1 Samuel 13

1 Sam 13:1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years.

1 Sam 13:2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.

1 Sam 13:3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!”

1 Sam 13:4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become a stench to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

1 Sam 13:5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven.

1 Sam 13:6 When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.

1 Sam 13:7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.

1 Sam 13:8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.

1 Sam 13:9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings. ” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.

1 Sam 13:10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

1 Sam 13:11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash,

1 Sam 13:12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

1 Sam 13:13 “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

1 Sam 13:14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

1 Sam 13:15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.

1 Sam 13:16 Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Micmash.

1 Sam 13:17 Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual,

1 Sam 13:18 another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboim facing the desert.

1 Sam 13:19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!”

The Israelites were still in the Bronze Age, whereas the Philistines had access to iron.

1 Sam 13:20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened.

1 Sam 13:21 The price was two thirds of a shekel for sharpening plowshares and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.

‘The Hebrew test of 1 Sam 13:21 included a word which puzzlied translators for a long time. The word is pim. The AV translated it as “file” (for sharpening), but that was pure guesswork: nobody really knew what a pim was. But during the twentieth century archeologists excavating sites such as Timnah, Ashdod and Ekron discovered some small dome-shaped weights, inscribed with the Hebrew word pim. So now we know what a pim was: about a quarter of an ounce of silver, or two-thirds of a shekel. This was what the Philistines charged the Israelites to sharpen their ploughshares or mattocks.

What is so significant about this particular discovery is that these weights are found only in strata from the ninth to seventh centuries BC, after which the pim apparently disappeared. That makes is highly likely that 1 Samuel – or at least a version of it – was written during that period, rather than in the second century BC, as some critics have suggested, five hundred years after the weight had vanished from circulation.’ (Coupland, Spicing up your Speaking, 134)

1 Sam 13:22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Since the Philistines had a monopoly of technology for maintaining the latest weaponry, they not only charged a high rate for such maintenance (v21), but also knew how little equipment the Israelites had.

1 Sam 13:23 Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Micmash.