And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Until they came under Beth-car.—“House of the Lamb,” or, as some would render it, House of the Field. Of this place we know nothing; it was, no doubt, a Philistine fortress, where the scattered remains of the beaten host were able to rally and defend themselves.1 Samuel 7:11. The men of Israel pursued the Philistines, &c. — This victory was the more wonderful, since it does not appear that the Israelites came provided with any weapons to Mizpeh, but probably smote the Philistines with their own weapons, which they threw away when they fled, affrighted by this uncommon tempest, or which were found among those that were slain by the lightning.1 Samuel 4:1.
7-11. when the Philistines heard, &c.—The character and importance of the national convention at Mizpeh were fully appreciated by the Philistines. They discerned in it the rising spirit of religious patriotism among the Israelites that was prepared to throw off the yoke of their domination. Anxious to crush it at the first, they made a sudden incursion while the Israelites were in the midst of their solemn celebration. Unprepared for resistance, they besought Samuel to supplicate the divine interposition to save them from their enemies. The prophet's prayers and sacrifice were answered by such a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning that the assailants, panic-struck, were disordered and fled. The Israelites, recognizing the hand of God, rushed courageously on the foe they had so much dreaded and committed such immense havoc, that the Philistines did not for long recover from this disastrous blow. This brilliant victory secured peace and independence to Israel for twenty years, as well as the restitution of the usurped territory.Quest. Whence had they weapons wherewith to smite them?
Answ. Divers of them probably brought them to the assembly; others borrowed them at Mizpeh, or the neighbouring places; and the rest might be the arms of the Philistines, which they threw away to hasten their flight, as is usual in such cases.
and pursued the Philistines; who, when they came out, were fleeing from the opening earth, and frightened with thunder and lightning, and many were killed, and all put in disorder; so that they stayed not to engage in battle with Israel, and who had nothing to do but to pursue their enemy:
and smote them: with what weapons of war they could get at Mizpeh, and with what some might have with them for private use, and in common wear; but more especially with the weapons of the Philistines, which they in their confusion and fright had thrown away:
until they came under Bethcar; a place so called; "car" signifies a lamb; here might be formerly a temple dedicated to the lamb, unless it had its name in memory of the lamb Samuel now offered, which was followed with such success. Josephus (o) calls this place Corraea; and in the Targum it is Bethsaron, which signifies a fruitful field or champaign country.And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. until they came under Beth-car] Beth-car (= “house of a lamb,” or “house of pasture,”) was apparently on high ground overhanging the road back to Philistia.1 Samuel 7:5, 1 Samuel 7:6. When Israel had turned to the Lord with all its heart, and had put away all its idols, Samuel gathered together all the people at Mizpeh, to prepare them for fighting against the Philistines by a solemn day for penitence and prayer. For it is very evident that the object of calling all the people to Mizpeh was that the religious act performed there might serve as a consecration for battle, not only from the circumstance that, according to 1 Samuel 7:7, when the Philistines heard of the meeting, they drew near to make war upon Israel, but also from the contents of 1 Samuel 7:5 : "Samuel said (sc., to the heads or representatives of the nation), Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord." His intention could not possibly have been any other than to put the people into the right relation to their God, and thus to prepare the way for their deliverance out of the bondage of the Philistines. Samuel appointed Mizpeh, i.e., Nebi Samwil, on the western boundary of the tribe of Benjamin (see at Joshua 18:26), as the place of meeting, partly no doubt on historical grounds, viz., because it was there that the tribes had formerly held their consultations respecting the wickedness of the inhabitants of Gibeah, and had resolved to make war upon Benjamin (Judges 20:1.), but still more no doubt, because Mizpeh, on the western border of the mountains, was the most suitable place for commencing the conflict with the Philistines.
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