David receives the town of Ziklag from King Achish (1 Sam 27:5-27:7)

“Then David said to Achish. ‘If I have found favor in your sight, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, so that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?’ So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. The length of the time that David lived in the country of the Philistines was one year and four months.”

David asked for a town outside of Gath for his men. Each major town must have had surrounding suburban towns. He ended up at Ziklag, which was a city of Judah when the writing of this work took place.  They stayed there about 1 year and 4 months.

David seeks refuge at Gath (1 Sam 27:1-27:4)

“David said in his heart. ‘I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel. I shall escape out of his hand.’ So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish son of Maoch, king of Gath. David stayed with Achish at Gath, he and his troops, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. When was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought for him.”

David thought that he would die at the hand of Saul. This seems odd since he has just reconciled with Saul. However, David was suspicious of Saul. He went to the Philistines. This also sounds strange since David had defeated and killed so many Philistines from the time of Goliath on. Goliath was in fact from this town as indicated in chapter 17 of this book. 600 men and their households went with David to the Philistine town of Gath that was in the Manasseh territory per Joshua, chapter 21. However, quite often it is referred to as in Judah. Why would the king of the town that Goliath was from accept his killer David? This is the only mention of Maoch, but Achish is more important. This is the 2nd time that David was here. The last time, he pretended to be crazy and got away in chapter 21. This time he is probably accepted because he has 600 fighting men. Most people knew that he was in a fight with the King of Israel, Saul. Achish may have thought that it would be better to have David on his side in the fight against Saul. Notice that Saul gave up seeking David when he heard that David had fled to Gath. The story of David is full of contradictions. He has reconciled twice with Saul, yet he go over to the Philistines, his bitter enemy that he has been fighting.

David alludes Saul at the Rock of Escape (1 Sam 23:24-23:29)

“David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued after David into the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. Then a messenger came to Saul, saying. ‘Hurry and come! The Philistines have made a raid on the land.’ So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. David went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.”

David was in the wilderness of Maon, just south of Hebron. Saul headed south to pursue David. They ended up on either side of a mountain. Saul was attacking David, when he hears that the Philistines were attacking Israel. There is no indication of where the attack was taking place. Anyway, Saul stopped pursuing David. That is why that place is called the ‘Rock of Escape.’   Every rock has its own story. David then headed to En-gedi, which is east of Hebron on the Dead Sea.

 

The Marriage of David to Michal (1 Sam 18:20-18:30)

“Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. They told Saul, and the thing pleased him. Saul thought. ‘Let me give her to him that she may be a snare for him, so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’ Therefore Saul said to David a second time. ‘You shall now be my son-in-law.’ Saul commanded his servants. ‘Speak to David in private and say. See the king is delighted with you. All his servants love you. Now then become the king’s son-in-law.’ So Saul’s servants reported those words to David in private. David said. ‘Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and of no repute?’ The servants of Saul told him. ‘This is what David said.’ Then Saul said. ‘Thus shall you say to David, the king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.’ Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. When his servants told David these words, David was pleased to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David rose and went, along with his men, and killed one hundred of the Philistines. David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife.”

The younger daughter of Saul liked David and Saul found out. Saul planned a way to have David become his son-in-law. He would give his daughter if only David would pay the price for Michal not in gold or silver, but in 100 Philistine foreskins. Saul thought that David might get killed by the Philistines if he tried to get these foreskins. However, David, as usual, was successful and brought the 100 Philistine foreskins to Saul. Saul then gives Michal, his daughter, to be the wife of David, so that he now became the son-in-law of Saul. Actually, he was due Saul’s daughter for his killing Goliath the Philistine in preceding chapter.

“But when Saul realized that Yahweh was with David, and that Saul’s daughter loved him, Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy from that time forward. Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle. As often as they came out, David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.”

Saul realized that David was very successful because of Yahweh. He became more afraid of David, now that his daughter loved David also. Michal’s brother Jonathan also loved David. However, David continued to beat up on the Philistines in every encounter, so that he became more famous and esteemed.

Ritual fault of the people eating the blood of the animals (1 Sam 14:31-14:35)

“After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint. The troops flew upon the spoil. They took sheep, oxen, and calves. They slaughtered them on the ground. The troops ate them with the blood. Then it was reported to Saul. ‘Look! The troops are sinning against Yahweh, by eating with the blood.’ He said. ‘You have dealt treacherously. Roll a large stone before me here.’ Saul said. ‘Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them. ‘Let us bring their oxen or sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat. Do not sin against Yahweh by eating with the blood.’ All of the troops brought their oxen with them that night. They slaughtered them there. Saul built an altar to Yahweh. It was the first altar that he built to Yahweh.”

The troops were very hungry after the battle with the Philistines so that they took the spoils of the Philistines. They began to eat the sheep, oxen, and calves with the blood still in them. This was against the law of Yahweh. Saul sent men out to the troops to have them stop sinning against Yahweh. They brought all their animals together and killed them as Saul built his first altar to Yahweh.

The general battle (1 Sam 14:15-14:23)

“There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled. The earth quaked. This became a very great panic. Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin were watching as the multitude was surging back and forth. Then Saul said to the troops who were with him. ‘Call the roll. See who has gone from us.’ When they had called the roll, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.”

There was a panic among the Philistines. The lookout watchmen at Gibeah with Saul wanted to know what was going on.   Saul called all the troops together. Then he realized that Jonathan was gone from the camp.

“Saul said to Ahijah. ‘Bring the ark of God here.’ For at that time the ark of God went with the Israelites. While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. Saul said to the priest. ‘Withdraw your hand.’ Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. Every sword was against the other, so that there was very great confusion. Now the Hebrews who previously had been with the Philistines, and who had gone up with them into the camp, turned and joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise, when all the Israelites who had gone into hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed closely after them in the battle. So Yahweh gave Israel the victory that day. The battle passed beyond Beth-aven. The troops with Saul numbered altogether about ten thousand men. The battle spread out over the hill country of Ephraim.”

Saul wanted the Ark of the Covenant brought by the priest Ahijah. Suddenly they went to war. There was great confusion as people fought with each other with swords. What happened was that the Hebrews who were with the Philistines, turned on them. There was no indication of who these Hebrews were. On top of that all the Israelites, who had fled and were in hiding after the disaster at the battle at Michmash, returned to the battle with the Israelites. Now the Philistines were fleeing to the hill country in Ephraim.

Preparing for war (1 Sam 13:16-13:23)

“Saul, his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them, stayed in Geba of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash. Raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual. Another company turned toward Beth-horon. Another company turned toward the mountain that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.”

Here, Jonathan is introduced as the son of Saul. They were both at Geba, which Jonathan had captured some Philistines. The Philistines were at Michmash, where Saul had been before the Israelites scattered. The Philistines decide to attack on 3 fronts. One group went to Oprah country. Another group went to Beth-horon, while the final group went to Zeboim, near the wilderness.

“Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel. The Philistines said. ‘The Hebrews must not make swords or spears for themselves.’ All the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshares, mattocks, axes, or sickles. The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan. Saul and his son Jonathan had them. Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash.”

The Philistines would not allow blacksmiths because they were afraid that they would make sword and spears. However, the Israelites decided to sharpen their farm instruments. So they went to battle with these farm implements, while only Saul and Jonathan had swords and spears.

 

Samuel the liberator (1 Sam 7:7-7:14)

“When the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. When the people of Israel heard of it they were afraid of the Philistines. The people of Israel said to Samuel. ‘Do not cease to cry to Yahweh our God for us. Pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.’ So Samuel took a sucking lamb. He offered it as a whole burnt offering to Yahweh. Samuel cried out to Yahweh for Israel. Yahweh answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But Yahweh thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines. This threw them into confusion. They were routed before Israel. The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines. They struck them down, as far as below Beth-car.”

When the Philistines heard that the Israelites were gathering at Mizpah, they decided to attack. The Israelites were afraid so that they asked Samuel to pray for them. Samuel offered a burnt offering of a lamb. Yahweh heard his prayer. Yahweh then sent a great thunder sound that startled the Philistines. The Israelites then turned on the Philistines and struck them down as far as Beth-car, which is only mentioned here.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah. He called it Ebenezer. He said. ‘Thus far Yahweh has helped us.’ So the Philistines were subdued. They did not again enter the territory of Israel. The hand of Yahweh was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath. Israel rescued their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.”

Samuel put up a memorial. The Philistines were subdued as long as Samuel was around. Israel got all its territory back, even Ekron and Gath. There was peace in the land as the Amorites decided not to attack either.

Vengeance and the death of Samson (Judg 16:23-16:31)

“Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon. They were rejoicing as they said. ‘Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand!’ When the people saw him, they praised their god. They said.

‘Our god has given our enemy into our hand,

The ravager of our country,

Who has killed many of us.’”

Dagon, the national god of the Philistines, had the face and hands of a man, but with the tail of a fish, who had been adapted from the Canaanites. There were temples to Dagon in Gaza and Ashdod. The Philistines finally had their mortal enemy, Samson.  

“When their hearts were merry, they said. ‘Call Samson, let him entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison. He performed for them. They made him stand between the pillars. Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand. ‘Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them.’ Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there. On the roof there were about three thousand men and women who looked on while Samson performed.”

They brought out Samson to entertain all the lords of the Philistines with about 3,000 other men and women on the roof looking on. Samson wanted to lean on the pillars since he was blind. His hair was growing back, so that he was getting stronger.

“Then Samson called to Yahweh. ‘O Yahweh God, remember me. Strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.’ Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested. He leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. Then Samson said. ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ He strained with all his might. The house fell on the lords and all the people that were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. Then his brothers and all his family came down. They took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.”

Samson represents the last of the 12 judges as he died destroying thousands of Philistines, including their leader lords. Samson called on Yahweh to give him the strength for one last deed, the destruction of the house of the Philistines. The 2 pillars made up for his 2 eyes. He killed more in his death than he had killed during his life. He was like a suicide bomber giving up his life to kill others. I thought he had no brothers, but there is mention of brothers here. Anyway, they bring him back to be buried with his father, Manoah, in his tomb. So ends the story of the judges, fantastic as it may sound. The super-hero Samson with this destruction of temple of Dagon brings it to an end.

Shamgar (Judg 3:31-3:31)

“After him came Shamgar son of Anath, who killed six hundred of the Philistines with an ox-goad. He too delivered Israel.”

There is not much written about this judge, whose name means stranger, except that he killed 600 Philistines. This is the first mention of the Philistines as a problem. In fact, there is no mention of the Spirit of Yahweh coming upon him or how long there was peace. Shamgar is judge #3.