1 Kings xxx.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Day. It was distant from Aphec about 90 miles. — Smitten, yet without killing any. (Calmet) — We may adore a merciful Providence, which prevented these barbarians from treating David’s men as he had treated theirs, chap. xxvii. 11. (Salien, the year before Christ 1074.) — He would allow them to burn the city, &c., that David might be roused to execute the divine vengeance upon them. (Theodoret)

Ver. 4. Tears. Hebrew, “till they had no more power to weep.” (Menochius) — See Lamentations ii. 11. Cicero exclaims, Hei mihi! consumptis enim lachrymis, infixus tamen hæret in corde dolor. (Phil. ii.)

Ver. 6. Stone him, as the author of all their losses, because he had not left a sufficient garrison at Siceleg, and had irritated the Amalecites. Inconstant people! they thought that he was indebted to them for all that he possessed! (Calmet) — David, without being too much dejected, sought out for an immediate remedy, and led them on to battle. Their ancestors had once threatened to stone Moses, Exodus xvii., &c. (Tirinus)

Ver. 7. To David. Some think that David put on the ephod; but this was the function of the high priest, who, according to Grotius, turned towards David, that he might see the brightness of the precious stones. See Exodus xxviii. 30. By means of the priest David was enlightened. (Worthington)

Ver. 9. Besor is formed by the water falling from the mountains of Idumea, and discharges itself into the Mediterranean, below Gaza. (Calmet) — Some take it to be the torrent of the desert, or the river of Egypt. Adrichomius makes it run from the mountains of Juda, so as to form the southern boundary of the tribe of Simeon. (Haydock)

Ver. 10. Weary. Hebrew pigru, denotes those who are “lazy and dead.” Septuagint, “some sat down on the other side of the torrent.” Syriac and Arabic insinuate, to defend the passage. But why then do the rest complain? (Calmet) — They acted irrationally, as David shewed afterwards. Some of the 600 might well be more exhausted than others, and these were selected to guard the baggage, ver. 24. This was only the third day since they left Aphec, ver. 1. (Haydock)

Ver. 12. Raisins. Hebrew tsimmukim. See chap. xxv. 18. (Calmet) — The soldiers very prudently took some provisions with them, as they were going into a desert country. (Menochius)

Ver. 13. Ago. His master’s inhumanity was justly punished, and God provided for the safety of this poor slave, while he sent a guide for David. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Cerethi, denotes the Philistines, (R. David. See ver. 16.; Haydock) who came originally from Crete, 2 Kings xv. 18., and Ezechiel xxv. 16. (Calmet) — They might be natives of some province of the Philistines, (Vatable) belonging to Gaza, (Menochius) or Geth. (Haydock) — Caleb. Hebron and Cariath-sepher fell to his share. The enemy had a good opportunity to ravage all those places, as most of the soldiers were absent (Calmet) at Jezrahel. (Haydock)

Ver. 15. Him. David did not require this slave to betray his master, for the latter had lost all his claim, and David had acquired it by relieving the distressed. Si herus negaverit servo suo alimenta, & alius suppeditet, sit occupantis. See Martyr. and the Roman laws. The Amalecites dwelt in tents, and the slave knew where they commonly lodged. (Calmet) — Perhaps his master had told him where to meet him, in case he recovered.

Ver. 16. Drinking. Hebrew adds, “and dancing,” (Salien) in honour of their gods. (Menochius)

Ver. 17. Evening. Hebrew, “twilight,” in the morning (Calmet) or evening. (Haydock) — Some think that the pursuit lasted three days; others only from three till five in the evening. But David more probably slaughtered the intoxicated people, during the space of a whole day, from morning till evening. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “from the morning or evening star rising, apo eosphorou, till the afternoon, and on the following day,” (Haydock) which commenced at sun-set. (Calmet) — It was no battle, but flight and carnage. (Menochius)

Ver. 19. All, excepting what had been eaten, or consumed with fire. (Menochius)

Ver. 20. And made. Hebrew, “which they drove before those things (or cattle,” taken from the Amalecites. Haydock) “which were separated from those which David had recovered.” Each one reclaimed what he had lost. Perhaps David’s portion was placed by itself. (Calmet) — Grotius thinks that, as the things taken in war cannot be reclaimed by the former proprietors, all was equally divided. See Selden, Jur. vi. 16.

Ver. 22. Unjust. Hebrew Belial. See Deuteronomy xiii. 13. (Calmet) — David saluted those who had remained at Besor, to shew that he approved of their conduct, unless we may attribute it to his great clemency. (Menochius)

Ver. 24. Alike. Nothing could be more just and prudent; as this decision prevents continual murmurs and inconveniences. Those who are left behind, are bound to defend the baggage at the hazard of their lives, and each man must obey the orders of the general. Hence all nations seem to have adopted similar regulations, though Achilles declaims against it. (Homer, Iliad i.) — Coriolanus observes, that formerly the Romans brought all the spoil into the public treasury. (Halicar. vii.) — The soldiers promised on oath to bring all they should take, and an equal division was made to the whole army. (Polyb. x.) — The sick and absent also partook of the plunder. (Calmet) — The same was observed by the Machabees, 2 Machabees viii. 28. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. A law. Custom, (Calmet) and a particular injunction, had long before made way for it, Numbers xxxi. 27, (Haydock) and Josue xxii. 8. — We might translate the Hebrew, “And this law had been observed in Israel from that day and before.” David restored to its full vigour this ancient regulation. The Hebrews have no compound verbs, such as re-establish, re-build, &c., instead of which, they say, to establish, (Calmet) and build again. Thus, by the addition of adverbs, they can explain the same things. Protestants, “from that day forward he made it a statute,” &c. (Haydock) — It is not, therefore, unlawful to make new laws, provided they be conformable to those of God, Deuteronomy iv., and xii. (Worthington)

Ver. 26. Neighbours. Hebrew, “friends;” some were at a distance, ver. 28. (Haydock) — The number of presents shews the quantity of the spoil, and the generosity of David towards those who had formerly assisted him. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Bethel, “the house of God,” as the priests had afforded him protection. (Haydock) — It is not certain whether he speaks of a town of Ephraim, or of the cities where the ark and the tabernacle were now fixed. — Ramoth, in the tribe of Simeon: (Calmet) there was another in the tribe of Gad. (Menochius) — Jether, or “Jethira,” (Eusebius) a priests’ town, called Ether, Josue xv. 42.

Ver. 28. Aroer, on the Arnon. David had sojourned among the Moabites. — Sephamoth: perhaps Sephama, (Numbers xxxiv. 10,) though it was a great way beyond the Jordan. (Calmet) — Abulensis assigns Sephamoth to Juda. (Menochius) — Esthamo was in the same tribe, belonging to the priests, Josue xxi. 14.

Ver. 29. Rachal; perhaps the same with Hachila, chap. xxiii. 19., and xxvi. 1. — Jerameel. See chap. xxvii. 10. — Ceni, a canton to the south of the Dead Sea.

Ver. 30. Arama, or Horma. Numbers xxi. 3. — Lake. Hebrew, “at Chor Aschan.” It is called Asan, Josue xv. 42., and xix. 7. — Athach, or Athar, Josue xix. 7.

Ver. 31. Hebron, twenty miles south of Jerusalem. — Rest. David remunerated all his old friends, which was the sure way to procure more. (Haydock) — He was still uncertain what would be the event of the war between Saul and the Philistines; and desirous to make friends, who might smooth his way to the throne, according to God’s appointment. (Salien)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The Amalecites burn Siceleg, and carry off the prey: David pursueth after them, and recovereth all out of their hands.

1 Now *when David and his men were come to Siceleg on the third day, the Amalecites had made an invasion on the south side upon Siceleg, and had smitten Siceleg, and burnt it with fire,

2 And had taken the women captives that were in it, both little and great: and they had not killed any person, but had carried them with them, and went on their way.

3 So when David and his men came to the city, and found it burnt with fire, and that their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives,

4 David and the people that were with him, lifted up their voices, and wept till they had no more tears.

5 For the two wives also of David were taken captives, Achinoam, the Jezrahelitess, and Abigail, the wife of Nabal of Carmel.

6 And David was greatly afflicted: for the people had a mind to stone him, for the soul of every man was bitterly grieved for his sons and daughters: but David took courage in the Lord his God.

7 And he said to Abiathar, the priest, the son of Achimelech: Bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

8 And David consulted the Lord, saying: Shall I pursue after these robbers, and shall I overtake them, or not? And the Lord said to him: Pursue after them: for thou shalt surely overtake them and recover the prey.

9 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and they came to the torrent Besor: and some, being weary, stayed there.

10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred stayed, who, being weary, could not go over the torrent Besor.

11 And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David: and they gave him bread to eat, and water to drink,

12 As also a piece of a cake of figs, and two bunches of raisins. And when he had eaten them, his spirit returned, and he was refreshed: for he had not eaten bread, nor drunk water three days and three nights.

13 And David said to him: To whom dost thou belong; or whence dost thou come? and whither art thou going? He said: I am a young man of Egypt, the servant of an Amalecite, and my master left me, because I began to be sick three days ago.

14 For we made an invasion on the south side of Cerethi, and upon Juda, and upon the south of Caleb, and we burnt Siceleg with fire.

15 And David said to him: Canst thou bring me to this company? and he said: Swear to me by God, that thou wilt not kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee to this company. And David swore to him.

16 And when he had brought him, behold they were lying spread upon all the ground, eating and drinking, and as it were keeping a festival day, for all the prey and the spoils which they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Juda.

17 And David slew them from the evening unto the evening of the next day, and there escaped not a man of them, but four hundred young men, who had gotten upon camels, and fled.

18 So David recovered all that the Amalecites had taken, and he rescued his two wives.

19 And there was nothing missing small or great, neither of their sons or their daughters, nor of the spoils, and whatsoever they had taken, David recovered all.

20 And he took all the flocks and the herds, and made them go before him: and they said: This is the prey of David.

21 And David came to the two hundred men, who, being weary, had stayed, and were not able to follow David, and he had ordered them to abide at the torrent Besor: and they came out to meet David, and the people that were with him. And David coming to the people, saluted them peaceably.

22 Then all the wicked and unjust men, that had gone with David, answering, said: Because they came not with us, we will not give them any thing of the prey which we have recovered: but let every man take his wife, and his children, and be contented with them, and go his way.

23 But David said: You shall not do so, my brethren, with these things, which the Lord hath given us, who hath kept us, and hath delivered the robbers that invaded us into our hands:

24 And no man shall hearken to you in this matter. But equal shall be the portion of him that went down to battle, and of him that abode at the baggage, and they shall divide alike.

25 And this hath been done from that day forward, and since was made a statute and an ordinance, and as a law in Israel.

26 Then David came to Siceleg, and sent presents of the prey to the ancients of Juda, his neighbours, saying: Receive a blessing of the prey of the enemies of the Lord.

27 To them that were in Bethel, and that were in Ramoth to the south, and to them that were in Jether,

28 And to them that were in Aroer, and that were in Sephamoth, and that were in Esthamo,

29 And that were in Rachal, and that were in the cities of Jerameel, and that were in the cities of Ceni,

30 And that were in Arama, and that were in the lake Asan, and that were in Athach,

31 And that were in Hebron, and to the rest that were in those places, in which David had abode with his men.



1: Year of the World 2949.; 1 Paralipomenon xii. 20.