1 Samuel 12:9
And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
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(9) And when they forgot the Lord their God.—The idolatry of Israel, and the immorality and shame less wickedness which ever attended it, was simply an act of rebellion against the pure government of the invisible King, and was punished by the withdrawal of the Divine protection. The instances which are here adduced of the people being given up into the hands of strange hostile nations are prominent ones, quoted as they occurred to him, without any careful attention being paid to the order of events and times, which was here not necessary for the course of his argument. Three leading nations out of the neighbouring peoples are mentioned by him as having been allowed, in consequence of Israel’s rebellion against the Eternal, to oppress and harass, for a season, the tribes of God’s inheritance—the Canaanites, the Philistines, and the Moabites.

Captain of the host of Hazor.—Hazor is mentioned as the capital city of the Canaanites in Joshua 11:1; Joshua 11:10; Joshua 11:13, &c., and again as a royal residence in Judges 4:2. Sisera is specially named as the well-known commander of the army against which Israel fought, and as the victim of the sanguinary but patriotic deed of fury of Jael.

Into the hand of the Philistines.—These “Phœnicians,” who literally dwelt among the Israelites, were most formidable foes to the chosen people for a long series of years. We have before compared their many strongholds and fastnesses to those robber nests which in the stormy middle ages disturbed the peace, and were the scourge of the commerce and trade, of Central Europe. It was owing especially to these Philistines that for so long a period such slow progress in wealth and the arts of civilisation was made in Israel. The advance of the Hebrew nation, from the days of Samuel, who first really checked these Philistine robbers, was singularly rapid. In an almost incredibly short period, from being a poor, half-barbarous people, the Israelites became a highly cultured, wealthy, and powerful nation. In great measure this strangely rapid progress was owing to the complete subjugation of the Philistines under the rule of Samuel, Saul, and David.

The king of Moab.—The king referred to here is Eglon, who was slain by Ehud. (See Judges 3)

1 Samuel 12:9. They forgat the Lord — That is, they revolted from him, and carried themselves as if they had wholly forgotten his innumerable favours. This he says to answer an objection, that the reason why they desired a king was, because in the time of the judges they were at great uncertainties, and often exercised with sharp afflictions: to which he answereth by concession that they were so; but adds, that they themselves were the cause of it, by their forgetting God: so that it was not the fault of that kind of government, but their transgressing the rules of it. Fought — With success, and subdued them.

12:6-15 The work of ministers is to reason with people; not only to exhort and direct, but to persuade, to convince men's judgments, and so to gain their wills and affections. Samuel reasons of the righteous acts of the Lord. Those who follow God faithfully, he will enable to continue following him. Disobedience would certainly be the ruin of Israel. We mistake if we think that we can escape God's justice, by trying to shake off his dominion. If we resolve that God shall not rule us, yet he will judge us.According to the present arrangement of the Book of Judges, and the common chronology, the oppression of Sisera must have occurred about 200 years after the entrance into Canaan. But Samuel here places it as the first great servitude, before that under Eglon king of Moab, or that from which Shamgar delivered them. And this is in accordance with the internal evidence of the Book of Judges itself. It is also the order of Judges 10:11, except that there the Ammonites Judges 3:13 are placed before the Philistines. 7-16. Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you—The burden of this faithful and uncompromising address was to show them, that though they had obtained the change of government they had so importunely desired, their conduct was highly displeasing to their heavenly King; nevertheless, if they remained faithful to Him and to the principles of the theocracy, they might be delivered from many of the evils to which the new state of things would expose them. And in confirmation of those statements, no less than in evidence of the divine displeasure, a remarkable phenomenon, on the invocation of the prophet, and of which he gave due premonition, took place. They forgat the Lord, i.e. they revolted from him, as it is explained, 1 Samuel 12:10, and carried themselves as ungratefully and unworthily towards God, as if they had wholly forgotten his great and innumerable favours, and their infinite obligations to him.

Forgetting of God is oft put for all manner of wickedness, whereof indeed that is the true cause. See Isaiah 17:10 Jeremiah 3:21 Ezekiel 22:12. This he saith, partly to answer all objection, That the reason why they desired a king was, because in the time of the judges they were at great uncertainties, and ofttimes exercised with sharp afflictions: to which he answereth by concession that they were so; but adds, by way of retortion, that they themselves were the cause of it, by their forgetting of God; so that it was not the fault of that kind of government, but their transgressing the rules of it; and partly to mind them that this their ungrateful carriage towards God was no new or strange thing, but an hereditary and inveterate disease, that so they might more easily believe their own guilt herein, and be more deeply humbled, both for their own and for their parents’ sins.

They fought against them, to wit, with success, and subdued them.

And when they forgat the Lord their God,.... The worship of the Lord their God, as the Targum; that is, they fell into idolatry, which is a plain instance and proof of forgetfulness of God; for such that neglect his worship, and serve idols, may be truly said to forget him:

he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor; who was general of the army of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, Judges 4:2, where they are said to be sold into the hands of Jabin, here into the hands of Sisera; because it is highly probable he was sent against them by Jabin, and subdued them, as he afterwards was sent by him, when they rebelled against him, and were delivered out of his hand:

and into the hand of the Philistines: as they were in and before the times of Samson, Judges 13:1.

and into the hand of the king of Moab; as in the times of Ehud, Judges 3:14, the exact order of these things is not observed:

and they fought against them; the king of Moab, Sisera, and the Philistines, and overcame them, and so they fell into their hands.

And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, {e} captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.

(e) Captain of Jabin's host, king of Hazor.

9. he sold them] God’s abandonment of His people to their enemies is described under the figure of sale, just as the deliverance of them is called redemption or buying back. Cp. Jdg 2:14; Jdg 3:8; Psalm 44:12.

The three chief oppressors of Israel during the period of the Judges are mentioned. (1) The Canaanites, who were led by Sisera, general of the army of King Jabin. Their chief city was Hazor (= stronghold) situated on the high ground west of the Lake of Merom, where Jebel Hadîreh perhaps still preserves the name. This oppression lasted for 20 years. See Jdg 4:5. (2) The Philistines. See Jdg 3:31; Jdg 10:7; Jdg 13:1, and Note IV. p. 238. (3) The Moabites under Eglon. See Jdg 3:12-30.

Verse 9. - When they forgat Jehovah their God. The theocracy, as we have seen (1 Samuel 10:18), was a moral government, under which idolatry and the immorality attendant upon it, as being rebellion, were punished by Jehovah's withdrawing his protection, and the consequent subjection of the nation to foreign rule. It was the repeated sin, therefore, of the people which made Israel's history so checquered. Sisera (Judges 4:2), the Philistines (Judges 3:31), and Eaton, king of Moab. (Judges 3:12), are mentioned as three of the earlier oppressors of Israel, but are given here in the reverse order to that found in the Book of Judges. 1 Samuel 12:9The first proof of this was furnished by the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and their safe guidance into Canaan ("this place" is the land of Canaan). The second was to be found in the deliverance of the people out of the power of their foes, to whom the Lord had been obliged to give them up on account of their apostasy from Him, through the judges whom He had raised up for them, as often as they turned to Him with penitence and cried to Him for help. Of the hostile oppressions which overtook the Israelites during this period of the judges, the following are singled out in 1 Samuel 12:9 : (1) that by Sisera, the commander-in-chief of Hazor, i.e., that of the Canaanitish king Jabin of Hazor (Judges 4:2.); (2) that of the Philistines, by which we are to understand not so much the hostilities of that nation described in Judges 3:31, as the forty years' oppression mentioned in Judges 10:2 and Judges 13:1; and (3) the Moabitish oppression under Eglon (Judges 3:12.). The first half of Judges 13:10 agrees almost word for word with Judges 10:10, except that, according to Judges 10:6, the Ashtaroth are added to the Baalim (see at 1 Samuel 7:4 and Judges 2:13). Of the judges whom God sent to the people as deliverers, the following are named, viz., Jerubbaal (see at Judges 6:32), i.e., Gideon (Judges 6), and Bedan, and Jephthah (see Judges 11), and Samuel. There is no judge named Bedan mentioned either in the book of Judges or anywhere else. The name Bedan only occurs again in 1 Chronicles 7:17, among the descendants of Machir the Manassite: consequently some of the commentators suppose Jair of Gilead to be the judge intended. But such a supposition is perfectly arbitrary, as it is not rendered probable by any identity in the two names, and Jair is not described as having delivered Israel from any hostile oppression. Moreover, it is extremely improbable that Samuel should have mentioned a judge here, who had been passed over in the book of Judges on account of his comparative insignificance. There is also just as little ground for rendering Bedan as an appellative, e.g., the Danite (ben-Dan), as Kimchi suggests, or corpulentus as Bttcher maintains, and so connecting the name with Samson. There is no other course left, therefore, than to regard Bedan as an old copyist's error for Barak (Judges 4), as the lxx, Syriac, and Arabic have done, - a conclusion which is favoured by the circumstance that Barak was one of the most celebrated of the judges, and is placed by the side of Gideon and Jephthah in Hebrews 11:32. The Syriac, Arabic, and one Greek MS (see Kennicott in the Addenda to his Dissert. Gener.), have the name of Samson instead of Samuel. But as the lxx, Chald., and Vulg. all agree with the Hebrew text, there is no critical ground for rejecting Samuel, the more especially as the objection raised to it, viz., that Samuel would not have mentioned himself, is far too trivial to overthrow the reading supported by the most ancient versions; and the assertion made by Thenius, that Samuel does not come down to his own times until the following verse, is altogether unfounded. Samuel could very well class himself with the deliverers of Israel, for the simple reason that it was by him that the people were delivered from the forty years' tyranny of the Philistines, whilst Samson merely commenced their deliverance and did not bring it to completion. Samuel appears to have deliberately mentioned his own name along with those of the other judges who were sent by God, that he might show the people in the most striking manner (1 Samuel 12:12) that they had no reason whatever for saying to him, "Nay, but a king shall reign over us," as soon as the Ammonites invaded Gilead. "As Jehovah your God is your king," i.e., has ever proved himself to be your King by sending judges to deliver you.
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