And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In the wilderness of Maon.—Still further to the south. The name of this district is still preserved in the village or small town of Main, which is built on a prominent conical hill.
In the plain.—This accurate description was, no doubt, inserted by the compiler of these books, owing to the intense interest which the wanderings of this favourite hero and king excited among his countrymen. We can well imagine how gladly the dwellers in Judea, especially in later days—after the glorious reign of David had changed the tribes struggling with the surrounding petty nations for very existence into a great and renowned nation—would trace out the itinerary of the great king as he fled for his life before Saul. Is it too much to assume that each of these spots, which to us is little more than a hard, dry name, for a long period were the resort of reverent and curious pilgrims, anxious to gaze on localities made sacred by the weary wanderings and the hair-breadth escapes of the glorious king of Israel?
The plain.—Literally, the Arabah, the desert track which extends along the Jordan Valley from the Dead Sea to the Lake of Gennesareth; it is now called El-Ghor. The term is also applied to the desolate valley which lies between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akaba. Stanley, in his Sinai and Palestine, has given a picturesque description of these weird districts.1 Samuel 23:24-25. But David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon — Having heard what the Ziphites had undertaken, David disappointed their design by going into another place, with which, it is likely, they were not so well acquainted. For Maon was a distant wilderness from Ziph, though both were in the tribe of Judah. Saul also and his men went to seek him — Hearing, it is likely, by the Ziphites, whither he was gone. Therefore he came down into a rock — Some craggy, desolate place, where he thought Saul would not find him; or rather, into a cave which was in the rock, where, at first, he might think to hide himself; but, on further consideration, he removed from thence upon Saul’s approach.
19-23. Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us?—From the tell of Ziph a panorama of the whole surrounding district is to be seen. No wonder, then, that the Ziphites saw David and his men passing to and fro in the mountains of the wilderness. Spying him at a distance when he ventured to show himself on the hill of Hachilah, "on the right hand of the wilderness," that is, the south side of Ziph, they sent in haste to Saul, to tell him of the lurking place of his enemy [Van De Velde].Before Saul, to prepare things for Saul, who marched after them.
In the wilderness of Maon, whither he went from the wilderness of Ziph, upon suspicion or information that Saul was coming thither.
but David and his men were in the wilderness at Maon; for by the time the Ziphites returned home, David had intelligence of their design, and therefore removed from the wilderness of Ziph to the wilderness of Maon; which, though in the same tribe, was a distinct place; See Gill on Joshua 15:55,
in the plain on the south of Jeshimon; the same as in 1 Samuel 23:19; only David was now farther to the south of it, and in a plain, whereas before he was on an hill.And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. in the wilderness of Maon] The district round the conical hill about seven miles south of Hebron still known as Tell Maîn. It is mentioned in Joshua 15:55 among the cities of Judah in the mountains. It was the home of Nabal (ch. 1 Samuel 25:2).
in the plain on the south of Jeshimon] In the steppe on the south of the Waste. The Arâbah or “steppe” is here the name of the district south of “the Waste,” where the plateau falls away towards the plains of Beersheba. The term Arâbah generally denotes either the depressed valley of the Jordan, or the valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akaba, but neither of these can be intended here.Verse 24. - While the Ziphites were conferring with Saul and gathering information David had moved about six miles to the south of Ziph, and was in the wilderness of Maon. This town is still called Main, and occupies a conical hill, whence Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 2:433) counted no less than nine cities belonging to the hill country of Judah. Conder ('Tent Work,' 2:90) calls it a great hump of rock. In the plain on the south of Jeshimon. Literally, "in the 'Arabah to the right of the desert." The 'Arabah was the name of the low-lying desert tract extending along the valley of the Jordan from the lake of Gennesareth to the Dead Sea. Maon lay upon the edge of this depression, in the southern portion of the Jeshimon or Solitude.
The treachery of the Ziphites forms a striking contrast to Jonathan's treatment of David. They went up to Gibeah to betray to Saul the fact that David was concealed in the wood upon their mountain heights, and indeed "upon the hill Hachilah, which lies to the south of the waste." The hill of Ziph is a flattened hill standing by itself, of about a hundred feet in height. "There is no spot from which you can obtain a better view of David's wanderings backwards and forwards in the desert than from the hill of Ziph, which affords a true panorama. The Ziphites could see David and his men moving to and fro in the mountains of the desert of Ziph, and could also perceive how he showed himself in the distance upon the hill Hachilah on the south side of Ziph (which lies to the right by the desert); whereupon they sent as quickly as possible to Saul, and betrayed to him the hiding-place of his enemy" (v. de Velde, ii. pp. 104-5). Jeshimon does not refer here to the waste land on the north-eastern coast of the Dead Sea, as in Numbers 21:20; Numbers 23:28, but to the western side of that sea, which is also desert.
1 Samuel 23:20 reads literally thus: "And now, according to all the desire of thy soul, O king, to come down (from Gibeah, which stood upon higher ground), come down, and it is in us to deliver him (David) into the hand of the king."
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