1 Samuel 25:1
And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
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(1) And Samuel died.—At this period—namely, about the time when Saul and David met at En-gedi—died Samuel, full of years and honour—perhaps rather than honours, for a long time the old prophet had lived apart from the court, and alienated from the king he had chosen and anointed. Since Moses, none so great as Samuel had arisen. Briefly to recapitulate his work: his influence had in great measure restored the Law of Moses to the affections of the people. Before his time, the words and traditions which the great lawgiver, amidst the supernatural terrors of Sinai, had with some success impressed upon the great nomadic tribe of the Beni-Israel were almost forgotten; and the people among whom, for a long period, no really great leader had sprung up were becoming rapidly mixed up, and soon would have been hardly distinguished from the warlike tribes of Canaan in the neighbouring countries. But Samuel, aided by his great natural genius, but far more by the Glorious Arm, on which he leaned with a changeless trust from childhood to extreme old age, quickened into life again the dying traditions of the race, and taught them who they—the down-trodden Israelites—really were—the chosen of God. He restored the forgotten laws of Moses, by the keeping of which they once became great and powerful, and by the creation of an earthly monarchy he welded into one the separate interests of the twelve divisions of the race; so that from Dan to Beersheba there was but one chief, one standard. But his greatest work was the foundation of the Prophetic Schools, in which men were trained and educated carefully, with the view of the pupils becoming in their turn the teachers and guides of the people. (These schools, which exercised so great an influence upon the future of Israel, and their especial character have been already discussed.)

And all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him.—“When the hour of his death came, we are told, with a peculiar emphasis of expression, that all the Israelites—not one portion or fragment only, as might have been expected in that time of division and confusion—were gathered together round him who had been the father of all alike, and lamented him, and buried him, not in any sacred spot or secluded sepulchre, but in the midst of the home which he had consecrated only by his own long, unblemished career in his house at Ramah.”—Stanley, Jewish Church, Lect. 18 Josephus makes especial mention of the public funeral honours paid to the great prophet. “They wept for him a very great number of days, not looking on it as a sorrow for the death of another man, but as that in which they were all concerned. He was a righteous man, and gentle in his nature, and on that account he was very dear to God.”—Antt. vi. 13, § 5. F. W. Krummacher beautifully writes on this public lamentation. “It was as if from the noble star, as long as it shone in the heaven of the Holy Land, though veiled by clouds, there streamed a mild, beneficial light over all Israel; now the light was extinguished in Israel.” It is probable by “in his house,” the court or garden attached to the prophet’s house is signified. To have buried him literally in his house would have occasioned perpetual ceremonial defilement. We read also of Manasseh the king being “buried in his own house” (2Chronicles 33:20), which is explained in 2Kings 21:18 by the words, “in the garden of his own house.” In modern times Samuel’s grave is pointed out in a cave underneath the floor of the Mahommedan Mosque on Nebi Samuel, a lofty peak above Gibeon, which still bears his honoured name. There is, however, a tradition that his remains—or what purported to be his remains—were removed with royal pomp from Ramah to Constantinople by the Emperor Arcadius, at the beginning of the fifth century.

The wilderness of Paran.—The LXX. (Vatican) read “Maon” instead of “Paran,” not conceiving it probable that the scene of David’s camp would be so far removed from Maon and Carmel, the localities where the following events took place. “Paran” is properly the south of the Arabian peninsula, west of Sinai; “but it seems to have given its name to the vast extent of pasture and barren land now known as the Desert of El Tih. Of this the wilderness of Judah and Beersheba would virtually form part, without the borders being strictly defined. The LXX. emendation, therefore, is quite unnecessary.—Dean Payne Smith.

1 Samuel 25:1. And Samuel died — According to the best chronologers, he governed Israel after the death of Eli sixteen years or upward, and lived about forty years after in the reign of Saul; and all the Israelites lamented him — It is no wonder that so wise and holy a man, so righteous a ruler, so just a judge, and so enlightened a prophet, should be uncommonly and universally lamented; especially when the wisdom and equity of his government, compared with Saul’s tyranny and extravagance, made his memory more dear and his loss more regretted. “Those have hard hearts,” says Henry, “that can bury their faithful ministers with dry eyes, and are not sensible of the loss of them who have prayed for them, and taught them the way of the Lord.” And buried him in his house in Ramah — Where, it is likely, there was a burying-place for his family in some part of his garden, or some field adjacent. For they had then no public places of interment. He was now attended by all Israel to his grave, and his remains, many centuries after, were removed with incredible pomp, and almost one continued train of attendants, from Ramah to Constantinople, by the Emperor Arcadius, A.D. 401.25:1 All Israel lamented Samuel, and they had reason. He prayed daily for them. Those have hard hearts, who can bury faithful ministers without grief; who do not feel their loss of those who have prayed for them, and taught them the way of the Lord.In his house at Ramah - Probably in the court or garden attached to his dwelling-house. (Compare 2 Chronicles 33:20; 2 Kings 21:18; John 19:41.)

The wilderness of Paran - The Septuagint has the far more probable reading "Maon." The wilderness of Paran lay far off to the south, on the borders of the wilderness of Sinai Numbers 10:12; 1 Kings 11:18, whereas the following verse 1 Samuel 25:2 shows that the scene is laid in the immediate neighborhood of Maon. If, however, Paran be the true reading, we must suppose that in a wide sense the wilderness of Paran extended all the way to the wilderness of Beersheba, and eastward to the mountains of Judah (marginal references).


1Sa 25:1-9. Samuel Dies.

1. Samuel died—After a long life of piety and public usefulness, he left behind him a reputation which ranks him among the greatest of Scripture worthies.

buried him in his house at Ramah—that is, his own mausoleum. The Hebrews took as great care to provide sepulchers anciently as people do in the East still, where every respectable family has its own house of the dead. Often this is in a little detached garden, containing a small stone building (where there is no rock), resembling a house, which is called the sepulcher of the family—it has neither door nor window.

David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran—This removal had probably no connection with the prophet's death; but was probably occasioned by the necessity of seeking provision for his numerous followers.

the wilderness of Paran—stretching from Sinai to the borders of Palestine in the southern territories of Judea. Like other wildernesses, it presented large tracts of natural pasture, to which the people sent their cattle at the grazing season, but where they were liable to constant and heavy depredations by prowling Arabs. David and his men earned their subsistence by making reprisals on the cattle of these freebooting Ishmaelites; and, frequently for their useful services, they obtained voluntary tokens of acknowledgment from the peaceful inhabitants.Samuel dieth: David goeth to the wilderness of Paran, 1 Samuel 25:1. Nabal’s riches, 1 Samuel 25:2. His and his wife Abigail’s nature and condition, 1 Samuel 25:3. David requesteth of Nabal some relief for his camp: he entreateth David’s messengers scornfully. David is provoked, and mindeth to destroy him, 1 Samuel 25:4-13. Abigail understands it, 1 Samuel 25:14-17; taketh a present, 1 Samuel 25:18-22; and by her wisdom, 1 Samuel 25:23-31, pacifieth David, 1 Samuel 25:32-35. Nabal hearing of this, dieth, 1 Samuel 25:36-38. David taketh Abigail and Ahinoam to be his wives, 1 Samuel 25:39-43; Saul having given Michal to Phalti, 1 Samuel 25:44.

Buried him in his house, according to the manner of those times. See Genesis 23:9 50:5 Matthew 27:60. The wilderness of Paran, in the southern borders of the land of Judah, that so when occasion served, he might retire out of Saul’s dominions.

And Samuel died,.... In the interval, when Saul and David were parted, and before they saw each other again; according to the Jewish chronology (g), Samuel died four months before Saul; but other Jewish writers say (h) he died seven months before; Abarbinel thinks it was a year or two before; which is most likely and indeed certain, since David was in the country of the Philistines after this a full year and four months, if the true sense of the phrase is expressed in 1 Samuel 27:7; and Saul was not then dead; and so another Jewish chronologer (i) says, that Saul died two years after Samuel, to which agrees Clemens of Alexandria (k); and according to the Jews (l), he died the twentieth of Ijar, for which a fast was kept on that day:

and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him; his death being a public loss, not only to the college of the prophets, over which he presided, but to the whole nation; and they had reason to lament his death, when they called to mind, the many good offices he had done them from his youth upwards; and when the government was in his hands, which was administered in the most prudent and faithful manner; and after that they had his wise counsel and advice, his good wishes and prayers for them; and the rather they had reason to lament him, since Saul their king proved so bad as he did, and at this time a difference was subsisting between David and him:

and buried him in his house at Ramah; where he lived and died; not that he was buried in his house, properly so called, or within the walls of that building wherein he dwelt; though the Greeks (m) and Romans (n) used to bury in their own dwelling houses; hence sprung the idolatrous worship of the Lares, or household gods; but not the Hebrews, which their laws about uncleanness by graves would not admit of, see Numbers 19:15; but the meaning is, that they buried him in the place where his house was, as Ben Gersom interprets it, at Ramah, in some field or garden belonging to it. The author of the Cippi Hebraici says (o), that here his father Elkanah, and his mother Hannah, and her two sons, were buried in a vault shut up, with, monuments over it; and here, some say (p), Samuel's bones remained, until removed by Arcadius the emperor into Thrace; Benjamin of Tudela reports (q), that when the Christians took Ramlah, which is Ramah, from the Mahometans, they found the grave of Samuel at Ramah by a synagogue of the Jews, and they took him out of the grave, and carried him to Shiloh, and there built a large temple, which is called the Samuel of Shiloh to this day:

and David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran; on hearing of the death of Samuel, there to indulge his mourning for him; or rather that he might be in greater safety from Saul, being further off, this wilderness lying on the south of the tribe of Judah, and inhabited by Arabs, and these called Kedarenes; and now it was that he dwelt in the tents of Kedar, Psalm 120:5.

(g) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 13. p. 37. (h) In Kimchi & Abarbinel in loc. (i) Juchasin, fol. 11. 1.((k) Stromat. l. 1. p. 325. (l) Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 580. sect. 2.((m) Plato in Mino. (n) Servius in Virgil. Aeneid. l. 6. p. mihi, (?) 1011. (o) P. 30. (p) Heldman apud Hottinger in ib. (q) Itinerar. p. 52.

And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his {a} house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

(a) That is, among his own kindred.

Ch. 1 Samuel 25:1. Samuel’s death and burial

1. all the Israelites, &c.] A public mourning was held as after the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:8), and the whole nation met to do honour to him, who for well nigh eighty years had gone in and out amongst them as Prophet, Judge, and Counsellor of the King.

in his house] Not actually in the house, which would have been inconsistent with the laws of ceremonial purity (Numbers 19:16), but in some court or garden attached to the house. Compare 2 Chronicles 33:20 with 2 Kings 21:18. The Mussulman tradition places the prophet’s tomb on the hill known as Neby Samwil, five miles N.W. of Jerusalem, but see note on 1 Samuel 1:1.

the wilderness of Paran] A general name for the great tract of desert south of Palestine, between the wilderness of Shur on the west, Edom on the east, and the wilderness of Sinai on the south. It was the abode of Ishmael (Genesis 21:21); the scene of the wanderings of the Israelites; and the place from which the spies were sent (Numbers 10:12; Numbers 13:3). The Sept. reads Maon, but the change is unnecessary, if we suppose the term Paran to be used with some latitude.Verse 1. - And Samuel died. According to Josephus, Samuel had for eighteen years been contemporaneous with Saul's kingdom. If this calculation, which probably rests upon some Jewish tradition, be at all correct, we must include the years of Samuel's judgeship in the sum total of Saul's reign (see on 1 Samuel 13:1), as evidently his fall was now fast approaching. Samuel's life marked the beginning of the second age of Israelite history (Acts 3:24). Moses had given the people their law, but Samuel in the schools of the prophets provided for them that education without which a written law was powerless, and called forth also and regulated that living energy in the prophetic order which, claiming an all but equal authority, modified and developed it, and continually increased its breadth and force, until the last prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, with supreme and Divine power reenacted it as the religion of the whole world. And as neither his educational institutions nor the prophetic order, whose ordinary duties were closely connected with these schools, could have flourished without internal quietness and security, Samuel also established the Jewish monarchy, which was ideally also necessary, because the Messiah must not only be priest and prophet, but before all things a king (Matthew 2:1, 6; John 18:37). And side by side with the kingdom he lived on to see the military successes of the first king, and the firm establishment of the royal power; but to witness also the development of that king into a despot, the overclouding of his mind with fits of madness, the designation of his successor, the probation of that successor by manifold trials, his ripening fitness under them to be the model of a theocratic king, and his growth in power so as practically to be now safe from all Saul's evil purposes. And so in the fulness of time Samuel died, and all Israel gathered together and made lamentation for him (see Genesis 1:10), and buried him in his house. The tomb at present shown as that of Samuel is situated upon a lofty hill, the identification of which with Ramah is very uncertain. Probably he was buried not actually in his house, as that would lead to perpetual ceremonial defilement (Numbers 19:16; Luke 11:44), but in some open spot in his garden (comp. 2 Kings 21:18; 2 Chronicles 33:20). So Joab was buried in his own house (1 Kings 2:34). At Ramah. Thenius thinks that the prophets shared with the kings the right of intramural burial. DAVID IN THE WILDERNESS OF PARAN (vers. 1-42). DAVID ASKS A GIFT OF THE WEALTHY NABAL AND IS REFUSED (vers. 1-13). Verse 1. - David arose. This is not to be connected with the death of Samuel, as though David had now lost a protector. But as he had fully 600 men with him, and his force was continually increasing, it was necessary for him to roam over a wide extent of country in order to obtain supplies of food. The wilderness of Paran. Paran strictly is a place in the southernmost part of the peninsula of Arabia, a little to the west of Mount Sinai; but there can be little doubt that it gave its name to the vast extent of pasture and barren land now known as the desert of El-Tih (see 1 Kings 11:18). Of this the wildernesses of Judah and Beersheba would virtually form parts without the borders being strictly defined. We need not therefore read "the wilderness of Maon," with the Septuagint and many commentators. On the contrary, we have seen that the hold in ch. 24:22 was the hill Hachilah in that neighbourhood, and David now moved southward towards the edge of this vast wilderness. These words made an impression upon Saul. David's conduct went to his heart, so that he wept aloud, and confessed to him: "Thou art more righteous than I, for thou hast shown me good, and I((have shown) thee evil; and thou hast given me a proof of this to-day."
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