“When he finished speaking, Judas Maccabeus rushed suddenly against Seron and his army. They were crushed before him. They pursued them down the descent of Beth-horon to the plain. Eight hundred of them fell. The rest fled into the land of the Philistines. Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared. Terror fell upon the gentiles all around them. His fame reached the king, as the gentiles talked of the battles of Judas.”
When his words of encouragement were complete, Judas then rushed at Seron and his Syrian army. He crushed them and pursued them down the hill of Beth-horon as they fled to the land of the Philistines. I guess those Philistine guys are still around. 800 of the Syrian army died. People began to fear Judas and his brothers. Terror struck the heart of the gentiles as word of his escapades reached the king.
“At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. The Edomites had again invaded and defeated Judah. They carried away captives. The Philistines had made raids on the cities in the Shephelah and the Negeb of Judah. They had taken Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth. They also took Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. They settled there. Yahweh brought Judah low because of King Ahaz of Israel. King Ahaz had behaved without restraint in Judah. He had been faithless to Yahweh.”
As King Ahaz was being attacked on the east from the Edomites and the west from the Philistines, he asked for help from the king of Assyria. King Ahaz had lost a battle to the northern Arameans and the Israelites. The Edomites took captives, so there were not many people left in Judah. The Philistines actually inhabited the towns that they took back. They took over the lowlands and the desert area with the towns of Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo. These towns were northwest of Jerusalem. All of this took place because King Ahaz had no restraint and was unfaithful to Yahweh. Things are not looking good for King Ahaz and Judah.
“King Uzziah went out and made war against the Philistines. He broke down the wall of Gath, the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod. He built cities in the territory of Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines, against the Arabs that dwelt in Gur Baal, and against the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to King Uzziah. His fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong.”
Most of this material was not mentioned in 2 Kings. King Uzziah was a great warrior. As usual like all Judah warriors, he fought with the Philistines, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and Meunites. Gath and Ashdod were Philistine strong cities with walls that were destroyed by King Uzziah here. Jabneh is only mentioned here but probably refers to Jabneel about 12 miles south of Joppa. King Uzziah rebuilt the Philistine cities for Judah. He was also successful over the Arabs and the Meunites, a group southeast of the Dead Sea. Thus his fame spread to Egypt.
“Yahweh aroused the anger of the Philistines and the Arabs who are near the Ethiopians against King Jehoram. They came up against Judah. They invaded Judah. They carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house. They took his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son.”
Once again, this was not in 2 Kings. Yahweh aroused those pesky Philistines and Arabs on the southern border close to Egypt. They invaded Judah and took away all of the king’s possession, including his sons and wives. Only the youngest son Jehoahaz remained. Things do not look good for Judah or King Jehoram.
“Three of the thirty chiefs went down to the rock to David at the cave of Adullam, when the army of Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold. The garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. David said longingly. ‘O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!’ Then the Three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines. They drew water out of the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate. They brought it to David. But David would not drink it. He poured it out to Yahweh. He said. ‘May God forbid that I should do this! Can I drink the blood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.’ Therefore he would not drink it. The Three warriors did those things.”
Once again, this is almost word for word as in 2 Samuel, chapter 23. Here there is no mention that it was harvest time like in 2 Samuel. When David was holding out in the cave at Adullam, he said that he would like some water from the well in Bethlehem. The 3 warriors set out to cross the Philistine garrison that was in Bethlehem, in order to get the water for David. They succeeded but then David would not drink the water. In 2 Samuel, Yahweh had told David not to do so. Here, it is David by himself who decided not to drink the water. It would be like drinking the blood of the men who risked their lives for him. This was the kind of thing that the famous 3 warriors would do.
“Next to Jashobeam among the three mighty warriors was Eleazar son of Dodo, the Ahohite. He was with David at Pasdammim when the Philistines were gathered there for battle. There was a plot of ground full of barley. The people had fled from the Philistines. But he and David took their stand in the middle of the plot. He defended it. He killed the Philistines. Yahweh saved them by a great victory.”
Once again, this is based on 2 Samuel, chapter 23. The 2nd of the 3 great warriors was Eleazar, son of Dodo. He once stood his ground and fought the Philistines when everyone else had run off. Here there is a mention of the place that was missing in the other account, Pasdammim, but there is no other mention of this place in biblical literature. Eleazar was only mentioned here and in 2 Samuel, where his arms were weary, but he never let go of his sword. However, here there is no mention of his weary arms. Yahweh gave them a great victory. Here there is no mention of the 3rd great warrior, Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite, who was in 2 Samuel, chapter 23. This biblical author just omitted him, leaving us with only 2 of the “Three” great warriors.
“The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found King Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They stripped him and took his head and his armor. They sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to their idols and to the people. They put his armor in the temple of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.”
Once again, this is almost exactly the same as 1 Samuel, chapter 31, except for the last sentence about what happened to the head of King Saul. The next day, the Philistines confirmed the death of King Saul and his 3 sons. They cut off King Saul’s head and took his armor. They sent news to all the Philistine temples and all the people. Here, like in Samuel, the armor is put in a temple. However, here it says that his head was in the temple of Dagon. Dagon was the national god of the Philistines, represented with the face and hands and upper part of a man, and the tail of a fish. The 2 most famous Dagon temples were in Gaza and Ashdod. In 1 Samuel, it said that the body of King Saul was fastened to a wall in Bethshan.
“King Hezekiah trusted in Yahweh the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him. He held fast to Yahweh. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that Yahweh commanded Moses. Yahweh was with him. Wherever he went, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria. He would not serve him. He attacked the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.”
King Hezekiah was better than any king of Judah that went before him or came after him. According to this biblical writer, he was the best king of Judah. He followed Yahweh, never departing from the commandments of Yahweh that were given to Moses. Yahweh was with him so that he was successful in everything. He was a great Yahweh follower. He rebelled against the king of Assyria even though his father had been in a treaty with Assyria. He attacked all the Philistine cities, big or small, and as far as Gaza.
“The Philistines went to war again with Israel. David went down together with his servants. They fought against the Philistines. David grew weary. Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was fitted out with a new weapons, said that he would kill David. But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid. He attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him. ‘You shall not go out with us to battle any longer, so that you do not quench the lamp of Israel.’”
These exploits of war with the Philistines probably took place when David was younger. There seems to be endless war with the Philistines with neither side making a decisive victory. This is the only mention of this giant Philistine Ishbi-benob. This giant swore that he was going to kill David. This time David’s nephew Abishai killed the giant Philistine, just as David had killed the giant Philistine Goliath earlier. They were to protect the light of Israel, David.
“Now the Philistines fought against Israel. The men of Israel fled before the Philistines. Many fell on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons. The Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard upon Saul. The archers found him. He was badly wounded by them. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer. ‘Draw your sword. Thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and thrust me through, and make sport of me.’ But his armor-bearer was unwilling. He was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. Thus Saul and his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men died together on the same day. When the men of Israel, who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they left their towns and fled. Thus the Philistines came and occupied them.”
There were no details of this battle, like some of the others. The Philistines seem to have attacked the Israelite at Mount Gilboa that overlooked the Jezreel plain. This is one of the rare suicides when Saul kills himself after he found out that his 3 sons had died. He asked his armor-bear to kill him, but then finally did it himself because he did not want to die at the hands of an uncircumcised person. When Israel saw that Saul and his sons were dead, they fled also. Thus the Philistines came to occupy these towns and cities.