1 Samuel 11:2 MEANING

1 Samuel 11:2
(2) On this condition.--The horrible cruelty of this scornful proposal gives us an insight into the barbarous customs of this imperfectly civilised age. Indeed, many of the crimes we read of in these books--crimes which, to modern ears, justly sound shocking and scarcely credible--are referable to the fact that civilisation and its humanizing influences had made but little way as yet among the nations of the world.

The object of Nahash's cruelty was to incapacitate the inhabitants of Jabesh from ever further assisting his enemies in war; they would henceforth be blinded in the right eye, while the left eye would be concealed by the shield which fighting-men were in the habit of holding before them.

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.And Nahash the Ammonite answered them,.... In a very haughty and scornful manner:

on this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes; some Jewish writers go into a mystical and allegorical sense of these words, as that Nahash ordered the book of the law to be brought, which was their right eye, that he might erase out of it these words:

an Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; others understand it of the sanhedrim, which were the eyes of Israel; and others, which come a little nearer to the sense, of the slingers and archers, the desire of the eyes of Israel; and who, by having their right eyes thrust out, would be in a great measure spoiled for taking aim; for the words are to be understood literally; the intention of Nahash was to disable them for war, and that they might become quite unfit for it, as Josephus observes (r); the left eye being under the shield, as it usually was in war, and the right eye plucked out, they would be as blind men: he did not choose to have both their eyes thrust out, for then they could have been of no use and service to him as slaves or tributaries:

and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel; that they did not come up to the relief of their brethren, and defend them, and signifying that they must all expect the same treatment from him.

(r) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 5. sect. 1.

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