1 Kings ix.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Abiel, who is also called Ner, 1 Paralipomenon viii. 33. (Cajetan) — Strong. Hebrew, “a mighty man of power,” either of body, or of riches.
Ver. 2. Goodlier, better proportioned, more handsome, (Haydock) as the daughters of men are styled good, or fair, Genesis vi. 1. People seek for corporal advantages in those who command. The poets always represent their deities and heroes as taller than the rest of men. A king of Sparta was fined for marrying a little woman. (Aristotle, Polit. iv.) The Ethiopians give their highest offices to those who have the most engaging appearance. (Herodotus iii. 20.) (Calmet) — Little people may be elegant, but never majestic or perfectly beautiful. (Aristotle, Ethic. iv. 3.) (Menochius) — Choice, is taken in the same sense as goodly, and does not intimate that Saul was one of the elect. (Denis the Carthusian)
Ver. 3. Asses. The greatest noblemen rode upon such, Judges v. 10. A prince of Esau fed asses, Genesis xxx. 24. Agriculture, and keeping sheep, were the employment of men of the first eminence in the heroic ages, as hunting and other equally laborious exercises are now in fashion. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Salisa, the ancient Segor, (Menochius) or rather a place 15 miles from Diospolis. (Eusebius) — Salim, or Sual, not far from Galgal, chap. xiii. 17.
Ver. 5. Suph, where Ramatha, the birth-place of Samuel, was situated, chap. i. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Famous. Chaldean, “honourable.” Septuagint, “covered with glory.” The observations of a servant may often claim attention. Saul seemed to be less acquainted with this extraordinary personage than his servant. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. What. Were they uninformed of the disinterestedness of Samuel? or did they think that he would sell his oracles? By no means. But the manners of the ancients were very different from ours, and people chose to shew their respect for God, the king, prophets, &c., by making them some present. People still never go to visit one another in Syria without something of the kind, as it would be deemed uncivil or cruel to act otherwise. See 3 Kings xiv. 1., and Micheas iii. 11. — Bread. They would have made a present of some. Saul received two loaves, chap. x. 4. See chap. xvi. 20. Hence we may form some idea of the beautiful simplicity of those ages. People were then forced to carry their own provisions, as there were no inns which supplied any. (Calmet) — Present. Sportula means a little basket. (Haydock) — But here it is taken for a present, as meat was commonly given. (Menochius) — Cyrus sent his friends geese half eaten, from his own table, for greater distinction. (Xenophon) (Haydock) — Hebrew, “what have we?” Syriac, “we have none of our provisions left.” (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Silver. About seven-pence English. — Stater, (Haydock) is put instead of Hebrew, “sicle.” (Menochius)
Ver. 9. A seer. Because of his seeing, by divine light, hidden things, and things to come, (Challoner) by inspiration. (Worthington) — They had the things which they foretold so clearly in view. The Sybil cries out,
Bella, horrida bella.
Et Tiberim multo spumantem sanguine cerno. (Virgil)
Ver. 11. Water, perhaps for the sacrifice. Thus Fab. Victor says, “Rhea, according to the established custom, by which young women went to draw water for the sacrifices, proceeded to the fountain in the grove of Mars.” (Calmet)
Ver. 12. A sacrifice. The law did not allow of sacrifices in any other place, but at the tabernacle, or temple, in which the ark of the covenant was kept; but Samuel, by divine dispensation, offered sacrifices in other places. For which dispensation this reason may be alleged, that the house of God in Silo, having lost the ark, was now cast off; as a figure of the reprobation of the Jews, Psalm lxxvii. 60, 67. And in Cariathiarim, where the ark was, there was neither tabernacle, nor altar. (Challoner) — At least that of Moses was in the tabernacle. See chap. vi. 21. (Haydock) — Samuel was just come up to the city, from a place called Naiot, where he instructed some of the prophets, chap. xix. 19. The maids point him out to Saul; and God, at the same time, reveals to his prophet, that the person who addressed him should be king. (Calmet) — The high place. Excelsum. The excelsa, or high places, so often mentioned in Scripture, were places of worship, in which were altars for sacrifice. These were sometimes employed in the service of the true God, as in the present case: but more frequently in the service of idols, and were called Excelsa, which is commonly (though perhaps not so accurately) rendered high places; not because they were always upon hills, for the very worst of all, which was that of Topheth, or Geennom, (Jeremias xix.) was in a valley; but because of the high altars, and pillars, or monuments erected there, on which were set up the idols, or images of their deities; (Challoner) so that they might be called “the high things.” (Haydock) — Before Solomon built the temple, from the time that the tabernacle was deprived of the honour of having the ark, people immolated on such heights, 3 Kings iii. 2. (Menochius) — On one of these, at Ramatha, Samuel was going to offer a peace-offering, and to feast with the heads of the city, (Calmet) or perhaps of the nation, who were expecting the result of his consultation of the Lord, respecting their petition of a king. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. The victim, begging the blessing, which was the office of the most honourable person at table, as he also gave thanks for all. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Midst. That is, simply in the city, or entering the gate, where Samuel met them, ver. 18.
Ver. 15. Ear, privately. (Calmet) — Thus Jonathan promised to give David private information, chap. xx. 13. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Ruler. Hebrew, Nagid, “Leader.” Septuagint, “Archon.” Chaldean, “King.” The Israelites demanded a king, to lead them, and to fight for them; and Homer (Iliad iii.) gives this idea of the chief magistrate, “a good king and stout warrior,” which Alexander so much admired. — Philistines. They had been repressed by Samuel; but they had begun to gain the ascendancy, so as not to suffer the Israelites to have a blacksmith among them, &c. Saul gained some victories over them, and over the other enemies of his people, towards the beginning of his reign, chap. xiii., and xiv. (Calmet) — To me. God threatened that he would not hear them, when they should grow weary (Haydock) of their king, chap. viii. 18. But he protects his people against the efforts of their foreign enemies. (Menochius) — Oppression of the innocent cries to heaven for vengeance. (Worthington)
Ver. 18. Gate. Septuagint, “city.” Chaldean, “within the gate,” where business was transacted.
Ver. 19. Place, while Samuel retired, for a while, to his own house. He sends Saul to the assembly, (Calmet) where he would meet him to dine. (Haydock) — Heart, or desirest to know. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Best. The regal power, which all desired. Hebrew, “to or on whom is all the desire of Israel?” Any great felicity is called a desire, as the Messias, the spouse in the Canticle [of Canticles], v. 16. (Aggeus ii. 8.) Septuagint, “to whom the beautiful things of Israel?”
Ver. 21. Jemini, or Benjamin, which was always one of the smallest tribes, and, since the unfortunate war, still more reduced; so that none of the other tribes could well take umbrage, or be filled with jealousy, when they saw a king selected from it. — Last. Though all were equally noble, yet some families were more numerous, possessed greater riches, or had filled the posts of honour more frequently than others. Nothing can be more charming than the modesty of Saul on this occasion. (Calmet) — Happy would he have been, had he continued always to cherish the like sentiments. (Haydock) — He and his posterity might then have long enjoyed the regal dignity, chap. xiii. 13. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. At the head. Septuagint, “among the first of those….seventy men,” which number Josephus also has instead of 30. Saul’s servant was probably an Israelite, who had hired himself for a time. The first place, at the head of the table, was the most honourable, Luke xiv. 8. The king of Persia placed his most trusty friend at his left hand, and those of the highest dignity, in order at his right. (Cyropæd. vii., &c.) (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Shoulder. It was the left, (Menochius) as the right shoulder belonged to the priest, and laymen were not allowed to taste of it after it had been offered in sacrifice, Leviticus vii. 32. Some suppose that Samuel had this right shoulder for his portion. But he was not a priest. (Calmet) — This part was assigned to the most eminent man at table; and Josephus calls it “the royal portion.” (Menochius) — Hebrew, “the shoulder, and what was upon it, (or he held it up) and set it (the whole quarter) before Saul.” Aquila, &c., translate “the thigh,” left or reserved. Septuagint, “laid by.” It was then the fashion to place large pieces of meat before those who were to be most honoured, Genesis xviii. 6. (Homer, &c.) — People. Hebrew, “till now it has been kept for thee, I said, I have invited the people.” He insinuates that he knew of his coming, though it seemed so accidental, even when he invited the company. Septuagint, “eat, for it is placed before thee, as a memorial, by the people, cut it in pieces.” (Haydock) — As the shoulder supports a burden, so the king was reminded to maintain the interests of the commonwealth. (Menochius)
Ver. 25. House, probably giving him some instructions respecting his future dignity. — As he, &c. This seems to be a second translation of the former sentence, taken from the Septuagint. It is omitted in several Latin manuscripts. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “and he went down from the Bama (perhaps “the steps” or high place, where the sacrifice and feast had been celebrated) into the city; and they made a bed for Saul, on the house top; and he lay down, (26) and when the day dawned, Samuel,” &c. The roofs are flat in those countries, and such an airy situation would be most agreeable in such hot climates. (Haydock) — The common people, generally, only spread a mat on the ground, and covered themselves with a sheet; to take their rest, either under a gallery, or in the open air. Homer places his strangers, with their upon the ground under the gallery, which was erected before the house. Aristophanes (in Vespis) mentions the custom of sleeping on the house top. See 2 Kings xvi. 22. (Calmet) — Saul had not been educated with the greatest delicacy. (Menochius)
Ver. 27. Before us, and. Hebrew, (“and he passed on,”) agreeably to his master’s order. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Saul, seeking his father’s asses, cometh to Samuel, by whom he is entertained.
1 Now* there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Cis, the son of Abiel, the son of Seror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphia, the son of a man of Jemini, valiant and strong.
2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and goodly man, and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he appeared above all the people.
3 And the asses of Cis, Saul’s father, were lost: and Cis said to his son Saul: Take one of the servants with thee, and arise, go, and seek the asses. And when they had passed through Mount Ephraim,
4 And through the land of Salisa, and had not found them, they passed also through the land of Salim, and they were not there: and through the land of Jemini, and found them not.
5 And when they were come to the land of Suph, Saul said to the servant that was with him: Come, let us return, lest perhaps my father forget the asses, and be concerned for us.
6 And he said to him: Behold there is a man of God in this city, a famous man: all that he saith, cometh certainly to pass. Now, therefore, let us go thither, perhaps he may tell us of our way, for which we are come.
7 And Saul said to his servant: Behold we will go: but what shall we carry to the man of God? the bread is spent in our bags: and we have no present to make to the man of God, nor any thing at all.
8 The servant answered Saul again, and said: Behold there is found in my hand the fourth part of a sicle of silver, let us give it to the man of God, that he may tell us our way.
9 Now in time past in Israel, when a man went to consult God, he spoke thus: Come, let us go to the seer. For he that is now called a prophet, in time past was called a seer.
10 And Saul said to his servant: Thy word is very good, come, let us go. And they went into the city, where the man of God was.
11 And when they went up the ascent to the city, they found maids coming out to draw water, and they said to them: Is the seer here?
12 They answered and said to them: He is: behold he is before you, make haste now: for he came to-day into the city, for there is a sacrifice of the people to-day in the high place.
13 As soon as you come into the city, you shall immediately find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat till he come; because he blesseth the victim, and afterwards they eat that are invited. Now, therefore, go up, for to-day you shall find him.
14 And they went up into the city. And when they were walking in the midst of the city, behold Samuel was coming out over-against them, to go up to the high place.
15 *Now the Lord had revealed to the ear of Samuel the day before Saul came, saying:
16 To-morrow about this same hour I will send thee a man of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel: and he shall save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked down upon my people, because their cry is come to me.
17 And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him: Behold the man, of whom I spoke to thee, this man shall reign over my people.
18 And Saul came to Samuel in the midst of the gate, and said: Tell me, I pray thee, where is the house of the seer?
19 And Samuel answered Saul, saying: I am the seer; go up before me to the high place, that you may eat with me to-day, and I will let thee go in the morning: and tell thee all that is in thy heart.
20 And as for the asses, which were lost three days ago, be not solicitous, because they are found. And for whom shall be all the best things of Israel? Shall they not be for thee and for all thy father’s house?
21 And Saul answering, said: Am not I a son of Jemini of the least tribe of Israel, and my kindred the last among all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then hast thou spoken this word to me?
22 Then Samuel taking Saul, and his servant, brought them into the parlour, and gave them a place at the head of them that were invited. For there were about thirty men.
23 And Samuel said to the cook: Bring the portion which I gave thee, and commanded thee to set it apart by thee.
24 And the cook took up the shoulder, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said: Behold what is left, set it before thee, and eat; because it was kept of purpose for thee, when I invited the people. And Saul ate with Samuel that day.
25 And they went down from the high place into the town, and he spoke with Saul upon the top of the house: and he prepared a bed for Saul on the top of the house, and he slept.
26 And when they were risen in the morning, and it began now to be light, Samuel called Saul on the top of the house, saying: Arise, that I may let thee go. And Saul arose: and they went out both of them: to wit, he and Samuel.
27 And as they were going down in the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul: Speak to the servant to go before us, and pass on: but stand thou still a while, that I may tell thee the word of the Lord.
1: Year of the World 2909, Year before Christ 1095.
15: Acts xiii. 21.