|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:15-23 See how politic the Philistines were when they had power; they not only prevented the people of Israel from making weapons of war, but obliged them to depend upon their enemies, even for instruments of husbandry. How impolitic Saul was, who did not, in the beginning of his reign, set himself to redress this. Want of true sense always accompanies want of grace. Sins which appear to us very little, have dangerous consequences. Miserable is a guilty, defenceless nation; much more those who are destitute of the whole armour of God.
Verses 17, 18 - The spoilers. The conduct of the Philistines is that of men over confident in their strength. They ought to have pounced at once upon Saul in the plain of Jordan, where their cavalry would have secured for them the victory, and then, following Samuel's and Saul's route, have seized the other end of the defile, and overpowered Jonathan. But they despised them both, and regarding the country as conquered, proceed to punish it, as probably they had cone on previous occasions, when no one had dared to make resistance. Leaving then the main army to guard the camp at Michmash, they sent out light armed troops to plunder the whole land. One company turned unto the way... to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual. This company went northward, towards Ophrah, a place five miles east of Bethel. The land of Shual, i.e. fox land, was probably the same as the land of Shalim in 1 Samuel 9:4. Another company, etc. This went eastward, towards Beth-heron, for which see Joshua 10:11. The third went to the south east, towards the wilderness of Judaea. Zeboim, and all the places mentioned, are in the tribe of Benjamin, which had committed the offence of making for itself a king. To the south Saul held the mountain fastnesses towards Jerusalem. DESCRIPTION OF ISRAEL'S EXTREME STATE OF OPPRESSION (vers. 19-23).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies,.... Saul not daring to come out to fight them, and there being none throughout the land to oppose them, they sent out three companies of soldiers to ravage and spoil the country; of so little use and service was a king to Israel, they were so extremely desirous of; and this was suffered, to convince them of their vain confidence in him, and that their trust ought to be in the Lord their God; never was their country more exposed to rapine and violence than now:
one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah; a city in the land of Benjamin, of which see Joshua 18:23 and lay southwest from Michmash, where the army of the Philistines were:
unto the land of Shual: which the Targum paraphrases,"the land of the south;''it seems to have had its name from the multitude of foxes in it, Shual signifying a fox.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17, 18. the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies—ravaging through the three valleys which radiate from the uplands of Michmash to Ophrah on the north, through the pass of Beth-horon on the west, and down the ravines of Zeboim ("the hyænas"), towards the Ghor or Jordan valley on the east.
1 Samuel 13:17 Parallel Commentaries
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