1 Samuel 17:1
Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongs to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle.—There is nothing to tell us how long a time had elapsed since the victory of Saul over Amalek and the other events related in the last chapter. The compiler of the book is henceforth mainly concerned with the story of David, and how he gradually rose in popular estimation. The history does not profess to give anything like a consecutive account of the reign and wars of Saul. It was evidently compiled from documents of the time, but put into its present shape long afterwards. “Probably,” writes Dean Payne Smith, “at each prophetic school there would be stored up copies of Psalms written for their religious services, ballads such as those in the Book of Jashar, and in the book of the wars of the Lord, narratives of stirring events like this before us, and histories both of their own chiefs, such as was Samuel (the original founder of these famous educational centres), and afterwards Elijah and Elisha, and also of their kings.”

Pitched between Shochoh and Azekah.—The locality was some twelve or fifteen miles southwest of Jerusalem, and nine or ten from Bethlehem, the home of the family of Jesse. The name Ephes-dammim, the “boundary of blood,” is suggestive, and tells of the constant border warfare which took place in this neighbourhood.

1 Samuel 17:1. The Philistines gathered together their armies — Probably they had heard that Samuel had forsaken Saul, and that Saul himself was unfit for business. The enemies of the church are watchful to take all advantages, and they never have greater advantages than when her protectors have provoked God’s Spirit and prophets to leave them.17:1-11 Men so entirely depend upon God in all things, that when he withdraws his help, the most valiant and resolute cannot find their hearts or hands, as daily experience shows.The narrative reverts to the Philistine wars 1 Samuel 14:52; the other introductory details concerning Saul's rejection, and David's introduction upon the stage of the history, having been disposed of in the intermediate chapters.

Shochoh which belongeth to Judah - See the marginal reference which places Shochoh and Azekah in the "Shephelah" or maritime plain, and 2 Chronicles 28:18, "Shochoh" now "Shuweikeh," "nine miles from Eleutheropolis," Jerome.

Ephes-dammim - Called "Happas-dammim" (Pas-dammim, 1 Chronicles 11:13), "the end of bloodshed," now "Damun," about 4 miles northeast of Shuweikeh.

CHAPTER 17

1Sa 17:1-3. The Israelites and Philistines Being Ready to Battle.

1. the Philistines gathered together their armies—twenty-seven years after their overthrow at Michmash. Having now recovered their spirits and strength, they sought an opportunity of wiping out the infamy of that national disaster, as well as to regain their lost ascendency over Israel.

Shocoh—now Shuweikeh, a town in the western plains of Judah (Jos 15:35), nine Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, toward Jerusalem [Robinson].

Azekah—a small place in the neighborhood.

Ephes-dammim—or, "Pas-dammim" (1Ch 11:13), "the portion" or "effusion of blood," situated between the other two.The armies of the Israelites and Philistines ready for battle: Goliath terrifieth the Israelites with his stature, armour, and challenge, 1 Samuel 17:1-11. David sent by his father to visit his brethren; is willing to encounter with him, 1 Samuel 17:12-27; for which Eliab chideth him: he is brought to Saul, and showeth the reason of his confidence, 1 Samuel 17:28-37. He taketh a staff, and sling, with five stones, 1 Samuel 17:38. Goliath curseth and threateneth him, 1 Samuel 17:41-44. David’s faith: he slayeth him, 1 Samuel 17:45-50. The Philistines flee; are smitten and plundered, 1 Samuel 17:51-54. Saul taketh notice of David, 1 Samuel 17:55-58.

To revenge their former great and shameful defeat, 1Sa 14.

Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle,.... Josephus (s) says this was not long after the things related in the preceding chapter were transacted; and very probably they had heard of the melancholy and distraction of Saul, and thought it a proper opportunity of avenging themselves on Israel for their last slaughter of them, and for that purpose gathered together their dispersed troops:

and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah; a city of the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:35, which shows that, notwithstanding their last defeat, they had great footing in the land of Israel, or however had penetrated far into it in this march of theirs:

and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah; which were both in the same tribe, and near one another, of which See Gill on Joshua 10:10; see Gill on Joshua 15:35.

in Ephesdammim; which, by an apocope of the first letter, is called Pasdammim, 1 Chronicles 11:13 which the Jews (t) say had this name because there blood ceased.

(s) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 1.((t) Midrash Ruth, fol. 48. 2. Kimchi in loc.

Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 1 Samuel 17:1-3. The Philistine invasion

1. at Shochoh] The scene of David’s memorable combat is fixed with great exactness. The Philistine army marched up the wide valley of Elah to their rendezvous at Sochoh, and pitched their camp in Ephes-dammim (cp. 1 Chronicles 11:13). The valley of Elah is almost certainly the present Wady-es-Sunt, which runs in a N. W. direction from the hills of Judah near Hebron past the probable site of Gath (see note on ch. 1 Samuel 5:8) to the sea near Ashdod. “It took its name Elah of old from the Terebinth, of which the largest specimen we saw in Palestine still stands in the vicinity; just as it now takes its name es-Sunt from the acacias which are scattered in it.” Robinson, Bibl, Res. II. 21. Sochoh is the modern Shuweikeh, about 16 miles S.W. of Jerusalem on the road to Gaza. Azekah is mentioned in Joshua 10:10 in connexion with the rout of the Philistines in the battle of Beth-horon, but the site is uncertain. “Of the name Ephes-dammim we have perhaps a trace In the modern Beit Fased, or ‘House of Bleeding,’ near Sochoh.” Conder’s Tent Work, II. 160. The name, which signifies “boundary of blood,” was probably due to its being the scene of frequent skirmishes with the Philistines.Verse 1. - The Philistines gathered together their armies. As the object of the historian is not to give us an account of the Philistine wars, but only to record the manner of David's ripening for the kingly office, nothing is said as to the space of time which had elapsed between Saul's victory at Michmash and the present invasion. We are, however, briefly told that "there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul" (1 Samuel 14:52), and apparently this inroad took place very many years after Saul's establishment upon the throne. The Philistine camp was at Ephes-dammim, called Pas-dammim in 1 Chronicles 11:13. The best explanation of the word gives as its meaning the boundary of blood, so called from the continual fighting which took place there upon the borders. Shochoh, spelt more correctly Socoh in Joshua 15:35, was one of fourteen villages enumerated there as lying in the Shephelah, described by Conder ('Tent Work,' 2:156) as a region of "low hills of limestone, frowning a distinct district between the plain and the watershed mountains." In this district Socoh lay northeast of Eleutheropolis (Beth-jibrin), midway between it and Beth-shemesh, from each of which places it was distant about eight or nine miles. It is now called Shuweikeh. For Azekah see Joshua 10:10. When Saul commanded them to seek out a good player upon a stringed instrument in accordance with this advice, one of the youths (נערים, a lower class of court servants) said, "I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, skilled in laying, and a brave man, and a man of war, eloquent, and a handsome man, and Jehovah is with him." The description of David is "a mighty man" and "a man of war" does not presuppose that David had already fought bravely in war, but may be perfectly explained from what David himself afterwards affirmed respecting his conflicts with lions and bears (1 Samuel 17:34-35). The courage and strength which he had then displayed furnished sufficient proofs of heroism for any one to discern in him the future warrior.
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