Saul Fails the Lord
1 Saul was [thirty]#tc The MT does not have “thirty.” A number appears to have dropped out of the Hebrew text here, since as it stands the MT (literally, “a son of a year”) must mean that Saul was only one year old when he began to reign! The KJV, attempting to resolve this, reads “Saul reigned one year,” but that is not the normal meaning of the Hebrew text represented by the MT. Although most LXX mss lack the entire verse, some Greek mss have “thirty years” here (while others have “one year” like the MT). The Syriac Peshitta has Saul’s age as twenty-one. But this seems impossible to harmonize with the implied age of Saul’s son Jonathan in the following verse. Taking into account the fact that in v. 2 Jonathan was old enough to be a military leader, some scholars prefer to supply in v. 1 the number forty (cf. ASV, NASB). The present translation (“thirty”) is a possible but admittedly uncertain proposal based on a few Greek mss and followed by a number of English versions (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT). Other English versions simply supply ellipsis marks for the missing number (e.g., NAB, NRSV). years old when he began to reign; he ruled over Israel for [forty]#tc The MT has “two years” here. If this number is to be accepted as correct, the meaning apparently would be that after a lapse of two years at the beginning of Saul’s reign, he then went about the task of consolidating an army as described in what follows (cf. KJV, ASV, CEV). But if the statement in v. 1 is intended to be a comprehensive report on the length of Saul’s reign, the number is too small. According to Acts 13:21 Saul reigned for forty years. Some English versions (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT), taking this forty to be a round number, add it to the “two years” of the MT and translate the number in 2 Sam 13:1 as “forty-two years.” While this is an acceptable option, the present translation instead replaces the MT’s “two” with the figure “forty.” Admittedly the textual evidence for this decision is weak, but the same can be said of any attempt to restore sense to this difficult text (note the ellipsis marks at this point in NAB, NRSV). The Syriac Peshitta lacks this part of v. 1. years. 2 Saul selected for himself three thousand men from Israel. Two thousand of these were with Saul at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel;#map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. the remaining thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.#tn Heb “at Gibeah of Benjamin.” The words “in the territory” are supplied in the translation for clarity. He sent all the rest of the people back home.#tn Heb “each one to his tents.”
3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost#tn Or perhaps “struck down the Philistine official.” See the note at 1 Sam 10:5. Cf. TEV “killed the Philistine commander.” that was at Geba and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul alerted#tn Heb “blew the ram’s horn in.” all the land saying, “Let the Hebrews pay attention!” 4 All Israel heard this message,#tn The words “this message” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel is repulsive#tn Heb “stinks.” The figurative language indicates that Israel had become repulsive to the Philistines. to the Philistines!” So the people were summoned to join#tn Heb “were summoned after.” Saul at Gilgal.
5 For the battle with Israel the Philistines had amassed 3,000#tn Many English versions (e.g., KJV, NASB, NRSV, TEV) read “30,000” here. chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 The men of Israel realized they had a problem because their army was hard pressed. So the army hid in caves, thickets, cliffs, strongholds,#tn Or perhaps “vaults.” This rare term also occurs in Judg 9:46, 49. Cf. KJV “high places”; ASV “coverts”; NAB “caverns”; NASB “cellars”; NIV, NCV, TEV “pits”; NRSV, NLT “tombs.” and cisterns. 7 Some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan River#tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity. to the land of Gad and Gilead. But Saul stayed at Gilgal; the entire army that was with him was terrified. 8 He waited for seven days, the time period indicated by Samuel.#tn This apparently refers to the instructions given by Samuel in 1 Sam 10:8. If so, several years had passed. On the relationship between chs. 10 and 13, see V. P. Long, The Art of Biblical History (FCI), 201-23. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the army began to abandon Saul.#tn Heb “dispersed from upon him”; NAB, NRSV “began to slip away.”
9 So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” Then he offered a burnt offering. 10 Just when he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel appeared on the scene. Saul went out to meet him and to greet him.#tn Heb “to bless him.”
11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “When I saw that the army had started to abandon me#tn Heb “dispersed from upon me.” and that you didn’t come at the appointed time and that the Philistines had assembled at Micmash, 12 I thought,#tn Heb “said.” ‘Now the Philistines will come down on me at Gilgal and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt obligated#tn Or “I forced myself” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, CEV); NAB “So in my anxiety I offered”; NIV “I felt compelled.” to offer the burnt offering.”
13 Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have made a foolish choice! You have not obeyed#tn Or “kept.” the commandment that the Lord your God gave#tn Heb “commanded.” you. Had you done that, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever! 14 But now your kingdom will not continue! The Lord has sought out#tn This verb form, as well as the one that follows (“appointed”), indicates completed action from the standpoint of the speaker. This does not necessarily mean that the Lord had already conducted his search and made his choice, however. The forms may be used for rhetorical effect to emphasize the certainty of the action. The divine search for a new king is as good as done, emphasizing that the days of Saul’s dynasty are numbered. for himself a man who is loyal to him#tn Heb “according to his heart.” The idiomatic expression means to be like-minded with another, as its use in 1 Sam 14:7 indicates. and the Lord has appointed#tn Heb “commanded.” him to be leader over his people, for you have not obeyed what the Lord commanded you.”
15 Then Samuel set out and went up from Gilgal#tc The LXX and two Old Latin mss include the following words here: “on his way. And the rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the warring army. When they arrived from Gilgal….” to Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.#tn Heb “at Gibeah of Benjamin.” The words “in the territory” are supplied in the translation for clarity (likewise in the following verse). Saul mustered the army that remained with him; there were about six hundred men. 16 Saul, his son Jonathan, and the army that remained with them stayed in Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin, while the Philistines camped in Micmash.#tn The juxtaposition of disjunctive clauses in v.16 indicates synchronic action. 17 Raiding bands went out from the camp of the Philistines in three groups. One band turned toward the road leading to Ophrah by the land of Shual; 18 another band turned toward the road leading to Beth Horon; and yet another band turned toward the road leading to the border that overlooks the valley of Zeboim in the direction of the desert.
19 A blacksmith could not be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines had said, “This will prevent the Hebrews from making swords and spears.” 20 So all Israel had to go down to the Philistines in order to get their plowshares, cutting instruments, axes, and sickles#tc The translation follows the LXX (“their sickle”) here, rather than the MT “plowshares,” which is due to dittography from the word earlier in the verse. sharpened. 21 They charged#tn Heb “the price was.” The meaning of the Hebrew word פְּצִירָה (pÿtsirah) is uncertain. This is the only place it occurs in the OT. Some propose the meaning “sharpening,” but “price” is a more likely meaning if the following term refers to a weight (see the following note on the word “shekel”). See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 238. two-thirds of a shekel#tn This word, which appears only here in the OT, probably refers to a stone weight. Stones marked פִּים (pim) have been found in excavations of Palestinian sites. The average weight of such stones is 0.268 ounces, which is equivalent to about two-thirds of a shekel. This probably refers to the price charged by the Philistines for the services listed. See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 238; DNWSI 2:910; and G. I. Davies, Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions, 259. to sharpen plowshares and cutting instruments, and a third of a shekel#tc Heb “and for a third, a pick.” The Hebrew text suffers from haplography at this point. The translation follows the textual reconstruction offered by P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 235. to sharpen picks and axes, and to set ox goads. 22 So on the day of the battle no sword or spear was to be found in the hand of anyone in the army that was with Saul and Jonathan. No one but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Jonathan Ignites a Battle
23 A garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass at Micmash.