And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Assembled themselves.—In the margin of the English Version we find “were cried together,” that is, “were assembled by the trumpet call.” The Syriac and Vulg., however, more accurately render the Hebrew shouted, that is, raised the war-cry of Israel.
Every man’s sword was against his fellow.—The statement in the next verse (21) explains this. Profiting by the wild confusion which reigned now throughout the Philistine host, a portion of their own auxiliaries—unwilling allies, doubtless—turned their arms against their employers or masters. From this moment no one in the panic-stricken army could rightly distinguish friend from foe. In such a scene of confusion the charge of Saul, at the head of his small but well-trained soldierly band, must have done terrible execution. Shouting the well-known war-cry of Benjamin, it penetrated wedge-like into the heart of the broken Philistine host.1 Samuel 14:20-21. There was a very great discomfiture — Namely, in the army of the Philistines; which, it is likely, consisted of various nations, and in the confusion into which they were thrown, they fell upon one another, not distinguishing friends from enemies. The Hebrews that were with the Philistines — Having gone with their army, either by constraint, as servants, or in policy, to gain their favour and protection. They also turned to be with the Israelites — In the midst of this battle they went over to their own countrymen. 1 Samuel 14:16; or from mutual jealousies and passions, to which God could easily dispose them. 1 Samuel 13:2.
and they came to the battle; to the field of battle, the place where the army of the Philistines had lain encamped:
and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow; taking one another for Hebrews, or treacherous and disaffected persons; so that, though the Israelites had neither swords nor spears, they needed none, for the Philistines destroyed one another with their own swords; and there was aAnd Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)20. every man’s sword was against his fellow] Cp. Jdg 7:22; 2 Chronicles 20:23.Verse 20. - Saul and all the people... assembled themselves. Margin, were cried together, i.e. summoned by trumpet note. The Syriac and Vulgate, however, make the verb active, and translate, "And Saul and all the people with him shouted and advanced to the battle." Discomfiture. Rather, "dismay," "consternation," as in 1 Samuel 5:9. Psalm 129:3, is in the absolute state instead of the construct, because several nouns follow in the construct state (cf. Ewald, 291, a.). צמד, lit. things bound together, then a pair; here it signifies a pair or yoke of oxen, but in the transferred sense of a piece of land that could be ploughed in one morning with a yoke of oxen, like the Latin jugum, jugerum. It is called the furrow of an acre of land, because the length only of half an acre of land was to be given, and not the breadth or the entire circumference. The Philistines, that is to say, took to flight in alarm as soon as the brave heroes really ascended, so that the twenty men were smitten one after another in the distance of half a rood of land. Their terror and flight are perfectly conceivable, if we consider that the outpost of the Philistines was so stationed upon the top of the ridge of the steep mountain wall, that they would not see how many were following, and the Philistines could not imagine it possible that two Hebrews would have ventured to climb the rock alone and make an attack upon them. Sallust relates a similar occurrence in connection with the scaling of a castle in the Numidian war (Bell. Jugurth. c. 89, 90).
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