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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



1 KINGS 6

 

CHAPTER VI.

 

Ver. 2.  Diviners.  The priests generally pretended to a knowledge of magic, among the pagans.  C.

 

Ver. 3.  If, &c.  The lords were already determined to send back the ark.  But the priests knew that some still would not believe that it was the cause of their affliction.  To convince all, they try an experiment, which would decide the matter; and in case the ark went back, some suitable presents must accompany it, as a propitiation (H.) for the sin which they would not (M.) then doubt had been incurred.  H. --- Though God stands in need of nothing, all must acknowledge their dependence on him.  The pagans always made some present, when they appeared before their idols or monarchs, and God requires the like testimony of submission.  Ex. xxiii. 15.

 

Ver. 5.  Provinces.  Heb. seranim, "lords." --- Emerods.  Theodoret observes, that the tombs of the martyrs were adorned with figures of eyes, &c. in gratitude for their having procured redress for the afflicted. --- Israel, whose ark you have treated in an improper manner.  C. --- You shall thus confess that He chastises, and grants health.  M. --- Gods.  Not only Dagon, but the other idols, were humbled, (H.) though the Heb. word denotes also one god, or princes, &c.

 

Ver. 6.  Hearts.  Even these confess that obduracy proceeds from men; (W.) though Calvin would make God the author of it.  H.

 

Ver. 7.  New cart.  It would have been deemed irreverent to use one that had been employed for other profane purposes, 2 K. vi. 3. --- Home.  All these circumstances tended to prevent the ark from being conveyed home, (C.) unless Providence interfered.

 

Ver. 8.  Box.  Heb. argaz, (which the Sept. retain.  H.) means also "a purse or basket."  C. --- Josephus (vi. 1,) says, "the box was placed upon the ark."  H. --- We do not read what became of these presents afterwards: but it is supposed that they were kept in the sanctuary till the time of the captivity.  C.

 

Ver. 9.  Way.  Josephus observes, that they stationed the kine at three lane ends; (H.) and, as we may infer from the Heb. (v. 12,) rather with their heads turned from Bethsames.  But, by this conduct, did they not tempt God?  Some believe that He inspired them on this occasion, (E.) that even his enemies might be convinced, (H.) the grace of prophecy being frequently granted to wicked men, like Balaam: others believe that He gave success to their plan, though it was dictated by superstition.  Even the devil sometimes speaks the truth.  Mendoza.  C. --- People frequently use to pitch upon signs, to which God often assented.  Prov. xvi. 33.  M.  Gen. xxiv. 14.  H.

 

Ver. 13.  Wheat, about Pentecost, in May; so that the ark must have been taken in November.  M.

 

Ver. 14.  Bethsamite, not the renowned general.  C. --- Stone, which served instead of an altar.  M. --- Lord.  Some pretend that the lords of the Philistines followed so far, and offered this holocaust, as the cart belonged to them: but the Bethsamites might suppose that they had abandoned their property, as well as the golden figures; and, as the city belonged to the priests, it is most probable that they would perform this office.  Males indeed were to be offered in the tabernacle.  But this was an extraordinary case; so that, if there were no priests, the sacrifice might be lawful (C.) by dispensation, as we see Samuel and Elias did the like.  H. --- The kine and cart being consecrated to God, it was thought that they could not be turned to a more suitable purpose.  C. --- The ark was also present, on account of which, sacrifices were offered in the tabernacle.  The arguments of Abulensis, (q. 19,) who accuses the Bethsamites of sin on this account, are not therefore satisfactory.  M.

 

Ver. 15.  Vessels.  Prot. less properly, "jewels of gold."  H.

 

Ver. 16.  Day.  It was distant about 18 miles.  C. --- Provinces.  Heb. "lords."  Some think that only five images of each sort were inclosed in the box: others suppose that the people of each village presented a golden mouse, to satisfy their own devotion, and that they might not be infested with such vermin.  Clarius thinks they also sent an equal number of the other images of the anus.  C. v.  H.

 

Ver. 18.  Abel.  A stone or rock, on which the Jews say Abraham had offered sacrifice; (S. Jer. Trad.  T.) Heb. "or mourning," was so called afterwards, on account of so many being slain; (M.) so the place, to which the Egyptians accompanied the remains of Jacob, was styled "Abol," the mourning of Egypt.  Gen. l. 11.  H. --- The Sept. read Abon, "the stone."  All the towns belonging to the Philistines, as far as this place, sent each their golden images, or contributed towards those which were presented by the five lords. --- Which, ark, according to the Vulg. though some would explain it of the stone.  The ark might remain here for some time, and would probably have continued longer, if the people had not been so much afflicted.  In the mean time, this record may have been written, as it was afterwards inserted in this book.  C. --- Which, though of the feminine gender, is referred to stone, because Abol is of that description, (M.) and we find several such allusions to the Heb. in our version.  Prot. "unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the Lord, which stone remaineth unto this day," &c.  H.  Vatab. &c. --- Others think that the ark remained there till it was removed to Cariathiarim.  C. vii. 1.  Malvenda says, the memory of the transaction was fresh till the author wrote; while others maintain, that the golden figures continued with the ark till that time.  C. --- The Roman Sept. omits the words till this day; and reads, "where they placed upon it (the stone) the ark...upon the stone in the field," &c.  Then with the Alex. copy, and Procopius, &c. it subjoins 19.  "And the sons of Jechonias did not approve, among the men of Bethsames, that they saw the ark of the Lord, and he slew of them 70 men, and 50,000 of the people."   Theodoret suspects that they were more impious than the rest.  But we might as well say that they shewed more (C.) reverence, as we may explain slew them, to denote the two curious citizens, (H.) if any dependence could be had on this addition.  C.

 

Ver. 19.  Seen; and curiously looked into.  It is likely this plague reached to all the neighbouring country, as well as the city of Bethsames.  Ch. --- For we need not suppose that all these deaths took place in one day.  The ark seems to have continued there for some time, v. 18.  Heb. "because they had looked into, or at the ark."  H. --- It was unlawful, even for the Levites, to touch or to look at the ark uncovered; (T.  Num. iv. 15. 20,) and the Heb. expression into, is often taken in this sense.  Prov. vii. 15. and xi. 4. --- Men of rank.  S. Greg. &c.  "Ancients."  Chal.  Some would suppose that only these 70 perished, and were of as much value as 50,000 of the common people: for they will not allow that he latter number was slain.  Out of that number, 70 were made victims of the divine justice.  T.  Sa. --- Bochart translates, "he slew 70 out of 50,000."  The Syr. and Arab. read, "5070 men."  Josephus only admits 70 who were slain, "because they dared to touch the ark with their profane hands, as they were not priests."  Heb. "and he slew of the people 70 men, 50,000 men.  C. --- Kennicott seems to suspect that a cipher has been added in the Heb. at the end.  Prot. "50,000, and threescore and ten men."  H. --- Some would insert aderant in the Vulg. and 50,000 "were present."  D. --- The Chal. Sept. &c. constantly retain these numbers, and we must not judge of God severity by our feeble reason.  C. --- This decision is the most common.  M. --- The people had indulged their curiosity, to see whether the Philistines had taken the tables of the law out of the ark, &c.  Serarius. --- As the ark was terrible to the infidels, so it was also to those true believers, who treated it with disrespect.  W.

 

Ver. 20.  Us.  These words may denote that they thought God too severe, or else, that they judged themselves unworthy of his presence.  There is no proportion between an offence of God, and what the creature can do to make him satisfaction.  C.

 

Ver. 21.  Up.  This is the import of the Heb.  The Vulg. reducite, "bring it back," insinuates, that the Bethsamites desired the people of Cariathiarim to convey the ark to their city, on the road to Silo, where they probably thought it ought to be placed, in the tabernacle.  But it seems God ordered it otherwise, and the ark was never restored to its former splendid station, surrounded with all the vessels and ornaments of the tabernacle.  David made something similar, and place an altar before it, while the Mosaic tabernacle and altar were removed from Silo to Nobe, (C. xxi. 1.) and afterwards to Gabaon.  2 Par. i. 5.  Salien (A. 3030) doubts not but they were thence translated to Solomon's temple, during the octave of the dedication, along with those of David, from Mount Sion.  2 Par. v. 2. and viii. 3.  Why the ark was not placed in this most magnificent abode, but removed from the stone of Abel to the houses of Abinadab, of Obededom, of David in Sion, till all the original ornaments, prescribed by God to Moses, with a still more splendid apparatus, met to adorn the temple of Solomon, we cannot easily explain.  Perhaps it might be to render that event more glorious, and to represent the troubled state of the Jewish Synagogue,  immediately preceding the appearance of the great Redeemer, who would establish a church without spot or wrinkle, shining brighter than the sun, and replenished with all heavenly graces.  H. --- Cariathiarim is the same place as Cariathbaal, and Baala, (Jos. xv. 9. 60.) Baalim Juda, (2 K. vi. 2.) and Sedeiarim, about ten miles from Jerusalem.  Gabaa was "a hill," (C.) belonging to the same city, where the house of Abinadab stood; (H.) and Nobe was also in the vicinity, while Silo was much farther north.  C. --- The priests still remained, and offered sacrifice in the tabernacle, though occasionally some of them might come to offer extraordinary victims before the ark, in those private houses which were thus converted, as it were, into the holy of holies.  Salien, A. 2941, were he observes from S. Jerom, that the tabernacle was removed to Nobe about the same time as the ark was deposited at Cariathiarim; and no doubt both the translations were in consequence of the divine command, signified by the mouth of his prophet Samuel.  H.

 

 

1 KINGS 7

 

CHAPTER VII.

 

Ver. 1.  In Gabaa.  That is, on the hill, for Gabaa signifieth a hill.  Ch.  1 Par. xiii. 6. --- It was perhaps the citadel, (H.) or an elevated situation, such as were generally chosen for the temples both of the true and of false gods.  C. --- Abinadab was a Levite of renowned virtue.  M. --- The people of this city knew that the ark was a source of blessings to those who received it with respect; and, that the Bethsamites had been punished only for their irreverence.  W. --- Samuel was first consulted before the people, in a body, undertook to remove the ark; and here he was probably recognized for the judge of Israel, in which character he henceforward appears, exhorting all to obey the Lord with sincerity. He appoints a general assembly at Masphath, to enter into a solemn covenant with the Lord, and to adopt means for recovering their liberty.  We have only a very concise account of these important transactions, owing to the modesty of the author, which the Holy Spirit would teach us to imitate.  C. --- Sanctified.  Chal. "set over," (M.) prepared by suitable purifications, &c.  C. --- Some think, that Eleazar received the priestly or the Levitical consecration, Num. viii. 7.  We have no proof that he was of the family of Aaron, nor does his name occur in the genealogies of the Levites, as they are perhaps too short.  Josephus (vi. 2.) asserts that he was a Levite.  C. --- But even a laic, like Obededon of Geth, might have been the guardian of the ark, as he would not have to touch it.  Salien, A.C. 1112. --- Eleazar had two brothers, who acted in the same capacity when David intended to remove the ark to Sion.  At that time he was perhaps dead, or decrepit, as his father might be on this occasion.  H. --- It is not improbable but they were of the race of Aaron.  T.

 

Ver. 2.  Year.  Some would date all the subsequent events from this period.  But is it credible that Samuel should neglect for twenty years to make this exhortation to the people? and how will it be true, that God humbled the Philistines during the whole time (C.) of his administration, which perhaps (H.) only lasted so many years? (v. 13.)  C. --- It is more probable, therefore, that the power of the enemy was broken by the destruction caused by the presence of the ark, which kept them under due restraint for along time; and when they attempted, once more, to molest the Israelites, they were entirely discomfited by a miraculous storm, at the prayer of Samuel, v. 10.  Salien (A. 2960) allows, that this took place in the twentieth year since the ark came to Cariathiarim, in which year Samuel appointed his children judges at Bersabee, though he continued to act, and was judge for twenty-three years, (some say thirty-eight) and even under the reign of Saul had almost an absolute sway, as the prophet of the Lord.  H. --- Rested: continued steadfast, (Sanctius) "cried unto," (Pagnin) "Looked (H.) or returned," Sept.  "Lamented after the Lord."  Heb.  M. --- They were not soon induced to break this solemn covenant.  Isai. vii. 2.  T.

 

Ver. 3.  Saying.  When the ark was translated, (C.) and on many other occasions, this was the theme of his discourse to the Israelites, pressing them to cease from doing evil, and to perform good works.  H. --- Thus he preached every year in the different cities.  v. 16.  Lyran. --- Astaroth.  These were the principal idols of the country, (Salien, Judg. ii. 11.) under which all the others were included.  M. --- Prepare.  God lays this injunction upon us, to remind us of our liberty, and we beg that he would convert us, acknowledging the necessity of his grace.  C. --- "God does not require impossibilities, but by his command, admonishes thee to do what thou canst, and to pray for what thou art not able to perform, and he assists thee, that thou mayst be able to perform it."  C. Trid. vi. 11.  S. Aug. &c.

 

Ver. 5.  Masphath lay south of Jerusalem, (C.) and was a convenient place for all to meet at.  M.  They came armed, and the Philistines (C.) suspecting their designs, proceeded to attack them.  H.

 

Ver. 6.  Lord, having purified themselves with it.  Ex. xix 24.  Others think that it was a kind of a protestation, that they were willing to perish if they proved faithless; (Sa.) or a symbol that they rejected every vestige of idolatry, and every sin, with true repentance.  Sanctius.  T. --- Water was also the most ancient species of libation, before honey, and afterwards wine were adopted.  Porphyrius. --- Though the law did not prescribe it, there was not prohibition.  On the last day of the feast of tabernacles, the people went to the pool of Silo to fetch water, and to pour it out in the temple, as a libation to the Lord; and it is thought that Jesus Christ alludes to this custom, Jo. vii. 24.  Lamy. Introd.  See 2 K. xxiii. 16.  C. --- Fasted.  They confess their sins and do penance, while Samuel sits as judge, (Salien) an had been endeavouring for twenty years to excite them to repentance, and to adhere to the one true religion.  T.

 

Ver. 8.  Philistines.  Those who distrust their own strength, and join true repentance with prayer, striving to interest the friends of God in their cause, may confidently hope for victory.  H.

 

Ver. 9.  Suckling lamb.  Any might be used, when eight days old, except for the paschal lamb, which must be older; a yearling.  Ex. xxiii. 9.  Lev. xxii. 27. --- Offered it, either by the hands of the priests, or by dispensation, which authorized him to sacrifice out of the tabernacle. --- Whole, without blemish; (Eccli. xlvi. 19.) or, not having time to divide it, according to the ritual.  Lev. i. 12.  He consumed even the skin.  Salien. --- Sept. "with all the people."

 

Ver. 10.  Israel.  The princes of the Tyrians had come to the assistance of the enemy; (Eccli. xlvi. 21.  C.) but all in vain.  The greatness of the army only increased the greatness of the carnage, when the Lord enters the lists.  H. --- the sacred penman speaks with great modesty of this victory, which is nevertheless one of the most important recorded in Scripture.  The Philistines could not recover themselves for 20 years; they found it necessary to restore the cities which they had taken, (C.) to relinquish the tribute, and to come to such conditions as Samuel imposed upon them.  He suffered them, however, to keep possession of some strong holds, such as Gabaa, from which they were expelled by Jonathan. Salien says in the 22d year of Samuel, and the last of Achitob, the high priest, A. 2961.

 

Ver. 11.  Bethchar, "the house of the penetrator."  Cor denotes the celestial fluid, which the Philistines probably supposed was discharged by the heavens, independently of the great Creator.  Hence their punishment was very appropriate.  Parkhurst. --- The latter heathens always represented their Jupiter armed with thunder and lightning---

              "The thunder roared aloud---

              Th' affrighted hills from their foundation nod,

              And blaze beneath the lightning of the God;

              At one regard of his all-seeing eye,

              The vanquish'd triumph, and the victors fly."

                                                                                    Pope, Iliad xvii. 596.

 

Ver. 12.  Sen, "the tooth," a craggy rock of that appearance.  Syr. Beth Jasan.  C. --- some take it to be the same with Bethchar.  Malvenda. --- It was before ignoble, (Salien) and the situation not known, till this monument was erected, with the inscription, Thus far, &c. --- Help; "Aben-ezer," mentioned before, C. iv. 1.  The religious monuments were not prohibited by the law.  Lev. xxvi. 1.  Samuel would take every precaution that they should not become objects of idolatry, as he was under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit.  C.

 

Ver. 13.  Any more, for a long time, (M.) during Samuel's administration; for we find them again attacking Saul.  C. xiii.  This expression is often used to denote a cessation of some continuance.  Isai. xxiii. 12. 15.  2 K. vii. 10.

 

Ver. 14.  Geth, which two cities still continued in their possession.  Others, which had fallen to the share of Dan, they gave up, which explains Judg. xviii. 1. 31. --- Philistines.  Here ended the forty years' servitude.  C. --- Salien (A. 2860) rather thinks that it terminated in the death of Samson, when it was judged expedient to entrust the reins of government into the hands of an ole man, Heli, the high priest, as there was no need of an expert general, the heads of the Philistines being all destroyed.  Judg. xiii. 1.  H. --- Amorrhites: the dispersed nations of Chanaan were all dept under.  C.

 

Ver. 15.  Life; as sole judge for twenty years, (Gordon.  D.) and conjointly with Saul till he died, almost 100 years old, a year or two before the unfortunate king.  Saul put him on a level with himself; (C. xi. 7.) and he continued to be regarded as the oracle of Israel ever since he was about forty years old; (C.) or he did not long survive the election of the new king, (M.) as Tirin, Sanctius, &c. reduce his reign to two years, allowing thirty-eight to Samuel, so that both filled up the space of forty years.  Act. xiii. 20.  The life of Samuel, on this supposition, will not much exceed sixty, and he must have come into power in early life.  C. xii. 2.  H. --- This verse is no proof that the present book was written long after Samuel's time.  D.

 

Ver. 16.  Places.  Sept. "in all these holy places."  Some take Bethel to mean the city, where the ark was, (C.) or the holy of holies, in the tabernacle, at Silo, &c.  H. --- The northern tribes might meet him at Bethel; those on the east of the Jordan, at Galgala, of Benjamin; and the tribes of Juda, Simeon, and Dan, might have an opportunity of hearing the holy prophet, and decide their controversies, at Masphath.  C. --- Thus Samuel gave an excellent instruction to pastors and governors, to watch over their people.  H.

 

Ver. 17.  Ramatha; his native place.  His high office would not allow him to remain always near the tabernacle.  C. i. 11. and 28.  C. --- Lord, by his direction, (M.) both to satisfy his own devotion, and that he might consult the Lord when the people wanted advice.  C.

 

 








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