1 Samuel Chapter 13  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 1 Samuel 13
1Sm 13:1(top)
1Sm 13:2

“2,000 were with Saul in Michmash.” Saul lost that hilltop to the Philistines, as we see by 1 Samuel 13:5. He retreated southeast to Gilgal (1 Sam. 13:4). Jonathan had to retake it (cp. 1 Sam. 14:5).

“and 1,000 were with Jonathan in Gibeah.” Verses such as this show that when Saul started to reign he was a mature man and had a fully grown son.

1Sm 13:3

“shofar.” The ram’s horn trumpet, not the metal trumpet.

“throughout all the land.” It is most likely that Saul sent messengers throughout Israel with the news of what had happened.

“Let the Hebrews hear!” The name “Hebrews” was more the name for the loose tribes of Israel before they became a nation, so it is an enigma that Saul is using it here.

1Sm 13:4

“all Israel heard that Saul had struck the garrison of the Philistines.” This seems to be a boast on the part of Saul. Although Jonathan did fight as part of Saul’s army, Jonathan was the crown prince and it seems he should have gotten the credit for what he had done.

“to Gilgal.” If Saul’s intent was to fight the Philistines, it is questionable as to why Saul went down to the Jordan River area to gather the troops.

1Sm 13:5

“3,000 chariots.” The Hebrew text reads 30,000, but it is well-recognized that this is a copyist's error. A version of the Septuagint, and the Syriac version, reads 3,000, which is much more likely correct. Or, it could be that the Hebrew word “thousand,” which can also refer to a fighting unit (“unit,” “squad,” “platoon”) could mean that here. In that case, the Philistines could have had 30 units of chariots. If there were ten chariots in a unit, there would be 300 chariots. One reason any chariots at all are in question is that the terrain between Gibeah and Michmash is hilly, rocky, very uneven, and basically impossible terrain for chariot warfare. This is foot soldier terrain.

“and people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude.” God promised Abraham that his descendants would be like the sand on the seashore in multitude (Gen. 22:17), but here the unbelieving Philistines are that numerous.

“east of Beth-aven.” The Hebrew is idiomatic: “in front of Beth-aven.”

1Sm 13:6(top)
1Sm 13:7

“the Hebrews had crossed over.” The Hebrew text seems to include an intentional image of a reversal of God’s purpose for them. The word “Hebrew” and “cross over” come from the same root. The Hebrews were likely so named because they were the ones who “crossed over” into Israel from the east, and now the “ones who crossed over” are crossing back, reversing God’s plan for them.

“he was still in Gilgal.” Saul had gone to Gilgal by the Jordan River, abandoning the central hill country and leaving it to the Philistines.

“all the people.” That is, all the people who were with Saul, i.e., his army.

1Sm 13:8

“according to the time set by Samuel.” The time was set in 1 Samuel 10:7-8, but Samuel did come on the seventh day (1 Sam. 13:10). Saul was impatient and disobedient, very characteristic of him at this stage in his life.

1Sm 13:9(top)
1Sm 13:10(top)
1Sm 13:11

“you did not come during the appointed days.” Here Saul makes a weak attempt to explain away his error. As Robert Bergen notes, Samuel “did in fact arrive on the seventh day.”a There are a number of incidents in Saul’s life before he was rejected as king (1 Sam. 15:23-28), that show Saul was unfit as king, and his lying about Samuel to cover up his weakness is one of them.

“and that the Philistines were assembling themselves together at Michmash.” This can be seen to be a hollow excuse, because Saul is at Gilgal in the Jordan Valley and Michmash is about 15 miles away and 3,000 feet up in elevation, so the Philistine “threat” was at least a day’s march away.

Robert Bergen, 1st and 2nd Samuel [NAC], 150.
1Sm 13:12

“I have not asked the favor of Yahweh.” The Hebrew is idiomatic: “I have not made sweet the face of Yahweh.”

1Sm 13:13(top)
1Sm 13:14

“will not continue.” The Hebrew is more literally, “will not stand,” but it means “continue” in this context.

“you have not kept what Yahweh commanded you.” This almost certainly refers to much more than just that Saul did not wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice. Saul had not had the heart of God for some years now.

1Sm 13:15

“and went from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.” Samuel left Gilgal and the Jordan River Valley and traveled westward into the hill country of the tribe of Benjamin. Samuel was apparently not afraid of the Philistine presence in the central hill country that Saul seemed to be so concerned about.

“And Saul counted the people.” This shows the hard-heartedness of Saul. There seems to be no remorse, repentance, or confession of wrongdoing at Samuel’s statement that Saul lost the kingdom.

1Sm 13:16

“stayed in Geba of Benjamin.” So between 1 Samuel 13:15 and 13:16, Saul and his men must have moved up from Gilgal by the Jordan River to Geba in the central hill country of Benjamin.

“the Philistines encamped in Michmash.” Michmash was a mile or so to the north (and slightly east) of Geba.

1Sm 13:17

“The raiding parties came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies.” The Philistines were overconfident and arrogant. They had a large enough army to attack Saul’s camp, and if they killed him and much of his army the rest of Israel might have fallen to them. Instead, confident of their future victory, they decided to harass Israel and demoralize them with raiding parties.

“one company turned to the way that leads to Ophrah.” This raiding party headed north.

“land of Shual.” Literally, the “land of the jackal” (or “fox”) the Hebrew word is the same for both jackal and fox. The exact territory is unknown, but it would have been a region in the vicinity of Ophrah.

1Sm 13:18

“turned toward the road to Beth-horon.” This raiding party went westward, very likely to secure their supply line; and eventually, the route they took would be the way the Philistines escaped from the Israelite attack.

“the road of the territory that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.” This third raiding party traveled southeast, and from the heights in Ephraim, one could easily look down into the Jordan Valley and thus “down on the Valley of Zeboim.” The Valley of Zeboim” was the “valley” (at that point more of a plain, much like the broad “Valley of Jezreel”) in which the town of Zeboim had been located; the exact location is unknown. The “wilderness” or “desert” was the “Judean Wilderness,” the desert area associated with the proximity of the Dead Sea.

“Valley of Zeboim.” Literally, the “Valley of the Hyena.”

1Sm 13:19

“there was no blacksmith to be found.” The right to be able to defend one’s life, family, society, and property is a fundamental right and essential to peaceful life on earth. The Devil knows this, and disarming people so that they are subject to bullying and terror by tyrannical and ungodly overlords and governments has occurred over and over throughout time. In this case, Israel was subject to the raiding parties sent out by the Philistines, who no doubt murdered, raped, stole, and destroyed with little or no resistance from disarmed Israel. For the average Israelite, daily life under the subjugation of the Philistines would have been a horror. Inserted where it is here, this verse is pointing to the failure of Saul’s rule. Instead of leading attacks against the enemies of Yahweh, Saul has been subjugated by them.

1Sm 13:20

“sickle.” The REV follows the Septuagint. The Hebrew text has a copyist’s error and reads “plow blade” a second time. The error is a dittography.

1Sm 13:21

“two-thirds of a shekel.” The Hebrew word is “pim,” and it occurs only here in the Old Testament. Older versions took an educated guess at the meaning and some have “file,” (cp. KJV), but that has proven to be wrong. The verse is saying that the Philistines charged for the service of sharpening metal instruments, and the price was not cheap for those times. Archaeologists have now found stone weights marked pim in some excavations, and the weights are roughly equal to two-thirds of a shekel, roughly .26 ounces (7.4 grams).

“to set the goads.” That is, to set the metal points on the ox goads.

1Sm 13:22

“there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan.” It has always been, and still is today, a tactic of the Devil to disarm people so that they cannot defend themselves against the governing force. Many countries today have disarmed their citizens, and none of those countries is the better for it. Death by firearm may have decreased, but government oppression, bullying, strong arm crime, and crimes like rape are rampant in those countries. As the End Times approach, violence, war, and random violence will increase. Jesus knew this and encouraged his men to have a weapon to defend themselves with (cp. Luke 22:36). In fact, smart people follow the advice Jesus gave his disciples in Luke 22:36 and have some cash on hand, some provisions, and a way to defend themselves in case there is some kind of emergency situation.

1Sm 13:23

“And the garrison of the Philistines went out.” It is likely that when the Philistines got news that Saul had gathered men together that they sent a group to guard the pass between Geba and Michmash and keep the roads open. It would not have occurred to them that the Israelites would attack them, but this is the garrison that Jonathan and his armorbearer attacked and defeated, leading to the rout of the Philistines described in 1 Samuel 14.

“the pass of Michmash.” A known pass that goes between Michmash and Geba (cp. Isa. 10:28-29).


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