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, which was cleaving to the shoulder (Munster, Rabbi Salomon in Drusius): For the thing is upon the leg or shoulder, which the Seventy call κωλέαν, the thigh-bone with flesh upon it; Theodoret, κοιλίαν/socket; Aquila, κνήμην, the tibia, or shank. To Rabbi Johanan[7] הֶעָלֶיהָ is אַלְיָה, the tail. To Rabbi Eleazar[8] it is the Breast (Drusius). The breast is what was lying upon the shoulder (certain interpreters in Munster). The leg with the part overhanging it (Syriac). The hip with its upper part (Arabic). Question 1: How was Samuel able to give the shoulder to him? since this part was given to the priest alone, Leviticus 7:32, neither ought any one to have eaten of the holy things besides him, and his servant purchased and domestic, Leviticus 22:11. Responses: 1. Some translate it otherwise [as previously mentioned], thigh or tibia. Thus it is verily taken in Judges 15:8.[9] But it commonly signifies shoulder, Exodus 29:22;[10] Leviticus 8:25;[11] Numbers 18:18[12] (Mendoza). 2. Other animals, besides peace offerings, were able to be slaughtered in this place; this might be the shoulder of one of those (Tostatus in Mendoza, Lapide). 3. The right shoulder alone belonged to the Priest. Therefore, the left was able to be reserved for Saul (Mendoza out of Tostatus, Lapide, Grotius). Question 2: Why was the shoulder deliberately kept for Saul? Responses: 1. As a sign of honor (Mendoza). This shoulder was the portion of the one that was of principal dignity at the feast; and hence of the King when he was present: whence Josephus calls this portion μερίδα βασιλικὴν, the royal portion[13] (Grotius). By this positioning (of Saul) and serving of the shoulder, he began to adumbrate the dignity of Saul to those invited: for the esteemed parts were ministered to those more esteemed or dearer. See on Genesis 43:34 (Junius). Samuel had declared to the cook, that he should prepare thirty portions for just so many guests; but that he should reserve one portion separately: and that according to ancient, foreign custom, concerning which Athenæus speaks, Banquet of the Learned 14:10, Dionysius, the son of Tryphon,[14] relates, that formerly, before they went into a feast, to each was divided his own portion in the courses (Malvenda). Moreover, that the shoulder was regarded as choice, is taught in Ezekiel 24:3, 4 (Sanchez). 2. He kept this portion, so that by this hieroglyphic symbol, as it were, he might learn what the Royal name and title might exact of him; namely, that it is a burdensome weight, and requires the shoulders of a Giant. For, the shoulder is wont to be placed under burdens (Sanchez, similarly Menochius, Mendoza, Lapide, Martyr). By this sign he requires of the King such things as the sacrificial law requires of the Priest, to whom therefore the should is given (so that it might signify his labor and trouble); even indeed the right shoulder, in which there is more strength and constancy, than in the left. I think, therefore, that the right shoulder was given to Saul, for, just as it commends the office of the Priest, so also of the king, and adumbrates ministry/service (Sanchez). The shoulder was a symbol of warlike fortitude, which at that time was required in a King, especially Saul. But to Saul passed the shoulder without the breast [otherwise than to the Priest], because the shoulder of fortitude was in him, but he lacked the breast of wisdom and charity (Lapide). Or he gave the shoulder to him, so that by this symbol he might advise him to live in union with the ministers of God (Martyr, certain interpreters in Mendoza). Learn here the frugality of that ancient time. He serves to the king on shoulder, not partridges, pheasants, etc. (Lapide, Mendoza).


The shoulder, to wit, the left shoulder, for the right shoulder was the priest’s, Leviticus 7:32, 33. This he gives him, either, first, As the best and noblest part of the remainders of the sacrifice; the best parts being usually given by the master of the feast to such guests as were most honourable, or best beloved, as Genesis 43:34. Or, secondly, As a secret symbol or sign of that burden which was to be laid upon Saul, and of that strength which was necessary for the bearing of it; the shoulder being both the seat of burdens, and the subject of strength. That which was upon it; something which the cook by Samuel’s order was to put upon it when it was drest, either for ornament, or in the nature of a sauce.


[And Samuel said] Hebrew: he said.[15] They supply Samuel (Septuagint, Munster, Tigurinus, etc.).


That which is left, to wit, left of the sacrifice; but so all or most of the rest of their provisions were left: or rather, reserved, or laid by, by my order, for thy eating, when the rest of the meat was sent up and disposed of as the cook pleased.


[For deliberately was it kept for thee, when I called the people,כִּ֧י לַמּוֹעֵ֛ד שָֽׁמוּר־לְךָ֥ לֵאמֹ֖ר הָעָ֣ם׀ וגו״] This passage appeared so difficult to Rabbi Levi, an otherwise sufficiently accurate interpreter, that he thought הָעָ֣ם׀ קָרָ֑אתִי, I called the people, were the words of Saul; as if Samuel said to him, Eat, because at this very time, in the next year, you will anticipate and await the kingdom, and say, I called the people, which is certainly strange: the Vulgate translates לֵאמֹר/ saying as when, or completely omits it (Dieu). [They render it variously.] It was placed as a testimony to thee along side of others (Septuagint), that is, so that it might distinguish thee from others (Mendoza). For unto the stated time (unto this very time [Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Strigelius, Munster]; unto this very established time [Piscator]; opportunely [Dutch]; as arranged [Castalio]) it was kept for thee (Montanus), in saying, I called, or invited, the people (Pagnine, Montanus, Jonathan). Or, with me saying to the cook, I invited the people (Munster); or, while I was saying, I invited the people (Dutch, Tigurinus); or, since I said, I invited (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, English), that is, since I declared to the cook, that he should prepare a feast for those invited. So also the Genevan, except that they took לֵאמֹר/saying as to conclude and establish with oneself: but that does not appear to fit, for contained here is the reason why he had ordered the shoulder to be reserved; namely, because he had said to the cook, הָעָ֣ם׀ קָרָ֑אתִי, I have called the people; which was not able to pertain to those thirty invited. Therefore, Vatablus rightly observes that עָם/people here signifies others, not the thirty; besides the thirty I have also invited others (Dieu). Thus Castalio: inasmuch as I said that I invited men; that is, I knew that thou wast going to come; and so I ordered the cook to reserve this; for I knew that I was going to have other guests (Castalio). But, since those others were only two, Saul and his servant, it is asked how those were able to be called עַם, a people? here some light is to be brought. עָם/people is also used of a few; indeed, a single one, unlearned and common, is called by the Rabbis עַם הָאָרֶץ, the people of the land. And, as עָם/people is here used of two, so of three in 2 Kings 18:36, in which הָעָם, the people, held their peace, namely, the three that Hezekiah had sent to Rabshakeh. Thus the Arabic קַיֵם, which properly denotes a people, common people, is used simply for men, for certain ones, indeed, for a certain one, as in Luke 9:27, there be some, etc., where the Arabic has, a people is standing here. Thus to the Syrians אֲנָשָׁא denotes men, and a man, some and a certain one. Similarly in the Ethiopic language שבא, and in the Persic a people, is quite common for some, as in Matthew 16:14. דּוֹר, a generation, is also used in a similar way, Proverbs 30:11, a generation curseth their faither; that is, some curse. Therefore, I would translate it in this place, inasmuch as I said, I have invited some; that is, besides those that were invited by those that offer sacrifices, I also invited certain ones, for whom I wish this shoulder to be reserved. This was not a sacrifice of Samuel, of which sort is that in 1 Samuel 16, but of the people and public, 1 Samuel 9:12; and so Samuel did not so much invite the people, as the people invited Samuel; so that it is something extraordinary, that besides those invied by the people he also invited certain ones (Dieu).


Unto this time; till thou shouldst come hither, and sit down here; whereby thou mayst know that thy coming hither was not unknown to me, and was designed by God for a higher purpose. Since I said, to wit, to the cook, who was before mentioned, as the person to whose care this was committed. I have invited the people, that is, I have invited or designed some persons, for whom I reserve this part. For since the word people is not here taken properly, but for some particular persons of the people, which were not in all above thirty, verse 22, why may not the same word be understood of two or three persons whom Samuel specially invited, to wit, Saul and his servant? So some learned men understand this word people of three men, 2 Kings 18:36. And they further note, that in the Arabic, and Ethiopic, and Persian languages, (all which are near akin, both to themselves and to the Hebrew, and do ofttimes communicate their signification each to other,) the word that signifies people, is oft used for some few particular persons. Or if the word people be meant of the chief of the people, mentioned above, verse 22, then Samuel was the principal author of this sacrifice and feast, and it was not a sacrifice of the people, as it is rendered, verse 12, but a sacrifice and feast made by Samuel for the people, as it should be rendered there; and the sense is, When I first spake or sent to the cook, that I had invited the people, first to join with me in my sacrifice, and then to partake with me of the feast, I then bade him reserve this part for thy use.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקַּ֤ח שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֶת־שָׁא֣וּל וְאֶֽת־נַעֲר֔וֹ וַיְבִיאֵ֖ם לִשְׁכָּ֑תָה וַיִּתֵּ֙ן לָהֶ֤ם מָקוֹם֙ בְּרֹ֣אשׁ הַקְּרוּאִ֔ים וְהֵ֖מָּה כִּשְׁלֹשִׁ֥ים אִֽישׁ׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל֙ לַטַּבָּ֔ח תְּנָה֙ אֶת־הַמָּנָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לָ֑ךְ אֲשֶׁר֙ אָמַ֣רְתִּי אֵלֶ֔יךָ שִׂ֥ים אֹתָ֖הּ עִמָּֽךְ׃ [3] According to Greek mythology, Ajax, a massive and mighty Greek warrior, has two duels with the Trojan prince, Hector. Nestor and Phoenix, both in advanced age, were also present at the Trojan War, urging Agamemnon and Achilles to reconcile. [4] Telemachus, son of Odysseus, journeying in search of news concerning his lost father, visits Menelaus in Sparta, who in turn tells Telemachus tales of his father’s exploits. [5] Hebrew: וַיָּ֣רֶם הַ֠טַּבָּח אֶת־הַשּׁ֙וֹק וְהֶעָלֶ֜יהָ וַיָּ֣שֶׂם׀ לִפְנֵ֣י שָׁא֗וּל וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ הִנֵּ֤ה הַנִּשְׁאָר֙ שִׂים־לְפָנֶ֣יךָ אֱכֹ֔ל כִּ֧י לַמּוֹעֵ֛ד שָֽׁמוּר־לְךָ֥ לֵאמֹ֖ר הָעָ֣ם׀ קָרָ֑אתִי וַיֹּ֧אכַל שָׁא֛וּל עִם־שְׁמוּאֵ֖ל בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ [6] Hebrew: הַנִּשְׁאָר. [7] Rabbi Johanan (180-279 AD) was a student of Judah ha-Nasi and one of the great sages of his era. He is cited thousands of times in the Talmuds. [8] Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was one of the greatest rabbis of the first and second centuries of the Christian era, and was a member of the Sanhedrin at Jamnia. His work is marked by great commitment to the Scriptures and strict adherence to the traditional teaching of the rabbis that preceded him. [9] Judges 15:8: “And he smote them hip and thigh (שׁ֛וֹק עַל־יָרֵ֖ךְ, or, calf upon thigh) with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.” [10] Exodus 29:22: “Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder (וְאֵ֖ת שׁ֣וֹק הַיָּמִ֑ין); for it is a ram of consecration…” [11] Leviticus 8:25: “And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder (וְאֵ֖ת שׁ֥וֹק הַיָּמִֽין׃)…” [12] Numbers 18:18: “And the flesh of them shall be thine, as the wave breast and as the right shoulder (וּכְשׁ֥וֹק הַיָּמִ֖ין) are thine.” [13]Antiquities 6:4. [14] Dionysius, son of Tryphon, was a first century BC Greek grammarian and lexicographer. [15] 1 Samuel 9:24a: “And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And he said (וַיֹּאמֶר, without an express subject), Behold that which is left! set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people.…”

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