1 Samuel 13:4
And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
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(4) And all Israel heard.—Saul is put for “Jonathan,” though the bold deed had been performed by the young prince, Saul being the general-in-chief. The expression “smitten” implies that the garrison in question had been utterly routed, probably put to the sword. The intense hatred with which the Philistines hated the Hebrews is often brought forward. From the first conquest by Joshua they regarded them as interlopers and intruders; between the two peoples there was ceaseless warfare, until the Philistines were completely subdued by the greater Hebrew kings. Naturally, such a deed as that of Jonathan’s would at once arouse Philistia.

And the people were called together.—Gradually round the King of Israel the fighting men of the nation in great numbers were gathered. This seems to have been by no means a “levée en masse” of all the people; they seem to have come together very slowly, and very quickly again to have dispersed. The hour for a decisive blow was not yet come. Something, as we shall soon see, prevented Saul, with all his gallantry and splendid military skill, from winning popular confidence. (On Gilgal, the place where Saul was trying to assemble the people at this juncture, see Note on 1Samuel 13:8 and Excursus E at the end of this Book.)

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.To Gilgal - The Wady Suweinit de-bouches into the plain of the Jordan in which Gilgal was situated. For the sanctity of Gilgal, see above, 1 Samuel 11:14 note. 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.

Saul had smitten, i.e. Jonathan by Saul’s direction and encouragement. The actions of an army are commonly ascribed to their general.

Gilgal; the place before appointed b Samuel, 1 Samuel 10:8.

And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines,.... For though it was smitten by Jonathan, yet it was by the order of Saul, and so ascribed to him; it seems to be a concerted thing to fall upon the garrisons of the Philistines, and get them out of their hands, and so deliver Israel entirely from them; but it was not wise for Saul, if he had such a scheme in his head, to disband his large army, as he had lately done:

and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines; who were highly incensed against them by this action, and vowed revenge; the name of an Israelite was abhorred by them; and perhaps this action might be attended with much craft and cruelty; and if these garrisons were held by agreement, they might charge them with perfidy, with breach of articles, and so their name was made to stink among them, as the word signifies:

and the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal; by sound of trumpet.

And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
4. heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison] Heard saying, Saul hath smitten the garrison of the Philistines. The first blow in the war of independence was doubtless struck by Jonathan under Saul’s direction.

was had in abomination] The same word meaning literally, “to make one’s self stink” occurs in Genesis 34:30; Exodus 5:21; 1 Samuel 27:12; 2 Samuel 10:6.

the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal] Gilgal (see note on 1 Samuel 7:15) was probably chosen for the rendezvous as being the usual meeting-place, and the least liable to an attack from the Philistines.

Verse 4. - That Saul had smitten. Though the achievement was actually Jonathan's, yet it belonged to Saul as the commander-in-chief, and probably had been done under his instructions. Israel was had in abomination with the Philistines. They must have viewed with grave displeasure Israel's gathering together to choose a king, and Saul's subsequent defeat of the Ammonites, and retention with him of a large body of men, and so probably they had been for some time making preparations for war. Saul, therefore, knowing that they were collecting their forces, does the same, and the people were called together after Saul. Literally, "were cried after him," i.e. were summoned by proclamation (comp. Judges 7:23, 24; Judges 10:17, where see margin). For Gilgal see 1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 11:14. This place had been selected because, as the valley opens there into the plain of Jordan it was a fit spot for the assembling of a large host. For its identification see Conder, 'Tent Work,' 2:7-12. 1 Samuel 13:4"And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba," probably the military post mentioned in 1 Samuel 10:5, which had been advanced in the meantime as far as Geba. For Geba is not to be confounded with Gibeah, from which it is clearly distinguished in 1 Samuel 13:16 as compared with 1 Samuel 13:15, but is the modern Jeba, between the Wady Suweinit and Wady Fara, to the north-west of Ramah (er-Rm; see at Joshua 18:24). "The Philistines heard this. And Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the whole land, and proclamation made: let the Hebrews hear it." לאמר after בּשּׁופר תּקע points out the proclamation that was made after the alarm given by the shophar (see 2 Samuel 20:1; 1 Kings 1:34, 1 Kings 1:39, etc.). The object to "let them hear" may be easily supplied from the context, viz., Jonathan's feat of arms. Saul had this trumpeted in the whole land, not only as a joyful message for the Hebrews, but also as an indirect summons to the whole nation to rise and make war upon the Philistines. In the word שׁמע (hear), there is often involved the idea of observing, laying to heart that which is heard. If we understand ישׁמעוּ in this sense here, and the next verse decidedly hints at it, there is no ground whatever for the objection which Thenius, who follows the lxx, has raised to העברים ישׁמעוּ. He proposes this emendation, העברים ישׁמעוּ, "let the Hebrews fall away," according to the Alex. text ἠθετήκασιν οἱ δοῦλοι, without reflecting that the very expression οἱδοῦλοι is sufficient to render the Alex. reading suspicious, and that Saul could not have summoned the people in all the land to fall away from the Philistines, since they had not yet conquered and taken possession of the whole. Moreover, the correctness of ישׁמעוּ is confirmed by ישׁמעוּ ישׂראל וכל in 1 Samuel 13:4. "All Israel heard," not the call to fall away, but the news, "Saul has smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and Israel has also made itself stinking with the Philistines," i.e., hated in consequence of the bold and successful attack made by Jonathan, which proved that the Israelites would no longer allow themselves to be oppressed by the Philistines. "And the people let themselves be called together after Saul to Gilgal." הצּעק, to permit to summon to war (as in Judges 7:23-24). The words are incorrectly rendered by the Vulgate, "clamavit ergo populus post Saul," and by Luther, "Then the people cried after Saul to Gilgal." Saul drew back to Gilgal, when the Philistines advanced with a large army, to make preparations for the further conflict (see at 1 Samuel 13:13).
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