Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.SECOND DIVISION
SAMUEL’S WORK AS PROPHET, PRIEST AND JUDGE
1 SAM. CHAPTER 4:1B—CHAPTER 7
Infliction of the Punishment prophesied by Samuel on the House of Eli and on all Israel in the unfortunate Battle with the Philistines
1 SAMUEL 4:1–7:1
I. Israel’s double defeat and loss of the Ark. 4:1–11
1Now1 [And] Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside 2Ebenezer2; and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel, and when [om. when] they joined battle3, [ins. and] Israel was smitten before the Philistines, and they slew of the army in the field 3about four thousand men. And when the people were come [And the people came] into the camp, [ins. and] the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord [Jehovah] smitten us to-day before the Philistines? Let us [We will] fetch the ark of the covenant4of the Lord [Jehovah] [ins. to us] out of [from] Shiloh unto us [om. unto us], that, when it cometh [and it shall come] among us [into our midst] 4it may [om. it may, ins. and] save us out of the hand of our enemies. So [And] the people sent to Shiloh that they might bring [and brought] from [om. from] thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims [who sitteth upon the cherubim5]; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there6 with the ark of the covenant of God.
5And [ins. it came to pass], when the ark of the covenant of the Lord [Jehovah] came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang 6again7. And when [om. when] the Philistines heard the noise of the shout [ins. and] they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] was come into 7the camp. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God8 is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us ! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? these are the gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues [every sort of 9plague] in the wilderness9? Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you; quit 10yourselves like men and fight. And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man to his tent [tents10]; and there was a very great slaughter [the slaughter was very great], for [and] there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 11And the ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain [the two sons of Eli perished, Hophni and Phinehas.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Samuel 4:1. Israel’s march to battle against the Philistines does not stand in pragmatical connection with the preceding words ‘ and the word of Samuel came to all Israel,’ as if this latter meant a summons to war with the Philistines (as is held by most of the older expositors, and, among the later, by Keil and O. v. Gerlach.) Rather these words conclude and sum up the description of the origin and commencement of the prophet’s work and of his announcement of the word of the Lord. We are now introduced immediately to the scene of the history, on which Samuel will henceforth appear as the Lord’s instrument, a position he has reached by the call in 1 Samuel 3–4:1 a. The narrative sets us straightway into the midst of Israel’s conflict with the Philistines. That the latter were now already in the land is assumed in the narrative, since not only is nothing said of an incursion by them, but the expression “ the Israelites went out against the Philistines” in connection with the succeeding statement of the place of encampment points to the fact that the Philistines had already possessed themselves of the land.11 In support of the view that Samuel summoned the Israelites to war Clericus remarks that he did it in God’s name, that they might be punished by a defeat; but this is inconsistent with the divine justice. The pressure of the Philistine yoke, under which Israel groaned, was already a punishment from God. If this defeat also is so regarded, it can be only on the supposition that the Israelites hazarded this battle not by God’s will, and therefore without a summons by Samuel. The name of the Israelitish camp, Ebenezer, is here given by anticipation, its origin being related in 1 Samuel 7:12, on the occasion of the victory of the Israelites over the Philistines, twenty years after this defeat. According to 7:12 it was near Mizpeh in Benjamin, Josh. 18:26; from which we must distinguish the Mizpeh in the lowland of Judah, Josh. 15:38. Aphek cannot have been far from this, and is therefore “perhaps the same place with the Canaanitish royal city Aphek (Josh. 12:18), and decidedly a different place from the Aphekah in the hill-country of Judah (Josh. 15:53); for the latter lay south or southeast of Jerusalem, since, according to Josh. loc. cit., it was one of the cities which lay in the neighborhood of Gibeon.”12 (Keil)—In 1 Samuel 4:2 an orderly battle-array on both sides is described. The וַתִּטּשׁ does not describe the spreading of the tumult of battle (as is clear from the following statement that the Israelites were beaten in the line of battle, and thence made an orderly retreat to their camp), but the sudden mutual assault of the opposing lines (Vulg.: inito proelio). It is said: “Israel was smitten before the Philistines,” with reference to the local relation and the victorious superiority of the Philistines, but at the same time in respect of God’s punishing hand which therein showed itself, as is expressly declared in In 1 Samuel 4:3.13 The Israelites lost in the battle—“in the field,” that is, in the plain, about 4000 men.
1 Samuel 4:3. After the return to the camp, it is assumed as a fact in the ensuing deliberation of the elders, that God had smitten them before the Philistines, and the cause is discussed. The whole people here appears as a unit, which is represented by the elders.—The ark here spoken of is no other than the Mosaic, the symbol of God’s presence with His people, the place of His revelation to them. Cf. Ex. 25:16–22. When the Israelites say: “ We will fetch the ark of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, and it shall come into our midst and save us from our enemies,” they assume that the Lord and the ark are inseparably connected, and that they can obtain His help against the foe, (of which they recognize their need), only by taking the ark along with them into battle. They connected the expected help essentially with the material vessel, instead of bowing in living, pure faith before the Lord, of whose revealing presence it was only a symbol, and crying to Him for His help. This is a heathenish feature in the religious life of the Israelites, and shows that their faith was obscured by superstition, there being no trace here of earnest self-examination with the question whether the cause of the defeat might not lie in God’s holiness and justice thus revealing itself against their sins. Grotius therefore well remarks: “ It is in vain that they trust in God, when they are not purged from their sins.”
1 Samuel 4:4. Jehovah as covenant-God is more precisely designated in a twofold manner, corresponding to the situation, in which the Israelites desire His almighty help, which they think to be externally connected with the ark. As Jehovah Sabaoth He is the almighty ruler and commander of the heavenly powers. As Jehovah who “ dwells above the Cherubim ” [or, “ is enthroned upon the Cherubim”—TR.], He is the living God, the God of the completest fulness of power and life, who reveals Himself on earth in His glory, exaltedness and dominion over all the fulness of the life which has been called into existence by Him as Creator. The designation of God, “ enthroned on the Cherubim,” is never found except in relation to the ark, which is conceived of as the throne of the covenant-God who dwells as King in the midst of His people. Comp. Hengstenberg on the Pss., 99:1. The Cherubim are not representatives of the heavenly powers, since they are, as to form, made up of elements of the living, animate, earthly creation which culminates in man. Representing this, they set forth, in their position on the ark, the ruling might and majesty of the living God, as it is revealed over the manifoldness of the highest and completest life of the animate creation. In these two designations of God, then, reference is had to the glory and dominion of God, which embraces and high-exceeds all creaturely life in heaven and on earth, and whose saving interposition the Israelites made dependent on the presence of the ark. In sharpest contrast to this indication of God’s loftiness and majesty stands the mention of the two priests Hophni and Phinehas, whose worthlessness has been before set forth, and who represent the whole of the moral corruption and sham religious life of the people. They brought the ark. Berlenburger Bibel: “taking the matter into their own hands, without consulting the Lord, and also without example, that what was testified of Hophni and Phinehas, 1 Samuel 2:24, might be fulfilled.” The loud exulting cry of the people14 in the camp (1 Samuel 4:5) was the expression of the joyful conviction that, now that the ark was with them in battle, victory would not fail. Probably this confidence was strengthened by the recollection of former glorious victories, gained under the presence of the ark in battle.
1 Samuel 4:6–9. And the Philistines heard, 1 Samuel 4:6 sqq. The Philistines’ camp was so near that of the Israelites that they could hear the latter’s shout of joy. For this reason the Aphek, near which the Philistines now had their camp, cannot have been the Aphekah in the hill-country of Judah (Josh. 15:53), which was south orsoutheast of Jerusalem, while, on the contrary, the Mizpah, near which we must put Ebenezer, was about four [English] miles northwest of Jerusalem.15 Noteworthy is here the lively, distinct description of the contrasted tone of the Philistines, the psychological truth of which, in the transition of feeling from consternation to fear, from fear to despair, and from despair to encouragement was most strikingly confirmed. The victors must have been at first astonished and dismayed by the shout of joy of the vanquished. Their astonishment then must have turned into fear and terror, when they learned through scouts that “the ark of the Lord” had come into the camp of the Israelites. First, from their heathen stand-point, to which, as we have seen, that of the Israelites here approached very near, they saw therein the actual presence of the God of the Hebrews. “ As all heathen feared to a certain extent the power of the gods of other nations, so also the Philistines feared the power of the god of the Israelites, and the more, that the fame of his deeds in former times had come to their ears.” (Keil.) Further, they look from this dreaded god at the supposed dangerous position in which they now suddenly find themselves in contrast with their preceding success. As certainly as the Israelites see their victory in the ark of the Lord, so vividly do the Philistines, with the cry “ woe to us!” conceive the defeat which the god of the Israelites will prepare for them. They even fall into despair. The thought of a possible averting of the threatened danger turns into a picturing of the invincibility of the God of the Israelites, and the impossibility of deliverance from him. The predicate “mighty” (אַדּירִימ) stands with elohim in the Plu. and not in the Sing., because here the polytheistic view of heathendom is set forth.16 Calvin: “ It is not strange that they say ‘ gods’ in the plural, for unbelievers ever feign many gods. Therefore this is the speech of unbelieving men, ignorant of the truth. Though the Hebrew word is often used in the Scripture in the plural of the true and only God, yet in this case the attached adjectives and verbs are always in the Sing.” “ אֶלהִיּם (Elohim) is only used very frequently and purposely with the Plu., where polytheism or idolatry is meant, Ex. 30:11, 4, 8, 1 K. 12:29, or a visible spirit (God), 1 Sam. 28:13, or where heathen speak or are spoken to, Gen. 10:13” (Ew. Gr. § 318 a).17 The fear and despair of the Philistines were founded on the revelation of the irresistible power of this God in the history of the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt. The acquaintance of the heathen nations with the wonderful demonstrations of the power of the God of Israel in this His deliverance was wide-spread. As this deliverance from Egypt was engraved indelibly in the religious consciousness of Israel, and is very often cited in the Old Testament as a type of all mighty self-revelations of God for the salvation of His people, so it was to the surrounding heathen nations the frightful instance of the invincible power of the God of Israel. This is stated, for example, in Ex. 15:14sq. in reference to the Philistines: “The nations heard, they quaked, fear seized the inhabitants of Philistia,” and in Josh. 2:10 sq. “ We have heard how Jehovah dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt . …, and when we heard it, our hearts melted, and there remained no longer courage in any man, because of you.”—With every kind of plague in the wilderness.—As the “every kind of plague” can only refer to the plagues inflicted by God on Egypt before the exodus of Israel, and the “in the wilderness,” which can mean only the catastrophe in the Red Sea, does not agree with this, Sept. and Syriac have inserted “and” before “in the wilderness;” and Bunsen accepts this as probable, in order to refer the “and in the wilderness” to the destruction in the Red Sea. Against this Böttcher rightly remarks: “the wherewith and the where of two actions are not usually so connected by and.” So against Ewald’s expedient, to insert “in their land” before “and in the wilderness,” Böttcher excellently says, that this would be very tame and flat, that there was no occasion for the supposed omission, and that the expression “ with every kind of plague” cannot in any case suit the destruction in the Red Sea, even if the word מַכָּה “blow” should be applied to the downfall of the army. Böttcher proposes to remove the difficulty by two insertions, of “and ” before “in the wilderness,” and after the latter phrase some expression of a greater demonstration of power, as “destroyed them” (הֶאֶבִידוּהוּ) from Deut. 11:4, but this is too bold. Over against such arbitrary additions to the difficult text, it is by no means a “worthless expedient,” as Thenius calls it, if we suppose that the narrator represents the Philistines as expressing their incorrect and confused view, which corresponds also psychologically with the excitement and precipitation with which they here speak. There is a sort of zeugma here, the recollections of two facts, the plagues and the destruction in the Red Sea, being combined into one expression, whence results a statement in itself incorrect. Keil thinks that, according to the view of the Philistines, all God’s miracles for the deliverance of Israel were wrought in the wilderness, because Israel had dwelt in the land of Goshen on the border of the wilderness; but the phrase“ in the wilderness” is against this. A confusion of view in the Philistines, and an exact relation of it by the narrator may be the more readily assumed, because, on the one hand, the Philistines were not investigators of history, and from their heathen stand-point, had no interest in an exact statement of those remote miracles of God for Israel, and, on the other hand, for these words of the Philistines the narrator had [possibly] before him a lyriclike song of real lamentation, as the Philistines then uttered it; just as, on the Israelitish side, he had similar bits of poetry in David’s lament over Jonathan, and in the song of the women on David’s victory. In 1 Samuel 4:9 the tone of fear, of despair, which had hitherto shown itself, suddenly, and without cause, turns to the opposite. Clericus’ insertion, “others said,” is, certainly, inadmissible; but, from the context, it hardly admits of doubt, that here different speakers from the former are introduced, that now the leaders enter, and, with encouraging words, urge the terrified body of the army to bold struggle. The repeated “be men!” is set over against the twofold expression of despondency “woe to us!” The “be strong—fight!” is directed against the “who will save us?” The reference to the disgrace, which subjection would bring on the Philistines as servants of the Israelites, is based on the pride of the people, and its force is strengthened by reference to the dependency, on the other hand, of the Israelites on them. Comp. Judg. 13:1. It is a martial, curt, energetic word, which is in striking contrast with the wide lamentation just heard, and therefore cannot have come from the same mouth as that. The false, secure, superstitious reliance of the Israelites on the present ark, their advance to battle not in the fear of the Lord and in proper trust in Him, and the newly-kindled courage of the Philistines resulted in terrible defeat of the former; the defeat was very great, especially in comparison with the first, in which 4000 fell. The result of the battle was 1) for the Israelitish army a complete dispersion (“every man fled to his tents”) with the terrific loss of 30,000 footmen (the Israelitish army consisted at this time of footmen only); 2) for the ark, its capture by the Philistines, and 3) for the sons of Eli, death. Thus a terrible divine judgment was executed on Israel and its whole religious system, dead, as it was, and void of the presence of the living God. The priesthood was judged in its unworthy representatives; the loss of the ark to the heathen was the sign that the living God does not bind His presence to a dead thing, and withdraws its helpfulness and blessings where covenant-faithfulness to Him is wanting; the mighty army was destroyed, because it had not the living, Almighty God as leader and protector, and He gave Israel, as a punishment of their degeneracy, into the power of the enemy.18
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1.The Tabernacle was, according to the divine arrangement, to be the consecrated place, where the covenant-God, dwelling among His people, would be enthroned in the revelation of His holiness, mercy and majesty; according to its designation, it was “the place where God met with the people.” It contravened, therefore, this sacred ordination of God, that Israel should without authority separate the sacred tent and the ark that belonged to it, and drag the latter into the tumult of battle, under the superstitious impression that, removed from the quiet holy place where the people assembled, and where they met with God, it would secure the mighty intervention of God. Thereby was God’s holy method of meeting with His people disturbed and destroyed. For the space outside the Holy Place and the Most Holy was the appointed place where the people assembled and drew near to God through the priesthood; and the place of the priests, symbolizing their mediating office, was between the court and the Most Holy Place; and the Most Holy Place, symbolizing God’s dwelling enthroned amid His people, did this for the whole sanctuary and for the theocratic people only through “the ark of the covenant or of the testimony,” and through its symbolic representation of God’s gracious presence; and therefore the removal of the ark of God from this consecrated place, and its separation from what was intimately connected with it by the idea of the indwelling of God in His people and their meeting together, not only stripped the Holy of Holies of its holy meaning, but also destroyed the whole order and comprehensive aim of the sanctuary. According to this divine order and aim, the people were here to draw near to their God. The people here, on the contrary, demand that God shall come to His people with His help, while they have not approached Him with penitence and humility, with prayer and sacrifice. Herein is set forth the deepest inward corruption of the priestly office, which not only did not prevent, but positively permitted such, an inversion of the theocratic order.
2. The ark, as the most essential part of the sanctuary, whose signification as “dwelling of God” it alone fully expressed, was the symbol of God’s presence with His people in the chief aspects of His self-revelation as covenant-God: first in His holiness and justice, the testimony of which in the covenant-record of the Law as the revelation of the holy and righteous will of God to His people, formed the content of the ark; secondly, in His grace and mercy, indicated by its cover, the kapporeth [mercy-seat], as the symbol of God’s merciful love, which covered the sin of His penitent people; and thirdly, in His royal majesty and glory, whose consoling and terrifying presence over the cover of the ark was symbolized by the cherubic forms. These forms are to be regarded, not as a symbolical representation of real personal existences of a higher spirit-world (Kurtz, Keil), but, both in the simpler shape in which the human form is the prominent and governing one (Ex. 25), and in the more elaborate composite form, as in Ezekiel (1 Samuel 1), as the symbolical representation of the majesty of God (presented in full glory to the covenant-people), as it is set forth in the completest creaturely life of the earthly creation. The people of Israel, evil-counselled by their elders (1 Samuel 4:3), uncounselled by their high-priest, perverted now the saving covenant-order symbolized by the ark thus constituted, in that, by the external conveyance of the ark into the battle, they severed the mighty unfolding of God’s majesty and glory against His enemies and His saving presence from the ethical condition necessary on their part—that is, in that they did not observe covenant-fidelity in obedience to the law of God, nor sought His grace and mercy in sincere penitence, but rather, in fleshly security and in dead, superstitiously degenerate religious service, deluded themselves into believing that God’s presence would secure protection and help without the moral condition of obedience to His holy will, without penitent approach to Him, and without free appropriation of His offered grace, and that it was, in its essence and working, connected with the sensely and natural. This was in open contradiction to the fundamental view of the religion of Israel, by which the idea that God dwelt above the ark amid His people in a sensely way was excluded.
3. The unauthorized, self-determined inversion of the holy order,19 in which is founded the fellowship of God with man and of man with God, is followed by the opposing manifestation of God’s punitive justice. It does not suffice to see and confess, like the elders of Israel, under the pain of self-incurred misfortune and misery, the revelation therein of the smiting hand of the almighty God; but there must be joined with this the penitent, sorrowful recognition of our own sin as its cause, and the penitent seeking after God’s mercy and help, of which there is no trace in the people and their elders. He who does not, by penitence, living trust in His mercy and obedience, make himself absolutely dependent on God and subject to Him, comes by his own fault into this inverted relation to Him, that he seeks to make Him, the holy and righteous God, subject to himself, and to secure His helping grace according to His own perverse will. Theodoret says in Quœst. in I. Reg. Interrog. X.: “By the loss of the ark God taught the Hebrews that they could rely on His providence only when they lived obedient to His law, and when they transgressed His law, could rely neither on Him nor on the sacred ark.”—Berl. Bibel on 1 Samuel 4:2: “The elders were right in recognizing the fact that the Lord had smitten them (Am. 3:6). But they were arch-hypocrites in that they did not lay the blame on themselves, and make a resolution to cleanse themselves from sin and idolatry (7:3, 4), and turn to the Lord in downright earnest and with the whole heart, but only counselled to carry the ark of the covenant into battle, put their trust in the outward, and so directed the people. If only the ark were with them, thought they, the Lord must help them. Very differently did David, and in his deep need would hold directly on the Lord; therefore he had the ark of the Lord carried back into Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:24 seq.). But they had to learn also that, as they had let obedience to the Lord go, so the Lord would let these outward signs go, with which He was not so much concerned as with obedience.—Out of God we seek in vain for help; nothing can protect us against His wrath. We must give ourselves up to Him, and that is the best means of quieting His anger. And we must so give ourselves up to Him, that we do not once think of trying to quiet His anger.”
4. There is a merely fleshly natural joy in the external affairs and ordinances of religious life and service, in that we think of and use these, not as means of glorifying God and furthering His honor, but as means of satisfying vain desires, selfish wishes and earthly-human ends. The Lord punishes such pretence, not only by thwarting these ends, but by sending the opposite, privation and distress, and even taking away the outward supports and forms of hypocritical godliness and piety, as the ark was taken from the Israelites by the Philistines. “He who has, to him shall be given; and he that has not, from him shall be taken what he has.” [Wordsworth refers, for a similar state of things, to Jer. 7:4 sq.—TR.]
5. It is one of the weightiest laws in the Kingdom of God, that when His people, who profess His name, do not show covenant-fidelity in faith and obedience, but, under cover of merely external piety, serve Him in appearance only, being in heart and life far from Him, He gives them up for punishment to the world, before which they have not magnified the honor of His name, but have covered it with reproach.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 4:1, 2. Berlenb. Bible: Israel smitten before the Philistines, is to-day also the spectacle presented by the condition of God’s people. The enemies of the Divine name, the hostile powers of darkness have for the most part the upper hand. Anxiety about sustenance or love for earthly things everywhere plays the master, and even the best Israelites are thereby overcome and made to fall.—STARKE: It is indeed not wrong to defend ourselves against the enemy who attacks us; but such defense must be undertaken in true penitence, that we may have a reconciled God and His assistance.
1 Samuel 4:3, 4. STARKE: In the punishments of God men seldom think of their sins committed, but only of outward means of turning away the punishments, Deut. 26:18; Ps. 78:56–62. SCHMID: Hypocrites leave the appointed way, and wish to prescribe to God how He shall help them.
[1 Samuel 4:3. Failure in religious enterprises, as in efforts to evangelize a particular community, or in some field of home or foreign missions. We are prone to see only the external causes of such failure, instead of perceiving and lamenting our lack of devotion and spirituality, and to ask, as if surprised or complaining, “Wherefore has the Lord smitten us before the Philistines?” And in seeking remedies, we are apt merely to hunt out striking novelties in outward agencies, instead of forsaking our sins and crying for God’s mercy and help. Such novelties may be employed, provided a) they are lawful in themselves, and b) we do not take it for granted they will be accompanied by God’s presence and blessing.
1 Samuel 4:4. The tabernacle and its leading contents, 1) as symbols of God’s manifested presence, His majesty, justice, and mercy, and of the need of purification, sacrifice, and priestly intercession in approaching Him; and 2) as foreshadowing the incarnation of God’s Son, and His work of atonement and intercession.—TR.]
1 Samuel 4:5. OSIANDER: So joyful are the ungodly in their carnal security that they let themselves dream of a happy issue, while yet they do not think of repentance and reformation of life. [HALL: Those that regarded not the God of the ark, think themselves safe and happy in the ark of God.—TR.].—BERLENB. BIBLE: The holiest things and the most precious institutions of the Lord may, as we here see, be most horribly misused contrary to God’s intention, and bring on men the utmost ruin, if they are not handled and read in a holy way and according to the will of God. How clearly is here depicted that false confidence of hypocritical Christians, which they place in outward signs, yea, in Christ Himself, without true repentance and reformation of life.
1 Samuel 4:7, 8. SCHMID: Even the mere rumor of God and of His works fills the ungodly with fear; how much more God’s written Word. God convinces even unbelievers of His majesty, that they may have no excuse, Rom. 1:20.
1 Samuel 4:9. STARKE: O ye children of God, do learn here by the example of the Philistines, that as they encourage one another for the conflict against God’s people, you, on the contrary, may encourage yourselves for the conflict against the children of Satan, Eph. 6:10 sq.—SCHMID: So desperately wicked is the human heart, that it opposes itself to God in perfect desperation rather than submit itself to Him in repentance.
1 Samuel 4:10, 11. STARKE: When the ungodly have filled up the measure of their sins, God’s anger and punishment is sure to strike them.—SCHMID: When unbelievers show themselves so brave that it appears as if they had overcome God and His people, they gain nothing by it except that they at least experience God’s heavy vengeance.—WUERTEMBERG BIBLE: The outward signs of God’s grace are to the impenitent utterly unprofitable, Jer. 7:4, 5.—TUEBINGEN BIBLE: God often punishes a people by taking away the candlestick of His word from its place, Rev. 2:5.—SCHLIER: The Lord’s arm would first chastise the secure and presumptuous people, before help could be given; the blows of the Philistines were the Lord’s rods of chastening. But there also was help near to those who would only open their eyes, for the Lord’s chastisements are meant to be unto salvation. And Israel was soon to be able to see that with their eyes. The Lord had chastised His people; but they were not to despair or to perish.—[HALL: The two sons of Eli, which had helped to corrupt their brethren, die by the hands of the uncircumcised, and are now too late separated from the ark of God by Philistines, which should have been before separated by their father. They had lived formerly to bring God’s altar into contempt, and now live to carry His ark into captivity; and at last, as those that had made up the measure of their wickedness, are slain in their sin.—TR.]
1[1 Samuel 4:1. The LXX here insert: “and it came to pass in those days that the Philistines gathered themselves together against Israel to battle,” a natural introduction which we should expect in this place, but for that very reason suspicious, since it might easily be added by a copyist to fill out our brief and abrupt text. It is not unlikely, as Bib. Comm. suggests, that the account is taken from a fuller narrative, and is introduced here chiefly to set forth the fulfillment of the prophecy against Eli’s house, that is, from the theocratic-prophetic point of view. See Erdmann’s Introduction to this Comm. § 4. The Vulg. here agrees with the Sept., the other vss. with the Hebrew.—TR.]
2[Two articles as in Jo. 3:14; 2 Sam. 24:5, to give prominence to each word.—TR.]
3[1 Samuel 4:2. Chald.: “The combatants spread themselves out,” Syr.: “there was a battle,” Sept.: ἔκλινεν ὁ πόλεμος “the battle turned (against Isr.),” Vulg.: inito certamine, Erdmann: “der Kampf ging los.” The stem גטשׁ means “to put away, scatter;” here literally “the battle spread out,” of which the rendering in Eng. A. V. is probably a fair equivalent. Thenius suggests that the Sept. read וַתָּמָשׁ, but Abarbanel also renders the verb by עזב “leave,” as if the defeat of the Israelites was referred to.—TR.]
4[1 Samuel 4:3. Sept. omits “covenant,” and had a different text from ours, but it has no claim to reception.—TR.]
5[1 Samuel 4:4. Sept. καθημένου χερουβίμ, Chald. and Syr. “on” (as in 2 Sam. 22:11), Vulg. “super.”—TR.]
6[1 Samuel 4:4. Sept. omits “there” and thus gives a very good sense; Vulg. supports Sept., and Heb. is supported by Ch. and Syr. Wellhausen thinks the word was inserted from 1 Samuel 1:3.—TR.]
7[1 Samuel 4:5. or “shook.” So Erdmann: erbebte.—TR.]
8[1 Samuel 4:7. The Chald., to avoid seeming irreverence, has “the ark of God is come.” The text of Sept. is here very bad.—TR.]
9[1 Samuel 4:8. To avoid the historical difficulty here LXX. and Syr. insert “and” and Chald. “and to his people wonders” before “in the wilderness .” See Exeg. Notes in loco.—TR.]
10[1 Samuel 4:10. Ch. “cities.”—TR.]
11[On the chronology see Trans.’s note on p. 54. The dates are difficult, but the first battle of Ebenezer may be put approximately B. C. 1100. about the time of Samson’s death, when Samuel was about 20 (or perhaps 30) years old. The third battle of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7) falls about 1080.—TR.]
12[Mr. Grove (in Smith’s Diet, of the Bible) thinks it likely that the Aphek is the same as that mentioned in 1 Sam. 29:1, and different from the places mentioned in Josh. 12 and 15, but not far from Jerusalem on the north-west. But see on 1 Sam. 29:1.—TR.]
13[This fact is not involved in the word before, which belongs to the common formula for a defeat, but is a part of the religious belief of the Israelites.—TR.]
14[It was the army that hero acted, rather than the people in a political capacity; but the word “people” perhaps points to the absence of a regular army.—TR.]
15[Neby Samwil, which is identified hy Robinson with Mizpah, is about five miles from Jerusalem. Bonar and Stanley prefer Scopus (about a mile from Jerusalem), as the site, and this view is favored by Mr. Grove. Smith’s Bib. Dict. s. v. Mizpah.—TR.]
16[And, therefore, it should be rendered plural,—“mighty gods,” and not, as Erdmann in his translation, dieses mächtigen Gottes, “this mighty god.” TR.]
17[But see Gen. 1:26, 11:7, 20:13, 2 Sam. 7:22, Ps. 58:12, where the renderings “gods,” “deity,” etc., are not quite satisfactory.—TR.]
18[These two battles are the first and second battles of Ebenezer; for the third, see 1 Sam. 7.—TR.]
19[We must guard, however, against laying too much stress on the ceremonial, symbolical order, which David violated (1 Sam. 21) without wrong. The Israelites were punished, not because they violated symbolic logic in removing the ark from the sanctuary, but because their whole religious life was perverted and disobedient. This was only the occasion of the lesson.—TR.]
And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.II. The Judgment on the House of Eli. 1 Samuel 4:12–22
12And there ran a man of Benjamin20 out of the army, and came to Shiloh the 13same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. And when [om. when] he came [ins. and] lo, Eli sat upon a [his21] seat by the wayside22 watching; for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when [om. when] the man came into the city and told it [came, in order to tell it in the city] [ins. and] all the city 14cried out. And when [om. when] Eli heard the noise of the crying, he [om. he, ins. and] said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in 15hastily [hasted and came] and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety and eight23 years old, 16and his eyes were dim [set] that he could not see. And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to-day out of the army. And he said, 17What is there done, my son? And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God 18is taken. And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side24 of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died; for he was an old man [the man was old], and heavy. And he had judged 19Israel forty25 years. And his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered;26 and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed, 20for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said, Fear not; for thou hast borne a son. But she answered 21not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying “ The glory is departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken, and because of 22her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Samuel 4:12 sq. The persons and events of the following narrative are described with peculiar vividness, so that we may here without doubt suppose the narration to rest on the direct account of an eye-witness. A man of Benjamin.—Thenius: “ This exact statement vouches for a faithful tradition.” That he comes with mournful tidings is shown by his rent garment and the earth strown on his head, as signs of sudden deep grief, in which the heart is rent with sorrow. Comp. Gen. 37:29, 34; Numb. 16:6; Josh. 7:6; 2 Sam. 15:32; Ezek. 27:30.27—To Shiloh the man came straight from the army (מַעֲרָכָה, Vulg. ex acie). According to the Jewish tradition28 this man was Saul, who snatched from Goliath the Tables of the Law, taken out of the ark, in order to save them. Instead of the יַךְ (he slew) of the text, which is unintelligible, we must read יַד (side)29: He sat by the side of the way, watching. Thenius remarks: “ What a strange expression !” But the sitting in the way, or on the side of the way by which the first message must come, answers precisely to the intense expectation in which Eli, though blind, had taken this position, so as, if not with the eyes (which, however, had perhaps still a glimmer of light), yet with the sense of hearing to learn straightway the arrival of the first messenger. Eli sits, as in 1 Samuel 1:9 at the inner, so here at the outer gate of the Sanctuary, on his seat,30 and, as appears from 1 Samuel 4:18, on the side of the gate, which was also, therefore, the side of the adjacent way.—His heart was heavy, not merely “ from anxiety and care for the ark, which without divine command he had let go from its dwelling-place into the camp” (Berl. Bib.), but also in respect to the issue of the battle itself for the people of Israel.—Eli’s blindness explains the fact that he failed to observe the messenger, who ran hurriedly by31 without noticing him. It is the cry of lamentation, raised by the people of Shiloh at his news, that directs Eli’s attention to the announcement. His question concerning the loud outcry around him, on which the messenger came to inform him, is explained in 1 Samuel 4:15 by reference to his blindness, the result of old age.—Eli was 98 years old, and his eyes were set. (The Fem. Sing. קמה with עיניו is explained, according to Ewald, § 317 a, by the abstract conception which connects itself with the Plu. of the Subst. by the combination into an abstract idea of the individuals embraced in it, “especially in lifeless objects, beasts, or in co-operating members of one body, in which the action of the individuals is not so prominent—and so in the Dual,” as here). For “were set” comp. 1 Kings 16:4, where occurs the same expression for blindness caused by old age. It is the vivid description of the lifeless, motionless appearance of the eye quenched by senile weakness, “a description of the so-called black cataract, amaurosis, which usually ensues in great old age from the feebleness of the optic nerves” (Keil, in loco). In 3:2 the process of this blinding is indicated by the word כהה as “waxing dim.”
1 Samuel 4:16 sq. The sorrowful tidings. The remark in 1 Samuel 4:15 concerning Eli’s senile weakness and blindness explains both the preceding 1 Samuel 4:14 and the statement in 1 Samuel 4:16 as to the way in which the messenger personally announces and introduces himself with the words: I am he that came out of the army.—But he says, “ I am he that came” not merely on account of Eli’s blindness, but also on account of the importance of the announcement with which he approaches the head of the whole people. It is not allowable, therefore, to translate: “I come” (De Wette). At the same time the messenger declares himself a fugitive, and so intimates that the army is completely broken up. Eli’s question refers not to the How (how stood the affair? De Wette, Bunsen), but to the What: “What was the affair?” (Thenius), Vulg.: quid actum est?—The answer of the messenger to Eli’s question (1 Samuel 4:17) contains nothing but facts in a fourfold grade, each statement more dreadful than the preceding. There is a power in these words which comes out in four sharp sentences, with blow after blow, till its force is crushing: Israel fleeing before the Philistines, a great slaughter among the people, Eli’s sons dead, the ark taken. The double “and also” (וגם) is to be observed here as characteristic of the lapidary style of the words, and the excitement with which they were spoken.—The narrator remarks expressly that the fourth blow, the news of the capture of the ark by the heathen, led to Eli’s death. This is again a sign of the fear of God, which was deeply rooted in his heart; the ark represented the honor and glory of the God who dwelt in His people; the people’s honor and power might perish; the destruction of his house might be irretardable, unavoidable; prepared beforehand for it, he had said: “ It is the Lord, let him do as seemeth him good !” But the loss of the ark to the heathen was his death-blow the more surely, the firmer had been his hope that, as of old in the time of Moses and Joshua, the host of Israel would win the victory over the Philistines under the lead of the ark which he, a weak guardian of the Sacred Vessel, had sent off to the battle without Divine command, weakly yielding to the elders of the people whose trust was not in the living God. His judicial and high-priestly office, lacking as it was in honor and renown, he closed with honor; though the manner of his death was terrible, and bore the mark of a divine judgment, he nevertheless died in the fear of God. Berl. Bib.: “It is besides an honorable and glorious death to die from care for God’s honor.” His judgeship had lasted 40 years. The Sept. reading, 20 years for 40, results, according to Thenius, from the confusion of the numeral letters מ and כ, as the reading 78 (Syr., Arab.) for 98 in 1 Samuel 4:15, according to the same critic, may be due to the confusion of צ and ע. Further, our text “ is sustained by the fact that Eli hardly became Judge in his 78th year" (Thenius).
1 Samuel 4:19 sq. Here follows the pathetic narrative of Eli’s daughter-in-law, in which is shown how the judgment on Eli’s house is still farther fulfilled in his family.32 The wife of Phinehas was so violently affected by the horror and sorrow that her pains came prematurely on her. Literally it reads: “ her pains turned upon her,” or “ began to turn themselves within her.” This expression is suggested by the ground-meaning of the word (צִירִים), “something turning, winding, circling.”
1 Samuel 4:20. The comforting word of the women who stood by: “ thou hast borne a son ” does not rouse the mother’s joy in her heart, and cannot overcome or soften its sorrow at the loss of the ark, which is more to her than the loss of husband and father-in-law—and this is set forth by two expressions in the narration: “ she gave no answer, and laid it not to heart,” did not set her mind on it. Comp. Ps 62:11 שׂוּם לֵב. What is commonly for a mother’s heart at such a time the greatest joy (Jno. 16:21), was for her as if it were not; so is her soul occupied and taken up with sorrow for the lost ark. This shows the earnest, sincere piety, in which she is like her father-in-law. Eli’s house, made ripe by his weakness for so frightful a judgment, was not in all its members personally a partaker of the godlessness and immorality of those who certainly, before the Lord and the whole nation, stamped it as ripe for God’s righteous punishment. “ The wife of this deeply corrupt man shows how penetrated the whole people then was with the sense of the value of its covenant with God ” (O. v. Gerlach).33
1 Samuel 4:21. She gives expression to what fills her heart by naming the child Ichabod. This name is not ” where is glory?” (אֵי כ׳) that is, nowhere, but it = “not glory.”34 She explains the name Not-glory, Un-glory by saying (לֵאמֹר): “the glory of Israel is carried into captivity.” (The אֵל, as in verse 19, is “ in reference to,” “ having regard to,” and belongs to לֵאמֹר as the continuation of the words of the narrator, not of the dying woman). The narrator has in mind her words, on which she based that ejaculation, but does not state them as hers till afterwards; here he states beforehand the fact contained in them as a historical explanation. We must note, however, the difference between his explanation and her reason for that exclamation in 1 Samuel 4:22. While he mentions the reference (אֶל) to the two dead, she bases the name (כִּי) on the one thing only, the capture of the ark. The honor or glory is the divine majesty, the glory of God, which is enthroned above the ark. Grotius: “ The ark above which God was accustomed to appear in glory.” With the capture of the ark “Israel’s glory is carried into captivity;” “with the abandonment of the earthly throne of His glory, the Lord seemed to have annulled His covenant of grace with Israel; for the ark, with the tables of the law and the kapporeth [mercy-seat], was the visible pledge of the covenant of grace which Jehovah had made with Israel” (Keil). Eli’s son’s wife dies, as Eli himself, in consuming sorrow over what was the core of this national and domestic misfortune, over the judgment of the turning away of the almighty living God from the covenant-people, the outward sign of which was the removal of the ark, on which, in accordance with His promise given in the law, He would sit as Israel’s God and dwell in the midst of His people. Comp. Ex. 25:22; 30:6, 36; 40:35 (“the glory of the Lord filled the dwelling”), 1 Kings 8:10, 11. [Bib. Comm. refers to Ps. 78:61, 64 as containing allusions to this incident. Wordsworth: “With God there is no Ichabod.”—TR.] “The necessary result of this national view of the ark is that there was only one sanctuary, so that all those passages which affirm it may be cited as direct testimony to the fact that there was only one sanctuary.” (Hengst. Beit. [Contrib.] 3:55.)
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. In the history of His kingdom on earth God the Lord often permits times to come, when it seems as if the victory had been forever borne away from His people by the hostile world, and the holy ordinances of His kingdom, and its gracious benefits forever abandoned to the power of unbelief. Such times are times of judgment on the house of the Lord, the purpose of which is to make manifest all who truly belong to the Lord’s people, to put an end to the hypocrisy of dead belief and of the unbelief which is concealed under outward forms and the appearance of godliness, to lead to earnest, honest repentance, and bring men to seek again God’s mercy in true living faith.
2. Outcry over inbreaking outward and inward corruption, in which God’s judgments are inflicted, is nothing but an expression of the sorrow which flesh and blood feels, a sign of the distance and alienation of the fleshly heart from God, unless therein the cry is heard: “It is the Lord, this the Lord hath done,” and the confession is made: “We have deserved it by our sins,” and unless recourse is had in penitence and faith to God’s grace and mercy. And all this was lacking in the outcry of that whole city and its loud tumult.
3. “Being in God”—that is, the union of the heart with Him in the deepest foundation of its being, reveals itself in times of great misfortune and suffering in this, that the sorrow and mourning is not restricted to the loss of earthly-human possessions, but directs itself chiefly to the loss and lack of God’s gracious presence, and thus shows that for the inner life the glory of God and blessedness in communion with Him is become the highest good. So here in this refraining from grief over the loss of what to the flesh was the nearest and dearest, and in the outspoken sorrow only over the violence done to God’s honor and the contempt cast on His name, is verified the Lord’s word: “He who forsaketh not father or mother, or brother, etc., is not worthy of me.”
4. Eli and his son’s wife are shining examples of true heartfelt piety in the gloom of the corruption that reigned in the high-priestly family and the judgments that came on it, in that they are not taken up with their own interests, but bewail the violation of the sanctuary, the contempt put on God’s honor as the highest misfortune; and so in times of universal confusion and degradation which God the Lord lets befall His kingdom in this world, He has always His people in secret, who look not on their own need and tribulation as most to be lamented, but sorrow most deeply and heavily that the ends of His grace are thwarted, the honor of His name violated, and the affairs of His kingdom in confusion.
5. Even a sudden terrible death under the stroke of a merited judgment of God may be a blessed death in the living God, if the heart breaks with the cry: “To God alone the glory!”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 4:12. The outward signs of mourning, such as were usual among the people of Israel—rending the garments and putting ashes or dust on the head—ought to be a symbolical representation of godly sorrow for sin, in which the heart is broken to pieces by the word of the holy and righteous God, and the whole man casts himself humbly and penitently into the dust before his God. [Very fanciful.—TR.] But, as then under the oppression of Philistine rule in Israel, there is nowhere a trace to be found of such repentance, when the misfortune over which men mourn and lament is not regarded and felt as a punishment of God for sin, and the smiling hand of the righteous and holy God is not therein recognized.
1 Samuel 4:13. S. SCHMID: We must take care not to do any thing with a doubtful conscience, that we may not have always to stand in fear, Rom. 16:23.—Those who will not cry out over their sins in true repentance must at last cry out over the punishment and their misfortune.
1 Samuel 4:17, 18. STARKE: When men sin without distinction, God also punishes without distinction, and regards no person, dignity, age, nor condition, Wisdom 6:7.—S. SCHMID: The honor of God and the true service of God must lie more on our hearts than our own children and parents.—BERL. BIBLE: It is a wonderful thing that whereas the people were so powerful and had gained so many victories, as long as God protected them, they now fly and let themselves be overcome almost without a struggle, as soon as ever God ceases to be on their side. If God protects us in a special way, we are a match for our enemies; but if He leaves us only for a little to ourselves, into what weaknesses do we not then fall! So that we unite with our enemies in contributing much to our downfall.—We must, however, regard it as an effect of God’s compassion when He permits us to be smitten. For if this did not happen, we should not sufficiently recognize our weakness, and our great need of His assistance.—It is an honorable and glorious death to die from concern for the honor of God.
1 Samuel 4:21, 22. BERLEB. BIBLE: As soon as we lose this presence (God’s), we fall into the utmost weakness and into powerlessness, so that we can no more do what we have done before. We also cease to be a terror to our enemies; for these, on the contrary, now rejoice over our defeat.—WUNDERLICH (in DAECHSEL): So prevalent in Israel was a regard for the glory of God, which streamed down upon the people, so deeply implanted was the theocratic national consciousness that a woman in travail forgot her pains, and a dying woman the terrors of death, a mother did not comfort herself in her new-born son, and sorrow for the lost jewel of the nation outweighed even sorrow for the death of a father and of a husband, and this in a family and in a period which must be regarded as degenerate.
1 Samuel 4:12–22. A terrible and yet an honorable end—if 1) With the humble confession “ It is the Lord ” the hand of God as it smites down is held back; 2) In complete unselfishness one’s own misfortune and ruin is quite forgotten over the shame brought upon the honor and the name of God; and 3) The hidden man of the heart, with all his striving, turns himself alone towards the honor and glory of God as his supreme good.—The defeats of God’s people in the conflict with the world which is hostile to His kingdom. 1) Their causes: a) on their side: unfaithfulness towards the Lord, arbitrary, self-willed entrance into the strife without God, cowardice and flight; b) on God’s side: punitive justice, abandonment to the hands of their enemies. 2 Their necessary consequences: deep hurt to the yet remaining life of faith, injury to the honor of God, and shame brought upon His glorious name. 3) The results contemplated by God in permitting them, or their design: sincere repentance, all the more zealous care for the Lord’s honor, glorifying His name so much the more.—Without honor to God no honor to the people: 1) In the inner life of the people—error and heterodoxy, where the light of His revealed truth does not shine, sin and unrighteousness, where there is a lack of faithful obedience to His holy will, spiritual-moral wretchedness and ruin, where God must withdraw His gracious presence; 2) In the outer life of the people in relation to other peoples, oppression and subjection, introduction from without of godlessness and immorality, loss of their good name.—The cry, Ichabod, the glory is departed from Israel, is a cry which 1) as a lamenting cry, is grounded in the proper recognition of the cause, greatness and significance of the ruin and wretchedness which come from being abandoned by God, and 2) as an awakening cry is designed to admonish to earnest repentance and returning to the Lord, that the light of His glory may again break forth out of the gloom.
[1 Samuel 4:19–22. The pious wife of Phinehas. 1) Pious, though living in an age of general corruption. 2) Deeply pious, though the wife of a grossly wicked husband. 3) So pious, that in her devout grief all other strongest feelings were swallowed up: a) maternal feeling, b) conjugal and filial feeling, c) patriotic feeling.—TR.]
20[1 Samuel 4:12. Instead of the Gen. construction, as here, the Heb..has more commonly the tribal name as Adj. (gentilie), as in Judg. 3:15; 2 Sam. 20:1; but for ex. of this form see Judg. 10:1.—TR.]
21[1 Samuel 4:13. The Art. here points to some well-known or accustomed seat.—TR.]
22[1 Samuel 4:13. It is generally agreed that we must here read, with the Qeri and Syr., יד instead of יך, but the absence of the Art. in דרך makes a difficulty, and the Sept. and Chald. seem to hare rendered from a slightly different text. Sept. has: “Eli was near the gate, watching the way,” and Chald.: “Eli sat in the path of the way of the gate watching.” So in 1 Samuel 4:18 the Heb. text “side of the gate.” It would seem probable, therefore, that הַשַּעַר “the gate” has fallen out here.—TR.]
23[1 Samuel 4:15. Sept. here gives 90 years, and Syr. (followed by Arab.) 78.—TR.]
24[1 Samuel 4:18. Wellhausen objects to בעד יד, rejects the עד as repetition by error, and reads ביד. But this is unnecessary; comp. the אֵל in 2 Sam. 18:4, and the force of בעד in Job 2:4.—TR.]
25[1 Samuel 4:18. Sept. gives 20 years, other verss. 40.—TR.]
26[1 Samuel 4:19. לַת for לֶדֶת, the only place where this contraction occurs (so Rashi).—TR.]
27[On the importance of “runners” see note in Bib. Comm. on this verse, which remarks also, that as the messenger came from Ebenezer within the day (1 Samuel 4:16) it must have been near.—TR.]
28[See Talmudical Tract Sota, and the Midrash of Samuel, and comms. of Rashi and Abarbanel.—TR.]
29[See “Textual and Grammatical” note on this word.—TR.]
30[This word (כסא) everywhere else clearly means “throne” (unless perhaps in 1 Ki. 2:19; Ps. 9:14), and comp. Zech. 6:13. Yet, in the infrequent occurrence of any word for an ordinary seat (and see Ez. 28:2, מוֹשַׁב א׳ “seat of God”), though the word seems to imply something of official dignity, the rendering throne (Josephus: ἐφ’ ὑψηλο͂υ θρόνου) would here be not so good as “seat.”—TR.]
31[The messenger probably entered the city by the gate where Eli was sitting.—TR.]
32The לְ before לֶדֶת=לַת is that of time, our towards, on, about; comp. Josh. 2:3, “the gate was for closing,” that is, was to be closed immediately; Ew. Gr. 217, 2 b. So here: towards bearing, near to bearing. On the contraction of לֶדֶת into לַת comp. Ew. Gr. § 236,1 b, and § 80.—אֵל is often used, as here, to point out the object to which the narration relates—with the verbs “say, relate.” Comp. Gen. 20:2; Ps. 2:7; 69:27; Is. 38:19; Jer. 27:19; Job 42:7. It is explained by the fact that, in narrating or speaking, the mind is directed to the object, stands in relation to it. Comp. לִ Isa. 5:1. That it here depends on a subst., and not, as usually, on a verb, does not affect the principle, since a verbal conception lies in this subst.
33[We can hardly draw a conclusion concerning the whole nation from the example of one person, and Gerlach’s inference is, for other reasons, doubtful.—TR.]
34 אִי is not אָבִי contracted, as in אִיעֶזֶר, Nu. 26:30; Ew. § 84 c, but = “not,” “without,” Ew. § 273 b, A. 1, p. 667, comp. § 209 c, to which the context points.