Poole on 1 Samuel 13:1, 2: Saul's Chosen Men
Verse 1: Saul reigned one year (Heb. the son of one year in his reigning); and when he had reigned two years over Israel…
[A son of one year was Saul when he began to reign, בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה שָׁא֣וּל בְּמָלְכ֑וֹ] A son of a year was Saul in ruling it (Munster, Montanus). A son of a year (understanding, one) was Saul, when he himself was reigning (Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Dutch, English). A son of a year, or a yearling, was Saul in to rule his; that is, when he newly entered upon his kingdom, immediately in the entrance of the former year of his kingdom (Piscator). It seems impossible that a son of one year reigned (Lapide). This somewhat difficult passage is variously explained (Malvenda). But, 1. Some omit this verse. Thus the Septuagint (namely, in the Sixtine edition; but it is found in the Royal and Complutensian editions, and likewise in Symmachus and Theodotion), Jonathan, and Jerome (who nevertheless inserts it in 1 Samuel 10, before verse 2) (Mendoza). 2. A son of one year was to Saul, when he began to reign, namely, Ishbosheth, for Jonathan was older (thus Rabanus and Srabus in Mendoza, Serarius). Only a ל/to is wanting [before שָׁאוּל/Saul]. And on that account it appears that Ishbosheth is omitted in 1 Samuel 14:49, as if mention of him had already been made here (Serarius). This is not satisfying to most; 1. The beginnings of Kings are not wont to be reckoned from the age of their sons. 2. Thus there would be no connection with the subsequent history; and no mention of Ishbosheth is made in this book. 3. Ishbosheth at that time was twenty years old, as it is evident from 2 Samuel 2:10 compared with the following (Mendoza). 3. Some think that something is missing here. A son…of a year was Saul, etc., that is, of thirty or forty years (Scaliger in Malvenda). He is called as son, of one year, namely, above twenty, which it is not necessary to mention, since it was assumed out of the law, Numbers 1:3 (certain interpreters in Mendoza). Or the word twenty, by a mistake of the copyists, was omitted (Cano in Mendoza). But this cannot possibly be true, since a son of Saul was at that time twenty years old [as it will be evident from the things to be said]. Therefore, others translated it, as it is recorded in the Sixtine edition, a son of thirty years, etc. But thus they make a boy of ten years old a parent (Mendoza). I think that it was written in this place how old Saul was when he entered upon the Kingdom, and how many years he reigned; but that the passage has been mutilated. For he reigned, not two years only, but forty, Acts 13:21 and Josephus’ Antiquities 6 (Castalio). But this is overly daring thus to supplement and change the sacred Scriptures (Malvenda). 4. Others thus: He was a son of one year, not with respect to age, but with respect to probity (thus Mendoza, Sanchez, Hebrews in Vatablus, Gregory and Jerome and Augustine and Theodoret and Tostatus and Cajetan and Delrio and Sa and Rabbis in Mendoza, Lyra, Menochius). A son of a year; that is, innocent with respect to iniquity, like a suckling child (Hebrews in Vatablus). A son of a year, as it were, in whom there were no sins, was Saul when he reigned (the Chaldean in Vatablus). The last words of the preceding chapter, …both ye and your king shall perish, make greatly for this. It is here most agreeably subjoined, that the King was not innocent for long; although he had entered upon the kingdom innocent and pure, after the likeness of a one year old child; and so his kingdom was exceedingly brief, and finished in the second year after which it had begun; which is a certain summary of the reign of Saul. They rightly supplement כ/as, as it were, which is often understood, as it is evident out of Psalm 11:1, flee into the mountain, bird; that is, as a bird: and Psalm 12:6, pure words, silver; that is, as silver: and Psalm 73:22, I was a beast; that is, as a beast. Thus in Genesis 49:9, Judah is a lion’s whelp: Naphtali is a hind: Benjamin is a wolf: etc. In addition, innocence is often signified in the sacred books through childish nature; see Matthew 18:3; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Peter 2:2 (Mendoza). Now, in this place is expressed the innocence of Saul: 1. So that God might show that He performed the office of the best elector, in choosing the best man to the highest dignity (Gregory in Mendoza). 2. So that He might teach that He is wont to confer greater holiness with greater dignity; unless our sin hinders (Carthusianus in Mendoza, similarly Lyra). 3. So that, with Saul’s probity set down before, his iniquity might thereafter appear all the more grievous (Mendoza out of Lyra). 4. Lest anyone should flatter himself concerning his own virtue, or presume concerning his righteousness, seeing that even Saul fell from such innocence (Lyra, Tostatus in Mendoza). Here the sense is the common and suitable one; but it appears to be tropological, rather than literal. For, just as the two years in which Saul is said to have reigned are to be taken simply for years properly so called; so also that one year (Lapide). 5. Others thus: A son of one year was Saul, namely, from the time when he was made King (Eucherius and Brixianus and others in Mendoza). They refer this year to the time of Saul’s reigning, not to his age. This does not satisfy: For he would not have said passing a year, or born a year, in reigning, in view of the fact that he had already reigned a year; since this manner of speaking, born so many years, is never used among the Hebrews, nor among the Latins, except concerning the age of a man, in numbering from birth. Next, he would not have said, born a year, but born one year. For the Hebrews are wont to express number, even when they speak of one. Moreover, something would have to be supplied, which renders the place suspect. But in these books the age of the Kings and the time of reigning are wont to be placed at the begging of the narration of the matters conducted by them: as in 2 Samuel 2:10 and elsewhere (Castalio). The sense of the passage is, One year had intervened from the anointing of Saul (or from his election at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 10:24 [Hebrews in Malvenda]) to the renovation of his kingdom (Hebrews in Vatablus, Rabbi Levi in Drusius). From which he began to reign; that is, he had now reigned for one year from his anointing (Vatablus). When these things happened, Saul had completed one year in the kingdom; that is, when his kingdom was renewed at Gilgal (Munster). When those things, which are now narrated, were done, Saul had passed almost a year in the kingdom (Grotius). No other thing is indicated by these words, than that Saul, when he first moved this war against the Philistines, had passed the first year of his kingdom: that is to say, This was the former year of the two in which he reigned generally in Israel. Thus the Hebrews in Seder Olam, Arius Montanus, Gerardus Mercator, Adrichomius, Constantinus Phrygio, Mariana, and others (Tirinus). The sense: Saul, with victory over Nahash obtained, and so anointed again, 1 Samuel 11, was passing, and perhaps completing, the first year of his reign. This sense, 1. is required by the Hebrew expression, a son of one year…in ruling it; that is to say, Saul already reigned one year. 2. From this, that Nahash invaded Gilead in the seventh month after the appointment of Saul, and at that time Saul struck him, and renewed the kingdom. Whence all these things were the acts of the first year of the kingdom of Saul (Lapide). Genebrard thus explains it, after a year from his election he began to reign. Thus Eucherius: In one year, says he, after the he was chosen King by Samuel, he, sitting in his private residence, hid the fact that he was King: in the two remaining years he judged Israel. Similarly Bede. Thus the modesty and humility of Saul is commended (Mendoza). This is a Hebraism. For the Hebrews attribute to a season, day, month, and year the name of son, so he is called a son of this year, day, or time, because he was born then. A year, day, etc., as if fathers, are said to generate those that are born in them. Thus a lamb is said to be a son of a year, Exodus 12:5. The ivy, a daughter of a night, Jonah 4:10, because sprouting that night. Those that were born in the East are called sons of the East, Judges 6:33. See also Job 5:7; 41:28; Isaiah 14:12 (Lapide). [Some thus render the entire verse:] Now, when for one year, or two, Saul had reigned in his kingdom over Israel, Saul chose for himself, etc. (Syriac, similarly Arabic). Passing the first year in his kingdom (but he reigned two years over Israel), chose for himself three thousand, etc. That is, when Saul entered into his new kingdom, immediately in the entrance of the first year of his kingdom were conducted the things narrated in the two former chapters, and the things described in the following verse (Junius). One might thus conceive the sense of this verse without absurdity: Saul reigned for one year, and for two years, when he chose for himself three thousand, etc., that is, in the third year of his reign he chose for himself, etc. (Malvenda). A son of a year in the kingdom, who reigned one year. For it is as if he were born anew together with the Kingdom. Thus God says in the writings of David, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; that is, says R.D., on which day he was anointed as King. For at that time it was as if he were born unto the kingdom (Drusius).
Reigned one year, that is, had now reigned one year, from his first election at Mizpeh, in which time these things were done, which are recorded 1 Samuel 11; 12, to wit, peaceably, or righteously. Compare 2 Samuel 2:10.
[For two years he reigned over Israel] Question: How is this consistent with Acts 13:21, where it is said that he reigned for forty years? Responses: 1. Rabanus understands these words of Ishbosheth also, as also the preceding. But there is no connection with the following history in this way (Mendoza). 2. For two years he reigned, that is, in his goodness and innocence (Lyra). Afterwards his royal authority declined unto tyranny (certain interpreters in Lapide). But I do not think that that sin of Saul, because of which he was rejected, happened so quickly (Sanchez). 3. For two years he reigned, namely, alone, and after the death of Samuel (Sanchez in Menochius). For, for the rest of the time Samuel was a partaker in the administration of the republic. Thus Montanus, Mercator, Adrichomius, and others (Menochius). This exposition does indeed assume a truth thing: for Saul survived Samuel by two years, as testify Josephus, Antiquities 6:14, and Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 1:11. But, that not the last years of Saul, but the first, are being treated, the connection with the subsequent history shows, which treats of the latter, not of the former (Mendoza). 4. For two years he reigned, namely, legitimately, before he was cast down by God, and deprived of the kingdom by Samuel (thus Lyra, Tostatus, Drusius, Junius, Vatablus). That is, after two years he was indeed deprived of royal dignity, yet with him remained the administration of the republic for many years (Vatablus). When David was anointed, he was deprived of the kingdom (Drusius). This interpretation is confirmed, 1. out of 1 Samuel 14:47, where Saul is said to have begun the kingdom, that is, to have occupied it tyrannically. 2. From his many fights and persecutions against David. 3. From the time that David passed as an exile with his own at Ziklag, 1 Samuel 27:6, 7 (Junius, Piscator). This exposition we readily receive, except that it appears a little too subtle (Malvenda). But on the contrary, 1. Thus only two years would come between the anointing of Saul and that of David, which is false; otherwise, David would have been only twelve when he was anointed; which is refuted by 1 Samuel 16:18; 2 Samuel 5:4. 2. Whatever the case may be concerning his tyrannical usage, that Saul had legitimate title to the kingdom until his death, even in David’s judgment, is evident from 1 Samuel 24:6; 26:11; 2 Samuel 1:14 (Mendoza). 5. [Others refer these two years to the choice of these three thousand man, etc.] Now, when he had reigned one year or two…Saul chose for himself three thousand men (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); when he had reigned two years…then he chose, etc. (English, similarly the Dutch). For two years: These words are to be connected with what follows, so that it might be understood that, with a two year period at length completed, he gathered those military troops (Grotius, similarly Mendoza, Lapide, Tostatus, Genebrardus and Pineda in Mendoza). 6. Saul was King for two year only, and at the end of the two years he died (Hebrews in Seder Olam, Mercator and Montanus and Adrichomius in Lapide, thus Sanchez, Tirinus). This the words clearly indicate, and for two years he reigned…. Where, since the other things that are in the context are spoken properly, there is no reason why we should think these things to have been spoken figuratively. And, when it was undertaken to be written first concerning Saul now king, it was proper that it not be done in words obscure and improroper (Sanchez). This does not satisfy (Mendoza, Lapide). [Many things appear to hinder.] Objections: 1. Forty years are attributed to Saul, Acts 13:21 (Mendoza). Response 1: Although some attribute to Saul these forty years (thus Augustine), or thirty-eight years (like Josephus, who relates that Saul reigned for eighteen years with Samuel living, and twenty years after his death); others more truly think that these forty years are composed jointly of the years of Samuel and Saul: And so of the time when Samuel was in charge, Paul determines nothing. It is proven, 1. Since Samuel necessarily judged for many years, if you ascribe all forty years to Saul, there will be more years from the exodus out of Egypt to the building of the Temple than are numbered. 2. If David was anointed in the second year of Saul, in which Saul was rejected, as is the common and true opinion, that is, thirty-eight years before the death of Saul; since David at the age of thirty undertook the kingdom, 2 Samuel 5, it happens that he was made king before he was born. Therefore, these forty years are not to be ascribed to Saul alone. Response 2: Others divide those forty years equally, and ascribe twenty years to each. But, that Saul was not in charge for twenty years, these inferences indicate; 1. David was anointed in the second year of Saul, and undertook the kingdom at the age of thirty. But if eighteen more years of Saul intervened, David was designated as king at the age of twelve, which certainly does not seem credible. You will say, but David, when he was anointed, is called קָטוֹן, a small child. Responses: 1. Often one is called קָטוֹן, who is small, not absolutely, but comparatively. Thus the Moon is called in Genesis 1:16; and Rachel in Genesis 29:16; and Benjamin in Genesis 42:13, who nevertheless was thirty-four years old; and Rehoboam, 1 Kings 12. 2. Although he is called a child, he is also called most mighty, and a man of war, and prudent, 1 Samuel 16:18. David was also the armour-bearer of Saul; and the arms of Saul were put at his disposal, 1 Samuel 17. But you will insist; if not many years intervened between that time when David was playing his harp before Saul, and that when he returned from the battle with Goliath, how was it that neither Saul nor Abner recognized him? Responses: 1. With age a great change happened, and his beard grew while he was away; says Augustine. 2. Saul’s memory was weakened by the repeated vexations of the demon, and his imaginative faculty impeded. 3. This was able to happen from a change of demeanor and garments. 4. With respect to Abner, this ought not to seem strange, whome the care of military affairs kept in the camp, rather than in the palace. 2. The same is proven from those words, he was a son of one year…and he reigned for two years, etc. [concerning which it has been treated]. Response 3: That Samuel reigned no less than thirty-eight years, and Saul no more than two, many things indicate. 1. That Samuel undertook the government as a youth, 1 Samuel 12:2. And in the twentieth year after the Ark was captured and returned, we read of him judging, 1 Samuel 7 compared with 1 Samuel 3; 4. And it is probable that he undertook the Magistracy before that time. Therefore, if to that age you add only the twenty years that are commonly ascribed to Samuel; how does Samuel say that he is hindered by old age, for which reason he does not so well sustain public functions? Saul would certainly be much older, it you attribute the twenty years to his kingdom; since he came to the kingdom at that age, that he might have a son Jonathan, whom he was able to place in command of a thousand men because of age. Moreover, we have shown that only two years are ascribed to Saul (Sanchez). Rightly do Salian and others reckon, that Samuel alone was in charge of Israel for twenty-two years; then he was in charge with Samuel for sixteen years; with Samuel dead, Saul only reigned for two years (Lapide). [And these things concerning the first objection.] Objection 2: With Saul dead, his son Ishbosheth is said to be forty years old, 2 Samuel 2:10. Therefore, Saul, being already old, is called to the kingdom, which appears disagreeable. Response: Thus it is altogether worthy of saying: It is not so much the arms of the general that prevail in battle, as his prudence and judgment, which are generally in old age. Therefore, it appears that he undertook the kingdom around the fifty-eighth year of his life. Rejoinder: Saul, when he was made King, was in his father’s house, and subject to the power of his father; which does not agree with that age. Response: This objection will appear weighty only to one that is ignorant of the custom of the ancient Hebrews. For, it is well-known that their sons after marriage are retained by the parents of the house, and they make use of their labor for common and domestic cares. This is evident from the examples of Jacob and Esau; likewise of the sons of Jacob, and of the sons of Ibzan, Judges 12:8, 9. Which about the time of Ibzan was also observed among the Gentiles; For in the house of Priam were fifty sons, and just so many marriage-chambers: Homer’s Iliad 24; Virgil’s Æneid 2 (Sanchez). Objection 3: So many battles and deeds of Saul were not able to be transacted within two years’ time (Mendoza, Lapide). Response: This will not appear strange to one that their nearest neighbor was an enemy, the zeal of the Israelites was ready, the war with Nahash was completed in two days, conscriptions were already held, arms were made ready, and a soldier is more eager after victory (Sanchez).
[1093 BC] Verse 2: Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in (1 Sam. 10:26) Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
[And Saul chose for himself three thousand] Question 1: When did he choose? Response 1: Immediately after the renewal of the kingdom at Gilgal (Tostatus and Cajetan in Mendoza, Drusius). Response 2: Two years after (certain interpreters in Drusius, Mendoza, Lapide). For thus it is said, he reigned two years, and (or then) he chose, etc. (Mendoza). [Concerning which see the annotations on the preceding verse.] Objection: The former sense appears to be urged by the following words, but he sent the people back to their tents, namely, those three hundred and thirty thousand, concerning which 1 Samuel 11:8. For what other multitude of people was before Saul, from which he chose three thousand (Cajetan, Tostatus)? Response 1: I say that after another two years he again called the multitude together, although this is not expressed; but it is left to be gathered from this dispersal. Response 2: Or it is able to be said that no new gathering of soldiers was made; but that Saul merely chose three thousand from the neighboring cities: that the rest of the people Saul sent back to their tents, that is, the quiet and the tranquil he permitted to take care of their tents. For, שִׁלַּח signifies to dismiss, or to permit to someone freely to enjoy their own will. Thus Job 8:4; Proverbs 29:15. Question 2: To what end did he choose them? Response: As reserve, or standing, soldiers, who might always be in reading for whatever necessity of the kingdom (Junius, Piscator). I would more rightly understand praetorian bands assigned to guard the body of the king, and to meet the emergencies of war (Malvenda). Question 3: Why is it said, he chose for himself three thousand, when of these a thousand were assigned to Jonathan? Response: Either that for himself is superfluous, like for thyself, Genesis 12:1; Song of Solomon 1:8. Or, since father and son are regarded as one, it is properly said that the father chose for himself what he had shared with his son (Mendoza).
Saul chose; Hebrew, and (that is, then, as that adverb is oft used, as Genesis 3:5; 18:10; etc.) Saul chose. Three thousand men of Israel; which he thought sufficient for constant attendance and service, intending to summon the rest when need should be.
[Two thousand in Michmash, etc.] Question: Why in these places? Response: Because these places were closer to the Philistines; and hence more suitable, so that the attempts of those invading might be repelled from there (Tostatus and Carthusianus in Mendoza). Michmash was in the borders of Ælia, being nine miles distant from it, near the city of Ramah, says Jerome; and Bethel was in the tribe of Benjamin, where also was this Gibeah (Mendoza).
Michmash; a tract of ground near Ramah and Bethel, in the border of Benjamin, and near to the Philistines.
 Hebrew: בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה שָׁא֣וּל בְּמָלְכ֑וֹ וּשְׁתֵּ֣י שָׁנִ֔ים מָלַ֖ךְ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃  Hebrew: בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה—בְּמָלְכ֑וֹ.  A woodenly literalistic translation.  Melchior Cano (c. 1509-1560) was a Spanish Dominican theologian. He held the theological chair at the Salamanca, and his abilities are amply demonstrated in his De Locis Theologicis.  Seder Olam Rabbah was a chronicle from Adam to the Bar Kochba rebellion, written around 160 AD.  Gerhardus Mercator (1512-1594) was a renowned Belgic geographer and cartographer. Although he was clearly sympathetic to Lutheranism, he never declared himself, but did move from Catholic Leuven to tolerant Duisburg. He wrote Chronologia, hoc est, Temporum Demonstratio Exactissima, ab Initio Mundi, usqve ad Annum Domini MDLXVIII.  Paulus Constantinus Phrygio (c. 1483-1543) was a Reformer and Reformed minister and theologian. He served as Professor of Old Testament at Basel (1529-1535), and of Theology at Tubingen (1535-1543), writing commentaries on Leviticus and Micah, and a Chronicum Regum Regnorumqve Omnium Catalogum.  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, his translation of Rabbinic works into Latin, and his work in chronology.  Exodus 12:5: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year (בֶּן־שָׁנָה, a son of a year): ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats…”  Jonah 4:10: “Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night (שֶׁבִּן־לַ֥יְלָה הָיָ֖ה וּבִן־לַ֥יְלָה אָבָֽד׃, which was a son of the night, and as a son of the night perished)…”  Judges 6:33: “Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east (וּבְנֵי־קֶדֶם) were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.”  Job 5:7: “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks (וּבְנֵי־רֶשֶׁף, as sons of flame) fly upward.”  Job 41:28: “The arrow (בֶן־קָשֶׁת, the son of the bow) cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.”  Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning (בֶּן־שָׁחַר)! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”  Psalm 2:7.  See 1 Samuel 16:11: “And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest (הַקָּטָן), and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.” And also 1 Samuel 17:14: “And David was the youngest (הַקָּטָן): and the three eldest followed Saul.”  Genesis 1:16: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light (וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙) to rule the night: he made the stars also.”  Genesis 29:16: “And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel (שֵׁ֤ם הַגְּדֹלָה֙ לֵאָ֔ה וְשֵׁ֥ם הַקְּטַנָּ֖ה רָחֵֽל׃).”  Genesis 42:13: “And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest (הַקָּטֹן) is this day with our father, and one is not.”  See 1 Samuel 16:21.  Priam is the legendary king of Troy during the Trojan War.  Hebrew: וַיִּבְחַר־ל֙וֹ שָׁא֜וּל שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת אֲלָפִים֮ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל֒ וַיִּהְי֙וּ עִם־שָׁא֜וּל אַלְפַּ֗יִם בְּמִכְמָשׂ֙ וּבְהַ֣ר בֵּֽית־אֵ֔ל וְאֶ֗לֶף הָיוּ֙ עִם־י֣וֹנָתָ֔ן בְּגִבְעַ֖ת בִּנְיָמִ֑ין וְיֶ֣תֶר הָעָ֔ם שִׁלַּ֖ח אִ֥ישׁ לְאֹהָלָֽיו׃  Job 8:4: “If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away (וַיְשַׁלְּחֵם) for their transgression…”  Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself (מְשֻׁלָּח) bringeth his mother to shame.”  Genesis 12:1: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee (לֶךְ־לְךָ, go for thyself) out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee…”  Song of Solomon 1:8: “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth (צְאִי־לָךְ, go out for thyself) by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.”  Genesis 3:5: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then shall be opened (וְנִפְקְחוּ) your eyes, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”  Hebrew: וַיִּבְחַר־ל֙וֹ שָׁא֜וּל.  Ælia Capitolia was Roman colony founded by Hadrian (c. 130) around the city of Jerusalem.