1 Samuel 11:1 MEANING

1 Samuel 11:1
(1) Nahash the Ammonite.--Nahash was king of the children of Ammon (see 1 Samuel 12:12). This royal family was in some way related to David (see 2 Samuel 17:25; 1 Chronicles 2:16-17). At the time of David's exile owing to the rebellion of Absalom, a son of Nahash the Ammonite is specially mentioned as showing kindness to the fugitive king. Jabesh-gilead was a city situated in Northern Gilead, in the territory assigned to Manasseh. Josephus states that it was the capital of the country of Gilead. The Ammonites were a kindred race to the Moabites, being descended from the same ancestor, the patriarch Lot. They asserted that a portion of their territory had been taken from them by Israel, and in the days of the judges sorely harassed the people. The Judge Jephthah attacked and defeated them with great slaughter.

It was, no doubt, to avenge the disgrace they had suffered at the hands of Jephthah that their warlike monarch, Nahash,--deeming the opportunity a favourable one, owing to the old age of the reigning judge, Samuel,--invaded the Israelitic country bordering upon his kingdom, and besieged the city of Jabesh-gilead.

Make a covenant with us.--The citizens of Jabesh-gilead, feeling their isolation and comparative remoteness from the chief centre of the people, were willing to pay a tribute to the Ammonite king, and made him overtures to this effect.

Verses 1, 2. - Nahash the Ammonite. The same name is found in 2 Samuel 10:2 as that of the father of Hanun, who treated David's ambassadors so shamefully, and probably they mean the same person. He is there said to have shown kindness to David; and as we read in 2 Samuel 17:25 that Abigal (so the Hebrew, not Abigail as the A.V., who was David's wife), Amasa's mother, was the daughter of Nahash, and as Abigal was the sister or half-sister of Zeruiah, David's aunt, there seems to have been some relationship between them. The Ammonites were old enemies of the Israelites, alleging that Israel had taken possession of territory east of the Jordan which rightfully belonged to them (Judges 11:13); but after their defeat by Jephthah their power was so broken that they allowed a century to elapse before they ventured again to assert their claim. Nahash, apparently after other invasions (1 Samuel 12:12), now attacks Jabesh-Gilead, a city in the half-tribe of Manasseh, which had been cruelly treated by the Israelites (Judges 21:10), but apparently had risen again from its ruins. Its inhabitants were willing humbly to submit to Ammonite rule; but Nahash will grant them no other terms than that they should let him thrust out - Hebrew, bore through - all their right eyes, not from any special spite against them, but as an insult to all Israel. No better proof could be given of the disorganisation of the nation than that a petty despot should venture to show his contempt for it in so offensive a way.

11:1-11 The first fruit of Saul's government was the rescue of Jabesh-gilead from the Ammonites. To save their lives, men will part with liberty, and even consent to have their eyes put out; is it then no wisdom to part with that sin which is as dear to us as our right eye, rather than to be cast into hell-fire? See the faith and confidence of Saul, and, grounded thereon, his courage and resolution. See also his activity in this business. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon men, it will make them expert, even without experience. When zeal for the glory of God, and love for the brethren, urge men to earnest efforts, and when God is pleased to help, great effects may speedily be produced.Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead,.... A month after, as in the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, that is, a month after Saul was chosen king; so Josephus (p): this prince was preparing for war against Israel before, which they hearing of, requested they might have a king to go before them in battle, 1 Samuel 12:12 but now he actually marched from his own country, and besieged Jabeshgilead, a city in the land of Gilead, from whence it had its name, and lay in the half tribe of Manasseh, on the other side Jordan, see Judges 21:8. It lay near to the Ammonites, and was part of the country they laid claim to in the times of Jephthah, which they now renewed, and attempted to gain it by force. This Nahash was king of the Ammonites, as he is called in the Targum, and by Josephus (q), and so in the Arabic version, see 1 Samuel 12:12.

and all the men of Jabeshgilead said unto Nahash, make a covenant with us; they desired to be his allies and confederates, live in peace and friendship with him, and enjoy their religion and liberties on certain conditions they were willing to come into; and this was the sense of them all, or at least the greatest part, which showed a mean and abject spirit in them, to make no defence of themselves, but as soon as besieged to move for a capitulation. This doubtless arose from a sense of their weakness, not being able to hold it out long, and from an apprehension that their brethren the Israelites, on the other side Jordan, could give them no assistance, being in an unsettled condition, having chosen a king, and he scarcely on the throne, and the Philistines having great power over them:

and we will serve thee; not as slaves, but as tributaries; they were willing to pay a yearly tax to him.

(p) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 5. sect. 1.((q) Ibid.

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