1 Samuel 31:7
And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
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(7) On the other side of the valley.—The words “on the other side of the valley” denote the country opposite to the battle-field in the valley of Jezreel, on which the writer supposes himself to be standing, the land occupied especially by the tribes of Issachar, Zabulon, and Napthali. The expression “on the other side of Jordan,” is the usual phrase for the country east of the River Jordan. It is highly probable that the alarm caused by the great defeat of their king caused many of the dwellers in the smaller cities and villages to the east of Jordan hastily to abandon their houses rather than be exposed to the insolence and demands of the invading army. Still the Philistine army in this direction could not have penetrated very far, as shortly after Gilboa we hear of Abner rallying the friends of the house of Saul round the Prince Ishbosheth, whom he proclaimed king at Mahanaim, a town some twenty miles east of the river. The country to the south of the plain of Jezreel does not appear to have been overrun by the victorious army. The presence of David in that part no doubt insured its immunity from invasion.

1 Samuel 31:7-10. They on the other side Jordan — Or, rather, on this side Jordan; for the Hebrew word signifies either side. And there was no occasion for those beyond Jordan to flee. Saul and his three sons — “The Scripture,” as Mr. Henry well observes, “makes no mention of the souls of Saul and his sons, what became of them after they were dead; secret things belong not to us.” They cut off his head — As the Israelites did by Goliath, and fastened it in the temple of Dagon, 1 Chronicles 10:10. In the house of their idols — To give them the glory of this victory. And by this respect shown to their pretended deities, how do they shame those who give not the honour of their achievements to the living God! They fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan — To expose it, as we do the bodies of great malefactors, to public shame and reproach. And thus, as appears by 1 Samuel 31:12, they did with the bodies of his sons.

31:1-7 We cannot judge of the spiritual or eternal state of any by the manner of their death; for in that, there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked. Saul, when sorely wounded, and unable to resist or to flee, expressed no concern about his never-dying soul; but only desired that the Philistines might not insult over him, or put him to pain, and he became his own murderer. As it is the grand deceit of the devil, to persuade sinners, under great difficulties, to fly to this last act of desperation, it is well to fortify the mind against it, by a serious consideration of its sinfulness before God, and its miserable consequences in society. But our security is not in ourselves. Let us seek protection from Him who keepeth Israel. Let us watch and pray; and take unto us the whole armour of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.The men on the other side of the valley - This must mean to the north of the plain of Jezreel, and would comprise the tribe of Naphtali, and Zabulon, and probably Issachar. But the text of 1 Chronicles 10:7 has "that were in the valley," limiting the statement to the inhabitants of the plain of Jezreel.

On the other side Jordan - This phrase most commonly means on the east of Jordan, the speaker being supposed to be on the west side. But it is also used of the west of Jordan, as here, if the text be sound.

The Philistines ... dwelt in them - One of the principal cities, Beth-shan, fell into their power at once 1 Samuel 31:10.

7. the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley—probably the valley of Jezreel—the largest and southernmost of the valleys that run between Little Hermon and the ridges of the Gilboa range direct into the Jordan valley. It was very natural for the people in the towns and villages there to take fright and flee, for had they waited the arrival of the victors, they must, according to the war usages of the time, have been deprived either of their liberty or their lives. Of the valley, to wit, the valley of Jezreel, where the battle was fought.

On the other side Jordan; or rather, on this side Jordan; for these were in the most danger; and the Hebrew preposition is indifferently used for on this side, or for beyond.

And which the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley,.... The valley of Jezreel; of which See Gill on Hosea 1:5,

and they that were on the other side Jordan; or rather "on that side"; for the phrase will bear to be rendered either way, and so may mean that side of Jordan on which the battle was fought; for as for the other side, or that beyond it, the Israelites there could not be in such fear of the Philistines, nor do we ever read of their inhabiting any cities there; though as the phrase is used of the valley, as well as of the river, it may be rendered "about the valley, and about Jordan" (g), and so describes such that dwelt near to each of them:

saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead; that is, had information and intelligence of those facts, for it is not to be supposed they saw them with their eyes:

they forsook, the cities, and fled; fearing they should be put to the sword, or carried captive:

and the Philistines came and dwelt them; having nothing more to do than to come and take possession.

(g) "circa convellem illiam--circa Jordanem", Junius & Tremellius, Picator; so Noldius, p. 295. No. 936.

And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the {b} valley, and they that were on the other side {c} Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

(b) Near to Gilboa.

(c) The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.

7. on the other side of the valley] On the side of the valley (êmek, see on 1 Samuel 6:13) or plain of Jezreel opposite to the battle-field. The district to the north is meant, in which the tribes of Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali dwelt. 1 Chronicles 10:7 however reads simply “in the valley,” and perhaps the phrase only means “on the side of the valley.” See next note.

on the other side Jordan] This is the usual sense of the Hebrew words. The panic spread even to the eastern side of the Jordan. But possibly the phrase here means “on the side of the Jordan,” i.e. in the district between the battle-field and the river; which agrees better with the account of the exploit of the Jabeshites, and the establishment of Ishbosheth’s kingdom at Mahanaim. The greater part of the north of Canaan was thus occupied by the Philistines. Note that this clause is omitted in 1 Chronicles 10:7.

Verse 7. - The men of Israel. The term is here applied to non-combatants, while in ver. 1 it meant those following Saul in arms. On the other side of the valley. I.e. of Jezreel, and so all the Israelites inhabiting the tribes of Issachar, Zabulon, and Naphthali, and the region generally to the north. In 1 Chronicles 10:7 this flight is confined to the inhabitants of the valley, one of the most fertile districts of Palestine; but probably the statement made here, that a very large extent of country was the prize of victory, is the more correct. On the other side Jordan. This phrase constantly means the eastern side of the Jordan, nor need we doubt but that the people living near it abandoned their homes and fled; for the river would form but a slight protection for them in this northerly part of its course. Still the conquests on the eastern bank of the Jordan must have been confined to a small district near the lake of Tiberias, as Abner was able to place Ishbosheth as king at Mahanaim, a town about twenty miles to the east of the river, and not far from Jabez-Gilead. South of Jezreel the Philistines made no conquests, and thus Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah remained free, and of course Gilead, and the most part of the region beyond Jordan (see 2 Samuel 2:8-11). MALTREATMENT OF THE BODIES OF SAUL AND HIS SONS (vers. 8-10). 1 Samuel 31:7When the men of Israel upon the sides that were opposite to the valley (Jezreel) and the Jordan saw that the Israelites (the Israelitish troop) fled, and Saul and his sons were dead, they took to flight out of the cities, whereupon the Philistines took possession of them. עבר is used here to signify the side opposite to the place of conflict in the valley of Jezreel, which the writer assumed as his standpoint (cf. 1 Samuel 14:40); so that העמק עבר is the country to the west of the valley of Jezreel, and היּרדּן עבר the country to the west of the Jordan, i.e., between Gilboa and the Jordan. These districts, i.e., the whole of the country round about the valley of Jezreel, the Philistines took possession of, so that the whole of the northern part of the land of Israel, in other words the whole land with the exception of Peraea and the tribe-land of Judah, came into their hands when Saul was slain.
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