And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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. Judges 20:1 note. 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.
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.And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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 2:30.), beginning and finishing it," i.e., completely. דּבּר את־אשׁר הקים, to set up the word spoken, i.e., to carry it out, or accomplish it. In 1 Samuel 3:13 this word is communicated to Samuel, so far as its essential contents are concerned. God would judge "the house of Eli for ever because of the iniquity, that he knew his sons were preparing a curse for themselves and did not prevent them." To judge on account of a crime, is the same as to punish it. עד־עולם, i.e., without the punishment being ever stopped or removed. להם מקללים, cursing themselves, i.e., bringing a curse upon themselves. "Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli, that the iniquity of the house of Eli shall not (אם, a particle used in an oath, equivalent to assuredly not) be expiated by slain-offerings and meat-offerings (through any kind of sacrifice) for ever." The oath makes the sentence irrevocable. (On the facts themselves, see the commentary on 1 Samuel 2:27-36.)
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