2 Samuel 1:19
The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places: how are the mighty fallen!
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(19) The beauty of Israel, in the sense of the glory or ornament of Israel, referring to Saul and Jonathan. The rendering of the Syriac and some commentators, “the gazelle,” as a poetic name for Jonathan, is uncalled for, both because the words are spoken of Saul and Jonathan together, and because there is no evidence elsewhere that Jonathan was so called, nor is there any allusion to him under this figure in the song.

Upon thy high places.—Comp. 2Samuel 1:21; 2Samuel 1:25. This line may be considered as the superscription of the whole song.

2 Samuel 1:19. The beauty of Israel — Hebrew, הצבי, hatsebi; the honour, glory, flower, or ornament, meaning Saul and Jonathan, and their army. Delaney understands the expression only of Jonathan, and observes, as Jonathan’s death touched him nearest, it was natural he should be the first object of his lamentation; and, to put it out of all doubt that Jonathan is meant, he varies the expression in a subsequent verse — Jonathan slain in thy high places! The word rendered slain, חלל, chalal, properly means stabbed, and does not appear anywhere to bear the sense that Dr. Kennicott would put upon it, who would understand it as a noun, and not as a participle, and translate it a warrior. How moving a circumstance is this here noticed! Jonathan’s falling on his own high places! those in which he might naturally have expected safety; those in which he delighted; those in which he had long enjoyed peace and pleasure. Or thine, O land of Israel. How are the mighty fallen — How untimely and lamentably Jonathan! How sadly and shamefully Saul by his own hand! How strangely! how unexpectedly! how universally the army! This solemn, noble, and pathetic exclamation of sorrow was probably repeated at the close of every verse of this mournful song.1:17-27 Kasheth, or the bow, probably was the title of this mournful, funeral song. David does not commend Saul for what he was not; and says nothing of his piety or goodness. Jonathan was a dutiful son, Saul an affectionate father, therefore dear to each other. David had reason to say, that Jonathan's love to him was wonderful. Next to the love between Christ and his people, that affection which springs form it, produces the strongest friendship. The trouble of the Lord's people, and triumphs of his enemies, will always grieve true believers, whatever advantages they may obtain by them.The beauty ... - i. e. Saul and Jonathan who were the chief ornament and pride of Israel, and slain upon "high places" 2 Samuel 1:25, namely, on Mount Gilboa. 19. The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places—literally, "the gazelle" or "antelope of Israel." In Eastern countries, that animal is the chosen type of beauty and symmetrical elegance of form.

how are the mighty fallen!—This forms the chorus.

The beauty of Israel; their flower and glory, Saul and Jonathan, and their army, consisting of young and valiant men.

Upon thy high places, i.e. those which belong to thee, O land of Israel.

How are the mighty fallen! how strangely! how suddenly! how dreadfully and universally! The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places,.... The high mountains of Gilboa, where Saul their king, and Jonathan his son, a prince of the blood, and natural heir to the crown, and multitudes of young men, the flower of the nation, were wounded and slain. Here begins the lamentation, or the elegiac song:

how are the mighty fallen! mighty men of war, strong and valiant, as Saul and his sons were, and the soldiers in his army.

The beauty of Israel is {h} slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!

(h) Meaning Saul.

19. The beauty of Israel, &c.] Better, Thy beauty (lit. the beauty), O Israel, upon thine high places is slain. Saul and Jonathan are thus described as the chief ornament and honour of Israel. The word translated glory may also mean roe or gazelle, a rendering which is adopted by some commentators, who refer it to Jonathan. There is not however any satisfactory evidence to shew that Jonathan’s personal beauty and swiftness of foot in attack or retreat had gained for him among the troops the name of ‘the Gazelle,’ as Ewald supposes (Hist. of Israel, III. 30), and as the elegy celebrates both Saul and Jonathan, the opening word cannot be limited to the latter only.

thy high places] Gilboa is meant. The expression suggests the extremity of the disaster, when the mountain-strongholds of the land were forced and their defenders slain. Cp. note on ch. 2 Samuel 22:34.Verse 19. - The beauty of Israel. The word zebi means both "beauty" and also "the gazelle." Ewald takes it in the second sense, and explains it of Jonathan. "everywhere the first in courage, in activity, and speed; slender also and of well-made figure, and whose personal beauty and swiftness of foot in attack or retreat gained for him among the troops the name of 'the gazelle.' The Syriac Version also translates 'gazelle,'" but Ephrem says that the whole Israelite nation is meant, the flower of whoso manhood lay slaughtered on Mount Gilboa. Which signification we take must really depend upon the meaning we attach to the words, "thy high place;" and these in the Authorized Version have nothing to refer to, and so become unmeaning. The Revised Version follows the Vulgate in taking Israel as a vocative, sad renders, "Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places." The sense would thus be that given by Ephrem, Israel's glory being its "mighty" men or heroes, its warriors slain upon Mount Gilboa with their king. But ver. 25 makes it plain that the "high places" are Jonathan's, and not those of the nation; and the more correct rendering is "O beauty [or, 'gazelle'] of Israel, slain upon thy high places! how are the heroes fallen!" Thus Jonathan is certainly meant, and the heroes are the young, prince and his father; and as the hunted antelope is said to return to its lair in the mountains, and there await its death, "gazelle" is probably the right rendering. In a dirge in honour of Saul and Jonathan we may be pretty sure that Jonathan would be referred to in its opening words, and the camp name of his friend would bring back to David's mind many a brave feat wrought together, and many a pleasant hour of companionship in past years. David then asked the bringer of the news for further information concerning his own descent, and received the reply that he was the son of an Amalekite stranger, i.e., of an Amalekite who had emigrated to Israel.
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