1 Samuel 15:5
And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
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(5) A city of Amalek.—Better rendered, The city of Amalek: no doubt, their principal place of arms.

And laid wait in the valley.—Better, in a torrent bed, then dry (Arabic, “Wady”). There is a strange tradition in the Talmud that Saul’s mind misgave him when he came to this “torrent bed;” thus he called to mind the command of Deuteronomy 21:4 to slay an heifer at a torrent in expiation of a murder, and determined not to carry out the stern charge of Samuel, but to spare rather than to slay.

1 Samuel 15:5. Saul came to a city of Amalek — Or, to the city of Amalek. For the metropolis of the kingdom seems to be here meant, the name of which some have thought was Amalek. And laid wait in the valley — Or fought them in the valley; for they came out to give him battle.

15:1-9 The sentence of condemnation against the Amalekites had gone forth long before, Ex 17:14; De 25:19, but they had been spared till they filled up the measure of their sins. We are sure that the righteous Lord does no injustice to any. The remembering the kindness of the ancestors of the Kenites, in favour to them, at the time God was punishing the injuries done by the ancestors of the Amalekites, tended to clear the righteousness of God in this dispensation. It is dangerous to be found in the company of God's enemies, and it is our duty and interest to come out from among them, lest we share in their sins and plagues, Re 18:4. As the commandment had been express, and a test of Saul's obedience, his conduct evidently was the effect of a proud, rebellious spirit. He destroyed only the refuse, that was good for little. That which was now destroyed was sacrificed to the justice of God.Telaim - Probably the same as "Telem" Joshua 15:24, one of the uttermost cities of Judah, toward the coast of Edom. The name means "lambs," and was probably so called from the numerous flocks.

Two hundred thousand ... - A wonderful contrast with the six hundred men who composed his whole army before 1 Samuel 13:15, and a proof how completely for a time the Philistines had been driven back. The separate mention of the men of Judah shows how little union there was between Juduh and Ephraim even at this time; a circumstance which throws light upon the whole after history.

5. Saul came to a city of Amalek—probably their capital.

laid wait in the valley—following the strategic policy of Joshua at Ai (Jos 8:4).

A city of Amalek; their chief city, where their king was, as is probable from 1 Samuel 15:8.

Laid wait, intending to draw them forth of their city by some pretence, like that of Joshua, Jos 7, and then to intercept them, and so surprise their city: which haply they did, though it be not here recorded, it being not worth while to mention all the minute circumstances of such matters.

And Saul came to a city of Amalek,.... With his army, perhaps the nearest city of it to the land of Israel; though some think that Amalek was the name of the city, and was the metropolis of the nation, and had its name from thence: and laid wait in the valley; which was near the city, to intercept the inhabitants when they should come out against him: or "he contended" (w) as some render it, he fought with them there; the Targum,"he ordered his army,''set them in battle array, or pitched his camp there.

(w) "et certavit Pagninus"; "ut contenderet cum eo", Junius & Tremellius.

And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
5. a city of Amalek] Perhaps the capital or chief settlement was simply called Ir-Amalek = “the city of Amalek,” as Rabbah was called Ar or Ir-Moab = “the city of Moab” (Numbers 21:28; Numbers 22:36).

in the valley] Heb. nachal, which signifies a ravine or torrent-bed. See Sinai and Palestine, p. 505.

Verse 5. - A city of Amalek. More probably Ir-Amalek, the name of their one town. Laid wait. Many commentators follow the Syriac in rendering this verb contended, strove; others, like the A.V., with the Septuagint and Vulgate, regard it as a contracted form of a verb signifying to lay an ambuscade. It is not, however, a valley, but a "torrent bed," which was more fit for an ambush than for a strife or dispute. Rashi explains the verb as signifying "contended with himself," and quotes from the Talmud an opinion that when Saul reached the torrent he called to mind the command in Deuteronomy 21:4, to slay a heifer at a torrent in expiation of a murder, and had misgivings whether a slaughter so indiscriminate as that on which he was engaged could be justified. The law of the Herem was soon softened down, but we find David in several of his wars guilty of fearful cruelty. The translation of the A.V. is the more probable. 1 Samuel 15:5He then advanced as far as the city of the Amalekites, the situation of which is altogether unknown, and placed an ambush in the valley. ויּרב does not come from ריב, to fight, i.e., to quarrel, not to give battle, but was understood even by the early translators as a contracted form of ויּארב, the Hiphil of ארב. And modern commentators have generally understood it in the same way; but Olshausen (Hebr. Gramm. p. 572) questions the correctness of the reading, and Thenius proposes to alter בּנּחל ויּרב into מלחמה ויּערך. נחל refers to a valley in the neighbourhood of the city of the Amalekites.
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