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1 Samuel 13:1-4

Context
Saul Fails the Lord

13:1 Saul was [thirty] 1  years old when he began to reign; he ruled over Israel for [forty] 2  years. 13:2 Saul selected for himself three thousand men from Israel. Two thousand of these were with Saul at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel; 3  the remaining thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. 4  He sent all the rest of the people back home. 5 

13:3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost 6  that was at Geba and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul alerted 7  all the land saying, “Let the Hebrews pay attention!” 13:4 All Israel heard this message, 8  “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel is repulsive 9  to the Philistines!” So the people were summoned to join 10  Saul at Gilgal.

1 tc The MT does not have “thirty.” A number appears to have dropped out of the Hebrew text here, since as it stands the MT (literally, “a son of a year”) must mean that Saul was only one year old when he began to reign! The KJV, attempting to resolve this, reads “Saul reigned one year,” but that is not the normal meaning of the Hebrew text represented by the MT. Although most LXX mss lack the entire verse, some Greek mss have “thirty years” here (while others have “one year” like the MT). The Syriac Peshitta has Saul’s age as twenty-one. But this seems impossible to harmonize with the implied age of Saul’s son Jonathan in the following verse. Taking into account the fact that in v. 2 Jonathan was old enough to be a military leader, some scholars prefer to supply in v. 1 the number forty (cf. ASV, NASB). The present translation (“thirty”) is a possible but admittedly uncertain proposal based on a few Greek mss and followed by a number of English versions (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT). Other English versions simply supply ellipsis marks for the missing number (e.g., NAB, NRSV).

2 tc The MT has “two years” here. If this number is to be accepted as correct, the meaning apparently would be that after a lapse of two years at the beginning of Saul’s reign, he then went about the task of consolidating an army as described in what follows (cf. KJV, ASV, CEV). But if the statement in v. 1 is intended to be a comprehensive report on the length of Saul’s reign, the number is too small. According to Acts 13:21 Saul reigned for forty years. Some English versions (e.g., NIV, NCV, NLT), taking this forty to be a round number, add it to the “two years” of the MT and translate the number in 2 Sam 13:1 as “forty-two years.” While this is an acceptable option, the present translation instead replaces the MT’s “two” with the figure “forty.” Admittedly the textual evidence for this decision is weak, but the same can be said of any attempt to restore sense to this difficult text (note the ellipsis marks at this point in NAB, NRSV). The Syriac Peshitta lacks this part of v. 1.

3 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

4 tn Heb “at Gibeah of Benjamin.” The words “in the territory” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “each one to his tents.”

6 tn Or perhaps “struck down the Philistine official.” See the note at 1 Sam 10:5. Cf. TEV “killed the Philistine commander.”

7 tn Heb “blew the ram’s horn in.”

8 tn The words “this message” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

9 tn Heb “stinks.” The figurative language indicates that Israel had become repulsive to the Philistines.

10 tn Heb “were summoned after.”



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