Poole on 1 Samuel 10:5, 6: Saul's Third Sign

Verse 5:[1] After that thou shalt come to (1 Sam. 10:10) the hill of God, (1 Sam. 13:3) 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 (1 Sam. 9:12) from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; (Ex. 15:20, 21; 2 Kings 3:15; 1 Cor. 14:1) and they shall prophesy…


[After these things thou shalt come to the hill of God[2] (thus the Septuagint, Syriac, Pagnine, Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus)] Question: What then is this place? Responses: 1. To the hill of the city of Kirjath-jearim, where the Ark of God is at this time (Vatablus, Hebrews in Munster). To the hill on which the Ark of God is (Jonathan). This does not satisfy; for Saul had already departed the borders of Judah, and was in the tribe of Benjamin (Lapide). 2. Others understand Gibeah of Benjamin, which was the hometown of Saul (thus Lapide out of Tostatus, Menochius, Sanchez, Mendoza). For this sign occurs, 1. At the end of his journey; 2. among those that well know Saul and his father; 3. Where a garrison of the Philistines is. But this was in Geba, 1 Samuel 13:3 (Mendoza). The hill of God; that is, a more elevated part of Gibeah, where is a high place, or Synagogue, a place dedicated to sacred worship: it is, therefore, called the hill of God. For hills were commonly used for this matter (Piscator out of Junius). 3. To others the hill of God is the highest hill; like the mountains of God,[3] the cedars of God[4] (Malvenda).


[Where is the outpost of the Philistines, אֲשֶׁר־שָׁ֖ם נְצִבֵ֣י וגו״[5]] In which are prefects (governors [Montanus], commanders [Jonathan], outposts [Tigurinus], soldiers of the outpost [Junius and Tremellius, Munster]) Philistines (Pagnine, Munster out of Kimchi). Thus David placed over Edom נְצִבִים/prefects, or men of outposts[6] (Drusius). Where is the garrison of the Philistines (Vatablus). In the conditions of peace recently entered upon by the Hebrews and Philistines, the cities were returned to the Hebrews in such a way that a garrison was left in Geba, and perhaps in other places also (Menochius out of Sanchez, similarly Drusius). The Philistines were better than many of the Christians now. For they were sparing those places in which men, given to divine studies, were living. See Concerning the Law of War and Peace 3:11:10 (Grotius).


To the hill of God; a hill near Geba, or Gibeah of Benjamin, where a garrison of Philistines was, 1 Samuel 13:3, called here the hill of God, because it was a place devoted to the service of God; either for sacrifice, this being a high place, as it here follows; or for a school or college of prophets. To the city, adjoining to that hill.


[A company of Prophets, חֶ֤בֶל נְבִיאִים֙[7]] A band (train [Syriac], chorus [Montanus, Septuagint], crowd [Junius and Tremellius]) of Prophets (Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus). Verbatim: a cord of Prophets (Piscator, Drusius), that is, a multitude of men proceeding in a long line. It is a Metaphor (Piscator, thus Waser’s[8] Concerning the Ancient Measurements of the Hebrews[9] 1:8). I translate it as cohort, just as σπεῖρα[10] is taken (Drusius). But who then are these Prophets? Response: There are several sorts of Prophets; or, if you prefer, several ministries. Those that foretell the future are properly called Prophets (Sanchez). But here the Prophets are those that are devoted to the sacred books; or the disciples of the Prophets, who painstakingly apply themselves to the law. See Numbers 11:25 (Vatablus out of the Chaldean, Munster, Martyr). Students, giving painstaking attention to Prophecy: some of which are called sons, that is, disciples, of the Prophets; others, simply Prophets (Junius, Piscator). The Prophets were wont to separate themselves from the multitude, and to educate the youth unto piety (Grotius). Genebrard[11] observes, The Chronicler[12] 1, out of Acts 3:24, that the time of the Prophets began from Samuel: not that there were no Prophets before him; but that he was the first to found colleges of the Prophets (Mendoza). Those that are free to wait upon the celebration of divine praises are here called Prophets (Sanchez, similarly Lapide, Mendoza, Serarius, Menochius, Tirinus, Tostatus, Cajetan in Serarius). The origin [of the title] appears to be, that by certain songs, as it were, the Prophets prophesied; and that all the songs in Scripture are Prophesies: which was also the case with the Sibyls; and with others, even by a demon in the oracles in the works of Herodotus: so that also χρησμολόγοι, those uttering oracles, and χρησμωδοὶ, those chanting oracles, and those, and the poets were called Prophets (Serarius). These Prophets were singing hymns and praises to God, both with their voices, and with musical instruments (Lapide). In Sacred Scripture, Singers are often called Prophets, as it is evident from 1 Chronicles 15:22, 24; 25:1. Now, certain colleges of these Prophets were set up; so that in those they might be trained for singing the praise of God (Menochius out of Sanchez), inasmuch as they were occupied in the musical and harmonic art. Concerning which see 1 Samuel 19:20, and likewise 2 Kings 2:3, and 2 King 6 in its entirety. Moreover, among these there were some that were prophesying by an instinct truly divine; as it is evident from 2 Kings 2:3 (Sanchez).


A company of prophets: by prophets here, and in such-like places, he understands persons that did wholly devote themselves to religious studies and exercises, such as preaching, praying, praising of God, etc. For the term of prophesying is not only given to the most eminent act of it, viz. foretelling things to come; but also to preaching, as Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 14:31, 32; 1 Thessalonians 5:20, and to the making or singing of psalms or songs of praise to God, as 1 Chronicles 25:1-3. And they that wholly attended upon these things are oft called sons of the prophets, which were commonly combined into companies or colleges, as 2 Kings 2:3, 5, that they might more conveniently edify and assist one another in God’s work; which institution God was pleased so far to honour and bless, that sometimes he communicated unto those persons the knowledge of future things, as 2 Kings 2:3, 5.


[Coming down from the high place] That is, from the place of the feast (Vatablus). But, since there is no mention of a feast here, I had rather say that it was the place of sacrifice. For in Gibeah there was a high place, just like in Ramah, consecrated to divine worship; in which the Prophes were singing divine praises, just as afterwards they were accustomed to sing in the Temple, 1 Chronicles 23:5. From the High Place, therefore, the Prophets were descending, singing with the same musical instruments, with which they were making music in the high places (Mendoza). They were descending from the hill in which the Ark of God was, and various musical instruments were going before them; for the Spirit of God does not come upon those that are of a sad heart, but upon the cheerful, as Kimchi teaches (Munster). They were making use of these things as incitements, as it is evident from 2 Kings 3:15 (Piscator out of Junius). It was customary to make use of them, when thanks were given to God for any benefit. See what things were said on Judges 11:34. Moreover, it is a power of certain sounds, that they calm the agitated spirit, 1 Samuel 16:16. Others rouse from torpor, and prepare one for great things, 2 Kings 3:15. Thus Pythagoras[13] mollified raving spirits; Asclepiades[14] inhibited aroused seditions; Damon[15] reduced intoxicated and insolent youths to modesty; Xenocrates freed the frenzied from distemper: concerning which see Capella’s Satyricon[16] 10 (Grotius).


[And before them the psaltery, etc., נֵ֤בֶל וְתֹף֙ וְחָלִ֣יל וְכִנּ֔וֹר[17]] The lyre (psaltery [Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Vatablus, Drusius, Malvenda]), tabret, pipe, and lute (Pagnine). With the psaltery, etc., that is, with psalteries, etc., a Synecdoche of member, or an Enallage of number (Piscator).


From the high place; where either their habitation was, or they had now been offering sacrifice. And although they used to perform this following exercise, either in their college, or in the place of their sacrifices; yet now they did it in the descent of the hill, which probably was beside their custom, and therefore more proper for a sign to Saul of a more than ordinary hand of God towards him. A psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; such instruments of music being then used by prophets and other persons, for the exhilaration and excitation of their spirits in God’s service. See 2 Kings 3:15.


[And those prophesying] That is, who themselves shall prophesy (Vatablus, Munster), that is, urged by the Spirit of God, they shall speak praises and songs to God, and discourse concerning divine things (Munster). The Chalden: who shall praise: that is, they shall sing encomia, Psalms, and Hymns to the honor of God (Vatablus).


They shall prophesy; either sing God’s praises, or speak of the things of God.


Verse 6:[18] And (Num. 11:25; 1 Sam. 16:13) the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and (1 Sam. 10:10; 19:23, 24) thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.


[And the Spirit of the Lord will leap upon thee, וְצָלְחָ֤ה עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ וגו״[19]] He will leap (or will rush [Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius]) upon thee (Septuagint, Vatablus). He will enter thee (Munster). He will manifestly enter (Tigurinus); He will rest (will remain [Jonathan], will descend [Arabic], will advance[20] [Montanus]) upon thee (Pagnine). The Spirit of the Lord will favor thee (Syriac). From the language of leaping upon I gather that this gift in Saul’s case was after the manner of a transient act, not after the manner of a permanent condition. For, the permanence of the Spirit is signified by the language of resting, Numbers 11:25; Isaiah 11:2. Hence in 1 Samuel 19:23 the Spirit of the Lord is said again to be upon Saul; therefore, He had not previously remained. Add that in verse 13 of this chapter it is said that Saul ceased to prophesy (Mendoza). Moreover, lest others despise the obscurity ancestry in Saul, God gives to him the Spirit of Prophecy (Mariana).


Will come upon thee; Hebrew, will leap or rush on thee, to wit, for a season. So it may be opposed to the Spirit’s resting upon a man, as Numbers 11:25; Isaiah 11:2.


[And thou shalt be turned into another man[21] (similarly all)] That is, from a rustic, and a keeper of sheep, he shall be made a musician (Menochius). That such a man, neither trained in music, nor accustomed to this ministry, should make music among excellent musicians, neither unskillfully, nor unbecomingly, is not of human talent and artifice, but of the divine Spirit (Sanchez). Thou shalt be a wise man from the rude, a refined man from the rough, an urbane from rustic, a royal from the private (Lapide). Thy soul shall be imbued with magnanimity and prudence to wage war, and to govern the people (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda, similarly Lapide, Martyr). It is not doubtful that at that time Saul, either by the gift of prophecy yielded to him for a time, or by some external and manifest signs, showed qualities above his nature; and that he openly manifested a great soul, worthy of royal power. See a similar thing in Numbers 11:25 (Malvenda). These words, thou shalt be turned into another man, are, as it were, a declaration of previous words, and thou shalt prophesy with them; and thus to be turned, etc., is nothing other than to prophesy (Mendoza). Nazianzen[22] says that Saul was changed into a spiritual man (Lapide).


Shalt be turned into another man, that is, thou shalt be suddenly endowed and acted with another spirit, filled with skill of Divine things, with courage, and wisdom, and magnanimity, and other qualifications befitting thy dignity.

[1] Hebrew: אַ֣חַר כֵּ֗ן תָּבוֹא֙ גִּבְעַ֣ת הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־שָׁ֖ם נְצִבֵ֣י פְלִשְׁתִּ֑ים וִיהִי֩ כְבֹאֲךָ֙ שָׁ֜ם הָעִ֗יר וּפָגַעְתָּ֞ חֶ֤בֶל נְבִיאִים֙ יֹרְדִ֣ים מֵֽהַבָּמָ֔ה וְלִפְנֵיהֶ֞ם נֵ֤בֶל וְתֹף֙ וְחָלִ֣יל וְכִנּ֔וֹר וְהֵ֖מָּה מִֽתְנַבְּאִֽים׃ [2] Hebrew: אַ֣חַר כֵּ֗ן תָּבוֹא֙ גִּבְעַ֣ת הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים. [3] See Psalm 36:6: “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains (כְּהַרְרֵי־אֵל, like the mountains of God); thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.” [4] See Psalm 80:10: “The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars (אַרְזֵי־אֵל, the cedars of God).” [5]נְצִיב, related to the verbal root נָצַב, to stand, can signify a pillar, a garrison, or a prefect. [6] 2 Samuel 8:14: “And he put garrisons (נְצִבִים) in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons (נְצִבִים), and all they of Edom became David’s servants.…” [7]חֶבֶל/cord/band/territory is related to the verbal root חָבַל, to bind. [8] Gasper Waser (1565-1625) was a minister, and a philologist specializing in Oriental languages. He was Professor of Hebrew (1596), and later of Greek (1607), at Zurich, and was eventually promoted to the chair of theology (1611). [9]De Antiquis Mensuris Hebræorum. [10] Σπεῖρα can signify anything wind together or in coils, and thus a cohort. [11] Gilbert Genebrard (1535-1597) was a French Benedictine scholar, specializing in Oriental studies. He served the Roman Church as a professor of Hebrew at the Collège Royal, and later as Archbishop of Aix. He is especially noteworthy for his commentary on the Psalms and his translation of rabbinic works into Latin. [12]Chronographia. [13] Pythagoras (582-507 BC) was a Greek philosopher and mathematician. [14] Asclepiades of Bithynia (c. 129-40 BC) was a Greek physician. He taught and practiced Greek medicine at Rome. [15] Damon (fifth century BC) was a Greek musicologist. [16] Martianus Minneus Felix Capella (fifth century AD) was a pagan author from Madaura in the Roman province of Africa. He wrote Satyricon, or De Nuptiis Philologiæ et Mercurii et de Septem Artibus Liberalibus Libri Novem (Concerning the Wedding of Philology and Mercury, and concerning the Seven Liberal Arts, in Nine Books). He formulated the trivium and quadrivium categories used in early Medieval classical education. [17]נֶבֶל appears to be related to נֵבֶל/skin-bottle, which, evoking the body-shape, may be the lute. תֹּף is a timbrel or tambourine. חָלִיל is related to חָלַל, to pierce, and appears to be a flute-like instrument. כִּנּוֹר is a lyre-like stringed instrument. [18] Hebrew: וְצָלְחָ֤ה עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ ר֣וּחַ יְהוָ֔ה וְהִתְנַבִּ֖יתָ עִמָּ֑ם וְנֶהְפַּכְתָּ֖ לְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵֽר׃ [19]צָלַח signifies to rush. [20]צָלֵחַ signifies to prosper, or to advance. [21] Hebrew: וְנֶהְפַּכְתָּ֖ לְאִ֥ישׁ אַחֵֽר׃. [22] Gregory of Nazianzus (330-389) was Archbishop of Constantinople, and a doctor of the Church, known as the Trinitarian Theologian.

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