2 Samuel 1

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.



-Year from the Creation, 2949.

-Year before the Incarnation, 1055.

-Year before the first Olympiad, 279.

-Year before the building of Rome, 302.

-Year of the Julian Period, 3659.

-Year of the Dionysian Period, 467.

-Cycle of the Sun, 19.

-Cycle of the Moon, 11.


An Amalekite comes to David, and informs him that the

Philistines had routed the Israelites; and that Saul and

his sons were slain, 1-4.

And pretends that he himself had despatched Saul, finding him

ready to fall alive into the hands of the Philistines, and

had brought his crown and bracelets to David, 5-10.

David and his men mourn for Saul and his sons, 11, 12.

He orders the Amalekite, who professed that he had killed Saul,

to be slain, 13-16.

David's funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, 17-27.


Verse 2. A man came out of the camp] The whole account which

this young man gives is a fabrication: in many of the particulars

it is grossly self-contradictory. There is no fact in the case but

the bringing of the crown, or diadem, and bracelets of Saul;

which, as he appears to have been a plunderer of the slain, he

found on the field of battle; and he brought them to David, and

told the lie of having despatched Saul, merely to ingratiate

himself with David.

Verse 8. I am an Amalekite.] Dr. Delaney remarks that an

Amalekite took that crown from off the head of Saul, which he had

forfeited by his disobedience in the case of Amalek.

Verse 10. The crown-and the bracelet] The crown was probably no

more than a royal fillet or diadem, both being the ensigns of

royalty. It is sometimes customary in the East for a sovereign

prince to give a crown and bracelets, when investing others with

dominion or authority over certain provinces. Had Saul these in

token of his being God's vicegerent, and that he held the kingdom

from him alone?

Verse 16. Thy blood be upon thy head] If he killed Saul, as he

said he did, then he deserved death; at that time it was not known

to the contrary, and this man was executed on his own confession.

Verse 17. David lamented] See this lamentation, and the notes on

it at the end of this chapter. See Clarke on 2Sa 1:21.

Verse 18. The use of the bow] The use of is not in the Hebrew;

it is simply the bow, that is, a song thus entitled. See the

observations at the end. See Clarke on 2Sa 1:21.

Verse 21. As though he had not been] In stead of beli,

NOT, I read keley, INSTRUMENTS.

Anointed with oil.] See the observations at the end.

2Sa 1:18, &c.: He bade them teach the children of Judah

the use of the bow, kasheth.

The word kasheth is to be understood of the title of the song

which immediately follows, and not of the use of the bow, as our

translation intimates.

Many of David's Psalms have titles prefixed to them; some are

termed Shosannim, some Maschil, Nehiloth, Neginoth, &c., and this

one here, Kadesh or The Bow, because it was occasioned by the

Philistine archers. 1Sa 31:3: "And the archers hit him."

But especially respecting the bow of Jonathan, "which returned

not back from the blood of the slain," as the song itself

expresses. And David could not but remember the bow of Jonathan,

out of which "the arrow was shot beyond the lad," 1Sa 20:36. It

was the time when that covenant was made, and that affection

expressed between them "which was greater than the love of women."

On these accounts the song was entitled Kasheth, or The song of

the Bow, and David commanded the chief musicians, Ethan, Heman,

and Jeduthun, to teach the children of Judah to sing it.

"It is written in the book of Jasher." Sept., επιβιβλιουτου

ευθους, "in the book of the upright."

siphra deoraitha, "The book of the Law."-Jonathan.

The Arabic says, "Behold it is written in the book of Ashee;

this is the book of Samuel;" the interpretation of which is, "book

of songs or canticles."

This lamentation is justly admired as a picture of distress the

most tender and the most striking; unequally divided by grief into

longer and shorter breaks, as nature could pour them forth from a

mind interrupted by the alternate recurrence of the most lively

images of love and greatness.

His reverence for Saul and his love for Jonathan have their

strongest colourings; but their greatness and bravery come full

upon him, and are expressed with peculiar energy.

Being himself a warrior, it is in that character he sees their

greatest excellence; and though his imagination hurries from one

point of recollection to another, yet we hear him-at first, at

last, everywhere-lamenting, How are the mighty fallen!

It is almost impossible to read the noble original without

finding every word swollen with a sigh or broken with a sob.

A heart pregnant with distress, and striving to utter expressions

descriptive of its feelings, which are repeatedly interrupted by

an excess of grief, is most sensibly painted throughout the whole.

Even an English reader may be convinced of this, from the

following specimen in European characters:-

19. Hatstsebi Yishrael al bamotheycha chalal;

Eych naphelu gibborim;

20. Al taggidu begath,

Al tebasseru bechutsoth Ashkelon;

Pen tismachnah benoth Pelishtim,

Pen taalozenah benoth haarelim.

21. Harey baggilboa al tal,

Veal matar aleychem usedey terumoth;

Ki sham nigal magen Gibborim.

Magen Shaul keley Mashiach bashshamen!

22. Middam chalalim, mecheleb gibborim,

Kesheth Yehonathan lo nashog achor;

Vechereb Shaul lo thashub reykam.

23. Shaul Vihonathan,

Hannee habim vehanneimim bechaiyeyhem,

Ubemotham lo niphradu.

Minnesharim kallu, mearayoth gaberu!

24. Benoth Yishrael el Shaul becheynah;

Hammalbishchem shani im adanim,

Hammaaleh adi zahab al lebushechen.

25. Eych naphelu gibborim bethoch hammilchamah!

Yehonathan al bamotheycha chalal!

26. Tsar li aleycha achi

Yehonathan, naamta li meod

Niphleathah ahabathecha li meahabath nashim!

27. Eych naphelu gibborim,

Vaiyobedu keley milchamah!

The three last verses in this sublime lamentation have sense and

sound so connected as to strike every reader.

Dr. Kennicott, from whom I have taken several of the preceding

remarks, gives a fine Latin version of this song, which I here


O decus Israelis, super excelsa tua MILES!

Quomodo ceciderunt FORTES!

Nolite indicare in Gatho,

Nolite indicare in plateis Ascalonis:

Ne laetentur filiae Philistaeorum,

Ne exultent filiae incircumcisorum.

Montes Gilboani super vos

Nec ros, nec pluvia, neque agri primitiarum;

Ibi enim abjectus fuit clypeus fortium.

Clypeus Saulis, arma inuncti olec!

Sine sanguine MILITUM,

Sine adipe FORTIUM.

Arcus Jonathanis non retrocesserat;

Gladiusque Saulis non redierat incassum.

Saul et Jonathan

Amabiles erant et jucundi in vitis suis,

Et in morte sua non separati.

Prae aquilis veloces!

Prae leonibus fortes!

Filiae Israelis deflete Saulem;

Qui coccino cum deliciis vos vestivit,

Qui vestibus vestris ornamenta imposuit aurea!

Quomodo ceciderunt FORTES, in medio belli!

O Jonathan, super excelsa tua MILES!

Versor in angustiis, tui causa,

Frater mi, Jonathan!

Mihi fuisti admodum jucundus!

Mihi tuus amor admodum mirabilis,

Mulierum exuperans amorem!

Quomodo ceciderunt fortes,

Et perierunt arma belli!


In verse 21 I have inserted keley for beli. Dr.

Delaney rightly observes that the particle beli is not used in

any part of the Bible in the sense of quasi non, as though not, in

which sense it must be used here if it be retained as a genuine

reading: The shield of Saul as though it had not been anointed

with oil.

In a MS. written about the year 1200, numbered 30 in Kennicott's

Bible, keley is found; and also in the first edition of the

whole Hebrew Bible, printed Soncini 1488. Neither the Syriac nor

Arabic versions, nor the Chaldee paraphrase, acknowledge the

negative particle beli, which they would have done had it been

in the copies from which they translated. It was easy to make the

mistake, as there is such a similarity between beth and

caph; the line therefore should be read thus: The shield of

Saul, weapons anointed with oil.

In verse 22 nashog, to obtain, attain, seems to have been

written for nasog, to recede, return. The former destroys

the sense, the latter, which our translation has followed, and

which is supported by the authority of 30 MSS., makes it not only

intelligible but beautiful.

In verses 19, 22, and 25, and chalal and chalalim

occur, which we translate the SLAIN, but which Dr. Kennicott, I

think from good authority, renders soldier and soldiers; and thus

the version is made more consistent and beautiful.

chalal signifies to bore or pierce through; and this

epithet might be well given to a soldier, q.d., the PIERCER,

because his business is to transfix or pierce his enemies with

sword, spear, and arrows.

If it be translated soldiers in the several places of the Old

Testament, where we translate it SLAIN or WOUNDED, the sense will

be much mended; see Jud 20:31, 39; Ps 89:11; Pr 7:26;

Jer 51:4, 47, 49; Eze 11:6, 7; 21:14. In several others it

retains its radical signification of piercing, wounding, &c.

AFTER these general observations I leave the particular beauties

of this inimitable song to be sought out by the intelligent

reader. Much has been written upon this, which cannot,

consistently with the plan of these notes, be admitted here. See

Delaney, Kennicott, Lowth, &c.; and, above all, let the reader

examine the Hebrew text.

Copyright information for Clarke