1 Kings xi.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. After this. So far is omitted in the Hebrew, &c., but we find it in most editions of the Septuagint and in Josephus. (Calmet) — Fight. He had threatened an invasion before, and had perhaps (Haydock) attacked some of the tribes on the east side of the Jordan, and treated them with the same cruelty as he intended for those of Jabes, which was a city of the first consequence. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vi. 5.) — Naas, “a serpent.” There was a king of this country of the same name, in the days of David. The people had been quiet since Jephte had made such havoc among them, about ninety years before. (Judges xi.) (Calmet) — Covenant. They were willing to pay him tribute. But it seems they had offered him some insult, which made the king resolve to punish them more severely. They make no mention of Saul, as they did not wish to let the king know of his election; (Salien) and perhaps had no great confidence in him, (Haydock) as he was not yet fully confirmed in his dignity, (Calmet) and had let a whole month pass without taking any measures for the deliverance of his country, though it was on that pretext that he was elected. (Haydock) — They considered what had passed as of no consequence, chap. xii. 12.
Ver. 2. Eyes: strange proposal! He would not render them quite blind, that he might not be deprived of their service. But he wished to render them unfit for war, (Calmet) as the buckler covers the left eye; (Josephus) and people who shoot with bow and arrow, keep it closed. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Days. We have examples of similar requests in history. (Grotius, Jur. iii. 23.) See Judith vii. 23.
Ver. 4. Of Saul. Septuagint, “to Saul,” which may remove the surprise of Abulensis, that the king is not mentioned. (Salien) — Saul was absent at the time, so that they made known the threatening danger to the people.
Ver. 5. Field. So David fed sheep, even after he was anointed king. The ancients had very different sentiments of royalty from what we have. Their kings and great men did not esteem it beneath them to cultivate the earth. Several of them wrote on the subject.
Jura dabat populis, posito modo prętor aratro,
Pascebatque suas ipse Senator oves. (Ovid, Fast. i.)
Many of the most eminent Roman generals were taken from the plough. (Calmet) — Xenophon introduces the younger Cyrus, saying, “Many of these trees were planted with my own hands.” (Cicero, Senect. 17.)
Ver. 6. Spirit of fortitude, prudence, and zeal. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Oxen, with which he had been ploughing. — Pieces. Hebrew does not say that he sent them; and Josephus intimates, that he only “hamstrung them, and sent messengers,” &c. (Haydock) — But such actions are far more impressive than words. See Judges xix. 29., and Acts xxi. 10., &c. (Calmet) — Samuel. Saul adds the name of the prophet, as the people had still great confidence in him, and he always acted as God’s envoy. (Haydock) — Oxen. He does not threaten capital punishment, but insinuates that both duty and interest require the presence of all. (Salien) — Of the Lord; that is, a great fear: (Calmet) or, God moved the people to shew a ready obedience and reverence to their king’s commands.
Ver. 8. Bezec, where Adonibezec had reigned, (Judges i.; Menochius) near the place where they crossed the Jordan, a little below Scythopolis, to go to Jabes, which was about thirty miles distant. (Calmet) — Thousand. Josephus makes the army consist of 770,000, who were collected at Bala. Septuagint have 600,000 of Israel; and they agree with this author, in allowing also 70,000 to Juda alone. But this is a larger army than what came out of Egypt, and exceeds the limits of probability, unless all assembled, as the preceding verse seems (Haydock) to insinuate; (Menochius) and we find far greater numbers, 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 3, 17., if no (Haydock) error have there crept in. (Kennicott)
Ver. 9. Hot. Josephus says, Saul “being seized with the divine spirit, ordered them to inform the citizens of Jabes, that he would come to their assistance on the third day, and rout the enemy before the sun arose.” But the message of which the Scripture here speaks, (Haydock) was sent from Bezec. Saul, in effect, came upon the Ammonites unawares before it was light, gained a complete victory, (Calmet) and then pursued the fugitives till noon.
Ver. 10. To you, Naas, (Haydock) which they speak in irony, and that the enemy may be off his guard. (Calmet) — We must thus deceive our passions, that we may not be blinded (Haydock) or slain by them. (St. Gregory, v. 1. in Reg.) (Worthington)
Ver. 11. Camp. It was not then customary to throw up any fortifications, but only to place sentinels in all the avenues. — Watch, which ended at sunrise. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Them. It seems there were but few discontented persons. (Salien) — They address themselves to Samuel, who they knew had not regarded their request of a king with approbation, as if to give him a little mortification. But he makes a proposal of confirming the election with still greater solemnity, if they persevered in their resolution, (Haydock) as he intimated they might still recede, (Calmet) and be content with the former mode of government, as being far better. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. They made. Septuagint, “and there (again the prophet; Josephus) Samuel anointed Saul king.” The same ceremonies as had been used before, except the casting lots, were here repeated, particularly the solemn anointing, (Salien) whence, in the following chapter, (ver. 3) Saul is styled the anointed. (Menochius) — The Lord. His ark was probably present, and the priest to offer victims. (Salien, the year of the world 2963.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Saul defeateth the Ammonites, and delivereth Jabes Galaad.
1 And *it came to pass about a month after this, that Naas, the Ammonite, came up, and began to fight against Jabes Galaad. And all the men of Jabes said to Naas: Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
2 And Naas, the Ammonite, answered them: On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may pluck out all your right eyes, and make you a reproach in all Israel.
3 And the ancients of Jabes said to him: Allow us seven days, that we may send messengers to all the coasts of Israel: and if there be no one to defend us, we will come out to thee.
4 The messengers therefore came to Gabaa of Saul: and they spoke these words in the hearing of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.
5 And behold Saul came, following oxen out of the field, and he said: What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the words of the men of Jabes.
6 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, when he had heard these words, and his anger was exceedingly kindled.
7 And taking both the oxen, he cut them in pieces, and sent them into all the coasts of Israel, by messengers, saying: Whosoever shall not come forth, and follow Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell upon the people, and they went out as one man.
8 And he numbered them in Bezec: and there were of the children of Israel three hundred thousand: and of the men of Juda thirty thousand.
9 And they said to the messengers that came: Thus shall you say to the men of Jabes Galaad: To-morrow, when the sun shall be hot, you shall have relief. The messengers therefore came, and told the men of Jabes: and they were glad.
10 And they said: In the morning we will come out to you: and you shall do what you please with us.
11 And it came to pass, when the morrow was come that Saul put the people in three companies: and he came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and he slew the Ammonites until the day grew hot, and the rest were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.
12 And the people said to Samuel: *Who is he that said: Shall Saul reign over us? Bring the men, and we will kill them.
13 And Saul said: No man shall be killed this day: because the Lord this day hath wrought salvation in Israel:
14 And Samuel said to the people: Come, and let us go to Galgal, and let us renew the kingdom there.
15 And all the people went to Galgal, and there they made Saul king, before the Lord in Galgal, and they sacrificed there victims of peace before the Lord. And there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced exceedingly
1: Year of the World 2909.
12: Wisdom x. 27.