And Saul built an altar to the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built to the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The same was the first altar that he built . . .—More accurately, as in margin, the same he began to build as an altar. The great Jewish commentators are divided as to the precise meaning of the old Hebrew language of this verse. Abarbanel interprets the words, “that King Saul began to build, but did not finish.” The Midrash prefers to understand the statement as telling how “Saul began among the kings of Israel the building of altars.” The more obvious meaning, if we translate as in our English Version, seems to be that this was the first public acknowledgment King Saul made to God for the mercies and goodness vouchsafed to him.1 Chronicles 27:24), in his haste to pursue the Philistines that night.
The same was the first altar, though he had occasion to do so oft ere this time. So this is quoted as another evidence of his neglect of God and his worship. It is true, Saul sacrificed before this, as at Gilgal; but that was upon an old altar, erected by others.
the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord; for though he had offered sacrifice at Gilgal, there was an altar ready built for him: or "he began to build"; he laid the first stone of it, and the builders built upon it; so some others say, that he was the first of the kings that built an altar to the Lord (d); others, the first of the judges that built one; though Gideon built one, it was for his own private use, not for all Israel, as this, so R. Isaiah; but Ben Gersom, and so Abarbinel, refer this to the great stone Saul ordered to be rolled to him, and take the sense to be, that that began to be built an altar to the Lord; that was the beginning of one; for he did not now stay to finish it, being eager on his pursuit of the Philistines, as follows.And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)35. the same was the first altar] Lit. “it he began to build as an altar to Jehovah.” The E. V. probably gives the right sense. The altar was erected as a thank-offering for the victory. “The great stone” most likely formed part of it.Verse 35. - And Saul built an altar unto Jehovah as a thank offering for the Divine favour in gaining so great a victory. The same was the first altar, etc. Literally, "As to it he began to build an altar unto Jehovah." On these words the question has arisen whether the meaning be that Saul began to build an altar, but with characteristic impetuosity left off before he had completed it; or whether on that occasion he commenced the custom followed by David (2 Samuel 24:25) of erecting altars as the patriarchs had done in old time. The latter interpretation is more in accordance with the usage of the Hebrew language, and is approved by the translations of the Septuagint and Vulgate.
CHAPTER 14:36-52 JONATHAN'S DANGER AND DELIVERANCE (vers. 36-46). Judges 4:21), Jonathan condemned the prohibition. "My father has brought the land (i.e., the people of the land, as in 1 Samuel 14:25) into trouble (עכר, see at Genesis 34:30): see how bright mine eyes have become because I tasted a little of this honey. How much more if the people had eaten to-day of the booty of its enemies, would not the overthrow among the Philistines truly have then become great?" כּי אף, lit. to this (there comes) also that equals not to mention how much more; and עתּה כּי is an emphatic introduction of the apodosis, as in Genesis 31:42; Genesis 43:10, and other passages, and the apodosis itself is to be taken as a question.
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