1Samuel 15

 

1Samuel 15:1–35

Saul Defeats the Amalekites but Disobeys God


Outline of Chapter 15:

 

       vv.    1–3        Samuel Gives Saul Instructions from God to Completely Destroy the Amalekites

       vv.    4–9        Saul Defeats the Amalekites, but Does Not Comply With All God’s Directives

       vv.   10–19      Samuel confronts Saul Concerning his Disobedience to God

       vv.   20–21      Saul Makes Excuses for his Disobedience to God

       vv.   22–23      Samuel Pronounces God’s Judgment Against Saul

       vv.   24–25      Saul’s Partial Admission of Guilt and Samuel’s Response

       vv.   30–31      Saul Unequivocal Admission of Guilt and Samuel’s Response

       vv.   32–33      Samuel Kills Agag, King of the Amalekites

       vv.   34–35      Saul and Samuel Part Company for Good


Charts and Maps:

 

       v.      2           A Brief Summary of the Amalekites

       v.      2           The Groups of People Who Impeded Israel’s Progress Toward the Land of Promise

       v.      2           Why Do We Know this Passage Is Not Self-serving and Simply Inserted by Saul?

       v.      3           Who Has God Dedicated to Complete Annihilation?

       v.      3           Why Did God Demand the Complete Destruction of the Amalekites?

       v.      3           Why Would God Demand the Destruction of an Entire People?

       v.      3           Does God Work Through Any Specific Nation Today as He did Through Israel Previously?

       v.      6           The Kenites in Scripture

       v.     11           Times When God is Said to Have Changed His Mind

       v.     11           Translating and Interpreting Four Words of 1Sam. 15:11

       v.     11           Other Translations of These Four Words in 1Sam. 15:11

       v.     12           Map Showing Saul Traveling to Avoid Samuel

       v.     22           Isaiah 1:11–20a

       v.     23           A Brief Summary of Teraphim

       v.     23           God’s Steps in Replacing Saul as King


Doctrines Alluded To

The Amalekites

Inspiration

The Kenites

Teraphim


I ntroduction: God will give Saul, through Samuel, the order to destroy every Amalekite and all of their livestock. Saul does go to war against the Amalekites, and is victorious, but he spares the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, as well as the choicest of the livestock. Samuel comes to Saul, exasperated, and sweats Saul’s shadow into the wall. At this point, Saul does regret what he did and he does ask for forgiveness. Samuel tells Saul that God has already given the kingdom to another. He begs Samuel to stay with him to worship God, and he executes Agag at that time before God and Samuel. At that time, these two part for the last time.


To summarize this chapter in a little more detail: Samuel goes to Saul and tells him that the Amalekite people need to be destroyed: every man, woman and child, and all of their livestock (vv. 1–3). Although we might be able to argue about personal items and manufactured items, there is no question that every living thing was to be destroyed. You may wonder, how could God require that? God is able to see our world and all that will happen given that this or that takes place. He knows from eternity past who would believe in Him and who would not. In this chapter, we may reasonably assume that even keeping the female virgins alive or the children would result in a very problematic situation for Israel with absolutely no upside for mankind. You may wonder about the animals—it is possible, if not likely, that the entire population was infected with a contagious disease or diseases, and those were probably sexually transmitted diseases. It is also likely that they practiced child sacrifice and temple prostitution. We don’t know, as the Bible does not tell us, so the best we can do is speculate. However, since it is God’s Word which tells us that all of the Amalekites must be destroyed, then we can rest assured that He had good reason.


Saul apparently has a reserve force (1Sam. 13:2 14:52) and he is also able to quickly raise up a complete army, which is what he does (v. 4). They attack and defeat the Amalekites, after first allowing the Kenites to move out of harm’s way (vv. 5–7, 8b). But then Saul and the people save Agag, the king of the Amalekites, alive; and they also preserve the best and the second best of their livestock (vv. 8a–9).


The Word of Jehovah comes to Samuel, saying “I regret that I made Saul king over Israel.” And Samuel is sent to Saul to correct Saul’s disobedience (v. 10). It takes Samuel a little time to catch up to Saul (Saul is first in Carmel setting up a monument or a statue of himself), and then Saul goes up to Gilgal, which is where Samuel finally finds him (vv. 11–12).


Saul’s conversation with Samuel is amazing. Scripture preserves enough to indicate that Saul is a real piece of work. One of the popular phrases of today is how some politicians put a spin on this or that event. That is, the event is reported and interpreted to favor that politician. Saul was certainly not the inventor of spin (either Adam or Satan was), but Saul was certainly a master of spin. When you read what happens and what Saul says, you will swear that you have been reading today’s newspaper. Samuel has to dig through Saul’s half-truths and the spin that he puts on things to get to the actual truth. Saul twice affirms that he obeyed the voice of God (vv. 13, 20), despite ample evidence to the contrary (vv. 14–15, 19, 21).


Samuel then pronounces judgment upon Saul, preceding that judgment with one of the most well-known passages from 1Samuel: “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Listen, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen [to Him] better than [offering up] the fat of rams. Rebellion is the sin of divination and insubordination is iniquity and idolatry.” (vv. 22–23a). And then Samuel informs Saul that God has taken the kingdom from him (v. 26).


For centuries, theologians have brow beat Saul. Knowing that his bravery and courage in battle is beyond reproach, and that his disobedience to God does not seem to be any worse than mine, I would prefer not to cast any stones at Saul. Saul finally admits that he did sin (vv. 24–25), and insists that Samuel join him in worship. It is not clear whether Saul is still working the situation, or whether he simply needs for Samuel to guide him in worship (Saul apparently does have a camp priest—1Sam. 14:3). In any case, I prefer to see this as Saul regretting his actions, and expressing this in worship Footnote (vv. 25, 27–31). Furthermore, the people of Israel are also to blame. As we will see, Saul will blame them himself (1Sam. 15:21, 24). Now, certainly as king and commander-in-chief, he should have assumed the blame; however, no doubt that many of the people acted on their own, spending time setting aside livestock rather than continuing the battle.


Some contemporary worship services are followed by Sunday School or fellowship in the main hall, or something of that nature. Samuel followed up his worship service with Saul with the hacking to pieces of Agag, the former king of Amalek (vv. 32–33), which would be quite the interesting presentation in fellowship hall. Then this chapter ends on a sad note: Samuel and Saul part company for the last time (vv. 34–35).


With respect to time, we have no idea how much time has transpired since 1Sam. 14. As I mentioned, I see 1Sam. 14 as occurring 20 years (if not more) after chapter 13; this chapter probably takes place another 10–15 years later. 1Sam. 14:47–48, 52 seem to summarize the military success of Saul, and the Amalekites, the object of Saul’s attack in this chapter, are mentioned separately. My thinking is that it appears as though a writer was putting the finishing touches on the reign of Saul in the previous chapter, and what occurs here is almost like an addendum or an expansion of v. 48. Also, since this chapter records Samuel’s last words to Saul, we can rest assured that Saul is at the end of his reign. God will only keep Saul alive to test David and his faithfulness.

 

McGee: In chapter 15 we [will see]...God’s rejection of Saul. God gave Saul not just one opportunity but several opportunities ot see if he would obey Him. Saul revealed that he was totally disobedient unto God. He should have made good, but he did not. The Lord did not need to wait to see the results of Saul’s kingship. He already knew. But Saul needed to know. Samuel needed to know because he loved Saul. The people needed to know because they had chosen Saul. Footnote


In my opinion, this portion of Scripture was written by a different hand than the previous few chapters. I came across word after word that has not been found in the book of Samuel prior to this; I found several words which are rarely found anywhere. This also is the case with subsequent chapters. In previous chapters of Samuel, once I had done 5–15 verses, almost every word that I came across after that point had already been used in that chapter. In this chapter I continually went to my Hebrew lexicon to pull out words that I had not seen for a long time (and many words that I have never seen before).


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Samuel Gives Saul Instructions from God to Completely Destroy the Amalekites


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

And so says Samuel unto Saul, “Me had sent Yehowah to anoint you to king over His people, over Israel. And now listen to a sound of words of Yehowah.

1Samuel

15:1

[Sometime later] Samuel said to Saul, “Yehowah had sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now, therefore, listen to the words of Yehowah: ...

Sometime later, Samuel came to Saul and said, “ Yehowah, Who sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel, now has these word for you to hear: ...


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Samuel unto Saul, “Me had sent Yehowah to anoint you to king over His people, over Israel. And now listen to a sound of words of Yehowah.

Septuagint                             And Samuel said to Saul, ‘”The Lord sent me to anoint you king over Israel; and now hear the voice of the Lord:

 

Significant differences:          The LXX lacks over His people. It is rare for the LXX to lack what is in the Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       One day, Samuel told Saul: The Lord had me choose you to be king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord:


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over His people Israel. Therefore, listen to the Lord’s command!


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Then Samuel said to Saul, “This Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore listen to the words [lit., sound of the words] of the Lord.

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel says unto Saul, ‘Me did Jehovah send to anoint you for king over His people, over Israel; and now, hearken to the voice of the words of Jehovah:


What is the gist of this verse? Samuel comes to Saul and tells him that Jehovah of Israel sent him to Saul with a message.


1Samuel 15:1

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, directional preposition 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

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated mark of a direct object

affixed to 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

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

to send, to send for, to send forth, to send away, to dismiss, to deploy, to put forth

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

mâshach (ח  ָמ) [pronounced maw-SHAHKH]

to smear, to anoint

Qal infinitive construct with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #4886 BDB #602

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

meleke ( ל מ) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572

׳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 a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

׳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

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

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, to hearken to, to be attentive to, to listen and take note of, to listen and be cognizant of

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine plural

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

I wonder if what we have here is the verb cognate of qôwl, which is not used anywhere else in Scripture?

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter

masculine plural construct

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: [Sometime later] Samuel said to Saul, “Yehowah had sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now, therefore, listen to the words of Yehowah: ... We do not know how much time has gone by since The NASB begins this chapter with the word then and many other translations begin this chapter with the word and. This is because this chapter (like almost every other previous chapter and like almost every previous sentence) begins with the wâw consecutive. Although then is a very good rendering of the wâw consecutive, our concept often implies a very short span of time between the events on both sides of the then. In the Hebrew, everything is strung together with either a wâw consecutive (which seems continue or introduce narrative action or act like the beginning of a sentence) or the wâw conjunction (which seems to act like the beginning of a sentence—in the English, we instead, use a period to end the previous sentence—or it is used to bind a list of things together (we use a comma and one and). However, we cannot put any sort of strict interpretation of a short chronology because the Hebrew uses the word then. Generally, we might assume the events of 1Sam. 15 follow chapter 14, but the intervening time is not constricted by this word. I assume that 10–20 years have passed since chapter 14, and that we are now at the end of Saul’s career.


Saul defeated the Philistines, but I suspect, as I have mentioned before, that the other groups mentioned in 1Sam. 14:47, occurred between Saul’s recorded victories over the Ammonites and the Philistines. If anything was inserted by an editor at a later date, it may have been v. 48. The Amalekites, the enemies of Israel in this chapter, are not listed with the other groups that Saul contended with. It is not as though the author in chapter 14 thought, naw, I won’t mention them; I’ll give them their own chapter. It is more likely that there was no conflict until this time. In fact, I believe that a new author picked up a pen and recorded this much later than 1Sam. 14, which chapter feels almost like a completed book at the end. In any case, given what Samuel will say to Saul in vv. 22–23, we may assume that we are at the end of Saul’s career as king over Israel.


When I say that we are at the end of Saul’s career, I mean one thing, and you are probably thinking another. With regards to time, my guess is that Saul has another 10 years or so to reign as king. However, we have come to a point where Saul is no longer God’s man for the job. God will no longer work through Saul to accomplish His ends. For instance, Samuel will never again come to Saul and tell him, “This is what God wants you to do.” This chapter is why—Saul won’t do it. Whatever God has for Saul to do, Saul will do a half-assed job. So, as far as God is concerned, this is the end of Saul’s career as king over Israel. In the remainder of this chapter, we will find out why.


Our verse tells us that Samuel was the man sent to anoint Saul king over all Israel, which has been confirmed for us in our previous study of 1Sam. 9:16 10:1. What is important is the way that Samuel explains this. He first tells Saul that he is being sent by the same God who appointed Saul king over Israel. Saul doubted that, and Samuel made certain that Saul had quite a few signs to confirm this appointment (1Sam. 10). Samuel comes to Saul under the exact same authority with the command of the next two verses. Saul is to have no confusion as to the origin or as to the solemnity of the command Samuel is about to deliver.


So has said Yehowah [of] Armies, ‘I have visited [that] which has done Amalek to Israel which he placed to him in the way in his going up from Egypt.

1Samuel

15:2

Thus Yehowah of the Armies has said: ‘I will [re-] visit that which Amalek did to Israel [for] that [which] they set before them on the road when they came up out of Egypt.

This is the message of Yehowah of the Armies: ‘I will revisit that which Amalek did to Israel; for that which they set in the way of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       So has said Yehowah [of] Armies, ‘I have visited [that] which has done Amalek to Israel which he placed to him in the way in his going up from Egypt.

Septuagint                             Thus said the Lord of hosts, ‘Now I will take vengeance for what Amalee did to Israel, when he met him in the way as he came up out of Egypt.

 

Significant differences:          The differences in the verbs may simply be a result of translation from Hebrew to Greek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “When the Israelites were on their way out of Egypt, the nation of Amalek attacked them. I am the Lord All-Powerful, and now I am going to make Amalek pay!

NLT                                        This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt.

TEV                                       He is going to punish the people of Amalek because their ancestors opposed the Israelites when they were coming from Egypt.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         This is what the Lord of Armies says: I will punish Amalek for what they did to Israel. They blocked Israel’s way after the Israelites came from Egypt.

JPS (Tanakh)                        “Thus said the Lord of Hosts: I am exacting the penalty for what Amalek did to Israel, for the assault he made upon them on the road, on their way up from Egypt.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish [or, visit] Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt.

Young's Literal Translation    ‘Thus sad Jehovah of Hosts, I have looked after that which Amalek did to Israel, that which he laid for him in the way in his gong up out of Egypt.


What is the gist of this verse? What God tells Saul is that He is going to settle accounts with Amalek. Amalek had caused Israel problems in her trek from Egypt to the Land of Promise, and now God was going to destroy all of Amalek (that will be made clear in subsequent verses).


1Samuel 15:2

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kôh (הֹ) [pronounced koh]

so, thus, here, hence

adverb

Strong’s #3541 BDB #462

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

tsebâôwth (תאָבצ) [pronounced tzeb-vaw-OHTH]

armies, wars

masculine plural noun, simply the plural of Strong’s #6635, but often used in titles

Strong’s #6635 BDB #838

pâqad (ד ַק ָ) [pronounced paw-KAHD]

to go to a person, to visit, to have personal contact with, to sort out, to visit a person, to commit, to charge to the care of, to fall upon, to attack, to number, to take a census

1st person singular, Qal prefect

Strong's #6485 BDB #823

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

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

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

sîym (םי ̣) [pronounced seem]

to put, to place, to set, to make

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #7760 BDB #962

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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

dereke ( ר ) [pronounced DEH-reke]

way, distance, road, journey, manner, course

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #1870 BDB #202

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

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

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

Qal infinitive construct with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #5927 BDB #748

The infinitive construct, when combined with the bêyth preposition, can often take on a temporal meaning and may be rendered when [such and such happens]. It can serve as a temporal marker that denotes an event which occurs simultaneously with the action of the main verb.

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

mitzerayim (ם̣י-רצ̣מ) [pronounced mits-RAH-yim]

translated Egypt, Egyptians

proper noun (pausal form)

Strong’s #4714 BDB #595


Translation: Thus Yehowah of the Armies has said: ‘I will [re] visit that which Amalek did to Israel [for] that [which] they set before them on the road when they came up out of Egypt.


There were two general responses to Israel and the God of Israel when God took them out of Egypt and brought Egypt to her knees: some feared Israel and feared their God. However, there were others who want to challenge the biggest kid on the block. This was Amalek. The progenitor of this tribe was possibly the grandson of Esau, the brother of Jacob (Gen. 36:10–12). Just as Esau broke off from his father Isaac and formed his own nation, so did Amalek, forming a nation which was near Edom. There appear to be differing opinions as to the location of Amalek, placing it on either side of Edom (which is due south of the Dead Sea). I would think that Amalek would be found between Edom and the Mediterranean Sea. However, because these were nomadic Arabs, they probably lived in several different places. As Israel came up from Egypt, the first human obstacle that they faced was Amalek (the nation, not the individual). Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” And Joshua did as Moses told him and fought against Amalek. Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his arm up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were held steady until the sun set. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword (Ex. 17:8–13). There was no reason for the nation of Amalek to come out against Israel. They just did, whether out of hatred, jealousy or whatever group of mental attitude sins that acted upon. Interestingly enough, Moses told Israel that, at some point in time, they would have to blot out the memory of Amalek: “Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt: how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore, it will come to pass when Yehowah your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which Yehowah your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you will blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.” (Deut. 25:17–19). Footnote We covered in detail the Doctrine of the Amalekites back in Num. 24:20.


And just in case you don’t look to the Doctrine of the Amalekites, let’s look at...

A Brief Summary of the Amalekites

1.    The origins of the Amalekites are unknown. They seem to appear suddenly in Gen. 14:7, although there is also a mention of an Amalek being born to the family of Esau (Gen. 36:12, 16).

2.    They primarily occupied the area south of Judah, although they also made inroads to Ephraim. Gen. 14:7 Ex. 17:8 Judges 12:15 1Sam. 30:1–3  

3.    The Amalekites were the first nation to attack Israel when they came out of Egypt. They attacked Israel from the rear, where there were the tired, weak and sickly Israelites. It is possible that this attack was based on water rights, even though the water provided for the Israelites was from God. Ex. 17:8–16 Deut. 25:17–18

4.    Because of this merciless and vicious attack, and because of the negative volition and anti-Semitism which this people exhibited over the years, God ordered their complete and total destruction (Deut. 25:19 1Sam. 15:2–3). Saul disobeyed God about completely destroying the Amalekites, which was the act of disobedience which marked the end of his dynasty. 1Sam. 15

5.    David was troubled by the Amalekites when he was an expat in the territory of the Philistines. They raided his camp when he was gone and took his women and the things which he had accumulated over the past year or so. 1Sam. 30

6.    The Amalekites were among the people which David struck down. 2Sam. 8:11–14 1Chron. 18:11

7.    The Amalekites are not mentioned again until the time of Hezekiah (circa 700 a.d.), when the tribe of Simeon defeat them. 1Chron. 4:24

8.    The last Amalekite that we here about is Haman, who is said to be descended from Agag (an unspecified Amalekite king). Haman, in the book of Esther, launches a plan to destroy all the Jews in Persia (a scheme thwarted by Esther and her uncle, Mordecai). Esther 3:1, 10 8:3, 5 9:24.

9.    There is one historical theory which equates the Amalekites with the Hyksos dynasty in Egypt, but I personally do not buy into that, primarily because every time we run into the Amalekites in Scripture, they are over 100 miles away from Egypt and function more like Bedouins than like a people who have conquered a great nation.


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When Israel was moving from Egypt to the Land of Promise, they encountered several groups of people who impeded their progress, despite the fact that Israel was deferential to them.

The Groups of People Who Impeded Israel’s Progress Toward the Land of Promise

Scripture

Incident

Ex. 14

Although the Pharaoh of Egypt finally, after facing several plagues, allowed Israel to depart from their position as slaves to the Egyptians, he had one more bout of negative volition and he took his army in pursuit of the Israelites. They cornered the Israelites at the Sea of Reeds, which God opened up for Israel to pass through, and then closed up on the pursuing army of Pharaoh, killing them all.

Ex. 17:8–13

When Israel was in Rephidim, the Amalekites apparently stood in the way of the Israelites. God miraculously allowed Israel to win based upon Moses raising his hands toward God (when Moses raised his hands, the battle went in favor of the Jews; when he let his arms down, the Amalekites began to win).

Num. 14:39–45

When Israel attempted to enter the land prematurely (they had just demonstrated a complete lack of faith in God’s ability to give them the land), a large group of Israelites attempted to enter the land against Moses’ wishes, and they were beat back by a coalition of Amalekites and Canaanites.

Num. 21:1–3

When Israel resumed their journey toward the Land of Promise, they were met by the king of Arad, a Canaanite, who took some Israelites prisoners. Israel vowed to destroy their cities completely if God gave them victory, and God did.

Num. 21:21–30

Sihon, king of the Amorites, would not allow Israel to pass through his land. Israel defeated him and captured his cities, which he had previously taken from Moab.

Num. 21:32–35

Og, the king of Bashan, and his people stood in Israel’s way and they were defeated by Israel as well.

Num. 22–24

Moab and Midian both were concerned that Israel had defeated so many armies and they sent for a prophet, Balaam, to curse Israel. As you may recall, Balaam was unable to curse Israel, but blessed them instead.

Num. 25:1–9

Moab then took a different approach; their women lured Israelite men into doing obeisance to their gods. This rebellion was checked by Moses and Phinehas.

Num. 31:1–24

Israel took vengeance against the Midianites for their part in the previous two incidents.

Quite obviously, there was not a mention of the Kenites in all of the situations above. There is a reasonable possibility that there was more contact between the Israelites and the Kenites than is recorded in Scripture.


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Barnes believes that this aggressive action incited against the Amalekites in our passage was not necessarily unprovoked. Ditto for Keil and Delitzsch. Their justification is v. 33 of this chapter, in which Samuel refers to the sword of Agag, king of the Amalekites, which sword had made many women childless. It is speculated that the most recent aggression of the Amalekites is well-known to all, and is therefore not even given. Just as possible, we only are allowed in on a portion of Samuel’s conversation with Saul; and that other transgressions were enumerated as well. The Amalekites throughout several generations had been thorns in the sides of the Israelites, attacking them without reason on several occasions (knowing what we know about the reaction of some Arabs to the Jews in modern Israel makes this not a difficult thing to understand). Therefore, Barnes suggests that Amalek probably initiated an attack on Israel (similar to what we will find in 1Sam. 30) while Israel was weakened from their battles with the Philistines. Footnote Even if this war is not recently provoked, I will, in the next verse, provide ample reasons for Israel’s military advance against Amalek.


Why is all of this not simply inserted, self-serving text? Maybe Saul hated the Amalekites, went to war with them, and later made some scribe stick these verses into Scripture in order to justify what he has done.

Why Do We Know this Passage Is Not Self-serving and Simply Inserted by Saul?

1.    There are a number of reasons why we know that Saul did not just make this up and stick it into the Bible. First of all, Saul does not obey God’s order; he half-obeys it, and it makes him look bad.

2.    Saul takes his orders from Samuel in this passage; which makes him look subservient to Samuel. This would not be consistent with the ego of a king.

3.    Saul fails in this passage; this does not make him look good.

4.    If Saul wants this placed into Scripture, why doesn’t God speak to him and tell him to preserve the life of the king?

5.    Finally, what was done by Saul in the end—taking the best of the flocks of the Amalekites was self-serving and disobedient. Why not change the command of God and insert one which makes Saul look good?

People despise truth and they despise the Word of God. They will do anything to denigrate truth or to make Scripture appear to be the work of man.


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Now you go and may you strike down Amalek and you [all] completely devote [or, destroy] all that [is] to them and you will not show mercy unto him and you have caused to kill from man as far as woman, from infant and as far as suckling [child], from ox and as far as sheep, from camel and as far as donkey.’ ”

1Samuel

15:3

Now go and strike down Amalek and you [all] will completely destroy all that they have [lit., all that (is) to him] and you will not show [any] mercy to them [lit., him] and you will execute men and women, infants and newborns, oxen and sheep, and camels and donkeys.’ ”

Now go and strike down the people of Amalek and completely devote to God by destruction all that they have. Do not show any mercy or compassion to them. You must execute and destroy all men, women, children and livestock.’ ”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         Now therefore go, and smite Amalec, and utterly destroy all that he has: do not spare him; do not covet anything that is his: but slay both man and woman, child and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Masoretic Text                       Now you go and may you strike down Amalek and you [all] completely devote [or, destroy] all that [is] to them and you will not show mercy unto him and you have caused to kill from man as far as woman, from infant and as far as suckling [child], from ox and as far as sheep, from camel and as far as donkey.’ ”

Septuagint                             And now go, and you will strike Amalee and Hierim and all that belongs to him, and then you will not save anything of him alive, but you will utterly destroy him; and you will devote him and all his and you will spare nothing belonging to him; and you will slay both man and woman, and infant and suckling, and calf and sheep, and camel and ass.

 

Significant differences:          I began to note the differences above, and almost put a darker blue over the latter two-thirds of this verse. The general meaning is the same—there are several words which are the same; however, there are a great many differences as well. However, it appears as though we are dealing with same basic idea in the Greek and the Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don’t have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”

NLT                                        Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.’ ”

TEV                                       Go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Don’t leave a thing; kill all the men, women, children, and babies; the cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Now go and attack Amalek. Claim everything they have for God by destroying it. Don’t spare them, but kill men and women, infants and children, cows and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        Now go, attack Amalek, and proscribe all that belongs to him. Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camel sand asses!”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     ‘Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”

Young's Updated LT              Now, go and you have struck down Amalek, and devote all that he has, and you have no pity on it, and you have put to death from man unto woman, from infant unto suckling, from ox unto sheep, from camel unto ass.’


What is the gist of this verse? God made it clear to Saul that every Amalekite must die—every man, woman and child. Furthermore, their cattle and livestock were to be completely destroyed as well.


1Samuel 15:3

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

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

now, at this time, already

adverb of time

Strong’s #6258 BDB #773

According to Rotherham, the Septuagint, Vulgate and Aramaic all read now therefore...

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

go, come, depart, walk; advance

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

nâkâh (ה ָכ ָנ) [pronounced naw-KAWH]

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

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect with the voluntative hê

Strong #5221 BDB #645

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM]

to completely devote to, to devote to, to devote to God via complete and total annihilation, to utterly destroy, to dedicate to destruction

2nd person masculine plural, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #2763 BDB #355

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

kol (לָ) [pronounced kol]

the whole, all, the entirety, every

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

châmal (ל ַמ ָח) [pronounced khaw-MAHL

to spare, to have compassion, to show mercy

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2550 BDB #328

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

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

preposition of proximity with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

mûwth (תמ) [pronounced mooth]

to kill, to cause to die, to put to death, to execute

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

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

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

man, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

îshshâh (ה ָֹ ̣א) [pronounced eesh-SHAWH]

woman, wife

feminine singular noun

Strong's #802 BDB #61

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

׳ôlâl (ל ָלֹע) [pronounced ģo-LAWL]

a child as opposed to an adult

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5768 BDB #760

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

yânaq (ק-נָי) [pronounced yaw-NAHK]

sucking, suckling

Qal active participle

Strong’s #3243 BDB #413

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

shôwr (רש) [pronounced shohr]

an ox, a bull, a head of cattle

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7794 BDB #1004

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

seh (ה∵) [pronounced seh]

one of a flock, a sheep, a goat

masculine singular noun with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7716 BDB #961

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

gâmâl (לָמָ) [pronounced gaw-MAWL]

camel (this is obviously a transliteration)

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #1581 BDB #168

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

chămôwr (רמ ֲח) [pronounced khuh-MOHR]

ass, male donkey, he-ass

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #2543 BDB #331


Translation: Now go and strike down Amalek and you [all] will completely destroy all that they have [lit., all that (is) to him] and you will not show [any] mercy to them [lit., him] and you will execute men and women, infants and newborns, oxen and sheep, and camels and donkeys.’ ” This order is given to Saul, who is the great military man of his time. Saul is not a squeamish man; he has killed hundreds of men, if not thousands; and, as general, has overseen the killing of thousands and thousands of men. Therefore, God going to Saul at this time and requiring him to destroy all of Amalek—this is not a daunting task by any means.


There is no additional reason given for this offensive action against Amalek. There is no indication that they are encroaching on Israel’s territory (they do live in southern Judah, but they have always lived there). There is nothing which Amalek has done recently which has brought this on. That is, there is no immediate revealed provocation on the part of Amalek. However, what we have here is rather sobering—four centuries ago, the Amalekites attacked the weak and stragglers of Israel, and God has not forgotten. God promised that Amalek would be taken down, and now He is going to fulfill this promise. God allowed them their sin for awhile, but He never forgot. You might think, you don’t punish the sons for what the fathers have done! And God does not punish the sons for the sins of their fathers. However, God also knows the hearts of men, and God knows the hearts of the Amalekites of Saul’s day. We will discuss this further as we go on.


It is extremely important to fully understand exactly how Samuel has approached Saul with this mandate. He makes it clear that the authority of this mandate emanates from God. The same God who placed Saul as authority over all Israel is commanding Saul now to completely destroy the Amalekites. This not only absolutely clarifies the origin of this order, but it emphasizes Saul’s ability to carry the order out, as he is the king of Israel. Saul’s existence as king was as a military leader, defeating the foes of Israel who trouble her from all sides. Therefore, such a mandate is properly delivered to no one else in Israel. This is completely Saul’s responsibility.


Want you to notice two things are carefully interconnected here. God set Saul as king over Israel—I.e., God granted Saul great authority in the land; and God has responsibilities for Saul as well. V. 1 is God granted authority to Saul; v. 3 is God drops a responsibility into Saul’s lap. The two things go together: authority and responsibility.


Application: There are perhaps a million idiots who think they could be president of the United States; or, the president of their corporation, or the spiritual leader in their little group. These people desire the power and the authority, but they have no clue as to the responsibility that goes along with that authority. They think the whole idea is, they can now tell everyone else what to do. That is their goal; that is what they are after. There is a lot more to authority than you being the boss and telling everyone else what to do because you know better than they do. If you do not realize the extent of your responsibility, then you have no basis for coveting this or that position of power. It is a smart and wise Indian who realizes that he has no business being chief.


In this verse, we find the word châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM], which is a word with several meanings. However, usually it means to devote to destruction, to completely give over to God via annihilation, to completely and utterly destroy. Strong's #2763 BDB #355. The related masculine noun is chêrem (ם ר ֵח) [pronounced KHĀ-rem], which means something completed devoted [to God], the act of completely devoting something to God, something dedicated to destruction, the curse, the ban, something completely in God's possession, something placed under the ban. Strong's #2764 BDB #356. In case there is any dispute as to the meaning, this context of this verse makes it quite clear—Saul is to strike down every single man, woman, and child along with all of their animals. There is no way to mitigate the meaning of this word or to tone down what God expects of Saul. On the other hand, God did not point to each and every group of antagonistic peoples and place them under the ban. In Joshua 12, we have a list of 31 kings that Joshua defeated. Very few of these were put under the ban; very few groups of people were every dedicated to complete annihilation. This was the exception, not the rule, as that meant that there were no spoils of victory for the Israelites, which is one motivating reason to fight in the first place. This may cause us to ask...

Who Has God Dedicated to Complete Annihilation?

Scripture

The People and the Circumstances

Num. 21:1–3

Interestingly enough, our first example of cherem was initiated by Israel. Arad, a Canaanite king in the Negev, took some Israelites prisoners. Arad was the aggressor in this war. Israel vowed to God to completely destroy him and his cities, if God would deliver him into their hands. God heard their voice, and gave them the victory.

Num. 21:21–26

Deut. 2:30–35

In retrospect, we find out that Israel dedicated Sihon and all of his people (Deut. 2:34). Israel destroyed all of the people, but retained their wealth (i.e., their animals—Deut. 2:35).

Num. 21:31–35

Deut. 3:1–7

Israel did the same to Og, king of Bashan (Num. 21:35 Deut. 3:4–6). Again, Israel kept their animals (Deut. 3:7).

Deut. 7:1–2

Psalm 106:34–39

Generally speaking, Israel was to destroy all the inhabitants of the Land of Canaan. Because Israel did not completely destroyed all of the peoples of the land, these people infiltrated Israel and corrupted her. In fact, Israel became so corrupted as to become involved in child sacrifice (Psalm 106:38).

Joshua 6:17–21

The first city that Israel attacked when in the Land of Promise was Jericho, and that city was placed under the ban (except for Rahab the prostitute and those of her household). Whereas the example in Num. 21 may not have been clear, there is no question about Jericho. And they completely annihilated everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword (Joshua 6:21).

Joshua 8:24–29

Joshua placed all the people of Ai, the second city to be destroyed by Israel, under the ban. However, their livestock and personal effects were retained by Israel.

Joshua 10:28

To fulfill an obligation to the Gibeonites, Joshua fought against a coalition of 5 Canaanite kings (Joshua 10:1–15). In their retreat, they hid out in a cave of Makkedah (Joshua 10:16). Joshua sealed up the cave, slaughtered their people (although there were some survivors) and then he hung these kings (Joshua 10:17–27). Finally, Joshua captured the city of Makkedah and devoted all of it to destruction, just as he had done to Jericho.

Joshua 11:11

Once Joshua had finished taking Southern Canaan, Jabin, the king of Hazor caught wind of this and formed an alliance with three other rulers in the north (Joshua 11:1–5). God gave Israel victory over these kings (Joshua 11:6–10) and Israel destroyed every living person in Hazor and then burned Hazor to the ground.

1Sam. 15:1–3

God orders Saul to completely annihilate the Amalekites, along with all of their livestock and belongings.

Given that Joshua defeated 31 kings and several groups of people prior to entering into the Land of Canaan; given all of the wars found in the book of Judges, and given all of the wars fought by Saul, this is a relatively small number of instances where a people were placed completely under the ban.

When a nation was put under the ban, the idea was, Israel was not to profit from their destruction. That is, this was not to be a situation where a king of Israel covets what another group of people have, and then tells his soldiers, “God told me that we need to wipe out this people; but don’t kill their animals or destroy their i-pods; those belong to me.” When a degenerate people were destroyed, all that they had was destroyed as well.


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This idea that a people should be destroyed completely does not sit well with many today; particularly during a time of ethnic cleansing which is found in the most barbaric of countries. Therefore, we need to examine this from today’s perspective.

 

Concerning this order for complete destruction of the Amalekites, Stephen T. Davis wrote: I speak for no one except myself, but I believe that killing innocent people is morally wrong. And killing Canaanite civilians is to be sharply distinguished from killing soldiers in the battles that were necessary for the Israelites to conquer the land that God had promised them. I frankly find it difficult to believe that it was God’s will that every Canaanite—man, woman, and child—be slaughtered. Since the Bible clearly says that this was God’s will, I must conclude that the biblical writers in this case were mistaken. The error of confusing patriotic sentiments with God’s will is a common one in human history, but it is an error nonetheless. Footnote


God does not simply lash out at a people for no reason. That Amalek had displayed extreme viciousness toward Israel in the past, revealing great mental attitude sins and prejudices against Israel which festered within that Bedouin group. We have seen in our own country how prejudice is taught and can be carried down from one generation to the next for hundreds of years. We may reasonably assume that the same was true of the nation Amalek. They had been soundly defeated by Joshua and had been given perhaps 400 years to get over it. At this point in time, they could have been even great allies of Israel; however, we may assume that this generation had been taught hatred and prejudice toward the Jews and that they were like a mad dog. What Amalek did 400 years previous was still in the hearts of the Amalekites. We have seen this over and over in the Middle East. The hatred which has accumulated generation after generation is almost incomprehensible. God gave this people several centuries to get past this hatred and vindictiveness, and they did not. Now they are a cancer, a ticking bomb, a mad dog, and they have to be put down. We may infer that not one Amalekite was without hatred and prejudice, and we may infer that none of them would have ever chosen to believe in Jehovah of Israel.


This is an important recurring issue in Scripture. Therefore, we need to determine two things: why did God demand the destruction of the Amalekites in particular and why would God demand the complete destruction of any people?

Why Did God Demand the Complete Destruction of the Amalekites?

1.    The first time that Israel encountered the Amalekites was in Ex. 17 where the Amalekites militarily opposed Israel from moving further north. This attack revealed their great hatred toward Israel and toward their God. They way they attacked the Jews revealed their character. When the Israelites were struggling through the desert toward Canaan, the Amalekites picked off the weak, sick and elderly at the end of the line of marchers and brutally murdered these stragglers. Warned Moses, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deut. 25:17–18).1 Those who were in the rear of the Israelites would have been the weakest most helpless people; those were the ones that Amalek attacked. It is not unlike the suicide attacks of certain radical Arab groups today. They intentionally target civilians and non-military targets.

2.    The Amalekites consistently displayed a long-standing animosity against Israel. We have their first vicious attack of Ex. 17 against the most helpless of Israel’s number. Their attack was cowardly and unprovoked. It revealed a tremendous amount of prejudice and hatred for the Jews.

3.    The Amalekites also allied themselves with several different nations in order to fight against Israel:

       a.    The Canaanites in Num. 14:43–45

       b.    The Moabites in Judges 3:12–13

       c.     The Midianites in Judges 6:3–5, 33 7:12

4.    We may speculate that this nation of Amalek was diseased and that their children and animals were carriers.

5.    We may reasonably speculate that there was great involvement here with such practices as the phallic cults.

6.    We can reasonably suppose from 1Sam. 15:33 that not only was there at that time open hostility between Israel and the Amalekites, but that these Amalekites were behaving with extreme and wanton cruelty.2

7.    This attack of Saul’s is the only time that Israel may have been the aggressor against the Amalekites (although 1Sam. 15:33 suggests that this was in response to recent aggressions by the Amalekites).

8.    We know for certain that Israel’s hesitation to wholly destroy some groups of people resulted in Israel becoming corrupted to the point of offering their children in sacrificial offerings (Psalm 106:34–39).

9.    Let me see if I can explain this next point properly, as it is subtle: God did not allow Israel to plunder the Amalekites so that there would be no confusion in history as to the reason for Israel’s attack on the Amalekites. We are to look back at this attack as having a moral basis; if the Israelites seize all that they can from the Amalekites, then that blurs the morality of it all. It appears to us many hundreds of years later that, God’s command to destroy the Amalekites was just a pretext. However, the real reason was to take what they had built up. The point of this narrative is, God ordered Amalek completely destroyed for moral reasons. God would not allow history to suggest any other motivation.

10.  Because Israel did not destroy all of these Amalekites (I would assume that many of them escaped because the Israelite soldiers were busy picking through their livestock), they posed a serious threat to Israel a very short time later and David had to defeat them (1Sam. 30).

11.  Because these Amalekites were not wiped out, many years later, Haman, an Amalekite, will attempt to destroy the Jewish race (Esther 3–7).3

12.  These last two points indicate that there was no half-way measure with regards to the Amalekites. Israel could not simply defeat them soundly and that would be the end of it. Israel had to completely destroy the Amalekites in order for all aggressions to cease.

13.  We are in the devil’s world. It would be nice if everything could be popsicles and candy, but that just isn’t the way life is. President Truman made one of the most difficult decisions a president could make—dropping Atomic bombs on Japan. Japan, however, was allied with absolute evil. What Truman did was end World War II almost immediately, and saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides (we have no idea what could have happened had he faltered at this point). However, we do know what happened because Saul faltered. Saul and the people did not obey God, and as a result, the Amalekites would remain as a people who hated the Jews and would go to any lengths to destroy them.

14.  To sum up, it is very likely that the continuance of the Amalekites would affect both Israel’s spiritual health and physical health. Furthermore, the Amalekites would bear hatred for Israel as long as they were alive. The incidents which occurred after many of them were destroyed here bear this fact out.

1 Hard Sayings of the Bible; Walter Kaiser Jr., Peter Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred Brauch; InterVarsity Press; ©1996; p. 207.

2 Paraphrased from Alfred Edersheim, Bible History Old Testament; ©1995 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.; p. 458.

3 According to J. Vernon McGee; I & I1Samuel; Thru the Bible Books; ⓅEl Camino Press, 1976, La Verne, CA; p. 81. Haman was an Agagite (Esther 3:1, 10 8:3, 5 9:24), meaning that he may have been descended from the Agag of this chapter. This would mean, of course, that some of Agag’s sons would have escaped in Israel’s attack (which could have occurred because many Israelite soldiers were busy keeping the best of their cattle and sheep from being destroyed). This would also account for his bitter hatred of the Jews. Also, Josephus calls Haman an Amalekite in Antiquities xi. 6. 6.

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Why Would God Demand the Destruction of an Entire People?

1.    The quotation above from Stephen Davis represents the thinking and feelings of many people.

2.    However, what we have here are people’s opinions and feelings without having all of the facts.

3.    That analogy which I have offered (which in no way justifies God’s mandates in and of itself) is that these people had become like a cancer and, just like cancerous tissue, must be completely removed. Another medical analogy is gangrene. Sometimes an entire limb must be removed in order for the remainder of the body to survive. This describes what must be done to some groups of people.

4.    God is the giver of life; therefore, it is His pejorative as to when it must be removed. Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. Yehowah gave and Yehowah taken away; blessed by the name of Yehowah.” Deut. 32:39: “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me. It is I Who puts to death and gives life. I have wounded, and it is I Who heals; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”

5.    God knows all of the facts; we do not. Therefore, when God demands that a people be completely destroyed, we can accept that He knows what He is doing and what He is requesting.

6.    We may look at what appears to be an innocent baby and determine that it is immoral to destroy such a beautiful creature; however, God looks at that innocent baby and sees what they will become. He is not playing the percentages; He is God and He knows!

7.    In the Middle East today, we find extreme hatred toward the Jews; we find groups of people who exhibit a hatred that seems to never be placated.

8.    The most important issue for any unbeliever is will they choose, at some point in their lives, Jesus Christ as their hope and Savior. Since God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a change of mental attitude (II Peter 3:9), we can rest assured that God is not going to allow the killing of any unbeliever who would later become a believer in time. Therefore, we may assume one of two things:

       a.    Either there were no Amalekites alive at that time that would ever believe in Jesus Christ or...

       b.    ...God would allow those who would believe an escape.

9.    Therefore, even though it is wrong for man to kill whole groups of people, it is not wrong for God to do so. Therefore, it is reasonable for God to demand the complete destruction of certain peoples (Deut. 20:13–18).

10.  There was a long-standing mandate for Israel to deal with these Amalekites (Deut. 25:17–19). It had come time for Israel to act.

11.  Those who have a problem with God’s order to destroy a whole group of people often assume that innocent people will be killed in the process. They thereby lay claim to omniscience, which attribute only God possesses. If there are innocents, God will either single them out (as He did with Rahab the prostitute and her family) or He will see that they escape (enough Amalekites escaped in this attack to be a problem in the next generation with King David).

12.  It is presumptuous of us to think that our moral standards are superior to God’s. We can depend upon His perfect nature to be the ultimate standard.

13.  Geisler and Howe offer the following argument:

       a.    No child is innocent; all children are born with old sin natures (Psalm 51:5).

       b.    All who sin and all who possess an old sin nature are deserving of death (Rom. 5:12).

       c.     Every person will die eventually; it is only a matter of time when they do die (Heb. 9:27).

       d.    Since God is sovereign over all, it is His perfect timing when a person is to die, whether young, old or anywhere in between (Deut. 32:39 Job 1:21).

       e.    Those children who die prior to the age of accountability are automatically saved (2Sam. 12:23).

       f.     Therefore, God taking the lives of these children is not a merciless act.1

14.  When a believer or unbeliever suggests that the prophets got it wrong, they call into question the entire Doctrine of Inspiration (covered in Judges 18 introduction). That is, if one can say that the prophets got it wrong here, then one could make that call at any time throughout Scripture.

15.  We are not given any reason for this annihilation apart from Amalek’s treatment of Israel in the past. From that statement, we can reasonably assume that, at this time, there is no one in the nation of Amalek who would behave any differently than did their ancestors.

16.  We may assume that no one that God allows to be killed will ever believe in the God of Israel had they been allowed to live.

17.  We may speculate that several of the nations devoted to destruction were diseased and that their children and animals were carriers.

18.  We do have both archeological evidence as well as Biblical testimony that there were peoples in that era who sacrificed their own children and practiced both sodomy and bestiality (see Lev. 18:21, 25, 27–30).

19.  There were groups of peoples in that day, as in this, who demonstrated complete and absolute contempt for the Israelite, and would do anything to destroy them.

20.  We know for certain that Israel’s hesitation to wholly destroy some groups of people resulted in Israel becoming corrupted to the point of offering their children in sacrificial offerings (Psalm 106:34–39).

21.  We also know that this was not some sudden decision of God’s. God provides any people with ample opportunity to change their ways. Israel was in slavery to Egypt for nearly 400 years because the sin of the Amorites was not yet complete (Gen. 15:16b). Israel cooled their heels while the Canaanites became more and more depraved. Thus, God waited for centuries while the Amalekites and those other Canaanite groups slowly filled up their own cups of condemnation by their sinful behavior. God never acted precipitously against them; his grace and mercy waited to see if they would repent and turn from their headlong plummet into self-destruction.2 This tells us that God these groups of peoples centuries during which they could have reformed, but instead, they chose greater and greater debauchery with each generation.

22.  It is clear today that there is a great deal of hatred directed toward Israel. There are groups of people who would be happy only if all Israelis were destroyed. It is almost an everyday occurrence for a man to strap explosives to himself and walk into a public place, just to kill a handful of Israelite civilians along with himself. This kind of vicious hatred is motivated by Satan, but not apart from their free will. Given this clear predilection for violence that we see today, it is no wonder that God had Israel destroy several groups of people, as Israel would never receive any peace from these people.

23.  God can and has used other means of annihilation: pestilence, famine, disease, natural disasters.

24.  Again (and this cannot be overemphasized), God gave life and God therefore can choose to remove it.

The general idea for this doctrine and several of these points came from When Skeptics Ask; Geisler and Brooks, ©1990, Victor Books, pp. 168–170. Several points were also harvested from Hard Sayings of the Bible; Walter Kaiser Jr., Peter Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred Brauch; InterVarsity Press; ©1996; p. 206–207.

1 From Hard Sayings of the Bible, p. 206.

2 Paraphrased from When Critics Ask; Geisler and Howe, ©1992, Victor Books, p. 161.

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Given the actions of certain radical Arab groups over the past several decades, it is reasonable to ask...

Does God Work Through Any Specific Nation Today as He did Through Israel Previously?

1.    Here is where dispensations come into play: God worked through Israel as a nation prior to the Incarnation.

2.    God communicated directly with Israel through her prophets and certain leaders.

3.    Israel acted as an agent of God.

4.    God no longer works through the nation Israel.

5.    There is nothing in Scripture in the New Testament which indicates that God will be working through any particular nation in the future (at least, not until the Great Tribulation).

6.    Therefore, in today’s world there is no call for any nation to destroy any other nation, as there is no nation that God acts through as He did with Israel.

7.    Today, we have what Thieme termed client nations to God. God works through these specific nations; in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, God has worked through the United States. In the 18th and 19th centuries, God worked through England. However, the primary functions of these nations was to teach and disseminate the Word of God, and to send out missionaries. God even uses these nations in war; however, there is no Biblical or extra-Biblical authorization to destroy any people completely as we find in the Old Testament in passages such as this.

8.    In other words, there is no authorization in this dispensation for any nation anywhere, no matter how godly, to participate in ethnic cleansing.

9.    Paul describes the sort of struggle in which we are involved: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6:12).

10.  Now, let me give you a scenario: you are sitting and contemplating and you unequivocally believe that God comes to you and tells you to destroy this people or that. What do you do? Here is where doctrine comes in: God does not work through nations or through individuals as He did in the Old Testament; therefore, even if something like that occurred, you may rest assured that you were tempted by a lying spirit (see Mark 13:22 II Cor. 11:13 II Thess. 2:9 II Peter 2:1 I John 1:4 Rev. 16:13 19:20). The key is this: God’s Word is correct and your experience, no matter how vivid and marvelous, is not.

A very reasonable question which I will reserve for later is, Why, in the Dispensation of Israel, did God promote ethnic cleansing, as it were, but in our time, the Dispensation of the Church, there is no valid call for ethnic cleansing. After all, people and groups still sin; sin still builds up; why is there not a similar approach today?


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Given all of this, it is important to recognize that it is not a matter of Israel being full of integrity and the people of the land being less so; Moses made that clear in Deut. 9:4–5: “Do not say in your heart when Jehovah God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness Jehovah has brought me in to possess this land;’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which Jehovah swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” After saying this, then Moses told the Israelites how stubborn they were, providing specific examples. The idea is that these groups of people had become so degenerate that their very existence was a threat to all civilization.


Even though Saul will disobey this order from God, it will not be because he is squeamish or a humanitarian. Saul, above all else, is a great and fearless general and soldier. No one else in Israel could have done what he did in Israel’s fight against her enemies on all sides. He has nothing against destroying an entire population, either. When he becomes angry with the priests in Nob (which apparently was the religious center at that time), he will destroy men, women, children and animals of Nob (1Sam. 22:19). This is a command which Saul is fully able to obey.


There are several things at work here. For one thing, this is a test of Saul’s obedience to God. God tests men for approval and for disapproval. God chose something which Saul was able to clearly understand and He chose an order which Saul could easily obey; Saul’s disobedience was not a mistake or a misunderstanding, it was a clear choice to disobey. The second factor is one of discipline. The Amalekites, many centuries previous, had caused the Israelites great trouble on their journey on two occasions. Now, God does not punish this generation which is far removed from their patriarchs just to prove a point or to gain revenge. Obviously, their hearts are no different than those of their ancestors; and it is time for them to be wiped out. A third factor, which is a guess on my part, is that these people are infected, probably with various sexually transmitted diseases (or possibly an easily transmitted disease). The complete destruction of this people will control the disease, just as cutting out a cancerous growth will relieve the attack of the cancer. It is important to note that we are not dealing with a blameless people that God simply chose to use as an object lesson for Saul (and I have gone into great detail previously to substantiate this). Finally, the war in history needs to be seen as a war of principal and not a war of opportunity and greed. Israel’s enemies need to know that God will avenge His people; if the end result was that Israel took everything that they could, then the sense of morality is lost.


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Saul Defeats the Amalekites, but Does Not Comply with All God’s Directives


And so causes to hear Saul the people and so he visits them in the Telaim—two hundred thousand on foot and ten of a thousand a man of Judah.

1Samuel

15:4

So Saul called the people and he numbered them in Telaim—200,000 on foot and 10,000 men from Judah.

Therefore, Saul assembled the people in Telaim and numbered them; there were 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men from the tribe of Judah.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         So Saul commanded the people, and numbered them as lambs: two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand of the men of Juda.

Masoretic Text                       And so causes to hear Saul the people and so he visits them in the Telaimtwo hundred thousand on foot and ten of a thousand a man of Judah.

Septuagint                             And Saul summoned the people, and he numbered them in Galgala, 400,000 regular troops and Juda 30,000 regular troops.

 

Significant differences:          The numbers are obviously different. Where they were numbered is different as well.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Saul sent messengers who told every town and village to send men to join the army at Telaim. There were two hundred ten thousand troops in all, and ten thousand of these were from Judah. Saul organized them,...

NLT                                So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were 200,000 troops in addition to 10,000 men from Judah.

REB                                       Saul called out the levy and reviewed them at Telaim; there were two hundred thousand foot-soldiers and another ten thousand from Judah.

TEV                                       Saul called his forces together and inspected them at Telem; there were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 from Judah.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Saul organized the troops, and he counted them at Telaim: 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men from Judah.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul mustered the troops and enrolled them at Telaim: 200,000 men on foot, and 10,000 men of Judah.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Then Saul summoned the people and numbered [lit., mustered] them in Telaim, 2000,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah.

Young's Updated LT              And Saul summons the people and inspects them in Telaim, 200,000 footmen and 10,000 men of Judah.


What is the gist of this verse? Saul begins to obey God’s mandate. He summons his soldiers to Telaim and numbers and organizes them there. There are 200,000 men along with 10,000 men from Judah.


1Samuel 15:4

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 cause to hear; to call, to summon

3rd person masculine plural, Piel imperfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

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

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

pâqad (ד ַק ָ) [pronounced paw-KAHD]

to go to a person, to visit, to have personal contact with, to sort out, to visit a person, to commit, to charge to the care of, to fall upon, to attack, to number, to take a census

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #6485 BDB #823

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

ţelâîym (םי.אָלט) [pronounced telaw-EEM],which

transliterated Telaim; probably equivalent to Telem; possibly means place of lambs

proper noun, location

Strong’s #2923 BDB #378

Many suggest that this is equivalent to Telem (ם∵ל∵ט) [pronounced TEH-lem], which means lambs, probably because of all the flocks in that area. It is found only in Joshua 15:24. Strong’s #2928 BDB #378. This helps to explain the translation from the Latin.

mâthayim (ם̣י -תאָמ) [pronounced maw-thah-YIM]

two hundred

feminine dual numeral

Strong’s #3967 BDB #547

eleph (ף ל א) pronounced EH-lef]

thousand, families, (500?); military units

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

ragelîy (י.ל ג-ר) [pronounced rahge-LEE]

on foot, footmen

masculine singular adjective

Strong’s #7273 BDB #920

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳asârâh (הָרָ-ע) [pronounced ģah-saw-RAW]

ten

feminine numeral construct

Strong’s #6235 BDB #796

eleph (ף ל א) pronounced EH-lef]

thousand, families, (500?); military units

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

I suppose the direct object continues the action of the verb (pâqad) to the men of Judah.

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

man, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular construct

Strong's #376 BDB #35

Yehûwdâh (הָדהי) [pronounced yehoo-DAW]

possibly means to praise, to be praised; and is transliterated Judah

masculine proper noun/location

Strong’s #3063 BDB #397


Translation: So Saul called the people and he numbered them in Telaim—200,000 on foot and 10,000 men from Judah. As I have mentioned, we do struggle with the word for a thousand in the Hebrew; what we may have here are 200 military units, including 10 military units from Judah (the accepted text is 200,000, but I believe that to be far too large—I suspect that a military unit has between 100–500 men). In any case, this is in stark contrast to the meager 600 who remained with Saul during the attack of the Philistines.


It is interesting to note that the soldiers from Judah are counted separately from the rest. The reason for this is two fold: first, the Amalekites are just south of Judah, so Judah would be the territory most threatened by them; and secondly, even at this point in time, we seem to be experiencing a split between the northern and southern kingdoms.


There is another factor here which causes me to question the numbers. Since Amalek is in southern Judah, we would expect a larger proportion of Israel’s army to be men from Judah. Rather than being 1/20th of the entire force, we would have expected Judah to be 1/10th (or more) of the entire infantry. I do not have an explanation for this. When something strikes me as odd, I will mention it, whether or not I have a ready explanation. It is perhaps based upon the word for 1000 which refers to military units instead.


Telaim of Judah is possibly found only here, near Ziph and the northern border of the Amalekites. However, there is another passage in 1Sam. 27:8 where there is a reference to men of old and ZPEB suggests that this passage has been corrupted (if one followed the Septuagint at this point) and that it should read they of Telaim. Footnote Although there are a few similar letters in the Hebrew, the text would have had to have been corrupted in order for this to refer to Telaim. Finally, several suggest that Telaim might be identical to Telem of Joshua 15:24, which is also a city in southern Judah. These are the only passages where this city (or cities) are possibly mentioned.


I have no explanation is to why the Septuagint differs so much with respect to the numbers of soldiers.


And so comes Saul as far as a city of Amalek and so he [causes to] lay in wait in the brook.

1Samuel

15:5

Then Saul went as far as the [northernmost] city of Amalek and he [causes his soldiers to] lay in wait in [the valley of] the brook.

Saul led his troops to the northernmost city of Amalek, and then laid in wait in the valley of the brook.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so comes Saul as far as a city of Amalek and so he [causes to] lay in wait in the brook.

Septuagint                             And Saul came to the cities of Amalec, and laid wait in the valley [lit., brook].

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       [Saul organized them], then led them to a valley near one of the towns in Amalek, where they got ready to make a surprise attack.

TEV                                       Then he and his men went to the city of Amalek and waited in ambush in a dry riverbed.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Then Saul advanced as far as the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the wadi. [the meaning of the Hebrew word translated lay in wait is uncertain]


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Saul came to the city of Amalek, and set an ambush in the valley.

Young's Updated LT              And Saul comes in unto a city of Amalek, and lays wait in a valley;...


What is the gist of this verse? Saul takes his men to the northernmost city of Amalek (the territory of Amalek is just south of Judah). They go down by the brook to wait in ambush so that they are hidden in the foliage which would surround a brook and so that they have water to drink.


1Samuel 15:5

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

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

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

׳îyr (רי ̣ע) [pronounced ģeer]

encampment, city, town

feminine singular construct

Strong's #5892 BDB #746

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ârab (ב ַר ָא) [pronounced aw-RABV]

to ambush, to lay in wait, to hide, caused to lay in wait

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #693 BDB #70

The previous verb is the supposed corrected reading. What is actually found in the Masoretic text is the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect of rîybv (בי .ר) [pronounced reebv], which means to debate, to contend, to dispute. Strong’s #7378 BDB #936.

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

nachal (ל ַח ַנ) [pronounced NAHKH-al]

brook, torrent

masculine singular noun, pausal form

Strong's #5158 BDB #636


Translation: Then Saul went as far as the [northernmost] city of Amalek and he [causes his soldiers to] lay in wait in [the valley of] the brook. Saul, after numbering his troops, takes them to the outskirts of the nearest major city in Amalek and they all wait by the brook (which is part of a valley). The NIV Study Bible places this city somewhere between Telem and Kadesh-barnea Footnote (Kadesh-barnea is the southernmost city of Judah; this does not mean that Israel controls the land around Kadesh-barnea at this time). The NIV Study Bible, in fact, suggests that Kadesh-barnea might even be the city of the king of the Amalekites.


And so says Saul unto the Kenite, “Go, depart, go down from a midst of [the] Amalekite lest I relocate [or, remove] you with him; and you made grace with all sons of Israel in their coming up from Egypt.” And so turned aside [the] Kenite from a midst of Amalek.

1Samuel

15:6

Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites so that I do not remove you with them, for you were gracious [lit, manufactured grace] to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from the midst of the Amalekites [lit., Amalek].

Then Saul sent word to the Kenites: “Leave, depart, and move away from the Amalekites so that you are not destroyed with them, as you were gracious to the sons of Israel when they came up out from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from the region of the Amalekites.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Saul unto the Kenite, “Go, depart, go down from a midst of [the] Amalekite lest I relocate [or, remove] you with him; and you made grace with all sons of Israel in their coming up from Egypt.” And so turned aside [the] Kenite from a midst of Amalek.

Septuagint                             And Saul said to the Kinite, “Go and depart out of the midst of the Amalekites, lest I put you with them, for you dealt mercifully with the children of Israel when they went up out of Egypt.” So the Kinite departed from the midst of Amalec.

 

Significant differences:          Apart from one verb, which does not change the meaning of the verse one whit, there are no significant differences between these passages.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Some Kenites lived nearby, and Saul told them, “You people were kind to our nation when we left Egypt, and I don’t want you to get killed when I wipe out the Amalekites. Leave here and stay away from them.” The Kenites left,...

NLT                                Saul sent this message to the Kenites: “Move away from where the Amalekites live or else you will die with them. For you were kind to the people of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites packed up and left.

TEV                                       He sent a warning to the Kenites, a people whose ancestors had been kind to the Israelites when they came from Egypt: “Go away and leave the Amalekites, so that I won’t kill you along with them.” So the Kenites left.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Get away from the Amalekites so that I won’t destroy you with them. You were kind to all the Israelites when they came from Egypt.” So the Kenites left the Amalekites.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul said to the Kenites, “Come, withdraw at once from among the Amalekites, that I may not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they left Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from among the Amalekites.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

Young's Updated LT              ...and Saul says to the Kenite, “Go, turn aside, go down from the midst of Amalek, lest I consume you with it, and you have done kindness with all the sons of Israel, in their going up out of Egypt;...


What is the gist of this verse? Because the Kenites were not antagonistic to the Jews moving northward from Egypt to the Land of Promise, Saul warns them to move away from the Amalekites so that they are not hurt in the destruction of the Amalekites. The Kenites take Saul’s advice and move away from the Amalekites.


1Samuel 15:6a

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

el (לא) [pronounced el]

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

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

qêynîy (י̣ני ֵק) [pronounced kay-NEE]

to acquire and is transliterated Kenite

proper adjective gentis with the definite article

Strong’s #7017 BDB #884

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

go, come, depart, walk; advance

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

çûwr (רס) [pronounced soor]

turn aside, depart, go away

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong's #5493 (and #5494) BDB #693

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

descend, go down

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

Having three imperatives together like this without being punctuated by a wâw conjunction (or a wâw consecutive) is called an asyndeton. [pronounced uh-SIN-di-ton]. Leaving out the and’s means that we do not stop and consider each command, but we take them as a whole, and they draw us quickly forward to what it is that they are leading us to. Footnote In this case, the Kenites are warned that Saul does not want to remove them as he will be removing the Amalekites. The idea is that the Kenites should depart, go away, descend—they should take whatever route they can to separate themselves from the Amalekites.

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

tâveke (ו ָ) [pronounced taw-VEKE]

midst, among, middle

masculine singular construct

Strong's #8432 BDB #1063

׳ămâlêqîy (י.ק̤לָמֲע) [pronounced ģuh-maw-lay-KEE]

transliterated Amalekite

proper noun gentis

Strong’s #6003 BDB #766

pen (ן∵) [pronounced pen]

lest, peradventure, or else, in order to prevent, or, so that [plus a negative]

conjunction

Strong's #6435 BDB #814

âçaph (ף ַס ָא) [pronounced aw-SAHF]

relocate, transfer, transport, gather, to gather and remove, to remove

1st person singular, Qal imperfect with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #622 BDB #62

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

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

׳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

cheçed (ד ס ח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun

Strong's #2617 BDB #338

Interestingly enough, this is the first time that this very common noun occurs in the book of Samuel.

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

with a plural noun, it is rendered all of; any of

masculine singular construct with a masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

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

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

׳âlâh (ה ָל ָע) [pronounced ģaw-LAWH]

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

Qal infinitive construct with the 3rd person masculine plural suffix

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

mitzerayim (ם̣י-רצ̣מ) [pronounced mits-RAH-yim]

translated Egypt, Egyptians

proper noun (pausal form)

Strong’s #4714 BDB #595


Translation: Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites so that I do not remove you with them for you were gracious [lit, manufactured grace] to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt.”


It is not clear as to how close the Kenites were to the Amalekites. It does not appear as though they lived integrated within the same cities, but that possibly their cities were side-by-side. Whatever the situation, Moses was able to contact the Kenites and ask them to move from their areas so that Israel could attack and destroy the Amalekites without accidentally killing any Kenites. As J. Vernon McGee points out, this is an act of mercy that no pagan nation would have practiced in that day. Footnote


We have covered the Doctrine of the Kenites in Judges 1:16, however, let’s quickly look at where they are found in Scripture:

The Kenites in Scripture

Scripture

Summary

Gen. 18

Although we are not told that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, is a Kenite, we later find that out in Judges 1:16 (actually, Jethro’s father was a Midianite and his mother was therefore a Kenite—compare Num. 10:29). Moses seemed to have a much better relationship with Jethro than he did with his wife, Jethro’s daughter.

Num. 24:21–22

We first hear about the Kenites in the oracle of Balaam. Balaam had been hired to curse the Israelites; however, everything he went into prophetic mode, he blessed them. About the Kenites, he said, “Your dwelling place is enduring and your nest is set in the cliff. Nevertheless, the Kenite will be consumed; how long will Asshur keep you captive?” (Num. 24:21b–22).

Judges 1:16

Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite and his descendants lived in the wilderness of Judah, south of Arad, among the Jews.

Judges 4:11–22

Jael, the wife of Heber, a Kenite, killed one of Israel’s more formidable enemies, the general Sisera. Deborah and Barak had Sisera on the run. In making his escape, he went by her tent. She offered him milk and a place to rest, safe from the outside. Then, once he fell asleep, she killed him.

I Chron. 2:55

It is quite difficult to determine what is being said in this passage. One interpretation is that some descendants of the Kenites became scribes (and that there were 3 different types of scribes).

Therefore, it is easy to see from the appearances of the Kenites above, that the Israelites always had a good relationship with the Kenites, and therefore, they had no desire to allow them to be killed in their conflict with the Amalekites.


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1Samuel 15:6b

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

çûwr (רס) [pronounced soor]

to turn aside, to depart, to go away

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5493 (and #5494) BDB #693

qêynîy (י̣ני ֵק) [pronounced kay-NEE]

to acquire and is transliterated Kenite

proper adjective gentis

Strong’s #7017 BDB #884

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

tâveke (ו ָ) [pronounced taw-VEKE]

midst, among, middle

masculine singular construct

Strong's #8432 BDB #1063

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766


Translation: So the Kenites departed from the midst of the Amalekites [lit., Amalek]. However they were warned, the Kenites, who lived in southern Judah, heeded the warning and separated themselves from the Amalekites.


And so strikes down Saul Amalekites from Havilah your going to Shur, which [is] upon faces of Egypt.

1Samuel

15:7

Saul then struck down the Amalekites from Havilah as far as [lit., as your going to] Shur, which faces Egypt.

Saul then struck down the Amalekites from Havilah to Shur, which is just east of Egypt.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so strikes down Saul Amalekites from Havilah your going to Shur, which [is] upon faces of Egypt.

Septuagint                             And Saul struck down Amalec from Evilat to Sur fronting Egypt.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       [The Kenites left], and Saul attacked the Amalekites from Havilah to Shur, which is just east of Egypt. [I’ve included the tail end of v. 6 here]

NLT                                The Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul destroyed Amalek from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is close to Egypt,...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     So Saul defeated [lit., smote] the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, which is east of Egypt.

Young's Updated LT              And Saul smites Amalek from Havilah—your going to Shur, which is on the front of Egypt.


What is the gist of this verse? With the Kenites out of the way, Saul successfully attacks and beats down the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is just east of Egypt.


1Samuel 15:7

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 [someone or something] down, to defeat

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

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

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766

Bullinger tells us that what is missing here is a participle, an example of ellipsis. What would fill out this verb is the insertion of the present participle dwelling (or, living). The idea is not that Israel chased the Amalekites throughout this area, but that this is the area where the Amalekites resided. Furthermore, Saul’s attack did not necessarily extend throughout this entire area, as there will be a significant number of surviving Amalekites. Footnote

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

chăvîylâh (הָלי.וֲח) [pronounced khuh-vee-LAW]

sand-land, wet sand and is transliterated Havilah

proper noun, location

Strong’s #2341 BDB #296

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

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

Qal infinitive construct with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

shûwr (רש) [pronounced sher]

wall, fortress and is transliterated Shur

proper noun, location

Strong’s #7793 BDB #1004

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl]

upon, against, above

preposition

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

pânîym (םי̣נ ָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM

face, faces

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, ׳âl and pânîym mean upon the face of, facing, in front of, before (as in preference to), in addition to, overlooking

mitzerayim (ם̣י-רצ̣מ) [pronounced mits-RAH-yim]

translated Egypt, Egyptians

proper noun (pausal form)

Strong’s #4714 BDB #595


Translation: Saul then struck down the Amalekites from Havilah as far as [lit., as your going to] Shur, which faces Egypt.


Havilah is mentioned early on as a land almost surrounded by a river which is one of the four forks of a river that flows out of Eden (Gen. 2:11–12). It is unlikely that this is the same Havilah that we speak of in this context, as the great flood no doubt altered the shape of the earth after this mention of Havilah.


Originally, the Ishmaelites occupy the area from Havilah to Shur (Gen. 25:12–18). Recall that Ishmael was Abraham’s son by Hagar, the Egyptian, Sarah’s personal attendant. The Amalekites are descendants of Amalek, who was the grandson of Esau, Jacob twin brother (Esau and Jacob were grandsons of Abraham) (Gen. 36:15–16). It is obvious that they occupy the same area at this time. Since the Ishmaelites seem to have somehow banded with the Midianites (Gen. 37:26–28 Judges 8:1–24; but that is another story), apparently they left that particular area and went northeast. Whether they were forced out by the Amalekites or whether one took over as the other left, we are not told. The exact location of Havilah is disputed. Some place it in western Arabia, north of Yemen, not far from the Red Sea; others place it way over near the Persian Gulf, which is on the eastern side of Saudi Arabia. Footnote


Although we cannot place Havilah exactly, Shur as a region is much easier to identify. Shur was just east of Egypt and it may have referred to a fortified wall between Egypt and to that general region (Shur means wall, fortress). It is reasonable that the region took its name from the wall. In the Bible, the first reference to Shur is Gen. 16:7 where the Lord finds Hagar at the spring on the way to Shur (this is after she had left Abraham and Sarah). At one time, Abraham lived in this general vicinity (between Kadesh and Shur—Gen. 20:1). The way to Shur probably refers to an old caravan route. It could very well be the last leg of the King’s Highway, which came down on the east side of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, crossing through Edom, and then passing through the wilderness of Zin toward Kadesh-barnea, extending all the way to Egypt on this last leg of road. In Ex. 15:22, Moses leads Israel from the Sea of Reeds to the wilderness of Shur, so his approach to Shur is from the other direction (see also 1Sam. 27:8).


However, bearing in mind what Bullinger explains, the point is that the Amalekites lived throughout this area; however, it is not necessarily the case that Saul and his men pursued the Amalekites throughout this entire area. In fact, we will find out later that a significant number of Amalekites were left alive (see 1Sam. 27:8 30:1, 18 2Sam. 8:12 I Chron. 4:43). When comparing this fact with the rest of the information in this narrative—that many of Saul’s soldiers stopped to worry about the livestock that had belonged to the Amalekites (see v. 19 in particular)—it is not unreasonable to suppose the a significant number of Amalekites escaped corban. Footnote


A second possible explanation for the Amalekites that we find later on in Scripture is the specific area mentioned herein—from Havilah to Shur, which tells us that Amalekites living outside of this territory were left untouched. Now, this again could have been because Saul and his men stopped to cull out the best and second best of their livestock; therefore, they did not attack all of the Amalekites, leaving the Amalekites outside of this region able to continue to be thorns in the side of Israel. Although we tend to read over these cities without giving them much thought, one purpose of mentioning this area of attack tells us right up front that only a specific area was militarily dealt with (God’s mandate did not limit Saul to a specific area). Again, whether Bullinger’s take on this verse is correct, or whether some Amalekites lived outside of this area, nevertheless, many of them survived Saul’s attack, which is also a point of disobedience on the part of Saul and his army.


And so he seizes Agag king of Amalek alive and all the people he has completely devoted [and destroyed] to a mouth of a sword.

1Samuel

15:8

He seized Agag, the king of Amalek, alive, but he destroyed [in devotion to God] all the people with regards to the edge of the sword.

He seized Agag, king of the Amalekites, alive, but destroyed as devoted to God all of the people utilizing the edge of the sword.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so he seizes Agag king of Amalek alive and all the people he has completely devoted [and destroyed] to a mouth of a sword.

Septuagint                             And he took Agag the king of Amalec alive, and he killed all the people and Hierim with the edge of the sword.

 

Significant differences:          The Greek translators were apparently confused by one word, and decided to transliterate it instead. The word they transliterate means to put under the ban; to devote completely.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Every Amalekite was killed except King Agag.

NAB                                       He took Agag, king of Amalek, alive, but on the rest of the people he put into effect the ban of destruction by the sword.

TEV                                       ...he captured King Agag of Amalek alive and killed all the people.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         He captured King Agag of Amalek alive. Bu the claimed all the people for God by destroying them.

JPS (Tanakh)                        ...and he captured King Agag of Amalek alive. He proscribed all the people, putting them to the sword;...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And he captured Agag the eking of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

Young's Updated LT              ...and he catches Agag king of Amalek alive, and all the people he has devoted by the mouth of the sword;...


What is the gist of this verse? Saul had been ordered to kill every Amalekite. He almost obeys this order; however, he allows the king of Amalek to live (and, as just discussed in the previous verse, Saul’s men allow many Amalekites to escape).


1Samuel 15:8

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

tâphas ( ַפ ָ) [pronounced taw-FAHS]

to lay a hold of, to manipulate, to seize

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #8610 BDB #1074

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ăgâg (גָגֲא) [pronounced uh-GAWG]

which possibly means violent and is transliterated Agag

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #90 BDB #8

meleke ( ל מ) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766

chay (י ַח) [pronounced KHAH-ee]

living, alive

masculine singular adjective, pausal form

Strong's #2416 BDB #311

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

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

châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM]

to completely devote to, to devote to, or to completely destroyed

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #2763 BDB #355

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

peh (ה) [pronounced peh]

mouth, edge

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6310 BDB #804

chereb (ב ר ח) [pronounced khe-REBV]

sword, knife, dagger; any sharp tool

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #2719 BDB #352


Translation: He seized Agag, the king of Amalek, alive, but he destroyed [in devotion to God] all the people with regards to the edge of the sword. Here we have a problem. Part of what Saul did was in obedience to God—he was told to destroy this entire people, and he almost did that, save one individual, the king of the Amalekites, Agag.


Zodhiates (as well as several others) suggests that Agag may be a title for the Amalekite king rather than his actual name (like pharaoh). Footnote The reference to Agag in Num. 24:7 seems to support that theory.


Now, why does Saul save Agag? Agag is the ruler of his country, and Saul identifies with that. Perhaps he even met Agag first, uncertain as to what he would do, and Agag ingratiated himself to Saul. Saul told his men, save their king aside for me to deal with. And then he meets with Agag personally. Agag may have hated Jews, but he certainly did not reveal that when he spoke to Saul. Realize that a country gets the ruler (or rulers) that it deserves. If all of the Amalekites hated the Jews, there is no reason to think that their king was any different. There is no reason to think that their king did not inspire and fan the flames of their hatred. During this era, I have seen film of Iraqi and Iranian rulers standing before large groups of their people; and they hold up pictures of our heads of state and the rulers whip the crowd into a frenzy of hatred and hysteria. There is no reason to think that Agag was any different. However, one-on-one with the man who held the power of life and death over him, Agag could be much more civilized. So Saul does not kill him.


Other explanations have been offered: e.g., Saul wanted a royal slave; Footnote or that Saul wanted to personally honor or dishonor Agag. However, none of those explanations ring true; as there is no support for any of them. That the relationship between Saul and Agag is relatively amiable is implied because (1) Saul does not kill Agag and (2) what Agag says in v. 32, albeit confusing, seems to indicate that Agag thought things were copesetic. You no doubt have heard the expression, it’s lonely at the top. This is Saul. He perhaps suffered, to some degree, early manifestations of several mental illnesses; furthermore, there was no previous king to guide him; and Saul went from zero to ruling a country in no time flat. So, some of the things which Saul pondered were not things that could be shared with just anyone. Agag was also a ruler of a people and Saul may have found that he had more in common with Agag than with anyone on his own staff. That Agag picked up on this and capitalized on Saul’s isolation is a reasonable theory. Whereas, they may not have been best buds; still, Agag was alive, and this was due to Saul. It’s easy to execute someone for whom you have great distaste and someone who is thoroughly unlike you. However, the more Charlie Brown is like you, the more difficult it is to order Charlie’s execution. Why Saul preserved Agag alive in the first place is unknown. It may have been that some of his soldiers captured Agag alive and brought him to Saul, as your cat might bring an almost dead mouse to you. Agag may have himself been a factor in all of this. In any case, here was Agag, arrested and imprisoned, but still very much alive in the palace of Saul.


Apart from Agag, Saul does destroy every Amalekite that he comes in contact with. Because we find the Amalekites in conflict with David later on in Scripture, this means that not all of them were killed. In fact, for enough to be alive to oppose David a decade or so later indicates that there were a great many Amalekites who survived this attack, probably because they retreated and because Israel’s interest in their cattle gave them ample time to do so. There may have been Amalekites further out from their general settlement who decided to retreat. Again, Israel’s preoccupation with their cattle allowed them to do so.


And so spares Saul and the people concerning Agag and concerning [the] best of the flock and the herd and the seconds and concerning the rams and concerning all the good things and they had not willed their devotion [to God by destruction] and all the work, despised and melted, it [lit., her] they devoted [by destruction].

1Samuel

15:9

But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the flock and the herd, and the second-best; and they chose not to devote [to God by destruction] the rams and all the good things. However, crafted items which were despised or melted [in the attack], [that] they devoted [to God].

But Saul and the people did spare Agag, along with the best of the livestock, as well as the second-best. They decided not to destroy the rams or any of the good things that they found. However, the things that they despised and the things which suffered damage in their attack, these they devoted to God.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so spares Saul and the people concerning Agag and concerning [the] best of the flock and the herd and the seconds and concerning the rams and concerning all the good things and they had not willed their devotion [to God by destruction] and all the work, despised and melted, it [lit., her] they devoted [by destruction].

Septuagint                             And Saul and all the people saved Agag alive, and the best [lit., good] of the flocks, and of the herds, and of the fruits, of the vineyards, and of all the good things; and they would not destroy them; but every worthless and refuse thing [lit., work] they destroyed.

 

Significant differences:          There is some minor disagreement between the texts as to what was preserved.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Saul and his army let Agag live, and they also spared the best sheep and cattle. They didn’t want to destroy anything of value, so they only killed the animals that were worthless or weak.

NLT                                Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.

REB                                       Saul and his army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat beasts and the lambs, and everything worth keeping; these they were unwilling to destroy, but anything that was useless and of no value they destroyed.

TEV                                       But Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and did not kill the best sheep and cattle, the best calves and lambs [One ancient translation the best calves and lambs, Hebrew unclear] , or anything else that was good; they destroyed only what was useless or worthless. [Some ancient translations useless or worthless; Hebrew unclear]


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Saul and the army spared Agag and the best sheep and cows, the fattened animals, the lambs, and all the best [property]. the army refused to claim them for God by destroying them. But everything that was worthless and weak the army did claim for God and destroy.

JPS (Tanakh)                        ...but Saul and the troops spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the second-born [Targum and Syriac read fatlings], the lambs, and all else that was of value. The would not proscribe them; they proscribed only what was cheap and worthless.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

KJV                                        But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

NASB                                     But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

NKJV                                     But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

Young's Updated LT              ...and Saul has pity—also the people—on Agag, and on the best of the flock, and of the herd, and of the seconds, and on the lambs, and on all that is good, and have not been willing to devote them; and all the work, despised and wasted—it they devoted.


What is the gist of this verse? God had specifically ordered that everything be devoted to him—everyone and everything that belonged to the Amalekites was to be destroyed. Saul and the people saved Agag alive, along with the best and second best of their livestock. Only the crap that they didn’t want was destroyed and devoted to God. Although it may not be clear in the English, this verse shows extreme disrespect for God.


1Samuel 15:9a

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

châmal (ל ַמ ָח) [pronounced khaw-MAHL

to spare, to have compassion, to show mercy

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2550 BDB #328

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

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 with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

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

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

When not showing a physical relationship between two things, ׳al can take on a whole host of new meanings: on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, besides, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by on to, towards, to, against, in the matter of, concerning, as regards to. It is one of the most versatile prepositions in Scripture. This word often follows particular verbs (it very often follows our verb, châmal). In the English, we have helping verbs; in the Hebrew, there are helping prepositions.

ăgâg (גָגֲא) [pronounced uh-GAWG]

which possibly means violent and is transliterated Agag

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #90 BDB #8

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

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

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

See the extensive remarks above.

mêyţabv (ב ָטי̤מ) [pronounced may-TAHBV]

the best of

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #4315 BDB #406

tsôn (ןאֹצ) [pronounced tzohn]

small cattle, sheep and goats, flock, flocks

feminine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6629 BDB #838

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bâqâr (ר ָק ָ) [pronounced baw-KAWR]

ox, herd, cattle

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1241 BDB #133

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

misheneh (הנ  ׃ש  ̣מ) [pronounced mishe-NEH]

doubles, copies, seconds

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4932 BDB #1041

You will no doubt notice that the common translation of misheneh is nothing like what we find here (Young being the sole exception). Footnote That is unfortunate, because what this means is that the Israelites did not just seize the best, but they grabbed up the second-best as well. The idea is, they did not leave many for God.

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

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

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

kar (ר -) [pronounced kahr]

male lamb, he-lamb, battering ram

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #3733 BDB #503

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

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

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

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

ţûwbv (בט) [pronounced toobv]

good things, goodness, prosperity, well-being, beauty

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #2898 BDB #375

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; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

âbâh (ה ָב ָא) [pronounced aw-BVAWH]

to be willing, to consent

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #14 BDB #2

châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM]

to completely devote to, to devote to, or to completely destroyed

Hiphil infinitive construct plus the 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #2763 BDB #355


Translation: But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the flock and the herd, and the second-best; and they chose not to devote [to God by destruction] the rams and all the good things. For some reason, the people chose to spare Agag. It is not clear what occurred. If Saul was with them, he may have identified with Agag and asked him to be spared; if Saul was not with them, Agag may have used bribery to retain his life (asking only to be able to speak to Saul). Whatever the circumstances, Agag lived. As the Israelites continued their assault, they looked at all the great animals that the Amalekites had and decided to keep them for themselves.


The way I see it, this was not done by a few errant Israelite soldiers who did not know what was up. Saul had to issue a direct order to preserve Agag and to preserve the best and second-best of their animals. That does not just happen. A couple of confused soldiers just don’t do that by mistake.


Now, you may wonder why God chooses to devote every man, woman, child and animal to Himself. Even though these are a degenerate people, why would you not save the babies? Why would you not save the virgin women? Why would you not save the best of their livestock? A group of people who have fallen into immoral practices could suffer all kinds of venereal diseases and their children could be born with these diseases. Or there could be other diseases which have infected the entire population, including the animals. Isolating all of them and burning them with fire would effectively contain and control the diseases, and prevent their spreading. It does not have to be the case that every single person and animal is infected; however, enough of them might be infected to require the destruction of all. There is nothing here which tells us that this is the reason; however, this would be one plausible explanation.


A second reason to destroy all of the animals is that it is very possible for a group of soldiers to become distracted with the spoils of victory, thus keeping them from completing their mission. This Israelites were commanded to destroy every man, woman and child; yet, there will be enough Amalekites alive during the time of David, Footnote only a few years later, to make raiding parties on southern Judah, burning the city of Ziklag to the ground (1Sam. 30:1).


We have seen today in Israel tremendous hatred on the part of some Arabs for Israel (and vice versa). Their hatred is such that a significant number of Arabs have worn jackets of explosives into public places in Israel and detonated themselves simply to kill off a few Jewish civilians. Their hatred is so great that they are willing to give their lives in order to kill several Jews who are not soldiers, who may or may not be prejudiced against the Arabs. Simply because they are Jews is enough of a reason to motivate these attacks. So realize in these attacks, both ancient and recent, it is not simply about gaining a piece of real estate, but about hatred and vindictiveness.


1Samuel 15:9b

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]

the whole, all of, the entirety of, all

masculine singular construct followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

melâkâh (ה ָכא ָל  ׃מ) [pronounced melaw-KAWH]

work, occupation, labor, workmanship, items produced by work?

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4399 BDB #521

bâzâh (הָזָ) [pronounced baw-ZAW]

to be despised, to be regarded with contempt, despicable, contemptible

feminine singular, Niphal participle

Strong’s #959 BDB #102

Actually, the word which is found here is nembezâh (הָז ב ̣מנ) [pronounced nemi-bezaw], and this word has no cognates, and its pronunciation would be difficult for Hebrews of that era (the silent or barely pronounced e’s are rarely seen between the consonants that we find here. So, Owen says the correct reading is what I have; BDB references the correct reading (BDB #659), but refers back to BDB #102 without defining the word—again, indicating that what I have is the accepted correct reading and indicating that the accepted text is wrong.

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

mâçaç (ס ַס ָמ) [pronounced maw-SAUCE]

to dissolve, to melt; figuratively to become faint, fearful, to despair

Niphal participle

Strong’s #4549 BDB #587

There is no disputed reading here; however, the only place where this particular word is generally rendered refuse or worthless is right here. It is found in 20 other places in Scripture and its 3 cognates in as many additional passages, and it does not appear as though this meaning is reasonably applied elsewhere (except in Psalm 112:10, where the verb could be so rendered; however, the verse stands up without changing the meaning of the verb). Now the explanation: when Israel attacked, although we are not told this, I suspect that they used fire to some extent—they gained a foothold and then started a fire here or there. The idea may have been originally to devote some of the things to God—so, the things which burned in these fires, or melted; that they were also willing to devote to God.

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated mark of a direct object

affixed to 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

The feminine singular suffix refers back to the items which were produced by work; those things that the Amalekites made or constructed.

châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM]

to completely devote to, to devote to, or to completely destroy

3rd person plural, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #2763 BDB #355


Translation: However, crafted items which were despised or melted [in the attack], [that] they devoted [to God]. The latter portion of this verse is a great insult to God. In the attack, some things burned. The Amalekites had some things which were worthless to the Israelites—so the Israelites were willing to devote this to God. I hope that it is clear what is happening here. An Israelite soldier would come across some item and remark, “That’s a piece of crap! I wouldn’t give that to my worst enemy.” That he devotes to God. Also, in the attack, much of the Amalek dwellings were burned to the ground. If an Israelite came across something that was at one time nice, but had been burned in the fire to a point that it was worthless—that he would devote to God.

 

The NIV Study Bible has an excellent summarization of this verse: When Israel refused to obey the Lord’s command (v. 3), their holy war against the Amalekites degenerated into personal aggrandizement, much like that of Achan at the time of the conquest of Canaan (see Joshua. 7:1). Giving to the Lord by destruction only what was despised and weak was a contemptible act (see Mal. 1:7–12), not to be excused (see v. 19) by the protestation that the best had been preserved for sacrifice to the Lord (vv. 15, 21). Footnote Despite the difficulties in translating this verse, its gist is still clearly understood.

 

Keil and Delitzsch summarize: Saul no longer desired to be the medium of the sovereignty of Jehovah, or the executor of the commands of the God-king, but simply wanted to reign according to his own arbitrary will. Nevertheless this rejection was not followed by his outward deposition. The Lord merely took away His Spirit. Footnote Which statement sets us up for what is to come.


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Samuel Confronts Saul Concerning His Disobedience to God


And so is a word of Yehowah unto Samuel to say,...

1Samuel

15:10

Then the Word of Yehowah came [lit., is] to Samuel, saying,...

Then the Word of Jehovah went to Samuel: ...


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so is a word of Yehowah unto Samuel to say,...

Septuagint                             The word of the Lord then came to Samuel, saying: ...


 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The Lord told Samuel,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Then the Lord spoke to Samuel: ...

JPS (Tanakh)                        The word of the Lord then came to Samuel: ...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying,...

Young's Literal Translation    And the word of Jehovah is unto Samuel, saying,...


What is the gist of this verse? God does not go to Saul directly; He speaks to Samuel.


1Samuel 15:10

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, is, was

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

el (לא) [pronounced el]

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

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

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

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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


Translation: Then the Word of Yehowah came [lit., is] to Samuel, saying,... We are not told in what way God spoke to Samuel; however, it does not appear to be necessarily a face-to-face meeting where Samuel can discuss this (as Moses discussed the children of Israel with God). Samuel will call out in prayer all night to God, so my reasonable guess is that God came to Samuel in a dream and after the dream, Samuel calls out to God.


“I have been sorry that I caused to reign Saul for a king because he had turned back from after Me and My words he has not caused to stand.” And so He [perhaps, he?] was kindled to Samuel. And so he cried out unto Yehowah all the night.

1Samuel

15:11

“I regret that I caused Saul to reign as [lit., to or for] king because he has turned away from following [lit., after] Me and He has not performed My commands [lit., words].” And He evoked [great emotion] in [lit., with regards to] Samuel [or, possibly, and He (he?) burned (in anger) with regards to Samuel]. Then he [Samuel] called out to Yehowah all night.

“I regret that I have made Saul king because he has not followed Me nor has he obeyed my commands.” Therefore, God so constrained Samuel [to no longer recognize Saul as king]. However, Samuel called out in prayer to Jehovah all night.


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       “I have been sorry that I caused to reign Saul for a king because he had turned back from after Me and My words he has not caused to stand.” And so He [perhaps, he?] was kindled to Samuel. And so he cried out unto Yehowah all the night.

Septuagint                             “I have repented that I have made Saul to be king, for he has turned back from following Me, and he has not kept My word.” And Samuel was grieved and he cried to the Lord all night.

 

Significant differences:          The minor difference in verbs does not affect the meaning of this verse.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “Saul has stopped obeying me, and I’m sorry that I made him king.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out in prayer to the Lord all night.

NLT                                “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he was not been loyal to me and has again refused to obey me.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My commands.” Samuel was distressed and he entreated the Lord all night long.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Emphasized Bible           I am grieved that I made Saul to be king, for he hath turned back from following me, and <my words> hath he not established. And it was vexing to Samuel, so that he made outcry unto Yahweh all the night.

NASB                                     “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following [lit., after] Me, and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.

Young's Updated LT              “I have repented that I caused Saul to reign for king, for he has turned back from after Me, and My words he has not performed;” and it is displeasing to Samuel, and he cries unto Jehovah all the night.


What is the gist of this verse? God tells Samuel that he regrets making Saul king over Israel (this is known as an anthropopathism—an emotion is ascribed to God which He does not possess). Saul was rejected because he does not follow God nor does he obey God. Part of this verse is obscure—it appears as though God is expressing anger with regards to Samuel; probably this is not towards Samuel (as there is no reason for God to be upset with him), but since God is speaking to Samuel, His anger is revealed to Samuel. Samuel is upset over this and cries out to God all night in prayer.


1Samuel 15:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

nâcham (ם ַח ָנ) [pronounced naw-KHAHM]

to be sorry, to be moved to pity, to lament, to grieve to have compassion, to be sorry, to pity, to suffer grief, to rue

1st person singular, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #5162 BDB #636

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

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

to make king, to cause to reign, to cause to rule over

1st person singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong’s #4427 BDB #573

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

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, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

meleke ( ל מ) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because, when

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

shûwbv (בש) [pronounced shoobv]

to return, to turn, to turn back, to reminisce, to restore something, to bring back something, to revive, to recover something, to make restitution

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #7725 BDB #996

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

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

after, following, behind

preposition affixed to a 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #310 BDB #29

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter

masculine plural noun affixed to a 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

generally negates the word immediately following; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to cause to raise up, to cause to stand, to establish, to fulfill, to cause to stand; to uphold, to perform [a testimony, a vow, a commandment, a promise]

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877


Translation: “I regret that I caused Saul to reign as [lit., to or for] king because he has turned away from following [lit., after] Me and He has not performed My commands [lit., words].” God, of course, knew that Saul would fail as king—He knew this in eternity past. However, sometimes the actions or thoughts of God are explained in language of accommodation (or, in other words, an anthropopathism). God does not actually regret, because He knew in advance of Saul’s disobedience. However, since God first made Saul king, and then He will proclaim that David will be king—this is easily explained on a human level by saying that God regretted making Saul king, and so He chose someone else. We ascribe these thoughts or feelings to God, although He does not have them.


Now may be an excellent time to glance back at the various times that God has regretted doing this or that. Just bear in mind that this is an anthropopathism, ascribing to God feelings and emotions which He does not possess in order to better understand why He does what He does.

Times When God is Said to Have Changed His Mind

Scripture

Details

Gen. 6:6–7

Early on the history of man, mankind became corrupt. Although there are several interpretations of Gen. 6, the one which makes the most sense is that, prior to the flood, sexual union between man and fallen angels was possible. Mankind had become almost completely corrupted; that is, there were only seven people who were still 100% human; every one else was a corrupted mix of fallen angels and man. The behavior was more degenerate than we can imagine even today, with tremendous violence and debauchery reigning in the thoughts and actions of those on earth. Only Noah and his family were not a part of this (the idea very much parallels the Christian today, who is in the world but not of the world).

Ex. 32:1–14

God appeared as though He was going to destroy Israel after the golden calf incident (Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the Law, and the Israelites made themselves a golden calf which they worshiped). When Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf (thus shadowing was Jesus would do in the future), God is said to have changed His mind about harming His people (v. 14).

1Sam. 15:11

God regrets having made Saul king over Israel.

2Sam. 24:1–17

David took a census of the people (apparently wondering if God had fulfilled His promises to Israel), and God began disciplining Israel for it. God struck Israel with sickness, and 70,000 men died. Then He was about to destroy Jerusalem, but David intervened, taking the (deserved) blame upon himself. So God changed His mind about destroying Jerusalem.

Jer. 18:7–10

If God plans to strike a nation, and that nation turns from it evil, then God will change His mind and refrain from destroying them. On the other hand, if a nation that God has blessed and prospered turns away from Him, then God will also change His mind and place them under great discipline.

Jonah 3:10

When Nineveh turns from the evil that it was doing, God repented from destroying them.

Addendum: Does God change His mind or not is not a matter of dueling theologies, where you find one writer of Scripture asserting that he does, and another asserting that He does not. Even in this chapter, we read: Furthermore, the Enduring of Israel does not recant [possibly, lie] nor [is He] moved to pity because He [is] not a man [so as] to pity [a recalcitrant].” (1Sam. 15:29). Moses, in writing down the Law, recorded these words of God: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. If He speaks, will he not perform? Or if He has spoken, will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). And Ezekiel confirms this with God’s Word: “I, Yehowah, have spoken; it is coming and I will act. I will not relent and I will not pity, and I will not be sorry; according to your ways and according to your deeds, I will judge you,” declares Yehowah Elohim (Ezek. 24:14; see also Psalm 110:4 Jer. 4:28 13:14 Ezek. 9:10 Mal. 3:6).

It is first important to note that none of what occurred was a surprise to God. God did not make Saul king, then notice that Saul was rebellious, and cry out, “What have I done? Did I make the wrong person king?” We already know, from Gen. 49:8–10 that the line of Judah would provide the kings of Israel.

Kaiser, Davids et al. explain this: Repentance in God is not, as it is in us, an evidence of indecisiveness. It is rather a change in his method of responding to another person based on some change in the other individual. The change, then, was in Saul. The problem was with Saul’s partial obedience, his wayward heart and covetousness. Footnote Saul, as the leader of his people, essentially authorized disobedience to God on a grand scale. Therefore, dealing with his disobedience was crucial to the future of Israel.

There is an alternate theory, which I do not buy into, but I will offer it just the same. This passage expresses grave sorrow on the part of God, which is indicated by the word used (which does not always refer to a change of mind but to deep emotional regret). Footnote

Kaiser, Davids, et. al. make an important point in their book Hard Sayings of the Bible: God’s essence and character, his resolute determination to punish sin and to reward virtue, are unchanging...These are absolute and unconditional affirmations that Scripture everywhere teaches. But this does not mean that all his promises and warnings are unconditional many turn on either an expressed or an implied condition. The classic example of this conditional teaching is Jeremiah 18:7–10: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” This principle clearly states the condition underlying most of God’s promises and threats, even when it is not made explicit, as in the case of Jonah. Therefore, whenever God does not fulfill a promise or execute a threat that he has made, the explanation is obvious: in all of these cases, the change has not come in God, but in the individual or nation...God’s character, person and plan are immutable; these are things which do not change. However, God is a living being Who does change in response to our thoughts, impulses and actions. Footnote That is, one day Saul is king; the next day, God removes this responsibility from Saul. This does not mean that God’s character has changed; He simply changed a specific in His plan in order to deal with Saul’s change of character. Again, saying that God changed His mind or regretted making Saul king merely helps us to understand God’s motivation.


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Robert Gordon gives us an excellent view of repentance in very few words: ‘Repent’ when used of God is, of course, anthropopathic; yet it conveys an important truth about a God who is not impassive or static, buy dynamic in his interaction with his creation. Footnote


1Samuel 15:11b

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

chârâh (ח ָר ָה) [pronounced khaw-RAWH]

to burn, to kindle, to become angry, to evoke great emotion

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2734 BDB #354

BDB suggests that the reading is probably the Qal imperfect of tsârar, which means to bind, to tie up, to restrict, giving us: So He [God] was restrictive to Samuel. God was restrictive in the sense that Saul was no longer to be king, and there wasn’t anything Samuel could do about it. However, I don’t know why BDB would suggest this rendering, apart from problems with understanding the actual text. The Septuagint also makes some changes here, saying that Samuel was grieved. Though this makes a great deal of sense, we still most lose the lâmed preposition and change the verb.

Another thing about which we should be cognizant is the 3rd person masculine singular; if this should read it kindled Samuel, then we would expect a feminine singular noun instead (so that it would not be mixed up with the masculine singular nouns).

Another approach is to allow the MT to stand as is, and reinterpret the verb. Chârâh does actually mean to kindle [a fire], and the idea is that what could be kindled is strong emotion, determined by the context (generally speaking, it is anger, but that is not the only emotion which would kindle, so to speak). There is support for this notion in Neh. 3:20, where Baruch burns with zeal to repair the walls. And He evoked great emotion with regards to Samuel... would be the sense of this, which fits well with the context. Under these circumstances, I would have expected a Hiphil stem, however.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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

The subject of a sentence is not preceded by a lâmed preposition. However, we have several instances where the verb chârâh is followed by a lâmed preposition (e.g., Gen. 4:5–6 31:36 34:7). You may notice that most translations ignored the lâmed preposition and made Samuel the subject of the anger.


Translation: And He evoked [great emotion] in [lit., with regards to] Samuel. Or, Then He burned [with anger] with respect to Samuel. Most translations have Samuel being angry (presumably with God), but that is not how the text reads. Although it appears as though someone is angry with Samuel, or someone kindles [something] with respect to Samuel, this just does not fit the context of this verse. Even though the proper noun Saul is the closest noun in the context, it makes little sense for Saul to be angry with Samuel, as Saul is not even there. My thinking, if we accept the Masoretic text as accurate, then the interpretation is going to be difficult. If God was angry with Samuel, then we would really expect an explanatory conjunction to follow (there are two of them in this verse), as God would be angry at Samuel for praying on behalf of Saul, the looser. God was angry with Samuel because he cried out to God all night. We just do not find that explanatory conjunction here. Therefore, it may be best for us to examine each interpretation in a table to keep them separate.


Translating these four very simple words, and then interpreting them, is actually a rather daunting task. Therefore, let’s look at the various interpretations in points. Also, as I write these things, it occurs to me that some may not have a good understanding of the word kindle (not everyone has been a cub scout or a boy scout). I recall building this stack of small twigs over a few leaves, which I would light on fire, and then have to cover with larger twigs, and then pieces of small branches, until, 5 minutes later, I have a reasonable fire going. This is the concept of to kindle. In the ancient world, they operated without matches, so the kindling of a fire took even longer. The idea is that an emotion is evoked and then that emotion grows and grows until it is extremely powerful. If we view to kindle as not necessarily a small emotion which builds into a great emotion, but an emotion which is simply evoked by the situation, then we have a little more latitude in our interpretation of this passage.

According to Webster, kindle means 1. To start (a fire); cause (a flame, blaze, etc.), to spring up. 2. to set fire to or ignite (fuel or any combustible matter) 3. to excite; stir up or set going; animat

e, rouse, or inflame. 4. to light up, illuminate, or make bright. 5. to begin to burn as combustible matter, a light, fire or flame. 6. to become roused, ardent, or inflamed. Footnote

`Translating and Interpreting Four Words of 1Sam. 15:11

Translation

Interpretation/Pros/Cons

And He kindles [anger] with respect to Samuel.

God’s anger (or, emotion) toward Samuel is kindled, aroused or invoked. Although this is easy to justify on the basis of the Hebrew, there just does not appear to be a reason for God to feel anger, even as an anthropopathism, toward Samuel. And if God were angry with Samuel for crying out to Him all night, there should be an explanatory conjunction to pull this together. In any case, there is nothing said in this context which would confirm such an anger from God.

And He kindled [great emotion] with respect to Samuel.

This interpretation makes the most sense (although a Hiphil stem would have been my choice for the verb). The word for kindle generally refers to anger, but we have at least one instance where it does not. Therefore, kindling great emotion, whose content is determined by context, is a very reasonable rendering of this verb and sentence structure. The fact that Samuel cries out to God all night is indicative of Samuel’s great emotion. However, it is what God has said to Samuel which has caused the emotion to well up within him. Therefore, Samuel does not work himself up, per se, which is why Samuel is not the subject of the verb (furthermore, being preceded by the lâmed preposition also eliminates Samuel as the subject).

And he kindles [great emotion] with respect to Samuel.

Here, Saul’s anger is kindled or aroused toward Samuel. The problem is one of timing. We first hear what God has to say, and then find out how Saul will feel about this when Samuel goes to him, and then we go back to right after God speaks to Samuel and Samuel prays for Saul. Furthermore, Saul’s response to Samuel, which is not recorded until vv. 24–25. If this is a reference to Saul’s feelings toward Samuel, it is way out of place. Saul is nowhere to be found in this immediate context. Furthermore, there is nothing in this chapter which ever suggests that Saul is angry with Samuel. Despite his shortcomings, Saul never seems to have anything less than great respect for Samuel.

And it kindles [emotion] with respect to Samuel.

The big problem here is the subject. The Hebrew does not have a neuter gender, so it has to be represented with either the masculine or feminine gender. Generally speaking, when all of the nearby nouns are masculine, the Hebrew uses the feminine gender to denote it, so that there is no confusion with the other possible subjects. When it comes to interpretation, this is the most reasonable. We have great emotion which is evoked in Samuel, which emotion will be clear in the next line.

And Samuel’s anger kindles.

There are two problems with this: (1) Samuel is not the subject in the Hebrew and (2) this interpretation does not square with what is to follow. Samuel does not pray like a man angry with God.

Obviously, knowing the Hebrew does not always make translation and interpretation easier. On the other hand, what I have given you is a more accurate approach to this verse than is found in any other translation.

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Bearing all of this in mind, it may be interesting to look back and see how others have rendered these four words.

Other Translations of These Four Words in 1Sam. 15:11

Translator

Translation

Pros

Cons

Amplified Bible

And Samuel was grieved and angry [with Saul]...

 

Samuel is not really the subject in this short sentence. The emotions appear to be contradictory here. I would think that Samuel would be grieved for Saul.

God’s Word™, NRSV, REB

Samuel was angry...

To kindle is generally associated with anger.

Samuel is not the subject, and what does he have to be angry about?

JPS

Samuel was distressed...

Fits well with context.

Samuel is not the subject. Is distressed the kind of verb which is evoked and then grows?

NASB

And Samuel was distressed...

The translation distressed appears to fit with the context, even though we do not find this exact rendering of chârâh elsewhere.

The two biggest problems are (1) Samuel is not the subject and (2) kindled is usually associated with anger (although, not always).

NIV

Samuel was troubled...

This fits with the context. We could reasonably see troubled as an emotion which is kindled.

Samuel is not the subject in the Hebrew, nor does troubled seem like an emotion (in this case) which would be kindled.

NJB

Samuel was appalled...

This view is original.

Samuel is not the subject and does appalled really fit with the context or the Hebrew?

KJV, NKJV

And it grieved Samuel...

This fits with the context and grieving is the kind of emotion which can be kindled.

The only problem here is the word it, we would have expected a feminine singular subject.

NLT

Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that...

This fits well with the context.

These 10 words are used to translate only 4 Hebrew words.

Rotherham

And it was vexing to Samuel...

Accurate and reasonable rendering, apart from vexing, which is debatable.

Vexing means to irritate, to annoy, to provoke; to torment, to trouble. What we are looking for is an emotion which grows as Samuel thinks about it, which does not seem to agree with vex.

Young

...and it is displeasing to Samuel...

This is a relatively literal rendering of the Hebrew words with the exception of chârâh, which is nowhere else rendered displeasing.

Chârâh is usually associated with anger. Being displeased does not seem to be the sort of emotion that would be kindled (like anger, jealousy or zeal).

This should tell you that you can have a dozen different translations and still not know what is actually being said here. I think the clear meaning, given the context is: God kindled [great emotion] with respect to Samuel... (the negative in this translation is that it takes me 8 English words to translate 4 Hebrew words).

I realize that it would never occurred to you to put this amount of time into the translation and interpretation of 4 simple Hebrew words; however, the purpose of this exegesis is to first given an accurate translation of the Hebrew and then to properly interpret the verse. The fact that it takes a great deal of time is not really an issue.


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1Samuel 15:11c

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

zâ׳aq (ק ַע ָז) [pronounced zaw-ĢAHK]

to cry out, to call, to cry

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2199 BDB #277

el (לא) [pronounced el]

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

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

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

layelâh (ה ָל  ׃י ַל) [pronounced LAY-law]

night; nightly, at night, in the night, during the night

masculine singular noun with the definite article; this word can take on adverbial qualities

Strong’s #3915 BDB #538


Translation: Then he [Samuel] called out to Yehowah all night. This is the greatest help for us to understand the previous four words. Samuel obviously had a great deal of emotion well up within and this sentence indicates that clearly. However, what the context of this does is rule out Samuel being angry. This does not appear to be the action of one who is angry with anyone. That Samuel grieved over Saul being rejected by God is clearly testified to here and in 1Sam. 15:35–16:1. What God said clearly brought out great emotion in Samuel, as Samuel crowned Saul king, and genuinely loved Saul. He takes Saul’s complete failure very seriously.


And so rises early Samuel to call Saul in the morning and so it was made known to Samuel, to say, “Had come in Saul the Carmel-ward and behold a setting upright to himself a hand [possibly monument] and so he was turning around and so he goes down the Gilgal.”

1Samuel

15:12

Samuel then arose early in the morning to summon Saul, but it was made known to Samuel, “Saul had come in to Carmel and look, a setting up for him a monument [lit., hand]. Then he turned around and went down [to] Gilgal.”

Then Samuel got up early that morning to summon Saul [to tell him God’s determination in the matter]. However, he was told, “Saul did come in to Carmel; see, a monument was set up for him. Then he turned around and went down to Gilgal.”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And when Samuel rose early, to go to Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel that Saul was come to Carmel, and had erected for himself a triumphant arch, and returning had passed on, and gone down to Galgal. And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul was offering a holocaust to the Lord, out of the choicest of the spoils, which he had brought from Amalec.

Masoretic Text                       And so rises early Samuel to call Saul in the morning and so it was made known to Samuel, to say, “Had come in Saul the Carmel-ward and behold a setting upright to himself a hand [possibly monument] and so he was turning around and so he goes down the Gilgal.”

Peshitta                                 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul has come to Carmel, and, behold, he has set up a dwelling place fo himself, and has turned and passed on and gone down to Gilgal.”

Septuagint                             And Samuel rose early and went to meet Israel in the morning, and it was told Saul, saying, “Samuel has come to Carmel, and he has raised up help for himself. And he turned his chariot, and came down to Galgala to Saul.” And, behold, he was offering to the Lord, the chief of the spoils which he brought out of Amalec. [in the Hebrew and in the Alexandrian Septuagint, this was told to Samuel and it was Saul who went to Carmel; it is unclear where the quote should end].

 

Significant differences:          There are a huge number of differences in these verses. The quote seems to be backwards—someone is speaking to Samuel in the Hebrew, Latin and Syriac; but speaking to Saul in the Greek. There is a second sentence in the Greek and Latin, where it appears as though Saul is offering up some of the spoils of his war with Amalek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Early the next morning he went to talk with Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to Carmel, where he had a monument built so everyone would remember his victory. Then he left for Gilgal.”

NLT                                Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”

TEV                                       Early the following morning he went off to find Saul. He heard that Saul had gone to the town of Carmel, where he had built a monument to himself, and then had gone on to Gilgal.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        Early in the morning Samuel went to meet Saul. Samuel was told, “Saul went to Carmel, where he erected a monument for himself; then he left and went on down to Gilgal.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal.”

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel rises early to meet Saul in the morning, and it is declared to Samuel, saying, “Saul has come in to Carmel, and lo, he is setting up to himself a monument, and goes round, and passes over, and goes down to Gilgal.”


What is the gist of this verse? God has spoken to Samuel, now Samuel needs to talk to Saul and tell him what God siad. It appears as though Samuel went all the way down to Carmel, and was then told that Saul was there, he erected a monument, and then he turned around and headed over to Gilgal. It is possible that Saul is avoiding Samuel by moving around as much as he is.


1Samuel 15:12a

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

shâkam (ם ַכ ָש) [pronounced shaw-KAHM]

to start, to rise, to rise early, to make an early start

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #7925 BDB #1014

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

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qârâ (א ָר ָק) [pronounced kaw-RAW]

to call, to proclaim, to read, to call to, to call out to, to assemble, to summon

Qal infinitive construct

Strong's #7121 BDB #894

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

bôqer (ר∵קֹ) [pronounced BOH-ker]

morning

masculine singular noun (with a definite article)

Strong’s #1242 BDB #133

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâgad (ד ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHD]

to make conspicuous, to make known, to expound, to explain, to declare, to inform, to confess, to make it pitifully obvious that

3rd person masculine singular, Hophal imperfect

Strong's #5046 BDB #616

The Hophal is the passive of the Hiphil (causative stem) and the rarest of the seven stems. There is never a hint of reflexive in this stem and the agent of the verb is often not given in the immediate context. This means, the name of the person who told Samuel this is unimportant to us.

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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


Translation: Samuel then arose early in the morning to summon Saul, but it was made known to Samuel,... The reason that Samuel was going to summon Saul was that God had just spoken to Samuel that night and told him that Saul and his line were history and that they were going to be replaced because of Saul’s disobedience.


There appears to be a mixup with the names in my version of the LXX. This verse makes perfect sense in the Hebrew; it makes much less sense in the Greek (the Alexandrian Septuagint does not mix up the names).


It appears, because of what is said next, that Samuel is in Carmel, which is deep into Judah, 30 miles south of Gibeah of Saul and about 7 miles south of Hebron.


1Samuel 15:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

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

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982

karemel (ל∵מר-) [pronounced kahre-MEL],

garden, plantation and is transliterated Carmel

proper noun with a definite article and a directional hê

Strong’s #3760 BDB #502

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

nâtsabv (בַצָנ) [pronounced naw-TSAHBV]

to station oneself, to take one’s stand, to stand up, to set something upright, to erect

Hiphil participle

Strong’s #5324 BDB #662

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

yâd (דָי) [pronounced yawd]

generally translated hand

feminine singular noun

Strong's #3027 BDB #388

There are a handful of specialized uses for this noun: a. a sign, a monument (1Sam. 15:12 2Sam. 18:18); b. a part, a fractional part (Gen. 47:24 2Sam. 19:44 2Kings 11:7 Neh. 11:1); c. time, repetition (Gen. 43:34 Deut. 1:29). Footnote The relationship between a monument or time and hand is a hand points out [something] and marks or denotes [a place].


Translation: “Saul had come in to Carmel and look, a setting up for him a monument [lit., hand]. By the way that this is said, it sounds as though Samuel is in Carmel, because the unnamed speaker says behold (as in, look at this), a monument set up for Saul. Certainly, it is possible that Samuel went to Gibeah of Saul, and he was told that Saul first went down to Carmel and then turned around and went down to Gilgal (he is said to go down because Gilgal is at a lower elevation). However, what appears to be the case is that Samuel found out that Saul was in Carmel (we don’t know where Samuel was originally, but we can assume his home town); so Samuel then went down to Carmel, only to find that Saul turned around and went down to Gilgal.


Carmel is mentioned a few times in Scripture. By MacMillan’s maps, it appears to be on the outskirts of the territory claimed by Caleb, in the southern portion of Judah, slightly more than halfway down the Dead Sea, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea (but closer to the Dead Sea). This would put it in the hills of Judah, which seem to be more or less an extension of the hills of Ephraim. Carmel is not to be confused with Mount Carmel, which is in the northwestern portion of Manasseh. Given the meaning of Carmel (garden, plantation), it is surprising that we do not have more Carmel’s in the Old Testament. Carmel is mentioned at least thrice in Scripture (Joshua 15:55 1Sam. 15:12 25:2) and Saul is here because he would be traveling this route back from his war with the Amalekites.


This monument is an unusual thing. First of all, it is the simple word for hand; however, we have already seen in the Hebrew that the word does mean other things (compare 2Sam. 18:18). Saul’s behavior has changed greatly over the past several years (I make it 20–30 years). In the beginning, he was too shy to consider ruling over Israel; and here, he is putting up a monument to himself. Saul throughout his life has been out of synch with God. When he had clearly been selected by God to rule over Israel, he hid from the people. However, as he became more and more used to his position, he became more and more used to doing his own thing. Certainly that with this monument, there was probably a ceremony or some sort, which is not mentioned in God’s Word. Saul’s inauguration is covered in great detail in Scripture because that was of God. Here, Saul is simply glorifying himself, and therefore, little is said about it. I should add one more thing: isn’t it kind of pathetic that Saul is erecting a monument to himself? This is the kind of honor we would hope that others would do on our behalf; but if you have to do it for yourself, it’s simply pathetic.


1Samuel 15:12c

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

çâbab (ב ַב ָס) [pronounced sawb-VAHBV]

to turn oneself, to be caused to go around, to be turned around

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong’s #5437 BDB #685

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

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

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

3rd person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #5674 BDB #716

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

descend, go down

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

gilegâl (לָ ׃ל̣) [pronounced gile-GAWL]

sacred circle of stones and is transliterated Gilgal

proper noun, location with the definite article

Strong’s #1537 BDB #166


1sam_151.gifNote that Saul would have been up in Gibeah, where he normally hangs out. Then he went down south quite a ways to Carmel. Then he went north, up to Gilgal. This was taken from http://www.anova.org/sev/atlas/htm/049a.htm

Translation: “Then he turned around and went down [to] Gilgal.” If Saul was down south fighting the Amalekites, and then he moves north through Carmel, Gilgal is simply moving further north. However, here it says that Saul turned around. We need not take this literally as Saul making a 180° turn. What would have been expected is for Saul to return to Gibeah of Saul, which is where he continued to live. Instead, he goes to Gilgal. By the verbiage in this verse, it appears as though he is on the west side of the hills of Judah and that he passes over or crosses over to the east side, and then makes his way toward Gilgal. The turning around simply reflects a change of plans or a choice different than one would have originally expected. Although it is never specifically stated, it is possible that Saul is moving quickly and to places where one would not expect him to go to, with the idea of avoiding Samuel. He knows that he has not fully obeyed God, and that Samuel is going to give him what for when they meet. So, Saul moves quickly, and does not necessarily go exactly where one would expect him to. I think that Saul is simply trying to avoid Samuel, because he knows what he has done is wrong.


Application: The application is simple—you can only run from your problems for so long.


And so came in Samuel unto Saul and so says to him Saul, “Blessing you to Yehowah! I have caused to stand [the] word of Yehowah!”

1Samuel

15:13

Finally, Samuel came in to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessings to you with regards to Yehowah! I have performed [or, upheld] the word of Yehowah!”

Once Samuel found Saul, he went in to see him, and Saul immediately said, “Blessings to you from Jehovah! I have done what Jehovah commanded!”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so came in Samuel unto Saul and so says to him Saul, “Blessing you to Yehowah! I have caused to stand [the] word of Yehowah!”

Septuagint                             And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed [are] you of the Lord. I have performed all that the Lord said.”

 

Significant differences:          The difference of the verb is probably one of translation.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Samuel finally caught up with Saul, and Saul told him, “I hope the Lord will bless you! I have done what the Lord told me.”

NLT                                When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”

TEV                                       Samuel went up to Saul, who greeted him, saying, “The Lord bless you, Samuel! I have obeyed the Lord’s command.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Samuel came to Saul, who said, “The Lord bless you. I carried out the Lord’s instructions.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have fulfilled the Lord’s command.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord.”

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel comes in unto Saul and Saul says to him, “Blessed are you of Jehovah; I have performed the word of Jehovah.”


What is the gist of this verse? Saul greets Samuel jubilantly, seeing that he is on a high from destroying the Amalekites. Saul has already in him mind explained exactly how he has obeyed God’s commands, even though he did not. Those who misrepresent the truth as artfully as Saul does go over and over in their minds the explanation/justification of their actions, and are prepared to deal with the most careful scrutinization.


1Samuel 15:13a

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

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

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

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

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

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

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

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

Shâûwl (לאָש) [pronounced shaw-OOL]

which is transliterated Saul; it means asked for

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #7586 BDB #982


Translation: Finally, Samuel came in to Saul, and Saul said to him,... Saul in his own mind has worked out all the details. When you lie or distort the truth, the idea is to do it with conviction to the point where you have sold yourself on your slightly skewed version. Saul has done that, and he is ready to deal with whatever Samuel says.


1Samuel 15:13b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

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

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

Qal passive participle

Strong’s #1288 BDB #138

attâh (הָ-א) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #859 BDB #61

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to cause to raise up, to cause to stand, to establish, to fulfill, to cause to stand; to uphold, to perform [a testimony, a vow, a commandment, a promise]

1st person singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: “Blessings to you with regards to Yehowah! I have performed [or, upheld] the word of Yehowah!” Although the first phrase is a little clumsy in the English, it was probably a common saying along the lines of Blessings to you from God or blessings to you with respect to God.


What we have in this verse is a very interesting play on words, although it was not meant to be by Saul, who said it. He had just finished setting up (qûwm) a statue which probably commemorated his victory over the Amalekites, and here he tells Samuel that he performed (qûwm; the same word) the command of God. Qûwm means to raise up, to stand up perpendicular, to establish, to cause to stand, to fulfill. In Carmel, its most literal meaning is used—to stand up perpendicular; and here, its more derivative meaning is used: to uphold, to fulfill, to perform.


You will note that the CEV has thrown in the idea that Saul receives Samuel cheerfully. Even though this is not found in this context, it is a very reasonable way to interpret to circumstances. Saul is on a high. He has defeated the Amalekites; the people are 100% behind him again; his screw up with Jonathan was averted; Footnote he just put up a statue or monument indicating that he was Man of the Decade in Carmel, so we would expect him to be cheerful and animated. Also, he increased his wealth considerably with all of the animals which he got.


Furthermore, Saul had it all worked out in his head exactly what he would say to Samuel if Samuel quizzed him too closely. This would also make Saul rather happy.


And so says Samuel, “And what [is the] sound of the flock the this in my ears and [the] sound herd which I am hearing?”

1Samuel

15:14

Samuel then said, “Then what is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the cattle that I keep hearing?”

Samuel responded with, “Then what is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the cattle that I keep hearing?”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Samuel, “And what [is the] sound of the flock the this in my ears and [the] sound herd which I am hearing?”

Septuagint                             And Samuel said, “What then [is] the voice of this flock in my ears, and the sound of the oxen which I hear?”

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “Then why,” Samuel asked, “do I hear sheep and cattle?”

NLT                                “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

TEV                                       Samuel asked, “Why, then, do I heave cattle mooing and sheep bleating?”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         However, Samuel asked, “But what is this sound of sheep in my ears and this sound of cows that I hear?”

JPS (Tanakh)                        “Then what,” demanded Samuel, “is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of oxen that I hear?”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

KJV (Scofield)                        And Samuel said, What meaneth, then, this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

NASB                                     But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating [lit., sound] of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing [lit., sound] of the oxen which I hear?”

NKJV                                     But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel says, “And what is the noise of this flock in my ears, and the noise of the herd which I am hearing?”


Occasionally, we find the power and influence of the KJV. Every translator knows that the words found here prior to the animal groups is the word for sound or voice. However, the KJV is not simply an outstanding translation, but it is great literature as well. In my opinion, High School English classes should study a few books of the Bible as well as Shakespear, to get the feel of the color of the Old English. So, because we find bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen... in the KJV, we find similar phrasing throughout many of the English translations. Even Brenton rendered the English of the Greek to reflect this influence (footnoting the actual meaning); which translation I changed to match the Greek.


What is the gist of this verse? Saul has just greeted Samuel cheerfully, claiming to have upheld the word of God. Samuel, in a rather poetic way, says “Bullshit, you didn’t obey God! What about the sheep and oxen from the Amalekites that I hear?”


1Samuel 15:14

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

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

tsôn (ןאֹצ) [pronounced tzohn]

small cattle, sheep and goats, flock, flocks

feminine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6629 BDB #838

zeh (ה ז) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, thus

demonstrative adjective with a definite article

Strong’s #2063, 2088, 2090 BDB #260

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

ôzen (ן∵זֹא) [pronounced OH-zen]

ear

feminine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix; pausal form

Strong’s #241 BDB #23

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

bâqâr (ר ָק ָ) [pronounced baw-KAWR]

ox, herd, cattle

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1241 BDB #133

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

ânôkîy (י.כֹנָא) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me

1st person singular personal pronoun (sometimes a verb is implied)

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

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, to hearken to, to be attentive to, to listen and take note of, to listen and be cognizant of

Qal active participle

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033


Translation: Samuel then said, “Then what is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the cattle that I keep hearing?” There is no reason why I can’t follow the lead of the KJV here either (which most translators did). The Hebrew is somewhat plain, speaking of the sound of the sheep and sound of the cattle; making a good translation does not mean that one ignores the concept of literary effect.


My ears is in the pausal form; that, along with the fact that qôwl is repeated indicates that Samuel is speaking, to some extent, in Hebrew poetry.


And so says Saul, “From Amalekites they brought them which spared the people upon [the] best of the flock and the herd to the intent of a slaughter to Yehowah your Elohim and the remaining we completely devoted.”

1Samuel

15:15

Saul answered, “From the Amalekites they brought those which the people spared beyond the best of the flocks and herds with the intent that [they be] slaughtered to Yehowah your God; we completed devoted [to destruction] the remaining ones.”

Saul answered, “We brought those animals out from the very best of those owned by the Amalekites. The people spared them to sacrifice to Jehovah your God. We did, of course, completely destroy the remaining animals.”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Saul, “From Amalekites they brought them which spared the people upon [the] best of the flock and the herd to the intent of a slaughter to Yehowah your Elohim and the remaining we completely devoted.”

Septuagint                             And Saul said, “I have brought them out of Amalec, that which the people preserved, even the best of the sheep, and of the cattle, that it might be sacrificed to the Lord your God, and the rest I have utterly destroyed.”

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “The army took them from the Amalekites,” Saul explained. “They kept the best sheep and cattle, so they could sacrifice them to the Lord your God. But we destroyed everything else.”

NLT                                “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep and cattle,” Saul admitted, “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

TEV                                       Saul answered, “My men took them from the Amalekites. They kept the best sheep and cattle to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have destroyed completely.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Saul answered, “The army brought them from the Amalekites. They spared the best sheep and cows to sacrifice to the Lord your God. They the rest they claimed for God and destroyed.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        Saul answered, “They were brought from the Amalekites, for the troops spared the choicest of the sheep and oxen for sacrificing to the Lord your God. And we proscribed the rest.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

Young's Updated LT              And Saul says, “From Amalek they have brought them, because the people had pity on the best of the flock, and of the herd, in order to sacrifice to Jehovah your God, and the remnant we have devoted.”


What is the gist of this verse? Saul begins to put his spin on what occurred. He clearly disobeyed God and allowed his men to disobey God. However, he begins to spin this so that it appears as though he did obey God. His men did keep out some of the best of the livestock of the Amalekites, but that was so that these animals could be sacrificed to Jehovah. “Now, apart from the very best of the flocks and herds,” Saul continues, “ we did devote the remainder to God.”


Saul’s choice of words is very exact here. The livestock was something that they brought, referring to his soldiers. The purpose of setting them aside was to sacrifice to your God, referring to the God of Samuel. Now, for the portion of what Saul did obey of the Word of God, he uses the pronoun we (we devoted the remnant).


1Samuel 15:15a

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

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

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

׳ămâlêqîy (י.ק̤לָמֲע) [pronounced ģuh-maw-lay-KEE]

transliterated Amalekite

proper noun gentis

Strong’s #6003 BDB #766

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to take in, to bring, to come in with, to carry

3rd person plural, Hiphil perfect with a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

Obviously, the meaning of the Hiphil is significantly different from the Qal for this verb.

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

châmal (ל ַמ ָח) [pronounced khaw-MAHL

to spare, to have compassion, to show mercy

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #2550 BDB #328

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

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

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

׳al is not usually the preposition that we would expect to find with mêyţab; we would expect the min preposition. However, what is being emphasized here is, not only did they take the best, they took those animals who were above and beyond the best (and, if you will recall, they actually saved out the best and the second best animals).

mêyţab (ב ָטי̤מ) [pronounced may-TAHBV]

the best of

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #4315 BDB #406

tsôn (ןאֹצ) [pronounced tzohn]

small cattle, sheep and goats, flock, flocks

feminine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6629 BDB #838

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bâqâr (ר ָק ָ) [pronounced baw-KAWR]

ox, herd, cattle

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1241 BDB #133


Translation: Saul answered, “From the Amalekites they brought those which the people spared beyond the best of the flocks and herds... Saul does not admit any wrongdoing. Note just exactly what Saul says and just how careful he is with his words. First of all, he has already told Samuel that he has upheld the Word of God. He wiped out those Amalekites, just like God asked him to do. Now, by the way, Saul mentions that the people spared the best of the flocks and the herds, not Saul. Now, who has ownership of these flocks and herds? Saul does, of course—but it was the people who did this.


Now, the people did not put aside every item owned by the Amalekites—they only put aside only the very best of the flocks and herds of the Amalekites. Now, how do you suppose they decided to do that? Saul does not mention this, but, it would have to be an executive order coming directly from Saul—that would be the only way that his soldiers would set aside particular animals. God had declared the possessions of the Amalekites cherem; they were to be completely devoted to God—that is, all of their possessions and all of their animals were to be complete destroyed. How would Saul’s soldiers know to do this? By an executive order from Saul. So, what the people do is dependent upon Saul’s orders. They obviously did not just act on their own, even though this is the impression which Saul hopes to give.


1Samuel 15:15b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lema׳an (ן ַע ַמ  ׃ל) [pronounced le-MAH-ģahn]

for the sake of, on account of, to the intent of, to the intent that, to the purpose that, in order that, in view of, to the end that

compound preposition and substantive which acts like a preposition

Strong’s #4616 BDB #775

This is the substantive ma׳an (ן ַע ַמ) [pronounced MAH-ģahn], which means purpose, intent, combined with the lâmed preposition (which is the only way that it is found in Scripture).

zâbach (חַבָז) [pronounced zawb-VAHKH]

to slaughter [usually an animal for sacrifice]

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #2076 BDB #256

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 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


Translation: ...with the intent that [they be] slaughtered to Yehowah your God;... Now, Saul does not completely lay this upon his soldiers. The soldiers knew what they were doing. They weren’t being greedy or undisciplined; they kept aside the very best of the flocks and herds to slaughter to Jehovah, Samuel’s God. The God of which Saul speaks is not called our God or Israel’s God or the people’s God; Jehovah is called your God, referring to Samuel. Saul is not placing any blame here—he is simply making it clear that this was all done on behalf of the God of Samuel. These were not self-serving, selfish actions on the part of his soldiers (which is true; they did this by order of Saul who was being self-serving and selfish); his soldiers acting with an eye to God.


Application: They prayed about it first! Have you ever heard that? Someone talks about how they prayed all night and then went ahead and did this or that. Do you know that prayer is not the tool for divine guidance? You can pray until you are blue in the face, and nothing is going to come of it. God is not going to tap you on the left shoulder if He wants you to turn left; He is not going to call you on the phone or send you a telegram. He is not going to speak to you in a still, small voice. You are guided by being filled with the Holy Spirit and by knowing God’s Word. God has specific tools for specific jobs. Prayer, the filling of the Holy Spirit and knowledge of doctrine are tools, like a hammer, saw and screwdriver. You can use a screwdriver to nail a nail, but you are going to be there for a long time. You can cut something apart with the claw of a hammer, although it may not look too good when you are finished. You need to use the right tool for the right job. Just so that I make myself completely clear: prayer is worthless to use to know God’s will for your life if you do not know God’s Word. Okay, I have gone off topic here, but...


To further mitigate his responsibility here, Saul gives the intent of the people: ...to sacrifice to Jehovah your God. Saul is deftly laying some of the responsibility upon Samuel. He has such nerve! They did this so they could sacrifice those animals to Jehovah, your God. The people had their priorities straight, Samuel, and they did this for your God.”


1Samuel 15:15c

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

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

yâthar (ר ַתָי) [pronounced yaw-THAHR]

to remain over, to remain

Qal active participle with the definite article

Strong’s #3498 BDB #451

châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM]

to completely devote to, to devote to, or to completely destroy

1st person plural, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #2763 BDB #355


Translation: ...we completed devoted [to destruction] the remaining ones.” Again, Saul makes it clear that he obeyed God. We completely destroyed those that remained. Notice here, Saul uses the personal pronoun. At this point, he is in the picture. He is acting as though he took part in the destruction of what remained, as that was a part of his obedience to God. Saul did not say, we saved out the best of the flocks and herds; but, when it comes to something which was in obedience to God, Saul is only too happy to include himself in there.


Saul is good. He knew exactly how to answer Samuel; he knew that he might be questioned and he had a pat answer ready. The animals that Samuel hears came from the very best of the flocks and herds of the Amalekites. Saul even uses a preposition that we would not expect to find here. The people (not Saul, per se) kept back those animals which were above and beyond the best that the Amalekites had. But recall what really happened: they (Saul and the people) kept out the best and the second best animals (1Sam. 15:9). So Saul bends the truth just a little. Saul has made it sound as though he was not involved and it appears as though all that was spared was the very, very best of the animals.


Note that throughout the first portion of what Saul said, there was no 1st person plural or 1st person singular used. It was they; it was the people. When it comes to what was an act of disobedience, Saul blames the people. But in the last phrase, where some obedience existed, Saul uses the 1st person plural. “Of course, we completely devoted the remaining animals to a Godly destruction.” Now Saul is willing to assume some responsibility. When it came to keeping out the choices of the flock, the people did that; however, the devoting of everything else to destruction, he and the people took care of that, just as instructed. Saul bends the truth just enough so that he would have made an excellent lawyer.


Application: Are you one of those people who runs around justifying yourself to everyone? Someone misunderstood you, or did not understand why you did this or that, and you seek these people out and you justify yourself to them. Or, you have this elaborate explanation which you develop in your mind—you do something which is not quite right, so you figure out how to make your actions seem reasonable and just, and, in case anyone asks, you are immediately ready to explain why you did this or that. You have the explanation at your fingertips. You have put just the right amount of spin on it so it seems as though you have done nothing wrong, and that if something wrong did occur, that it apparently was the fault of someone else. This is Saul. He just flat out did not obey God. However, he had good reason not to obey God, in his own mind. And he knew how to spin it so that it did not seem as though he was really participating in disobedience to God. There is no real offense here. God wants these things of the Amalekites devoted to Himself? Well, that is what Saul did—his people kept aside the very best of the herds and flocks to sacrifice to God.


Saul has this explanation ready just in case Samuel asks him about it. My point in all of this? When you disobey God, there is no reason to make excuses, nor is there a reason to seek anyone out and explain yourself. God is the One Who sees all and knows your heart, and it is before Him that you stand. You can try to spin it anyway you want, but God is not going for it.


Saul was not the first person to put a careful spin on a situation where he was to blame. Adam, when he took the fruit from the woman and ate, and then had to explain this to God, said, “The woman, whom You gave to meshe gave me from the tree, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:12b). Adam managed to make it appear as though both God and the woman were just as at fault as he was.


When Moses went to receive the Law from God on Mount Sinai, his brother Aaron was left in charge. When Moses returned, Aaron and the people had fashioned a golden calf under Aaron’s direction and they were all worshiping it. When Moses unloaded on Aaron, Aaron blamed the people: “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.” (Ex. 32:22b). Whereas Adam and Aaron were amateurs at passing along the blame and putting the right kind of spin on a situation, Saul was the resident expert; Saul had made blame-shifting and spin into an art form. When pressed, he will continue to shift the blame, which we will study in great detail in vv. 20–21.

 

McGee draws an analogy between Saul’s phoney explanation and a contemporary issue: I become rather amused when it is reported that the liquor interests donate money for beautiful gardens and scenic spots for people to visit and enjoy. They always like to make it known—and the media is apparently delighted to report—how much the liquor interests pay in taxes each year. Of course, anyone knows that the alcoholics are costing our government more than any taxes the liquor interests pay. There is the tendency to cover our evil businesses with good works. Many of God’s people try to turn their disobedience into some pious project. I am not sure but what we are all guilty of that sort of thing.

 

When I came out of seminary and entered the ministry, I drove an old, beat-up jalopy, an old Chevrolet. As a young preacher I was satisfied with it. I was not married, and I enjoyed driving it around, although my congregation was embarrassed by it. In fact, they felt it was sort of a joke. Then I met a young lady, and I began to pray that the Lord would give me a new car. I told Him I needed a new car so that I could be more efficient in my visitation. To be honest, “more efficient visitation” did not enter into it at all. I wanted a nice car to impress this young lady! It is so easy for human beings, believers and nonbelievers, to rationalize. Footnote


And so says Samuel unto Saul, “Stop and I will make known to you that which declared Yehowah unto me the night.” And so they say to him, “Speak.”

1Samuel

15:16

Samuel then said to Saul, “Stop [talking] and I will make known to you that which Yehowah declared to me this night.” And they said to him, “Speak.”

Samuel interrupted him, saying, “Stop talking for a moment so that I can tell you what Jehovah said to me last night.” And they answered, “Okay, speak.”


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Samuel unto Saul, “Stop and I will make known to you that which declared Yehowah unto me the night.” And so they say to him, “Speak.”

Septuagint                             And Samuel said to Saul, “Stay, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me this night; and he said to him, “Say on.”

 

Significant differences:          They Hebrew has a plural pronoun in the second sentence; the Greek has a singular, which is what we would expect (as we expect that Saul would be saying this). However, as I have mentioned to you before, the LXX will always make more sense—they have taken text which is 400 years old and older, and translate it, with the idea that, they want it to make sense. So, whereas the Hebrew copyists would be careful not to change even the smallest letter, the Greek translator is looking to give an understandable translation. Therefore, now and again, the Greek translator is going to take some liberties, which is probably what happened here.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “Stop!” Samuel said. “Let me tell you what the Lord told me last night.” All right,” Saul answered.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):


 

God’s Word                         “Be quiet,” Samuel told Saul, “and let me tell you what the Lord told me last night.” “Speak,” Saul replied.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night!” “Speak,” he replied.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak!”

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel says to Saul, “Desist, and I declare to you that which Jehovah has spoken to me tonight;” and he says to him, “Speak.”


What is the gist of this verse? Samuel knows exactly what Saul is doing. He knows that Saul is simply shifting the blame, when in reality, it falls squarely on Saul’s shoulders. In this verse, Samuel tells Saul to shut up for a moment and he will pass along what God has told him.


1Samuel 15:16a

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

râphâh (ה ָפ ָר) [pronounced raw-FAW]

let down, stop, desist, leave off in the imperative

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperative, apocopated form

Strong’s #7503 BDB #951

The morphology of râphâh is extremely important when determining its meaning.

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

nâgad (ד ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHD]

to make conspicuous, to make known, to expound, to explain, to declare, to inform, to confess, to make it pitifully obvious that

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect with a voluntative hê

Strong's #5046 BDB #616

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

bvar (ר ַב ָד) [pronounced dawb-VAHR]

to speak, to talk [and back with action], to give an opinion, to expound, to make a formal speech, to speak out, to promise, to propose, to speak kindly of, to declare, to proclaim, to announce

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #1696 BDB #180

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

el (לא) [pronounced el]

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

directional preposition affixed to the 1st person singular suffix; pausal form

Strong's #413 BDB #39

layelâh (ה ָל  ׃י ַל) [pronounced LAY-law]

night; nightly, at night, in the night, during the night

masculine singular noun with the definite article; this word can take on adverbial qualities

Strong’s #3915 BDB #538


Translation: Samuel then said to Saul, “Stop [talking] and I will make known to you that which Yehowah declared to me this night.” This was not Samuel’s first conversation with Saul. Samuel knew how Saul’s mind worked. Samuel was used to hearing a spin put on every story; he was used to hearing half-truths. Quite frankly, Samuel was tired of it, and he just tells Saul to “Stop!” Or, more colloquially, “Saul, Give it a rest.”


Now, it was Saul who mentions God and said that these animals were kept alive to sacrifice to Jehovah, Samuel’s God. So Samuel says, “Speaking of Jehovah, my God—this is what He said to me last night.” There are two interesting linguistic aspects to this half of the verse. There are two words for the word to: the lâmed preposition, which lacks formality, and the preposition el, which is more formal and shows respect. Footnote When Samuel is going to make know to Saul what God said to him, Samuel uses the less formal of the two prepositions, indicating little deference for Saul’s position as king. However, when God speaks to Samuel, it is with the more formal preposition, indicating more respect. Footnote


The second peculiarity of the Hebrew is the word the night, which we generally render tonight. When I say tonight, I am referring to the night which is coming. However, when the Hebrew says tonight, he can be referring to the previous night, as the Hebrew 24 hour day begins at sunset and runs until the next sunset (informally, our begins around sunrise and runs until sunrise; more formally, ours begins in the middle of the night, midnight, and runs until the following midnight). So, when a Hebrew says tonight, the night which belongs to that day is the previous night. When we say tonight, the night belonging to our day is the one which follows. There is no clear time frame given to us here with respect to Samuel’s search for Saul and Saul’s moving from Carmel to Gilgal. It is best to recall that the Hebrew minds groups things topically rather than chronologically. What appears to be the case is that Samuel was originally headed over to see Saul and apparently, he was expecting to meet with him in Carmel. More than likely, God so instructed him to meet with Saul. The night before Samuel arrived in Carmel, God spoke to him early that night, the basic content of which is found in v. 11. The next morning, Samuel arrives in Carmel, and is told that Saul had already left for Gilgal. So Samuel turns it around and heads back toward Gilgal, which he is able to reach within that very day. Therefore, when it says here that God spoke to him that night, it is the night before by the Gentile way of thinking.


What is very likely the case is that Samuel was very sorry about the situation and pleaded with God that previous night; however, in meeting with Saul and hearing Saul explain his behavior away as though he had done no wrong—that changed Samuel’s opinion. No longer did he see God’s judgment of Saul as being too harsh.


1Samuel 15:16b

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 plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

This is written they say but it is read he says... Footnote In the Hebrew, he says is ר∵מאֹ and they say is רמאֹ. As you can see, the difference is simply one letter in the Hebrew (recall that the vowel points were added many centuries after the original manuscripts).

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bvar (ר ַב ָד) [pronounced dawb-VAHR]

speak, talk [and back with action], give an opinion, expound, make a formal speech, speak out, promise, propose, speak kindly of, declare, proclaim, announce

2nd person masculine singular, Piel imperative

Strong’s #1696 BDB #180


Translation: And they said to him, “Speak.” The verb here tells us that Samuel and Saul are not speaking one-on-one, but there is cadre of Saul’s men with him. The other possibility is that the text was corrupted. This is read he says even though it is written they say.


And so says Samuel, “Not if little you [are] in your eyes, a head of staffs of Israel you? And so anoints you Yehowah king over Israel.

1Samuel

15:17

Then Samuel said, “Though you [are] little in your eyes, [aren’t] you the head of the tribes of Israel? Yehowah did anoint you king over Israel [did He not?].

Samuel continued: “Even though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? Did not Jehovah anoint you king over Israel?


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Samuel, “Not if little you [are] in your eyes, a head of staffs of Israel you? And so anoints you Yehowah king over Israel.

Septuagint                             And Samuel said to Saul, “Are you not little in his eyes, a leader of a staff of a tribe of Israel? And the Lord anointed you to be king over Israel.

 

Significant differences:          There are a few extra word in the Greek; however, this meaning remains unchanged.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Samuel continued, “You may not think you’re very important, but the Lord chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel.

NLT                                And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel.

TEV                                       Samuel answered, “Even though you consider yourself of no importance, you are the leader of the tribes of Israel. The Lord anointed you king of Israel,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Samuel said, “Even though you don’t consider yourself great, you were the head of Israel’s tribes. The Lord anointed you king of Israel.

JPS (Tanakh)                        And Samuel said, “You may look small to yourself, but you are the head of the tribes of Israel. The Lord anointed you king over Israel,...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel,...

Young's Updated LT              And Samuel says, “Are you not, if you are little in your own eyes, head of the tribes of Israel? And Jehovah does anoint you for king over Israel,...


What is the gist of this verse? Saul tried, in the previous verse, to not take any of the responsibility for sparing the animals for himself. Here, Samuel goes back to when Saul portrayed himself as being the least of the least of Israel, and he gently points out, “Aren’t you the head of all the tribes of Israel? Didn’t Jehovah God anoint you king over all Israel? The implication is, the disobedience for God’s order rests upon Saul’s shoulders alone; he is the king of Israel, he is the head of the tribes of Israel, and there is no way that he can shirk this responsibility.


1Samuel 15:17

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

hă ( ֲה) [pronounced heh]

interrogative particle which acts almost like a piece of punctuation, like the upside-down question mark which begins a Spanish sentence. The verb to be may be implied.

Strong’s #none BDB #209

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

generally negates the word immediately following; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

These 3 previous particles together elicit a negative response and can be rendered if, though.

qâţôn (ןֹט ָק) [pronounced kaw-TOHN]

small, insignificant; a word particularly used for youth, younger

masculine singular adjective

Strong’s #6995 & #6996 BDB #882

attâh (הָ-א) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you (often, the verb to be is implied)

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #859 BDB #61

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

׳ayin (ן̣יַע) [pronounced ĢAH-yin]

spring, literal eye(s), spiritual eyes, spring

feminine dual construct with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5869 (and #5871) BDB #744

rôsh (ש אֹר) [pronounced rohsh]

head, top, chief, front, choicest

masculine singular construct

Strong's #7218 BDB #910

shêbeţ (ט ב ֵש) [pronounced SHAYB-vet]

rod, staff, club, scepter and figuratively for a tribe, subdivision of a tribe or family

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #7626 BDB #986

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

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

attâh (הָ-א) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you (often, the verb to be is implied)

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun; pausal form

Strong’s #859 BDB #61

The pausal form here indicates that we are at the end of the question being asked by Samuel. Then, in the next phrase, Samuel will help Saul out with his answer...

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

mâshach (ח  ָמ) [pronounced maw-SHAHKH]

to smear, to anoint

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #4886 BDB #602

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

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

preposition affixed to a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

meleke ( ל מ) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572

׳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: Then Samuel said, “Though you [are] little in your eyes, [aren’t] you the head of the tribes of Israel? Yehowah did anoint you king over Israel [did He not?]. Recall that Saul was originally quite taken back by God installing him as king over Israel, and he even hid from this responsibility. He did not see himself as king, and that is the first impression that Samuel has of Saul (see 1Sam. 9:21 where Saul claims to be the least in his family, which is from the least of the tribes in Israel; see also 1Sam. 10:22). Contrast that with the Saul of this day, who has just finished putting up a monument to himself. “Though you may feel as though you are little in your own eyes...” is the gist of what Samuel says to begin with. Then Samuel asks, not without a little sarcasm, “You are the head of the tribes of Israel, are you not?” You see, Saul has put the blame off on his troops, and Samuel asks him, “Aren’t you in charge of these men? Aren’t they under your command?”


Then, what appears to be the case is that Samuel answers his own rhetorical question here by saying, “Hell, yes, God did anoint you king of Israel.” On the other hand, this could possibly be a continuation of the rhetorical question: “God did anoint you king over all Israel, did he not?” Samuel’s questions are clearly dripping with sarcasm here. Samuel says, “Am I speaking to the right person? You are the king of Israel, aren’t you? I mean, I realize that you do not hold yourself in high regard, but you are the man in charge, are you not?” Saul has tried to shirk his responsibility in this matter, and Samuel holds him to it.


I recall a person once saying that their best attribute was that they always said what was on their mind; they were always willing to express their opinion. I hope that you realize that this is the attribute of any 3 or 4 year old child. They are always willing to tell you what they are thinking, to give you their frank opinion, and it takes many years of training to teach a child that you do not always express your frank, honest opinion every time there is a lull in the conversation. You don’t need to tell someone they are getting fat; you don’t need to tell every unattractive person that you meet that you find them unattractive. When someone says something stupid, be it on purpose or a slip of the tongue, it is not always necessary for you to tell them how stupid their remark was. I have just picked Saul apart in everything that he said; however, note what Samuel says. He speaks with class, with some deference to Saul’s position, and yet he lays it on the line. Saul is in the midst of his private group of cronies, so Samuel does not have to say, “Saul, you stupid ass, I can see right through you. Any idiot can see right through you. How is it possible for you to be so damned stupid and still be able to walk and talk? How the hell do you manage to hold onto your kingship?” But Samuel doesn’t say any of this. Well, he does, but he is classy and understated. Samuel deals directly with what Saul said, and is able to tell him what God said as well. Saul essentially blamed the people for saving out the animals alive (although he attributes to them good motivation). Samuel says, “Certainly, you have always seen yourself as the least of the least.” In other words, Saul portrayed himself as being unimportant, so he might distance himself from the Israelites who took the animals: “I’m just a nobody; my opinion is unimportant.” “However,” Samuel points out, “God made you king over Israel.” What Samuel is stressing is that Saul had a hand in this—he is the king of Israel, and he has to assume to responsibility.


Application: Now, go back and reread the translation. Samuel is able to upbraid Saul without being insulting. He is able to do this when Saul is standing in the midst of his cronies. That takes tact and intelligence. If, while under pressure, you have to give your opinion on something, and you are able to do it with tact and graciousness, then you can call that an attribute. If you just shoot off your mouth whenever and say whatever is on your mind, that simply means that your parents either didn’t bother to train you, or you resisted their good advice.


Application: So many people would love to be in charge; they would love to run the show. Who doesn’t want to be the President? Who doesn’t want to be the CEO of their company, or the shift manager, or the team leader, or the department head? They would love to be able to tell everyone around them how to do things right. With authority comes responsibility. Saul is shirking his here, which is part of the problem. God rejects Saul partially because Saul will not assume responsibility for his position. When you become a parent, it is not because you desire to have a smaller person that you can boss around (even though you might end up doing this). When you hold that child in your arms, you realize how completely dependent they are upon you and the responsibility that you have at that time and for years to come is almost unimaginable. If, in taking a position of authority, you can look at those under you in the same way as you did that child, then you might be ready to be in charge. If the first thing on your mind is how you are going to straighten everything and everyone out, then you got promoted beyond your abilities.


And so sends you Yehowah in a way and so says, ‘Go and completely devote [to destruction] the sinners—Amalek and wage war in him until their completion [or, destruction] [to] them.’

1Samuel

15:18

Yehowah sent you on a mission [lit., way] and said, ‘Go and proscribe the deviants, [i.e.] Amalek, and you will wage war against him until their complete [and total] annihilation.’

Jehovah had sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and proscribe the Amalekites; wage a war of complete annihilation against them.’


Here is how others have handled this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so sends you Yehowah in a way and so says, ‘Go and completely devote [to destruction] the sinners—Amalek and wage war in him until their completion [or, destruction] [to] them.’

Septuagint                             And the Lord sent you on a journey, and said to you, ‘Go, and utterly destroy—you will slay the sinners against me, the Amalekites, and you will war against them until you have consumed them.’

 

Significant differences:          Except for the additional couple words, there are no significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       When the Lord sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites.

TEV                                       ...and he sent you out with orders to destroy those wicked people of Amalek. He told you to fight until you had killed them all.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         And the Lord sent you on a mission. He said, ‘Claim those sinners, the Amalekites, for me by destroying them. Wage war against them until they’re wiped out.’

JPS (Tanakh)                        ...and the Lord sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and proscribe the sinful Amalekites; make war on them until you have exterminated them.’


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     ...and the Lord sent you on a mission [lit., way], and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’

Young's Updated LT              ...and Jehovah sends you in the way, and says, ‘Go, and you have devoted the sinners, the Amalekite, and fought against them til they are consumed;... Interestingly enough, Young saw this quotation from God being continued into the next verse.


What is the gist of this verse? Samuel reminds Saul that God had sent him on a mission to completely destroy all the Amalekites, calling them deviants (sinners).


1Samuel 15:18

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

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

to send, to send for, to send forth, to send away, to dismiss, to deploy, to put forth

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

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

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

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

dereke ( ר ) [pronounced DEH-reke]

way, distance, road, journey, manner, course

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #1870 BDB #202

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

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

go, come, depart, walk; advance

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

châram (ם ַר ָח) [pronounced khaw-RAM]

to completely devote to, to devote to, or to completely destroyed

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong's #2763 BDB #355

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

chaţţâ (א ָ ַח) [pronounced khat-TAW]

sinners, deviates, deviants, transgressors

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #2400 BDB #308

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

׳amâlêq (ק̤לָמ-ע) [pronounced ģah-maw-LAYK]

transliterated Amalek

masculine proper noun (used infrequently as an adjective gentis)

Strong’s #6002 BDB #766

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

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

engage in battle, engage in war, to wage war, to fight

2nd person masculine singular, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #3898 BDB #535

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 affixed to the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #none BDB #88

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

kâlâh (ה ָל ָ) [pronounced kaw-LAWH]

to complete, to finish, to prepare; to come to an end, to finish; to consume, to waste, to destroy, to annihilate; to make pine away

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

Strong's #3615 BDB #477

In the MT, it reads they have annihilated them, but in the Aramaic, Septuagint and Syriac, it reads until you [singular] have annihilated them. Saul quite obviously does not kill each and every Amalekite. Therefore, either reading is acceptable. In the Hebrew text, Saul is to engage the Amalekites in battle until every one of them is slaughtered by Saul’s army. In the Aramaic, LXX and Syriac, Saul is to continue fighting the Amalekites until he has destroyed them all (which means, by extension, his army).

I mention many of these alternate readings because of the general abysmal ignorance of Scripture. Recently on the radio I was listening to a radio program in which the speaker talked about how the Bible was revised in many places over time for religious reasons. The manuscript evidence suggests otherwise. Even though there are certainly errors which have crept into the text, the alternate readings (which, of course, suggest a possible error) rarely change the meaning of the passage. Our passage, for example...

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

direct object generally untranslated

affixed to the 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84


Translation: Yehowah sent you on a mission [lit., way] and said, ‘Go and proscribe the deviants, [i.e.] Amalek, and you will wage war against him until their complete [and total] annihilation.’ God clearly told Saul