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But there was one distinction which marked out Saul for his future office. The desire of all Israel' was already, unconsciously, on him and on his father's house.' 1 He had the one gift by which in that primitive time a man seemed to be worthy of rule. He was 'goodly,' there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he,'? ' from his shoulders and upward, he towered above all the ‘ people. When he stood among the people, Samuel could say of him, 'See ye him, look at him whom the Lord hath • chosen, that there is none like him among all the people.”3 It is as in the days of the Judges, as in the Homeric days of Greece. Agamemnon, like Saul, is head and shoulders taller than the people. Like Saul, too, he has that peculiar air and dignity expressed by the Hebrew word which we translate 'good' or 'goodly.' This is the ground of the epithet which became fixed as part of his name— Saul the chosen,
_ ' the chosen of the Lord.' 5
In the Mussulman traditions this is the only trait of Saul which is preserved. His name has there been almost lost, he is known only as Thalût, 'the tall one.' In the Hebrew songs of his own time, he was known by a more endearing but not less expressive indication of the same grace. His stately, towering form, standing under the pomegranate tree above the precipice of Migron, or on the pointed crags of Michmash, or the rocks of En-gedi, claimed for him the title of the wild ‘roe, the gazelle,' perched aloft, “the pride and glory of Israel.'' Against the giant Philistines a giant king was needed. The time for the little stripling of the house of Jesse was close at hand, but was not yet come. Saul and Jonathan, 'swifter
11 Sam. ix. 20.
• Compare the description and re-
- 2 Sam, xxi. 6.
6 D'Herbelot, Thalout ben Kissaï. • 1 Sam. xiv. 2.
8 2 Sam. i. 19, the word translated beauty,' but the same term (tsebi) in 2 Sam. ii. 18, and elsewhere, is translated 'roe.'
'than eagles and stronger than lions,' still seemed the fittest champions of Israel. When Saul saw any strong
• ‘man or any valiant man he took him unto him.'? He, in his gigantic panoply, that would fit none but himself,3 with the spear that he had in his hand, of the same form and fashion as the spear of Goliath, was a host in himself.
And when we look at the state of Israel at the time, we find that we are still in the condition which would most justify such a choice. His residence, like that of the ancient Judges, is still at the seat of the family. That beaconlike cone, conspicuous amongst the uplands of Benjamin, then and still known by the name of the Hill' (gibeah), had been selected apparently by his ancestor * Jehiel, for the foundation of one of the chief cities in Benjamin. There Saul had his house,' and his name superseded the more ancient title of the city as derived from the tribe. And there, king as he was, we might fancy ourselves still in the days of Shamgar or of Gideon, when we see him following his herd of oxen in the field, and driving them home at the close of day up the steep ascent of the city.
It was on one of these evening returns that his career received the next sharp stimulus which drove him on to his destined work. A loud wail, such as goes up in an Eastern Relief of city at the tidings of some great calamity, strikes his ear. Gibeah.
. He said, What aileth the people that they weep?' They told him the news that had reached them from their kinsmen beyond the Jordan. The work which Jephthab 6 had wrought in that wild region had to be done over again. Ammon was advancing, and the first victims were the inhabitants of Jabesh, connected by the romantic adventure
1 2 Sam. i. 23.
• When Abiel, or Jehiel (1 Chr. viii. 29, ix. 35), is called the father. of Gibeon,' it probably means founder
5 Formerly 'Gibeah of Benjamin,' henceforth Gibeah of Saul,' down to the time of Josephus (B. J. v. 2, 81).
See Lecture XVI.
The first victory.
of the previous generation with the tribe' of Benjamin. This one spark of outraged family feeling was needed to awaken the dormant spirit of the sluggish giant. He was a true Benjamite from first to last. The Spirit of God ?
came upon him,' as on Samson. His shy retiring nature vanished. His anger flamed out, and he took two oxen from the herd that he was driving, and (here again, in accordance with the like expedient in that earlier time, only in a somewhat gentler form) he hewed them in pieces and sent their bones through the country with the significant warning,
Whosoever cometh not after Saul, and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen.' An awe fell upon the people : they rose as one man. In one day they crossed the Jordan. Jabesh was rescued. It was the deliverance of his own tribe which thus at once seated him on the throne securely. The East of the Jordan was regarded as specially the conquest of Saul. The people of Jabesh never forgot their debt of gratitude. The house of Saul were safe there when their cause was ruined everywhere else.
This was his first great victory. The monarchy was inaugurated afresh. But he still so far resembles the earlier Judges as to be virtually king only within his own tribe. Almost all his exploits are confined to this immediate neighbourhood. In that neighbourhood the Philistines are still in the ascendant, as in the days of Samson and Eli. Sanctuaries of Dagon are found, far away from the sea-coast, up to the very verge of the Jordan valley.* It had become a Philistine country, almost as much as Spain had in the ninth century become a Mussulman country. As there, the Arabic names and Arabic architecture reveal the existence of the intruding race, up to the very frontier of Biscay and the Asturias, so in the very heart of Palestine, we stumble on the I Judg. xx.
See Lecture XIII. this is described as preceding the The same word in 1 Sam. x. 10, election of Saul. xi. 6, and in Judg. xiv. 6, 19; xv. 14. * See the map, Palestine after the
2 1 Sam. xi. 1-15. But in xii. 12, Conquest.
The Philistine war.
traces of the Philistine. At Gibeah or at Ramah, close by one of the Prophetic schools, is a garrison or exacting officer of the Philistines. At Michmash is another; at Geba is another. At any harvest, an incursion of the Philistines, with their animals to carry off the ripe corn, was a regular event, to be constantly expected. The people are depressed to the same point as before the time of Deborah, when there was not 'a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel.' * There was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Israelites make themselves swords and spears. But all the Israelites went down to the * Philistines, to sharpen every one bis share, and his coulter,
and his ax, and his mattock.'? Saul and Jonathan alone had arms. The complete panoply; of the Philistine giant was a marvel to the unarmed Israelites.
As in the days of the Midianite invasion, the Israelites vanished from before their enemies into the caves and pits in which the limestone rocks abound. “Behold the Hebrews • come out of the holes where they have hid themselves,' is the exclamation of the Philistines, as they saw any adventurous warriors creeping out of their lurking places. The whole nation was pushed eastward. The monarchy was like a wind-driven tree. The sharp blast from Philistia blew it awry. The • Hebrews' (so they are usually called by their Philistine conquerors) are said, as if in allusion to their repassing their ancient boundary, to have passed" over Jordan
to the land of Gad and Gilead.' The sanctuaries long frequented in the centre of the country, Bethel, and Mizpeh, and Shiloh, were deserted, and the King had to be inaugurated, and the thanksgivings after the victories had to be celebrated, in the first ground that had been won by Joshua
11 Sam. xxiii. 11.
6 Ibid. iv. 6, 9, xiii. 19, xiv. 11, xxix. 3.
? Ibid. xiii. 3, 7. See Lecture I.,
in the very outskirts of Palestine—at Gilgal' in the valley of tbe Jordan. In the midst of such a renewal of the disturbed days of old, Saul was exactly what an ancient Judge would have been. As in each instance they were called up from the tribes especially in danger—as Barak was raised up to defend the tribe of Naphthali from Jabin, and Gideon to defend the tribe of Manasseh against Midian, so Saul of the tribe of Benjamin was the natural champion of his country, now that the heights of his own tribe-Gibeah, and Geba, and Ramah—and the passes of his own tribe-Bethhoron and Michmash-were occupied by the hostile garrisons. We see him leaning on his gigantic spear, whether it be on the summit of the rock Rimmon, to which the remnant of his tribe had once fled before, or under the tamarisk of Ramah, as Deborah had of old judged Israel under the palm tree in Bethel, or on the heights of Gibeah. There he stood with his small band, his faithful six hundred, and as he wept aloud' over the misfortunes of his country and of his tribe, another voice swelled the wild indignant lament—the voice of Jonathan his son.
At this point we turn aside to the noble figure which henceforth appears by the side of Saul. Like Saul, Jonathan belongs to the earlier age; but is one of its finest specimens. He had, in a sudden act of youthful daring, as when Gideon's brothers had risen against the Midianites on Tabor, given the signal for a general revolt, by attacking and slaying the Philistine officer stationed close to the point where his own position was fixed. The invasion which followed was more crushing than ever; and from this, as Jonathan had been the first to provoke it, so he was the first to deliver his people. He determined to undertake the whole risk himself. • The day '—the day fixed by him for his enterprise
See 1 Sam. x. 8, xi, 14, xiii. 4, 7, • 1 Sam. xüi. 3, 4 (LXX. Ewald, xv. 4 (LXX.), 12.
iii. 41). 2 1 Sam. xxii, 6.
ó i Sam. xiv. 1 (LXX.) 1 Sam. xiii. 16 (LXX. and Jos.).