Containing the Interval of 32 Years.
[From the Death of Eli, to the death of Saul.]
The destruction that came upon the Philistines, and upon their land, by the wrath of God; on account of their having carried the ark away captive: and after what manner they sent it back to the Hebrews.
1. [An. 1148] When the Philistines had taken the ark of the Hebrews captive, as I said a little before, they carried it to the city of Ashdod; and put it by their own god; who was called Dagon; (1) as one of their spoils. But when they went into his temple the next morning, to worship their god, they found him paying the same worship to the ark: for he lay along, as having fallen down from the basis whereon he had stood. So they took him up, and set him on his basis again; and were much troubled at what had happened. And as they frequently came to Dagon, and found him still lying along, in a posture of adoration to the ark, they were in very great distress and confusion. At length God sent a very destructive disease upon the city and countrey of Ashdod: for they died of the dysentery or flux; a sore distemper, that brought death upon them very suddenly; for before the soul could, as usual in easy deaths, be well loosed from the body, they brought up their entrails, and vomited up what they had eaten, and what was intirely corrupted by the disease. And as to the fruits of their countrey, a great multitude of mice arose out of the earth and hurt them; and spared neither the plants, nor the fruits. Now while the people of Ashdod were under these misfortunes, and were not able to support themselves under their calamities, they perceived that they suffered thus because of the ark; and that the victory they had gotten, and their having taken the ark captive, had not happened for their good. They therefore sent to the people of Askelon, and desired that they would receive the ark among them. This desire of the people of Ashdod was not disagreeable to those of Askelon: so they granted them that favour. But when they had gotten the ark, they were in the same miserable condition. For the ark carried along with it the disasters that the people of Ashdod had suffered, to those who received it from them. Those of Askelon also sent it away from themselves to others. Nor did it stay among those others neither. For since they were pursued by the same disasters, they still sent it to the neighbouring cities. So that the ark went round, after this manner, to the five cities of the Philistines: as though it exacted these disasters as a tribute to be paid it for its coming among them.
2. When those that had experienced these miseries were tired out with them, and when those that heard of them were taught thereby not to admit the ark among them, since they paid so dear a tribute for it; at length they sought for some contrivance and method how they might get free from it. So the governours of the five cities, Gath, and Ekron, and Askelon; as also of Gaza and Ashdod met together, and considered what was fit to be done. And at the first they thought proper to send the ark back to its own people; as allowing that God had avenged its cause; that the miseries they had undergone came along with it; and that these were sent on their cities upon its account, and together with it. However there were those that said, they should not do so, nor suffer themselves to be deluded, as ascribing the cause of their miseries to it: because it could not have such power and force upon them. For had God had such a regard to it, it would not have been delivered into the hands of men. So they exhorted them to be quiet, and to take patiently what had befallen them; and to suppose there was no other cause of it but nature; which at certain revolutions of time produces such mutations in the bodies of men, in the earth, in plants, and in all things that grow out of the earth. But the counsel that prevailed over those already described, was that of certain men, who were believed to have distinguished themselves in former times for their understanding and prudence; and who in their present circumstances seemed above all the rest to speak properly. These men said, it was not right either to send the ark away, or to retain it; but to dedicate five golden images, one for every city, as a thank-
3. So they determined that these men spake well; and they immediately confirmed their opinion by doing accordingly. And when they had done as hath been already described, they brought the cart to a place where three ways met; and left it there, and went their ways. But the kine went the right way, and as if some persons had driven them; while the rulers of the Philistines followed after them; as desirous to know where they would stand still; and to whom they would go. Now there was a certain village of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Bethshemesh; and to that village did the kine go: and though there was a great and good plain before them to proceed in, they went no farther, but stopped the cart there. This was a sight to those of that village; and they were very glad. For it being then summer time; and all the inhabitants being then in their fields, gathering in their fruits, they left off the labours of their hands for joy, as soon as they saw the ark, and ran to the cart: and taking the ark down, and the vessel that had the images in it, and the mice, they set them upon a certain rock, which was in the plain. And when they had offered a splendid sacrifice to God, and feasted, they offered the cart and the kine as a burnt offering. And when the lords of the Philistines saw this they returned back.
4. But now it was that the wrath of God overtook them, and struck seventy persons dead of the village of Bethshemesh: (4) who not being Priests, and so not worthy to touch the ark, had approached to it. Those of that village wept for these that had thus suffered; and made such a lamentation as was naturally to be expected on so great a misfortune that was sent from God: and every one mourned for his own relation. And since they acknowledged themselves unworthy of the ark’s abode with them, they sent to the publick senate of the Israelites, and informed them that the ark was restored by the Philistines. Which when they knew, they brought it away to Kirjathjearim; a city in the neighbourhood of Bethshemesh. In this city lived one Abinadab, by birth a Levite, and who was greatly commended for his righteous and religious course of life: so they brought the ark to his house, as to a place fit for God himself to abide in, since therein did inhabit a righteous man. His sons also ministred to the divine service at the ark; and were the principal curators of it for twenty years;1 for so many years it continued in Kirjathjearim; having been but four months2 with the Philistines.
The expedition of the Philistines against the Hebrews; and the Hebrews victory, under the conduct of Samuel the Prophet, who was their General.
1. [An. 1128] Now while the city of Kirjathjearim had the ark with them, the whole body of the people betook themselves all that time to offer prayers and sacrifices to God; and appeared greatly concerned and zealous about his worship. So Samuel the Prophet, seeing how ready they were to do their duty, thought this a proper time to speak to them while they were in this good disposition; about the recovery of their liberty, and of the blessings that accompanied the same. Accordingly he used such words to them as he thought were most likely to excite that inclination, and to persuade them to attempt it: “O you Israelites, said he, to whom the Philistines are still grievous enemies; but to whom God begins to be gracious: it behooves you not only to be desirous of liberty, but to take the proper methods to obtain it. Nor are you to be contented with an inclination to get clear of your lords and masters, while you still do what will procure your continuance under them. Be righteous then, and cast wickedness out of your souls; and by your worship supplicate the divine majesty with all your hearts; and persevere in the honour you pay to him. For if you act thus, you will enjoy prosperity; you will be freed from your slavery; and will get the victory over your enemies: which blessings ’tis not possible you should attain neither by weapons of war; nor by the strength of your bodies; nor by the multitude of your assistants; for God has not promised to grant these blessings by those means; but by being good and righteous men. And if you will be such, I will be security to you for the performance of God’s promises.” When Samuel had said thus, the multitude applauded his discourse, and were pleased with his exhortation to them; and gave their consent to resign themselves up to do what was pleasing to God. So Samuel gathered them together, to a certain city called Mizpeh; which signifies in the Hebrew tongue a watch tower. There they drew water, and poured it out to God, and fasted all day, and betook themselves to their prayers.
2. This their assembly did not escape the notice of the Philistines. So when they had learned that so large a company had met together, they fell upon the Hebrews with a great army, and mighty forces; as hoping to assault them when they did not expect it, nor were prepared for it. This thing affrighted the Hebrews, and put them into disorder and terror. So they came running to Samuel, and said, that “Their souls were sunk by their fears, and by the former defeat they had received; and that thence it was that we lay still, lest we should excite the power of our enemies against us. Now while thou hast brought us hither to offer up our prayers and sacrifices, and take oaths [to be obedient;] our enemies are making an expedition against us, while we are naked and unarmed. Wherefore we have no other hope of deliverance but that by thy means, and by the assistance God shall afford us upon thy prayers to him, we shall obtain deliverance from the Philistines.” Hereupon Samuel bid them be of good chear; and promised them that God would assist them. And taking a sucking lamb he sacrificed it for the multitude; and besought God to hold his protecting hand over them when they should fight with the Philistines; and not to overlook them, nor suffer them to come under a second misfortune. Accordingly God hearkened to his prayers; and accepting their sacrifice with a gracious intention, and such as was disposed to assist them, he granted them victory and power over their enemies. Now while the altar had the sacrifice of God upon it, and had not yet consumed it wholly by its sacred fire; the enemies army marched out of their camp; and was put in order of battel: and this in hope that they should be conquerors, since the Jews (5) were caught in distressed circumstances: as neither having their weapons with them; nor being assembled there in order to fight. But things so fell out, that they would hardly have been credited though they had been foretold by any body. For in the first place God disturbed their enemies with an earthquake; and moved the ground under them to such a degree, that he caused it to tremble, and made them to shake: insomuch that by its trembling he made some unable to keep their feet; and made them fall down: and by opening its chasms he caused that others should be hurried down into them. After which he caused such a noise of thunder to come among them, and made fiery lightning shine so terribly round about them, that it was ready to burn their faces: and he so suddenly shook their weapons out of their hands, that he made them flie, and return home naked. So Samuel, with the multitude, pursued them to Bethcar;3 a place so called. And there he set up a stone as a boundary of their victory, and their enemies flight: and called it the Stone of power: as a signal of that power God had given them against their enemies.
3. So the Philistines, after this stroke, made no more expeditions against the Israelites: but lay still out of fear, and out of remembrance of what had befallen them. And what courage the Philistines had formerly against the Hebrews, that after this victory was transferred to the Hebrews. Samuel also made an expedition against the Philistines, and slew many of them: and intirely humbled their proud hearts; and took from them that countrey which, when they were formerly conquerors in battel, they had cut off from the Jews: which was the countrey that extended from the borders of Gath to the city of Ekron. But the remains of the Canaanites were at this time in friendship with the Israelites.
How Samuel, when he was so infirm with old age that he could not take care of the publick affairs; intrusted them to his sons: and how, upon the evil administration of the government by them, the multitude were so angry, that they required to have a King to govern them: although Samuel was much displeased thereat.
1. [An. 1128] But Samuel the Prophet, when he had ordered the affairs of the people after a convenient manner; and had appointed a city for every district of them; he commanded them to come to such cities; to have the controversies that they had one with another determined in them. He himself going over those cities twice in a year: and doing them justice. And by that means he kept them in very good order for a long time.
2. But afterward he found himself oppressed with old age, and not able to do what he used to do. So he committed the government, and the care of the multitude, to his sons. The elder of which was called Joel; and the name of the younger was Abiah. He also enjoined them to reside and judge the people, the one at the city Bethel; and the other at Beersheba: and divided the people into districts, that should be under the jurisdiction of each of them. Now these men afford us an evident example and demonstration, how some children are not of the like dispositions with their parents: but sometimes perhaps good and moderate, though born of wicked parents; and sometimes shewing themselves to be wicked, though born of good parents. For these men turning aside from their fathers good courses, and taking a course that was contrary to them, perverted justice for the filthy lucre of gifts and bribes: and made their determinations not according to truth, but according to bribery: and turned aside to luxury, and a costly way of living. So that, as in the first place they practised what was contrary to the will of God; so did they in the second place what was contrary to the will of the Prophet, their father: who had taken a great deal of care, and made a very careful provision that the multitude should be righteous.
3. But the people, upon these injuries offered to their former constitution, and government by the Prophet’s sons, were very uneasy at their actions; and came running to the Prophet, who then lived at the city Ramah, and informed him of the transgressions of his sons; and said, that “As he was himself old already, and too infirm by that age of his to oversee their affairs in the manner he used to do; so they begged of him, and intreated him to appoint some person to be King over them, who might rule over the nation, and avenge them of the Philistines; who ought to be punished for their former oppressions.” These words greatly afflicted Samuel, on account of his innate love of justice, and his hatred to Kingly government: for he was very fond of an aristocracy; as what made the men that used it of a divine and happy disposition. Nor could he either think of eating or sleeping, out of his concern and torment of mind at what they had said: but all the night long did he continue awake, and revolved these notions in his mind.
4. [An. 1116] While he was thus disposed, God appeared to him, and comforted him, saying, “That he ought not to be uneasy at what the multitude desired; because it was not he but Himself whom they so insolently despised, and would not have to be alone their King: that they had been contriving these things from the very day that they came out of Egypt: that however in no long time they would sorely repent of what they did; which repentance yet could not undo what was thus done for futurity: that they would be sufficiently rebuked for their contempt, and the ungrateful conduct they have used towards me, and towards thy prophetick office. So I command thee to ordain them such an one as I shall name before
5. When Samuel had heard this, he called the Jews early in the morning, and confessed to them, that he was to ordain them a King: but he said, that he was first to describe to them what would follow; what treatment they would receive from their Kings, and with how many mischiefs they must struggle. “For know ye, said he, that, in the first place, they will take your sons away from you; and they will command some of them to be drivers of their chariots; and some to be their horsemen, and the guards of their body; and others of them to be runners before them, and captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds: they will also make them their artificers, makers of armour, and of chariots, and of instruments; they will make them their husbandmen also, and the curators of their own fields, and the diggers of their own vineyards. Nor will there be any thing which they will not do at their commands; as if they were slaves bought with money. They will also appoint your daughters to be confectioners, and cooks, and bakers; and these will be obliged to do all sorts of work which women slaves, that are in fear of stripes and torments, submit to. They will, besides this, take away your possessions, and bestow them upon their eunuchs, and the guards of their bodies; and will give the herds of your cattle to their own servants; and, to say briefly all at once, you and all that is yours will be servants to your King, and will become no way superior to his slaves. And when you suffer thus, you will thereby be put in mind of what I now say. And when you repent of what you have done, you will beseech God to have mercy upon you, and to grant you a quick deliverance from your Kings: but he will not accept your prayers; but will neglect you, and permit you to suffer the punishment your evil conduct has deserved.”
6. But the multitude was still so foolish as to be deaf to these predictions of what would befall them; and too peevish to suffer a determination which they had injudiciously once made, to be taken out of their mind. For they could not be turned from their purpose; nor did they regard the words of Samuel; but peremptorily insisted on their resolution; and desired him to ordain them a King immediately; and not trouble himself with fears of what would happen hereafter. For that it was necessary they should have with them one to fight their battels, and to avenge them of their enemies: and that it was no way absurd, when their neighbours were under Kingly government, that they should have the same form of government also. So when Samuel saw that what he had said had not diverted them from their purpose, but that they continued resolute, he said, “Go you every one home for the present: when it is fit I will send for you; as soon as I shall have learned from God, who it is that he will give you for your King.”
The appointment of a King over the Israelites; whose name was Saul; and this by the command of God.
1. [An. 1116] There was one of the tribe of Benjamin, a man of a good family, and of a virtuous disposition; his name was Kish. He had a son, a young man of a comely countenance, and of a tall body; but his understanding and his mind were preferable to what was visible in him. They called him Saul. Now this Kish had some fine she asses, that were wandred out of the pasture wherein they fed: for he was more delighted with these, than with any other cattle he had. So he sent out his son, and one servant with him, to search for the beasts. But when he had gone over his own tribe in search after the asses, he went to other tribes; and when he found them not there neither, he determined to go his way home; lest he should occasion any concern to his father about himself. But when his servant that followed him told him, as they were near the city of Ramah, that there was a true Prophet in that city; and advised him to go to him: for that by him they should know the upshot of the affair of their asses; he replied, that if they should go to him, they had nothing to give him as a reward for his prophecy: for their subsistence money was spent. The servant answered, that he had still the fourth part of a shekel; and he would present him with that. For they were mistaken out of ignorance, as not knowing that the Prophet received no such reward. (6) So they went to him. And when they were before the gates, they light upon certain maidens that were going to fetch water: and they asked them, which was the Prophet’s house? They shewed them which it was; and bid them make haste before he set down to supper: for he had invited many guests to a feast: and that he used to sit down before those that were invited. Now Samuel had then gathered many together to feast with him, on this very account: for while he every day prayed to God to tell him before
2. But as soon as it was day, Samuel raised up Saul out of his bed; and conducted him homeward: and when he was out of the city, he desired him to cause his servant to go before; but to stay behind himself: for that he had somewhat to say to him, when no body else was present. Accordingly Saul sent away his servant that followed him. Then did the Prophet take a vessel of oil, and poured it upon the head of the young man, and kissed him, and said, “Be thou a King, by the ordination of God, against the Philistines, and for avenging the Hebrews for what they have suffered by them. Of this thou shalt have a sign which I would have thee take notice of: as soon as thou art departed hence, thou wilt find three men upon the road, going to worship God at Bethel: the first of which thou wilt see carrying three loaves of bread; the second carrying a kid of the goats; and the third will follow them, carrying a bottle of wine. These three men will salute thee, and speak kindly to thee, and will give thee two of their loaves: which thou shalt accept of. And thence thou shalt come to a place called Rachel’s monument: where thou shalt meet with those that will tell thee thy asses are found: after this, when thou comest to Gabatha, thou shalt overtake a company of Prophets: and thou shalt be seized with the divine spirit, (8) and prophecy along with them, till every one that sees thee shall be astonished, and wonder, and say, whence is it that the son of Kish has arrived at this degree of happiness? And when these signs have happened to thee, know that God is with thee: then do thou salute thy father, and thy kindred. Thou shalt also come when I send for thee to Gilgal; that we may offer thank-offerings to God for these blessings.” When Samuel had said this, and foretold these things, he sent the young man away. Now all things fell out to Saul according to the prophecy of Samuel.
3. But as soon as Saul came into the house of his kinsman Abner; whom indeed he loved better than the rest of his relations; he was asked by him, concerning his journey, and what accidents happened to him therein: and he concealed none of the other things from him; no not his coming to Samuel the Prophet; nor how he told him the asses were found: but he said nothing to him about the kingdom, and what belonged thereto: which he thought would procure him envy, and when such things are heard they are not easily believed. Nor did he think it prudent to tell those things to him: although he appeared very friendly to him, and one whom he loved above the rest of his relations: considering, I suppose, what human nature really is; that no one is a firm friend, neither among our intimates, nor of our kindred; nor do they preserve that kind disposition when God advances men to great prosperity; but they are still ill natured and envious at those that are in eminent stations.
4. Then Samuel called the people together to the city Mispeh; and spake to them in the words following: which he said he was to speak by the command of God: that “When he had granted them a state of liberty, and brought their enemies into subjection, they were become unmindful of his benefits; and rejected God, that he should not be their King: as not considering that it would be most for their advantage to be presided over by the Best of Beings: for God is the Best of Beings: and they chose to have a man for their King: while Kings will use their subjects as beasts, according to the violence of their own wills, and inclinations, and other passions; as wholly carried away with the lust of power: but will not endeavour so to preserve the race of mankind, as his own workmanship and creation: which, for that very reason, God would take cake of. But since you have come to a fixed resolution; and this injurious treatment of God has quite prevailed over you, dispose yourselves by your tribes and scepters, and cast lots.”
5. When the Hebrews had so done, the lot fell upon the tribe of Benjamin: and when the lot was cast for the families of this tribe, that which was called Matri was taken: and when the lot was cast for the single persons of that family; Saul the son of Kish was taken, for their King. When the young man knew this, he prevented [their sending for him,] and immediately went away, and hid himself. I suppose it was because he would not have it thought that he willingly took the government upon him. Nay he shewed such a degree of command over himself, and of modesty, that while the greatest part are not able to contain their joy, even in the gaining of small advantages; but presently shew themselves publickly to all men; this man did not only shew nothing of that nature, when he was appointed to be the lord of so many and so great tribes, but crept away, and concealed himself out of the sight of those he was to reign over; and made them seek him; and that with a good deal of trouble. So when the people were at a loss, and sollicitous, because Saul disappeared; the Prophet besought God to shew where the young man was, and to produce him before them. So when they had learned of God the place where Saul was hidden; they sent men to bring him: and when he was come, they set him in the midst of the multitude. Now he was taller than all of them; and his stature was very majestick.
6. Then said the Prophet, God gives you this man to be your King. See how he is higher than all the people, and worthy of this dominion. So as soon as the people had made acclamation, God save the King; the Prophet wrote down what would come to pass, in a book, and read it in the hearing of the King; and laid up the book in the tabernacle of God, to be a witness to future generations of what he had foretold. So when Samuel had finished this matter, he dismissed the multitude; and came himself to the city Ramah: for it was his own countrey. Saul also went away to Gibeah, where he was born; and many good men there were who paid him the respect that was due to him: but the greater part were ill men, who despised him, and derided the others: who neither did bring him presents; nor did they in affection, or even in words, regard to please him.
Saul’s expedition against the nation of the Ammonites, and victory over them, and the spoils he took from them.
1. [An. 1116] After one month, the war which Saul had with Nahash, the King of the Ammonites, obtained him respect from all the people. For this Nahash had done a great deal of mischief to the Jews, that lived beyond Jordan; by the expedition he had made against them, with a great and warlike army. He also reduced their cities into slavery; and that not only by subduing them for the present, which he did by force and violence; but weakening them by subtilty and cunning, that they might not be able afterward to get clear of the slavery they were under to him. For he put out the right eyes of those that either delivered themselves to him upon terms, or were taken by him in war: and this he did, that when their left eyes were covered by their shields, they might be wholly useless in war. (9) Now when the King of the Ammonites had served those beyond Jordan in this manner, he led his army against those that were called Gileadites; and having pitched his camp at the metropolis of his enemies, which was the city Jabesh, he sent ambassadors to them, commanding them either to deliver themselves up, on condition to have their right eyes plucked out; or to undergo a siege, and to have their cities overthrown. He gave them their choice, whether they would cut off a small member of their body; or universally perish. However the Gileadites were so affrighted at these offers, that they had not courage to say any thing to either of them; neither that they would deliver themselves up, nor that they would fight him. But they desired that he would give them seven days respite, that they might send ambassadors to their countreymen, and intreat their assistance; and if they came to assist them, they would fight: but if that assistance were impossible to be obtained from them, they said they would deliver themselves up to suffer whatever he pleased to inflict upon them.
2. So Nahash, contemning the multitude of the Gileadites, and the answer they gave, allowed them a respite; and gave them leave to send to whomsoever they pleased for assistance. So they immediately sent to the Israelites, city by city; and informed them what Nahash had threatened to do to them, and what great distress they were in. Now the people fell into tears, and grief, at the hearing of what the ambassadors from Jabesh said; and the terror they were in permitted them to do nothing more. But when the messengers were come to the city of King Saul, and declared the dangers in which the inhabitants of Jabesh were, the people were in the same affliction as those in the other cities: for they lamented the calamity of those related to them. And when Saul was returned from his husbandry, into the city, he found his fellow-
3. So being desirous to turn the people to this war against the Ammonites by fear of the losses they should otherwise undergo; and that they might the more suddenly be gathered together, he cut the sinews of his oxen; and threatened to do the same to all such as did not come with their armour to Jordan the next day, and follow him and Samuel the Prophet whithersoever they should lead them. So they came together, out of fear of the losses they were threatened with, at the appointed time. And the multitude were numbered at the city Bezek. And he found the number of those that were gathered together, besides that of the tribe of Judah, to be seven hundred thousand; while those of that tribe were seventy thousand. So he passed over Jordan, and proceeded in marching all that night, thirty furlongs; and came to Jabesh before sun-
4. [An. 1116] And when Samuel had told them that he ought to confirm the kingdom to Saul by a second ordination of him, they all came together to the city of Gilgal: for thither did he command them to come. So the Prophet anointed Saul with the holy oil, in the sight of the multitude, and declared him to be King the second time. And so the government of the Hebrews was changed into a Regal government. For in the days of Moses, and his disciple Joshua, who was their general, they continued under an aristocracy. But after the death of Joshua, for eighteen years in all,5 the multitude had no settled form of government; but were in an anarchy. After which they returned to their former government: they then permitting themselves to be judged by him who appeared to be the best warrior, and most couragious: whence it was that they called this interval of their government the Judges.
5. Then did Samuel the Prophet call another assembly also, and said to them, “I solemnly adjure you by God Almighty, who brought those excellent brethren, I mean Moses and Aaron, into the world; and delivered our fathers from the Egyptians, and from the slavery they endured under them; that you will not speak what you say to gratify me; nor suppress any thing out of fear of me; nor be overborn by any other passion: but say what have I ever done that was cruel or unjust? or what have I done out of lucre, or covetousness, or to gratify others? Bear witness against me, if I have taken an ox, or a sheep, or any such thing: which yet when they are taken to support men, it is esteemed blameless. Or have I taken an ass for mine own use, of any one, to his grief? Lay some one such crime to my charge now we are in your King’s presence.” But they cried out, that “No such thing had been done by him; but that he had presided over the nation after an holy and righteous manner.”
6. Hereupon Samuel, when such a testimony had been given him by them all, said, “Since you grant that you are not able to lay any ill thing to my charge hitherto, come on now, and do you hearken while I speak with great freedom to you. You have been guilty of great impiety against God, in asking you a King. It behoves you to remember, that our grandfather Jacob came down into Egypt by reason of a famine, with seventy souls only of our family; and that their posterity multiplied there to many ten thousands; whom the Egyptians brought into slavery, and hard oppression; that God himself, upon the prayers of our fathers, sent Moses and Aaron, who were brethren; and gave them power to deliver the multitude out of their distress; and this without a King. These brought us into this very land which you now possess. And when you enjoyed these advantages from God, you betrayed his worship, and religion: nay moreover, when you were brought under the hands of your enemies, he delivered you, first by rendring you superior to the Assyrians, and their forces: he then made you to overcome the Ammonites, and the Moabites: and last of all the Philistines. And these things have been atchieved under the conduct of Jephtha and Gideon. What madness therefore possessed you to fly from God, and to desire to be under a King; Yet have I ordained him for King whom he chose for you. However, that I may make it plain to you that God is angry and displeased at your choice of Kingly government, I will so dispose him, that he shall declare this very plainly to you, by strange signals: for what none of you ever saw here before, I mean a winter storm in the midst of harvest, (10) I will intreat of God, and will make it visible to you.” Now as soon as he had said this, God gave such great signals by thunder and lightning, and the descent of hail, as attested the truth of all that the Prophet had said; insomuch that they were amazed and terrified, and confessed they had sinned, and had fallen into that sin through ignorance; and besought the Prophet, as one that was a tender and gentle father to them, to render God so merciful as to forgive this their sin; which they had added to those other offences whereby they had affronted him, and transgressed against him. So he promised them that he would beseech God, and persuade him to forgive them these their sins. However, he advised them to be righteous, and to be good; and ever to remember the miseries that had befallen them on account of their departure from virtue: as also to remember the strange signs God had shewed them; and the body of laws that Moses had given them; if they had any desire of being preserved and made happy with their King. But he said, that if they should grow careless of these things, great judgments would come from God upon them, and upon their King. And when Samuel had thus prophecyed to the Hebrews, he dismissed them to their own homes: having confirmed the kingdom to Saul the second time.
How the Philistines made another expedition against the Hebrews, and were beaten.
1. [An. 1114] Now (11) Saul chose out of the multitude about three thousand men; and he took two thousand of them to be the guards of his own body: and abode in the city Bethel: but he gave the rest of them to Jonathan his son, to be the guards of his body; and sent him to Gibeah, where he besieged and took a certain garrison of the Philistines, not far from Galgal. (12) For the Philistines of Gibeah had beaten the Jews, and taken their weapons away; and had put garrisons into the strongest places of the countrey; and had forbidden them to carry any instrument of iron, or at all to make use of any iron in any case whatsoever. And on account of this prohibition it was that the husbandmen, if they had occasion to sharpen any of their tools, whether it were the coulter, or the spade, or any other instrument of husbandry, they came to the Philistines to do it. Now as soon as the Philistines heard of this slaughter of their garrison, they were in a rage about it: and looking on this contempt as a terrible affront offered them, they made war against the Jews, with three hundred thousand footmen, and thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horses; and they pitched their camp at the city Michmash. When Saul, the King of the Hebrews, was informed of this, he went down to the city Gilgal, and made proclamation over all the countrey, that they should try to regain their liberty; and called them to the war against the Philistines: diminishing their forces, and despising them, as not very considerable; and as not so great, but they might hazzard a battle with them. But when the people about Saul observed how numerous the Philistines were, they were under a great consternation. And some of them hid themselves in caves, and in dens under ground: but the greater part fled into the land beyond Jordan; which belonged to Gad and Reubel.
2. [About An. 1108] But Saul sent to the Prophet, and called him to consult with him about the war, and the publick affairs. So he commanded him to stay there for him; and to prepare sacrifices: for he would come to him within seven days: that they might offer sacrifices on the seventh day: and might then join battel with their enemies. So he waited, (13) as the Prophet sent to him to do. Yet did not he however observe the command that was given him. But when he saw that the Prophet tarried longer than he expected, and that he was deserted by the soldiers, he took the sacrifices, and offered them. And when he heard that Samuel was come, he went out to meet him. But the Prophet said he had not done well in disobeying the injunctions he had sent him; and had not stayed till his coming: which being appointed according to the will of God, he had prevented him in offering up those prayers, and those sacrifices that he should have made for the multitude: and that he therefore had performed divine offices in an ill manner, and been rash in performing them. Hereupon Saul made an apology for himself, and said, that “He had waited as many days as Samuel had appointed him; that he had been so quick in offering his sacrifices, upon account of the necessity he was in; and because his soldiers were departing from him, out of their fear of the enemies camp at Michmash: the report being gone abroad that they were coming down upon him of Gilgal.” To which Samuel reply’d, “Nay certainly, if thou hadst been a righteous man, (14) and hadst not disobeyed me, nor slighted the commands which God suggested to me concerning the present state of affairs, and hadst not acted more hastily than the present circumstances required, thou wouldest be permitted to reign a long time, and thy posterity after thee.” So Samuel being grieved at what happened, returned home. But Saul came to the city Gibeah, with his son Jonathan; having only six hundred men with him. And of these the greater part had no weapons; because of the scarcity of iron in that countrey; as well as of those that could make such weapons. For as we shewed a little before, the Philistines had not suffered them to have such iron, or such workmen. Now the Philistines divided their army into three companies; and took as many roads; and laid waste the countrey of the Hebrews: while King Saul and his son Jonathan saw what was done; but were not able to defend the land: having no more than six hundred men with them. But as he, and his son, and Abiah the High Priest, who was of the posterity of Eli the High Priest, were sitting upon a pretty high hill, and seeing the land laid waste, they were mightily disturbed at it. Now Saul’s son agreed with his armour bearer, that they would go privately to the enemies camp, and make a tumult, and a disturbance among them. And when the armour bearer had readily promised to follow him, whithersoever he should lead him, though he should be obliged to die in the attempt, Jonathan made use of the young man’s assistance, and descended from the hill, and went to their enemies. Now the enemies camp was upon a precipice, which had three tops, that ended in a small but sharp and long extremity: while there was a rock that surrounded them, like lines made to prevent the attacks of an enemy. There it so happened, that the out-guards of the camp were neglected; because of the security that here arose from the situation of the place; and because they thought it altogether impossible, not only to ascend up to the camp on that quarter; but so much as to come near it. As soon therefore as they came to the camp, Jonathan encouraged his armour-
3. Now Saul’s watchmen told the King, that the camp of the Philistines was in confusion. Then he enquired, whether any body was gone away from the army? and when he heard that his son, and with him his armour-
4. When therefore they had slain many ten thousands of the Philistines, they fell upon spoiling the camp of the Philistines; but not till late in the evening. They also took a great deal of prey, and cattel; and killed them, and eat them with their blood. This was told to the King by the Scribes; that the multitude were sinning against God, as they sacrificed; and were eating before the blood was well washed away, and the flesh was made clean. Then did Saul give order, that a great stone should be rolled into the midst of them, and he made proclamation that they should kill their sacrifices upon it, and not feed upon the flesh with the blood: for that was not acceptable to God. And when all the people did as the King commanded them, Saul erected an altar there, and offered burnt offerings upon it to God. (16) This was the first altar that Saul built.
5. So when Saul was desirous of leading his men to the enemies camp before it was day, in order to plunder it; and when the soldiers were not unwilling to follow him, but indeed shewed great readiness to do as he commanded them, the King called Ahitub6 the High Priest, and enjoined him to know of God whether he would grant them the favour and permission to go against the enemies camp, in order to destroy those that were in it. And when the Priest said, that God did not give any answer. “And not without some cause, said Saul, does God refuse to answer what we inquire of him; while yet a little while ago he declared to us all that we desired before
6. So Saul having slain about sixty thousand of the enemy, returned home to his own city, and reigned happily. And he also fought against the neighbouring nations, and subdued the Ammonites, and Moabites, and Philistines, and Edomites, and Amalekites; as also the King of Zobah. He had three male children, Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-shua; with Merab and Michal his daughters. He had also Abner his uncle’s son for the Captain of his host: that uncle’s name was Ner. Now Ner, and Kish the father of Saul, were brothers. Saul had also a great many chariots and horsemen: and against whomsoever he made war he returned conqueror, and advanced the affairs of the Hebrews to a great degree of success and prosperity; and made them superior to other nations. And he made such of the young men as were remarkable for tallness and comeliness the guards of his body.
Saul’s war with the Amalekites, and conquest of them.
1. [About An. 1106] Now Samuel came unto Saul, and said to him, that “He was sent by God to put him in mind, that God had preferred him before all others, and ordained him King; that he therefore ought to be obedient to him, and to submit to his authority; as considering, that tho’ he had the dominion over the other tribes, yet that God had the dominion over him, and over all things. That accordingly God said to him, that because the Amalekites did the Hebrews a great deal of mischief while they were in the wilderness, and when, upon their coming out of Egypt, they were making their way to that countrey which is now their own, I enjoin thee to punish the Amalekites, by making war upon them: and when thou hast subdued them, to leave none of them alive; but to pursue them through every age, and to slay them; beginning with the women and the infants: and to require this as a punishment to be inflicted upon them for the mischief they did to our forefathers. To spare nothing, neither asses, nor other beasts; nor to reserve any of them for your own advantage and possession: but to devote them universally to God, and, in obedience to the commands of Moses, to blot out the name of Amalek intirely.” (17)
2. So Saul promised to do what he was commanded: and supposing that his obedience to God would be shewn not only in making war against the Amalekites, but more fully in the readiness and quickness of his proceedings; he made no delay; but immediately gathered together all his forces. And when he had numred them in Gilgal, he found them to be about four hundred thousand of the Israelites: besides the tribe of Judah. For that tribe contained by it self thirty thousand. Accordingly Saul made an irruption into the countrey of the Amalekites; and set many men in several parties in ambush at the river: that so he might not only do them a mischief by open fighting; but might fall upon them unexpectedly in the ways, and might thereby compass them round about, and kill them. And when he had joined battel with the enemy he beat them, and pursuing them as they fled, he destroyed them all. And when that undertaking had succeeded, according as God had foretold; he set upon the cities of the Amalekites; he besieged them, and took them by force: partly by warlike machines; partly by mines dug under ground; and partly by building walls on the outsides. Some they starved out with famine: and some they gained by other methods: and after all he betook himself to slay the women and the children; and thought he did not act therein either barbarously or inhumanly; first because they were enemies whom he thus treated: and in the next place because it was done by the command of God: whom it was dangerous not to obey. He also took Agag, the enemies King, captive. The beauty and tallness of whose body he admired so much, that he thought him worthy of preservation. Yet was not this done however according to the will of God; but by giving way to human passions; and suffering himself to be moved with an unseasonable commiseration, in a point where it was not safe for him to indulge it. For God hated the nation of the Amalekites to such a degree, that he commanded Saul to have no pity on even those infants which we by nature chiefly compassionate. But Saul preserved their King and governor from the miseries which the Hebrews brought on the people: as if he preferred the fine appearance of the enemy to the memory of what God had sent him about. The multitude were also guilty, together with Saul: for they spared the herds and the flocks, and took them for a prey: when God had commanded they should not spare them. They also carried off with them the rest of their wealth and riches: but if there were any thing that was not worthy of regard, that they destroyed.
3. But when Saul had conquered all these Amalekites that reached from Pelusium of Egypt, to the Red Sea, he laid waste all the rest of the enemies countrey: but for the nation of the Sichemites,7 he did not touch them; altho’ they dwelt in the very middle of the countrey of Midian. For before the battel, Saul had sent to them, and charged them to depart thence; lest they should be partakers of the miseries of the Amalekites. For he had a just occasion for saving them; since they were of the kindred of Raguel, Moses’s father-
4. Hereupon Saul returned home with joy, for the glorious things he had done, and for the conquest of his enemies; as though he had not neglected any thing which the Prophet had enjoined him to do, when he was going to make war with the Amalekites: and as though he had exactly observed all that he ought to have done. But God was grieved that the King of the Amalekites was preserved alive; and that the multitude had seized on the cattle for a prey: because these things were done without his permission. For he thought it an intolerable thing, that they should conquer and overcome their enemies by that power which he gave them; and then that he himself should be so grossly despised and disobeyed by them, that a meer man that was a King would not bear it. He therefore told Samuel the Prophet, that he repented that he had made Saul King; while he did nothing that he had commanded him; but indulged his own inclinations. When Samuel heard that, he was in confusion; and began to beseech God all that night to be reconciled to Saul; and not to be angry with him. But he did not grant that forgiveness to Saul which the Prophet asked for: as not deeming it a fit thing to grant forgiveness of [such] sins at his entreaties: since injuries do no otherwise grow so great, as by the easy tempers of those that are injured. For while they hunt after the glory of being thought gentle and good natured, before they are aware, they produce other sins. As soon therefore as God had rejected the intercession of the Prophet; and it plainly appeared he would not change his mind; at break of day Samuel came to Saul at Gilgal. When the King saw him, he ran to him, and embraced him, and said, “I return thanks to God, who hath given me the victory: for I have performed every thing that he hath commanded me.” To which Samuel replied; “How is it then that I hear the bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the greater cattle in the camp?” Saul made answer, that “the people had reserved them for sacrifices: but that, as to the nation of the Amalekites, it was entirely destroyed: as he had received it in command to see done, and that no one man was left: but that he had saved alive the King alone, and brought him to him: concerning whom he said they would advise together, what should be done with him.” But the Prophet said, “God is not delighted with sacrifices; but with good and with righteous men: who are such as follow his will and his laws; and never think that any thing is well done by them, but when they do it as God had commanded them: that he then looks upon himself as affronted; not when any one does not sacrifice; but when any one appears to be disobedient to him. But that from those who do not obey him, nor pay him that duty which is the alone true and acceptable worship, he will not kindly accept their oblations; be those they offer never so many and so fat: and be the presents they make him never so ornamental: nay though they were made of gold and silver themselves. But he will reject them; and esteem them instances of wickedness, and not of piety. And that he is delighted with those that still bear in mind this one thing, and this only, how to do that, whatsoever it be, which God pronounces or commands for them to do; and to chuse rather to die, than to transgress any of those commands. Nor does he require so much as a sacrifice from them. And when these do sacrifice, though it be a mean oblation, he better accepts of it, as the honour of poverty; than such oblations as come from the richest men that offer them to him. Wherefore take notice, that thou art under the wrath of God: for thou hast despised and neglected what he commanded thee. How dost thou then suppose that he will respect a sacrifice out of such things as he has doomed to destruction? unless perhaps thou dost imagine that ’tis almost all one to offer it in sacrifice to God, as to destroy it. Do thou therefore expect that thy kingdom will be taken from thee, and that authority which thou hast abused by such insolent behaviour, as to neglect that God who bestowed it upon thee.” Then did Saul confess, that he had acted unjustly; and did not deny that he had sinned; because he had transgressed the injunctions of the Prophet: but he said, that it was out of a dread and fear of the soldiers, that he did not prohibit and restrain them, when they seized on the prey. But forgive me, said he, and be merciful to me: for I will be cautious how I offend for the time to come. He also intreated the Prophet to go back with him, that he might offer his thank-
5. But then Saul was so desirous to retain Samuel, that he took hold of his cloak: and because the vehemence of Samuel’s departure made the motion to be violent, the cloak was rent. Upon which the Prophet said, that after the same manner should the kingdom be rent from him; and that a good and a just man should take it: that God persevered in what he had decreed about him; that to be mutable and changeable in what is determined, is agreeable to human passions only; but is not agreeable to the divine power. Hereupon Saul said, that he had been wicked; but that what was done could not be undone. He therefore desired him to honour him so far, that the multitude might see that he would accompany him in worshipping God. So Samuel granted him that favour; and went with him and worshipped God. Agag also, the King of the Amalekites, was brought to him: and when the King asked, How bitter death was? Samuel said, As thou hast made many of the Hebrew mothers to lament and bewail their children; so shalt thou by thy death cause thy mother to lament thee also. Accordingly he gave order to slay him immediately at Gilgal: and then went away to the city Ramah.
How upon Saul’s transgression of the Prophet’s commands, Samuel ordained another person to be King privately; whose name was David; as God commanded him.
1. [About An. 1106] Now Saul being sensible of the miserable condition he had brought himself into; and that he had made God to be his enemy; he went up to his royal palace at Gibeah: which name denotes an Hill: and after that day he came no more into the presence of the Prophet. And when Samuel mourned for him, God bid him leave off his concern for him; and to take the holy oil, and go to Bethlehem, to Jesse, the son of Obed, and to anoint such of his sons as he should shew him, for their future King. But Samuel said, he was afraid lest Saul, when he came to know of it, should kill him; either by some private method, or even openly. But upon God’s suggesting to him a safe way of going thither, he came to the forenamed city. And when they all saluted him, and asked, what was the occasion of his coming? He told them, he came to sacrifice to God. When therefore he had gotten the sacrifice ready, he called Jesse and his sons to partake of those sacrifices. And when he saw his eldest son to be a tall and handsome man, he guessed by his comeliness that he was the person who was to be their future King. But he was mistaken in judging about God’s providence. For when Samuel enquired of God, whether he should anoint this youth, whom he so admired, and esteemed worthy of the kingdom? God said, “Men do not see as God seeth. Thou indeed hast respect to the fine appearance of this youth: and thence esteemest him worthy of the kingdom: while I propose the kingdom as a reward, not of the beauty of bodies, but of the virtue of souls: and I enquire after one that is perfectly comely in that respect: I mean one who is beautiful in piety, and righteousness, and fortitude, and obedience: for in them consists the comeliness of the soul.” When God had said this, Samuel bid Jesse to shew him all his sons. So he made five others of his sons to come to him. Of all which Eliab was the eldest: Aminadab the second: Shammah the third: Nathanael the fourth: the fifth was called Rael: and the sixth Asam. And when the Prophet saw that these were no way inferior to the eldest in their countenances, he enquired of God, which of them it was whom he chose for their King? And when God said it was none of them: he asked Jesse, whether he had not some other sons besides these? and when he said that he had one more, named David: but that he was a shepherd, and took care of the flocks: Samuel bid them call him immediately: for that till he was come they could not possibly sit down to the feast. Now as soon as his father had sent for David, and he was come, he appeared to be of a yellow complexion, of a sharp sight, and a comely person in other respects also. This is he, said Samuel privately to himself, whom it pleases God to make our King. So he sat down to the feast; and placed the youth under him: and Jesse also, with his other sons. After which he took oil, in the presence of David, and anointed him; and whispered him in the ear, and acquainted him that God chose him to be their King: and exhorted him to be righteous, and obedient to his commands: for that by this means his Kingdom would continue for a long time: and that his house should be of great splendor, and celebrated in the world: that he should overthrow the Philistines: and that against what nations soever he should make war, he should be the conqueror, and survive the fight: and that while he lived he should enjoy a glorious name; and leave such a name to his posterity also.
2. So Samuel, when he had given him these admonitions, went away. But the divine power departed from Saul, and removed to David. Who upon this removal of the divine spirit to him, began to prophecy. But as for Saul, some strange and demoniacal disorders came upon him: and brought upon him such suffocations, as were ready to choke him. For which the physicians could find no other remedy but this; that if any person could charm those passions by singing, and playing upon the harp, they advised them to enquire for such an one: and to observe when these demons came upon him, and disturbed him; and to take care that such a person might stand over him, and play on the harp, and recite hymns to him. (18) Accordingly Saul did not delay; but commanded them to seek out such a man. And when a certain stander by said, that he had seen in the city of Bethlehem, a son of Jesse, who was yet no more than a child in age, but comely and beautiful, and in other respects one that was deserving of great regard; who was skilful in playing on the harp, and in singing of hymns; and an excellent soldier in war: he sent to Jesse, and desired him to take David away from the flocks, and send him to him: for he had a mind to see him: as having heard an advantagious character of his comeliness and his valour. So Jesse sent his son; and gave him presents to carry to Saul. And when he was come, Saul was pleased with him, and made him his armour-
How the Philistines made another expedition against the Hebrews, under the reign of Saul. And how they were overcome by David’s slaying Goliath, in a single combat.
1. [About An. 1106] Now the Philistines gathered themselves together again, no very long time afterward; and having gotten together a great army, they made war against the Israelites: and having seized a place between Shochoh and Azekah, they there pitched their camp. Saul also drew out his army to oppose them. And by pitching his own camp on a certain hill, he forced the Philistines to leave their former camp, and to encamp themselves upon such another hill, over against that on which Saul’s army lay: so that a valley, which was between the two hills on which they lay, divided their camps asunder. Now there came down a man out of the camp of the Philistines, whose name was Goliath, of the city of Gath; a man of vast bulk, for he was of four8 cubits and a span in tallness: and had about him weapons suitable to the largeness of his body: for he had a breast-
2. Now while this war between the Hebrews and the Philistines was going on, Saul sent away David to his father Jesse, and contented himself with those three sons of his, whom he had sent to his assistance, and to be partners in the dangers of the war. And at first David returned to feed his sheep and his flocks: but after no long time he came to the camp of the Hebrews; as sent by his father to carry provisions to his brethren, and to know what they were doing. While Goliath came again, and challenged them, and reproached them, that they had no man of valour among them, that durst come down to fight him. Now as David was talking with his brethren about the business for which his father had sent him, he heard the Philistine reproaching and abusing the army, and had indignation at it; and said to his brethren, I am ready to fight a single combat with this adversary. Whereupon Eliab, his eldest brother, reproved him, and said, that he spoke too rashly and improperly for one of his age; and bid him go to his flocks, and to his father. So he was abashed at his brother’s words, and went away: but still spake to some of the soldiers, that he was willing to fight with him that challenged them. And when they had informed Saul what was the resolution of the young man, the King sent for him to come to him. And when the King asked what he had to say, he replied, “O King, be not cast down, nor afraid; for I will depress the insolence of this adversary; and will go down and fight with him, and will bring him under me, as tall and as great as he is; till he shall be sufficiently laughed at, and thy army shall get great glory, when he shall be slain by one that is not yet of man’s estate, neither fit for fighting, nor capable of being intrusted with the marshalling an army, or ordering a battel: but by one that looks like a child, and is really no elder in age than a child.”
3. Now Saul wondered at the boldness and alacrity of David: but durst not presume on his ability, by reason of his age; but said, he must on that account be too weak to fight with one that was skilful in the art of war: “I undertake this enterprize, said David, in dependence on God’s being with me: for I have had experience already of his assistance. For I once pursued after and caught a lion that assaulted my flocks, and took away a lamb from them: and I snatched the lamb out of the wild beasts mouth: and when he leaped upon me with violence, I took him by the tail, and dashed him against the ground. In the same manner did I avenge my self on a bear also. And let this adversary of ours be esteemed like one of these wild beasts: since he has a long while reproached our army, and blasphemed our God: who yet will reduce him under my power.”
4. However Saul prayed that the end might be, by God’s assistance, not disagreeable to the alacrity and boldness of the child; and said, “Go thy way to the fight.” So he put about him his breast-
5. But the youth met his antagonist; being accompanied with an invisible assistant, who was no other than God himself. And taking one of the stones that he had out of the brook, and had put into his shepherds bag, and fitting it to his sling, he slang it against the Philistine. This stone fell upon his forehead; and sank into his brain: insomuch that Goliath was stunned, and fell upon his face. So David ran, and stood upon his adversary, as he lay down, and cut off his head with his own sword: for he had no sword himself. And upon the fall of Goliath, the Philistines were beaten, and fled: for when they saw their champion prostrate on the ground, they were afraid of the intire issue of their affairs, and resolved not to stay any longer; but committed themselves to an ignominious and indecent flight: and thereby endeavoured to save themselves from the dangers they were in. But Saul, and the intire army of the Hebrews, made a shout, and rushed upon them; and slew a great number of them; and pursued the rest to the borders of Gath, and to the gates of Ekron. So that there were slain of the Philistines thirty thousand: and twice as many wounded. But Saul returned to their camp, and pulled their fortification to pieces, and burnt it. But David carried the head of Goliath into his own tent, but dedicated his sword to God, [at the tabernacle].
Saul envies David for his glorious success; and takes an occasion of entrapping him, from the promise he made him of giving him his daughter in marriage; but this upon condition of his bringing him six hundred heads of the Philistines.
1. [About An. 1106] Now the women were an occasion of Saul’s envy and hatred to David. (19) For they came to meet their victorious army with cymbals, and drums, and all demonstrations of joy, and sang thus: the wives said, that “Saul hath slain his many thousands of the Philistines.” The virgins replied, that “David had slain his ten thousands.” Now when the King heard them singing thus; and that he had himself the smallest share in their commendations; and that the greater number, the ten thousands, were ascribed to the young man; and when he considered with himself, that there was nothing more wanting to David, after such a mighty applause, but the Kingdom; he began to be afraid, and suspicious of David. Accordingly he removed him from the station he was in before: for he was his armour-
2. But David had God going along with him whithersoever he went: and accordingly he greatly prospered in his undertakings: and it was visible that he had mighty success: insomuch that Saul’s daughter, who was still a virgin, fell in love with him: and her affection so far prevailed over her, that it could not be concealed: and her father became acquainted with it. Now Saul heard this gladly: as intending to make use of it for a snare against David: and he hoped that it would prove the cause of destruction and of hazards to him. So he told those that informed him of his daughter’s affection, that he would willingly give David the virgin in marriage: and said, “I engage my self to marry my daughter to him, if he will bring me six hundred heads of my enemies: (20) supposing that when a reward so ample was proposed to him; and when he should aim to get him great glory by undertaking a thing so dangerous and incredible, he would immediately set about it, and so perish by the Philistines: and my designs about him will succeed finely to my mind, for I shall be freed from him, and get him slain, not by my self but by another man.” So he gave order to his servants to try how David would relish this proposal of marrying the damsel. Accordingly they began to speak thus to him: that King Saul loved him, as well as did all the people;0 and that he was desirous of his affinity by the marriage of this damsel. To which he gave this answer: “Seemeth it to you a light thing to be made the King’s son-
3. When these words of Saul were brought to David, he was pleased with them: and supposed that Saul was really desirous of this affinity with him. So that without bearing to deliberate any longer, or casting about in his mind whether what was proposed was possible, or was difficult or not; he and his companions immediately set upon the enemy, and went about doing what was proposed as the condition of the marriage. Accordingly, because it was God who made all things easy and possible to David, he slew many [of the Philistines;] and cut off the heads of six hundred of them; and came to the King, and by shewing him these heads of the Philistines required that he might have his daughter in marriage. Accordingly Saul having no way of getting off his engagements; as thinking it a base thing either to seem a liar when he promised him this marriage; or to appear to have acted treacherously by him in putting him upon what was in a manner impossible, in order to have him slain: he gave him his daughter in marriage; her name was Michal.
How David, upon Saul’s laying snares for him, did yet escape the dangers he was in, by the affection and care of Jonathan; and the contrivances of his wife Michal: and how he came to Samuel the Prophet.
1. [About An. 1106] However, Saul was not disposed to persevere long in the state wherein he was: for when he saw that David was in great esteem both with God, and with the multitude; he was afraid. And being not able to conceal his fear, as concerning great things, his kingdom, and his life: to be deprived of either of which was a very great calamity: he resolved to have David slain: and commanded his son Jonathan, and his most faithful servants to kill him. But Jonathan wondred at his father’s change with relation to David, that it should be made to so great a degree, from shewing him no small good will, to contrive how to have him killed. Now because he loved the young man, and reverenced him for his virtue; he informed him of the secret charge his father had given: and what his intentions were concerning him. However, he advised him to take care, and be absent the next day: for that he would salute his father; and, if he met with a favourable opportunity, he would discourse with him about him; and learn the cause of his disgust; and shew how little ground there was for it; and that for it he ought not to kill a man that had done so many good things to the multitude; and had been a benefactor to himself: on account of which he ought in reason to obtain pardon, had he been guilty of the greatest crimes. And I will then inform thee of my father’s resolution. Accordingly David complyed with such an advantageous advice; and kept himself then out of the King’s sight.
2. On the next day Jonathan came to Saul, as soon as he saw him in a chearful and joyful disposition, and began to introduce a discourse about David. “What unjust action, O father, either little or great, hast thou found so exceptionable in David, as to induce thee to order us to slay a man, who hath been of great advantage to thy own preservation; and of still greater to the punishment of the Philistines? A man who hath delivered the people of the Hebrews from reproach and derision; which they underwent for forty days together; when he alone had courage enough to sustain the challenge of the adversary: and after that brought as many heads of our enemies as he was appointed to bring; and had, as a reward for the same, my sister in marriage. Insomuch that his death would be very sorrowful to us, not only on account of his virtue, but on account of the nearness of our relation: for thy daughter must be injured at the same time that he is slain: and must be obliged to experience widowhood, before she can come to enjoy any advantage from their mutual conversation. Consider these things, and change your mind to a more merciful temper; and do no mischief to a man who, in the first place, hath done us the great kindness of preserving thee. For when an evil spirit and demons had seized upon thee, he cast them out, and procured rest to thy soul from their incursions. And, in the second place, hath avenged us of our enemies. For it is a base thing to forget such benefits.” So Saul was pacified with these words; and sware to his son, that he would do David no harm: for a righteous discourse proved too hard for the King’s anger and fear. So Jonathan sent for David, and brought him good news from his father, that he was to be preserved. He also brought him to his father. And David continued with the King, as formerly.
3. [About An. 1104] About this time it was, that, upon the Philistines making a new expedition against the Hebrews, Saul sent David with an army to fight with them: and joining battel with them, he slew many of them: and after his victory he returned to the King. But his reception by Saul was not as he expected upon such success: for he was grieved at his prosperity, because he thought he would be more dangerous to him by having acted so gloriously. But when the demoniacal spirit came upon him, and put him into disorder, and disturbed him, he called for David into his bed-chamber, wherein he lay; and having a spear in his hand, he ordered him to charm him with playing on his harp, and with singing hymns: which when David did, at his command, he, with great force, threw the spear at him. But David was aware of it before it came, and avoided it; and fled to his own house, and abode there all that day.
4. But at night the King sent officers, and commanded that he should be watched till the morning; lest he should get quite away; that he might come into the judgment hall, and so might be delivered up, and condemned, and slain. But when Michal, David’s wife, the King’s daughter, understood what her father designed; she came to her husband, as having small hopes of his deliverance; and as greatly concerned about her own life also: for she could not bear to live, in case she were deprived of him. And she said, “Let not the sun find thee here when it rises: for if it do, that will be the last time it will see thee. Fly away then, while the night may afford thee the opportunity: and may God lengthen it for thy sake. For know this, that if my father find thee, thou art a dead man.” So she let him down by a cord out of the window, and saved him. And after she had done so, she fitted up a bed for him, as if he were sick; and put under the bed-
5. [About An. 1102] When the Prophet was made acquainted with the unjust proceedings of the King, he left the city Ramah, and took David with him, to a certain place called Naioth,9 and there he abode with him. But when it was told Saul, that David was with the Prophet, he sent soldiers to him, and ordered them to take him, and bring him to him. And when they came to Samuel, and found there a congregation of Prophets, they became partakers of the divine spirit; and began to prophecy. Which when Saul heard of, he sent others to David: who prophecying in like manner as did the first; he again sent others: which third sort prophesying also; at last he was angry, and went thither in great haste himself. And when he was just by the place, Samuel, before he saw him, made him prophecy also. And when Saul came to him, he was disordered in mind, (22) and under the vehement agitation of a spirit: and putting off his garments, (23) he fell down, and lay on the ground all that day and night, in the presence of Samuel and David.
6. And David went thence, and came to Jonathan, the son of Saul, and lamented to him what snares were laid for him by his father, and said, that “though he had been guilty of no evil, nor had offended against him, yet he was very zealous to get him killed.” Hereupon Jonathan exhorted him not to give credit to such his own suspicions, nor to the calumnies of those that raised those reports, if there were any that did so; but to depend on him, and take courage: for that his father had no such intentions: since he would have acquainted him with that matter, and have taken his advice, had it been so: as he used to consult with him in common when he acted in other affairs. But David sware to him, that so it was: and he desired him rather to believe him, and to provide for his safety, than to despise what he, with great sincerity, told him: that he would believe what he said, when he should either see him killed himself, or learn it upon enquiry from others: and that the reason why his father did not tell him of these things was this, that he knew of the friendship and affection that he bore towards him.
7. Hereupon when Jonathan found that this intention of Saul’s was so well attested, he asked him, “What he would have him do for him?” To which David replied, “I am sensible that thou art willing to gratify me in every thing, and procure me what I desire. Now to morrow is the new moon" and I was accustomed to sit down then with the King at supper. Now if it seem good to thee, I will go out of the city, and conceal myself privately there. And if Saul enquire why I am absent, tell him, that I am gone to my own city Bethlehem, to keep a festival with my own tribe: and add this also, that thou gavest me leave so to do. And if he say, as is usually said in the case of friends that are gone abroad, it is well that he went; then assure thy self that no latent mischief or enmity may be feared at his hands. But if he answer otherwise; that will be a sure sign that he hath some designs against me. Accordingly thou shalt inform me of thy father’s inclinations: and that out of pity to my case, and out of thy friendship for me: as instances of which friendship thou hast vouchsafed to accept of the assurances of my love to thee; and to give the like assurances to me: that is, those of a master to his servant. But if thou discoverest any wickedness in me, do thou prevent thy father, and kill me thy self.”
8. But Jonathan heard these last words with indignation; and promised to do what he desired of him, and to inform him if his father’s answers implied any thing of a melancholy nature, and any enmity against him. And that he might the more firmly depend upon him, he took him out into the open field, into the pure air, and sware that he would neglect nothing that might tend to the preservation of David; and he said, “I appeal to that God, who, as thou seest, is diffused every where, and knoweth this intention of mine, before I explain it in words, as the witness of this my covenant with thee: that I will not leave off to make frequent trials of the purpose of my father, till I learn whether there be any lurking distemper in the secretest parts of his soul: and when I have learnt it, I will not conceal it from thee, but will discover it to thee; whether he be gently or peevishly disposed. For this God himself knows, that I pray he may always be with thee: for he is with thee now, and will not forsake thee; and will make thee superior to thine enemies; whether my father be one of them, or whether I my self be such. Do thou only remember what we now do: and if it fall out that I die, preserve my children alive; and requite what kindness thou hast now received, to them.” When he had thus sworn, he dismissed David; bidding him go to a certain place of that plain, wherein he used to perform his exercises. For that as soon as he knew the mind of his father, he would come thither to him, with one servant only: and “If, says he, I shoot three darts at the mark, and then bid my servant to carry these three darts away, for they are before him, know thou that there is no mischief to be feared from my father. But if thou hearest me say the contrary, expect the contrary treatment from the King. However thou shalt gain security by my means; and shalt by no means suffer any harm. But see thou dost not forget what I have desired of thee, in the time of thy prosperity, and be serviceable to my children.” Now David, when he had received these assurances from Jonathan, went his way to the place appointed.
9. But on the next day, which was the new moon, the King, when he had purified himself, as the custom was, came to supper; and when there sat by him his son Jonathan, on his right hand; and Abner, the captain of his host, on the other hand; he saw David’s seat was empty: but said nothing: supposing that he had not purified himself since he had accompanied with his wife; and so could not be present. But when he saw that he was not there on the second day of the month neither, he enquired of his son Jonathan, why the son of Jesse did not come to the supper and the feast, neither the day before, nor that day? So Jonathan said, that “He was gone, according to the agreement between them, to his own city; where his tribe kept a festival; and that by his permission: that he also invited him to come to their sacrifice; and says Jonathan, if thou wilt give me leave, I will go thither: for thou knowest the good will that I bear him.” And then it was that Jonathan understood his father’s hatred to David; and plainly saw his intire disposition. For Saul could not restrain his anger; but reproached Jonathan, and called him the son of a runagate, and an enemy; and said, “he was a partner with David, and his assistant; and that by this behaviour he shewed he had no regard to himself, or to his mother: and would not be persuaded of this, that while David is alive, their kingdom was not secure to them. Yet did he bid him send for him, that he might be punished.” And when Jonathan said, in answer, what hath he done, that thou wilt punish him? Saul no longer contented himself to express his anger in bare words; but snatched up his spear and leaped upon him; and was desirous to kill him. He did not indeed do what he intended, because he was hindred by his friends; but it appeared plainly to his son that he hated David, and greatly desired to dispatch him: insomuch, that he had almost slain his son with his own hands on his account.
10. And then it was that the King’s son rose hastily from supper; and being unable to admit any thing into his mouth for grief, he wept all night; both because he had himself been near destruction; and because the death of David was determined. But as soon as it was day he went out into the plain that was before the city; as going to perform his exercises; but in reality to inform his friend what disposition his father was in towards him, as he had agreed with him to do. And when Jonathan had done what had been thus agreed, he dismissed his servant that followed him, to return to the city; but he himself went into the desert, and came into his presence, and communed with him. So David appeared, and fell at Jonathan’s feet, and bowed down to him, and called him the preserver of his soul. But he lifted him up from the earth; and they mutually embraced one another, and made a long greeting; and that not without tears. They also lamented their age; and that familiarity which envy would deprive them of; and that separation which must now be expected: which seemed to them no better than death it self. So recollecting themselves at length from their lamentation; and exhorting one another to be mindful of the oaths they had sworn to each other, they parted asunder.
How David fled to Ahimelech; and afterwards to the Kings of the Philistines and of the Moabites: and how Saul slew Ahimelech, and his family.
1. [About An. 1100.] But David fled from the King, and that death he was in danger of by him; and came to the city Nob, to Ahimelech the Priest: (24) who when he saw him coming all alone, and neither a friend nor a servant with him, he wondered at it; and desired to learn of him the cause why there was no body with him? To which David answered, “that the King had commanded him to do a certain thing, that was to be kept secret; to which, if he had a mind to know so much, he had no occasion for any one to accompany him. However, I have ordered my servants to meet me at such and such a place:” so he desired him to let him have somewhat to eat: and that in case he would supply him, he would act the part of a friend, and be assisting to the business he was now about. And when he had obtained what he desired, he also asked him whether he had any weapons with him, either sword or spear? Now there was at Nob a servant of Saul’s, by birth a Syrian,10 whose name was Doeg; one that kept the King’s mules. The High Priest said that he had no such weapon: but he added, “Here is the sword of Goliath; which, when thou hadst slain the Philistine thou didst dedicate11 to God.”
2. When David had received the sword, he fled out of the countrey of the Hebrews, into that of the Philistines; over which Achish reigned. And when the King’s servants knew him, and he was made known to the King himself, the servants informing him that he was that David who had killed many ten thousands of the Philistines, David was afraid lest the King should put him to death; and that he should experience that danger from him which he had escaped from Saul. So he pretended to be distracted and mad: so that his spittle ran out of his mouth; and he did other the like actions before the King of Gath, which might make him believe that they proceeded from such a distemper. Accordingly the King was very angry at his servants, that they had brought him a mad man; and he gave order that they should eject David immediately [out of the city].
3. So when David had escaped in this manner out of Gath, he came to the tribe of Judah, and abode in a cave, by the city of Adullam. Then it was that he sent to his brethren, and informed them where he was: who then came to him with all their kindred: and as many others as were either in want, or in fear of King Saul, came and made a body together, and told him, they were ready to obey his orders. They were in all four hundred. Whereupon he took courage, now such a force and assistance was come to him. So he removed thence, and came to the King of the Moabites; and desired him to entertain his parents in his countrey, while the issue of his affairs were in such an uncertain condition. The King granted him this favour; and payed great respects to David’s parents, all the time they were with him.
4. [About An. 1099.] As for himself, upon the Prophet’s commanding him to leave the desert, and to go into the portion of the tribe of Judah, and abide there; he complied therewith. And coming to the city Hareth,12 which was in that tribe, he remained there. Now when Saul heard that David had been seen with a multitude about him, he fell into no small disturbance and trouble. But as he knew that David was a bold and couragious man, he suspected that somewhat extraordinary would appear from him, and that openly also, which would make him weep, and put him into distress. So he called together to him his friends, and his commanders, and the tribe from which he was himself derived, to the hill where his palace was: and sitting upon a place called Aroura, his courtiers that were in dignities, and the guards of his body being with him; he spake thus to them: “You that are men of my own tribe, I conclude that you remember the benefits that I have bestowed upon you; and that I have made some of you owners of land, and made you commanders, and bestowed posts of honour upon you, and set some of you over the common people, and others over the soldiers: I ask you therefore whether you expect greater and more donations from the son of Jesse? for I know that you are all inclinable to him, even my own son Jonathan himself is of that opinion; and persuades you to be of the same. For I am not unacquainted with the oaths and the covenants that are between him and David; and that Jonathan is a counseller, and an assistant to those that conspire against me: and none of you are concerned about these things: but you keep silence and watch to see what will be the upshot of these things.” When the King had done his speech, not one of the rest of those that were present made any answer: but Doeg the Syrian,13 who fed his mules, said, that he saw David, when he came to the city Nob, to Ahimelech the High Priest; and that he learned future events by his prophecying: that he received food from him, and the sword of Goliath, and was conducted by him with security to such as he desired to go to.
5. Saul therefore sent for the High Priest, and for all his kindred; and said to them, “What terrible or ungrateful thing hast thou suffered from me, that thou hast received the son of Jesse, and hast bestowed on him both food and weapons, when he was contriving to get the kingdom? And farther, why didst thou deliver oracles to him concerning futurities? For thou couldest not be unacquainted that he was fled away from me; and that he hated my family.” But the High Priest did not betake himself to deny what he had done, but confessed boldly that he had supplied him with these things; not to gratify David, but Saul himself: and he said, “I did not know that he was thy adversary, but a servant of thine, who was very faithful to thee; and a captain over a thousand of thy soldiers; and, what is more than these, thy son-
6. When the High Priest had spoken thus he did not persuade Saul. His fear was so prevalent, that he could not give credit to an apology that was very just. So he commanded his armed men that stood about him to kill him, and all his kindred. But as they durst not touch the High Priest; but were more afraid of disobeying God than the King; he ordered Doeg the Syrian [or Edomite], to kill them. Accordingly he took to his assistance such wicked men as were like himself, and slew Ahimelech and his family: who were in all three hundred and eighty five. Saul also sent to Nob, (25) the city of the Priests, and slew all that were there; without sparing either women or children, or any other age, and burnt it. Only there was one son of Ahimelech, whose name was Abiathar, who escaped. However, these things came to pass as God had foretold to Eli the High Priest: when he said that his posterity should be destroyed, on account of the transgression of his two sons.
7. (26) Now this King Saul, by perpetrating so barbarous a crime, and murdering the whole family of the High Priestly dignity; by having no pity of the infants, nor reverence for the aged; and by overthrowing the city which God had chosen for the property, and for the support of the Priests and Prophets which were there; and had ordained as the only city allotted for the education of such men; gives all to understand and consider the disposition of men: that while they are private persons, and in a low condition; because it is not in their power to indulge nature, nor to venture upon what they wish for; they are equitable, and moderate; and pursue nothing but what is just; and bend their whole minds and labours that way: then it is that they have this belief about God, that he is present to all the actions of their lives; and that he does not only see the actions that are done, but clearly knows those their thoughts also whence those actions do arise. But when once they are advanced into power and authority, then they put off all such notions: and as if they were no other than actors upon a theatre, they lay aside their disguised parts and manners, and take up boldness, insolence, and a contempt of both human and divine laws. And this at a time when they especially stand in need of piety and righteousness; because they are then most of all exposed to envy, and all they think and all they say are in the view of all men; then it is that they become so insolent in their actions, as tho’ God saw them no longer; or were afraid of them, because of their power. And whatsoever it is that they either are afraid of by the rumours they hear; or they hate by inclination; or they love without reason; these seem to them to be authentick, and firm, and true, and pleasing both to men and to God. But as to what will come hereafter, they have not the least regard to it. They raise those to honour indeed who have been at a great deal of pains for them: and after that honour they envy them: and when they have brought them into high dignity, they do not only deprive them of what they had obtained; but also on that very account of their lives also: and that on wicked accusations, and such as on account of their extravagant nature are incredible. They also punish men for their actions, not such as deserve condemnation, but from calumnies and accusations without examination; and this extends not only to such as deserve to be punished, but to as many as they are able to kill. This reflection is openly confirmed to us from the example of Saul, the son of Kish: who was the first King who reigned after our aristocracy, and government under the judges were over: and that by his slaughter of three hundred Priests and Prophets, on occasion of his suspicion about Ahimelech; and by the additional wickedness of the overthrow of their city; and this is as he were endeavouring in some sort to render the temple [tabernacle] destitute both of Priests and Prophets: which endeavour he shewed by slaying so many of them; and not suffering the very city belonging to them to remain; that so others might succeed them.
8. But Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, who alone could be saved out of the family of Priests slain by Saul, fled to David; and informed him of the calamity that had befallen their family; and of the slaughter of his father. Who hereupon said, “He was not unapprized of what would follow with relation to them, when he saw Doeg there. For he had then a suspicion that the High Priest would be falsely accused by him to the King: and he blamed himself as having been the cause of this misfortune.” But he desired him to stay there, and abide with him, as in a place where he might be better concealed than any where else.
How David, when he had twice the opportunity of killing Saul, did not kill him. Also concerning the death of Samuel, and Nabal.
1. [About An. 1099] About this time it was that David heard how the Philistines had made an inroad into the country of Keilah, and robbed it. So he offered himself to fight against them; if God, when he should be consulted by the Prophet, would grant him the victory. And when the Prophet said, that God gave a signal of victory; he made a sudden onset upon the Philistines, with his companions; and he shed a great deal of their blood; and carryed off their prey: and staid with the inhabitants of Keilah till they had securely gathered in their corn, and their fruits. However, it was told Saul the King, that David was with the men of Keilah: for what had been done, and the great success that had attended him, were not confined among the people where the things were done; but the fame of it went all abroad, and came to the hearing of others: and both the fact as it stood, and the author of the fact were carried to the King’s ears. Then was Saul glad when he heard David was in Keilah: and he said, “God hath now put him into my hands; since he hath obliged him to come into a city that hath walls, and gates, and bars.” So he commanded all the people to set up Keilah suddenly: and when they had besieged and taken it, to kill David. But when David perceived this, and learned of God that if he stayed there the men of Keilah would deliver him up to Saul, he took his four hundred men, and retired into a desert, that was over against a city called Engaddi. So when the King heard he was fled away from the men of Keilah, he left off his expedition against him.
2. Then David removed thence, and came to a certain place called the New Place, (27) belonging to Ziph. Where Jonathan the son of Saul came to him; and saluted him; and exhorted him to be of good courage, and to hope well as to his condition hereafter; and not to despond at his present circumstances: for that he should be King, and have all the forces of the Hebrews under him: but told him, that such happiness uses to come with great labour and pains: they also took oaths, that they would all their lives long continue in good will and fidelity one to another: and he called God to witness, as to what execrations he had made upon himself, if he should transgress his covenant, and should change to a contrary behaviour. So Jonathan left him there, having rendred his cares and fear somewhat lighter; and returned home. Now the men of Ziph, to gratify Saul, informed him that David abode with them: and [assured him] that if he would come to them, they would deliver him up: for that if the King would seize on the straits of Ziph, David could not escape to any other people. So the King commended them, and confessed that he had reason to thank them, because they had given him information of his enemy; and he promised them, that it should not be long ere he would requite their kindness. He also sent men to seek for David, and to search the wilderness wherein he was: and he answered, that he would himself follow them. Accordingly they went before the King, to hunt for and to catch David: and used endeavours not only to shew their good will to Saul, by informing him where his enemy was; but to evidence the same more plainly, by delivering him up into his power. But these men failed of those their unjust and wicked desires: who while they underwent no hazard by not discovering such an ambition of revealing this to Saul; yet did they falsely accuse, and promise to deliver up a man beloved of God; and one that was unjustly sought for to be put to death; and one that might otherwise have lain concealed: and this out of flattery, and expectation of gain from the King. For when David was apprized of the malignant intentions of the men of Ziph, and of the approach of Saul, he left the straits of that countrey; and fled to the great rock that was in the wilderness of Maon.
3. Hereupon Saul made haste to pursue him thither. For as he was marching, he learned that David was gone away from the straits [of Ziph:] and Saul removed to the other side of the rock. But the report that the Philistines had again made an incursion into the country of the Hebrews, called Saul another way, from the pursuit of David, when he was ready to be caught: for he returned back again to oppose those Philistines, who were naturally their enemies: as judging it more necessary to avenge himself of them, than to take a great deal of pains to catch an enemy of his own; and to overlook the ravage that was made in the land.
4. And by this means, David unexpectedly escaped out of the danger he was in; and came to the straits of Engedi. And when Saul had driven the Philistines out of the land, there came some messengers who told him, that David abode within the bounds of Engedi. So he took three thousand chosen men, that were armed, and made haste to him. And when he was not far from those places, he saw a deep and hollow cave by the way side. It was open to a great length and breadth: and there it was that David, with his four hundred men, were concealed. When therefore he had great occasion to ease nature, he entered into it by himself alone. And being seen by one of David’s companions: and he that saw him saying to him, that “He had now, by God’s providence, an opportunity of avenging himself of his adversary; and advising him to cut off his head, and so deliver himself out of that tedious wandring condition, and the distress he was in;” he rose up, and only cut off the skirt of that garment which Saul had on. But he soon repented of what he had done; and said, it was not right to kill him that was his master, and one whom God had thought worthy of the kingdom. For that, although he were wickedly disposed towards us, yet does it not behove me to be so disposed towards him. But when Saul had left the cave, David came near, and cried out aloud, and desired Saul to hear him. Whereupon the King turned his face back, and David, according to custom, fell down on his face before the King, and bowed to him; and said, “O King, thou oughtest not to hearken to wicked men, nor to such as forge calumnies; nor to gratify them so far as to believe what they say; nor to entertain suspicions of such as are your best friends: but to judge of the disposition of all men by their actions. For calumny deludes men: but mens own actions are a clear demonstration of their kindness. Words indeed, in their own nature, may be either true or false: but mens actions expose their intentions nakedly to our view. By these therefore it would be well for thee to believe me, as to my regard to thee and to thy house; and not to believe those that frame such accusations against me as never came into my mind; nor are possible to be executed: and do this farther by pursuing after my life; and have no concern either day or night, but how to compass my life and to murder me: which thing I think thou dost unjustly prosecute. For how comes it about, that thou hast embraced this false opinion about me; as if I had a desire to kill thee? Or how canst thou escape the crime of impiety towards God, when thou wishest thou couldest kill, and deemest thine adversary a man, who had it in his power this day to avenge himself, and to punish thee, but would not do it? nor make use of such an opportunity; which if it had fallen out to thee against me, thou hadst not let it slip. For when I cut off the skirt of thy garment, I could have done the same to thy head.” So he shewed him the piece of his garment, and thereby made him agree to what he said to be true: and added, “I, for certain, have abstained from taking a just revenge upon thee: yet art thou not ashamed to prosecute me with unjust hatred. (28) May God do justice, and determine about each of our dispositions.” But Saul was amazed at the strange delivery he had received: and being greatly affected with the moderation and disposition of the young man, he groaned: and when David had done the same, the King answered, that “He had the justest occasion to groan. For thou hast been the author of good to me; as I have been the author of calamity to thee. And thou hast demonstrated this day, that thou possessest the righteousness of the ancients; who determined, that men ought to save their enemies, though they caught them in a desert place.14 I am now persuaded, that God reserves the kingdom for thee: and that thou wilt obtain the dominion over all the Hebrews. Give me then assurances upon oath, that thou wilt not root out my family; nor, out of remembrance of what evil I have done thee, destroy my posterity; but save and preserve my house.” So David sware as he desired; and sent back Saul to his own kingdom. But he, and those that were with him, went up the straits of Mastheroth.
5. [An. 1098.] About this time Samuel the Prophet died. He was a man whom the Hebrews honoured in an extraordinary degree: for that lamentation which the people made for him, and this during a long time, manifested his virtue, and the affection which the people bore for him: as also did the solemnity and concern that appeared about his funeral, and about the compleat observation of all his funeral rites. They buried him in his own city of Ramah; and wept for him a very great number of days: not looking on it as a sorrow for the death of another man, but as that in which they were every one themselves concerned. He was a righteous man, and gentle in his nature, and, on that account he was very dear to God. Now he governed and presided over the people alone, after the death of Eli the High Priest, twelve years,15 and eighteen years together with Saul the King.16 And thus we have finished the History of Samuel.
6. [About An. 1097.] There was a man that was a Ziphite, of the city of Maon; who was rich, and had a vast number of cattle: for he fed a flock of three thousand sheep, and another flock of a thousand goats. Now David had charged his associates to keep these flocks without hurt, and without damage; and to do them no mischief; neither out of covetousness; nor because they were in want; nor because they were in the wilderness, and so could not easily be discovered: but to esteem freedom from injustice above all other motives; and to look upon the touching of what belonged to another man as an horrible crime, and contrary to the will of God. These were the instructions he gave: thinking that the favours he granted this man were granted to a good man; and one that deserved to have such care taken of his affairs. This man was Nabal: for that was his name: a harsh man, and of a very wicked life: being like a Cynick in the course of his behaviour, but still had obtained for his wife a woman of a good character, wise and handsome. To this Nabal therefore David sent ten men of his attendants; at the time when he sheared his sheep: and by them saluted him; and also wished he might do what he now did, for many years to come: but desired him to make him a present of what he was able to give him: since he had, to be sure, learned from his shepherds, that we had done them no injury; but had been their guardians a long time together, while we continued in the wilderness; and he assured him, he should never repent of giving any thing to David. When the messengers had carried this message to Nabal, he accosted them after an inhuman and rough manner: for he asked them, who David was? and when he heard that he was the son of Jesse, “Now is the time, said he, that fugitives grow insolent, and make a figure, and leave their masters.” When they told David this, he was wroth; and commanded four hundred armed men to follow him, and left two hundred to take care of the stuff, (for he had already six hundred, (29)), and went against Nabal: he also swore that he would that night utterly destroy the whole house and possessions of Nabal: for that he was grieved, not only that he had proved ungrateful to them, without making any return for the humanity they had shewed him; but that he had also reproached them, and used ill language to them, when he had received no cause of disgust from them.
7. Hereupon one of those that kept the flocks of Nabal said to his mistress, Nabal’s wife; that “When David sent to her husband, he had received no civil answer at all from him: but that her husband had moreover added very reproachful language; while yet David had taken extraordinary care to keep his flocks from harm: and that what had passed would prove very pernicious to his master.” When the servant had said this, Abigail, for that was the wife’s name, saddled her asses, and loaded them with all sorts of presents: and, without telling her husband any thing of what she was about, for he was not sensible on account of his drunkenness, she went to David. She was then met by David, as she was descending an hill; who was coming against Nabal with the four hundred men. When the woman saw David, she leaped down from her ass, and fell on her face, and bowed down to the ground; and intreated him not to bear in mind the words of Nabal: since he knew that he resembled his name: now Nabal, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies folly. So she made her apology: “That she did not see the messengers whom he sent. Forgive me therefore, said she, and thank God who hath hindred thee from shedding human blood. For so long as thou keepest thy self innocent, he will avenge thee of wicked men. For what miseries await Nabal, they will fall upon the heads of thine enemies. (30) Be thou gracious to me, and think me so far worthy as to accept of these presents from me; and out of regard to me remit that wrath and that anger which thou hast against my husband, and his house. For mildness and humanity become thee: especially as thou art to be our King.” Accordingly David accepted her presents, and said, “Nay but, O woman, it was no other than God’s mercy which brought thee to us to day. For otherwise thou hadst never seen another day: I having sworn (31) to destroy Nabal’s house this very night; and to leave alive not one of you who belonged to a man that was wicked, and ungrateful to me, and my companions. But now hast thou prevented me, and seasonably mollified my anger: as being thy self under the care of God’s providence. But as for Nabal, altho’, for thy sake, he now escape punishment, he will not always avoid justice, for his evil conduct, on some other occasion, will be his ruin.”
8. When David had said this, he dismissed the woman. But when she came home, and found her husband feasting with a great company, and oppressed with wine, she said nothing to him then about what had happened: but on the next day, when he was sober, she told him all the particulars: and made his whole body to appear like that of a dead man, by her words; and by that grief which arose from them. So Nabal survived ten days and no more, and then died. And when David heard of his death he said, that “God had justly avenged him of this man: for that Nabal had died by his own wickedness, and had suffered punishment on his account: while he had kept his own hand clean.” At which time he understood, that the wicked are prosecuted by God; that he does not overlook any man, but bestows on the good what is suitable to them, and inflicts a deserved punishment on the wicked. So he sent to Nabal’s wife, and invited her to come to him, to live with him, and to be his wife. Whereupon she replied to those that came, that she was not worthy to touch his feet. However she came with all her servants, and became his wife: having received that honour on account of her wise and righteous course of life. She also obtained the same honour partly on account of her beauty. Now David had a wife before, which he married from the city Abesar.17 For as to Michal, the daughter of King Saul, who had been David’s wife, her father had given her in marriage to Phalti, the son of Laish, who was of the city of Gallim.
9. After this came certain of the Ziphites, and told Saul, that David was come again into their countrey; and that if he would afford them his assistance, they could catch him. So he came to them with three thousand armed men: and upon the approach of the night he pitched his camp at a certain place called Hachilah. But when David heard that Saul was coming against him, he sent spies, and bid them let him know to what place of the countrey Saul was already come. And when they told him that he was at Hachilah, he concealed his going away from his own companions, and came to Saul’s camp: having taken with him Abishai, his sister Zeruiah’s son; and Abimelech the Hittite. Now Saul was asleep: and the armed men, with Abner their commander, lay round about him, in a circle. Hereupon David entered into the King’s tent: but he did neither kill Saul, tho’ he knew where he lay, by the spear that was stuck down by him' nor did he give leave to Abishai, who would have killed him, and was earnestly bent upon it so to do. For he said, “It was a horrid crime to kill one that was ordained King by God, altho’ he were a wicked man. For that he who gave him the dominion, would in time inflict punishment upon him.” So he restrained his eagerness. But that it might appear to have been in his power to have killed him when he refrained from it, he took his spear, and the cruse of water which stood by Saul as he lay asleep, without being perceived by any in the camp; who were all asleep; and went securely away: having performed every thing among the King’s attendants that the opportunity afforded, and his boldness encouraged him to do. So when he had passed over a brook, and was gotten up to the top of an hill, whence he might be sufficiently heard, he cryed aloud to Saul’s soldiers, and to Abner their commander, and awaked them out of their sleep: and called both to him and to the people. Hereupon the commander heard him, and asked who it was that called him? To whom David replied, “It is I, the son of Jesse, whom you make a vagabond. But what is the matter? Dost thou that art a man of so great dignity, and of the first rank in the King’s court, take so little care of thy master’s body? And is sleep of more consequence to thee than his preservation, and thy care of him? This negligence of yours deserves death, and punishment to be inflicted on you: who never perceived when a little while ago some of us entred into your camp; nay as far as to the King himself, and to all the rest of you. If thou look for the King’s spear, and his cruse of water; thou wilt learn what a mighty misfortune was ready to overtake you, in your very camp, without your knowing it.” Now when Saul knew David’s voice, and understood that when he had him in his power, while he was asleep, and his guards took no care of him, yet did not he kill him, but spared him when he might justly have cut him off; he said, that “He owed him thanks for his preservation; and exhorted him to be of good courage, and not to be afraid of suffering any mischief from him any more: and to return to his own home: for he was now persuaded, that he did not love himself so well as he was loved by him: that he had driven away him that could guard him, and had given many demonstrations of his good-will to him: that he had forced him to live so long in a state of banishment, and in great fears of his life; destitute of his friends and his kindred. While still he was often saved by him, and frequently received his life again, when it was evidently in danger of perishing.” So David bid them send for the spear, and the cruse of water, and take them back: adding this withall, that “God would be the judge of both their dispositions, and of the actions that flowed from the same: who knows that then it was this day in my power to have killed thee I abstained from it.”
10. Thus Saul having escaped the hands of David twice, he went his way to his royal palace, and his own city. But David was afraid, that if he stayed there he should be caught by Saul. So he thought it better to go up into the land of the Philistines, and abide there. Accordingly he came with the six hundred men that were with him to Achish, the King of Gath: which was one of their five cities. Now the King received both him and his men; and gave them a place to inhabit in. He had with him also his two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail; and he dwelt in Gath. But when Saul heard this, he took no farther care about sending to him, or going after him; because he had been twice, in a manner, caught by him, while he was himself endeavouring to catch him. However, David had no mind to continue in the city of Gath: but desired the King, that since he had received him with such humanity, that he would grant him another favour, and bestow upon him some place of that country for his habitation: for he was ashamed, by living in the city, to be grievous and burdensome to him. So Achish gave him a certain village, called Ziklag: which place David and his sons were fond of when he was King, and reckoned it to be their peculiar inheritance. But about those matters we shall give the reader farther information elsewhere.18 Now the time that David dwelt in Ziklag, in the land of the Philistines, was four months, and twenty days.19 And now he privately attacked those Geshurites and Amalekites that were neighbours to the Philistines; and laid waste their countrey; and took much prey of their beasts and camels; and then returned home. But David abstained from the men; as fearing they should discover him to King Achish. Yet did he send part of the prey to him as a free gift. And when the King enquired whom they had attacked, when they brought away the prey, he said, those that lay to the south of the Jews, and inhabited in the plain: whereby he persuaded Achish to approve of what he had done. For he hoped that David had fought against his own nation; and that now he should have him for his servant all his life long; and that he would stay in his countrey.
How Saul, upon God’s not answering him concerning the fight with the Philistines, desired a necromantick woman to raise up the soul of Samuel to him. And how he died, with his sons, upon the overthrow of the Hebrews in battle.
1. [About An. 1096.] About the same time, the Philistines resolved to make war against the Israelites; and sent to all their confederates that they would go along with them to the war to Reggan, [near the city Shunem20], whence they might gather themselves together, and suddenly attack the Hebrews. Then did Achish, the King of Gath, desire David to assist them with his armed men against the Hebrews. This he readily promised; and said, that the time was now come wherein he might requite him for his kindness and hospitality. So the King promised to make him the keeper of his body after the victory; supposing that the battel with the enemy succeeded to their mind: which promise of honour and confidence he made on purpose to increase his zeal for his service.
2. Now Saul, the King of the Hebrews, had cast out of the countrey the fortune-
3. When Saul had heard this, he could not speak for grief: and fell down on the floor. Whether it were from the sorrow that arose upon what Samuel had said; or from his emptiness: for he had taken no food the foregoing day nor night: he easily fell quite down. And when with difficulty he had recovered himself, the woman would force him to eat: begging this of him as a favour, on account of her concern in that dangerous instance of fortune telling, which it was not lawful for her to have done, because of the fear she was under of the King; while she knew not who he was: yet did she undertake it, and go through with it. On which account she intreated him to admit that a table and food might be set before him: that he might recollect his strength; and so get safe to his own camp. And when he opposed her motion, and intirely rejected it, by reason of his anxiety; she forced him: and at last persuaded him to it. Now she had one calf, that she was very fond of; and one that she took a great deal of care of, and fed it her self: for she was a woman that got her living by the labour of her own hands; and had no other possession but that one calf. This she killed, and made ready its flesh, and set it before his servants and himself. So Saul came to the camp while it was yet night.
4. Now it is but just to recommend the generosity of this woman; (33) because, when the King had forbidden her to use that art, whence her circumstances were bettered, and improved; and when she had never seen the King before, she still did not remember to his disadvantage that he had condemned her sort of learning: and did not refuse him as a stranger, and one that she had had no acquaintance with: but she had compassion upon him, and comforted him; and exhorted him to do what he was greatly averse to; and offered him the only creature she had, as a poor woman; and that earnestly, and with great humanity: while she had no requital made her for her kindness; nor hunted after any future favour from him: for she knew he was to die. Whereas men are naturally either ambitious to please those that bestow benefits upon them, or are very ready to serve those from whom they may receive some advantage. It would be well therefore to imitate the example of this woman; and to do kindnesses to all such as are in want; and to think that nothing is better, nor more becoming mankind, than such a general beneficence: nor what will sooner render God favourable, and ready to bestow good things upon us. And so far may suffice to have spoken concerning this woman. But I shall speak farther upon another subject; which will afford me the opportunity of discoursing on what is for the advantage of cities, and people, and nations, and suited to the taste of good men: and will encourage them all in the prosecution of virtue; and is capable of shewing them the method of acquiring glory, and an everlasting fame: and of imprinting in the Kings of nations, and the rulers of cities, great inclinations and diligence of doing well: as also of encouraging them to undergo dangers, and to die for their countries: and of instructing them how to despise all the most terrible adversities. And I have a fair occasion offered me to enter on such a discourse by Saul, the King of the Hebrews. For although he knew what was coming upon him; and that he was to die immediately, by the prediction of the Prophet; he did not resolve to fly from death; nor so far to indulge the love of life, as to betray his own people to the enemy; or to bring a disgrace on his royal dignity. But exposing himself, as well as all his family and children to dangers, he thought it a brave thing to fall together with them, as he was fighting for his subjects: and that it was better his sons should die thus, shewing their courage, than to leave them to their uncertain conduct afterward: while instead of succession and posterity, they gained commendation, and a lasting name. Such an one alone seems to me to be a just, a couragious, and a prudent man: and when any one has arrived at these dispositions, or shall hereafter arrive at them, he is the man that ought to be by all honoured, with the testimoney of a virtuous or couragious man. For as to those that go out to war with hopes of success, and that they shall return safe; supposing they should have performed some glorious action; I think those do not do well who call these valiant men: as so many historians and other writers who treat of them are wont to do: although I confess those do justly deserve some commendation also. But those only may be stiled couragious and bold in great undertakings, and despisers of adversities, who imitate Saul. For as for those that do not know what the event of war will be as to themselves; and though they do not faint in it, but deliver themselves up to uncertain futurity; and are tossed this way and that way; this is not so very eminent an instance of a generous mind: although they happen to perform many great exploits. But when mens minds expect no good event; but they know beforehand they must die; and that they must undergo that death in the battel also; after this, neither to be affrighted, nor to be astonished at the terrible fate that is coming; but to go directly upon it, when they know it beforehand: this it is that I esteem the character of a man truly couragious. Accordingly this Saul did: and thereby demonstrated that all men who desire fame after they are dead, are so to act, as they may obtain the same: this especially concerns Kings; who ought not to think it enough in their high station that they are not wicked in the government of their subjects; but to be no more than moderately good to them. I could say more than this about Saul, and his courage: the subject affording matter sufficient: but that I may not appear to run out improperly in his commendation, I return again to that history from which I made this digression.
5. Now when the Philistines, as I said before, had pitched their camp, and had taken an account of their forces, according to their nations, and kingdoms, and governments, King Achish came last of all, with his own army. After whom came David, with his six [sic; four hundred below ]hundred armed men. And when the commanders of the Philistines saw him, they asked the King, whence these Hebrews came? and at whose invitation? He answered, that “It was David, who was fled away from his master Saul: and that he had entertained him, when he came to him: and that now he was willing to make him this requital for his favours, and to avenge himself upon Saul; and so was become his confederate.” The commanders complained of this; that he had taken him for a confederate, who was an enemy: and gave him counsel to send him away, lest he should unawares do his friends a great deal of mischief by entertaining him. For that he afforded him an opportunity of being reconciled to his master, by doing a mischief to our army. They thereupon desired him, out of a prudent foresight of this, to send him away, with his four hundred armed men, to the place he had given him for his habitation. For that this was that David whom the virgins celebrated in their hymns; as having destroyed many ten thousands of the Philistines. When the King of Gath heard this, he thought they spake well: so he called David, and said to him, “As for my self, I can bear witness that thou hast shewn great diligence and kindness about me: and on that account it was that I took thee for my confederate. However, what I have done does not please the commanders of the Philistines. Go therefore within a days time to the place I have given thee, without suspecting any harm: and there keep my countrey: lest any of our enemies should make an incursion upon it: which will be one part of that assistance which I expect from thee.” So David came to Ziklag, as the King of Gath bid him. But it happened that while he was gone to the assistance of the Philistines, the Amalekites had made an incursion; and taken Ziklag before; and had burnt it: and when they had taken a great deal of other prey out of that place, and out of the other parts of the Philistines countrey, they departed.
6. Now when David found that Ziklag was laid waste; and that it was all spoiled; and that as well his own wives, which were two, as the wives of his companions, with their children, were made captives; he presently rent his clothes: weeping and lamenting, together with his friends. And indeed he was so cast down with these misfortunes, that at length tears themselves failed him. He was also in danger of being stoned to death, by his companions; who were greatly afflicted at the captivity of their wives and children: for they laid the blame upon him of what had happened. But when he had recovered himself out of his grief, and had raised up his mind to God, he desired the High Priest Abiathar to put on his sacerdotal garments, and to enquire of God, and to prophecy to him “Whether God would grant, that if he pursued after the Amalekites, he should overtake them, and save their wives, and their children, and avenge himself on the enemies?” And when the High Priest bade him to pursue after them, he marched apace, with his four hundred men, after the enemy. And when he was come to a certain brook called Besor, and had light upon one that was wandring about, an Egyptian by birth; who was almost dead with want and famine: (for he had continued wandring about, without food, in the wilderness three days:) he first of all gave him sustenance both drink and meat; and thereby refreshed him. He then asked him, to whom he belonged? and whence he came? whereupon the man told him, he was an Egyptian by birth; and was left behind by his master, because he was so sick and weak that he could not follow him. He also informed him, that he was one of those that had burnt and plundered not only other parts of Judea, but Ziklag itself also. So David made use of him as a guide, to find out the Amalekites: and when he had overtaken them, as they lay scattered about on the ground, some at dinner; some disordered and intirely drunk with wine; and in the fruition of their spoils and their prey; he fell upon them on the sudden, and made a great slaughter among them. For they were naked, and expected no such thing; but had betaken themselves to drinking and feasting: and so they were all easily destroyed. Now some of them that were overtaken as they lay at the table, were slain in that posture, and their blood brought up with it their meat and their food. They slew others of them as they were drinking to one another, in their cups; and some of them when their full bellies had made them fall asleep. And for so many as had time to put on all their armour, they slew them with the sword, with no less ease than they did those that were naked. And for the partisans of David, they continued also the slaughter from the first hour of the day to the evening: so that there were not above four hundred of the Amalekites left; and they only escaped by getting upon their dromedaries and camels. Accordingly David recovered not only all the other spoils which the enemy had carried away; but his wives also, and the wives of his companions. But when they were come to the place where they had left the two hundred men, which were not able to follow them, but were left to take care of the stuff; the four hundred men did not think fit to divide among them any other parts of what they had gotten, or of the prey; since they did not accompany them; but pretended to be feeble, and did not follow them in the pursuit of the enemy: but said, they should be contented to have safely recovered their wives. Yet did David pronounce,21 that this opinion of theirs was evil and unjust; and that when God had granted them such a favour, that they had avenged themselves on their enemies, and had recovered all that belonged to themselves, they should make an equal distribution of what they had gotten to all, because the rest had tarried behind to guard their stuff. And from that time this law obtained among them; that those who guarded the stuff, should receive an equal share with those that fought in the battel. Now when David was come to Ziklag, he sent portions of the spoils to all that had been familiar with him, and to his friends, in the tribe of Judah. And thus ended the affairs of the plundering of Ziklag, and of the slaughter of the Amalekites.
7. Now upon the Philistines joining battel, there followed a sharp engagement, and the Philistines became the conquerors, and slew a great number of their enemies. But Saul the King of Israel and his sons fought couragiously, and with the utmost alacrity: as knowing that their intire glory lay in nothing else but dying honourably; and exposing themselves to the utmost danger from the enemy: (for they had nothing else to hope for:) So they brought upon themselves the whole power of the enemy till they were encompassed round and slain: but not before they had killed many of the Philistines. Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchisua. And when these were slain, the multitude of the Hebrews were put to flight: and all was disorder, and confusion, and slaughter, upon the Philistines pressing in upon them. But Saul himself fled; having a strong body of soldiers about him: and upon the Philistines sending after them those that threw javelins and shot arrows, he lost all his company, except a few. As for himself he fought with great bravery; and when he had received so many wounds, that he was not able to bear up, nor to oppose any longer, and yet was not able to kill himself; he bid his armour-
8. On the next day, when the Philistines came to strip their enemies that were slain; they got the bodies of Saul, and of his sons, and stripped them, and cut off their heads. And they sent messengers all about their countrey, to acquaint them, that their enemies were fallen. And they dedicated their armour in the temple of Astarte; but hung their bodies on crosses, at the walls of the city Bethshan: which is now called Scythopolis. But when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard that they had dismembred the dead bodies of Saul, and of his sons, they deemed it so horrid a thing to overlook this barbarity, and to suffer them to be without funeral rites, that the most couragious and hardy among them; (and indeed that city had in it men that were very stout, both in body and mind;) journeyed all night, and came to Bethshan, and approached to the enemies wall, and taking down the bodies of Saul, and of his sons, they carried them to Jabesh: while the enemy were not able enough nor bold enough to hinder them, because of their great courage. So the people of Jabesh wept all in general, and buried their bodies in the best place of their countrey, which was named Aroura: and they observed a publick mourning for them seven days, with their wives and children; beating their breasts, and lamenting the King and his sons; without tasting either drink or meat, [till the evening]. (34)
9. To this his end did Saul come, according to the prophecy of Samuel; because he disobeyed the commands of God about the Amalekites; and on the account of his destroying the family of Ahimelech, the High Priest, with Ahimelech himself; and the city of the High Priests. Now Saul, when he had reigned eighteen years,22 while Samuel was alive; and after his death two, [and twenty,] (35) ended his life in this manner.
(1) Dagon, a famous Maritim god or idol, is generally supposed to have been like a man above the navel; and like a fish beneath it.
(2) Spanheim informs us here, that upon the coins of Tenedos, and those of other cities, a field mouse is engraven: together with Apollo Smintheus, or Apollo the driver away of field mice; on account of his being supposed to have freed certain tracts of ground from those mice. Which coins shew how great a judgment such mice have sometimes been; and how the deliverance from them was then esteemed the effect of a divine power. Which observations are highly suitable to this history.
(3) This device of the Philistines, of having a yoke of kine to draw this cart, into which they put the ark of the Hebrews, is greatly illustrated by Sanchoniatho’s account, under his ninth generation, that Agrouerus, or Agrotes, the husbandman, had a much worshipped statue and a temple, ζουγοφορούμενον carried about by one or more yoke of oxen or kine, in Phoenicia, in the neighbourhood of these Philistines. See Cumberland’s Sanchoniatho, pag. 27, and 247. and Essay on the Old Testament, Append. pag. 172.
(4) These 70 men, being not so much as Levites, touched the ark in a rash or profane manner; and were slain by the hand of God for such their rashness and profaneness; according to the divine threatnings, Numb.4:15, 20. but how our other copies come to add such an incredible number as 50000 in this one town, or small city, I know not. See Dr. Wall’s critical Notes on 1 Sam. 6:19.
1 From An. 1148 to An. 1128.
2 Seven months, in the Heb. and LXXII.
(5) This is the first place, so far as I remember, in these Antiquities, where Josephus begins to call his nation Jews: he having hitherto usually, if not constantly, called them either Hebrews, or Israelites. The second place soon follows, chap. 3. § 5.
3 Corræa. Jos. [That is, Whiston has emended Josephus’s Corræa using the text of 1 Sam. 7:11, Bethcar.]
(6) Of this great mistake of Saul’s and his servant’s, as if a true Prophet of God would accept of a gift or present, for foretelling what was desired of him, see the note on IV.6.3.
4 About 30. Heb.
(7) It seems to me not improbable, that these 70 guests of Samuel, as here, and in the LXXII, with himself at the head of them, were a Jewish Sanhedrim; and that hereby Samuel intimated to Saul, that these 71 were to be his constant counsellors; and that he was to act not like a sole monarch, but with the advice and direction of these 71 members of that Jewish Sanhedrim upon all occasions: which yet we never read that he consulted afterward.
(8) An instance of this divine fury we have after this in Saul, Chap. 5. § 2, 3. 1 Sam. 11:6. See the like Judg. 3:10. 6:34. 11:29. 13:25. 14:6.
(9) Take here Theodoret’s Note, cited by Dr. Hudson: “He that exposes his shield to the enemy with his left hand, thereby hides his left eye; and looks at the enemy with his right eye. He therefore that plucks out that eye, makes men useless in war.”
5 From An. 1467 to An. 1449.
(10) Mr. Reland observes here, and proves elsewhere in his Note on [Antiq.] III.1.6. that although thunder and lightning with us happen usually in summer, yet in Palestine and Syria they are chiefly confined to winter. Josephus takes notice of the same thing again, of the War, IV.4.5. See also Antiq. II.14.4.
(11) Josephus here omits the first words of this history; as does the Septuagin 1 Sam. 13:1. The text runs thus in the present Hebrew: Saul was … 1 years old when he began to reign; and he reigned 2 years. Where in one, if not in both places, the decads are wanting. Nor is it fit to invent idle excuses, and far fetcht interpretations, in order to evade such difficulties: as the learned, honest, and judicious Dr. Wall has frequently observed, in his very valuable, but posthumous Critical Notes on the Old and New Testament. If the text be at all genuine, it might be written at first thus: Saul was 21 [or 31] years old when he began to reign: and he reigned 2 years. This we have seen was in some sense Josephus’s own number in the IVth Dissertation prefixed, § 31. i.e. 18 years during the life of Samuel, and 2 years after his death.
(12) This was Galgal by Michmas and Bethel; not the famous Galgal or Gilgal near Jericho.
(13) Saul seems to have staid till near the time of the evening sacrifice, on the seventh day; which Samuel the Prophet of God had appointed him: but not till the end of that day; as he ought to have done: and Samuel appears, by delaying to come till the full time of the evening sacrifice on that seventh day, to have tried him (who seems to have been already for some time declining from his strict and bounden subordination to God, and his Prophet; to have taken life-
(14) By this answer of Samuel, and that from a divine commission, which is fuller in 1 Sam. 13:14. and by that parallel note in the Apostolical Constitutions, just now quoted, concerning the great wickedness of Saul in venturing, even under a seeming necessity of affairs, to usurp the Priest’s office, and offer sacrifice without the Priest, we are in some degree able to answer that question, which I have ever thought a very hard one; viz. Whether if there were a city or countrey of lay Christians, without any clergymen, it were lawful for the laity alone to baptize, or celebrate the eucharist, &c. or indeed whether they alone could ordain themselves either Bishops, Priests, or Deacons, for the due performance of such sacerdotal ministration: or whether they ought not rather, till they procure clergymen to come among them, to confine themselves within those bounds of piety and Christianity which belong alone to the laity: such particularly as are recommended in the 1st Book of the Apostolical Constitutions, which peculiarly concern the laity, and are imtimated in Clement’s undoubted Epistle, § 40. To which latter opinion I incline.
(15) This rash vow or curse of Saul’s, which Josephus says was confirmed by the people, and yet not executed, I suppose principally because Jonathan did not know of it, is very remarkable: it being of the essence of the obligation of all laws, that they be sufficiently known and promulgated. Otherwise the conduct of providence, as to the sacredness of solemn oaths and vows, in God’s refusing to answer by Urim, till this breach of Saul’s vow or curse was understood and set right, and God propitiated by publick prayer, is here very remarkable; as indeed it is every where else in the Old Testament. See Scripture Politicks, pag. 54–65.
(16) Here we have still more indications of Saul’s affectation of despotick power, and of his entrenching upon the Priesthood, and making and endeavouring to execute a rash vow or curse without consulting Samuel, or the Sanhedrim. In this view it is also that I look upon this erection of a new altar by Saul, and his offering of burnt offerings himself upon it; and not as any proper instance of devotion or religion, with other commentators.
6 Ahiah. § 2.
(17) The reason of this severity is distinctly given 1 Sam. 15:18, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites. Nor indeed do we ever meet with these Amalekites, but as very cruel and bloody people; and particularly seeking to injure, and utterly to destroy the nation of Israel. See Exod. 17:8–16. Numb. 14:45. Deut. 25:17-19. Judg. 6:3, 6. 7:12. 10:12. 1 Sam. 15:33. 30:1–2. Psal. 83:7. and above all, the most barbarous of all cruelties, that of Haman the Agagite, or, one of the posterity of Agag, the old King of the Amalekites, Esth. 3:1-15.
7 Kenites. 1 Sam. 15:6.
(18) Spanheim takes notice here, that the Greeks had such ὑμνωδοὶ, or singers of hymns; and that usually children or youth were picked out for that service. As also that those called χιϑουρωδοὶ, or singers to the harp, did the same that David did here, i.e. join their own vocal and instrumental music together.
8 Four cubits: six Heb. four LXXII. 1 Sam. 17:4–11.
(19) Of this remarkable and just omission of the last 4 verses of 1 Sam. 17 and first 5 verses of chap. 18 in Josephus see the IId Dissertation, §25. [Whiston’s Dissertation omits a glaring possible answer for why these passages are not in Josephus: they were in his copy but he could not force them into any sensible narrative.]
(20) Josephus says thrice in this chapter, and twice afterwards, chap. 11. § 2. and B. VII. chap. 1. § 4. i.e. five times in all, that Saul required not a bare hundred of the foreskins of the Philistines, but 600 of their heads. The Septuagint have 100 foreskins: but the Syriack and Arabick 200. Now that these were not foreskins, with our other copies, but heads with Josephus’s copy, seems somewhat probable from 1 Sam. 29:4. where all copies say, that it was with the heads of such Philistines that David might reconcile himself to his master Saul. And if Josephus’s copy be right there, against all the rest; I should also prefer it before the rest here, especially as so often repeated, in the number, 600 instead of 100 in the LXXII, or 200 in the Syriack and Arabick. Reland supposes that by heads Josephus meant ἀκροβυστίαι, or foreskins, by a metaphor. But I cannot assent to such an interpretation.
(21) Since the modern Jews have lost the signification of the Hebrew word here used, Cebir; and since the LXXII, as well as Josephus, render it the Liver of the goat; and since this rendring, and Josephus’s account are here so much more clear and probable than those of others; ’tis almost unaccountable that our commentators should so much as hesitate about its true interpretation.
9 Galbaath, in Jos.
(22) These violent and wild agitations of Saul seem to me to have been no other than demoniacal; and that the same demon which used to seize him, since he was forsaken of God, and which the divine hymns and psalms which were sung to the harp by David used to expel; was now in a judicial way brought upon him: not only in order to disappoint his intentions against innocent David, but to expose him to the laughter and contempt of all that saw him, or heard of those his agitations: such violent and wild agitations being never observed in true Prophets, when they were under the inspiration of the spirit of God. Our other copies, which say the Spirit of God came upon him, seem not so right here, as Josephus’s copy, which mentions nothing of God at all. Nor does Josephus seem to ascribe this impulse and extasy of Saul’s to any other than to his old demoniacal spirit: which on all accounts appears the most probable. Nor does the former description of Saul’s real inspiration by the divine spirit, 1 Sam. 10:9-12, Antiq. VI.4.2. which was before he was become wicked, well agree with the descriptions before us.
(23) What is meant by Saul’s lying down naked all that day, and all that night, 1 Sam. 19:24, and whether any more than laying aside his royal apparel, or upper garments, as Josephus seems to understand it, is by no means certain. See the Note on Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 14. § 2.
(24) Whether this Ahimelech of the family of Ithamar; or Abiathar, of the same family were the Jewish High Priest, when David came to Nob, see the Dissertation at the end of my Essay on the Revelation of St. John at large: pag. 284–289. Josephus believed that Ahimelech was then the High Priest: which seems contrary to our Saviour’s affirmation, Mar. 2:25-26. I mean this, unless there were, in effect, two High Priests at the same time; the one of the family of Eleazar, and the other of that of Ithamar; the one Ahimelech, the other Abiathar: and that our Saviour esteemed Abiathar to be so most properly: which is not impossible to be supposed.
10 Edomite, Heb. Syrian, LXII. In the Hebrew Haadomi, is very like Haarami.
11 Antiq. VI.9.5.
12 Saris, in Jos.
13 Or Edomite.
(25) This city Nob was not a city allotted to the Priests; nor had the Prophets, that we know of, any particular cities allotted them. It seems the tabernacle was now at Nob, and probably a school of the Prophets was here also. It was full two days journey on foot from Jerusalem, 1 Sam. 21:5. The number of Priests here slain in Josephus is 385, and but 85 in our Hebrew copies: yet are they 305 in the Septuagint. I prefer Josephus’s number: the Hebrew having I suppose only dropped the hundreds, the other the tens. This city Nob seems to have been the chief, or perhaps the only seat of the family of Ithamar; which here perished, according to God’s former terrible threatenings to Eli, 1 Sam. 2:27-36, 3:11-18. See chap. 14. § 9. hereafter.
(26) This section contains an admirable reflection of Josephus’s, concerning the general wickedness of men in great authority; and the danger they are in of rejecting that regard to justice and humanity; to divine providence and the fear of God, which they either really had, or pretended to have while they were in a lower condition. It can never be too often perused by Kings and great men; nor by those who expect to obtain such elevated dignities among mankind. See the like reflections of our Josephus’s, Antiq. VII.1.5. at the end; and VIII.10.2. at the beginning, also XIII.7.1. about the middle. They are to the like purport with one branch of Agur’s prayer: One thing have I required of thee, deny me it not before I die: give me not riches; lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? Prov. 30:7-9.
(27) The name of this place, Καινὴ, or the new place, as it is both in the LXXII, and Josephus 1 Sam. 23:15. is justly supposed by Dr. Hudson to have arisen from a different reading of the Hebrew word: Bahadesa, in the new place, instead of that in our present Hebrew, Bahoresa, in the wood. Which was the original reading can hardly now be determined. Only two of the best copies may well be prefered to one copy, which is not so good.
(28) This phrase in David’s speech to Saul, as set down in Josephus, that he had abstained from just revenge, puts me in mind of the like words in the Apostolical Constitutions, VII.2. that revenge is not evil, but that patience is more honourable.
14 Whence this determination of the ancients is derived, I cannot tell.
15 From An. 1128 to An. 1116.
16 From An. 1116 to An. 1098.
(29) The number of men that came first to David are distinctly in Josephus and in our common copies, but 400. When he was at Keilah still but 400 both in Josephus and in the LXXII; but 600 in our Hebrew copies: 1 Sam. 23:13. see 30:9, 10. Now the 600 there mentioned, are here intimated by Josephus to have been so many, only by an augmentation of 200 afterward: which I suppose is the true solution of this seeming disagreement.
(30) In this and the two next sections, we may perceive how Josephus, nay how Abigail herself would understand, the not avenging our selves, but heaping coals of fire on the head of the injurious, Prov. 25:22. Rom. 12:20. not, as we commonly do now, of melting them into kindness; but of leaving them to the judgment of God; to whom vengeance belongeth, Deut. 32:35. Ps. 94:1. Heb. 10:30. and who will take vengeance on the wicked. And since all God’s judgments are just, and all fit to be executed; and all, at length, for good of the persons punished, I incline to think that to be the meaning of this phrase of “heaping coals of fire on their heads.” So also, as it seems to me, do the Apostolical Constitutions understand it, I.2.
(31) We may note here, that how sacred soever an oath was esteemed among the people of God in old times, as I have fully shewn in my Scripture Politicks, pag. 54–65, they did not think it obligatory where the action was plainly unlawful. For so we see it was in this case of David: who altho’ he had sworn to destroy Nabal, and his family, yet does he here and 1 Sam. 25:32-34. bless God for preventing his keeping this oath, and from shedding of blood as he had sworn to do.
17 [Abesar:] Jesrael. 1 Sam. 25:43. [The wife was Ahinoam.]
18 This farther account is not, I think, found in Josephus’s present works.
19 A year and four months. Heb. and LXXII. See 1 Sam. 27:7. and 29.3. tho’ the words are not very plain, even in them.
20 § 2.
(32) This history of Saul’s consultation, not with a witch, as we render the Hebrew word here; but with a necromancer, as the whole history shews, is easily understood: especially if we consult the recognitions of Clement, I.5. II.13 [B. I. ch. 5] at large: and more briefly, and nearer the days of Samuel, Ecclus. 46:20, Samuel prophecied after his death, and shewed the King his end; and lift up his voice from the earth in prophecy; to blot out the wickedness of the people. Nor does the exactness of the accomplishment of this prediction, the very next day, permit us to suppose any imposition upon Saul in the present history. For as to all modern hypotheses, against the natural sense of such ancient and authentick histories, I take them to be of very small value or consideration.
(33) These great commendations of this necromantick woman of Endor; and of Saul’s martial courage, when yet he knew he should die in the battel; are somewhat unusual digressions in Josephus. They seem to me extracted from some speeches or declamations of his, composed formerly, in the way of oratory, that lay by him; and which he thought fit to insert upon this occasion. See before on Antiq. II.6.8.
21 See the IId Dissertation prefixed. § 19.
(34) This way of speaking in Josephus, of fasting seven days, without meat or drink, is almost like that of St. Paul’s, Acts 27:33. This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried, and continued fasting, having taken nothing: and as the nature of the thing, and the impossibility of strictly fasting so long, require us here to understand both Josephus and the sacred Author of this history 1 Sam. 31:13. from whom he took it, of only fasting till the evening: so must we understand St. Paul; either that this was really the fourteenth day that they had taken nothing till the evening, or else that this was the fourteenth day of their tempestuous weather in the Adriatick Sea, as ℣ 27. and that on this fourteenth day alone they had continued fasting, and had taken nothing before that evening. The mention of their long abstinence, ℣ 21. inclines me to believe the former explication to be the truth; and that the case was then for a fortnight, what it was here for a week, that they kept all those days intirely as fasts till the evening, but not longer. See Judg. 20:26. 21:2. 1 Sam. 14:24. 2 Sam. 1:12. Antiq. VII.7.4.
22 From An. 1116 to an. 1096.
(35) That the duration of Saul’s reign, according to Josephus, was not above 20 years, see the IVth dissertation prefixed, § 31.