Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 28

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verse 1

1 Samuel 27:1 to 1 Samuel 28:2 . David at Gath (J).— Sequel to 1 Samuel 26:25 ( cf. 1 Samuel 21:10-15).

1 Samuel 27:1-6 . As a last resource David takes refuge at Gath.

1 Samuel 27:6 . Ziklag: Joshua 15:31.

1 Samuel 27:7-12 . This paragraph does not simply give an account of a single episode, but describes David’ s habitual occupation during this period. He made raids upon the heathen tribes to the S. of Judah, the inhabitants of the land from Telam (so Driver and others, with some LXX MSS., for “ of old” ) to the borders of Egypt. These were hostile to Israel, so that David was fighting for his own people. But in order to ingratiate himself with Achish, David said that he had raided the districts of the Negeb (p. 32) or extreme S. division of Palestine, which were inhabited by the allied and kindred tribes of the Judahites, Jerahmeelites, and Kenites. In order that Achish should not learn the truth, David massacred those whom he plundered, both men and women. The primitive documents do not seem to attach much importance to veracity, especially to foreigners ( cf. the stories of the Patriarchs). When the Philistines are preparing for another campaign against Israel, Achish notifies David that he and his men will be expected to fight on the side of the Philistines. David gives an ambiguous answer, “ Thou shalt see what thy servant will do,” which Achish would take to mean, “ You shall see the great things I will do to help you.” Achish proposes to make him the captain of his bodyguard.

1 Samuel 27:10 . Jerahmeelites: a tribe in the Negeb, probably not originally Israelite, but later on reckoned to Israel.

Verses 2-25

1 Samuel 28:2 is continued by 1 Samuel 29:1; the connexion is broken by the insertion of—

1 Samuel 28:3-25 . Saul and the Witch of Endor.— This section interrupts the connexion; moreover, it would come naturally immediately before the battle of Gilboa. Saul is at Gilboa (p. 29) in 284. Opinions are divided; some hold that this section is from another source (E) than the bulk of 1 Samuel 25-31, and some that it is from the same source (J), that originally it stood in that document immediately before ch. 31, and that it has got into the wrong place, because it was omitted from an edition of Samuel, and reinserted in a later edition (see p. 273). 1 Samuel 28:3 is probably an editorial note.

1 Samuel 28:4 . Shunem: 2 Kings 4:8 *.

1 Samuel 28:3-14 . The two armies are encamped opposite each other in the E. of the plain of Esdraelon; Saul’ s heart fails him when he sees the superior numbers of the enemy. He seeks guidance from Yahweh, but can obtain no oracle by the regular, legitimate methods. He goes by night, in disguise, to Endor (p. 30), some distance to the N. in the rear of the Philistine camp, to consult a woman with an ’ obh, or “ familiar spirit,” some kind of witch, often regarded as a necromancer, which would suit this narrative. He induced her with some difficulty to work her magic, and bade her call up Samuel. So far the disguised king had not been recognised, but at this point she looked more closely at him, and saw that it was Saul, who had done his best to rid the land of witches. She was alarmed, but Saul reassured her, and the magic went on.

1 Samuel 28:15-25 . The king himself saw nothing, and only heard what the witch told him as to what she saw; he heard, or thought he heard, Samuel speaking; but this too has been explained by supposing that in reality the witch spoke after the fashion of a ventriloquist or a spiritualist medium. Samuel announces the doom of Saul.

1 Samuel 28:19 . be with me: Driver and others read with LXX, “ with thee be fallen.”

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.