And let it be, when you hear the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then you shall bestir yourself: for then shall the LORD go out before you, to smite the host of the Philistines.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The sound of a going.—After David has gone to the rear of his enemies, he is to wait by “the mulberry trees,” or, as now generally understood, baca-shrubs, a plant resembling the balsam. Here a Divine signal was to be given him in “the sound of a going,” or, rather, of a march. The word is used of the march of the hosts of the Lord in Judges 5:4; Psalm 68:7. Then David was to “bestir himself,” literally, be sharp; he was to act quickly and vigorously.2 Samuel 5:24. When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops, &c. — The Hebrew, בראשׁי, beroshee, here translated tops, may properly be rendered, in the beginnings, or, among the first of the mulberry-trees; that is, in the very entrance of the place where these trees were, or among those which were first in order, and by which the grove was entered. So that God gives David for a sign, the sound of many men’s feet walking, not on the tops of the trees, (for men do not walk there,) but on the ground amidst the trees, though nobody should be seen among them by any in David’s army. Probably the sound was to be heard by the Philistines, to whom it might appear as if a vast number of men were marching to fall upon them. The Hebrew, however, may be rendered, When thou hearest the sound of a moving in the tops, &c. And it may imply nothing more than a rushing and extraordinary sound among the trees, which was to be a signal for David’s attack. Then bestir thyself — Fall upon the Philistines. For then the Lord shall go before thee — By making such a noise either of a mighty host coming to assault them, or of something very extraordinary, that they shall be amazed, and confounded, and put to flight. Psalm 84:6 was so called from this plant growing there. The sound of a going; a noise as it were of persons walking upon the tops of them, which I shall cause; and by this sign, both thou shalt be assured that I am coming to help thee, and the Philistines shall be affrighted and amused, and not perceive the noise of thy army until thou art upon them.
Then thou shalt bestir thyself; do thou fall upon them. 1 Chronicles 14:15. These trees being in Judea account for silk there, Ezekiel 16:10; though some think time was not known so early; others suppose it was, and to be the Hebrew byssus mentioned by Pausanias (a), as being of a yellow colour:
that then thou shall bestir thyself; or move towards the camp of the Philistines, and fall upon them in the rear, who, by reason of the sound in the trees, would not hear the motion of the Israelites; or, if they heard it, would take it to be no other than the motion of the trees they heard, both sounds being confounded together; or they would take the sound they heard for the motion of the enemy in the front, and give way, and so fall into the hands of the Israelites in their rear, which must throw them into the utmost confusion and consternation:
for then shall the Lord go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines: by an angel or angels; so the Targum,"for then shall go forth the angel of the Lord, to make thee prosperous to slay in the camp of the Philistines;''
that being the precise time for the salvation of Israel, and the destruction of the Philistines, and the token of it.And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. the sound of a going] The sound of marching. The cognate verb is used of Jehovah “marching” (so to speak) before His people in Jdg 5:4; Psalm 68:7; Habakkuk 3:12. A rustling in the tops of the trees like the marching of an army was to be the signal that Jehovah Himself would lead David’s army to victory. Cp. 2 Kings 7:6.
bestir thyself] In Chron. less forcibly “go out to battle.”
then shall the Lord go out before thee] The use of the perfect tense in the original gives an emphasis to the assurance. “Then hath Jehovah gone forth before thee.” The E. V. renders it rightly in Chron.Verse 24. - The sound of a going; Hebrew, a marching. Under the cover of this thicket David was to wait until he heard the sound as of the regular tramp of an army in the tops of the baca trees. It would be in the morning that the wind would shake the treetops, but the sound was to be something more than the soft whispers of a gentle breeze. A gale was to put them into sudden motion, and then the soldiers would know that their Jehovah had gone forth to battle, and David must immediately bestir himself. The enthusiasm of his men must not cool down, but as soon as the wind rustled he must charge the enemy, and his warriors, feeling that they were going with the host of God, would break down all resistance by their impetuous onset. 1 Chronicles 14:8-17). - Both these victories belong in all probability to the interval between the anointing of David at Hebron over all Israel and the conquest of the citadel of Zion. This is very evident, so far as the first is concerned, from the words, "When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel" (2 Samuel 5:17), not when David had conquered the citadel of Zion. Moreover, when the Philistines approached, David "went down to the hold," or mountain fortress, by which we cannot possibly understand the citadel upon Zion, on account of the expression "went down." If David had been living upon Zion at the time, he would hardly have left this fortification when the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim on the west of Jerusalem, but would rather have attacked and routed the enemy from the citadel itself. The second victory followed very soon after the first, and must therefore be assigned to the same period. The Philistines evidently resolved, as soon as the tidings reached them of the union of all the tribes under the sovereignty of David, that they would at once resist the growing power of Israel, and smite David before he had consolidated his government.
"The Philistines went up to seek David," i.e., to seek him out and smite him. The expression לבקּשׁ presupposes that David had not yet taken up his abode upon Zion. He had probably already left Hebron to make preparations for his attack upon the Jebusites. When he heard of the approach of the Philistines, he went down into the mountain fortress. "The hold" cannot be the citadel of Zion (as in 2 Samuel 5:7 and 2 Samuel 5:9), because this was so high that they had to go up to it on every side; and it is impossible to sustain the opinion advanced by Bertheau, that the verb ירד (to go down) is used for falling back into a fortification. המּצוּדה (the hold), with the definite article, is probably the mountain stronghold in the desert of Judah, into which David withdrew for a long time to defend himself from Saul (vid., 2 Samuel 23:14 and 1 Chronicles 12:8). In 2 Samuel 5:18 the position of the Philistines is more minutely defined. The verse contains a circumstantial clause: "The Philistines had come and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim," a valley on the west of Jerusalem, and only separated from the valley of Ben-hinnom by a narrow ridge of land (see at Joshua 15:8). Instead of ינּטשׁוּ the Chronicles have יפשׁטוּ, they had invaded, which is perfectly equivalent so far as the sense is concerned.
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