Nahash Offers Them of Jabesh-gilead a
1. Then Nahash the Ammonite came
up—Nahash ("serpent"); (see Jud 8:3). The Ammonites had long claimed the
right of original possession in Gilead. Though repressed by Jephthah
11:33), they now, after
ninety years, renew their pretensions; and it was the report of their
threatened invasion that hastened the appointment of a king (1Sa 12:12).
Make a covenant with us, and we will serve
thee—They saw no prospect of aid from the western Israelites,
who were not only remote, but scarcely able to repel the incursions of
the Philistines from themselves.
2. thrust out all your right
eyes—literally, "scoop" or "hollow out" the ball. This
barbarous mutilation is the usual punishment of usurpers in the East,
inflicted on chiefs; sometimes, also, even in modern history, on the
whole male population of a town. Nahash meant to keep the Jabeshites
useful as tributaries, whence he did not wish to render them wholly
blind, but only to deprive them of their right eye, which would
disqualify them for war. Besides, his object was, through the people of
Jabesh-gilead, to insult the Israelitish nation.
3, 4. send messengers unto all the coasts of
Israel—a curious proof of the general dissatisfaction that
prevailed as to the appointment of Saul. Those Gileadites deemed him
capable neither of advising nor succoring them; and even in his own
town the appeal was made to the people—not to the prince.
1Sa 11:5-11. They Send to
Saul, and Are Delivered.
7. he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in
pieces—(see Jud 19:29).
This particular form of war-summons was suited to the character and
habits of an agricultural and pastoral people. Solemn in itself, the
denunciation that accompanied it carried a terrible threat to those
that neglected to obey it. Saul conjoins the name of Samuel with his
own, to lend the greater influence to the measure, and to strike
greater terror unto all contemners of the order. The small contingent
furnished by Judah suggests that the disaffection to Saul was strongest
in that tribe.
8. Bezek—This place of general muster
was not far from Shechem, on the road to Beth-shan, and nearly opposite
the ford for crossing to Jabesh-gilead. The great number on the
muster-roll showed the effect of Saul's wisdom and promptitude.
11. on the morrow, that Saul put the people in
three companies—Crossing the Jordan in the evening, Saul
marched his army all night, and came at daybreak on the camp of the
Ammonites, who were surprised in three different parts, and totally
routed. This happened before the seven days' truce expired.
1Sa 11:12-15. Saul Confirmed
12-15. the people said …, Who is he that
said, Shall Saul reign over us?—The enthusiastic admiration
of the people, under the impulse of grateful and generous feelings,
would have dealt summary vengeance on the minority who opposed Saul,
had not he, either from principle or policy, shown himself as great in
clemency as in valor. The calm and sagacious counsel of Samuel directed
the popular feelings into a right channel, by appointing a general
assembly of the militia, the really effective force of the nation, at
Gilgal, where, amid great pomp and religious solemnities, the
victorious leader was confirmed in his kingdom [1Sa 11:15].