Daily Tanach Wednesday: Shmuel 1 Chapter 14 The battle against the Philistines

* The article below is an excerpt from the above Sefer

Chapter 14: The battle against the Philistines

1.     Yonason prepares a lone attack on the Philistine guards:

  • Yonason goes alone to fight the Philistines: On that day [that the Philistine guards went to Michmash[1]], Yonason the son of Shaul told his aid who would carry his weapons that they should go and approach the Philistine guards who are situated opposite the following area of two mountains. Yonason did not inform his father of his plans.
  • Shaul and his men: Shaul was settled at the end of the valley, under a pomegranate which was by Migron. He had around 600 men with him.
  • The Urim Vetumim: Achiyah the son of Achitov, the brother of Ichavod the son of Pinchas, the son of Eily the Kohen, was in Shiloh wearing the Eiphod [i.e. the Urim Vetumim[2]].
  • The people were unaware that Yonason traveled towards the Philistines.
  • The landscape that Yonason needed to pass: Between the area that Yonason needed to pass through to reach the guards of the Philistines were large stones shaped like a tooth which were by both sides. One stone was named Botzeiz while the other stone was named Sneh. One of them was a cliff by the north opposite Michmash, and another was by the south, opposite Geva.
  • Yonason anticipates a miracle: Yonason told his aide who would carry his weapons, that they should move forward towards the position of the uncircumcised guards, as perhaps G-d will do a miracle for them, as there is no impediment for G-d to bring salvation whether we are in the many or few. The aid told Yonason that he should do as his heart tells him, and that whatever he decides he will follow him.

2.     The attack:

  • The Divine omen: Yehonason said that they will pass in front of the guards and appear before them, and if the guards will tell them to stay put, and they will come up to them, then they will remain stationary [and not attack them]. If, however, the guards will tell us that we should approach them, then [this is a sign that they are afraid to move from their place due to their fear of retribution from G-d[3], and that we will be victorious to conquer them[4], so] we will do so, and this will be a sign that G-d has handed them to our hands.
  • Yehonason makes himself visible to the guards: Both Yehonason and his aid made themselves visible to the Philistine guards. Upon seeing them, the guards exclaimed that the Jews must have decided to come out of their holes in which they were hiding. They [mockingly[5]] told Yonason and his aid that they should approach them, as they have something to tell them. So, Yonason told his aid that they should approach them, as G-d has handed them to the hands of Israel.
  • Yonason wins the battle and strikes fear into the Philistines: Yonason crawled up on his hands and feet, and his aid followed behind him. The Philistine guards fell before Yonason and his aid killed the one behind him. In the first battle they smote twenty men. There was great fear in the camp of the Philistines [as a result of a miracle by G-d[6]], and the entire land feared G-d.
  • Shaul discovers a commotion within the Philistine camp: The lookouts of Shaul in Givas Binyamon told Shaul that they see the nation of the Philistines dispersing and running towards their position [in fear and confusion[7]]. Shaul requested that they check from the nation if anyone is missing from amongst them [who went on their own to fight the Philistines], and upon them doing a roundup they discovered that Yonason and his aid were missing. Shaul turned to Achiyah and asked him to bring the ark of G-d [i.e. the Urim Vetumim[8]], as the ark was with the Jewish people on that day.
  • The battle: As Shaul was speaking with the Kohen, he saw that the multitude of the Philistine camp was approaching them, so he told the Kohen to cease what he is doing [and not ask the Urim Vitumim, as there is no time to lose[9]]. Shaul shouted for all the people who were with him to come and wage war. There was a great confusion amongst the Philistines, and they began attacking each other. The Jewish people [who due to fear were usually accomplices of the Philistines to help them overthrow rebellions[10], now] overcame the Philistines and joined Shaul and Yonason in the battle. All the Jewish people in the mountains of Efraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, and they too left their hiding areas and joined the chase against the Philistines. Hashem saved the Jewish people on that day, and the battle moved to Beis Aven.


[1] Malbim 14:1

[2] Rashi 14:3

[3] Rashi 14:10

[4] Metzudos Dovid 14:10

[5] Metzudos Dovid 14:10

[6] Ralbag 14:15; Radak 14:15

[7] See Ralbag 14:16

[8] Rashi 14:18; Radak ibid

[9] Metzudos Dovid 14:19

[10] Rashi 14:21; Metzudos Dovid 14:21

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