Poole on 1 Samuel 9:22-24: Saul at Samuel's Feast

Verse 22:[1] And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons.

[He brough them into the dining room, לִשְׁכָּתָה] Into the chamber (Montanus), the vaulted room (Tigurinus), the upper room (Munster, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius), the house (Syriac, Arabic); to the assembly (Jonathan), the inn (Septuagint).

[He gave to them a place at the head, etc.] The most honorable place at Roman feasts was the last, Plutarch’s Convivial Questions 1:3; at Persian feasts, the middle; but at Hebrew feasts, the first, as it is evident from Luke 14:8. Question: But why was Saul’s young man also set in the principal place? Response: Because the youth was also to be honored for Saul’s sake (Mendoza).

Samuel took Saul and his servant, etc.: He honoured his servant for Saul’s sake; thereby both giving all the guests occasion to think how great that person was, or should be, whose very servant was advanced above the chief persons of the city, who were doubtless present upon this occasion; and showing how far himself was from envying Saul that honour and power, which was to be translated from him to Saul. Made them sit in the chiefest place; thereby to raise all their expectation, and to prepare them for giving that honour to Saul which his approaching dignity required.

[There were about thirty men] Question: Why were so many invited? Response: He honored him before many witnesses, so that he might consult the authority of the future King, and avoid a tumult of the people, if they should see a man altogether unknown suddently raised to the royal office (Mendoza).

Verse 23:[2] And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.

[Give the portion which I gave to thee, etc.] When did he deliver this portion to the cook? Response 1: With the sacrifice accomplished, before the coming of Saul, Samuel had reclined with those invited; and, lest all the food be consumed, he had reserved this (certain interpreters in Lyra, Hugo Cerd. In Mendoza). This does not satisfy; for Saul undoubtedly approached Samuel before the feast began, as it is evident from verses 13, 18, 19, 22. Response 2: It is not the sense that the shoulder remained from the feast: but either that it remained from the sacrifice; or at least that it was laid aside: or finally, as Rabbi Salomon interprets it, that in the designation and distribution of the courses, which was done long befoe the feast, while other portions were designated for others, the shoulder fell to Saul. Whence the Regia interlinearia, in the place of give the portion, etc., have give the distribution; as if Samuel had designated the portions of the individuals, and had asked that what had fallen to Saul be set near to him apart from the rest (Medoza). According to ancient custom, it was belonging to the master of the feast to distribute portions, and to assign the best parts to the most honored or illustrious. Diodous Siculus, Historical Library 5:212, concerning the feasts of the Gauls, says, For the sake of honor, they appoint the best portions of the meat to eminent men. Athenæus, Banquet of the Learned 1:8: To Ajax, after the contest undertaken with Hector, Agamemnon presents the backs of oxen, that is, as an honorary prize. To Nestor of advanced age, and to Phoenix, the same gives roasted flesh.[3] Moreover, Menelaus commanded that the back of on ox be assigned to Telemachus[4] (Sanchez).

Which I gave thee: Or, which I appointed or disposed to thee, that is, which I bade the reserve for this use.

Verse 24:[5] And the cook took up (Lev. 7:32, 33; Ezek. 24:4) the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left (or, reserved[6])! set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day.

[The cook took up the shoulder, etc., וַיָּ֣רֶם הַ֠טַּבָּח אֶת־הַשּׁ֙וֹק וְהֶעָלֶ֜יהָ] And so the cook, raising up (or, when he had brought out [Junius and Tremellius]) the shoulder (Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly Munster, Montanus) and what was upon it (Pagnine, thus Tigurinus, Munster, Vatablus). וְהֶעָלֶיהָ is in the place ofאֲשֶׁר עָלֶיהָ, which was upon it (Kimchi in Drusius); that is, the shoulder, whole and most ample (Vatablus). And what things were cleaving to it (Junius and Tremellius). Perhaps the Hebrews render it better, the leg and what is upon that, namely, the thigh; as Jonathan also has it, the leg and its thigh; concerning which you have more things in the Lexicon of Pagnine (Dieu). The thigh, whi