1 Samuel 14:13
And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) And they fell before Jonathan . . .—The sign he prayed for was given him. There were probably but few sentinels at their posts; the inaccessibility of the craggy fortress had lulled the garrison into security. The few watching him at first mocked, and then, as Jonathan advanced with strange rapidity, they seem to have been, as it were, paralysed—the feat was hardly human—as the man, all armed, sprang over the rocky parapet. “His chief weapon was his bow,” writes Dean Stanley; “his whole tribe was a tribe of archers, and he was the chief archer of them all.” Arrived at the summit, in rapid succession he shot his deadly bolts, his gallant armour-bearer following his chief’s example. and twenty men, so says the record, fell before they had recovered their surprise. In a moment a panic seized the garrison, and a hurried flight ensued, for they felt they had to deal with no mortal strength.

1 Samuel 14:13. They fell before Jonathan — It is probable that the garrison, after they had spoken to Jonathan and his armour-bearer, concerned themselves no further about them, so that they climbed up unperceived, and fell upon the Philistines unawares, and perhaps when they were unarmed. And being endowed with extraordinary strength and courage, and having, with incredible boldness, killed the first they met with, it is not strange if the Philistines were both astonished and intimidated; God also struck them with a panic; and withal, infatuated their minds, and possibly put an evil spirit among them, which in this universal confusion made them conceive that there was treachery among themselves, and therefore caused them to sheath their swords in one another’s bowels.

14:1-15 Saul seems to have been quite at a loss, and unable to help himself. Those can never think themselves safe who see themselves out of God's protection. Now he sent for a priest and the ark. He hopes to make up matters with the Almighty by a partial reformation, as many do whose hearts are unhumbled and unchanged. Many love to have ministers who prophesy smooth things to them. Jonathan felt a Divine impulse and impression, putting him upon this bold adventure. God will direct the steps of those that acknowledge him in all their ways, and seek to him for direction, with full purpose of heart to follow his guidance. Sometimes we find most comfort in that which is least our own doing, and into which we have been led by the unexpected but well-observed turns of Divine providence. There was trembling in the host. It is called a trembling of God, signifying, not only a great trembling they could not resist, nor reason themselves out of, but that it came at once from the hand of God. He that made the heart, knows how to make it tremble.We will show you a thing - Said mockingly. 11. Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes—As it could not occur to the sentries that two men had come with hostile designs, it was a natural conclusion that they were Israelite deserters. And hence no attempt was made to hinder their ascent, or stone them. The Philistines could easily have hindered their ascent, but thought scorn to do it, not questioning but they could cut them off in a moment when they were come up to them according to their invitation.

Jonathan and his armourbearer being endowed with extraordinary strength and courage, and having with incredible boldness killed the first they met with, and so proceeding with success, it is not strange if the Philistines were both astonished and intimidated; God also struck them with a panic terror; and withal, infatuated their minds, and possibly put an evil spirit among them, which in this universal confusion made them conceive that there was treachery amongst themselves, and therefore caused them to sheath their swords in one another’s bowels, as appears from 1 Samuel 14:16,20.

And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet,.... He did not attempt to go up the way or pass the Philistines kept, but turned aside and climbed up a precipice thought inaccessible, and came upon them unseen, and at unawares; for had he attempted to come up in any part where he was seen, they could easily have beat him down, and prevented his ascent; but though the place he climbed was so very steep and cragged, yet going on all four, as we say, he surmounted the difficulty; for he took this method of going on his hands and feet, not so much that he might not be seen; but because otherwise he could not have got up, not being able to stand on his feet; some think it was the precipice called Bozez he climbed, which, according to the Targum, had its name from its being lubricous and slippery:

and his armourbearer after him; who clambered up in the same manner, in imitation of his master, and as taught and directed by him:

and they fell before Jonathan, and his armourbearer slew after him; Jonathan, coming upon them at an unawares, knocked them down; or falling upon them, and laying about him with great dispatch, wounded them, and laid them prostrate to the ground; and his armourbearer following them, put them to death, dispatched them at once; and so between them both made quick riddance of them.

And Jonathan climbed up upon {f} his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.

(f) That is, he crept up, or went up with all haste.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet] “Immediately to the east of the village of Michmash exists a natural fortress, still called ‘the fort’ by the peasantry. It is a ridge rising in three rounded knolls above a perpendicular crag, ending in a narrow tongue to the east with cliffs below.” Conder’s Tent Work, II. 112. This may have been the post occupied by the advanced guard of the Philistines.

Verse 13. - Upon his hands and upon his feet. Of course a single stone rolled down upon them while thus clambering up the precipitous side of the cliff would have sent them to the bottom; but the Philistines, apparently considering the ascent impossible, seem entirely to have neglected them. The youthful appearance of the two no doubt contributed to throw them off their guard. And they fell before Jonathan. The brevity of the Hebrew very well expresses the rapidity of Jonathan's action. Used to mountaineering, he was ready, as soon as he had reached the summit, to commence the attack, and the Philistines, little expecting so vigorous an onslaught from so feeble a force, were surprised, and made but a slight resistance. The armour bearer also behaved with a bravery like his master's. 1 Samuel 14:13When the two showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, they said, "Behold, Hebrews come forth out of the holes in which they have hidden themselves." And the men of the garrison cried out to Jonathan and his armour-bearer, "Come up to us, and we will tell you a word," i.e., we will communicate something to you. This was ridicule at the daring of the two men, whilst for all that they had not courage enough to meet them bravely and drive them back. In this Jonathan received the desired sign that the Lord had given the Philistines into the hand of the Israelites: he therefore clambered up the rock on his hands and feet, and his armour-bearer after him; and "they (the Philistines) fell before Jonathan," i.e., were smitten down by him, "and his armour-bearer was slaying behind him."
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