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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 30

Ziklag spoiled by the Amalekites. (1-6) David overtakes the Amalekites. (7-15) He recovers what had been lost. (16-20) David’s distribution of the spoil. (21-31)

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Ziklag spoiled by the Amalekites

1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;

2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.

3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.

4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.

6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

David overtakes the Amalekites

7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.

8 And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

9 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.

10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

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

12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.

13 And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.

14 We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.

15 And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.

He recovers what had been lost

16 And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.

17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.

18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.

19 And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

20 And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.

David’s distribution of the spoil

21 And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.

22 Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.

23 Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.

24 For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.

25 And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.

26 And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the LORD;

27 To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,

28 And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,

29 And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites,

30 And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,

31 And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Day. It was distant from Aphec about 90 miles. — Smitten, yet without killing any. C. — We may adore a merciful Providence, which prevented these barbarians from treating David’s men as he had treated theirs. C. xxvii. 11. Salien, A.C. 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. Heb. “till they had no more power to weep.” M. — See Lament. 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 we indebted to them for all that he possessed! C. — 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. Ex. xvii. &c. T.

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 Ex. xxviii. 30. By means of the priest David was enlightened. W.

Ver. 9. Besor is formed by the water falling from the mountains of Idumea, and discharges itself into the Mediterranean, below Gaza. C. — 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. H.

Ver. 10. Weary. Heb. pigru, denotes those who are “lazy and dead.” Sept. “some sat down on the other side of the torrent.” Syr. and Arab. insinuate, to defend the passage. But why then do the rest complain? C. — 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, v. 24. This was only the third day since they left Aphec, v. 1. H.

Ver. 12. Raisins. Heb. tsimmukim. See C. xxv. 18. C. — The soldiers very prudently took some provisions with them, as they were going into a desert country. M.

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

Ver. 14. Cerethi, denotes the Philistines, (R. David. See v. 16. H.) who came originally from Crete. 2 K. xv. 18. Ezec. xxv. 16. C. — They might be natives of some province of the Philistines, (Vatab.) belonging to Gaza, (M.) or Geth. H. — 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 (C.) at Jezrahel. H.

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. C. — Perhaps his master had told him where to meet him, in case he recovered.

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

Ver. 17. Evening. Heb. “twilight,” in the morning (C.) or evening. H. — 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. C. — Sept. “from the morning or evening star rising, aro eosphorou, till the afternoon, and on the following day,” (H.) which commenced at sun-set. C. — It was no battle, but flight and carnage. M.

Ver. 19. All, excepting what had been eaten, or consumed with fire. M.

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

Ver. 22. Unjust. Heb. Belial. See Deut. xiii. 13. C. — 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. M.

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. 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. C. — The same was observed by the Machabees, 2 B. viii. 28. H.

Ver. 25. A law. Custom, (C.) and a particular injunction, had long before made way for it. Num. xxxi. 27. H. Jos. xxii. 8. — We might translate the Heb. “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, (C.) and build again. Thus, by the addition of adverbs, they can explain the same things. Prot. “from that day forward he made it a statute,” &c. H. — It is not, therefore, unlawful to make new laws, provided they be conformable to those of God. Deut. iv. and xii. W.

Ver. 26. Neighbours. Heb. “friends;” some were at a distance, v. 28. H. — The number of presents shews the quantity of the spoil, and the generosity of David towards those who had formerly assisted him. C.

Ver. 27. Bethel, “the house of God,” as the priests had afforded him protection. H. — 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: (C.) there was another in the tribe of Gad. M. — Jether, or “Jethira,” (Euseb.) a priests’ town, called Ether. Jos. xv. 42.

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

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

Ver. 30. Arama, or Horma. Num. xxi. 3. — Lake. Heb. “at Chor Aschan.” It is called Asan, Jos. xv. 42, and xix. 7. — Athach, or Athar. Jos. 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. H. — 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.