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One Samuel Thirteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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1 Samuel 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

reigned two years. Contrast Acts 13:21, which indicates that Saul reigned forty years. Actually the Hebrew text in this verse is somewhat uncertain, and the Septuagint omits it altogether. The Hebrew text as it now stands actually reads: “Saul was — years old when he began to reign, and he reigned — and two years over Israel.” Consequently various translators have used various ways of supplying the lost numbers. If it is rendered approximately as follows: “Saul was thirty five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and two years over Israel;” then the subsequent narratives, along with Acts 13:21, will be found to fit well together, and it is so interpreted by many modern scholars. The fact is, however, that the actual numbers are unknown, so the best chronological constraint for this period must come from Paul's summary in Acts 13:21.

1 Samuel 13:2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.

with Saul in Michmash. Michmash was seven miles north of Jerusalem. Jonathan was in Gibeah, southwest of Michmash. Both cities were in the territory of Benjamin. The Philistines assembled their armies in Beth Aven, just west of Michmash.

1 Samuel 13:3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

1 Samuel 13:4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

1 Samuel 13:5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven.

thirty thousand chariots. The ancient Syriac translation, as well as some Septuagint and Arabic Bible manuscripts, read “three thousand chariots.” This latter figure seems more reasonable, in view of the terrain, the Philistine population, and the general comparative data regarding chariots and horsemen. However, it may be possible that the Philistines could have enlisted many allies. 1 Chronicles 19:7 notes that the Ammonites used thirty-two thousand chariots against David.

1 Samuel 13:6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.

1 Samuel 13:7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

1 Samuel 13:8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

tarried seven days. Note Samuel's earlier instructions to Saul in 1 Samuel 10:8.

1 Samuel 13:9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

1 Samuel 13:10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

1 Samuel 13:11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

1 Samuel 13:12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

hast not kept that. Samuel had warned Saul that, if he were to be king, he must obey God's commandments. Now Saul had arrogated to himself the function of God's priest as well as king, and God had to reject him. The Lord would find what He was seeking—“a man after [His] own heart”—in David (Acts 13:22).

1 Samuel 13:15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.

1 Samuel 13:16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

1 Samuel 13:17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:

1 Samuel 13:18 And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

1 Samuel 13:19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:

no smith. It is believed that the Philistines acquired their knowledge of iron forging from the Hittites, giving them a significant advantage over the Hebrews, who apparently did not learn this art until around the time of David (1 Chronicles 22:3). Consequently, their arrows were mostly arrows and slings. They did have bronze weapons and armor of a sort.

1 Samuel 13:20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.

1 Samuel 13:21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.

coulters. Plow blades that cut vertically.

1 Samuel 13:22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.

1 Samuel 13:23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.