1 Samuel 13:23
And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
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(23) The garrison of the Philistines went out.—These words form an introduction to the recital of the heroic deed of Jonathan related in the following chapter. The Philistines are represented as sending forward an armed detachment, or out-post detachment, beyond the camp of Michmash, as a protection against a surprise on the part of the Israelitic force under the king and his son.

1 Samuel 13:23. And the garrison of the Philistines went out — This probably refers to the garrison mentioned in the beginning of the next chapter. And Michmash seems to have been the name of the garrison, not of the passage: as if it had been said, The garrison of the Philistines in Michmash went out to the passage. For Michmash, it appears, was upon a high hill, as Gibeah was, between which places was a valley, called here a passage, into which the garrison descended to invite the Israelites to battle.

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.The passage of Michmash - The steep and precipitous path from Michmash to Geba, over the valley of Suweinit. The same term is used in Isaiah 10:28-29, where the march of the Assyrian army is described. 21. Yet they had a file—as a kind of privilege, for the purpose of sharpening sundry smaller utensils of husbandry. A place so called, because it was near to Michmash, and led towards Gibeah, which, it seems, they designed to besiege, and in the mean time to waste the adjoining country.

And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash. According to Jarchi, these two places, Michmash where the Philistines were, and Gibeah where Saul and Jonathan were, lay on two hills over against each other, and there was a valley between them; and the garrison of the Philistines drew nigh to the passage of Michmash, which led to the side of Gibeah, to the valley between them, either with an intention to besiege Gibeah, or to dare Israel to come out and fight them: but rather it seems to be some strong pass between the rocks near Michmash, where the garrison placed themselves to guard and keep against any sudden surprise; see 1 Samuel 14:4. The Targum is,"the governor of the Philistines went out to the ford or passage of Michmash;''and Kimchi interprets it of the princes or generals of the army; these might go to mark out a camp, and pitch upon a proper place to draw up in a line of battle. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
23. the passage of Michmash] By “the passage of Michmash,” mentioned also In the description of Sennacherib’s march upon Jerusalem in Isaiah 10:29, is meant the deep ravine now known as the Wady es-Suweinit (1 Samuel 13:2, note). The Philistines threw out an advanced post from their main camp to one of the bluffs on the very edge of the valley, with the view of watching the Israelites in Geba opposite, and preventing a surprise attack on their camp. It was this post which Jonathan attacked.

Verse 23. - And the garrison, etc. When the Philistines heard that Saul with his six hundred men had joined the small force already at Geba with Jonathan, they sent a body of men to occupy an eminence higher up in the defile which lay between Geba and Michmash (see on 1 Samuel 13:2). The purpose of this was to keep the route open, that so, when they pleased, they might send a larger body of troops up the defile in order to attack Saul. It would also keep a watch upon his movements, though they could have had no expectation that he would venture to attack them. It was this garrison which Jonathan so bravely attacked, and by his success prepared the way for the utter defeat of the enemy.

1 Samuel 13:231 Samuel 13:23 forms the transition to the heroic act of Jonathan described in 1 Samuel 14.: "An outpost of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash;" i.e., the Philistines pushed forward a company of soldiers to the pass (מעבר, the crossing place) of Michmash, to prevent an attack being made by the Israelites upon their camp. Between Geba and Michmash there runs the great deep Wady es Suweinit, which goes down from Beitin and Bireh (Bethel and Beeroth) to the valley of the Jordan, and intersects the ridge upon which the two places are situated, so that the sides of the wady form very precipitous walls. When Robinson was travelling from Jeba to Mukhmas he had to go down a very steep and rugged path into this deep wady (Pal. ii. p. 116). "The way," he says in his Biblical Researches, p. 289, "was so steep, and the rocky steps so high, that we were compelled to dismount; while the baggage mules got along with great difficulty. Here, where we crossed, several short side wadys came in from the south-west and north-west. The ridges between these terminate in elevating points projecting into the great wady; and the most easterly of these bluffs on each side were probably the outposts of the two garrisons of Israel and the Philistines. The road passes around the eastern side of the southern hill, the post of Israel, and then strikes up over the western part of the northern one, the post of the Philistines, and the scene of Jonathan's adventure."
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