And Saul said, thus shall ye say to David
In answer to his objections, and in order to remove them, and especially what concerned the dowry:
the king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the
Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies;
that is, he required or desired no other dowry of David, but that he would slay an hundred Philistines, and bring their foreskins to him; by which he would be able to know that they were Philistines he slew, not Israelites who were circumcised; though it cannot well be thought that Saul should have any suspicion of that, or take such a method to prevent it; but as those were almost, if not altogether, the only uncircumcised persons that were their neighbours, since the Arabians, Edomites, Midianites, &c. received circumcision from their ancestors, it would be a clear case to him that these were the men he slew; and whom he the rather pitched upon, because they were his enemies, and the enemies of Israel, and abhorred of the Lord; which carried in it a show of zeal for the glory of God, and the good of his people, and because he hoped David would fall by them in the enterprise, or however render himself very odious to them, and they would bear him ill will, and seek his ruin. Strabo F25 reports of the people in Carmania, that no man among them marries a wife before he cuts off the head of an enemy, and brings it to the king; and the king lays up the skulls in a treasury, and he is the most famous that has the most heads brought unto him. Saul chose not heads, but foreskins, for the reasons before given:
but Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines;
he hoped in the enterprise the Philistines would be too powerful for him, and kill him.
F25 Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. l. 1. c. 24.