And they gathered together to Mizpeh
Even all Israel, at least the heads of the people, and representatives of them:
and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord;
drew it from some fountain near at hand, and poured it out as in the presence of God, who was where his people were met together. Jerom F11 relates it as tradition of the Jews, that curses were cast into this water, as in the water of jealousy, and that idolaters were tried by it; and that whatever idolater, who denied he worshipped idols, and tasted of it, his lips so stuck together that they could not be separated, and by this means was known and put to death; and therefore it is said Samuel judged now at this place: but it should be observed, this water was not drank, but poured out; and that as a token of their humiliation, as Jarchi, that they were before the Lord, as water poured out; and of the sincerity of their repentance, as the Targum, which is,
``they poured out their heart in repentance, as water;''and of the atonement and expiation of their sins, which passed away as water to be remembered no more, as Kimchi, or rather signifying hereby that they thoroughly renounced idolatry, that nothing of it should remain; as water entirely poured out, there remains not so much as any smell of it in the cask, as does of honey or oil, or such kind of liquor; for what a learned writer F12 says, that this was in token of joy, like that at the feast of tabernacles, when they drew water out of the fountain of Siloah, seems not so agreeable, since this was a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, as follows:
and fasted on that day, and said there, we have sinned against the
Samuel prayed in public for them, with whom they joined; and they fasted in a literal sense, abstaining from food, and made a confession of their sins; this was the work of that day:
and Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh;
not that he now began to judge them, but went on in a more public and vigorous manner to judge them; he sat, and heard, and tried causes that came before him; explained the laws of God to them, and enforced the obedience of them; reformed abuses that were among them, and punished idolaters.
F11 Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 75. F.
F12 L'Empereur, annot. in Misn. Middot, c. 2. sect. 5. No. 7.