1 Samuel 13:6 MEANING

1 Samuel 13:6
(6) Saw that they were in a strait.--It was evidently no ordinary Philistine foray or invasion which the Israelites had to make head against. The tradition preserved by Josephus tells us that a host of foreign allies had joined the Ph?nician armies in this war. This accounts for the great numbers alluded to in the text: "People as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude" (1 Samuel 13:5). The hearts of the as yet undisciplined Hebrews sank at the tidings of such an invasion. And in high places.--The word in the original Hebrew is not the same as the one usually rendered "high places" for prayer and sacrifice. The word here signifies towers. It is the same word which in Judges 9:46; Judges 9:49 is translated "a hold." In the Speaker's Commentary it is suggested that it was applied to a particular kind of tower which was the work of the old Canaanite inhabitants, and which remained as ruins in the time of Saul.

Verse 6. - The people were distressed. Literally, were squeezed, pressed together, were in difficulties. The Philistines had so promptly answered Saul's challenge, that the Israelites, forgetting their victory over Nahash, whose men, however, had probably very inferior arms to those worn by the Philistines, lost courage; and even the picked band of 2000 men dwindled to 600. As for the mass of the people, they acted with the most abject cowardice, hiding themselves in caves, of which there are very many in the limestone ranges of Palestine. David subsequently found safety in them when hunted by Saul. Also in thickets. The word as spelt here occurs nowhere else, nor do the versions agree as to its meaning. Most probably it signifies clefts, rifts or fissures in the rocks. The next word, rocks, certainly means precipitous cliffs; and thickets or thorn bushes would scarcely be placed between caverns and cliffs, both of which belong to mountains. In high places. This word occurs elsewhere only in Judges 9:46, 49, where it is rendered hold. But this meaning is not supported by the ancient versions, and it more probably signifies a vault or crypt, which better suits the hiding place next mentioned, pits, i.e. tanks, artificial reservoirs for water, with which most districts were well supplied in Palestine, even before its conquest by Israel. They were absolutely necessary, as the rains fall only at stated periods, and the chalky soil will not hold water; when dry they would form fit places for concealment.

13:1-7 Saul reigned one year, and nothing particular happened; but in his second year the events recorded in this chapter took place. For above a year he gave the Philistine time to prepare for war, and to weaken and to disarm the Israelites. When men are lifted up in self-sufficiency, they are often led into folly. The chief advantages of the enemies of the church are derived from the misconduct of its professed friends. When Saul at length sounded an alarm, the people, dissatisfied with his management, or terrified by the power of the enemy, did not come to him, or speedily deserted him.When the men of Israel saw they were in a strait, for the people were distressed,.... By reason of the vast army that the Philistines brought into the field, greatly superior to theirs, and were likely to be encompassed by them on every side; so that nothing but destruction was expected, which gave them the utmost anxiety and uneasiness; though Abarbinel refers this last clause, not to the people of Israel, but to the people of the Philistines, and takes it in this sense:

for the people drew nigh; the army of the Philistines was approaching, and got near to them; and so they were in great danger of being quickly attacked by them, and destroyed, their numbers being so great:

then the people did hide themselves in caves; of which there were many in the land of Judea, capable of receiving a large number, as the cave of Adullam, the cave of Engedi, &c. and such as the Israelites made to hide themselves when oppressed by the Midianites, Judges 6:2.

and in thickets; woods and forests, or among thorns, as Jarchi; where there was a very great number of brambles and thorn bushes; some, as Kimchi, interpret the word of munitions, garrisons, and fortified places, to which they betook themselves:

in rocks, and in high places, and in pits; in the holes of rocks and mountains, particularly in Mount Ephraim; see 1 Samuel 14:22 and where there were any pits or ditches, high or deep places, where they might be out of sight, and be sheltered from their enemies.

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