|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-7 Saul reigned one year, and nothing particular happened; but in his second year the events recorded in this chapter took place. For above a year he gave the Philistine time to prepare for war, and to weaken and to disarm the Israelites. When men are lifted up in self-sufficiency, they are often led into folly. The chief advantages of the enemies of the church are derived from the misconduct of its professed friends. When Saul at length sounded an alarm, the people, dissatisfied with his management, or terrified by the power of the enemy, did not come to him, or speedily deserted him.
Verse 3. - In Geba. By this garrison the Philistines commanded the further end of the defile, and they had also another outpost beyond it near Gibeah itself (1 Samuel 10:5). Probably neither of these garrisons was very strong, and Saul may have intended that Jonathan should attack them while he held the northern end of the pass, which would be the first place assailed by the Philistines in force. As regards the word translated garrison, attempts have been made to render it pillar, and to represent it as a token of Philistine supremacy which Jonathan threw down, while others, with the Septuagint, take it as a proper name; but the word smote is strongly in favour of the rendering of the A.V. Let the Hebrews hear. Saul must have intended war when he thus posted himself and Jonathan in such commanding spots, and probably all this had been sketched out by Samuel (see on 1 Samuel 10:8). He now summons all Israel to the war. It is strange that he should call the people "Hebrews," the Philistine title of contempt; but it is used again in ver. 7, and of course in ver. 19. The Septuagint reads, "Let the slaves revolt," but though followed by Josephus, the change of text is not probable.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba,.... Not the same with Gibeah of Benjamin, as Jarchi; for it can hardly be thought that Jonathan should place himself with his thousand men where the Philistines had a garrison; or that if this was the same with that in the preceding verse, that it should be called by another name in this; but Gibeah and Geba were two places, as Kimchi observes, both indeed in the tribe of Benjamin, and it is very probable not far from one another; see Joshua 18:24. This seems to be the same with the hill of God, where was a garrison of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 10:5, who after their defeat by Samuel contented themselves with some strong holds and garrisons in some parts of the land to keep Israel in awe; the Targum understands this of a single person, a governor of the Philistines in this place, whom Jonathan slew, and so Jarchi; and according to R. Isaiah he was one that was appointed to gather the tax for them:
and the Philistines heard of it, which alarmed them, and made them prepare for war:
and Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land; not he in person, for he was at Gilgal, as the next verse shows; but he ordered it to be blown, being aware of the preparations the Philistines were making to attack him:
saying, let the Hebrews hear; both what his son had done, and what the Philistines were doing.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Sa 13:3, 4. He Calls the Hebrews to Gilgal against the Philistines.
3, 4. And Jonathan—that is, "God-given."
smote the garrison of the Philistines … in Geba—Geba and Gibeah were towns in Benjamin, very close to each other (Jos 18:24, 28). The word rendered "garrison" is different from that of 1Sa 13:23; 14:1, and signifies, literally, something erected; probably a pillar or flagstaff, indicative of Philistine ascendency. That the secret demolition of this standard, so obnoxious to a young and noble-hearted patriot, was the feat of Jonathan referred to, is evident from the words, "the Philistines heard of it," which is not the way we should expect an attack on a fortress to be noticed.
Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land—This, a well-known sound, was the usual Hebrew war-summons; the first blast was answered by the beacon fire in the neighboring places. A second blast was blown—then answered by a fire in a more distant locality, whence the proclamation was speedily diffused over the whole country. As the Philistines resented what Jonathan had done as an overt attempt to throw off their yoke, a levy, en masse, of the people was immediately ordered, the rendezvous to be the old camping-ground at Gilgal.
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