1 Samuel 15:33
And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
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(33) Samuel hewed Agag in pieces.—It has been suggested, with some probability, that these words refer to a peculiar form of putting to death, like the quartering in vogue during the Middle Ages.

15:32-35 Many think the bitterness of death is past when it is not gone by; they put that evil day far from them, which is very near. Samuel calls Agag to account for his own sins. He followed the example of his ancestors' cruelty, justly therefore is all the righteous blood shed by Amalek required. Saul seems unconcerned at the token of God's displeasure which he lay under, yet Samuel mourns day and night for him. Jerusalem was carnally secure while Christ wept over it. Do we desire to do the whole will of God? Turn to him, not in form and appearance, but with sincerity.Hewed in pieces - Only found in this passage. Samuel thus executed the חרם chērem 1 Samuel 15:3 which Saul had violated, and so both saved the nation from the guilt of a broken oath, and gave a final example to Saul, but apparently in vain, of uncompromising obedience to the commandments of God. There is something awful in the majesty of the prophet rising above and eclipsing that of the king (compare 1 Kings 21:20; Jeremiah 38:14 ff; Daniel 2:46; Daniel 4:27). 33. Samuel hewed Agag—This cruel tyrant met the retribution of a righteous Providence. Never has it been unusual for great or official personages in the East to perform executions with their own hands. Samuel did it "before the Lord" in Gilgal, appointing that same mode of punishment (hitherto unknown in Israel) to be used towards him, which he had formerly used towards others. Thy sword hath made women childless; whereby it appears that he was a cruel tyrant, and guilty of really bloody actions, and that towards God’s people, though it be not related elsewhere. And this seems to be added for the fuller vindication of God’s justice, and to show, that although God did at this time remember and revenge a crime committed by this man’s ancestors four hundred years ago, yet he did not punish an innocent son for his father’s crimes, but one that allowed and persisted in the same evil courses.

Samuel hewed Agag in pieces by Divine instinct, and in pursuance of God’s express and particular command, above, 1 Samuel 15:3, which being sinfully neglected by Saul, is now executed by Samuel. See the like example 1 Kings 18:40. But these are no precedents for private persons to take the sword of justice into their hands; for we must live by thee laws of God, and not by extraordinary examples.

Before the Lord; either before the ark, which, it seems, Saul carried with him in this, as he did in his former expedition, 1 Samuel 14:18; or before God’s altar; or in the public assembly.

And Samuel said, as thy sword hath made women childless,.... Or, "bereaved (s)" them, not of their children only, but of their husbands also, and so made them both childless and widows; by which it appears that he was a cruel prince, and justly died for his own barbarity and wickedness, as well as for the sins of his ancestors four hundred years ago:

so shall thy mother be childless among women; which was according to the law of retaliation, and what the Jews call measure for measure:

and Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal; either before the ark of the Lord, the symbol of the divine Presence; or before the altar, where Saul and the people had been sacrificing; this he did either himself, though an old man, or by others to whom he gave the orders; and which he did not as being the chief magistrate, and by virtue of his office, but acting as on a special occasion, at the command of God, and to show his zeal for him, and indignation at such a breach of his command. In what manner this was done, is not easy to say; he was not torn to pieces by the hand, without an instrument, as Baebius by the Romans (t); or sawn asunder, as some by Caligula (u); and as Isaiah the prophet is said to be by Manasseh, king of Judah, to which it is thought the apostle alludes, Hebrews 11:37. According to Ben Gersom, the word signifies he cleaved him, as wood is cleaved; or divided him into four parts, as Jarchi; perhaps he slew him with the sword, and then quartered him; that is, ordered it to be done.

(s) "orbavit", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, &c. (t) Flori Hist. l. 3. c. 21. (u) Sueton. in Vita ejus, c. 27.

And Samuel said, As the sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
33. As thy sword, &c.] By the law of retaliation Agag’s life was forfeit. Cp. Jdg 1:7.

hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord] A solemn execution of the Divine sentence which Saul had neglected. The word rendered “hewed in pieces” is a different one from that used in 1 Samuel 11:7, and occurs nowhere else. It may perhaps mean no more than “executed” (Sept. ἔσφαξε). The E. V. follows the Vulg.: “in frusta concidit.”

Verse 33. - As thy sword hath made women childless. Agag's life had been spent in freebooting expeditions, in which he had shed blood ruthlessly, and so justice required his execution in requital of his deeds to others. Samuel hewed Agag in pieces. The verb occurs only here, and probably refers to some particular method of execution, like the quartering of the middle ages. Being in the Piel conjugation, it would mean not so much that Samuel put Agag to death himself as that he commanded it to be done. 1 Samuel 15:33But Samuel pronounced the sentence of death upon him: "As thy sword hath made women childless, so be thy mother childless before women!" מנּשׁים is to be understood as a comparative: more childless than (other) women, i.e., the most childless of women, namely, because her son was the king. From these words of Samuel, it is very evident that Agag had carried on his wars with great cruelty, and had therefore forfeited his life according to the lex talionis. Samuel then hewed him in pieces "before the Lord at Gilgal," i.e., before the altar of Jehovah there; for the slaying of Agag being the execution of the ban, was an act performed for the glory of God.
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