Shmuel 1-Chapter 13: The battle with the Philistines and the loss of the monarchy by Shaul

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Chapter 13: The battle with the Philistines and the loss of the monarchy by Shaul

1. The reign of Shaul:

  • Shaul was [clean of sin as if he were[1]] a year old when he reigned, and for two years he reigned over Israel.
  • Shaul’s army: [At the time of the inauguration in Gilgal[2]] Shaul chose three thousand men from amongst Israel [to remain with him, ready to be called for any of his needs[3]]. Two thousand of them were [situated in the areas of] Michmash and on the Beis Eil mountain, and one thousand were with Yonoson by Givas Binyamon. The rest of the nation [who came to Gilgal by the original inauguration[4], in excess of the three thousand] were sent back to their homes.

2. The Philistine governor is assassinated, and they thereby gather for battle:

  • The Philistine appointed governor is killed: Yonason smote the Philistine governor [that was appointed to govern and rule over the Jewish people in Israel[5]] that was by [an area called[6]] Geva, and the Philistines heard of the death. Shaul sounded the Shofar throughout all the land in order so the Jewish people hear [and beware from vengeance of the Philistines[7]]. All the Jewish people heard that Shaul killed the governor of the Philistines. The Jewish people became despised by the Philistines, and they joined Shaul in Gilgal.
  • The Philistines gather an army for battle: The Philistines gathered to battle the Jewish people. They had 30,000 wagons, and 6,000 soldiers mounted on horses, and an army as countless as the sand of the sea. They encamped by Michmash, which is east of Beis Aven. The Jewish people saw all this and became frightened as the nation had been oppressed by the Philistines. The nation hid in caves and bushes and rocks, towers, and pits. The nation crossed the Jordon, to the land of Gad and Galaad, while Shaul was still by Gilgal, with the [remainder of the[8]] entire nation following him.

3. The meeting of Shmuel and Shaul at the end of the seven-day period-Shaul loses the monarchy:

  • Shmuel arrives late on the seventh day and Shaul brings an Olah without him: The seven days which Shmuel had told Shaul that he would arrive by had passed, but he had yet to come to Gilgal. This caused the nation to disperse from Shaul. Shaul asked for the Olah and Shelamim offerings to be brought to him, and he then offered the Olah. When he concluded the offering of the Olah, Shmuel arrived. Shaul went out to greet him and bless his arrival. Shmuel confronted Shaul as to what he did [as Shmuel had told him that he would be the one to offer the Olah[9]], and Shaul replied that he did so since he saw that the nation had left him, and that Shmuel had yet to arrive [on the morning of[10]] the established time, and the Philistines had gathered by Michmash. Therefore, I said to myself that since the Philistines are coming towards me at Gilgal, and I have yet to greet G-d, I therefore could hold myself back no longer and I offered the Olah.
  • Shmuel chastises Shaul for what he did and informs him that he has lost his monarchy: Shmuel told Shaul that he had failed [and been foolish by not waiting for him to arrive until the end of the day[11]], as he had not guarded the command of G-d that He had instructed him to keep. “Originally, G-d had intended for your kingship to remain forever over Israel [as is the general rule that when a position is given to a person, it is inherited to his descendants forever[12]], but now your reign will not last. G-d will search for another man who follows Him, and instruct him to reign over the people, being that you have not fulfilled the command of G-d.”

4. Preparing for battle versus the Philistines:

  • Shmuel left Gilgal and traveled to Givas Binyamin [having Shaul follow him[13]].
  • Shaul counted the men that were [left] with him [after many had dispersed[14]], and there were 600 men. Shaul, his son Yonason, and the men that were with him, sat in Geva Binyamon, while the Philistines encamped in Michmash.
  • The Philistine army splits to three: The camp of the Philistines was split to three brigades. One traveled towards Afra, to the land of Shual. Another traveled towards Beis Choron, while another went towards the border by the desert which is visible from Geiy Tzevoim.
  • The Jews did not have any weapons: There was no blacksmith amongst all Israel, as the Philistines prevented it due to fear that the Jews would make swords and spears. So, [whenever the Jewish people needed metal machinery[15]] all the Jewish people went down to the Philistines to retrieve a plow and ax and other tools of the field. On the day of the battle, there was not one sword or spear amongst the Jewish people with exception to Shaul and his son Yonason who found one [miraculously[16]]. The Philistine guards traveled towards the junction of Michmash [to proceed towards where Shaul and Yonason were situated][17].


[1] Rashi 13:1; Yuma 22b

[2] Radak 13:2

[3] Metzudos David 13:2

[4] Radak 13:2

[5] Rashi 13:3

[6] Radak 13:3

[7] Metzudos David 13:3

[8] Metzudos David 13:7

[9] Rashi 13:11

[10] Rashi 13:11

[11] Metzudos David 13:13

[12] Rashi 13:13; Megillah 13b

[13] Metzudos David 13:15

[14] Rashi 13:15

[15] Rashi 13:20

[16] Rashi 13:22

[17] Metzudos David 13:23

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