1 Samuel 14:24
And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eats any food until evening, that I may be avenged on my enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) And the men of Israel were distressed that day.—The LXX., between the 23rd and 24th verses, has a somewhat long addition: “And the whole people was with Saul, about ten thousand men; and the battle spread in the whole city, in the mountains of Ephraim; and Saul committed a great error.” The number 10,000 is not an improbable one, as the original small force which had kept with Saul and Jonathan had been joined by the Hebrew auxiliaries in the Philistine camp, and also by many of the fugitives from the villages around. They were, we read, “distressed,” that is, were wearied out by the long pursuit on the Ephraim hills.

For Saul had adjured the people.—Better, And Saul, &c.; that is, the king was so intent upon his vengeance—so bent upon pursuing to the uttermost these Philistines who so long had defied his power, and who had brought him so low—that he grudged his soldiers the necessary rest and refreshment, and, with a terrible vow, devoted to death any one who should on that day of blood slack his hand for a moment, even to take food.

1 Samuel 14:24. The men of Israel were distressed that day — With hunger, and weakness, and faintness, and all by reason of the following rash and inconsiderate oath, whereby Saul had foolishly adjured them, and to which, it is probable, they had consented. Saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening — Saul’s intention in putting this oath was undoubtedly to save time, lest the Philistines should gain ground of them in their flight. But the event showed it was a false policy; for the people were so faint and weak for want of food, that they were less able to follow and slay the Philistines than if they had stopped to take a moderate refreshment. That I may be avenged of mine enemies — As Saul’s intention was good, so the matter of the obligation was not simply unlawful, if it had not been so rigorous in excluding all food, and in obliging the people to it under pain of an accursed death, which was a punishment far exceeding the fault.14:24-35 Saul's severe order was very unwise; if it gained time, it lost strength for the pursuit. Such is the nature of our bodies, that daily work cannot be done without daily bread, which therefore our Father in heaven graciously gives. Saul was turning aside from God, and now he begins to build altars, being then most zealous, as many are, for the form of godliness when he was denying the power of it.Assembled themselves - See marg. Many versions give the sense "shouted," which is far preferable, and only requires a different punctuation. 24. Saul had adjured the people—Afraid lest so precious an opportunity of effectually humbling the Philistine power might be lost, the impetuous king laid an anathema on any one who should taste food until the evening. This rash and foolish denunciation distressed the people, by preventing them taking such refreshments as they might get on the march, and materially hindered the successful attainment of his own patriotic object. Were distressed, with hunger, and weakness, and faintness, thence arising; and all by reason of the following oath. As Saul’s intention was good, namely, to execute vengeance upon God’s and his enemies; so the matter of the obligation was not simply and in itself unlawful, if it had not been so rigorous in excluding all food, without any exception of cases of necessity; and in obliging the people to it under pain of a curse, and an accursed death, 1 Samuel 14:38,39,44, which was a punishment far exceeding the fault. None of the people tasted any food; partly in obedience to the king’s command; and partly for fear of the curse. And the men of Israel were distressed that day,.... By reason of the following order Saul gave with an oath, forbidding any to taste meat till evening, when the people were faint and weary, which is the common sense of interpreters; but Jarchi interprets it, the men of Israel were ready, forward, and hasty, and drew nigh to fight with the Philistines, and so refers it to the persons before mentioned, who came out of their lurking places; and this sense is approved of by Abarbinel: "for", or "and Saul had adjured", or "did adjure the people"; or willed them, signified to them his will and pleasure, which would not have been so much amiss, had he not annexed a curse to it, as follows:

saying, cursed be the man that eateth any food until the evening: or "bread", which comprehends all food, and among the rest honey; the design of which was, that no time might be lost, and that he might make the victory over the Philistines, and their destruction, as complete as possible; though it may seem a little too hard and severe upon the people, and too imperious in him, as well as imprudent; since a little refreshment would have animated and enabled them to have pursued their enemies with more ardour and rigour; and yet by the lot afterwards made, it seems to have been countenanced by the Lord:

that I may be avenged on mine enemies; who long tyrannised over the people of Israel, more or less for many years, and lately had sadly spoiled and plundered them:

so none of the people tasted any food; so observant were they of, and so obedient to the order of their king, and so much awed by the oath or imprecation annexed to it; though they were faint and hungry, and had an opportunity of refreshing themselves as follows, which was no small temptation to disobedience.

And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, {l} Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.

(l) Such was his hypocrisy and arrogancy, that he thought to attribute to his policy that which God had given by the hand of Jonathan.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24–30. Jonathan’s breach of Saul’s rash oath

24. were distressed that day: for Saul, &c.] Render, And the men of Israel were distressed that day. And Saul caused the people to swear, &c. Seeing the fatigued condition of the army, and fearing lest they should relinquish the pursuit to get food, Saul rashly exacted from them an oath, which led to three evil results. (1) It hindered instead of facilitating the pursuit of the enemy. (2) It involved Jonathan in an involuntary trespass. (3) It indirectly occasioned the sin of the people (1 Samuel 14:32). The Sept. however appears to have had a different text as follows: “And all the people that were with Saul were about ten thousand men. And the battle was scattered throughout the whole wood [city is a mistranslation of the Heb. word for wood in 1 Samuel 14:25] in mount Ephraim. And Saul did very foolishly on that day, and adjured the people, saying, &c.”Verse 24. - The men of Israel were distressed that day. The word is that used in 1 Samuel 13:6 of the state of terror and alarm to which the Israelites were reduced by the Philistine invasion; here it refers to their weariness and faintness for want of food. For Saul had adjured the people. Hebrew, "had made the people swear." He had recited before them the words of the curse, and made them shout their consent. His object was to prevent any delay in the pursuit; but in his eagerness he forgot that the strength of his men would fail if their bodily wants were not supplied. But though worn out and fainting, the people faithfully keep the oath put to them. Saul therefore resolved to ask God, through the priest Ahiah, what he should do; whether he should go out with his army against the Philistines or no. But whilst he was talking with the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines became greater and greater, so that he saw from that what ought to be done under the circumstances, and stopped the priest's inquiring of God, and set out with his people without delay. We are struck, however, with the expression in 1 Samuel 14:18, "Bring hither the ark of God," and the explanation which follows, "for the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel," inasmuch as the ark was then deposited at Kirjath-jearim, and it is a very improbable thing that it should have been in the little camp of Saul. Moreover, in other cases where the high priest is spoken of as inquiring the will of God, there is no mention made of the ark, but only of the ephod, the high priest's shoulder-dress, upon which there were fastened the Urim and Thummim, through which inquiry was made of God. And in addition to this, the verb הגּישׁה is not really applicable to the ark, which was not an object that could be carried about at will; whereas this verb is the current expression used to signify the fetching of the ephod (vid., 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7). All these circumstances render the correctness of the Masoretic text extremely doubtful, notwithstanding the fact that the Chaldee, the Syriac, and Arabic, and the Vulgate support it, and recommend rather the reading adopted by the lxx, προσάγαγε τὸ Ἐφούδ· ὅτι αὐτὸς ἦρεν τὸ Ἐφοὺδ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ἐνώπιον Ἰσραήλ, which would give as the Hebrew text, ישׂראל לפני ההוּא בּיּום האפוד נשׂא הוּא כּי האפוד הגּישׁה. In any case, וב'ני ישׂראל@ at the end of the verse should be read ישׂ לבני or לפני, since וּ gives no sense at all.
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