I Samuel 4
We had moved the first part of verse 1 of this chapter to the end of the last chapter last time, so now we take up verse 1 in the middle.
1. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.
The Philistines were Israel’s neighbors on the southwest along the Mediterranean Sea. Their name means “Immigrants.” They were descended from Ham, but not from Canaan, but from his son Mizraim. Since they were not actually Canaanites, they were not one of the seven nations whom the Israelites were supposed to destroy. Nevertheless, they were usually enemies of Israel, and often tried to conquer them. Israel was supposed to drive them out in order to possess their land, although they were not required to destroy them, like they were the Canaanites. However, the LORD had not driven them out at first by the Israelites, as He explains in Judges 3:1-4.
1. Now these are the nations which the LORD left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan 2. (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), 3. namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. 4. And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
So the five lords of the Philistines were left in their land, and they were not yet driven out by Israel. Therefore, they became a constant thorn in Israel’s side, and their incessant enemies. They first fought against them in the days of the judge Shamgar (Judges 3:31.) In Judges 10:6-7, we learn that they were oppressed by the Philistines again, yet this oppression seems to have been mostly the doing of the Ammonites, and Jephthah’s war to free Israel from them is mostly against Ammon. It does not seem that the Philistines became major aggressors against Israel until the days of Samson. Yet as far as we can tell, Samson was immediately before Eli as judge over Israel, so that at this time they are one of the most serious enemies the nation faces. Read the rest of this entry »