1 Samuel 9:4
And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.
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(4) And he passed through mount Ephraim. The chain of the mountains of Ephraim ran southward into the territory of Benjamin, where were situated the patrimonial possessions of Saul’s house.

And passed through the land of Shalisha.—Or land “of the Three;” so called because three valleys there united in one, or one divided into three. It is believed to be the region in which Baal-shalisha lay (2Kings 4:42), fifteen miles north of Diospolis, or Lydda.

The land of Shalim.—Probably a very deep valley, derived from a Hebrew word, signifying “the hollow of the hand.”

9:1-10 Saul readily went to seek his father's asses. His obedience to his father was praise-worthy. His servant proposed, that since they were now at Ramah, they should call on Samuel, and take his advice. Wherever we are, we should use our opportunities of acquainting ourselves with those who are wise and good. Many will consult a man of God, if he comes in their way, that would not go a step out of their way to get wisdom. We sensibly feel worldly losses, and bestow much pains to make them up; but how little do we attempt, and how soon are we weary, in seeking the salvation of our souls! If ministers could tell men how to secure their property, or to get wealth, they would be more consulted and honoured than they now are, though employed in teaching them how to escape eternal misery, and to obtain eternal life. Most people would rather be told their fortune than their duty. Samuel needed not their money, nor would he have denied his advice, if they had not brought it; but they gave it to him as a token of respect, and of the value they put upon his office, and according to the general usage of those times, always to bring a present to those in authority.The land of Shalisha was somewhere near Gilgal, i. e., Jiljulieh. It is thought to derive its name from "three" (Shalosh) wadys which unite in the wady of Karawa. The situation of Shalim is not known: its etymology connects it more probably with the land of Shual 1 Samuel 13:17, apparently round Taiyibeh, which was about nine miles from Gibeah.

Zuph - 1 Samuel 9:5, see 1 Samuel 1:1 note.

4, 5. he passed through mount Ephraim—This being situated on the north of Benjamin, indicates the direction of Saul's journey. The district explored means the whole of the mountainous region, with its valleys and defiles, which belonged to Ephraim. Turning apparently southwards—probably through the verdant hills between Shiloh and the vales of Jordan (Shalisha and Shalim)—he approached again the borders of Benjamin, scoured the land of Zuph, and was proposing to return, when his servant recollected that they were in the immediate neighborhood of the man of God, who would give them counsel. Mount Ephraim; a part of the tribe of Ephraim, which bordered upon Benjamin; and therefore they could soon pass out of the one into the other, and back again, as they saw cause.

And they passed through Mount Ephraim,.... The mountainous part of that tribe, which lay contiguous to the tribe of Benjamin, where it might be supposed the asses had strayed to:

and passed through the land of Shalisha; a tract in the tribe of Benjamin, so called from some illustrious person, prince, and duke of it; in it very probably was the place called Baalshalisha; 2 Kings 4:42 and which perhaps is the same Jerom calls (x) Bethshalisha; and says there was a village of this name in the borders of Diospolis, almost fifteen miles distance from it to the north, in the Tamnitic country; though Bunting (y) says it was situated in Mount Ephraim, eight miles from Jerusalem to the northwest:

but they found them not; the asses, neither in Mount Ephraim, nor in the land of Shalisha:

then they passed through the land of Shalim which some take to be the same with Salim, where John was baptizing, John 3:23 but Jerom says (z) it was a village on the borders of Eleutheropolis, to the west, seven miles distant from it:

and there they were not; the asses could not be found there:

and he passed through the land of the Benjamites; or rather of Jemini, which was in Benjamin, so called from a famous man of that name; for it cannot be thought they should pass through the whole tribe of Benjamin in one day. And, according to Bunting (a), from Gibeah, the native place of Saul, through the mountain of Ephraim, and the land of Shalisha, to the borders of Shalim, were sixteen miles; and from thence to Jemini, in the tribe of Benjamin, sixteen more:

but they found them not; the asses.

(x) De loc. Heb. fol. 89. K. (y) Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 129. (z) De loc. Heb. fol. 94. L. (a) Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 126.

And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.
4, 5. Saul’s route cannot be traced with any certainty. He started from his home at Gibeah apparently in a N.W. direction (1) through “Mount Ephraim” (see 1 Samuel 1:1, note); (2) through “the land of Shalisha,” perhaps the district round Baal-shalisha (2 Kings 4:42), which lay about 12 miles N. of Lydda; (3) then turning S. he traversed “the land of Shalim” (= foxes), perhaps in the neighbourhood of Shaalabbin (Joshua 19:42) in Dan; (4) then striking E. he searched the western part of the “land of Benjamin,” till he reached (5) “the land of Zuph,” in which lay Samuel’s city Ramah. The search occupied parts of three days (1 Samuel 9:20). It seems best to suppose that the unnamed city of 1 Samuel 9:6 ff. is Ramah, for (a) the servant speaks of it as the prophet’s regular residence (1 Samuel 9:6); (b) it is natural to connect “the land of Zuph,” in which it was situated, with the name Ramathaim-Zophim (1 Samuel 1:1, note); (c) the difficulty raised by the description of Saul’s return in ch. 1 Samuel 10:2 (see note) may be solved by supposing that he did not go straight home, but was sent by the prophet out of his way in order to meet the men who were looking for him.

Verse 4. - Mount Ephraim. Though Gibeah, Saul's home, was in Benjamin, it was situated on this long mountain range (1 Samuel 1:1). The land of Shalisha. I.e. Three-land, and probably, therefore, the region round Baal-shalisha. It takes its name from the three valleys which there converge in the great Wady Kurawa, The land of Shalim. I.e. of jackals; probably the same as the land of Shual, also = jackal-land (1 Samuel 13:17). The very name shows that it was a wild, uninhabited region. The derivation hollow-land is untenable. 1 Samuel 9:4Having been sent out by his father to search for his she-asses which had strayed, Saul went with his servant through the mountains of Ephraim, which ran southwards into the tribe-territory of Benjamin (see at 1 Samuel 1:1), then through the land of Shalishah and the land of Shaalim, and after that through the land of Benjamin, without finding the asses; and at length, when he had reached the land of Zuph, he determined to return, because he was afraid that his father might turn his mind from the asses, and trouble himself about them (the son and servant). מן חדל, to desist from a thing, to give it up or renounce it.

As Saul started in any case from Gibeah of Benjamin, his own home (1 Samuel 10:10., 1 Samuel 10:26, 1 Samuel 11:4; 1 Samuel 15:34; 1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 26:1), i.e., the present Tuleil el Phul, which was an hour or an hour and a half to the north of Jerusalem (see at Joshua 18:28), and went thence into the mountains of Ephraim, he no doubt took a north-westerly direction, so that he crossed the boundary of Benjamin somewhere between Bireh and Atarah, and passing through the crest of the mountains of Ephraim, on the west of Gophnah (Jifna), came out into the land of Shalishah. Shalishah is unquestionably the country round (or of) Baal-shalishah (2 Kings 4:42), which was situated, according to Eusebius (Onom. s.v. Βαιθσαρισάθ: Beth-sarisa or Beth-salisa), in regione Thamnitica, fifteen Roman miles to the north of Diospolis (Lydda), and was therefore probably the country to the west of Jiljilia, where three different wadys run into one large wady, called Kurawa; and according to the probable conjecture of Thenius, it was from this fact that the district received the name of Shalishah, or Three-land. They proceeded thence in their search to the land of Shaalim: according to the Onom. (s.v.), "a village seven miles off, in finibus Eleutheropoleos contra occidentem." But this is hardly correct, and is most likely connected with the mistake made in transposing the town of Samuel to the neighbourhood of Diospolis (see at 1 Samuel 1:1). For since they went on from Shaalim into the land of Benjamin, and then still further into the land of Zuph, on the south-west of Benjamin, they probably turned eastwards from Shalishah, into the country where we find Beni Mussah and Beni Salem marked upon Robinson's and v. de Velde's maps, and where we must therefore look for the land of Shaalim, that they might proceed thence to explore the land of Benjamin from the north-east to the south-west. If, on the contrary, they had gone from Shaalim in a southerly or south-westerly direction, to the district of Eleutheropolis, they would only have entered the land of Benjamin at the south-west corner, and would have had to go all the way back again in order to go thence to the land of Zuph. For we may infer with certainty that the land of Zuph was on the south-west of the tribe-territory of Benjamin, from the fact that, according to 1 Samuel 10:2, Saul and his companion passed Rachel's tomb on their return thence to their own home, and then came to the border of Benjamin. On the name Zuph, see at 1 Samuel 1:1.

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