1 Samuel 17:19
Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
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(19) In the valley of Elan, fighting with the Philistines.—The words of this verse, which read in the English Version as an explanatory parenthesis, are really part of Jesse’s direction to his shepherd son, telling him where he would find his brethren. “They are in the valley of the Terebinth (Elah), fighting with the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 17:19. Fighting with the Philistines — That is, in a posture and readiness to fight with them, as it is explained 1 Samuel 17:20-21, being drawn up in battle array. In the valley of Elah — Not, strictly speaking, in the valley, but hard by it, on the side of the mountain, where they faced the Philistines, and showed themselves resolved to fight, if the latter came down from the other mountain to oppose them.17:12-30 Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army at that critical juncture; but the wise God orders actions and affairs, so as to serve his designs. In times of general formality and lukewarmness, every degree of zeal which implies readiness to go further, or to venture more in the cause of God than others, will be blamed as pride and ambition, and by none more than by near relations, like Eliab, or negligent superiors. It was a trial of David's meekness, patience, and constancy. He had right and reason on his side, and did not render railing for railing; with a soft answer he turned away his brother's wrath. This conquest of his own passion was more honourable than that of Goliath. Those who undertake great and public services, must not think it strange if they are spoken ill of, and opposed by those from whom they expect support and assistance. They must humbly go on with their work, in the face not only of enemies' threats, but of friends' slights and suspicions.Take their pledge - i. e., bring back what they have to say in return. 18. carry these ten cheeses to the captain—to enlist his kind attention. Oriental cheeses are very small; and although they are frequently made of so soft a consistence as to resemble curds, those which David carried seem to have been fully formed, pressed, and sufficiently dried to admit of their being carried.

take their pledge—Tokens of the soldiers' health and safety were sent home in the convenient form of a lock of their hair, or piece of their nail, or such like.

i.e. In a posture and readiness to fight with them; as it is explained, 1 Samuel 17:20,21. Men are oft said in Scripture to do what they intend and are prepared to do, as hath been showed formerly by instances. Now Saul, and they,.... That is, the sons of Jesse, and brethren of David:

and all the men of Israel; the soldiers in the army:

were in the valley Elah; or "by" it, near unto it; for they were set in array on the mountain on the side of it:

fighting with the Philistines; not actually engaged in battle, but drawn up for it; prepared and in readiness to engage whenever it was necessary, or they were obliged to it; and perhaps there might be now and then some skirmishes in the outer parts of the camp.

Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
19. Now Saul, &c.] Probably, “Now Saul and they … are,” &c., i.e. it is Jesse’s direction to David where to find his brothers, not a remark of the historian."The three great (i.e., eldest) sons of Jesse had gone behind Saul into the war." הלכוּ, which appears superfluous after the foregoing ויּלכוּ, has been defended by Bttcher, as necessary to express the pluperfect, which the thought requires, since the imperfect consec. ויּלכוּ, when attached to a substantive and participial clause, merely expresses the force of the aorist. Properly, therefore, it reads thus: "And then (in Jesse's old age) the three eldest sons followed, had followed, Saul;" a very ponderous construction indeed, but quite correct, and even necessary, with the great deficiency of forms, to express the pluperfect. The names of these three sons agree with 1 Samuel 16:6-9, whilst the third, Shammah, is called Shimeah (שׁמעה) in 2 Samuel 13:3, 2 Samuel 13:32, שׁמעי in 2 Samuel 21:21, and שׁמעא in 1 Chronicles 2:13; 1 Chronicles 20:7.
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