Israelís army gathered at Gilgal while Philistiaís army (called the Philistines) gathered at Michmash. Israelís soldiers received regular reports from the camp of the Philistines. These reports made Israelís soldiers very afraid.
King Saul of Israel already had 3000 men under his command (13:2). He had ordered every man from Israel who could fight to join them. Few of these men were skilled soldiers. Most of them were farm workers. They did not have any military equipment whatever; they did not even have swords (13:22). They intended to use knives and agricultural tools in the battle.
The Philistines, on the other hand, had a strong and capable army. There were too many soldiers for anyone to count. They had the proper military equipment. They even had chariots.
The chariot was a very powerful piece of military equipment. It was a carriage with wheels that two horses pulled. A soldier who was ready to fight stood next to its driver. It moved very quickly.
Saul had wanted all Israelís men to join his army at Gilgal. He thought that such a vast army could defeat the Philistines. In fact, however, Saulís army did not increase; it became smaller. The reports about Philistiaís army and their chariots made Saulís men too afraid. They ran away. The camp at Gilgal was near the Jordan River. Some of Saulís soldiers even escaped across the river.
Clearly, Saulís plan to gather a vast army had failed. He began with 3000 men. He waited for 7 days for men to join him. At the end of that period, only 600 men remained in the camp (13:15).
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© 2014, Keith Simons.