1 Samuel 13:21

21 They charged a silver coin for the plowshares and mattocks, and half that for the rest.

1 Samuel 13:21 Meaning and Commentary

1 Samuel 13:21

Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters,
and for the forks, and for the axes
Those that would not go to the Philistines, or were not able, or thought it too much trouble, these kept files by them to sharpen those several instruments with upon occasion; though the words are by some rendered in connection with the preceding, to this sense, that they went to the Philistines to sharpen them, when the mouths, or edges, of the mattocks, coulters were dull; or "blunt" F9; and so needed sharpening; and even

to sharpen the goads;
with which they pricked and pushed on the oxen in ploughing, when sluggish and remiss.

(The word for "file" in the verse is (Myp) "pim", and occurs only here in the Hebrew scriptures. It is not used elsewhere in other Hebrew writings. Therefore the translators of the 1611 Authorised Version had only the root derivation to deduce what the word meant. Literally, it means "a file with mouths". However, recently archaeologists have found a stone inscribed with this word. Also they found a stone inscribed with the word "shekel". Hence they deduced that the word was really a weight of measure equal to about one third of a shekel. Newer translations usually translate this as "the charge was a third of a shekel ...", hence removing the obvious contradiction between this verse and the preceding one. Editor.)


F9 (Myp hryuph htyhw) "retusae itaque erant acies vomerum", V. L. "quandoquidem acies cultrorum aratri" "obtusae erant", Tigurine version.

1 Samuel 13:21 In-Context

19 There wasn't a blacksmith to be found anywhere in Israel. The Philistines made sure of that - "Lest those Hebrews start making swords and spears."
20 That meant that the Israelites had to go down among the Philistines to keep their farm tools - plowshares and mattocks, axes and sickles - sharp and in good repair.
21 They charged a silver coin for the plowshares and mattocks, and half that for the rest.
22 So when the battle of Micmash was joined, there wasn't a sword or spear to be found anywhere in Israel - except for Saul and his son Jonathan; they were both well-armed.
23 A patrol of Philistines took up a position at Micmash Pass.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.