Tuesday, April 19, 2005

1 Samuel 9

This chapter is long and complex. Saul is stated to be tall and impressive, the son of a man of standing. Yet Saul will later presume to know better than God and will be stripped of his kingship. This begins a motif, repeated in the story of David and of Jesus, in which social standing and impressive looks are almost always absent from God's champion.

Saul ends up at Samuel's home in a peculiar and not especially dignified manner. He is sent to chase down stray donkeys, can't find them, and runs out of food. His servant is the one who knows to go to the man of God. But Saul has no money and has to borrow a quarter of a shekel (a tenth of an ounce of silver) from his servant to make a miserable gift to Samuel.

Samuel, being in direct contact with God knows all about Saul's arrival and the location of the donkeys. Saul is sent to the high place where the sacrifical altar was, placed at the head of the table of 30 men and given a leg of lamb from the sacrifices. This must have been a huge meal, even for a hungry man. Then they go down to Samuel's house and talk on the roof. Saul, at least, apparently sleeps there, since Samuel calls to him while he is on the roof. Samuel has Saul send the servant ahead of them so that he can secretly anoint Saul.

Saul references the fact that he is from Benjamin, the smallest of tribes. Benjamin got to be small because they raped and killed a concubine and, rather than surrender the guilty, fought all of Israel, killing many (Judges 19-20). Not the best parentage. Saul knows it, and asks why Samuel thinks God favors him. In the next chapter, this sense of deficiency is carried to a laughable extreme as Saul hides among the baggage rather than be made king.

Saul's route is from Gibeah 24 miles northeast to Shalisha (Kefr Thilth) and a bit farther. Zuph may be the present day Bethlehem (http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/dictionaries/0PISBE.htm), although Mathew Henry (and others) identifies it with Ramah.

This chapter contains a discussion of prophets (nabiy') and how they were called seers (ra'ah) in the days of 1 Samuel. The term nabiy' is elsewhere applied to Abraham and to Aaron, whereas ra'ah simply refers to sight.


Post a Comment

<< Home