1 Samuel 14:23
So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over to Bethaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) So the Lord saved Israel . . .—The identical words used at the Red Sea, after the deliverance of the people from Egypt. So the battle rolled westward through Beth-aven, past city and village, over Mount Ephraim. It was a decisive victory, crushing in its results to the Philistines, who were driven back so effectually as not to re-appear till the close of Saul’s reign. The king was now at liberty to develop the military character of the people; and till the disaster which closed his life and reign, his various campaigns against the idolatrous nations who surrounded Israel generally appear to have gone on from victory to victory.

1 Samuel 14:23. The Lord saved Israel that day — Their deliverance was evidently effected by him, and that by means very extraordinary, and such as could have produced no such effect without his almighty power working thereby. The battle passed over unto Beth-aven — That is, the warriors that were engaged in the battle, and were pursuing the Philistines.14:16-23 The Philistines were, by the power of God, set against one another. The more evident it was that God did all, the more reason Saul had to inquire whether God would give him leave to do any thing. But he was in such haste to fight a fallen enemy, that he would not stay to end his devotions, nor hear what answer God would give him. He that believeth, will not make such haste, nor reckon any business so urgent, as not to allow time to take God with him.Assembled themselves - See marg. Many versions give the sense "shouted," which is far preferable, and only requires a different punctuation. 23. So the Lord saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven—that is, "Beth-el." It passed over the forest, now destroyed, on the central ridge of Palestine, then over to the other side from the eastern pass of Michmash (1Sa 14:31), to the western pass of Aijalon, through which they escaped into their own plains. The battle, i.e. the warriors who were engaged in the battle, and were pursuing and fighting with the Philistines. So the Lord saved Israel that day, &c. And a wonderful salvation it was, that two men should throw such a vast army into confusion, which issued in the utter rout and destruction of them; this only could be of the Lord, to whom it is justly ascribed, and was the effect of his sovereign good will and pleasure, and of his unmerited goodness; a free favour bestowed on an undeserving prince, who had behaved ill to his prophet at Gilgal, and now to him and his high priest at Gibeah:

and the battle passed over unto Bethaven; the men of battle or war; those that made war, as the Targum, these pursued and went as far as Bethaven, or rather "passed Bethaven" (q); they not only, went as far as that, but "from" it, as Ben Gersom and Abarbinel interpret it; they passed that place, and went on from thence in pursuit of the Philistines; for their camp at Michmash was eastward from this place, and had it on the east, 1 Samuel 13:5.

(q) "transiit Bethaven", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "vel, beliatores transierunt Bethaven", Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius.

So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. So the Lord saved Israel] Cp. Exodus 14:30; 2 Chronicles 32:22.

unto Beth-aven] Saul crossed the valley from Geba to Michmash, and drove the Philistines back in a north-westerly direction to Beth-aven, half way between Michmash and Bethel. Thence the pursuit was across the watershed, and headlong down the pass of Beth-horon to Aijalon, where the valley begins to open out towards the plain of Philistia:—that same pass where Joshua gained his great victory over the five Amorite kings (Joshua 10:10), and where the valiant Judas Maccabaeus was once more in later times to drive back the enemies of Israel to the plains (1Ma 3:24). The whole distance was between 15 and 20 miles.Verse 23. - Over unto Beth-aven. Hebrew, "the battle passed Beth-aven," i.e. no rally was made there. In ver. 31 we read that the pursuit continued as far as Aijalon. For Beth-aven see on 1 Samuel 13:5. SAUL'S RASH COMMAND (vers. 24-35). Saul conjectured at once that the excitement in the camp of the Philistines was occasioned by an attack made by Israelitish warriors, and therefore commanded the people: פּקדוּ־נא, "Muster (number) now, and see who has gone away from us;" and "Jonathan and his armour-bearer were not there," i.e., they were missing.
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