[1-Samuel 7:1] AND THE MEN OF KIRJATH-JEARIM CAME, AND FETCHED UP THE ARK OF THE LORD, AND BROUGHT IT INTO THE HOUSE OF ABINADAB IN THE HILL, AND SANCTIFIED ELEAZAR HIS SON TO KEEP THE ARK OF THE LORD.
[1-Samuel 7:2] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHILE THE ARK ABODE IN KIRJATH-JEARIM, THAT THE TIME WAS LONG; FOR IT WAS TWENTY YEARS: AND ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL LAMENTED AFTER THE LORD.
Y. Kiel ("Daat Mikra") points out that the process of "Return" and "repentance" was a long drawn out one. In Hebrew the usual word for "repentance" is "teshuvah" which literally means "returning". This process could also have been a subconscious unnoticed one. Based on my limited experience most non-religious Jews in the State of Israel are God-fearing, most Arabs are not. This observation contradicts the statistics, the media, and the superficial impression one would receive by looking at the standards of dress, etc.
[1-Samuel 7:3] AND SAMUEL SPAKE UNTO ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, SAYING, IF YE DO RETURN UNTO THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEARTS, THEN PUT AWAY THE STRANGE GODS AND ASHTAROTH FROM AMONG YOU, AND PREPARE YOUR HEARTS UNTO THE LORD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY: AND HE WILL DELIVER YOU OUT OF THE HAND OF THE PHILISTINES.
<<ASHTAROTH>>: Astarte was a female deity but she had many forms. It is also possible that the term refers to all female goddesses. There was a synthetic tendency in paganism and the different goddesses may have been considered various expressions of the one. So too, in Catholicism Mary is worshipped as "Our Lady of Fatima" or our "Our Lady of"- somewhere else and is referred to as "Queen of Heaven" which is a title of Astarte . She is considered an intermediary that in the eyes of many is the only valid pathway heaven. They also have certain statues where miracles allegedly occurred and these statues are worshipped as special forms of manifestation and as "holy" in themselves. There are Catholics on this list and we do not want to dwell on these points. Also in ALL religions there exist negative phenomena that if over-emphasized can give a misleading impression. I went to school in Australia with people of mainly Irish Catholic descent and as people, in my experience, they were usually more than OK. I would also say that in this case their real intention was more or less directed to the Almighty but in other parts of the world this would not necessarily be so.
[1-Samuel 7:4] THEN THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID PUT AWAY BAALIM AND ASHTAROTH, AND SERVED THE LORD ONLY. <<BAALIM>>: Plural of "baal". The same as what we said concerning "Astarte" applies to "baal". The term "baal" in Hebrew means "master", "lord", "owner", husband". There are indications that the term was also on occasion applied to the God of Israel and does not always indicate idolatry. The root of the word is "B-A-L" and also connotes "husband" and have sexual intercourse. One of the forms of this worship was reverence for a statue of the male penis. In our days the emphasis on sex and everything around it is a form of idolatry. The potency of the Western male (according to statistics) is in fact drastically diminishing. Perhaps this is a paradoxical effect of all promiscuous societies? Homosexuality is on the increase apparently because something is wrong with our society in general. The English word "bull" (applied to a male animal) probably comes from the same "BAL" root meaning "husband" or "male sexual dominance". This brings us to another point. Anthropological studies and the observation of new immigrants from Ethiopia etc indicate that the male needs to dominate in order to function. Women should take heed and be careful not to demean their husbands. Also mothers of children and women in the work place should be able to do their tasks without feeling the need to offend the maleness of those they raise up or work with.
[1-Samuel 7:5] AND SAMUEL SAID, GATHER ALL ISRAEL TO MIZPEH, AND I WILL PRAY FOR YOU UNTO THE LORD. Samuel was to pray for Israel. Samuel was a type of "intercessor". This has been referred to by Yaacov Fogelman in his commentary on the portion of this week:
<< My own presentations began on Shabbos afternoon, with a workshop, entitled "The Efficacy of Prayer: Recent Research and Its Possible Meaning." As you may know, certain prestigious medical journals recently published research findings, indicating that prayer for the sick is effective, from a scientific point of view. Indeed, there is even research which shows that "intercessory" prayer, i.e., prayer by another for a sick patient, is effective.
>> THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE: VAYECHI- (YAAKOV) LIVED, GENESIS 47:28-5O:2. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org [We would not normally quote from this commentary (whose ideological position and factual base we often disagree with) but in this case it was pertinent and we came across it shortly before writing these lines.]
[1-Samuel 7:6] AND THEY GATHERED TOGETHER TO MIZPEH, AND DREW WATER, AND POURED IT OUT BEFORE THE LORD, AND FASTED ON THAT DAY, AND SAID THERE, WE HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD. AND SAMUEL JUDGED THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IN MIZPEH.
<<DREW WATER>>: This was one of the ways of worshipping the Almighty. Y. Kiel suggests that it may represent "submission" (Rashi) or the abandonment of sin cf.
<<BECAUSE THOU SHALT FORGET THY MISERY, AND REMEMBER IT AS WATERS THAT PASS AWAY>> [Job 11:16]. The ceremony of pouring water is also recalled in connection with David:
<<AND THE THREE MIGHTY MEN BRAKE THROUGH THE HOST OF THE PHILISTINES, AND DREW WATER OUT OF THE WELL OF BETHLEHEM, THAT WAS BY THE GATE, AND TOOK IT, AND BROUGHT IT TO DAVID: NEVERTHELESS HE WOULD NOT DRINK THEREOF, BUT POURED IT OUT UNTO THE LORD>>
[2-Samuel 23:16]. The puring out of water was part of the Temple Service at the festival of Succoth (Talmud Babli, Succoth 4, 9). This was part of the Oral Tradition. Usually the oral Tradition is referred to somehow or other in the Five Books of Moses but in this case it does not seem to appear. We see however from our verse above that it was know and something like it was performed by the Prophet Samuel to symbolize a returning to the Almighty God of Israel..
[1-Samuel 7:7] AND WHEN THE PHILISTINES HEARD THAT THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WERE GATHERED TOGETHER TO MIZPEH, THE LORDS OF THE PHILISTINES WENT UP AGAINST ISRAEL. AND WHEN THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HEARD IT, THEY WERE AFRAID OF THE PHILISTINES.
Fear is a natural reaction of the human condition. It is an important tool of survival. Nevertheless there are occasions when it is harmful and in such instances one should pray to God for help.
[1-Samuel 7:8] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SAID TO SAMUEL, CEASE NOT TO CRY UNTO THE LORD OUR GOD FOR US, THAT HE WILL SAVE US OUT OF THE HAND OF THE PHILISTINES.
They could (and probably did) have prayed themselves but evidently did not feel worthy enopugh for their prayers to be answered and they had confidence in Samuel.
[1-Samuel 7:9] AND SAMUEL TOOK A SUCKING LAMB, AND OFFERED IT FOR A BURNT OFFERING WHOLLY UNTO THE LORD: AND SAMUEL CRIED UNTO THE LORD FOR ISRAEL; AND THE LORD HEARD HIM.
He prayed and God answered his prayer. There is no such thing as wasted prayer. We may not always get the answers we want or feel we need but it always has a good effect and often may be answered. Prayer by a great number of people or on their behalf is especially efficacious. The sages said that someone who needs something himself yet prays on behalf of others also has his needs fulfilled even before the others.
[1-Samuel 7:10] AND AS SAMUEL WAS OFFERING UP THE BURNT OFFERING, THE PHILISTINES DREW NEAR TO BATTLE AGAINST ISRAEL: BUT THE LORD THUNDERED WITH A GREAT THUNDER ON THAT DAY UPON THE PHILISTINES, AND DISCOMFITED THEM; AND THEY WERE SMITTEN BEFORE ISRAEL.
[1-Samuel 7:11] AND THE MEN OF ISRAEL WENT OUT OF MIZPEH, AND PURSUED THE PHILISTINES, AND SMOTE THEM, UNTIL THEY CAME UNDER BETHCAR.
<<BETHCAR>>: Hebrew "Bayit-Car" i.e. House of Car. "Car" in Hebrew can connote sheep or pasture. It also means carriage. We now have the English word "car" for automobile.
[1-Samuel 7:12] THEN SAMUEL TOOK A STONE, AND SET IT BETWEEN MIZPEH AND SHEN, AND CALLED THE NAME OF IT EBENEZER, SAYING, HITHERTO HATH THE LORD HELPED US.
Samuel set up a "Megalithic" monument and groups of these were to become an indetifying sign of Israelite migrations (cf. Jeremiah 31:21).
[1-Samuel 7:13] SO THE PHILISTINES WERE SUBDUED, AND THEY CAME NO MORE INTO THE COAST OF ISRAEL: AND THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS AGAINST THE PHILISTINES ALL THE DAYS OF SAMUEL.
[1-Samuel 7:14] AND THE CITIES WHICH THE PHILISTINES HAD TAKEN FROM ISRAEL WERE RESTORED TO ISRAEL, FROM EKRON EVEN UNTO GATH; AND THE COASTS THEREOF DID ISRAEL DELIVER OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES. AND THERE WAS PEACE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE AMORITES.
<<THE AMORITES>>: The Iben Ezer says that "Amorites" was another name for all the Canaanites. Amorites or "Amurru" (in Akkadian, the language of Mesopotamia) was a name given by foreigners to all the inhabitants of Canaan including Israel. After the Israelites were exiled they became identified with the Cimmerians, Scythians and Goths (Guti). We have an Assyrian inscription that refers to one of the leaders of these peoples as "King of the Amurru".
[1-Samuel 7:15] AND SAMUEL JUDGED ISRAEL ALL THE DAYS OF HIS LIFE.
[1-Samuel 7:16] AND HE WENT FROM YEAR TO YEAR IN CIRCUIT TO BETHEL, AND GILGAL, AND MIZPEH, AND JUDGED ISRAEL IN ALL THOSE PLACES.
He made the "rounds" going from place to place and helping the Children of Israel. A leader should go out to the people.
[1-Samuel 7:17] AND HIS RETURN WAS TO RAMAH; FOR THERE WAS HIS HOUSE; AND THERE HE JUDGED ISRAEL; AND THERE HE BUILT AN ALTAR UNTO THE LORD. A person should endeavor to make his "house" a special place of dedication to the Almighty.