The Israelites and Philistines Being Ready to
1. the Philistines gathered together their
armies—twenty-seven years after their overthrow at Michmash.
Having now recovered their spirits and strength, they sought an
opportunity of wiping out the infamy of that national disaster, as well
as to regain their lost ascendency over Israel.
Shocoh—now Shuweikeh, a town in the
western plains of Judah (Jos 15:35),
nine Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, toward Jerusalem [Robinson].
Azekah—a small place in the
Ephes-dammim—or, "Pas-dammim" (1Ch 11:13), "the portion" or "effusion of
blood," situated between the other two.
2. valley of Elah—that is, "the
Terebinth," now Wady Er-Sumt [Robinson].
Another valley somewhat to the north, now called Wady Beit Hanina, has
been fixed on by the tradition of ages.
1Sa 17:4-11. Goliath
Challenges a Combat.
4-11. a champion—Hebrew, a "man
between two"; that is, a person who, on the part of his own people,
undertook to determine the national quarrel by engaging in single
combat with a chosen warrior in the hostile army.
5. helmet of brass—The Philistine helmet
had the appearance of a row of feathers set in a tiara, or metal band,
to which were attached scales of the same material, for the defense of
the neck and the sides of the face [Osborn].
a coat of mail—a kind of corslet,
quilted with leather or plates of metal, reaching only to the chest,
and supported by shoulder straps, leaving the shoulders and arms at
6. greaves of brass—boots, terminating
at the ankle, made in one plate of metal, but round to the shape of the
leg, and often lined with felt or sponge. They were useful in guarding
the legs, not only against the spikes of the enemy, but in making way
among thorns and briers.
a target of brass—a circular frame,
carried at the back, suspended by a long belt which crossed the breast
from the shoulders to the loins.
7. staff of his spear—rather under five
feet long, and capable of being used as a javelin (1Sa 19:10). It had an iron head.
one bearing a shield—In consequence of
their great size and weight, the Oriental warrior had a trusty and
skilful friend, whose office it was to bear the large shield behind
which he avoided the missile weapons of the enemy. He was covered,
cap-a-pie, with defensive armor, while he had only two offensive
weapons—a sword by his side and a spear in his hand.
8-11. I defy the armies of Israel …; give me
a man, that we may fight together—In cases of single combat,
a warrior used to go out in front of his party, and advancing towards
the opposite ranks, challenge someone to fight with him. If his
formidable appearance, or great reputation for physical strength and
heroism, deterred any from accepting the challenge, he used to parade
himself within hearing of the enemy's lines, specify in a loud,
boastful, bravado style, defying them, and pouring out torrents of
abuse and insolence to provoke their resentment.
1Sa 17:12-58. David Accepts
the Challenge, and Slays Him.
17. Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this
parched corn, and these ten loaves—In those times campaigns
seldom lasted above a few days at a time. The soldiers were volunteers
or militia, who were supplied with provisions from time to time by
their friends at home.
18. carry these ten cheeses to the
captain—to enlist his kind attention. Oriental cheeses are
very small; and although they are frequently made of so soft a
consistence as to resemble curds, those which David carried seem to
have been fully formed, pressed, and sufficiently dried to admit of
their being carried.
take their pledge—Tokens of the
soldiers' health and safety were sent home in the convenient form of a
lock of their hair, or piece of their nail, or such like.
20. David left the sheep with a
keeper—This is the only instance in which the hired shepherd
is distinguished from the master or one of his family.
trench—some feeble attempt at a
rampart. It appears (see Margin) to have been formed by a line
of carts or chariots, which, from the earliest times, was the practice
of nomad people.
22. left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of
the carriage—to make his way to the standard of Judah.
25. make his father's house free in
Israel—His family should be exempted from the impositions and
services to which the general body of the Israelites were
34-36. a lion, and a bear—There were two
different rencontres, for those animals prowl alone. The bear must have
been a Syrian bear, which is believed to be a distinct species, or
perhaps a variety, of the brown bear. The beard applies to the lion
alone. Those feats seem to have been performed with no weapons more
effective than the rude staves and stones of the field, or his
37. The Lord that delivered me—It would
have been natural for a youth, and especially an Oriental youth, to
make a parade of his gallantry. But David's piety sank all
consideration of his own prowess and ascribed the success of those
achievements to the divine aid, which he felt assured would not be
withheld from him in a cause which so intimately concerned the safety
and honor of His people.
Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with
thee—The pious language of the modest but valiant youth
impressed the monarch's heart. He felt that it indicated the true
military confidence for Israel, and, therefore, made up his mind,
without any demur, to sanction a combat on which the fate of his
kingdom depended, and with a champion supporting his interests
apparently so unequal to the task.
38, 39. Saul armed David with his
armour—The ancient Hebrews were particularly attentive to the
personal safety of their warriors, and hence Saul equipped the youthful
champion with his own defensive accoutrements, which would be of the
best style. It is probable that Saul's coat of mail, or corslet, was a
loose shirt, otherwise it could not have fitted both a stripling and a
man of the colossal stature of the king.
bag—or scrip for containing his daily
sling—The sling consisted of a double
rope with a thong, probably of leather, to receive the stone. The
slinger held a second stone in his left hand. David chose five stones,
as a reserve, in case the first should fail. Shepherds in the East
carry a sling and stones still, for the purpose of driving away, or
killing, the enemies that prowl about the flock.
42-47. the Philistine said … said David to
the Philistine—When the two champions met, they generally
made each of them a speech, and sometimes recited some verses, filled
with allusions and epithets of the most opprobrious kind, hurling
contempt and defiance at one another. This kind of abusive dialogue is
common among the Arab combatants still. David's speech, however,
presents a striking contrast to the usual strain of these invectives.
It was full of pious trust, and to God he ascribed all the glory of the
triumph he anticipated.
49. smote the Philistine in his
forehead—At the opening for the eyes—that was the only
exposed part of his body.
51. cut off his head—not as an evidence
of the giant's death, for his slaughter had been effected in presence
of the whole army, but as a trophy to be borne to Saul. The heads of
slain enemies are always regarded in the East as the most welcome
tokens of victory.
52. Shaaraim—(See Jos 15:36).
54. tent—the sacred tabernacle. David
dedicated the sword of Goliath as a votive offering to the Lord.
55-58. Saul … said unto Abner … whose
son is this youth?—A young man is more spoken of in many
Eastern countries by his father's name than his own. The growth of the
beard, and other changes on a now full-grown youth, prevented the king
from recognizing his former favorite minstrel [1Sa 16:23].