Poole on 1 Samuel 9:3-5: Saul's Task

Verse 3:[1] And the asses of Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.


[Take with thee one of the young men, etc.] Or servants. This was the frugality of ancient times. That Cato Porcius,[2] although he was governing all Hispania alone, was going out publicly with only three servants. Scipio,[3] after two consulships and two triumphal processions, engaged in the office of legation with only seven servants (Mendoza).



[And seek the asses] Question: Whether this duty was equal to the dignity of Saul? Response: Pastoral duty was not ignoble in ancient times, as Philo testifies in his Concerning the Sacrifice of Abel and Cain 121, and Josephus in his Works 453 (Mendoza). Hercules drove herds of oxen. Apollo shepherded the oxen of Admetus.[4] Paris was a herdsman, when he was chosen as a judge of the three goddesses.[5] At that time, there were not as many idle as there are now (Martyr). You will say that the shepherds of sheep were noble, but not likewise of asses. But on the contrary, a Duke and Prince of the posterity of Esau fed the asses of his father, Genesiss 36:24 (Mendoza). Asses were highly valued there. Aristotle says that in Syria asses were highly prized, and that the Syrians were wont to make use of them as mules, because they were strong (Martyr). Asses in Syria are more excellent than European ones; whence the sons of princes were riding them, Judges 10:4; 12:14. For the Hebrews were rarely making use of horses; and that from the command of God, Deuteronomy 17:16 (Lapide). In that age there was much use of asses in Palestine (Menochius, similarly Sanchez). It is not strange then, that Saul, a noble young man, is sent by his father to search for his asses. And, just as noble men now exercise themselves with hunting, so also they formerly were able to exercise themselves with shepherding. Note that Saul was in an honest vocation, when the kingdom fell to him (Martyr). This history is able is able to be turned into an excellent proverb. He sought asses, and found a Kingdom (Grotius).


Go seek the asses: Which were there of great price and use, Judges 10:4; 12:14, because of the scarcity of horses, Deuteronomy 17:16, and therefore not held unworthy of Saul’s seeking, at least in those ancient times, when simplicity, humility, and industry were in fashion among persons of quality.


Verse 4:[6] And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of (2 Kings 4:42) Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.



[Thourgh mount Ephraim] That is, either through the whole tribe, which was thus called because it was mountainous, as it is evident from Joshua 17:15; 20:7; 21:21: or through a certain part of it (Mendoza).


Mount Ephraim; a part of the tribe of Ephraim, which bordered upon Benjamin; and therefore they could soon pass out of the one into the other, and back again, as they saw cause.


[Through the land of Shalisha] That region is a plain in Benjamin, 2 Kings 4:42 (Piscator ou of Junius). In Genesis 14, this region is called Bela and Zoar (Jerome out of the Hebrews in Mendoza, Menochius, Lapide). Through the south land (Jonathan).


[Through the land of Shalim, שַׁעֲלִים] Saalim (Drusius). A town of which, in John 3:23, is corruptly called Σαλείμ/Salim (Junius, Piscator). This is not satisfying, for the Chaldean and the Syriac call it שלים/Shalim (Drusius). The same, in the singular number, is called the land of שׁוּעָל/Shual in 1 Samuel 13:17, not far from Gilgal on the Jordan (Junius, Piscator).


[And there they were not] Hebrew: and not.[7] It is a Hebraism, as in Genesis 5:24, and he was not;[8] and in Genesis 42:36.[9] Thus here, and not, understanding, were they found (Mendoza). They nowhere appeared (Vatablus).


[Through the land of Jemini] That is, of the Benjamites (Vatablus, Drusius). I think rather that part of that tribe was named after that illustrious man, Jemini. For, he was not able pass through the whole tribe in the space of three days (Mendoza).


Verse 5:[10] And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.


[Into the land of Zuph] Concerning which see 1 Samuel 1:1 (Junius, Piscator, Mendoza). In which was Ramathaim-zophim (Menochius, Drusius). Into the land in which was the prophet of the Lord (Jonathan). It appears that in the place of צוּף/Zuph he read צוֹפֶה/watchman. Or he thought that that region was thus named after צוֹפִים, that is, the prophets, or watchmen, that were dwelling in it (Drusius). Now, since these two tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin were neighboring, as it is evident from Joshua 18:11, Saul was able easily to pass from the one to the other: For, being uncertain of where he was going, he was carried to one side and the other (Mendoza).


The land of Zuph; in which was Ramah, called also Ramah, or Ramathaim-zophim, the place of Samuel’s birth and habitation, 1 Samuel 1:1; 7:17.

[1] Hebrew: וַתֹּאבַ֙דְנָה֙ הָאֲתֹנ֔וֹת לְקִ֖ישׁ אֲבִ֣י שָׁא֑וּל וַיֹּ֙אמֶר קִ֜ישׁ אֶל־שָׁא֣וּל בְּנ֗וֹ קַח־נָ֤א אִתְּךָ֙ אֶת־אַחַ֣ד מֵֽהַנְּעָרִ֔ים וְק֣וּם לֵ֔ךְ בַּקֵּ֖שׁ אֶת־הָאֲתֹנֹֽת׃ [2] Cato the Elder (234 BC-149 BC) was a Roman statesman. [3] Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Æmilianus (185-129 BC) was a Roman general and statesmen, overseeing the destruction of Carthage in the Third Punic War, and the reduction of the Numantines in Hispania. [4] In Greek mythology, Admetus was King of Pheræ in Thessaly, famous for his hospitality and fair-mindedness. Apollo was sentenced by the divine counsel to a year as herdman of Admetus’ cattle, after his killing of Delphyne. [5] Paris was the son of King Priam of Troy. He is famed for his elopement with Helen of Sparta, occasioning the Trojan War. When Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite quarreled over who was most beautiful, Paris was selected by Zeus to judge. [6] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲבֹ֧ר בְּהַר־אֶפְרַ֛יִם וַיַּעֲבֹ֥ר בְּאֶֽרֶץ־שָׁלִ֖שָׁה וְלֹ֣א מָצָ֑אוּ וַיַּעַבְר֤וּ בְאֶֽרֶץ־שַׁעֲלִים֙ וָאַ֔יִן וַיַּעֲבֹ֥ר בְּאֶֽרֶץ־יְמִינִ֖י וְלֹ֥א מָצָֽאוּ׃ [7] Hebrew: וָאַיִן. [8] Genesis 5:24: “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not (וְאֵינֶנּוּ); for God took him.” [9] Genesis 42:36: “And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not (יוֹסֵ֤ף אֵינֶ֙נּוּ֙ וְשִׁמְע֣וֹן אֵינֶ֔נּוּ), and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.” [10] Hebrew: הֵ֗מָּה בָּ֚אוּ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ צ֔וּף וְשָׁא֥וּל אָמַ֛ר לְנַעֲר֥וֹ אֲשֶׁר־עִמּ֖וֹ לְכָ֣ה וְנָשׁ֑וּבָה פֶּן־יֶחְדַּ֥ל אָבִ֛י מִן־הָאֲתֹנ֖וֹת וְדָ֥אַג לָֽנוּ׃

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