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2 Samuel 1:21-24

Context

1:21 O mountains of Gilboa,

may there be no dew or rain on you, nor fields of grain offerings! 1 

For it was there that the shield of warriors was defiled; 2 

the shield of Saul lies neglected without oil. 3 

1:22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of warriors,

the bow of Jonathan was not turned away.

The sword of Saul never returned 4  empty.

1:23 Saul and Jonathan were greatly loved 5  during their lives,

and not even in their deaths were they separated.

They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.

1:24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you in scarlet 6  as well as jewelry,

who put gold jewelry on your clothes.

1 tc Instead of the MT’s “fields of grain offerings” the Lucianic recension of the LXX reads “your high places are mountains of death.” Cf. the Old Latin montes mortis (“mountains of death”).

2 tn This is the only biblical occurrence of the Niphal of the verb גָּעַל (gaal). This verb usually has the sense of “to abhor” or “loathe.” But here it seems to refer to the now dirty and unprotected condition of a previously well-maintained instrument of battle.

3 tc It is preferable to read here Hebrew מָשׁוּחַ (mashuakh) with many Hebrew mss, rather than מָשִׁיחַ (mashiakh) of the MT. Although the Syriac Peshitta understands the statement to pertain to Saul, the point here is not that Saul is not anointed. Rather, it is the shield of Saul that lies discarded and is no longer anointed. In ancient Near Eastern practice a warrior’s shield that was in normal use would have to be anointed regularly in order to ensure that the leather did not become dry and brittle. Like other warriors of his day Saul would have carefully maintained his tools of trade. But now that he is dead, the once-cared-for shield of the mighty warrior lies sadly discarded and woefully neglected, a silent but eloquent commentary on how different things are now compared to the way they were during Saul’s lifetime.

4 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form is used here to indicate repeated past action.

5 tn Heb “beloved and dear.”

6 sn Clothing of scarlet was expensive and beyond the financial reach of most people.



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