Poole on 1 Samuel 9:1, 2: The Genealogy of Saul

Verse 1:[1] Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was (1 Sam. 14:51; 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39) Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite (or, the son of a man of Jemini[2]), a mighty man of power (or, substance[3]).

[And there was a man of Benjamin] A Benjamite; like a Woman of Samaria, John 4:7, that is, a Samaritan (Drusius). Question: How is the tribe of Benjamin chosen, indeed, so that it might perpetually reign, 1 Samuel 13:13, when God had promised the kingdom to Judah, Genesis 49:10. Response: God willed to confer a perpetual kingdom upon Benjamin, indeed, by a conditional decree; if Saul had observed the divine law. And, because He foresaw that that condition was going to be absent, He absolutely decreed to transfer the kingdom to the tribe of Judah (Mendoza almost out of Tostatus).

[Kish, the son of Abiel] Objection: But Kish is called the son of Ner, 1 Chronicles 8:33; 9:39. Responses: 1. One begat him, the other raised him (Jerome and Lyra and Hugo in Mendoza). Compare Genesis 36:4, 5, 15. They say that Ner and Kish were brothers, the sons of Abiel, as it is evident from 1 Samuel 14:51 and 1 Chronicles 9:36; and that, with Abiel their father dead, Ner, being the elder brother, undertook the upbringing of Kish, the younger (Mendoza). 2. I say rather that Abiel had two names, and was also called Ner (Mendoza out of Cajetan, Kimchi in Drusius, Junius, Piscator).

Whose name was Kish. Objection: His name was Ner, 1 Chronicles 8:33; 9:39. Answer: Either his father had two names, as was usual among the Hebrews; or Kish was really his father that begot him; and Ner, the brother of Kish, 1 Samuel 14:51; 1 Chronicles 9:36, is called his father, because, upon the death of Kish, he took the care of his education, and brought him up as his own son.

[The son of a man, a twin (thus Munster, Tigurinus), בֶּן־אִ֣ישׁ יְמִינִ֑י] Of Jemini (Septuagint). Others: a Benjamite (Syriac, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, English, Drusius, similarly Jonathan). Benjamin, shortened by Apheresis,[4] is Jamin or Jemin. Just as from Ben-ammi, Ammon is made, Genesis 19:38[5] (Cajetan and Mariana and Salian in Lapide). Or rather, this Jemini was a famous man of the tribe of Benjamin, upon whom therefore Saul’s genealogy is founded (Lapide, Mendoza, Tostatus). Otherwise the same thing would be superfluously repeated; for he was already called a son of Benjamin (Mendoza).

A Benjamite; Hebrew, the son of a man of Jemini, that is, either of Benjamin, or of a place, or of a man, called Jemini.

[Powerful in might[6]] This also pertains to the praise of Saul. For the strong are begotten by the strong[7] (Martyr). Or mighty in wealth; חַיִל signifies both strength and wealth (Drusius).

A mighty man of power, that is, a man of great courage and strength; which tends to Saul’s commendation: otherwise, a man of great wealth. But that seems confuted by Saul’s words below, 1 Samuel 9:21, and the people’s contempt of him, 1 Samuel 10:27.

Verse 2:[8] And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: (1 Sam. 10:23) from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

[Saul[9]] The same as one requested; namely, as king. The name appears to have been set upon him as a divine sign (Lapide). Here, no mention is made of the home country of Saul, which was Gibeah; perhaps because it was infamous because of that great shame, Judges 19 (Martyr, Mendoza).

[Choice (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Munster), בָּחוּר] A young man (Jonathan, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius, Tigurinus, Grotius), in one’s prime (Vatablus).

[And good[10] (thus Montanus)] Handsome (Jonathan, Pagnine, Munster, Tigurinus, Grotius, Kimchi in Grotius). Admirably furnished with qualities of soul and body (Menochius). They refer these to the endowments of the mind (Gregory and Tostatus in Sanchez). [Others to the body.] That good I am unwilling to refer to the mind (Grotius). Good, טוֹב, understanding, in form (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Kimchi in Grotius). A Synecdoche of genus, as in Genesis 6:2[11] (Junius). Thus the opposite רָע/evil is put for deformed, Genesis 41:3[12] (Grotius). And in Terence, a form by no means ill. Thus καλὸν is both good[13] and beautiful[14] (Drusius). With this sense agrees what follows, from the shoulder, etc. (Estius, Martyr). The exterior of the body was thought to be an indication of the interior (Martyr).

And a goodly; Hebrew, good, that is, comely and personable, as that word is used, Genesis 6:2; as evil is put for deformed, Genesis 41:19.[15]

[From the shoulder and upward he was higher, etc.] Thus Diana in Virgil, …and, stepping, she overtops all the Goddesses.[16] See 1 Samuel 10:23, 24. Peoples of the East were loving this in their Kings, such that Aristotle said, Politics 4:4, that honors were mandated according to the size of the body; and a King of Sparta was punished, because, with a wife of a petite body taken, it was said that he was going to produce small Kings. Euripides does not despise Εἶδος ἄξιον τυράνιδος, an appearance worthy of rule (Grotius). Height of body makes for beauty and majesty (Menochius). Virgil, speaking of Turnus,[17] Æneid 7, …he was taller by a whole head (Malvenda).

He was higher than any of the people: a tall stature was much valued in a king in ancient times, and in the eastern countries.

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיְהִי־אִ֣ישׁ מִבִּן־יָמִ֗ין וּ֠שְׁמוֹ קִ֣ישׁ בֶּן־אֲבִיאֵ֞ל בֶּן־צְר֧וֹר בֶּן־בְּכוֹרַ֛ת בֶּן־אֲפִ֖יחַ בֶּן־אִ֣ישׁ יְמִינִ֑י גִּבּ֖וֹר חָֽיִל׃ [2] Hebrew: בֶּן־אִ֣ישׁ יְמִינִ֑י. [3] Hebrew: חָיִל. [4] That is, the loss of a sound at the beginning of a word. [5] Genesis 19:38: “And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi (בֶּן־עַמִּי): the same is the father of the children of Ammon (בְנֵי־עַמּוֹן) unto this day.” [6] Hebrew: גִּבּ֖וֹר חָֽיִל׃ [7] Horace’s Odes 4:4. [8] Hebrew: וְלוֹ־הָיָ֙ה בֵ֜ן וּשְׁמ֤וֹ שָׁאוּל֙ בָּח֣וּר וָט֔וֹב וְאֵ֥ין אִ֛ישׁ מִבְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל ט֣וֹב מִמֶּ֑נּוּ מִשִּׁכְמ֣וֹ וָמַ֔עְלָה גָּבֹ֖הַּ מִכָּל־הָעָֽם׃ [9]שָׁאוּל, one requested, is derived from the verbal root שָׁאַל, to ask. [10] Hebrew: וָטוֹב. [11] Genesis 6:2: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they werefair (טֹבֹת); and they took them wives of all which they chose.” [12] Genesis 41:3: “And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured (רָע֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה) and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.” [13] For example, 1 Timothy 4:4: “For every creature of God is good (καλόν), and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving…” [14] For example, Luke 21:5: “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly (καλοῖς) stones and gifts, he said…” [15] Genesis 41:19: “And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured (וְרָע֥וֹת תֹּ֛אַר מְאֹ֖ד) and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness (לָרֹעַ)…” [16]Æneid 1:501. [17] Turnus was the legendary King of the Rutuli people in southern Italy, and the chief antagonist of Æneas in the Æneid.

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