1 Samuel 7:5
And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you to the LORD.
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(5) Mizpeh.—Or, as it should be spelt, Mizpah, a common name for lofty situations. It signifies a “watch-tower,” a place where an outlook could be kept against an advancing enemy.

Now the assembly of the tribes at Mizpeh marked a new departure for Israel. It was the result of more than twenty years of toil undertaken by the greatest reformer and statesman the chosen race ever knew. The great gathering belonged both to religion and to war. Its first object was solemnly to assure the Lord that the heart of His people, so long estranged from Him, was again His. Its second was to implore that Jehovah might again restore a repentant and sorrowful people to the land of their inheritance. What more likely than that the prophet-statesman—who in that solemn juncture represented priest and judge and seer to Israel—devised on that momentous day new symbolic rites, signifying Israel’s new dedication to the Eternal for the future, Israel’s repentance for the sad past? The solemn pouring out of water before the Lord symbolised, to a people trained so carefully to watch the meaning and signification of symbols and imagery, the heart and whole inner life poured out before the Lord; the fasting represented the repentant humble sinner bowed down in grief before the one true God. Is it not at least probable that the strange, mysterious custom which we hear of in after days—the high priest filling the golden vessel with the waters of Siloam, and then pouring it out silently before the Lord—was the record of one of the holiest memories of the people—their reconciliation with their God-Friend at Mizpeh? Now, after years of estrangement, they repented and were forgiven. The fasting of Mizpeh being a favourite practice, ever much observed by the worshippers in the Temple and synagogue, needed no special record or reminder.

7:5,6 Israel drew water and poured it out before the Lord; signifying their humiliation and sorrow for sin. They pour out their hearts in repentance before the Lord. They were free and full in their confession, and fixed in their resolution to cast away from them all their wrong doings. They made a public confession, We have sinned against the Lord; thus giving glory to God, and taking shame to themselves. And if we thus confess our sins, we shall find our God faithful and just to forgive us our sins.Compare the marginal references. Twenty years of Samuel's life had passed away since the last mention of him 1 Samuel 4:1. Now he appears in the threefold character of prophet, Judge, and the acknowledged leader of the whole people. His words were an answer to a profession of repentance on the part of Israel, the practical proof of which would be the putting away all their false gods. (Compare Judges 6:10 note.)

Will pray for you ... - So Moses prayed for the people at Rephidim Exodus 17:11-12; and for Miriam Numbers 12:13; so Elijah prayed at Carmel 1 Kings 18:36, 1 Kings 18:42; so Ezra prayed at the evening sacrifice Ezra 9:5; so the High Priest prayed for the house of Israel on the Day of Atonement; and so does our Lord Jesus Christ ever live at God's right hand to make intercession for us.

1Sa 7:3-6. The Israelites, through Samuel's Influence, Solemnly Repent at Mizpeh.

3-6. Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel—A great national reformation was effected through the influence of Samuel. Disgusted with their foreign servitude, and panting for the restoration of liberty and independence, they were open to salutary impressions; and convinced of their errors, they renounced idolatry. The re-establishment of the faith of their fathers was inaugurated at a great public meeting, held at Mizpeh in Judah, and hallowed by the observance of impressive religious solemnities. The drawing water, and pouring it out before the Lord, seems to have been a symbolical act by which, in the people's name, Samuel testified their sense of national corruption, their need of that moral purification of which water is the emblem, and their sincere desire to pour out their hearts in repentance before God.

No text from Poole on this verse. And Samuel said, gather all Israel to Mizpeh,.... Not Mizpeh in Gilead, on the other side Jordan, but a city which lay on the borders of Judah and Benjamin, where the tribes met on the account of the Levite's concubine, Judges 20:1. This order Samuel gave by messengers sent to the several tribes, or the heads of them, to meet him at this place:

and I will pray for you unto the Lord; no doubt he prayed for them privately, that the reformation begun might be carried on, and appear to be sincere, and hearty, and general, and universal; but he was desirous that they might appear in a body, and join with him in public prayer for their spiritual and temporal welfare; that they might have true repentance for their sins, reform from them, and have remission of them, and be delivered out of the hands of their enemies.

And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to {c} Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.

(c) For Shiloh was now desolate, because the Philistines had taken the ark from it.

5. to Mizpeh] Mizpah, (in Heb. always with the definite article, as retaining its meaning, “the watch-tower,”) was the meeting-place of the national assembly on two other important occasions in this period: (a) when war was declared against Benjamin (Judges 20); (b) when Saul was elected king (ch. 1 Samuel 10:17); and (c) once in later times, on an occasion not unlike the present, when Judas Maccabaeus mustered Israel to revolt against the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes (1Ma 3:42-46). It belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:26). Its site has not been identified, but is conjectured to be either (a) Neby Samwîl, a conspicuous hill rising to the height of 2935 ft., about 5 miles N.W. of Jerusalem: or (b) Scopus, the broad ridge immediately north of Jerusalem. In favour of the latter site are (a) the similarity of the name (σκόπος = watchman): (b) the description of the place in 1Ma 3:46 as “over against Jerusalem.”

It must be carefully distinguished from Mizpah in Gilead (Jdg 10:17; Jdg 11:11).

I will pray for you unto the Lord] Other instances of Samuel’s prayers are mentioned in 1 Samuel 8:6, 1 Samuel 12:17-19; 1 Samuel 12:23, 1 Samuel 15:11. He is quoted as the type of successful intercessors in Psalm 99:6; Jeremiah 15:1.Verse 5. - Gather all Israel to Mizpeh. Mizpah, for so the place should be spelt, means a watch tower (Genesis 31:49), and so is a not uncommon name for spots among the hills commanding an extensive outlook. This was probably the Mizpah in the tribe of Benjamin, distant about five miles from Jerusalem (see Conder, 'Tent Work,' 1:25); and though Samuel may have partly chosen it as a holy place (Judges 11:11; Judges 20:1), yet the chief reason was probably its lofty situation, 500 feet above the neighbouring tableau, which itself was 2000 feet above the sea level. It was thus difficult to surprise, and admirably adapted for warlike purposes. The gathering of the people at Mizpah was the necessary result of the public insult offered to the Philistine gods, and virtually a declaration of war, as being an assertion of national independence. Disposal of the Ark of God. - 1 Samuel 6:19. As the ark had brought evil upon the Philistines, so the inhabitants of Bethshemesh were also to be taught that they could not stand in their unholiness before the holy God: "And He (God) smote among the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked at the ark of Jehovah, and smote among the people seventy men, fifty thousand men." In this statement of numbers we are not only struck by the fact that the 70 stands before the 50,000, which is very unusual, but even more by the omission of the copula ו before the second number, which is altogether unparalleled. When, in addition to this, we notice that 50,000 men could not possibly live either in or round Bethshemesh, and that we cannot conceive of any extraordinary gathering having taken place out of the whole land, or even from the immediate neighbourhood; and also that the words אישׁ אלף חמשּׁים are wanting in several Hebrew MSS, and that Josephus, in his account of the occurrence, only speaks of seventy as having been killed (Ant. vi. 1, 4); we cannot come to any other conclusion than that the number 50,000 is neither correct nor genuine, but a gloss which has crept into the text through some oversight, though it is of great antiquity, since the number stood in the text employed by the Septuagint and Chaldee translators, who attempted to explain them in two different ways, but both extremely forced. Apart from this number, however, the verse does not contain anything either in form or substance that could furnish occasion for well-founded objections to its integrity. The repetition of ויּך simply resumes the thought that had been broken off by the parenthetical clause יי בּארון ראוּ כּי; and בּעם is only a general expression for שׁ בּאנשׁי ב. The stroke which fell upon the people of Bethshemesh is sufficiently accounted for in the words, "because they had looked," etc. There is no necessity to understand these words, however, as many Rabbins do, as signifying "they looked into the ark," i.e., opened it and looked in; for if this had been the meaning, the opening would certainly not have been passed over without notice. ראה with ב means to look upon or at a thing with lust or malicious pleasure; and here it no doubt signifies a foolish staring, which was incompatible with the holiness of the ark of God, and was punished with death, according to the warning expressed in Numbers 4:20. This severe judgment so alarmed the people of Bethshemesh, that they exclaimed, "Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God!" Consequently the Bethshemeshites discerned correctly enough that the cause of the fatal stroke, which had fallen upon them, was the unholiness of their own nature, and not any special crime which had been committed by the persons slain. They felt that they were none of them any better than those who had fallen, and that sinners could not approach the holy God. Inspired with this feeling, they added, "and to whom shall He go away from us?" The subject to יעלה is not the ark, but Jehovah who had chosen the ark as the dwelling-place of His name. In order to avert still further judgments, they sought to remove the ark from their town. They therefore sent messengers to Kirjath-jearim to announce to the inhabitants the fact that the ark had been sent back by the Philistines, and to entreat them to fetch it away.
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