1 Samuel 13:7
And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
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1 Samuel 13:7-8. Some of the Hebrews went over Jordan — They fled as far as they could from the present danger, even into the country of the two tribes and a half. All the people followed him trembling — That is, all that were left, who, it appears, were not many. He tarried seven days — Not seven complete days, for the last day was not finished. According to the set time that Samuel had appointed — This seems to refer to the command given two years before, and recorded 1 Samuel 10:8 : see the note on that verse. But Samuel came not to Gilgal — So soon as Saul expected him.

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 words "some of," which are the emphatic words in the King James Version, as distinguishing those who crossed the Jordan from those who hid themselves, are not in the Hebrew at all. The "Hebrews" seem to be distinguished from the "men of Israel" in 1 Samuel 13:6. (Compare 1 Samuel 14:21.) 1Sa 13:6-8. The Israelites' Distress.

6. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait—Though Saul's gallantry was unabated, his subjects displayed no degree of zeal and energy. Instead of venturing an encounter, they fled in all directions. Some, in their panic, left the country (1Sa 13:7), but most took refuge in the hiding-places which the broken ridges of the neighborhood abundantly afford. The rocks are perforated in every direction with "caves," and "holes," and "pits"—crevices and fissures sunk deep in the rocky soil, subterranean granaries or dry wells in the adjoining fields. The name of Michmash ("hidden treasure") seems to be derived from this natural peculiarity [Stanley].

All the people, to wit, his whole army, opposed to the common people, 1 Samuel 13:6.

And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead,.... As far off as they could from the Philistines, who lay on the west of the land of Israel, and these countries were to the east. Kimchi observes, that the land of Reuben is not mentioned, which was on the other side Jordan also; because that was nearer to it than what was inhabited by Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; and therefore they chose to go further, thinking themselves there safer:

as for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal; where he stayed till Samuel should come to him, as directed, 1 Samuel 10:8 to have his advice and counsel:

and all the people followed him trembling; all that were with him, the army as distinct from the common people; they abode by him, and were at his command, and were ready to go where he should direct them; but with trembling hearts when they saw the pain of the people, fleeing into holes and corners, and considered what a huge host the Philistines were coming upon them with, and Samuel their prophet not with them to encourage and counsel them.

And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of {f} Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

(f) Where the two tribes and the half remained.

7. some of the Hebrews] The soundness of the text is rendered doubtful by the peculiarity of the construction, and the use of the term “Hebrews” without apparent reason. The Sept., changing the vowels of the word Hebrews, renders, “And they who went over went over Jordan, &c.;” but this can hardly be right either.

all the people followed him trembling] The nation obeyed his summons, but in the greatest alarm at the proximity of the Philistine host.

Verse 7. - Some of the Hebrews. A contemptuous name for Israel (see ver. 3). If the reading is correct, it must be used here of a cowardly portion of the people (as in 1 Samuel 14:21), for the insertion of some of in the A.V. is unjustifiable. But by a very slight change, simply lengthening the stalk of one letter, we get a very good sense: "And they went over the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead," i.e. to the mountainous district in which the Jordan rises. SAUL'S RASH SACRIFICE (Vers. 8-14). 1 Samuel 13:7When the Israelites saw that they had come into a strait (צר־לו), for the people were oppressed (by the Philistines), they hid themselves in the caves, thorn-bushes, rocks (i.e., clefts of the rocks), fortresses (צרחים: see at Judges 9:46), and pits (which were to be found in the land); and Hebrews also went over the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead, whilst Saul was still at Gilgal; and all the people (the people of war who had been called together, v. 4) trembled behind him, i.e., were gathered together in his train, or assembled round him as leader, trembling or in despair.

The Gilgal mentioned here cannot be Jiljilia, which is situated upon the high ground, as assumed in the Comm. on Joshua, pp. 68f., but must be the Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan. This is not only favoured by the expression ירדוּ (the Philistines will come down from Michmash to Gilgal, 1 Samuel 13:12), but also by ויּעל (Samuel went up from Gilgal to Gibeah, 1 Samuel 13:15), and by the general attitude of Saul and his army towards the Philistines. As the Philistines advanced with a powerful army, after Jonathan's victory over their garrison at Geba (to the south of Michmash), and encamped at Michmash (1 Samuel 13:5); and Saul, after withdrawing from Gilgal, where he had gathered the Israelites together (1 Samuel 13:4, 1 Samuel 13:8, 1 Samuel 13:12), with Jonathan and the six hundred men who were with him when the muster took place, took up his position at Geba (1 Samuel 13:15, 1 Samuel 13:16), from which point Jonathan attacked the Philistine post in the pass of Michmash (1 Samuel 13:23, and 1 Samuel 14:1.): Saul must have drawn back from the advancing army of the Philistines to the Gilgal in the Jordan valley, to make ready for the battle by collecting soldiers and presenting sacrifices, and then, after this had been done, must have advanced once more to Gibeah and Geba to commence the war with the army of the Philistines that was encamped at Michmash. If, on the other hand, he had gone northwards to Jiljilia from Michmash, where he was first stationed, to escape the advancing army of the Philistines; he would have had to attack the Philistines from the north when they were encamped at Michmash, and could not possibly have returned to Geba without coming into conflict with the Philistines, since Michmash was situated between Jiljilia and Geba.

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