1 Samuel 3:20
And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
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(20) A prophet of the Lord.—Then from the northern to the southern cities of the land the fame of the boy-friend of the Eternal was established. The minds of all the people were thus gradually prepared when the right moment came to acknowledge Samuel as a God-sent chieftain. On this rapid and universal acknowledgment of the young prophet it has been observed, “that the people, in spite of their disruption, yet formed religiously an unit.”

1 Samuel 3:20-21. All Israel, from Dan, &c. — That is, through the whole land, from the northern bound, Dan, to the southern, Beer-sheba: which was the whole length of the land. That Samuel was established, &c. — That is, settled to be a constant prophet. The Lord appeared again, &c. — Having begun to appear to him in Shiloh, he continued this great favour, and revealed himself, not by dreams and visions, but by speaking to him with an audible voice, as he had done at first. And indeed he seems to have been the first eminent prophet that was raised up, after Moses, to be a public instructer and governor of God’s people. Others there had been before him; but not with so high an authority and public approbation. And therefore St. Peter says, Acts 3:24, All the prophets from Samuel spake of these days; intimating, that he was the first eminent prophet whom the Lord raised up after Moses.

3:19-21 All increase in wisdom and grace, is owing to the presence of God with us. God will graciously repeat his visits to those who receive them aright. Early piety will be the greatest honour of young people. Those who honour God he will honour. Let young people consider the piety of Samuel, and from him they will learn to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Young children are capable of religion. Samuel is a proof that their waiting upon the Lord will be pleasing to him. He is a pattern of all those amiable tempers, which are the brightest ornament of youth, and a sure source of happiness.From Dan ... - See Judges 20:1 note. 5-18. he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me—It is evident that his sleeping chamber was close to that of the aged high priest and that he was accustomed to be called during the night. The three successive calls addressed to the boy convinced Eli of the divine character of the speaker, and he therefore exhorted the child to give a reverential attention to the message. The burden of [the Lord's message] was an extraordinary premonition of the judgments that impended over Eli's house; and the aged priest, having drawn the painful secret from the child, exclaimed, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." Such is the spirit of meek and unmurmuring submission in which we ought to receive the dispensations of God, however severe and afflictive. But, in order to form a right estimate of Eli's language and conduct on this occasion, we must consider the overwhelming accumulation of judgments denounced against his person, his sons, his descendants—his altar, and nation. With such a threatening prospect before him, his piety and meekness were wonderful. In his personal character he seems to have been a good man, but his sons' conduct was flagrantly bad; and though his misfortunes claim our sympathy, it is impossible to approve or defend the weak and unfaithful course which, in the retributive justice of God, brought these adversities upon him. From Dan even to Beer-sheba; through the whole land, from the northern bound,

Dan, to the southern,

Beer-sheba; which was the whole length and largest extent of the land. See Judges 20:1,2 2 Samuel 17:11.

Knew, both by Eli’s testimony, and particular relation of the foregoing history, to the people that came from all parts; and by succeeding revelations made to him, whereof mention is made in the next verse, which though placed after, might be done before.

And all Israel, from Dan even unto Beersheba,.... That is, from the most northern border of the land of Israel, on which Dan lay, to the utmost border of it southward, where Beersheba was, the fame of Samuel for his piety, prudence, and prophecy, was spread abroad; so that all

knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord; or that he was faithful (z) to God and man, to be credited in what he said; and so a fit man to be a prophet of the Lord, being eminently qualified with gifts by him for that office; the Targum is,"that Samuel was faithful in the words of the prophecy of the Lord,''in relating them.

(z) "fidelis", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version.

And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
20. from Dan even to Beer-sheba] The regular formula to denote the whole extent of the land of Israel. It is first found in Jdg 20:1, and is common in the books of Samuel, but naturally disappears after the Division of the Kingdoms, occurring only once again, and that after the fall of the northern kingdom (2 Chronicles 30:5).

Dan—originally Leshem or Laish, a Sidonian colony—was captured, colonized, and re-named by a band of Danites (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18). It was the northernmost town of the Holy Land, and stood upon a hill from the base of which springs one of the main sources of the Jordan, to flow through a rich and fertile plain towards the Lake of Merom. Here Jeroboam set up one of the golden calves (1 Kings 12:29-30), but shortly afterwards it was sacked by Benhadad (1 Kings 15:20), and we hear no more of it. Its name, however, probably survives to this day. Dan = judge, and the hill is still called Teil-el-Kady = “mound of the judge,” while the stream bears the name el-Leddân, which may possibly be a corruption of Dan. See Robinson’s Biblical Researches in Palestine, III. 390 ff.

Beer-sheba = “well of the oath,” so named from the covenant which Abraham and Abimelech made there (Genesis 21:31; cp. Genesis 26:31-33): or possibly = “well of seven,” in allusion to the seven ewe lambs with which die covenant was ratified (Genesis 21:29-30). It was situated at the southernmost extremity of the land, on the confines of the desert. It was a notable place in the history of the patriarchs.

(1) Here Abraham, Isaac and Jacob often dwelt (Genesis 22:19; Genesis 28:10; Genesis 46:1). (2) Here Samuel’s sons were established as judges (1 Samuel 8:2). (3) Hither came Elijah when he fled from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:3). (4) It was apparently the seat of an idolatrous worship in the days of Amos (Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14). (5) It is mentioned for the last time as one of the towns reoccupied by the Jews on their return from the Captivity (Nehemiah 11:27).

The site of Beer-sheba is beyond question, for the name still survives in the Arabic Bîr es-Sebâ = “well of seven,” or “well of the lion.” There are two principal, and five lesser wells. “The water in both [the principal wells] is pure and sweet and in great abundance: the finest indeed we had found since leaving Sinai. Both wells are surrounded with drinking-troughs of stone for camels and flocks; such as were doubtless used of old for the flocks which then fed on the adjacent hills. The curbstones were deeply worn by the friction of the ropes in drawing up water by hand.” Robinson, Bib. Res. I. 204. But Lieutenant Conder made the disappointing discovery that the masonry is not very ancient. There is a stone in the large well with an Arabic inscription bearing a date in the twelfth century a.d. Tent Work, II. 96.

was established] or, “found faithful,” “approved.” The Heb. word is the same as that which, in ch. 1 Samuel 2:35, is rendered ‘a faithful priest,’ ‘a sure house;’ and the use of it here seems to indicate that Samuel’s call was the beginning of the fulfilment of that prophecy.

Verse 20. - From Dan, upon the north, to Beersheba, upon the south, means "throughout the whole country." The phrase is interesting, as showing that, in spite of the virtual independence of the tribes, and the general anarchy which prevailed during the time of the judges, there was nevertheless a feeling that they all formed one people. Was established. The same word used in Numbers 12:7 of Moses, and there translated was faithful. It is one of those pregnant words common in Hebrew, containing two cognate meaning. It says, first, that Samuel was faithful in his office; and, secondly, that because he was found trustworthy he was confirmed and strengthened in the possession of it. 1 Samuel 3:20Thus Samuel grew, and Jehovah was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground, i.e., left no word unfulfilled which He spoke through Samuel. (On הפּיל, see Joshua 21:45; Joshua 23:14; 1 Kings 8:56.) By this all Israel from Dan to Beersheba (see at Judges 20:1) perceived that Samuel was found trustworthy, or approved (see Numbers 12:7) as a prophet of Jehovah. And the Lord continued to appear at Shiloh; for He revealed himself there to Samuel "in the word of Jehovah," i.e., through a prophetic announcement of His word. These three verses form the transition from the call of Samuel to the following account of his prophetic labours in Israel. At the close of 1 Samuel 3:21, the lxx have appended a general remark concerning Eli and his sons, which, regarded as a deduction from the context, answers no doubt to the paraphrastic treatment of our book in that version, but in a critical aspect is utterly worthless.
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