2 Samuel 1:20
Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
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(20) In Gath . . . in the streets of Askelon.—Two chief cities of the Philistines, poetically put for the whole. In the former David had himself resided (1Samuel 21:10; 1Samuel 27:3-4), and in the latter was a famous temple of Venus, which was doubtless “the house of Ashtaroth” (1Samuel 31:10), where the Philistines put the armour of Saul. “Tell it not in Gath” appears to have become a proverb. (See Micah 1:10.)

Lest the daughters of the Philistines.—It was customary for women to celebrate national deliverances and victories (Exodus 15:21; 1Samuel 18:6). The word uncircumcised might be applied to the heathen generally, but it so happens that, with the exception of Genesis 34:14, it is used in the historical books only of the Philistines (Judges 14:3; Judges 15:18; 1Samuel 14:6; 1Samuel 17:26; 1Samuel 17:36; 1Samuel 31:4; 1Chronicles 10:4).

2 Samuel 1:20. Tell it not in Gath, &c. — Such a lamentable misfortune and disgrace, David would, if possible, have concealed from all the enemies of Israel. And he finely insinuates in these words what matter of triumph it would be to the Philistines, and seems scarce able to bear the thought of it, especially as it would be greatly to the dishonour both of God and his people. Lest the daughters, &c. — He mentions these, because it was the custom of women in those times and places to celebrate with triumphal songs and dances those victories which their men obtained.

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.Gath, the royal city of Achish 1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2. Askelon, the chief seat of worship (1 Samuel 31:10 note). 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.

Tell it not in Gath: this is not a precept, but a poetical wish; whereby he doth not so much desire that this might not be done, which he knew to be vain and impossible; as express his great sorrow because it was and would be done, to the great dishonour of God and of his people. He mentions

the daughters of the Philistines, because it was the custom of women in those times and places to celebrate those victories which their men obtained, with triumphant songs and dances; as Exo 15 Jud 11:34 1 Samuel 18:6.

Tell it not in Gath,.... One of the five principalities of the Philistines, and the chief of them, being raised to a kingdom, and whose king was at the head of the armies of the Philistines that engaged with Saul. This is not to be understood of a command of David, who could not hinder the victory the Philistines had got over Israel being known at Gath, and talked of with pleasure there, but a wish it had not:

publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon; another of the principalities of the Philistines, and the sense the same as before:

lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph; it being usual in those times and countries for women, young women more especially, to express their joy, on occasion of victories obtained, by singing and dancing, Judges 11:34.

Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
20. Tell it not in Gath, &c.] Gath on account of its political importance, Askelon as a great religious centre, are chosen as representative of the whole country. Gath seems to have had special prominence as the city of Achish; not impossibly the temple of Ashtaroth in which Saul’s armour was deposited was the famous temple of Venus at Askelon. See note on 1 Samuel 31:10. The phrase “Tell it not in Gath” is quoted in Micah 1:10 (E. V. declare), and perhaps passed into a proverb.

Publish it not] Additional force is gained by keeping the usual meaning of the word, publish not the good news (LXX. accurately, μὴ εὐαγγελίσησθε). Of course the words can only be understood as a poetical wish that it were possible for Israel to be spared the degradation of Philistine triumph. The news was carried at once throughout the land (1 Samuel 31:9).

the daughters of the Philistines] Victories were celebrated by the women of the country with public songs and dances. Cp. 1 Samuel 18:6; Exodus 15:20-21.

the uncircumcised] The common epithet for the Philistines, as heathen who had no share in Jehovah’s covenant with Israel. No small part of the bitterness of defeat to a pious heart consisted in the triumph of the heathen over God’s inheritance. Cp. 1 Samuel 14:6.

Verse 20. - Gath... Askelon. By thus localizing the triumph, and bringing before the mind the thought of multitudes in these well-known places rejoicing with dance and song over the news of their victory, a more affecting picture is produced by the contrast with Israel's distress than could have been effected by mere generalizations. Probably, too, there was present in David's mind the remembrance of scenes which he had witnessed in these towns. In course of time, "Tell it not in Gath" became a proverb (Micah 1:10). The daughters. It is the custom in the East for the women to celebrate the prowess of the nation's warriors (Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6; Psalm 68:11 Revised Version). Uncircumcised. For some unknown reason, this word is used as a term of reproach, especially of the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:6; 1 Samuel 17:26). 2 Samuel 1:20The tidings of this mourning were not to be carried out among the enemies of Israel, lest they should rejoice thereat. Such rejoicing would only increase the pain of Israel at the loss it had sustained. Only two of the cities of Philistia are mentioned by name, viz., Gath, which was near, and Askelon, which was farther off by the sea. The rejoicing of the daughters of the Philistines refers to the custom of employing women to celebrate the victories of their nation by singing and dancing (cf. 1 Samuel 18:6).
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