1 Samuel 13:1
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
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(1) Saul reigned one year.—The only possible literal translation of the Hebrew of this verse is, “Saul was the son of one year (i.e., one year old); he began to reign, &c.” In several places in the Books of Samuel the numbers are quite untrustworthy (we have another instance of this in the 5th verse of this chapter). The present verse, however, is an old difficulty, the corruption or gap in the text dating from a far back period. The English translation is simply a probable, but conjectural, paraphrase. The Chaldee and some of the Rabbis thus strangely interpret it: “Saul was an innocent child when he began to reign”—that is, was as innocent as a one year old child, &c. The Syriac and others paraphrase much as our English Version. The LXX. omit the verse altogether. The Speaker’s Commentary thus literally translates the Hebrew, marking with a—where a number probably originally stood: “Saul was—years old when he began to reign, and he reigned—and two years over Israel.” On the whole, the usually accepted meaning is that Saul had reigned one year when the events related in the last chapter took place, and after he had reigned two years he chose out the 3,000 men, and did what is related in this chapter.

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.The text of this verse, omitted by the Septuagint, is held to be corrupt, and the numerals denoting Saul's age at his accession as well as the duration of his reign, are thought to be omitted or faulty. Saul may have been about 30 at his accession, and have reigned some 32 years, since we know that his grandson Mephibosheth was five years old at Saul's death 2 Samuel 4:4; and 32 added to the seven and a half years between the death of Saul and that of Ishbosheth, makes up the 40 years assigned to Saul's dynasty in Acts 13:21. Neither is there any clue to the interval of time between the events recorded in the preceding chapter, and those which follow in this and succeeding chapters. But the appearance of Jonathan as a warrior 1 Samuel 13:2 compared with the mention of Saul as "a young man" 1 Samuel 9:2, implies an interval of not less than ten or fifteen years, perhaps more. The object of the historian is to prepare the way for the history of David's reign. He therefore passes at once to that incident in Saul's reign, which led to his rejection by God, as recorded in 1 Samuel 13:13-14. CHAPTER 13

1Sa 13:1, 2. Saul's Selected Band.

1. Saul reigned one year—(see Margin). The transactions recorded in the eleventh and twelfth chapters were the principal incidents comprising the first year of Saul's reign; and the events about to be described in this happened in the second year.Saul and Jonathan’s select band. Jonathan smiteth the garrison of the Philistines at Gibeah: the people are called together at Gilgal, 1 Samuel 13:1-4. The Philistines’ great host: the Israelites run into caves; and tremble, 1 Samuel 13:5-7. Saul offereth before Samuel cometh to him; he reproves him for it; foretelleth him that his kingdom should not last long, 1 Samuel 13:8-14. Three companies of the Philistines invade the land; they had no smith to make them swords, &c; nor had any of the Israelites, save Saul and Jonathan, sword or spear, 1 Samuel 13:15-23.

Reigned one year, i.e. had now reigned one year, from his first election at Mizpeh, in which time these things were done, which are recorded 1Sa 11 1Sa 12, to wit, peaceably, or righteously. Compare 2 Samuel 2:10.

Saul reigned one year,.... "Or the son of a year in his reigning" (s); various are the senses given of these words: some interpret them, Saul had a son of a year old when he began to reign, Ishbosheth, and who was forty years of age when his father died, 2 Samuel 2:10, others, who understand the words of Saul himself, think there is an "ellipsis" or defect of the number, and that it may be supplied, that Saul was the son of thirty or forty years, or whatsoever age he may be supposed to be at when he began his reign; others take the words in a figurative sense, that he was like a child of a year old, for purity and innocence; so the Targum,"as the son of a year, in whom there are no faults, so was Saul when he reigned;''or he was but a year old, reckoning from the time he was turned into another man, and had another heart, which was immediately after he was anointed king at Ramah by Samuel; or he was but a year old with respect to his kingdom: the inauguration of a king is "natalis imperil", the birthday of his kingdom, and therefore the words are well enough rendered by us, "Saul reigned one year"; which is to be reckoned either from his unction at Ramah, or rather from his election at Mizpeh, to the renewal of the kingdom at Gilgal:

and when he had reigned two years over Israel; which the Jewish chronologers (t) make to be the whole of his reign, which is not probable, considering the many things done in his reign, the many battles he fought with all his enemies on every side of him, and his long persecution of David; and there were no less than three high priests in his reign; Josephus says (q) he reigned eighteen years in the lifetime of Samuel, and twenty two years after his death, in all forty; which agrees with Acts 13:21. Some interpret it he reigned two years well, and the rest in a tyrannical way; or that at the end of two years, when David was anointed, the kingdom was not reckoned to him, but to David; and to this purpose Dr. Lightfoot writes, that he had been king one year from his first anointing by Samuel at Ramah, to his second anointing by him at Gibeah (Gilgal I suppose he means); and he reigned after this two years more, before the Lord cast him off, and anointed David; and the time he ruled after that was not a rule, but a tyranny and persecution (r); but the sense Ben Gersom gives is best of all, that one year had passed from the time of his being anointed, to the time of the renewal of the kingdom at Gilgal; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, then he did what follows, chose 3000 men, &c. In the first year of his reign was done all that is recorded in the preceding chapter; and when he had reigned two years, not two years more, but two years in all, then he did what is related in this chapter.

(s) "filius anni Saul in regnando ipsum", Montanus. (t) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 13. p. 35. Juchasin, fol. 11. 1.((q) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 14. sect. 9. (r) Works, vol. 1. p. 55.

Saul reigned {a} one year; and when he had reigned {b} two years over Israel,

(a) While these things were done.

(b) Before he took upon himself the state of a king.

Ch. 1 Samuel 13:1-7. Revolt of the Israelites under Saul from the Philistines

1. Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel] The Hebrew cannot be thus translated. It is the common formula for denoting the age of a king at his accession, and the length of his reign. See 2 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Kings 14:21, &c. We must render, “Saul was [ ] years old when he began to reign, and reigned [ ] and two years over Israel.” Either the numbers were wanting in the original document, or they have been accidentally lost. 30 is supplied in the first place by some MSS. of the Sept., and is a plausible conjecture. The length of Saul’s reign may have been 22 or 32 years. He was in the prime of life when elected king, and his reign must have been of some considerable duration. But if he was only 30 years old at his accession, the events here recorded cannot have happened till at least 10 or 15 years after that event, for Jonathan, who has not been mentioned before, now appears as a stout warrior. In this case we have no account of the early years of Saul’s reign. This view appears to be preferable to the supposition that Saul was older at his accession, and that the history is continuous. See Introd. Ch. III.

The whole verse Is omitted by the older copies of the Septuagint, and possibly was not in the original text.

Verse 1. - Saul's age and length of reign. Saul reigned one year. This verse literally translated is, "Saul was one year old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel." In its form it exactly follows the usual statement prefixed to each king's reign, of his age at his accession, and the years of his kingdom (2 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 22:42, etc.). The rendering of the A.V. is too forced and untenable to be worth discussing. As we have seen before, the numerals in the Books of Samuel are not trustworthy; but the difficulty here is an old one. The Vulgate translates the Hebrew literally, as we have given it; the Septuagint omits the verse, and the Syriac paraphrases as boldly as the A.V.: "When Saul had reigned one or two years." The Chaldee renders, "Saul was as innocent as a one-year-old child when he began to reign." In the Hexaplar version some anonymous writer has inserted the word thirty, rashly enough; for as Jonathan was old enough to have an important command (ver. 2), and was capable of the acts of a strong man (1 Samuel 14:14), his father's age must have been at least thirty-five, and perhaps was even more. As regards the length of Saul's reign, St. Paul makes it forty years (Acts 13:21), exactly the same as that of David (1 Kings 2:11) and of Solomon (1 Kings 11:42); and Josephus testifies that such was the traditional belief of the Jews ('Antiq.,' 6:14, 9). On the other hand, it is remarkable that the word here for years is that used where the whole number is less than ten. The events, however, recorded in the rest of the book seem to require a longer period than ten years for the duration of Saul's reign; thirty-two would be a more probable number, and, added to the seven and a half years' reign of Ishbosheth (see 2 Samuel 5:5), they would make up the whole sum of forty years ascribed by St. Paul to Saul's dynasty. It is quite possible, however, that these forty years may even include the fifteen or sixteen years of Samuel's judgeship. But the two facts, that all the three sons of Saul mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:49 were old enough to go with him to the battle of Mount Gilboa, where they were slain; and that Ishbosheth, his successor, was forty years of age when his father died, effectually dispose of the idea that Saul's was a very short reign. OCCASION OF THE FIRST WAR AGAINST THE PHILISTINES (vers. 2-7). 1 Samuel 13:1The history of the reign of Saul commences with this chapter;

(Note: The connection of 1 Samuel 13:8-11 of this chapter with 1 Samuel 10:8 is adduced in support of the hypothesis that 1 Samuel 13 forms a direct continuation of the account that was broken off in 1 Samuel 10:16. This connection must be admitted; but it by no means follows that in the source from which the books before us were derived, 1 Samuel 13 was directly attached to 1 Samuel 8:16, and that Samuel intended to introduce Saul publicly as king here in Gilgal immediately before the attack upon the Philistines, to consecrate him by the solemn presentation of sacrifices, and to connect with this the religious consecration of the approaching campaign. For there is not a word about any such intention in the chapter before us or in 1 Samuel 10:8, nor even the slightest hint at it. Thenius has founded this view of his upon his erroneous interpretation of ירדתּ in 1 Samuel 10:8 as an imperative, as if Samuel intended to command Saul to go to Gilgal immediately after the occurrence of the signs mentioned in 1 Samuel 10:2.: a view which is at variance with the instructions given to him, to do what his hand should find after the occurrence of those signs. To this we may also add the following objections: How is it conceivable that Saul, who concealed his anointing even from his own family after his return from Samuel to Gibeah (1 Samuel 10:16), should have immediately after chosen 3000 men of Israel to begin the war against the Philistines? How did Saul attain to any such distinction, that at his summons all Israel gathered round him as their king, even before he had been publicly proclaimed king in the presence of the people, and before he had secured the confidence of the people by any kingly heroic deed? The fact of his having met with a band of prophets, and even prophesied in his native town of Gibeah after his departure from Samuel, and that this had become a proverb, is by no means enough to explain the enterprises described in 1 Samuel 8:1-7, which so absolutely demand the incidents that occurred in the meantime as recorded in 1 Samuel 10:17-12:25 even to make them intelligible, that any writing in which 1 Samuel 13:2. following directly upon 1 Samuel 10:16 would necessarily be regarded as utterly faulty. This fact, which I have already adduced in my examination of the hypothesis defended by Thenius in my Introduction to the Old Testament (p. 168), retains its force undiminished, even though, after a renewed investigation of the question, I have given up the supposed connection between 1 Samuel 10:8 and the proclamation mentioned in 1 Samuel 11:14., which I defended there.)

and according to the standing custom in the history of the kings, it opens with a statement of the age of the king when he began to reign, and the number of years that his reign lasted. If, for example, we compare the form and contents of this verse with 2 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 22:42; 2 Kings 8:26, and other passages, where the age is given at which Ishbosheth, David, and many of the kings of Judah began to reign, and also the number of years that their reign lasted, there can be no doubt that our verse was also intended to give the same account concerning Saul, and therefore that every attempt to connect this verse with the one which follows is opposed to the uniform historical usage. Moreover, even if, as a matter of necessity, the second clause of _1 Samuel 13:1 could be combined with 1 Samuel 13:2 in the following manner: He was two years king over Israel, then Saul chose 3000 men, etc.; the first half of the verse would give no reasonable sense, according to the Masoretic text that has come down to us. בּמלכו שׁאוּל בּן־שׁנה cannot possibly be rendered "jam per annum regnaverat Saul," "Saul had been king for a year," or "Saul reigned one year," but can only mean "Saul was a year old when he became king." This is the way in which the words have been correctly rendered by the Sept. and Jerome; and so also in the Chaldee paraphrase ("Saul was an innocent child when he began to reign") this is the way in which the text has been understood.

It is true that this statement as to his age is obviously false; but all that follows from that is, that there is an error in the text, namely, that between בּן and שׁנה the age has fallen out, - a thing which could easily take place, as there are many traces to show that originally the numbers were not written in words, but only in letters that were used as numerals. This gap in the text is older than the Septuagint version, as our present text is given there. There is, it is true, an anonymus in the hexapla, in which we find the reading υἱὸς τριάκοντα ἐτῶν Σαούλ; but this is certainly not according to ancient MSS, but simply according to a private conjecture, and that an incorrect one. For since Saul already had a son, Jonathan, who commanded a division of the army in the very first years of his reign, and therefore must have been at least twenty years of age, if not older, Saul himself cannot have been less than forty years old when he began to reign. Moreover, in the second half of the verse also, the number given is evidently a wrong one, and the text therefore equally corrupt; for the rendering "when he had reigned two years over Israel" is opposed both by the parallel passages already quoted, and also by the introduction of the name Saul as the subject in 1 Samuel 13:2, which shows very clearly that 1 Samuel 13:2 commences a fresh sentence, and is not merely the apodosis to 1 Samuel 13:1. But Saul's reign must have lasted longer than two years, even if, in opposition to all analogies to be found elsewhere, we should understand the two years as merely denoting the length of his reign up to the time of his rejection (1 Samuel 15), and not till the time of his death. Even then he reigned longer than that; for he could not possibly have carried on all the wars mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:47, with Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah and the Philistines, in the space of two years. Consequently a numeral, say כ, twenty, must also have dropped out before שׁנים שׁתּי (two years); since there are cogent reasons for assuming that his reign lasted as long as twenty or twenty-two years, reckoning to the time of his death. We have given the reasons themselves in connection with the chronology of the period of the judges (pp. 206f.).

(Note: The traditional account that Saul reigned forty years (Acts 13:24, and Josephus, Ant. vi. 14, 9) is supposed to have arisen, according to the conjecture of Thenius (on 2 Samuel 2:10), from the fact that his son Ishbosheth was forty years old when he began to reign, and the notion that as he is not mentioned among the sons of Saul in 1 Samuel 14:49, he must have been born after the commencement of Saul's own reign. This conjecture is certainly a probable one; but it is much more natural to assume that as David and Solomon reigned forty years, it arose from the desire to make Saul's reign equal to theirs.)

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