And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwells in the country of the Philistines.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And David saved neither man nor woman.—This and the following (12th) verse gives the reason for these atrocious acts of murder. The wild and irresponsible Arab chief alone seemed represented in David in this dark portion of his career. This saddest of all the chapters in David’s life follows close upon the death of Samuel. It appears that the holy man of God had exercised, all the time that he had lived, a great and beneficent influence over the son of Jesse; and when he passed away, other and less wise counsellors prevailed with David. Want of trust in God and a craven fear for his own life (see his words, 1Samuel 26:20; 1Samuel 26:24) drove him to leave the land of Israel, and to seek a refuge among his Philistine foes. One sin led on to another, when, in Philistia—to preserve that life of his—he commenced a course of duplicity, to carry out which he was driven to commit these terrible cruelties. “The prisoners taken would naturally have been part of the spoil; but David dared not bring them to Gath, lest his deceit should be discovered. Obviously these tribes (Geshurites, Gezerites, and Amalekites) were allies of the Philistines.”
Saying, So did David, and so will be his manner.—The English Version of this passage is in accordance with the present punctuation in the Hebrew Bible, and represents these words as the saying of the slaughtered enemies. This is of itself most improbable. The Hebrew, too, will scarcely bear this interpretation; for the verb “to dwell” is a past, and cannot correctly be rendered “while he dwelleth.” The Masoretic punctuation of the present Hebrew text is of comparatively recent date. It is better, then, in their place, with Maurer and Keil, the LXX., and Vulg. Versions, simply to put a stop after the words “so did David,” and then begin a new sentence, which will read, “And so was his manner all the while he dwelt in the land of the Philistines;” understanding these words as a remark of the narrator of the history.1 Samuel 27:11. To bring tidings to Gath — Our translation has here put in the word tidings, which entirely perverts the sense of this place. For in the Hebrew it is, he saved neither man nor woman alive to bring to Gath; that is, he brought no prisoners thither; and the reason was, because it would then have appeared that they were not Israelites that David had spoiled, as Achish supposed. But the words, to bring tidings to Gath, occasions the reader to make a very wrong conclusion, namely, that these people were in alliance with Achish, and that they would have sent messengers to have complained of David’s behaviour, but that he cruelly butchered them on purpose to prevent this. Whereas it is certain there is no sort of reason to believe that these people were in any kind of alliance with Achish, but quite the contrary.
David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites—Jerahmeel was the great-grandson of Judah, and his posterity occupied the southern portion of that tribal domain.
the south of the Kenites—the posterity of Jethro, who occupied the south of Judah (Jud 1:16; Nu 24:21). The deceit practised upon his royal host and the indiscriminate slaughter committed, lest any one should escape to tell the tale, exhibit an unfavorable view of this part of David's history.Lest they should tell on us; that the tidings of this action against this people (who were, it seems, either tributaries to or confederates with Achish) might neither come quickly nor certainly to Achish’s court; which he might the rather promise himself, because Achish and all his men were now busily employed in their warlike preparations against the Israelites; and if any flying rumour came thither, he thought by his interest and artifices he could easily discredit and dash it. Besides, the consideration of God’s curse denounced against the people whom he had now destroyed, and of God’s particular promises made to him, and of his special providence which he constantly experienced watching over him, made him more secure and confident in this and in many other hazardous attempts.
saying, lest they should tell on us, saying, so did David: in such and such places, such numbers of people he destroyed, and such quantities of cattle and goods he carried off:
and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines: this is what may be expected will be done by him in one place or another, as long as he stays here; nothing will be heard of but desolation and destruction, in some part of the country of the Philistines or another; or among those that were tributaries to them; so that it was not safe that he should be allowed to abide in it.And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. And David said, &c.] The tribes which David really plundered must evidently have lived in the neighbourhood of the southern boundary of Judah, so that he could represent his expeditions as made against his own countrymen and their allies, not, as was the fact, against allies of the Philistines. David’s falsehoods are not of course to be judged by the Christian standard of morality.
to bring tidings to Gath] Rather, to bring them to Gath, as prisoners. Such barbarity was nothing strange at the time, and David did not rise above the practice of his contemporaries.
tell on us] “On” used as we now use “of” is common in Shakespeare: e.g. Macbeth, A. i. Sc. 3:
“Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?”
and so will be his manner, &c.] Render, “and so was his manner all the while he dwelt in the country of the Philistines.” A full stop must be placed after David, and the following words taken as a remark of the historian. Cp. 1 Samuel 27:7.Verses 11, 12. - To bring tidings. The A.V. is wrong in adding the word tidings, as the Hebrew means "to bring them to Gath." Prisoners to be sold as slaves formed an important part of the spoil of war in ancient times. But David, acting in accordance with the cruel customs of warfare in his days, and which he practised even when he had no urgent necessity as here (see 2 Samuel 8:2), put all his prisoners to death, lest, if taken to Gath and sold, they should betray him. The A.V. makes his conduct even more sanguinary, and supposes that he suffered none to escape. And so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth. The Hebrew is "he dwelt," and thus the rendering of the A.V., though supported by the Masoretic punctuation, is untenable. But this punctuation is of comparatively recent date, and of moderate authority. The words really belong to the narrator, and should be translated, "And so was his manner all the days that he dwelt in the field of the Philistines." It seems that Achish was completely deceived by David, and supposing that his conduct would make him hateful forever to his own tribesmen of Judah, and so preclude his return home, he rejoiced in him as one who would always remain his faithful vassal and adherent.
Joshua 19:5), but was afterwards taken by the Philistines, probably not long before the time of David, and appears to have been left without inhabitants in consequence of this conquest. The exact situation, in the western part of the Negeb, has not been clearly ascertained (see at Joshua 15:31). Achish appears to have given it to David. This is implied in the remark, "Therefore Ziklag came to the kings of Judah (i.e., became their property) unto this day."
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