And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Nob, the city of the priests, smote he.—The vengeful king, not content with striking the men, the heads of the priestly houses, in his insane fury proceeded to treat the innocent city where they resided as a city under the ban “cherem,” as though it had been polluted with idolatry and wickedness, and therefore devoted to utter destruction. The only crime of Nob had been that its venerable chief citizen, Ahimelech the priest, had shown kindness to David, whom Saul hated with a fierce mad hate. In 2Samuel 21:1 we read of a scourge in the form of a famine afflicting Israel during three years. The cause of this God-sent calamity is told us in the Lord’s words: “It was for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.” Now, this slaughter of the Gibeonites—evidently a dark crime—is nowhere specially related in the Old Testament books. Was it not this awful sequel to the crime of Gibeah, where the hapless Ahimelech and his eighty-five priests were murdered, that was referred to in the above mentioned passage—the awful sequel when Saul smote Nob, the city of the priests, with the sword? In that terrible catastrophe, were not the Gibeonites, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Tabernacle (see Joshua 9:21-27), slain? for we read how in the destruction of the ill fated city men, women and children, and all cattle perished. “Only once before had so terrible a calamity befallen the sons of Aaron, and that was when the Philistines destroyed Shiloh. But they were enemies, and had been provoked by the people bringing the Ark to battle; and even then the women and children seem to have escaped. It was left to the anointed king of Israel, who had himself settled the priests at Nob and restored Jehovah’s worship there, to perpetrate an act unparalleled in Jewish history for its barbarity.”—Dean Payne Smith.1 Samuel 22:19. Both men and women, children and sucklings — In all the life of Saul there is no wickedness to be compared to this. He appears now to be wholly under the power of that evil spirit which had long tormented him. And this destruction could not but go to the heart of every pious Israelite, and make them wish a thousand times they had been content with the government of Samuel. Josephus, in relating this, reflects on the depravity of human nature, which, when it is in a private station, often strictly and willingly confines itself within the bounds of right and justice; but when it has gained an uncontrollable power, thinks it has a right to trample upon all laws, as well divine as human. We ought therefore to pray, as Justin Martyr says, that kings and rulers, together with a royal power, may be found having a sober mind. Or, as Le Clerc observes, we ought never to put such a power into any persons’ hands as to enable them to trample upon all laws and the common rights of mankind. Whether the Israelites assisted in the execution upon the inhabitants of Nob, does not appear; or whether it was performed by Doeg the Edomite, and the rest of Saul’s hirelings. But it was sufficiently shameful to the Israelites that they did not even stand up to prevent such a cruel massacre.1 Samuel 15:3 and of Jericho Joshua 6:21. Nothing could be more truculent than Saul's revenge. He; either Saul, or Doeg, with the help of some others whom Saul appointed to that work. By this barbarous and bloody fact Saul thought to affright all his subjects from giving any countenance or assistance to David.
both men and women, children and sucklings; not sparing sex nor age:
and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword; Saul, who was so tender hearted and merciful in the case of the Amalekites, when his orders from the Lord were utterly to destroy them, 1 Samuel 15:2, that he spared their king, and the best of their cattle, 1 Samuel 15:7; yet now so cruel to a city of the priests, as to destroy all the inhabitants of it, and cattle in it; and yet this bloody affair of Saul's is not taken notice of afterwards, only his slaughter of the Gibeonites, 2 Samuel 21:1; and Abarbinel is of opinion, that the inhabitants of this place were Gibeonites, who were hewers of wood, and drawers of water, to the house of the Lord here, Joshua 9:23. Now Saul was the more severe this city, to deter others from joining with David, who, if they did, must expect the same treatment.And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. And Nob, &c.] In the madness of his self-willed fury Saul wreaked upon an innocent city in his own kingdom the vengeance he had failed to execute upon a guilty heathen nation at God’s command (1 Samuel 15:3). Thus the doom upon the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:31) received a fresh fulfilment. So heavy a blow was inflicted upon the family of Ithamar, that when David organized the courses of the priests for the temple service only eight “chief men” could be found in it, against sixteen in the family of Eleazar (1 Chronicles 24:4).1 Samuel 22:14): "And who of all thy servants is so faithful (proved, attested, as in Numbers 12:7) as David, and son-in-law of the king, and having access to thy private audience, and honoured in thy house?" The true explanation of אל־משׁמעתּך סר may be gathered from a comparison of 2 Samuel 23:23 and 1 Chronicles 11:25, where משׁמעת occurs again, as the context clearly shows, in the sense of a privy councillor of the king, who hears his personal revelations and converses with him about them, so that it corresponds to our "audience." סוּר, lit. to turn aside from the way, to go in to any one, or to look after anything (Exodus 3:3; Ruth 4:1, etc.); hence in the passage before us "to have access," to be attached to a person. This is the explanation given by Gesenius and most of the modern expositors, whereas the early translators entirely misunderstood the passage, though they have given the meaning correctly enough at 2 Samuel 23:23. But if this was the relation in which David stood to Saul, - and he had really done so for a long time, - there was nothing wrong in what the high priest had done for him; but he had acted according to the best of his knowledge, and quite conscientiously as a faithful subject of the king. Ahimelech then added still further (1 Samuel 22:15): "Did I then begin to inquire of God for him this day?" i.e., was it the first time that I had obtained the decision of God for David concerning important enterprises, which he had to carry out in the service of the king? "Far be from me," sc., any conspiracy against the king, like that of which I am accused. "Let not the king lay it as a burden upon thy servant, my whole father's house (the omission of the cop. ו before בּכל־כּית may be accounted for from the excitement of the speaker); for thy servant knows not the least of all this." בּכל־זאת, of all that Saul had charged him with.
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