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approached. He had communicated it to none except the youth, whom, like all the chiefs of that time-Gideon, Saul, David, Joab—he retained as his armourbearer. The Philistine garrison was entrenched above the precipitous pass of Michmash, that forms so marked a feature in the hills of Benjamin, between the two steep crags, whose sharpness has been long since worn away, but which then presented the appearance of two huge teeth projecting from the jaws of the ravine. The words of Jonathan are few, but they breathe the peculiar spirit of the ancient Israelite warrior, Come and let us go over,' that is, cross the deep chasm, to the garrison of the Philistines. It may be that • Jehovah will work for us: for there is no restraint for • Jehovah to work by many or by few.' It was that undaunted faith which caused one to chase a thousand, and "two to put ten thousand to ? flight,' the true secret of the slightness of the losses, implied if not stated, in the accounts of the early wars of Israel against Canaan. The answer of the armourbearer marks the close friendship between the two young men; already similar to that which afterwards grew up between Jonathan and David. Do all that is in
thine heart : “look back at me,” behold I am with thee:3 o as thy heart is my heart.' Like Gideon, he determined to draw an omen from the conduct of the enemy, the more because he had no time to consult Priest or Prophet before his departure.
If the garrison threatened to descend he would remain below; if, on the other hand, they raised a challenge, he would accept it. It was the first dawn of day* when the two warriors emerged from behind the rocks. Their appearance was taken by the Philistines as a furtive apparition of the Hebrews coming forth out of their holes' like wild creatures from a warren--and they were welcomed
11 Sam. xiv. 4 (Hebrew); see MICHMASH in Dict. of Bible.
? Deut. xxii. 30.
: 1 Sam. xiv. 7 (Heb.).
Josephus, Ant. vi. 6, 82.
with a scoffing invitation, Come up, and we will show you
. His whole tribe was a tribe of archers, and he was the chief The battle archer 3 of them all. Accordingly he, with his armourbearer of Michmash.
behind him, climbed on his hands and feet up the face of the cliff, and when he came full in view of the enemy, they both discharged such a flight of arrows, stones, and pebbles from their bows, crossbows, and slings, that twenty men fell at the first onset, and the garrison fled in a panic. The panic spread to the camp, and the surrounding hordes of marauders. An earthquake blended with the terror of the moment. was, as the sacred writer expresses it, a universal “trembling,'
a trembling of God.” The shaking of the earth, and the shaking of the enemies' host, and the shaking of the Israelite hearts with the thrill of victory, all leaped together. On all sides the Philistines felt themselves surrounded. The Israelites whom they had taken as slaves during the last three days rose in mutiny in the camp. Those who lay hid in the caverns and deep clefts with which the neighbourhood abounds, sprang out of their subterraneous dwellings. From the distant height of Gibeah, Saul, who had watched the confusion in astonishment, descended headlong and joined in the pursuit. It was a battle that was remembered as reaching clean over the country, from the extreme eastern to the extreme western pass-down the rocky defile of Beth-horon, down into the valley of Aijalon. The victory was so decisive as to give its
Ii Chr. xii. 2. 2 2 Sam. i. 23.
3 2 Sam. i. 22; 1 Sam. xvii. 4, XX. 36, &c.
• 1 Sam. xiv. 13, 14 (LXX.).
name, 'the war of Michmash,' to the whole campaign. The Philistines were driven back not to reappear till the close of the reign. The memory of the event was long preserved in the altar, the first raised under the monarchy, on the spot where they had first halted.
That altar is also a sign that we are still within the confines of the former generation. It was the last relic of the age of vows.
Saul had invoked a solemn curse on any one who should eat before the evening. When Jonathan, after his desperate exertions, found himself in the forest, which, not yet cleared, ran up into the hills from the 2 plain of Sharon, he was overcome by the darkness 3 and dizziness of long fatigue. The father and the son had not met all that day. Jonathan was ignorant of his father's imprecation, and putting forth the staff which (with his sling and bow) had been his only weapon, tasted the honey which overflowed from the wild hives as they dashed through the forest. The people in general were restrained by fear of the Royal Curse ; but the moment that the day with its enforced fast was over, they flew, like Mussulmans at sunset during the fast of Ramazan, upon the captured cattle, and devoured them even to the brutal neglect of the law forbidding the eating of flesh which contained blood. This violation of the sacred usage Saul endeavoured to control by erecting a large stone which served the purpose at once of a rude altar and a rude table. In the dead of night, after this wild revel was over, he proposed that the pursuit should be continued, and then, when the silence of the oracle of the High Priest disclosed to him that his vow had been broken, he at once, like Jephthah, prepared himself for the dreadful sacrifice of his Sacrifice of
Jonathan. child. But there was now a freer and more understanding spirit in the nation at large. What was tolerated in the time
? 1 Sam. süi. 22 (LXX.).
3 1 Sam. xiv. 27 (LXX.). • Lev. xvii. 10, 11; Deut. xii. 23.
of Jephthah, when every man did what was right in his own eyes, and when the obligation of such vows overrode all other considerations,- was no longer tolerated. The people interposed in Jonathan's behalf. They recognised the religious aspect of his great exploit. They rallied round him with a zeal that overbore even the royal vow, and rescued Jonathan, that he died not. It was the dawn of a better day. It was the national spirit, now in advance of their chief, - animated by the same Prophetic teaching, which through the voice of Samuel had now made itself felt the conviction that there was a higher duty even than outward sacrifice or exact fulfilment of literal vows.
This leads us to the consideration of the other side of the character of Saul himself. He was, as we have seen, in outward form and in the special mission to which he was called, but as one of the class of the old heroic
which was passing away. But he was something more than these had been. His call was after a different manner from that of the older Judges. He had shared in the Prophetic inspiration of the time. He had shared in an inward as well as an outward change. “God' we are told 'gave him another heart,' and · he became another man.' The three tokens which Samuel foretold to him well expressed the significance of the change, which, in modern language, would be called his 'conversion.' He was the first of the long succession of Jewish Kings. He was the first recorded instance of inauguration by that singular ceremonial which, in imitation of the Hebrew rite, has descended to the coronation of our own sovereigns. The sacred oilwas used for his ordina
3 tion, as for a Priest. He was the Lord's Anointed' in a peculiar sense, that invested' his person with a special
The first king.
in his place.
· Josephus (Ant. vi. 6, $5) puts into Jonathan's mouth a speech of patriotic self-devotion, after the manner of a Greek or Roman. Ewald supposes that a substitute was killed
• 2 Sam. i. 14, 21; 1 Sam. xxiv. 6, 10; xxvi. 9, 16.
sanctity. And from him the name of the Anointed One' was handed on till it received in the latest days of the Jewish Church its very highest application — in Hebrew, or Aramaic, the Messiah; in Greek, the Christ. Regal state gradually gathered round him. Ahijah, the surviving representative of the doomed house of Ithamar, was always at hand, in the dress of the sacred Ephod, to answer his questions. The Ephod was the substitute for the exiled Ark. A new sanctuary arose not far from Gibeah, at Nob, on the northern shoulder of Olivet, where the Tabernacle was again set up,—where the shewbread was still kept, and where the trophies of the Philistine war were suspended within the sacred ? tent. The beginnings of a • host are now first indicated. The office of captain of His court. the host' is filled by his kinsman, the generous and princely Abner. Now also is established the bodyguard, always round the King's 5 person, selected from his own tribe, for their stature? and beauty, and at their head the second officer of the kingdom, one who united with the arts of war the noblest gifts of peace, one whom we shall recognise elsewhere than in the court of Saul-David, the son of Jesse. And, closely bound with this high officer is the heir of the throne, the great archer of the tribe of Benjamin, the heroic Jonathan. These three sat' at the King's table. Another inferior officer appears incidentally : “the keeper of the royal '' mules' and chief of the household slaves — the
Comp. 1 Chr. xiii. 3; 1 Sam. xiv. 18, where the LXX. by reading * ephod' for 'ark,' corrects an obvious mistake.
? 1 Sam. xxi. 9.
: The 'host' appears immediately after his accession, in the word (hachail) mistranslated band' in 1 Sam. 1. 26. Comp. xiii. 2.
1 Sam. xiv. 50. 5. The servants before his face,' 1
Sam. xvi. 15: 'Young men,' xvi. 17.
6 1 Sam. xxii. 7; Joseph. Ant. vii. 1, $4.
1 Sam. xiv. 52; Joseph. Ant. vi. 6, 96.
: 1 Sam. xxii. 14. (Ewald, üi. 98.) 9 1 Sam. xx. 25.
10 1 Sam. xxi. 7 (LXX.); seph. Ant. vi. 12, $1, 4.
11 Ibid. xxii. 9.