1 Samuel 14:48
And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(48) Smote the Amalekites.—Out of the many wars the king waged, this war with Amalek is singled out, for in the new development of Hebrew power by which Saul’s reign was marked this campaign or series of campaigns was especially prominent. This war is related with some detail in the next chapter, but it is there introduced on account of other considerations. The English translators in their rendering, “he gathered an host,” have followed the Syriac and Vulg.; the marginal translation, “he wrought mightily,” is the more accurate.

14:47-52 Here is a general account of Saul's court and camp. He had little reason to be proud of his royal dignity, nor had any of his neighbours cause to envy him, for he had but little enjoyment after he took the kingdom. And often men's earthly glory makes a blaze just before the dark night of disgrace and woe comes on them.Compare 2 Samuel 8:15. The preceding narrative shows that before this time Saul had been king in name only, since his country was occupied by the Philistines, and he could only muster 600 men, and those but half armed and pent up in a narrow stronghold. Now, however, on the expulsion of the Philistines from his country, and the return of the Israelites from their vassalage and from their hiding places 1 Samuel 14:21-22, Saul became king in deed as well as in name, and acted the part of a king through the rest of his reign in defending his people against their enemies round about. A comprehensive list of these enemies, including the Ammonite war which had already been described 1 Samuel 11:1-15, and the Amalekite war which follows in 1 Samuel 15, is given in 1 Samuel 14:47-48. There is not the slightest indication from the words whether this "taking the kingdom" occurred soon or really years after Saul's anointing at Gilgal. Hence, some would place the clause 1 Samuel 14:47-52 immediately after 1 Samuel 11:1-15, or 1 Samuel 12, as a summary of Saul's reign. The details of the reign, namely, of the Philistine war in 1 Samuel 13; 14, of the Amalekite war in 1 Samuel 15, and the other events down to the end of 1 Samuel 31:1-13, preceded by the formulary, 1 Samuel 13:1, would then follow according to the common method of Hebrew historical narrative.

Zobah - This was one of the petty Ara-roman kingdoms flourishing at this time (Psalm 60:1-12 title). It seems to have been situated between Damascus and the Euphrates.

47, 48. So Saul … fought against all his enemies on every side—This signal triumph over the Philistines was followed, not only by their expulsion from the land of Israel, but by successful incursions against various hostile neighbors, whom he harassed though he did not subdue them. Smote the Amalekites; which is here mentioned only in the general, but is particularly described in the next chapter. And he gathered an host,.... A large army; for after the battle with the Ammonites he disbanded his army, and sent them home, retaining only 3000 men, and these deserted him to six hundred, which were all the men he had with him, when he fought last with the Philistines; but now, finding he had enemies on every side of him, he gathered a numerous host to defend his country against them, and particularly to attack the people next mentioned:

and he smote the Amalekites; a people that Israel, by the law of God, were bound to destroy, and blot out their name; a particular account of his expedition against them is given in the following chapter:

and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them; the nations before mentioned, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Syrians, and Philistines.

And he gathered an host, and smote the {t} Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.

(t) As the Lord had commanded, De 25:17.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
48. gathered a host] Better, did valiantly, as in Numbers 24:18; Psalm 40:12.

smote the Amalekites] As recorded at length in ch. 15.Verse 48. - He gathered a host. So the Syriac and Vulgate, but the margin is probably the true meaning, "He wrought mightily," or valiantly. When they proceeded still further to cast lots between Saul and his son (הפּילוּ, sc., גּורל; cf. 1 Chronicles 26:14; Nehemiah 11:11, etc.), Jonathan was taken.

(Note: In the Alex. version, vv. 41 and 42 are lengthened out with long paraphrases upon the course pursued in casting the lots: καὶ εἶπε Σαούλ, Κύριε ὁ θεὸς Ἰσραήλ τί ὅτι οὐκ ἀπεκρίθης τῷ δούλῳ σου σήμερον; ει ̓ ἐν ἐμοὶ ἢ ἐν Ἰωνάθαν τῷ υἱῷ μου ἡ ἀδικία; κύριε ὁ θεὸς Ἰσραήλ δὸς δήλους· καὶ ἐἀν τάδε εἴπῃ δὸς δὴ τῷ λαῷ σου Ἰσραήλ, δός δὴ ὁσιότηατ, καὶ κληροῦται Ἰωνάθαν καὶ Σαούλ καὶ ὁ λαὸς ἐξῆλθε. V. 42: Καὶ εἶπε Σαοὑλ, βάλλετε ἀνὰ μέσον ἐμοῦ καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον Ἰωνάθαν τοῦ υἱοῦ μου· ὃν ἂν κατακληρώσηται Κύριος ἀποθανέτω. Καὶ εἶπεν ὁ λαὸς πρὸς Σαούλ, οὐκ ἔστι τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο. Καὶ κατεκράτησε Σαοὺλ τοῦ λαοῦ, καὶ βάλλουσιν ἀνὰ μέσον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον Ἰωνάθαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, καὶ κατακληροῦται Ἰωναθαν. One portion of these additions is also found in the text of our present Vulgate, and reads as follows: Et dixit Saul ad Dominum Deum Israel: Domine Deus Israel, da indicium! quid est quod non responderis servo tuo hodie? Si in me aut in Jonathan filio meo est iniquitas, da ostensionem; aut si haec iniquitas est in populo tuo, da sanctitatem. Et deprehensus est Jonathas et Saul, populus autem exivit. The beginning and end of this verse, as well as v. 42, agree here most accurately with the Hebrew text. But the words from quid est quod to da sanctitatem are interpolated, so that תמים הבה are translated twice; first in the words da indicium, and then in the interpolation da ostensionem. This repetition of the same words, and that in different renderings, when taken in connection with the agreement of the Vulgate with the Hebrew text at the beginning and end of the verse, shows clearly enough, that the interpolated clauses did not originate with Jerome, but are simply inserted in his translation from the Itala. The additions of the lxx, in which τάδε εἶπῃ is evidently only a distortion of ἡ ἀδικία, are regarded by Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 48) and Thenius as an original portion of the text which has dropped out from the Masoretic text. They therefore infer, that instead of תמים we ought to read תּמּים (Thummim), and that we have here the full formula used in connection with the use of the Urim and Thummim, from which it may be seen, that this mode of divine revelation consisted simply in a sacred lot, or in the use of two dice, the one of which was fixed upon at the outset as meaning no, and the other as meaning yes. So much at any rate is indisputable, that the Septuagint translator took תמים in the sense of thummim, and so assumed that Saul had the guilty person discovered by resorting to the Urim and Thummim. But this assumption is also decidedly erroneous, together with all the inferences based upon it. For, in the first place, the verbs הפּיל and ילּכד can be proved to be never used throughout the whole of the Old Testament to signify the use of the Urim and Thummim, and to be nothing more than technical expressions used to denote the casting of a simple lot (see the passages cited above in the text). Moreover, such passages as 1 Samuel 10:22, and 1 Samuel 2:5, 1 Samuel 2:23, show most unmistakeably that the divine oracle of the Urim and Thummim did not consist merely in a sacred lot with yes and no, but that God gave such answers through it as could never have been given through the lots. The Septuagint expansions of the text are nothing more, therefore, than a subjective and really erroneous interpretation on the part of the translators, which arose simply from the mistaken idea that תמים was thummim, and which is therefore utterly worthless.)

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