Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?Samuel then took the oil-flask, poured it upon his (Saul's) head, kissed him, and said, "Hath not Jehovah (equivalent to 'Jehovah assuredly hath') anointed thee to be captain over His inheritance?" הלוא, as an expression of lively assurance, receives the force of an independent clause through the following כּי, "is it not so?" i.e., "yea, it is so, that," etc., just as it does before אם in Genesis 4:7. נחלתו, (His (Jehovah's) possession, was the nation of Israel, which Jehovah had acquired as the people of His own possession through their deliverance out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26, etc.). Anointing with oil as a symbol of endowment with the Spirit of God; as the oil itself, by virtue of the strength which it gives to the vital spirits, was a symbol of the Spirit of God as the principle of divine and spiritual power (see at Leviticus 8:12). Hitherto there had been no other anointing among the people of God than that of the priests and sanctuary (Exodus 30:23.; Leviticus 8:10.). When Saul, therefore, was consecrated as king by anointing, the monarchy was inaugurated as a divine institution, standing on a par with the priesthood; through which henceforth the Lord would also bestow upon His people the gifts of His Spirit for the building up of His kingdom. As the priests were consecrated by anointing to be the media of the ethical blessings of divine grace for Israel, so the king was consecrated by anointing to be the vehicle and medium of all the blessings of grace which the Lord, as the God-king, would confer upon His people through the institution of a civil government. Through this anointing, which was performed by Samuel under the direction of God, the king was set apart from the rest of the nation as "anointed of the Lord" (cf. 1 Samuel 12:3, 1 Samuel 12:5, etc.), and sanctified as the נגיד, i.e., its captain, its leader and commander. Kissing was probably not a sign of homage or reverence towards the anointed of the Lord, so much as "a kiss of affection, with which the grace of God itself was sealed" (Seb. Schmidt).
(Note: The lxx and Vulgate have expanded the second half of this verse by a considerable addition, which reads as follows in the lxx: οὐχὶ κέχρικέ σε κύριος εἰς ἄρχοντα ἐπὶ τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰσραήλ καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις ἐν λαῷ κυρίου, καὶ σὺ σώσεις αὐτὸν ἐκ χειρὸς ἐχθρῶν αὐτοῦ κυκλόθεν, καὶ τοῦτό σοι τὸ σημεῖον ὅτι ἔχρισέ σε κύριος ἐπὶ κληρονομίαν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἄρχοντα. And in the Vulgate: Ecce, unxit te Dominus super haereditatem suam in principem, et liberabis populum suum de manibus inimicorum ejus, qui in circuitu ejus sunt. Et hoc tibi signum, quia unxit te Deus in principem. A comparison of these two texts will show that the lxx interpolated their addition between הלוא and כּי, as the last clause, ὅτι ἔχρισέ σε κύριος ἐπὶ κληρονομίαν αυτοῦ εἰς ἄρχοντα, is a verbal translation of יהוה משׁחך כּי לנגיד על־נחלתו. In the Vulgate, on the other hand, the first clause, ecce unxit - in principem, corresponds word for word with the Hebrew text, from which we may see that Jerome translated our present Hebrew text; and the addition, et liberabis, etc., was interpolated into the Vulgate from the Itala. The text of the Septuagint is nothing more than a gloss formed from 1 Samuel 9:16-17, which the translator thought necessary, partly because he could not clearly see the force of כּי הלוא, but more especially because he could not explain the fact that Samuel speaks to Saul of signs, without having announced them to him as such. But the author of the gloss has overlooked the fact that Samuel does not give Saul a σημεῖον, but three σημεῖα, and describes the object of them in 1 Samuel 10:7 as being the following, namely, that Saul would learn when they took place what he had to do, for Jehovah was with him, and not that they would prove that the Lord had anointed him to be captain.)
When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?To confirm the consecration of Saul as king over Israel, which had been effected through the anointing, Samuel gave him three more signs which would occur on his journey home, and would be a pledge to him that Jehovah would accompany his undertakings with His divine help, and practically accredit him as His anointed. These signs, therefore, stand in the closest relation to the calling conveyed to Saul through his anointing.
The first sign: "When thou goest away from me to-day (i.e., now), thou wilst meet two men at Rachel's sepulchre, on the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses of thy father, which thou wentest to seek, are found. Behold, they father hath given up העתנות את־דּברי, the words (i.e., talking) about the asses, and troubleth himself about you, saying, What shall I do about my son?" According to Genesis 35:16., Rachel's sepulchre was on the way from Bethel to Bethlehem, only a short distance from the latter place, and therefore undoubtedly on the spot which tradition has assigned to it since the time of Jerome, viz., on the site of the Kubbet Rahil, half an hour to the north-west of Bethlehem, on the left of the road to Jerusalem, about an hour and a half from the city (see at Genesis 35:20). This suits the passage before us very well, if we give up the groundless assumption that Saul came to Samuel at Ramah and was anointed by him there, and assume that the place of meeting, which is not more fully defined in 1 Samuel 9, was situated to the south-west of Bethlehem.
(Note: As the account of Saul's meeting with Samuel, in 1 Samuel 9, when properly understood, is not at variance with the tradition concerning the situation of Rachel's tomb, and the passage before us neither requires us on the one had to understand the Ephratah of Genesis 35:19 and Genesis 48:7 as a different place from Bethlehem, and erase "that is Bethlehem" from both passages as a gloss that has crept into the text, and then invent an Ephratah in the neighbourhood of Bethel between Benjamin and Ephraim, as Thenius does, nor warrants us on the other hand in transferring Rachel's tomb to the neighbourhood of Bethel, in opposition to the ordinary tradition, as Kurtz proposes; so the words of Jeremiah 31:15, "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children," etc., furnish no evident that Rachel's tomb was at Ramah (i.e., er Rm). "For here (in the cycle of prophecy concerning the restoration of all Israel, Jeremiah 30-33) Rachel's weeping is occasioned by the fact of the exiles of Benjamin having assembled together in Ramah (Jeremiah 40:1), without there being any reason why Rachel's tomb should be sought for in the neighbourhood of this Ramah" (Delitzsch on Genesis 35:20).)
The expression "in the border of Benjamin" is not at variance with this. It is true that Kubbet Rahil is about an hour and a quarter from the southern boundary of Benjamin, which ran past the Rogel spring, through the valley of Ben-hinnom (Joshua 18:16); but the expression קבוּרה עם must not be so pressed as to be restricted to the actual site of the grave, since otherwise the further definition "at Zelzah" would be superfluous, as Rachel's tomb was unquestionably a well-known locality at that time. If we suppose the place called Zelzah, the situation of which has not yet been discovered,
(Note: Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 29) supposes Zelzah to be unsuitable to the context, if taken as the name of a place, and therefore follows the ἁλλομένους μεγάλα of the lxx, and renders the word "in great haste;" but he has neither given any reason why the name of a place is unsuitable here, nor considered that the Septuagint rendering is merely conjectural, and has nothing further to support it than the fact that the translators rendered צלח ἐφήλατο, "he sprang upon him," in 1 Samuel 10:6 and 1 Samuel 11:6, and took צלצח to be an emphatic form of צלח.)
to have been about mid-way between Rachel's tomb and the Rogel spring, Samuel could very well describe the spot where Saul would meet the two men in the way that he has done. This sign, by confirming the information which Samuel had given to Saul with reference to the asses, was to furnish him with a practical proof that what Samuel had said to him with regard to the monarchy would quite as certainly come to pass, and therefore not only to deliver him from all anxiety as to the lost animals of his father, but also to direct his thoughts to the higher destiny to which God had called him through Samuel's anointing.
Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:The second sign (1 Samuel 10:3, 1 Samuel 10:4): "Then thou shalt go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the terebinth of Tabor; and there shall meet thee there three men going up to God to Bethel, carrying one three kinds, one three loaves of bread, and one a bottle of wine. They will ask thee after thy welfare, and give thee two loaves; receive them at their hands." The terebinth of Tabor is not mentioned anywhere else, and nothing further can be determined concerning it, than that it stood by the road leading from Rachel's tomb to Gibeah.
(Note: The opinion expressed by Ewald and Thenius, that Deborah's mourning oak (Genesis 35:8) is intended, and that Tabor is either a different form of Deborah, or that Tabor should be altered into Deborah, has no foundation to rest upon; for the fact that the oak referred to stood below (i.e., to the south of) Bethel, and the three men whom Saul was to meet at the terebinth of Tabor were going to Bethel, by no means establishes the identity of the two, as their going up to Bethel does not prove that they were already in the neighbourhood of Bethel. Moreover, the Deborah oak was on the north of Gibeah, whereas Saul met the three men between Rachel's tomb and Gibeah, i.e., to the south of Gibeah.)
The fact that the three men were going up to God at Bethel, shows that there was still a place of sacrifice consecrated to the Lord at Bethel, where Abraham and Jacob had erected altars to the Lord who had appeared to them there (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3-4; Genesis 28:18-19; Genesis 35:7); for the kids and loaves and wine were sacrificial gifts which they were about to offer. לשׁלום שׁאל, to ask after one's welfare, i.e., to greet in a friendly manner (cf. Judges 18:15; Genesis 43:27). The meaning of this double sign consisted in the fact that these men gave Saul two loaves from their sacrificial offerings. In this he was to discern a homage paid to the anointed of the Lord; and he was therefore to accept the gift in this sense at their hand.
And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:The third sign (1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Samuel 10:6) Saul was to receive at Gibeah of God, where posts of the Philistines were stationed. Gibeath ha-Elohim is not an appellative, signifying a high place of God, i.e., a high place dedicated to God, but a proper name referring to Gibeah of Benjamin, the native place of Saul, which was called Gibeah of Saul from the time when Saul resided there as king (1 Samuel 10:16 : cf. 1 Samuel 11:4; 1 Samuel 15:34; 2 Samuel 21:6; Isaiah 10:29). This is very apparent from the fact that, according to 1 Samuel 10:10., all the people of Gibeah had known Saul of old, and therefore could not comprehend how he had all at once come to be among the prophets. The name Gibeah of God is here given to the town on account of a bamah or sacrificial height which rose within or near the town (1 Samuel 10:13), and which may possibly have been renowned above other such heights, as the seat of a society of prophets. פלשׁתּים נצבי are not bailiffs of the Philistines, still less columns erected as signs of their supremacy (Thenius), but military posts of the Philistines, as 1 Samuel 13:3-4, and 2 Samuel 8:6, 2 Samuel 8:14, clearly show. The allusion here to the posts of the Philistines at Gibeah is connected with what was about to happen to Saul there. At the place where the Philistines, those severe oppressors of Israel, had set up military posts, the Spirit of God was to come upon Saul, and endow him with the divine power that was required for his regal office. "And it shall come to pass, when thou comest to the town there, thou wilt light upon a company of prophets coming down from the high place (bamah, the sacrificial height), before them lyre and tambourin, and flute, and harp, and they prophesying." חבל signifies a rope or cord, then a band or company of men. It does not follow that because this band of prophets was coming down from the high place, the high place at Gibeah must have been the seat of a school of the prophets. They might have been upon a pilgrimage to Gibeah. The fact that they were preceded by musicians playing, seems to indicate a festal procession. Nebel and Kinnor are stringed instruments which were used after David's time in connection with the psalmody of divine worship (1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:20; Psalm 33:2; Psalm 43:4, etc.). The nebel was an instrument resembling a lyre, the kinnor was more like a guitar than a harp. Toph: the tambourin, which was played by Miriam at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20). Chalil: the flute; see my Bibl. Archaeology, ii. 137. By the prophesying of these prophets we are to understand an ecstatic utterance of religious feelings to the praise of God, as in the case of the seventy elders in the time of Moses (Numbers 11:25). Whether it took the form of a song or of an enthusiastic discourse, cannot be determined; in any case it was connected with a very energetic action indicative of the highest state of mental excitement. (For further remarks on these societies of prophets, see at 1 Samuel 19:18.)
And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."And the Spirit of Jehovah will come upon thee, and thou wilt prophesy with them, and be changed into another man." "Ecstatic states," says Tholuck (die Propheten, p. 53), "have something infectious about them. The excitement spreads involuntarily, as in the American revivals and the preaching mania in Sweden, even to persons in whose state of mind there is no affinity with anything of the kind." But in the instance before us there was something more than psychical infection. The Spirit of Jehovah, which manifested itself in the prophesying of the prophets, was to pass over to Saul, so that he would prophesy along with them (התנבּית formed like a verb הל for התנבאת; so again in 1 Samuel 10:13), and was entirely to transform him. This transformation is not to be regarded indeed as regeneration in the Christian sense, but as a change resembling regeneration, which affected the entire disposition of mind, and by which Saul was lifted out of his former modes of thought and feeling, which were confined within a narrow earthly sphere, into the far higher sphere of his new royal calling, was filled with kingly thoughts in relation to the service of God, and received "another heart" (1 Samuel 10:9). Heart is used in the ordinary scriptural sense, as the centre of the whole mental and psychical life of will, desire, thought, perception, and feeling (see Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychol. pp. 248ff., ed. 2). Through this sign his anointing as king was to be inwardly sealed.
And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee."When these signs are come unto thee (the Kethibh תבאינה is to be read תּבאינה, as in Psalm 45:16 and Esther 4:4; and the Keri תּבאנה is a needless emendation), do to thee what thy hand findeth, i.e., act according to the circumstances (for this formula, see Judges 9:33); for God will be with thee." The occurrence of the signs mentioned was to assure him of the certainty that God would assist him in all that he undertook as king. The first opportunity for action was afforded him by the Ammonite Nahash, who besieged Jabesh-gilead (1 Samuel 11:1-15).
And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.In conclusion, Samuel gave him an important hint with regard to his future attitude: "And goest thou before me down to Gilgal; and, behold, I am coming down to thee, to offer burnt-offerings, and to sacrifice peace-offerings: thou shalt wait seven days, till I come to thee, that I may show thee what thou art to do." The infinitive clause וגו להעלות is undoubtedly dependent upon the main clause וירדתּ, and not upon the circumstantial clause which is introduced as a parenthesis. The thought therefore is the following: If Saul went down to Gilgal to offer sacrifice there, he was to wait till Samuel arrived. The construction of the main clause itself, however, is doubtful, since, grammatically considered, ירדתּ can either be a continuation of the imperative עשׂה (1 Samuel 10:7), or can be regarded as independent, and in fact conditional. The latter view, according to which ירדתּ supposes his going down as a possible thing that may take place at a future time, is the one required by the circumstantial clause which follows, and which is introduced by והנּה; for if וירדתּ were intended to be a continuation of the imperative which precedes it, so that Samuel commanded Saul to go down to Gilgal before him, he would have simply announced his coming, that is to say, he would either have said וירדתּי or ארד ואני. The circumstantial clause "and behold I am coming down to thee" evidently presupposes Saul's going down as a possible occurrence, in the event of which Samuel prescribes the course he is to pursue. But the conditional interpretation of וירדתּ is still more decidedly required by the context. For instance, when Samuel said to Saul that after the occurrence of the three signs he was to do what came to his hand, he could hardly command him immediately afterwards to go to Gilgal, since the performance of what came to his hand might prevent him from going to Gilgal. If, however, Samuel meant that after Saul had finished what came to his hand he was to go down to Gilgal, he would have said, "And after thou hast done this, go down to Gilgal," etc. But as he does not express himself in this manner, he can only have referred to Saul's going to Gilgal as an occurrence which, as he foresaw, would take place at some time or other. And to Saul himself this must not only have presented itself as a possible occurrence, but under the existing circumstances as one that was sure to take place; so that the whole thing was not so obscure to him as it is to us, who are only able to form our conclusions from the brief account which lies before us. If we suppose that in the conversation which Samuel had with Saul upon the roof (1 Samuel 9:25), he also spoke about the manner in which the Philistines, who had pushed their outposts as far as Gibeah, could be successfully attacked, he might also have mentioned that Gilgal was the most suitable place for gathering an army together, and for making the necessary preparations for a successful engagement with their foes. If we just glance at the events narrated in the following chapters, for the purpose of getting a clear idea of the thing which Samuel had in view; we find that the three signs announced by Samuel took place on Saul's return to Gibeah (1 Samuel 10:9-16). Samuel then summoned the people to Mizpeh, where Saul was elected king by lot (1 Samuel 10:17-27); but Saul returned to Gibeah to his own house even after this solemn election, and was engaged in ploughing the field, when messengers came from Jabesh with the account of the siege of that town by the Ammonites. On receiving this intelligence the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, so that he summoned the whole nation with energy and without delay to come to battle, and proceeded to Jabesh with the assembled army, and smote the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-11). Thereupon Samuel summoned the people to come to Gilgal and renew the monarchy there (1 Samuel 11:12-15); and at the same time he renewed his office of supreme judge (1 Samuel 12), so that now for the first time Saul actually commenced his reign, and began the war against the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:1), in which, as soon as the latter advanced to Michmash with a powerful army after Jonathan's victorious engagement, he summoned the people to Gilgal to battle, and after waiting there seven days for Samuel in vain, had the sacrifices offered, on which account as soon as Samuel arrived he announced to him that his rule would not last (1 Samuel 13:13.).
Now, it cannot have been the first of these two gatherings at Gilgal that Samuel had in his mind, but must have been the second. The first is precluded by the simple fact that Samuel summoned the people to go to Gilgal for the purpose of renewing the monarchy; and therefore, as the words "come and let us go to Gilgal" (1 Samuel 11:14) unquestionably imply, he must have gone thither himself along with the people and the king, so that Saul was never in a position to have to wait for Samuel's arrival. The second occurrence at Gilgal, on the other hand, is clearly indicated in the words of 1 Samuel 13:8, "Saul tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed," in which there is almost an express allusion to the instructions given to Saul in the verse before us. But whilst we cannot but regard this as the only true explanation, we cannot agree with Seb. Schmidt, who looks upon the instructions given to Saul in this verse as "a rule to be observed throughout the whole of Samuel's life," that is to say, who interprets ירדתּ in the sense of "as often as thou goest down to Gilgal." For this view cannot be grammatically sustained, although it is founded upon the correct idea, that Samuel's instructions cannot have been intended as a solitary and arbitrary command, by which Saul was to be kept in a condition of dependence. According to our explanation, however, this is not the case; but there was an inward necessity for them, so far as the government of Saul was concerned. Placed as he was by Jehovah as king over His people, for the purpose of rescuing them out of the power of those who were at that time its most dangerous foes, Saul was not at liberty to enter upon the war against these foes simply by his own will, but was directed to wait till Samuel, the accredited prophet of Jehovah, had completed the consecration through the offering of a solemn sacrifice, and had communicated to him the requisite instructions from God, even though he should have to wait for seven days.
(Note: The difficulty in question has been solved on the whole quite correctly by Brentius. "It is not to be supposed," he says, "that Samuel was directing Saul to go at once to Gilgal as soon as he should go away from him, and wait there for seven days; but that he was to do this after he had been chosen king by public lot, and having conquered the Ammonites and been confirmed in the kingdom, was about to prepare to make war upon the Philistines, on whose account chiefly it was that he had been called to the kingdom. For the Lord had already spoken thus to Samuel concerning Saul: 'He will save my people from the hands of the Philistines, because I have looked upon my people.' This is the meaning therefore of Samuel's command: Thou hast been called to the kingdom chiefly for this purpose, that thou mayest deliver Israel from the tyranny of the Philistines. When therefore thou shalt enter upon this work, go down into Gilgal and wait there seven days, until I shall come to thee: for thou shalt then offer a holocaust, though not before I come to thee, and I will show thee what must be done in order that our enemies the Philistines may be conquered. The account of this is given below in 1 Samuel 13, where we learn that Saul violated this command.")
And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.When Saul went away from Samuel, to return to Gibeah, "God changed to him another heart," - a pregnant expression for "God changed him, and gave him another heart" (see at 1 Samuel 10:6); and all these signs (the signs mentioned by Samuel) happened on that very day. As he left Samuel early in the morning, Saul could easily reach Gibeah in one day, even if the town where he had met with Samuel was situated to the south-west of Rachel's tomb, as the distance from that tomb to Gibeah was not more than three and a half or four hours.
And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.The third sign is the only one which is minutely described, because this caused a great sensation at Gibeah, Saul's home. "And they (Saul and his attendant) came thither to Gibeah." "Thither" points back to "thither to the city" in 1 Samuel 10:5, and is defined by the further expression "to Gibeah" (Eng. version, "to the hill:" Tr.). The rendering ἔκειθεν (lxx) does not warrant us in changing שׁם into משּׁם; for the latter would be quite superfluous, as it was self-evident that they came to Gibeah from the place where they had been in the company of Samuel.
And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?When those who had known Saul of old saw that he prophesied with the prophets, the people said one to another, "What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" This expression presupposes that Saul's previous life was altogether different from that of the disciples of the prophets.
And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?And one from thence (i.e., from Gibeah, or from the crowd that was gathered round the prophets) answered, "And who is their father?" i.e., not "who is their president?" which would be a very gratuitous question; but, "is their father a prophet then?" i.e., according to the explanation given by Oehler (Herzog's Real. Enc. xii. p. 216), "have they the prophetic spirit by virtue of their birth?" Understood in this way, the retort forms a very appropriate "answer" to the expression of surprise and the inquiry, how it came to pass that Saul was among the prophets. If those prophets had not obtained the gift of prophecy by inheritance, but as a free gift of the Lord, it was equally possible for the Lord to communicate the same gift to Saul. On the other hand, the alteration of the text from אביהם (their father) into אביהוּ (his father), according to the lxx, Vulg., Syr., and Arab., which is favoured by Ewald, Thenius, and others, must be rejected, for the simple reason that the question, Who is his father? in the mouth of one of the inhabitants of Gibeah, to whom Saul's father was so well known that they called Saul the son of Kish at once, would have no sense whatever. From this the proverb arose, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" - a proverb which was used to express astonishment at the appearance of any man in a sphere of life which had hitherto been altogether strange to him.
And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.When Saul had left off prophesying, and came to Bamah, his uncle asked him and his attendant where they had been; and Saul told him, that as they had not found the asses anywhere, they had gone to Samuel, and had learned from him that the asses were found. But he did not relate the words which had been spoken by Samuel concerning the monarchy, from unambitious humility (cf. 1 Samuel 10:22, 1 Samuel 10:23) and not because he was afraid of unbelief and envy, as Thenius follows Josephus in supposing. From the expression "he came to Bamah" (Eng. ver. "to the high place"), we must conclude, that not only Saul's uncle, but his father also, lived in Bamah, as we find Saul immediately afterwards in his own family circle (see 1 Samuel 10:14.).
And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
And Saul's uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.
And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;Saul's Election by Lot. - After Samuel had secretly anointed Saul king by the command of God, it was his duty to make provision for a recognition of the man whom God had chosen on the part of the people also. To this end he summoned the people to Mizpeh, and there instructed the tribes to choose a king by lot. As the result of the lot was regarded as a divine decision, not only was Saul to be accredited by this act in the sight of the whole nation as the king appointed by the Lord, but he himself was also to be more fully assured of the certainty of his own election on the part of God. -
(Note: Thenius follows De Wette, and adduces the incompatibility of 1 Samuel 8 and 1 Samuel 10:17-27 with 1 Samuel 9:1-10, 1 Samuel 9:16, as a proof that in 1 Samuel 10:17-27 we have a different account of the manner in which Saul became king from that given in 1 Samuel 9:1-10, 1 Samuel 9:16, and one which continues the account in 1 Samuel 8:22. "It is thoroughly inconceivable," he says, "that Samuel should have first of all anointed Saul king by the instigation of God, and then have caused the lot to be cast, as it were, for the sake of further confirmation; for in that case either the prophet would have tempted God, or he would have made Him chargeable before the nation with an unworthy act of jugglery." Such an argument as this could only be used by critics who deny not only the inspiration of the prophets, but all influence on the part of the living God upon the free action of men, and cannot therefore render the truth of the biblical history at all doubtful. Even Ewald sees no discrepancy here, and observes in his history (Gesch. iii. p. 32): "If we bear in mind the ordinary use made of the sacred lot at that time, we shall find that there is nothing but the simple truth in the whole course of the narrative. The secret meeting of the seer with Saul was not sufficient to secure a complete and satisfactory recognition of him as king; it was also necessary that the Spirit of Jehovah should single him out publicly in a solemn assembly of the nation, and point him out as the man of Jehovah.")
העם is the nation in its heads and representatives. Samuel selected Mizpeh for this purpose, because it was there that he had once before obtained for the people, by prayer, a great victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:5.).
And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:"But before proceeding to the election itself, Samuel once more charged the people with their sin in rejecting God, who had brought them out of Egypt, and delivered them out of the hand of all their oppressors, by their demand for a king, that he might show them how dangerous was the way which they were taking now, and how bitterly they would perhaps repent of what they had now desired" (O. v. Gerlach; see the commentary on 1 Samuel 8). The masculine הלּחצים is construed ad sensum with המּמלכות. In לו ותּאמרוּ the early translators have taken לו for לא, which is the actual reading in some of the Codices. But although this reading is decidedly favoured by the parallel passages, 1 Samuel 8:19; 1 Samuel 12:12, it is not necessary; since כּי is used to introduce a direct statement, even in a declaration of the opposite, in the sense of our "no but" (e.g., in Ruth 1:10, where להּ precedes). There is, therefore, no reason for exchanging לו for לא.
And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.
And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.After this warning, Samuel directed the assembled Israelites to come before Jehovah (i.e., before the altar of Jehovah which stood at Mizpeh, according to 1 Samuel 7:9) according to their tribes and families (alaphim: see at Numbers 1:16); "and there was taken (by lot) the tribe of Benjamin." הלּכד, lit. to be snatched out by Jehovah, namely, through the lot (see Joshua 7:14, Joshua 7:16). He then directed the tribe of Benjamin to draw near according to its families, i.e., he directed the heads of the families of this tribe to come before the altar of the Lord and draw lots; and the family of Matri was taken. Lastly, when the heads of the households in this family came, and after that the different individuals in the household which had been taken, the lot fell upon Saul the son of Kish. In the words, "Saul the son of Kish was taken," the historian proceeds at once to the final result of the casting of the lots, without describing the intermediate steps any further.
(Note: It is true the Septuagint introduces the words καὶ προσάγουσι τὴν φυλὴν Ματταρὶ εἰς ἄνδρας before ויּלּכד, and this clause is also found in a very recent Hebrew MS (viz., 451 in Kennicott's dissert. gener. p. 491). But it is very evident that these words did not form an integral part of the original text, as Thenius supposes, but were nothing more than an interpolation of the Sept. translators, from the simple fact that they do not fill up the supposed gap at all completely, but only in a very partial and in fact a very mistaken manner; for the family of Matri could not come to the lot εἰς ἄνδρας (man by man), but only κατ ̓ οἴκους (by households: Joshua 7:14). Before the household (beth-aboth, father's house) of Saul could be taken, it was necessary that the גּברים (ἄνδρες), i.e., the different heads of households, should be brought; and it was not till then that Kish, or his son Saul, could be singled out as the appointed of the Lord. Neither the author of the gloss in the lxx, nor the modern defender of the gloss, has thought of this.)
When the lot fell upon Saul, they sought him, and he could not be found.
When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.Then they inquired of Jehovah, "Is any one else come hither?" and Jehovah replied, "Behold, he (whom ye are seeking) is hidden among the things." The inquiry was made through the high priest, by means of the Urim and Thummim, for which בּיהוה שׁאל was the technical expression, according to Numbers 27:21 (see Judges 20:27-28; Judges 1:1, etc.). There can be no doubt, that in a gathering of the people for so important a purpose as the election of a king, the high priest would also be present, even though this is not expressly stated. Samuel presided over the meeting as the prophet of the Lord. The answer given by God, "Behold, he is hidden," etc., appears to have no relation to the question, "Is any one else come?" The Sept. and Vulg. have therefore altered the question into ει ̓ ἔτι ἔρχεται ὁ ἀνήρ, utrumnam venturus esset; and Thenius would adopt this as an emendation. But he is wrong in doing so; for there was no necessity to ask whether Saul would still come: they might at once have sent to fetch him. What they asked was rather, whether any one else had come besides those who were present, as Saul was not to be found among them, that they might know where they were to look for Saul, whether at home or anywhere else. And to this question God gave the answer, "He is present, only hidden among the things." By כּלים (the things or vessels, Eng. ver. the stuff) we are to understand the travelling baggage of the people who had assembled at Mizpeh. Saul could neither have wished to avoid accepting the monarchy, nor have imagined that the lot would not fall upon him if he hid himself. For he knew that God had chosen him; and Samuel had anointed him already. He did it therefore simply from humility and modesty. "In order that he might not appear to have either the hope or desire for anything of the kind, he preferred to be absent when the lots were cast" (Seb. Schmidt).
And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.He was speedily fetched, and brought into the midst of the (assembled) people; and when he came, he was a head taller than all the people (see 1 Samuel 9:2). And Samuel said to all the people, "Behold ye whom the Lord hath chosen! for there is none like him in all the nation." Then all the people shouted aloud, and cried, "Let the king live!" Saul's bodily stature won the favour of the people (see the remarks on 1 Samuel 9:2).
Samuel then communicated to the people the right of the monarchy, and laid it down before Jehovah. "The right of the monarchy" (meluchah) is not to be identified with the right of the king (melech), which is described in 1 Samuel 8:11 and sets forth the right or prerogative which a despotic king would assume over the people; but it is the right which regulated the attitude of the earthly monarchy in the theocracy, and determined the duties and rights of the human king in relation to Jehovah the divine King on the one hand, and to the nation on the other. This right could only be laid down by a prophet like Samuel, to raise a wholesome barrier at the very outset against all excesses on the part of the king. Samuel therefore wrote it in a document which was laid down before Jehovah, i.e., in the sanctuary of Jehovah; though certainly not in the sanctuary at Bamah in Gibeah, as Thenius supposes, for nothing is known respecting any such sanctuary. It was no doubt placed in the tabernacle, where the law of Moses was also deposited, by the side of the fundamental law of the divine state in Israel. When the business was all completed, Samuel sent the people away to their own home.
And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.Saul also returned to his house at Gibeah, and there went with him the crowd of the men whose hearts God had touched, sc., to give him a royal escort, and show their readiness to serve him. החיל is not to be altered into החיל בּני, according to the free rendering of the lxx, but is used as in Exodus 14:28; with this difference, however, that here it does not signify a large military force, but a crowd of brave men, who formed Saul's escort of honour.
But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.But as it generally happens that, where a person is suddenly lifted up to exalted honours or office, there are sure to be envious people found, so was it here: there were בליּעל בּני, worthless people, even among the assembled Israelites, who spoke disparagingly of Saul, saying, "How will this man help us?" and who brought him no present. Minchah: the present which from time immemorial every one has been expected to bring when entering the presence of the king; so that the refusal to bring a present was almost equivalent to rebellion. But Saul was "as being deaf," i.e., he acted as if he had not heard. The objection which Thenius brings against this view, viz., that in that case it would read כם היה והוּא, exhibits a want of acquaintance with the Hebrew construction of a sentence. There is no more reason for touching ויהי than ויּלכוּ in 1 Samuel 10:26. In both cases the apodosis is attached to the protasis, which precedes it in the form of a circumstantial clause, by the imperfect, with vav consec. According to the genius of our language, these protases would be expressed by the conjunction when, viz.: "when Saul also went home, ... there went with him," etc.; and "when loose (or idle) people said, etc., he was as deaf."