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, 11-15. 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.
Notes on Chapter 30
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.
Wept, until they had no more power to weep.
This marks great distress; they wept, as says the Vulgate, till their tears failed them.
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.
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.
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, 1 Samuel 30:24, and they were appointed to guard it.
A cake of figs
See on 1 Samuel 25:18.
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.
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, Zephaniah 2:5: Wo to the inhabitants of the sea-coasts, the nation of the Cherethites. And by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 25:16: Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and will cut off the Cherethim. In 2 Samuel 15:18we 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 descendants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Men of Belial
This is a common expression to denote the sour, the rugged, the severe, the idle, and the profane.
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.
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 Numbers 31:27; ; Joshua 22:8; and the note on this latter verse. See Clarke on Joshua 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.
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.
To them which were in Beth-el
This was in the tribe of Ephraim.
So called to distinguish it from Ramoth Gilead, beyond Jordan. This Ramoth belonged to the tribe of Simeon, Joshua 19:8.
Supposed by Calmet to be the same as Ether, Joshua 15:42, but more probably Jattir, Joshua 15:48. It was situated in the mountains, and belonged to Judah.
Situated beyond Jordan, on the banks of the river Arnon, in the tribe of God.
Supposed to be the same with Shepham, Numbers 34:10, on the eastern border of the promised land.
Another city in the tribe of Judah. See Joshua 15:50.
Them which were in Rachal
We know not where this place was; it is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Calmet conjectures that Hachilah, 1 Samuel 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, 1 Samuel 27:10.
And-the cities of the Kenites
A very small tract on the southern coast of the Dead Sea.
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 Numbers 21:1-3.
Probably the same as Ashan in the tribe of Judah: see Joshua 15:42. It was afterwards ceded to Simeon, Joshua 19:7.
To them which were in Athach
Probably the same as Ether, Joshua 19:7.
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.