack any day, if not any hour, as he is in Gilgal, which is very close to Michmash.

5.    Saul had not properly communed with Jehovah their God to obtain His blessing and guidance.

Saul’s Only Reasonable Course of Action

Saul could not perform any military maneuvers, whether to retreat or to fight or to do anything else. Saul only had one possible option under these circumstances (that is, in his own mind): to offer a burnt offering to God.


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Saul is not a stupid man. Do you recognize how artful his argument is? He tells Samuel the five things which are running through his mind. Do you recognize the fallacy of the argument? It is all based upon one false premise: that Samuel did not show up to guide him. I have been in court and observed a lawyer going quickly past that one false premise. Then argument upon argument is piled upon that one false premise. If you allow the premise, or even if you do not recognize that the argument is built upon a false premise, then the remainder of the argument appears to be valid. If you investigate the premise and it is found faulty, then you cannot build upon it. Saul could give 100 reasons why he was forced to do what he did; however, if these reasons are all based upon the premise that Samuel did not show up when he was supposed to, then these reasons are not sound.

 

God's plan, as R. B. Thieme, Jr. has pointed out many times in the past, is a protocol plan, a plan with long-established codes which determine precedence as well as precisely correct procedure. Footnote “Protocol” refers to a rigid, long established code and procedure, prescribing complete deference to superior rank and authority, followed by strict adherence to due order and precedence, coupled with precisely correct procedure. Footnote


Saul was quite simply not following God's protocol plan, and God's protocol plan set up shadow parallels that we could see at a later date, to see that God's plan is real and extends backward to the beginning of time.


And so says Samuel unto Saul, “You have been foolish [and] you have not kept a commandment of Yehowah your Elohim which He commanded you, for now has established Yehowah your kingdom regarding Israel unto perpetuity.

1Samuel

13:13

Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly for you have not kept the commandment of Yehowah your God which He commanded you; for by now Yehowah would have established your dynasty over Israel forever.

Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have behaved foolishly and you have not obeyed the prohibitions which Jehovah your God commanded you to keep. Had you done so, Jehovah would have established your dynasty over Israel forever.”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Samuel unto Saul, “You have been foolish [and] you have not kept a commandment of Yehowah your Elohim which He commanded you, for now has established Yehowah your kingdom regarding Israel unto perpetuity.

Septuagint                             And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly; for you have not kept my command, which the Lord commanded you, as now the Lord would have confirmed your kingdom over Israel forever.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences; there is a personal pronoun added in the LXX which is not found in the Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “That was stupid!” Samuel said. “You didn’t obey the Lord your God. If you had obeyed him, someone from your family would always have been king of Israel.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         “You did a foolish thing,” Samuel told Saul. “You didn’t follow the command of the Lord your God. [If you had,] the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel permanently.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Samuel answered Saul, “You acted foolishly in not keeping the commandments that the Lord your God laid upon you! Otherwise, the Lord would have established your dynasty over Israel forever.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel says to Saul, “You have been foolish; you have not kept the command of Jehovah your God, which He commanded you, for now had Jehovah established you kingdom over Israel unto the age;...


What is the gist of this verse? Samuel does not buy any of Saul’s excuses. He tells Saul that he is stupid because he expected that he could gain the favor of God by disobeying the mandate which God had given him. For that reason, Saul’s line would not be the line of kings established over Israel.


1Samuel 13:13a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

çâkal (ל-כָס) [pronounced saw-KAHL]

to be foolish, to be a fool, to show oneself to be foolish; to act wickedly

2nd person masculine singular, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #5528 BDB #698


Translation: Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have been foolish!” This is one of the few times that I actually prefer the CEV’s version: “That was stupid!” They call a spade a spade. Foolish sounds too much like Saul made a minor error in judgment. His mistake is much greater than that.


1Samuel 13:13b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB  #251

The Masoretic text lacks the wâw conjunction; however, we do find it in 3 early printed editions as well as in the Vulgate; the Septuagint and Syriac codices have because. Footnote

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word immediately following it; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

shâmar (ר ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAR]

to keep, to guard, to watch, to preserve

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #8104 BDB #1036

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

mitsevâh (ה-וצ ̣מ) [pronounced mitse-VAH]

prohibition, commandment, precept, that which is forbidden, constraint, proscription, countermand

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #4687 BDB #846

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3069 BDB #217

ělôhîym (מי ̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

Gods or God; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #430 BDB #43

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

tsâvâh (ה ָו ָצ) [pronounced tsaw-VAW]

to commission, to mandate, to lay charge upon, to give charge to, charge, command, order

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect (with 2nd person masculine singular suffix)

Strong's #6680 BDB #845


Translation: “You have not guarded the prohibition of Jehovah your God which He commanded you.” What Samuel told Saul to do was to wait on him for seven days in Gilgal and he would offer up animal sacrifices and then tell Saul what to do (1Sam. 10:8). Samuel is God’s representative here on earth. Saul offers up animal sacrifices to placate God and to gain God’s favor; however, in doing so, he disobeys God’s Word to him through Samuel. God knew what Saul faced. God was cognizant of all the circumstances and the desperate straights that Saul was in. None of this caught God by surprise. When you see how the Philistines are defeated, it will be obvious that all of Saul’s army could have deserted him. You cannot simultaneously disobey God and expect God to bless you because of your act of disobedience. Now, you may think, this is Saul’s first act of disobedience and he is under a lot of pressure; cut him a little slack! Saul knew exactly what he was supposed to do. The problem was that Saul did not really trust God, and it was not in his nature to follow God’s Word. We will run into another situation in 1Sam. 15 where Saul will again expressly disobey the Word of God, and this time there will be a lot less pressure.


Application: How many men and women have gotten married, even though everyone they know had warned them against getting married, including those with great spiritual discernment, and yet, they go ahead and get married anyway, asking God through prayer to bless their marriage? You need to give some thought to the second greatest decision that you will make in your life. Have you as a believer sued another believer and then prayed to God for a good settlement? You’re not supposed to be suing another believer in the first place. Have you as a believer been unjustly sued by another believer? Then you need to either meet before your church elders to settle to matter or settle the case via a mediator to keep it out of court. It does not matter that you are right and the other person is wrong. It is simply this: you cannot sin and then turn around and ask God to bless you and your sin.


1Samuel 13:13c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

׳attâh (ה ָ ַע) [pronounced ģaht-TAWH]

now, at this time, already

adverb of time

Strong’s #6258 BDB #773

Together, they mean for in this case, for then; and after a protasis, surely then, indeed.

kûwn (ן) [pronounced koon]

to erect (to stand up perpendicular), to establish, to prepare, to be stabilized

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong’s #3559 BDB #465

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3069 BDB #217

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

mamelâkâh (ה ָכ ָל  ׃מ ַמ) [pronounced mahme-law-kaw]

kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign, dynasty; used to refer to both the royal dignity and to the country of a king

feminine singular noun (with 2nd person masculine singular suffix)

Strong’s #4467 BDB #575

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

׳ôwlâm (ם ָלע) [pronounced ģo-LAWM]

long duration, perpetuity, antiquity, futurity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5769 BDB #761

Together, they mean and from everlasting to everlasting, from eternity past to eternity future or from antiquity to everlasting, forever.


Translation: “...for now Jehovah would have established your kingdom regarding Israel from everlasting to everlasting.” Understand that Samuel is not talking about Saul ruling over Israel forever; he is speaking of Saul’s progeny ruling over Israel from then until the coming of Messiah, Who would have been in Saul’s line. All Saul had to do was to follow the guidelines which Samuel set down for him, which were fairly simple. However, he did not obey God, he overstepped his boundaries, and this signaled the end of Saul’s dynasty.


What I think of when I examine this verse is what Jacob said to Reuben. Reuben was his firstborn and was, by virtue of being the firstborn, given a double portion, as well as additional privileges and responsibilities. However, Reuben had shown himself not to be a leader, not to be the one to responsibly lead his family, but one who will take the easy way out. He is the politician with some values, but he is willing to abandon these values if another opinion seems to be the most expedient. Do you recall when Joseph’s ten older brothers placed Joseph in a pit with the intention of selling him as a slave to some traders? Reuben knew this was wrong and, regardless of how he felt about Joseph, he knew that the proper thing to do was to put his foot down as the eldest and say that this would not be done. However, Reuben was afraid of his younger brothers and did not want to suffer the consequences that Joseph was suffering. Therefore, Reuben kept his mouth shut. He did the expedient thing. His plan was to return to Joseph later and let Joseph out of this pit. Because of this unwillingness to stand by his convictions, Jacob pronounced that Reuben had the personal convictions of water (water takes the form of whatever receptacle it is poured into), and Jacob told him that the rights and privileges of the firstborn would not be his (see Gen. 37 and 49). It was Reuben’s tribe which could have been the great tribe of Israel, but he showed no willingness to stand behind his convictions.


A very reasonable question which Robert P. Gordon asks is, why does Saul entire line get cut off here, whereas David’s line was never cut off because of his sins? At no time does Saul take responsibility for his actions. Prior to Samuel’s arrival, Saul knew that he had screwed up. What did he do? He obviously put together a lengthy justification for his actions. He did not throw himself at God’s mercy, acknowledging that he disobeyed God. After Samuel calls Saul on his disobedience, Saul does not throw himself upon the mercy of God. He does not ask forgiveness. He does not indicate that he recognizes that he was wrong. There are two types of criminals: the true criminal is saddened and repentant because he was caught; someone who is not a true criminal is saddened and repentant because of what he has done. Saul is not upset over what he has done; he is upset because Samuel has called him on it.


What you may not recognize here is the fine line between foreknowledge and free will which is herein presented. God has already promised the rulership of Israel to the line of Judah (Gen. 49:10). So where does Samuel get off telling Saul that his dynasty would not be perpetuated because of his sins against God? It is simple: God knew of Saul’s unfaithfulness in eternity past; therefore, when the kingdom leadership was promised to the line of Judah (which would culminate in the True King, Jesus Christ). However, Saul is a free moral agent. He was allowed to act out his life in accordance with his own free will. The kingdom of Israel would not be taken from him unless he disobeyed God, which he did on several occasions (and without any recorded repentance in this passage). Saul had to disobey God in time to lose the kingdom; God knowing that Saul would disobey Him, was able to promise the kingdom to Judah back in Gen. 49:10 (through Jacob). That Saul would so disappoint God was known in eternity past. However, God allowed him to exercise his free will in time and that the judgment of his line was based upon Saul’s actions and decisions in time. Footnote


And now your kingdom will not stand; has sought out Yehowah for Himself a man like His mind; and so commissions Yehowah him for a prince over His people because you have not kept that which has commissioned you Yehowah.”

1Samuel

13:14

But now your dynasty will not be established [for] Yehowah has sought for Himself a man after His [own] heart. Therefore, Yehowah has commissioned him to [be] a prince over His people because you have not kept that which Yehowah commissioned you.”

However, your dynasty will not endure because Jehovah has sought for a man whose heart is true. Therefore, Jehovah chose a man to be prince over His people because you have not obeyed the laws which Jehovah has set up over you.”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And now your kingdom will not stand; has sought out Yehowah for Himself a man like His mind; and so commissions Yehowah him for a prince over His people because you have not kept that which has commissioned you Yehowah.”

Septuagint                             But now your kingdom will not stand to you, and the Lord will seek for Himself a man after his own heart; and the Lord will appoint him to be a ruler over His people, because you have not kept all that the Lord commanded you.”

 

Significant differences:          Apart from a short prepositional phrase (to you), there are no real differences between the Greek and the Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       But no, you disobeyed, and so the Lord won’t choose anyone else from your family to be king. In fact, he has already chosen the one he wants to be the next leader of his people.”

NLT                                But now your dynasty must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. the Lord has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the Lord’s command.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        But now your dynasty will not endure. The Lord will seek out a man after His own heart, and the Lord will appoint him ruler over His people, because you did not abide by what the Lord had commanded you.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

Young's Updated LT              ...and, now, your kingdom does not stand, Jehovah has sought for Himself a man according to His own heart, and Jehovah charges him for leader over His people, for you have not kept that which Jehovah commanded you.”


What is the gist of this verse? Samuel continues to speak to Saul, telling him that Jehovah desires a man after His Own heart. It is implied that such a man had been found, and that Saul’s dynasty would be supplanted by the dynasty of this other man (David, who is not named herein).


1Samuel 13:14a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB  #251

׳attâh (ה ָ ַע) [pronounced ģaht-TAWH]

now, at this time, already

adverb of time

Strong’s #6258 BDB #773

mamelâkâh (ה ָכ ָל  ׃מ ַמ) [pronounced mahme-law-kaw]

kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign, dynasty; used to refer to both the royal dignity and to the country of a king

feminine singular noun (with 2nd person masculine singular suffix)

Strong’s #4467 BDB #575

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word immediately following it; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877


Translation: “And now, your dynasty will not be established [or, will not stand].” In the traditional order of things, the line of a king would continue in perpetuity until some faction or group removes that line or supercedes that line. God was superceding the line of Saul. Saul had a great son, Jonathan. Jonathan would have been an outstanding king over Israel. One of the most amazing things in Scripture is Jonathan’s love and loyalty toward David, even though they both could have been seen as potential kings, and therefore rivals for the throne of Israel.

 

At this point, you might pose the question, Given the urgency of the situation, why didn’t Samuel get to Saul earlier? Edersheim answers: [Samuel’s] delay seems to have been intentional, quite as much as that of our blessed Lord, after He had heard of the sickness of Lazarus, and when He knew of his death (John 11:6, 14, 15). But if intentional, its object can only have been to test the character of Saul’s kingdom. Upon this, of course, the permanency of that kingdom would depend. We have already seen that Saul represented the kind of monarchy which Israel wished to have established. Saul’s going down to Gilgal to offer sacrifices, and yet not offering them properly; his unwillingness to enter on the campaign without having entreated the face of Jehovah, and yet offending Him by disobedience; his waiting so long, and not long enough; his trust in the help of Jehovah, and yet his distrust when his followers left him; hiss evident belief in the absolute efficacy of sacrifices as an outward ordinance irrespective of the inward sacrifice of heart and will—are all exactly representative of the religious state of Israel. Footnote


What we have is a monarch who, although petitioned for and accepted by the people, was not wholly committed to God, and was willing to cut corners, despite the fact that God had shown a willingness to guide him. Samuel’s near-lateness allowed Saul’s soul to reveal his lack of faith in Jehovah of the armies, the result of which would be that the dynasty of Saul would be given to another, one whose actions would act as a shadow of the good things to come, namely the true King of Israel, Jesus Christ.


1Samuel 13:14b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

bâqash (ש ַק ָ) [pronounced baw-KAHSH]

to seek, to search, to desire, to strive after, to attempt to get, to require, to demand, to ask, to seek with desire and diligence

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #1245 BDB #134

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3069 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

man, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

bvabv (ב ַב ֵל) [pronounced layb-VBAHV]

mind, inner man, inner being, heart

masculine singular noun with a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong’s #3824 BDB #523


Translation: “Jehovah has sought with reference to Himself a man like His own heart.” We have an interesting use of tenses in this and the previous phrase. When Samuel speaks of the dynasty of Saul as not being established, it is in the imperfect tense, indicating that, as he spoke, there still was a dynasty in force; however, that would change. However, with regards to seeking another man with the right heart, this was an accomplished matter (perfect tense), even though David, Saul’s successor, has never been mentioned and even though Samuel apparently does not know who David is. The idea is that God has made provision for this problem in eternity past. I.e., the problem is ongoing, but God solve this problem already, in eternity past (which is the time that God solved all of our problems).


The phrase after His own heart or like His own heart is a reference to David’s positive volition toward God and God’s plan. David trusted God and, when he made a mistake, he confessed it to God, recognizing the wrongness in what he had done. Saul does not have the same drive to obey God, nor does he seem to recognize the wrongness of his actions which are against God’s will.


1Samuel 13:14c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

tsâvâh (ה ָו ָצ) [pronounced tsaw-VAW]

to commission, to mandate, to lay charge upon, to give charge to, charge, command, order

3rd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect, 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #6680 BDB #845

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3069 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâgîyd (די̣גָנ)   [pronounced naw-GEED]

prince, crown-prince, leader, ruler, noble

masculine singular noun

Strong's #5057 BDB #617

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun (with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix)

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word immediately following it; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

shâmar (ר ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAR

to keep, to guard, to watch, to preserve

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #8104 BDB #1036

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

together, they mean how, that which, what, whatever; whom, whomever

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

tsâvâh (ה ָו ָצ) [pronounced tsaw-VAW]

to commission, to mandate, to lay charge upon, to give charge to, charge, command, order

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect, 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #6680 BDB #845

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3069 BDB #217


Translation: “Therefore, Yehowah has commissioned him a prince over His people because you did not guard that which Yehowah commissioned you.” There is somewhat of a play on words here; although one which does not suggest the playfulness that some plays on words do. We have a repeat of the verb tsâvâh, both as 3rd person masculine singular, Piel verbs. The first is in the imperfect, with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix, indicating that the man that God has commissioned has not yet taken charge; the second time the verb is used, it is in the perfect tense with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix, which is a reference to Saul, who simply did not do what God commissioned him to do. Again, you may think that this is too harsh. Saul was under way too much pressure and making the sort of mistake that he made should not end his dynasty. I need to make several points here: (1) the higher up you are in the realm of authority, the more you need to depend upon God and God’s will. (2) The greater your authority, the more important your obedience to God’s will. Recall how Moses, simply because he hit the rock to gain water rather than simply spoke to the rock, was not allowed to set foot in the Land of Promise (Num. 20:2–13). (3) Finally, and most importantly, Saul revealed what was truly in his heart—a heart which God could see. So, when given a very simple command in 1Sam. 15—a command that could be obeyed without being under much pressure—Saul will disobey God once again, because it was not in his nature to obey God. Furthermore, you will notice that there are no words of repentance. Saul does not tell Samuel, “Yes, you are right—I disobeyed God; I chose not to trust Him.” He says nothing of the kind. He does not beg God’s forgiveness; he does not ask Saul to offer up a sacrifice for his sin. So God’s assessment of Saul’s sin and His punishment of same is appropriate. However, we will note that Samuel continued to pray on behalf of Samuel (see 1Sam. 15:11).


Now Samuel, on the other hand, was not aware at this time who would take Saul’s place; nor did he know when this would all come to pass. However, God knew, and God would lead Samuel to anoint David after Saul disobeys God once again (1Sam. 16:1). I have quoted one verse from the book of Acts; now let me quote it with the following verse: “And then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe fo Benjamin, for forty years. And after He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’” (Acts 13:21–22 1Sam. 13:14b). “I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David, My servant; with My holy oil, I have anointed him with whom My hand will be established; My arm will also strengthen him.” (Psalm 89:19b–21).


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What is remarkable is the similarities between this and God’s message to Eli. Recall that Eli’s sons defamed the offerings to God and were an embarrassment to him and to God. Because Eli was unable to control his sons, God removed his line of priests. A man of God came and spoke to Eli, just as Samuel came and spoke to Saul. I will place the two passages side-by-side:

God’s Message to Saul and to Eli

To Saul (1Samuel 13:13b–14)

To Eli (1Samuel 2:30b, 35)

“You have acted foolishly—you have not kept the commandment of Yehowah your God which He commanded you; for by now Yehowah would have established your dynasty over Israel forever. But now your dynasty will not be established [for] Yehowah has sought for Himself a man after His [own] heart. Therefore, Yehowah has commissioned him to [be] a prince over His people because you have not kept that which Yehowah commissioned you.”

Thus, [this] declaration of Yehowah: ‘[Eli’s sons are] a profanity to Me, for those who honor Me, I will honor and those who despise Me, I will despise. And I have caused to raise up for Myself a faithful priest; he will do as that which [is] in My heart and in My soul. And I have built for him a sure house and he [He] will go in and out before My Anointed [anointed] all the days.’

The reason that these two passages are so similar is that the One Whom God would raise up, as the High Priest of Israel and the King of Israel would be the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. So these are prophecies which look into the near future and into the far future. Saul would be replaced by David and David’s lineage; Eli would be replaced by Samuel, and then by the line of Eleazar (Eli was from the line of Ithamar; both were sons of Aaron). Ultimately, both lines would culminate in the True High Priest and the King of Kings, Christ Jesus our Savior (Jesus in His humanity was actually a descendant of David; He was a spiritual descendant of the priestly line of Samuel, who was outside the priestly familial succession).


God’s judgment against Saul may seem somewhat harsh—he simply jumped the gun and offered sacrifices to God about an hour too soon. He had a sudden lapse of faith—well, don’t we all? Here’s the deal: Saul was in the highest position of authority. Israel’s history would be written around him. God used the history of Israel to foreshadow the True King of Israel to come, Christ Jesus. Saul revealed a chink in his armor here which was not just a lapse, but was to prove to be his modus operandi. Again and again, Saul would disobey God, in this minor point or that minor point, and these acts of disobedience would cause Israel problems for years to come. Furthermore, Saul will show a distinct lack of leadership judgment; in the next chapter, he will make a vow, the end result of which will be that the Philistines are not beaten as much as they could have been, which will eventually result in the death of Saul and his sons. I want you to notice what does not happen—God does not immediately take the kingdom from Saul. Saul is allowed to rule another 10–20 years after this incident (possibly even longer; an accurate time frame is difficult to put together); however, his behavior will become increasingly erratic and his judgment further and further from kingly. Upon hearing this pronouncement of Samuel, Saul could have, at any time, begged God’s forgiveness. He could have confessed his sins. He could have changed his mind about the person upon whom he depended. But he did not, and, for that reason, the kingdom will be taken from him.

 

As Edersheim writes: However different their circumstances, Saul was as unfit for the inheritance of the kingdom, with the promises which this implied and the typical meaning it bore, as Esau had been for the inheritance of the first-born, with all that it conveyed in the present, in the near, and in the distant future. Footnote


Application: We are not always given this great test upon which the fate of the world depends. Our tests may seem to be rather innocuous at the time. With Adam, it was a simple prohibition not to eat from the fruit of one tree. His act of disobedience, which may seem to have been a minor thing, plunged the world into sin. If we were to compare the moral character of Jacob and Esau, Esau would clearly appear to be superior. However, despite his actions, Jacob was motivated by the passing on of the promises of God to him, and several of his actions indicated that predisposition. However, with Esau, he was willing to trade his birthright for a bowl of Chili (he was hungry). Here, Saul needed only to wait another hour, and God would have taken care of things, resulting in Saul being hailed as the hero of the day once again. However, he could not wait one hour. His trust in God and in Samuel was eaten away, and his subsequent actions revealed this to be his consistent nature rather than an aberration. So, how are you tested? Often in the little things. You have a job and with that job comes many responsibilities; you must attempt to fulfill those responsibilities to the best of your ability, including those which seem insignificant. You might have a family, and you have responsibilities to that family, which includes important and seemingly unimportant acts of faithfulness. Always bear in mind that God tests you in the little things as often as He does in the big things.


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Saul Organizes and Moves His Troops While the Philistine Army Strikes Israel at Will


And so rises up Samuel and so he goes up from Gilgal; and the remnant of the people went after Saul to meet behind after the people of their army, approaching from Gilgal [to] Gibeah of Benjamin. And so numbers Saul the people those present with him about 600 a man.

1Samuel

13:15

Then Samuel arose and he went up from Gilgal. The remnant of the people went after Saul to meet behind the men of their war approaching from Gilgal to Gibeah [Geba?] of Benjamin. Saul then numbered the people present with him [and there were] about 600 men.

Samuel then arose and left Gilgal. Those who remained with Saul went with him from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin to meet up with the men of war [Jonathan’s men]. When Saul took role, he found that there were only 600 men who remained with them.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And Samuel arose and went up from Galgal to Gabaa of Benjamin. And the rest of the people went up after Saul, to meet the people who fought against them, going from Galgal to Gabaa, in the hill of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people, that were found with him, about six hundred men.

Masoretic Text                       And so rises up Samuel and so he goes up from Gilgal; [to] Gibeah of Benjamin. And so numbers Saul the people those present with him about 600 a man.

Peshitta                                 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Ramtha of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about 600 men.

Septuagint                             And Samuel arose, and departed from Galgala, and the remnant of the people went after Saul to meet after the men of war, when they had come out of Galgala to Gabaa of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were found with him, about six hundred men.

 

Significant differences:          At this point, we have some serious textual problems. According to the Hebrew, Samuel arises and goes from Gilgal to Gibeah; afterwards, Saul numbers his men to find that he only has 600 men. In the Greek, Samuel departs Gilgal, with a destination that is not named. The remaining people go with Saul to Gibea, which is far south of where the Philistines are encamped (Michmash)—the cities of Ramah and Geba are between them. Saul numbers his men to find that there are 600. I must admit that I am not completely sure where the Latin has Saul and Samuel going—probably to Gibeah, but possibly to Geba, and they both go there. Finally, the Peshitta leaves out the additional phrase found in the Latin and Greek and has Samuel going to Ramtha (probably Ramah). This is as big of a mess as one would ever expect to find.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Then Samuel left Gilgal. Part of Saul’s army had not deserted him, and he led them to Gibeah in Benjamin to join his other troops. Then he counted them and found that he still had six hundred men.

NAB                                       Then Samuel set out from Gilgal and went his own way; but the rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the soldiers, going from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul then numbered the soldiers he had with him, who were about six hundred.

NJB                                Samuel then got up and left Gilgal to continue his journey. Those people remaining followed Saul as he went to join the warriors, and went from Gilgal to Geba of Benjamin. Saul reviewed the force that was with him; there were about six hundred men.

NLT                                Samuel then left Gilgal and went on his way, but the rest of the troops went with Saul to meet the army. They went up from Gilgal to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. [As in the Greek version; Hebrew reads Samuel left Gilgal and went to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin] When Saul counted the men who were still with him, he found only six hundred left!

REB                                       Without more ado Samuel left Gilgal and went on the way. The rest of the people followed Saul, as he moved from Gilgal towards the enemy. At Gibeah of Benjamin he mustered his followers; they were about six hundred men.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Samuel left Gilgal. The rest of the people followed Saul to meet the soldiers. They went from Gilgal to Gibeah in Benjamin, where Saul counted the troops who were still with him—about 600 men.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal [Septuagint reads here, “Samuel rose and left Gilgal and went his way. The rest of the people followed Saul to meet the soldiers, and they went from Gilgal.”] to Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul numbered the troops who remained with him—about 600 strong.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Emphasized Bible           And Samuel arose and ascended from Gilgal and went his way,—but ║the rest of the people║ ascended after Saul to meet the army and came in from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were found with him, about six hundred men. [I have inserted the footnoted portion]

NASB                                     Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

NKJV                                     Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal and the rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the people who fought against them, going from Gilgal to Gibeah in the hill of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men. [I have included the LXX and Vulgate text of the margin notes with the verse—a problem which I see is that we find the translation and transliteration of Gibeah (which means hill), where we should find just one or the other; my guess is that this is an error of the margin notes].

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel rises and goes up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin; and Saul inspects the people who are found with him, about six hundred men,...


What is the gist of this verse? Samuel then leaves Gilgal and Saul assembles his remaining troops and marches them to Gibeah. Saul numbers his men, and there are only 600 who remain. Recall that Saul had 2000 men to begin with and he assembled additional troops from Israel in Gilgal (v. 4); Jonathan originally had 1000 men with him. It appears as though this is all who remain both to him and Jonathan.


There is a great deal of difference between the Greek and the Hebrew text in this passage (and the other ancient texts as well). The biggest difference is, in the Hebrew, Samuel leaves Gilgal and goes to Gibeah of Benjamin; and in the Greek, Samuel leaves Gilgal, but his destination is not given; Saul leaves Gilgal and goes to Gibeah. In the next verse, it is clear that Saul and his men are in Geba of Benjamin, in both the Greek and the Hebrew (which is immediately to the south of Michmash). The error appears to be with the Hebrew, which will be further explained below:


1Samuel 13:15a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

to go up, to ascend, to rise, to climb

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5927 BDB #748

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

Gilegâl (ל ָ  ׃ל  ̣) [pronounced gilg-GAWL]

wheel, whirl, whirlwind; it is transliterated Gilgal

masculine proper noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1537 BDB #166


Translation: Then Samuel arose and he went up from Gilgal... Samuel is done here. He had come, as promised, to offer up sacrifices and to give Saul guidance; Saul precluded him from these functions. So, Samuel chews Saul out and now he leaves.


The Greek inserts: ...and the remnant of the people went after Saul to meet after the men of war, when they had come out of Galgala [Gilgal]... What appears to have happened is that, when the scribe looked up at Gilgal in the old text, to begin writing, he looked at the second instance of Gilgal. This is a common scribal error. None of my sources mention the Dead Sea Scrolls in relationship to this verse because chapter 13 is unreadable in the scrolls. Footnote In my opinion, the strongest argument for the insertion of this text is that it is found in the Vulgate (the Vulgate Old Testament was translated into Latin from the Hebrew text available to Jerome at that time; however, there is no reason to assume that the text had not become corrupt after the Septuagint was translated and before the Vulgate was translated). However, the Vulgate does not agree completely with the Greek.

There are some scholars who reject this reading as secondary and harmonistic. Footnote

Because of some of the problems in the Greek text, I felt that I had better give you the original Greek as well:

1Samuel 13:15a Text from the Greek Septuagint

Greek/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

Strong’s Number

kaí (καί) [pronounced ]

and, even, also; so, too, then, that; indeed, but

conjunction

Strong’s #2532

anistêmi (ἀνίστημι) [pronounced ahn-ISS-tay-mee]