1 Samuel 30


While David is absent with the army of Achish, the Amalekites

invade Ziklag, and burn it with fire, and carry away captive

David's wives, and those of his men, 1, 2.

David and his men return; and, finding the desolate state of

their city, are greatly affected, 3-5.

The men mutiny, and threaten to stone David, who encourages

himself in the Lord, 6.

David inquires of the Lord, and is directed to pursue the

Amalekites, with the promise that he shall recover all, 7, 8.

He and his men begin the pursuit, but two hundred, through

fatigue are obliged to stay behind at the brook Besor, 9, 10.

They find a sick Egyptian, who directs them in their pursuit,


David finds the Amalekites secure, feasting on the spoils they

had taken; he attacks and destroys the whole host, except four

hundred, who escape on camels, 16, 17.

The Israelites recover their wives, their families, and all

their goods, 18-20.

They come to the two hundred who were so faint as not to be

able to pursue the enemy, with whom they divide the spoil; and

this becomes a statute in Israel, 21-25.

David sends part of the spoil which he had taken to different

Jewish cities, which had suffered by the incursion of the

Amalekites; and where David and his anew had been accustomed

to resort, 26-31.


Verse 1. On the third day] This was the third day after he had

left the Philistine army at Aphek. Calmet supposes that Aphek was

distant from Ziklag more than thirty leagues.

The Amalekites had invaded] These were, doubtless, a travelling

predatory horde, who, availing themselves of the war between the

Philistines and the Israelites, plundered several unprotected

towns, and among them Ziklag. It is likely they had not heard of

what David did to some of their tribes, else they would have

avenged themselves by slaying all they found in Ziklag.

Verse 4. Wept, until they had no more power to weep.] This marks

great distress; they wept, as says the Vulgate, till their tears

failed them.

Verse 6. The people spake of stoning him] David had done much to

civilize those men; but we find by this of what an unruly and

ferocious spirit they were; and yet they strongly felt the ties of

natural affection, they "grieved every man for his sons and for

his daughters."

David encouraged himself in the Lord] He found he could place

very little confidence in his men; and, as he was conscious that

this evil had not happened either through his neglect or folly, he

saw he might the more confidently expect succour from his Maker.

Verse 7. Bring me hither the ephod.] It seems as if David had

put on the ephod, and inquired of the Lord for himself; but it is

more likely that he caused Abiathar to do it.

Verse 9. The brook Besor] This had its source in the mountain of

Idumea, and fell into the Mediterranean Sea beyond Gaza. Some

suppose it to have been the same with the river of the wilderness,

or the river of Egypt. The sense of this and the following verse

is, that when they came to the brook Besor, there were found two

hundred out of his six hundred men so spent with fatigue that they

could proceed no farther. The baggage or stuff was left there,

1Sa 30:24, and they were appointed to guard it.

Verse 12. A cake of figs] See on 1Sa 25:18.

Verse 13. My master left me, because three days agone I fell

sick.] This was very inhuman: though they had booty enough, and no

doubt asses sufficient to carry the invalids, yet they left this

poor man to perish; and God visited it upon them, as he made this

very person the means of their destruction, by the information

which he was enabled to give to David and his men.

Verse 14. Upon the south of the Cherethites] Calmet and others

maintain, that the kerethi, which, without the points, might

be read Creti, were not only at this time Philistines, but that

they were aborigines of Crete, from which they had their name

Cherethites or Cretans, and are those of whom Zephaniah speaks,

Zep 2:5:

Wo to the inhabitants of the sea-coasts, the nation of the

Cherethites. And by Ezekiel, Eze 25:16:

Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and

will cut off the Cherethim. In 2Sa 15:18 we find that the

Cherethites formed a part of David's guards.

South of Caleb] Somewhere about Kirjath-arba, or Hebron, and

Kirjath-sepher; these being in the possession of Caleb and his


Verse 15. Swear unto me] At the conclusion of this verse, the

Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic add, that David swore to him. This

is not expressed in the Hebrew, but is necessarily implied.

Verse 16. Out of the land of the Philistines] That these

Amalekites were enemies to the Philistines is evident, but it

certainly does not follow from this that those whom David

destroyed were enemies also. This, I think, has been too hastily

assumed by Dr. Chandler and others, in order the better to

vindicate the character of David.

Verse 17. There escaped not a man of them] It is well known to

every careful reader of the Bible, that the Amalekites were a

proscribed people, even by God himself, and that in extirpating

them it has been supposed David fulfilled the express will of God.

But all this depends on whether he had an express commission to do

so, received from God himself, as Saul had.

Verse 20. And David took all the flocks] He and his men not only

recovered all their own property, but they recovered all the spoil

which these Amalekites had taken from the south of Judah, the

Cherethites, and the south of Caleb. When this was separated from

the rest, it was given to David, and called David's spoil.

Verse 22. Men of Belial] This is a common expression to denote

the sour, the rugged, the severe, the idle, and the


Verse 23. That which the Lord hath given us] He very properly

attributes this victory to God; the numbers of the Amalekites

being so much greater than his own. Indeed, as many fled away on

camels as were in the whole host of David.

Verse 25. He made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel]

Nothing could be more just and proper than this law: he who stays

at home to defend house and property, has an equal right to the

booty taken by those who go out to the war. There was a practice

of this kind among the Israelites long before this time; see

Nu 31:27; Jos 22:8; and the note on this latter verse.

See Clarke on Jos 22:8.

Unto this day.] This is another indication that this book was

composed long after the facts it commemorates. See the hypothesis

in the preface.

Verse 26. Unto the elders of Judah] These were the persons among

whom he sojourned during his exile, and who had given him shelter

and protection. Gratitude required these presents.

Verse 27. To them which were in Beth-el] This was in the tribe

of Ephraim.

South Ramoth] So called to distinguish it from Ramoth Gilead,

beyond Jordan. This Ramoth belonged to the tribe of Simeon,

Jos 19:8.

In Jattir] Supposed by Calmet to be the same as Ether,

Jos 15:42, but more probably

Jattir, Jos 15:48. It was situated in the mountains, and

belonged to Judah.

Verse 28. In Aroer] Situated beyond Jordan, on the banks of the

river Arnon, in the tribe of God.

Siphmoth] Supposed to be the same with Shepham, Nu 34:10, on

the eastern border of the promised land.

Eshtemoa] Another city in the tribe of Judah. See Jos 15:50.

Verse 29. Them which were in Rachal] We know not where this

place was; it is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Calmet

conjectures that Hachilah, 1Sa 23:19, may be the same place; here

we know David did conceal himself for some time, till the Ziphites

endeavoured to betray him to Saul.

The cities of the Jerahmeelites] See before, 1Sa 27:10.

And-the cities of the Kenites] A very small tract on the

southern coast of the Dead Sea.

Verse 30. Hormah] The general name of those cities which

belonged to Arad, king of Canaan; and were devoted to destruction

by the Hebrews, and thence called Hormah. See Nu 21:1-3.

In Chor-ashan] Probably the same as Ashan in the tribe of Judah:

see Jos 15:42. It was afterwards ceded to

Simeon, Jos 19:7.

To them which were in Athach] Probably the same as Ether,

Jos 19:7.

Verse 31. To them which were in Hebron] This was a place

strongly attached to David, and David to it, and the place where

he was proclaimed king, and where he reigned more than seven years

previously to the death of Ishbosheth, Saul's son, who was, for

that time, his competitor in the kingdom.

David's having sent presents to all these places, not only shows

his sense of gratitude, but that the booty which he took from the

Amalekites must have been exceedingly great. And we learn from

this also that David sojourned in many places which are not

mentioned in the preceding history; for these are all said to be

places where David and his men were wont to haunt.

WE are not to suppose that the transactions mentioned here and

in the preceding chapter took place after Saul's interview with

the woman of En-dor, they were considerably antecedent to this,

but how long we do not know. What is recorded in the following

chapter must have taken place the next day after Saul left En-dor.

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