Poole on 1 Samuel 10:3, 4: Saul's Second Sign

Verse 3:[1] 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 (Gen. 28:22; 35:1, 3, 7) to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine…


[And when thou hast departed thence, etc., וְחָלַפְתָּ֙ מִשָּׁ֜ם וָהָ֗לְאָה וּבָ֙אתָ֙] And thou shalt depart thence and come farther, etc. (Septuagint). Advancing thence onward, thou shalt come, etc. (Pagnine). And when thou hast departed thence, and proceeded farther, and come, etc. (Vatablus).


[Unto the oak of Tabor[2] (thus the Septuagint)] Unto the oak (Tigurinus); unto the terebinth (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); unto Elon Tabor[3] (Montanus); unto the plain of Tabor (Jonathan, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). A plain at the foot of mount Tabor. See Judges 4:6 (Piscator, Tostatus in Lapide). [Others otherwise:] Tabor in this passage is not the name of the mountain (for that is in the tribe of Zebulun); but either of the man that was the Owner of that oak, or of the place in which the oak was situated (Menochius out of Sanchez).


To the plain of Tabor; not that at the foot of Mount Tabor, which was far from these parts; but another belonging to some other place, or man, called Tabor.


[To God to Beth-el] It is difficult to determine what this Beth-el was. Response 1: Beth-el is able to be an appellative name, signifying whatever place dedicated to the worship of God (Mendoza). Therefore, Beth-el here is the city of Jearim, where the Ark was at that time (thus Piscator and Malvenda out of Junius). Response 2: This Beth-el was in Ephraim, which was previously called Luz, Genesis 28:19 (Mendoza, thus Munster, Vatablus, Menochius, Lapide, Sanchez). Since at that time the Tabernacle was without the Ark, and the Ark in a place not its own, it was lawful, as we said, to sacrifice in other places (Sanchez, Lapide), in the high places (Munster). Indeed, even privately (Vatablus). Now, Beth-el was already reckoned as a religious site from the time of Jacob (Menochius, similarly Lapide, Sanchez). As if in that vision of God, Genesis 28, it was consecrated a place of prayer, and also of sacrifice. For this reason, Jeroboam also placed the golden calf in Beth-el[4] (Lapide). Those men were going to sacrifice at Beth-el (Martyr).


Beth-el; properly so called, which was in Ephraim, where there was a noted high place, famous for Jacob’s vision there, Genesis 28:19, where it is probable they offered sacrifices in this confused state of things, when the ark was in one place, and the tabernacle, if not destroyed, in another. Or, to the house of God, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, where the ark, the habitation of God, now was, 1 Samuel 7:1, 2, 16.


[Three kids] These were able to be offered as sacrifices of whatever sort, Leviticus 1:10; 3:12; 4:23 (Mendoza).


[Three round loaves of bread, כִּכְּרוֹת[5]] Others: enlongated (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). These are larger than חַלּוֹת/cakes (Drusius). Three vessels of bread (Septuagint). Loaves were able to be offered, either by themselves alone, as in Leviticus 2:4, or together with peace offerings: Wine as a libation, as in Numbers 15:5 (Mendoza out of Lyra and Cajetan and Josephus).


Loaves of bread might be offered, either by themselves, as Leviticus 2:4, or with other sacrifices. A bottle of wine; which was poured forth in drink-offerings. See Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5.


Verse 4:[6] And they will salute thee (Heb. ask thee of peace:[7] as Judg. 18:15[8]), and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.


[And when they have saluted thee] The former salute Saul, either because they were already acknowledging Saul as more noble than themselves: or so that by an anticipatory show of allegiance they might foresignify that he is to be declared King a little afterwards (Mendoza).


[וְשָׁאֲל֥וּ לְךָ֖ לְשָׁל֑וֹם] And they will salue thee with peace (Pagnine, Vatablus), that is, they will say to thee greetings (Vatablus). They will ask thee of peace (Drusius out of Jonathan).


[They will give to thee loaves, and thou shalt receive, etc.] Question: How would they give them to him, if they would offer them for sacrifice? Responses: 1. As Abimelech gave bread, even hallowed bread, to needy David, 1 Samuel 21:6; so loaves set apart for sacrifice were well able to be bestowed upon indigent Saul (Mendoza). When they saw Saul, exhausted with the labor of his journey, and consumed with hunger, they gave the loaves to him (Martyr). Samuel had sent Saul away without any provision for the journey, lest he should appear to solicit the favor of the King by the bestowed gifts; and because he had foreseen that he was going to receive the necessary provisions from these men (Mendoza). 2. Perhaps they were thinking that bread would be for sale in Beth-el (Martyr). 3. They were having more loaves for their own use: but the cakes were intended for sacrifice (Kimchi in Martyr). Moreover, when Saul ate those loaves, he not only refreshed his body, but he ate them as a sacrament of his kingdom (Martyr).


[And thou shalt receive] Both to relieve want, and to humble royal arrogance, and so that, having been treated after the manner of the poor, he might afterwards be liberal unto the poor (Mendoza).


Two loaves of bread; two of those three designed for sacrifice, supposing they could easily procure a supply of other loaves at Beth-el. But the more strange the present was, the more fit it was for a sign of God’s extraordinary providence in Saul’s affairs.

[1] Hebrew: וְחָלַפְתָּ֙ מִשָּׁ֜ם וָהָ֗לְאָה וּבָ֙אתָ֙ עַד־אֵל֣וֹן תָּב֔וֹר וּמְצָא֤וּךָ שָּׁם֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים עֹלִ֥ים אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל אֶחָ֞ד נֹשֵׂ֣א׀ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה גְדָיִ֗ים וְאֶחָד֙ נֹשֵׂ֗א שְׁלֹ֙שֶׁת֙ כִּכְּר֣וֹת לֶ֔חֶם וְאֶחָ֥ד נֹשֵׂ֖א נֵֽבֶל־יָֽיִן׃ [2] Hebrew: עַד־אֵל֣וֹן תָּב֔וֹר. [3] This is a transliteration of אֵל֣וֹן תָּב֔וֹר. [4] See 1 Kings 12:28, 29. [5]כִּכָּר signifies a round thing. [6] Hebrew: וְשָׁאֲל֥וּ לְךָ֖ לְשָׁל֑וֹם וְנָתְנ֤וּ לְךָ֙ שְׁתֵּי־לֶ֔חֶם וְלָקַחְתָּ֖ מִיָּדָֽם׃ [7] Hebrew: וְשָׁאֲל֥וּ לְךָ֖ לְשָׁל֑וֹם. [8] Judges 18:15: “And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him (וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ־ל֖וֹ לְשָׁלֽוֹם׃).”

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