1 Samuel 19:13
And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.
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(13) An image.—An image in the Hebrew is teraphim—a plural form, but used as a singular. We have no instance of the singular. The Latin equivalent, “penates,” singularly enough, is also only found in the plural form. In this case, probably, it was a life-size figure or bust. The word has been discussed above (1Samuel 15:23). It is singular how, in spite of the stern command to avoid idolatry, the children of Israel seemed to love to possess these lifeless images. The teraphim were probably a remnant of the idolatry originally brought by some of Abraham’s family from their Chaldaean home. These idols, we know, varied in size, from the diminutive image which Rachel (Genesis 31:34) was able to conceal under the camel saddle to the life-size figure which the Princess Michal here used to make her father’s guards believe that her sick husband, David, was in bed. They appear to have been looked on as tutelary deities, the dispensers of domestic and family good fortune. It has been suggested, with some probability, that Michal, like Rachel, kept this teraphim in secret, because of her barrenness.

A pillow of goats’ hair.—More accurately, a goat’s skin about its head. So render the Syriac and Vulgate Versions. The reason of this act apparently was to imitate the effect of a man’s hair round the teraphim’s head. Its body, we read in the next clause, was covered “with a cloth.” Some scholars have suggested that this goat’s skin was a net-work of goat’s hair to keep off the flies from the supposed sleeper. The LXX., instead of k’vir (skin), read in their Hebrew copies keaved (liver). As the vowel points were introduced much later, such a confusion (especially as the difference between d and r in Hebrew is very slight) would be likely enough to occur in the MSS.

Josephus, adopting the LXX. reading, explains Michal’s conduct thus—“Michal put a palpitating goat’s liver into the bed, to represent a breathing sick man.”

With a cloth.—Heb., beged. This was David’s every-day garment, which he was in the habit of wearing. This, loosely thrown over the image, would materially assist the deception. The fifty-ninth Psalm bears the following title—“A michtam(or song of deep import) of David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.” The internal evidence, however, is scarcely confirmatory of the accuracy of the title. The sacred song in question is very probably one of David’s own composition, and it is likely enough that the danger he incurred on this occasion was in his mind when he wrote the solemn words; but there are references in this psalm which must apply to other events in his troubled, anxious life.

1 Samuel 19:13. Michal took an image — In the Hebrew it is teraphim; which teraphim, as Dr. Dodd observes, it plainly appears from hence, must have been figures of the human form; for the design of Michal was manifestly to deceive the messengers of Saul, by showing them something in a bed so far resembling a man as to make them believe it was David himself asleep. Her intention was to procure David the longer time for escaping. And to render it still more like him, she covered the back part of the head of the image, which appeared in sight, with goats’ hair of the same colour as David’s was, so that any one might take it, at a slight view, especially in a sick man’s room, where only a glimmering light is wont to be kept, for the back part of David’s head. This is plainly the meaning of the next clause, not very properly interpreted in our translation, but which in the Vulgate is rendered, et pellem pilosam caprarum possuit ad caput ejus; and she put the hairy skin of goats to, or upon, his head. And covered it with a cloth — Upon pretence of his being sick, and needing some such covering. If we may believe Abarbinel and Abendana, “women in those times were accustomed to have figures made in the likeness of their husbands, that when they were absent from them they might have their image to look upon.” If this really be a fact, it is probable that Michal’s image was one of this kind; or it was merely a statue for ornament. For we cannot suppose that any images, whether called teraphim or by any other name, were kept for the purposes of idolatry in David’s family.

19:11-24 Michal's stratagem to gain time till David got to a distance was allowable, but her falsehood had not even the plea of necessity to excuse it, and manifests that she was not influenced by the same spirit of piety which had dictated Jonathan's language to Saul. In flying to Samuel, David made God his refuge. Samuel, as a prophet, was best able to advise him what to do in this day of distress. He met with little rest or satisfaction in Saul's court, therefore went to seek it in Samuel's church. What little pleasure is to be had in this world, those have who live a life of communion with God; to that David returned in the time of trouble. So impatient was Saul after David's blood, so restless against him, that although baffled by one providence after another, he could not see that David was under the special protection of God. And when God will take this way to protect David, even Saul prophesies. Many have great gifts, yet no grace; they may prophesy in Christ's name, yet are disowned by him. Let us daily seek for renewing grace, which shall be in us as a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Let us cleave to truth and holiness with full purpose of heart. In every danger and trouble, let us seek protection, comfort, and direction in God's ordinances.An image - "Teraphim" (see the margin), an image, or bust in human form, and as large as life, of a kind of household god, to the worship of which the Israelites, and especially women, were much addicted.

A pillow - It was probably a quilt or blanket of goats' hair and of common use as a bed-covering. Whether Michal drew it over the head of the teraphim, as if for warmth, and so covered it, or whether she disposed it about the head so as to look like hair, is not clear.

13, 14. And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed—"an image," literally, "the teraphim," and laid, not in the bed, but literally on the "divan"; and "the pillows," that is, the cushion, which usually lay at the back of the divan and was stuffed with "goat's hair," she took from its bolster or heading at the upper part of the divan. This she placed lower down, and covered with a mantle, as if to foster a proper warmth in a patient; at the same time spreading the goat's hair skin, so as to resemble human hair in a dishevelled state. The pretext was that David lay there sick. The first messengers of Saul, keeping at a respectable distance, were deceived; but the imposition was detected on a closer inspection. An image, Heb. teraphim, which was an image made in human shape; which she might keep secretly, either out of a superstitious regard to it, or out of mere curiosity. This stratagem she used, because knowing her father’s unquiet, and jealous, and furious temper, she suspected he might come or send to see whether David was there or no.

Put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, or, put great goats’ hair upon his bolster, i.e. upon the head and face of the image, which lay upon his bolster, that it might have some kind of resemblance of David’s head and hair, at least in a sick man’s bed, where there useth to be but a glimmering light. Goats is here put for goats’ hair, as it manifestly is Exodus 25:4 26:7 35:26. It is acknowledged by learned writers, that in those eastern countries goats had much longer hair than ours have, and were shorn like sheep, and that their hair was not unlike to a man’s or woman’s hair; as may also be gathered from Song of Solomon 4:1, Thy hair is as a flock of goats, i.e. as the hair of a flock of goats. And as there was goats’ hair of several colours, (as the wool of sheep in divers parts is of very differing colours, as white, or black, or yellow, &c.) so it is most probable she took that colour which was likest the colour of David’s hair. And she took this rather than the hair of another man, because the procuring and ordering of that would have taken up some time; whereas she had goats’ hair of all sorts at hand, as being used in spinning or weaving, &c. Or the sense may be this, according to our translation, that she put a pillow of the softest part of goats’ hair under the head of the image, as they used to put under the heads of sick men; whereby also the head of the image sinking into the pillow might be less discerned, especially when it was either wholly or in part covered with a cloth. And all this art was used, that David being supposed, and, some persons who were sent to inquire, perceived, as thought, to be in the bed, Saul might be hindered from pursuing and overtaking him before he had got into some place.

Covered it with a cloth, upon pretence of being sick, and needing some such covering, but really to prevent the discovery of her deceit.

And Michal took an image,.... Or "teraphim", as the word is; which, if the same with those that Rachel stole from her father, they seem to be of the same sort with the penates or household gods of the Heathens, which were privately kept by Michal; for, had David known of them, he would not have suffered them to have been in his house. Aben Ezra supposes they were images made in the form of men under such a constellation, a sort of talismans, to receive the heavenly influences, and which being consulted, foretold things to come; and R. Isaiah is of opinion, that Michal chose and placed these in the bed, that her father might conclude, when he should hear of them, that David had found them; and by thus means know that his intention was to kill him, and therefore fled; but to consult such images was very far from David, and without it he knew Saul's intention. Abarbinel makes mention of several sorts of teraphim, some for idolatry, some to draw down the heavenly influences, some to know the time of the day, a sort of dials; some were made after the form of a man known, and like him in his form and features; and women, he says, used to have the forms or statues of their husbands, that they might have them continually before them, because of the great love they had to them; and of this sort he supposes were the teraphim of Michal, and which is approved of by Abendana; and that this image had the likeness of an human face is very probable, or it could not have so well answered her purpose:

and laid it in the bed; where David used to lie, that it might seem to be he himself:

and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster; she took the finest of the goats' hair, which she had in the house, women being used to spin in those days, even great personages, and put it into a pillow, and made a bolster of it, and put it under the head or block of the image, which would sink it, being soft, and so look like a sick man, whose face could not easily be discerned; though some think this goats' hair was put about the head of the image, to make it look the more like an human head; goats' hair being very much like human hair (e), and of different colours, and such a colour might be chosen as was most like David's, see Sol 4:1; the Targum interprets it, a bottle of goats skins, that is, a leathern bottle or bag made of goats skins, such as they used to put wine into; hence the conceit in the Midrash (f), that a bottle of wine was put instead of David: but the pillow or bolster had the form of a leathern bag or bottle; the Septuagint version is very odd,"and put the liver of goats at his head;''and so Josephus says (g); and it is observed (h), that the liver of a goat will move a long time after it is taken out, and so make a show of the palpitation of the heart: but then this was put, not within the bed, but at the head of the image:

and covered it with a cloth; to keep her sick husband warm, as she would have it understood.

(e) Vid. Stockium, p. 509. (f) Apud Kimchium & Abarbinel. in loc. (g) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 11. sect. 4.) (h) Vid. Hudson. not. in ib.

And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.
13. an image] The teraphim. These were the penates or house-hold images of the Israelites, brought originally from their Chaldean home (Genesis 31:19). In spite of the strict prohibition of idols, they were used by those who professed to worship Jehovah in the time of the Judges (Jdg 17:5; Jdg 18:14 ff.), and even down to the later days of the Kings (2 Kings 23:24). They seem to have been a kind of fetish or household charm for good luck, rather than an object of worship, and were used in divination (Zechariah 10:2; Ezekiel 21:19-22). It is surprising to find teraphim in David’s house. It has been conjectured that Michal, like Rachel, kept them secretly on account of her barrenness. The plural teraphim here denotes a single image, in human form, apparently of life-size.

put a pillow, &c.] Put the quilt of goat’s hair at its head, and covered it with the coverlet. Michal wrapped the head of the image in a rough rug, either to hide it, or to imitate a man’s hair, and covered up the whole with the beged, a square piece of woollen cloth, which was used for an upper garment, or for a bed-covering. Cp. Deuteronomy 24:12-13.

Verse 13. - Michal took an image. Literally, "the teraphim," a plural word, but used here as a singular. Probably, like the corresponding Latin word penates, it had no singular in common use. It was a wooden block with head and shoulders roughly shaped to represent a human figure. Laban's tera-phim were so small that Rachel could hide them under the camel's furniture (Genesis 31:34), but Michal's seems to have been large enough to pass in the bed for a man. Though the worship of them is described as iniquity (1 Samuel 15:23), yet the superstitious belief that they brought good luck to the house over which they presided, in return for kind treatment, seems to have been proof against the teaching of the prophets; and Hosea describes the absence of them as on the same level as the absence of the ephod (Hosea 3:4). A pillow of goats' hair for his bolster. More correctly, "a goat's skin about its head." So the Syriac and Vulgate. The object of it, would be to look at a distance like a man s hair. The Septuagint has a goat's liver, because this was supposed to palpitate long after the animal's death, and so would produce the appearance of a person's breathing. But this involves a different reading, for which there is no authority; nor was Michal's deception intended for close observation. She would of course not let any one disturb David, and all she wanted was just enough likeness to a man to make a person at a distance suppose that David was there. Soon or later her artifice would be found out, but her husband would have had the intervening time for effecting his escape. As the word rendered pillow, and which is found only here, comes from a root signifying "to knot together," "to intertwine," some commentators think that it means a network of goats' hair, perhaps to keep off flies. But this is a mere guess, and not to be set against the combined authority of the two versions. With a cloth. Hebrew, beged. This beged was David's every day dress, and would greatly aid Michal in her pious artifice. It was a loose mantle, worn over the close-fitting meil (see 1 Samuel 2:19). Thus Ezra (Ezra 9:3, 5) says, "I rent my beged and my meil," which the A.V. with characteristic inexactness translates "my garment and my mantle." In Genesis 28:20, where it is rendered raiment, Jacob speaks of it as the most indispensable article of dress; and in Genesis 39:12, where it is rendered garment, we find that it was a loose plaid or wrapper. In those simple days it was used for warmth by night as well as for protection by day, and it is interesting to find David in his old age still covered up for warmth in bed by his beged (1 Kings 1:1), where it is translated clothes. 1 Samuel 19:13Michal then took the teraphim, - i.e., in all probability an image of the household gods of the size of life, and, judging from what follows, in human form, - laid it in the bed, and put a piece of woven goats' hair at his head, i.e., either round or over the head of the image, and covered it with the garment (beged, the upper garment, which was generally only a square piece of cloth for wrapping round), and told the messengers whom Saul had sent to fetch him that he was ill. Michal probably kept teraphim in secret, like Rachel, because of her barrenness (see at Genesis 31:19). The meaning of העזּים כּביר is doubtful. The earlier translators took it to mean goat-skin, with the exception of the Seventy, who confounded כּביר with כּבד, liver, upon which Josephus founds his account of Michal having placed a still moving goat's liver in the bed, to make the messengers believe that there was a breathing invalid beneath. כּביר, from כּבר, signifies something woven, and עזּים goats' hair, as in Exodus 25:4. But it is impossible to decide with certainty what purpose the cloth of goats' hair was to serve; whether it was merely to cover the head of the teraphim with hair, and so make it like a human head, or to cover the head and face as if of a person sleeping. The definite article not only before תּרפים and בּגד, but also with העזּים כּביר, suggests the idea that all these things belonged to Michal's house furniture, and that עזּים כּביר was probably a counterpane made of goats' hair, with which persons in the East are in the habit of covering the head and face when sleeping.
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