1 Samuel 14:35 MEANING

1 Samuel 14:35
(35) The same was the first altar that he built . . .--More accurately, as in margin, the same he began to build as an altar. The great Jewish commentators are divided as to the precise meaning of the old Hebrew language of this verse. Abarbanel interprets the words, "that King Saul began to build, but did not finish." The Midrash prefers to understand the statement as telling how "Saul began among the kings of Israel the building of altars." The more obvious meaning, if we translate as in our English Version, seems to be that this was the first public acknowledgment King Saul made to God for the mercies and goodness vouchsafed to him.

Verse 35. - And Saul built an altar unto Jehovah as a thank offering for the Divine favour in gaining so great a victory. The same was the first altar, etc. Literally, "As to it he began to build an altar unto Jehovah." On these words the question has arisen whether the meaning be that Saul began to build an altar, but with characteristic impetuosity left off before he had completed it; or whether on that occasion he commenced the custom followed by David (2 Samuel 24:25) of erecting altars as the patriarchs had done in old time. The latter interpretation is more in accordance with the usage of the Hebrew language, and is approved by the translations of the Septuagint and Vulgate.


14:24-35 Saul's severe order was very unwise; if it gained time, it lost strength for the pursuit. Such is the nature of our bodies, that daily work cannot be done without daily bread, which therefore our Father in heaven graciously gives. Saul was turning aside from God, and now he begins to build altars, being then most zealous, as many are, for the form of godliness when he was denying the power of it.And Saul built an altar unto the Lord,.... To offer peace offerings upon, in thankfulness for the victory obtained over his enemies, or sin offerings to make atonement for the sin of the people, perhaps both, however the former:

the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord; for though he had offered sacrifice at Gilgal, there was an altar ready built for him: or "he began to build"; he laid the first stone of it, and the builders built upon it; so some others say, that he was the first of the kings that built an altar to the Lord (d); others, the first of the judges that built one; though Gideon built one, it was for his own private use, not for all Israel, as this, so R. Isaiah; but Ben Gersom, and so Abarbinel, refer this to the great stone Saul ordered to be rolled to him, and take the sense to be, that that began to be built an altar to the Lord; that was the beginning of one; for he did not now stay to finish it, being eager on his pursuit of the Philistines, as follows.

(d) See Kimchi in loc.

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