1 Samuel 14:4
And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Bozez . . . Seneh.—These names are of extreme antiquity. Their signification is disputed. Possibly Bozez signifies “shining,” and Seneh “the accacia.” These rocks have been identified by modern travellers.

1 Samuel 14:4. Between the passages — Two passages, both which Jonathan must cross, to go to the Philistines, and between which the following rocks lay; but the words may be rendered, in the middle of the passage; the plural number being put for the singular. There was a sharp rock — Which is not to be understood, as if in this passage one rock was on the right hand, and the other on the left; for so he might have gone between both, and there was no need of climbing up to them. But the meaning is, that the tooth (or prominence) of one rock (as it is in the Hebrew) was on the one side; that is, northward, looking toward Michmash, (the garrison of the Philistines,) and the tooth of the other rock was on the other side; that is, southward, looking toward Gibeah, (where Saul’s camp lay,) and Jonathan was forced to climb over these two rocks, because the common ways from one town to the other were obstructed.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.(The southern cliff was called "Seneh," or "the acacia," and the same name still applies to the modern valley, dotted by acacias. The northern cliff was named "Bozez" or "Shining." The valley runs nearly due east, and the northern cliff is of ruddy and tawny tint, crowned with gleaming white chalk, and in the full glare of the sun almost all the day. (Conder.)) 4. between the passages—that is, the deep and great ravine of Suweinit.

Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison—a distance of about three miles running between two jagged points; Hebrew, "teeth of the cliff."

there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side … Bozez—("shining") from the aspect of the chalky rock.

Seneh—("the thorn") probably from a solitary acacia on its top. They are the only rocks of the kind in this vicinity; and the top of the crag towards Michmash was occupied as the post of the Philistines. The two camps were in sight of each other; and it was up the steep rocky sides of this isolated eminence that Jonathan and his armorbearer (1Sa 14:6) made their adventurous approach. This enterprise is one of the most gallant that history or romance records. The action, viewed in itself, was rash and contrary to all established rules of military discipline, which do not permit soldiers to fight or to undertake any enterprise that may involve important consequences without the order of the generals.

The passages; so these might be two known and common passages, both which Jonathan must cross, or pass over, to go to the Philistines, between which the following rocks lay. But the words may be rendered thus, In the middle (for so the Hebrew particle ben signifies, as Isaiah 44:4; and beth, in, is understood by a very frequent ellipsis) of the passage; the plural number being put for the singular, as is frequent. A sharp rock on the one side, and on the other side; which is not so to be understood, as if in this passage one rock was on the right hand, and the other on the left; for so he should have gone between both; and there was no need of climbing up to them, which is mentioned below, 1 Samuel 14:13. But the meaning is, that the tooth (or prominency) of the one rock (as it is in the Hebrew) was on the one side, i.e. northward, looking towards Michmash, (the garrison of the Philistines,) and the tooth of the other rock was on the other side, i.e. southward, looking towards Gibeah, (where Saul’s camp lay,) as the next verse informs us; and Jonathan was forced to climb over these two rocks, because the other and common ways from one town to the other might now be obstructed, or were not so fit for his present design. And between the passages by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison,.... One of which is called the passage of Michmash, 1 Samuel 13:23 and was that by which they went from Gibeah to Michmash; the other, which might be called the passage of Gibeah, was that by which they went from Michmash to Gibeah, and in effect was but one; and this was seized by the garrison of the Philistines, on that part of it which was towards Michmash; so that there was no way of access to the camp of the Philistines, which Jonathan therefore proposed to go over to and destroy, but his difficulties were very great:

there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side; not that there was on each side of the passage or passages to the right and left a cragged rock, between which men passed as they went from place to place; for the position of them in the next verse shows the contrary; but there was "the tooth of a rock" (l), as it is in the original text; or a promontory or prominence on the one side towards Michmash, which stood out like a tooth; and another promontory or prominence on that towards Gibeah; so that both must be gone over to get to the camp, the only passage being guarded by the garrison; and indeed it seems to me there was but one rock, and two precipices at the opposite parts of it, and which stood between the passages, which precipices must be climbed over:

and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh; which, according to the Targum, the one signifies "lubrication", being smooth and slippery, and the other "treading", being more trodden and beaten: but Hillerus (m) derives both from clay, which seems not so agreeable to a rock; though in another place (n) he makes the former to have its name from whiteness, which is the colour of some rocks and clifts; and one should think the latter rather has its name from bushes, brambles, and thorns, that might grow upon it.

(l) "dens petrae", Pagninus, Montanus; "scopulus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (m) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 73, 82. (n) Ibid. p. 43.

And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. And between the passages, &c.] The scene of Jonathan’s adventure is accurately described. The “passages” appear to be ravines running down into the main valley, by which it was possible to get down and cross over. “In the valley, [the Wady es-Suweinit] just at the left of where we crossed, are two hills of a conical or rather a spherical form, having steep rocky sides, with small wadys running up behind each so as almost to isolate them. One is on the side toward Jeba and the other towards Mukhmas. These would seem to be the two rocks mentioned in connexion with Jonathan’s adventure.” Robinson, Bibl. Res. I. 441.

a sharp rock] Lit. “a tooth of the rock.” Cp. note on 1 Samuel 7:12.

the name of the one was Bozez] “The northern cliff was named Bozez or “shining,” and the true explanation of this name only presents itself on the spot. The great valley runs nearly due east, and thus the southern cliff is almost entirely in shade during the day. The contrast is surprising and picturesque between the dark cool colour of the south side and the ruddy or tawny tints of the northern cliff crowned with the gleaming white of the upper chalky strata. The picture is unchanged since the days when Jonathan looked over to the white camping-ground of the Philistines, and Bozez must then have shone as brightly as it does now, in the full light of an eastern sun.” Conder’s Tent Work, II. 113.

the name of the other Seneh] “The southern cliff was called Seneh or ‘the Acacia,’ and the same name still applies to the modern valley, due to the acacia trees which dot its course.” Wady es-Suweinit = “Valley of the little thorn tree” or “acacia.” Id.Verse 4. - Between the passages. I.e. the passes. A sharp rock. Literally, "a tooth of rock." Conder ('Tent Work,' 2:112) says, "The site of the Philistine camp at Michmash, which Jonathan and his armour bearer attacked, is very minutely described by Josephus. It was, he says, a precipice with three tops, ending in a long, sharp tongue, and protected by surrounding cliffs. Exactly such a natural fortress exists immediately east of the village of Michmash, and is 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, and having an open valley behind it, and a saddle towards the west, on which Michmash itself is situate. Opposite this fortress, on the south, there is a crag of equal height, and seemingly impassable. Thus the description of the Old Testament is fully borne out - 'a sharp rock on one side, and a sharp rock on the other.' The southern cliff was called Seneh, or 'the acacia,' and the same name still applies to the modern valley, due to the acacia trees which dot its course. The northern cliff was called Bozez, or 'shining,' and the true explanation of the name only presents itself on the spot." Conder then describes how, "treading perhaps almost in the steps of Jonathan, after arriving on the brink of the chasm, or defile of Michmash, they were able to descend Seneh, even with horses and mules. "I noticed," he says, "that the dip of the strata down eastward gave hopes that by one of the long ledges we might be able to slide, as it were, towards the bottom. It is not likely that horses had ever before been led along this ledge, or will perhaps ever again cross the pathless chasm, but it was just possible, and by jumping them down one or two steps some three feet high, we succeeded in making the passage.... Though we got down Seneh, we did not attempt to climb up Bozez .... Horses could scarcely find a footing anywhere on the sides of the northern precipice; but judging from the descent, it seems possible that Jonathan, with immense labour, could have 'climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armour bearer after him' (ver. 13). That a man exhausted by such an effort could have fought successfully on arriving at the top can only be accounted for on the supposition of a sudden panic among the Philistines, when they found the enemy actually within their apparently impregnable fortress." The Israelites could not offer a successful resistance to these devastating raids, as there was no smith to be found in the whole land: "For the Philistines thought the Hebrews might make themselves sword or spear" (אמר followed by פּן, "to say, or think, that not," equivalent to being unwilling that it should be done). Consequently (as the words clearly imply) when they proceeded to occupy the land of Israel as described in 1 Samuel 13:5, they disarmed the people throughout, i.e., as far as they penetrated, and carried off the smiths, who might have been able to forge weapons; so that, as is still further related in 1 Samuel 13:20, all Israel was obliged to go to the Philistines, every one to sharpen his edge-tool, and his ploughshare, and his axe, and his chopper. According to Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3, and Joel 3:10, את is an iron instrument used in agriculture; the majority of the ancient versions render it ploughshare. The word מחרשׁתו is striking after the previous מחרשׁתּו (from מחרשׁת); and the meaning of both words is uncertain. According to the etymology, מחרשׁת might denote any kind of edge-tool, even the ploughshare. The second מחרשׁתו is rendered τὸ δρέπανον αὐτοῦ (his sickle) by the lxx, and sarculum by Jerome, a small garden hoe for loosening and weeding the soil. The fact that the word is connected with קרדּם, the axe or hatchet, favours the idea that it signifies a hoe or spade rather than a sickle. Some of the words in 1 Samuel 13:21 are still more obscure. והיתה, which is the reading adopted by all the earlier translators, indicates that the result is about to be given of the facts mentioned before: "And there came to pass," i.e., so that there came to pass (or arose), פּים הפּצירה, "a blunting of the edges." פּצירה, bluntness, from פּצר, to tear, hence to make blunt, is confirmed by the Arabic futâr, gladius fissuras habens, obtusus ensis, whereas the meaning to hammer, i.e., to sharpen by hammering, cannot be established. The insertion of the article before פּצירה is as striking as the omission of it before פּים; also the stat. abs. instead of the construct פּצירת. These anomalies render it a very probable conjecture that the reading may have been הפּים הפציר (inf. Hiph. nomin.). Accordingly the rendering would be, "so that bluntness of the edges occurred in the edge-tools, and the ploughshares, and the trident, and the axes, and the setting of the goad." קלּשׁון שׁלשׁ is to be regarded as a nom. comp. like our trident, denoting an instrument with three prongs, according to the Chaldee and the Rabbins (see Ges. Thes. p. 1219). דּרבן, stimulus, is probably a pointed instrument generally, since the meaning goad is fully established in the case of דּרבון in Ecclesiastes 12:11.

(Note: 1 Samuel 13:21 runs very differently in the lxx, namely, καὶ ἦν ὁ τρυγητὸς ἕτοιμος τοῦ θερίζειν, τὰ δὲ σκεύη ἦν τρεῖς σίκλοι εἰς τὸν ὀδόντα, καὶ τῇ ἀξίνῃ καὶ τῷ δρεπάνῳ ὑτόστασις ἦν ἡ αὐτή; and Thenius and Bttcher propose an emendation of the Hebrew text accordingly, so as to obtain the following meaning: "And the sharpening of the edges in the case of the spades and ploughshares was done at three shekels a tooth (i.e., three shekels each), and for the axe and sickle it was the same" (Thenius); or, "and the same for the sickles, and for the axes, and for setting the prong" (Bttcher). But here also it is easy enough to discover that the lxx had not another text before them that was different from the Masoretic text, but merely confounded הפציר with הבציר, τρυγητός, and took קלּשׁון שׁלשׁ, which was unintelligible to them, e conjectura for השּׁן שׁק שׁלשׁ, altogether regardless of the sense or nonsense of their own translation. The latest supporters of this senseless rendering, however, have neither undertaken to prove the possibility of translating ὀδόντα (ὀδούς), "each single piece" (i.e., each), or inquired into the value of money at that time, so as to see whether three shekels would be an unexampled charge for the sharpening of an axe or sickle.)

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