And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel,
&c.] Prepared for battle, and put themselves in a posture for it; formed themselves in a line of battle, and so invited and challenged the Israelites to fight them:
and when they joined battle;
engaged with each other, the Israelites doing the same, putting themselves in a proper form and posture for fighting; or "the battle was spread", or "spread itself" F2; that is, as the Targum, they that made war were spread; the soldiers were placed in order for battle, to the right and left, which took up on both sides a large space; though Abarbinel understands this in a very different sense, and takes the word to have the same signification as in ( Psalms 78:60 ) , where it has the sense of forsaking; and so here the Israelites forsook the battle, and fled, which brought on their destruction, flight being, as the Jews say F3, the beginning of fall or ruin, as it follows:
Israel was smitten before the Philistines;
they had the worst of it and were beaten:
and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men;
so many fell upon the spot, in the field.
F2 (hmxlmh vjtw) "et diffusum est praelium", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius.
F3 Misn. Sotah, c. 8. sect. 6.