Archive for the ‘Jabesh-Gilead’ Tag

The Battle of Gilboa and the Death of Saul and Jonathan   Leave a comment

Above:  The Death of Saul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXVIII

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1 Samuel 31:1-13

1 Chronicles 10:1-14

2 Samuel 1:1-27

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For my enemies are talking against me,

and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

They say, “God has forsaken him;

go after him and seize him;

because there is none who will save.”

–Psalm 71:10-11, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle of 1 Samuel.  Chronologically, the correct order at the end of the book is:

  1. 27:1-28:2
  2. 29:1-11
  3. 30:1-11
  4. 28:3-25
  5. 31:1-13

Saul had become the King of Israel with a charge to free the Israelites from the Philistine threat.  He had failed.  After his death, most of Israel came under Philistine domination.  Saul, early in his reign, had rescued the people of Jabesh-Gilead (1 Samuel 11).  Ironically, Saul was beyond rescue in Chapter 31.  Residents of Jabesh-Gilead rescued his corpse, however.  Saul had chosen honorable suicide over captivity.  His story had a sad ending.

Saul’s dynasty continued, though.  One son, Ishbosheth, survived.  He became the King of Israel in 2 Samuel 2.

Notice, O reader, the consistency between 1 Samuel 31:1-13 and 1 Chronicles 10:1-14.  Both of them state that Saul committed suicide.  Then, O reader, contrast that version with with the tale the Amalekite told David in 2 Samuel 1.  One lesson a person can learn from reading certain portions of the Hebrew Bible is never to trust an Amalekite.  Also remember that not everybody in the Bible speaks honestly.

The unnamed Amalekite, I suppose, sought a reward from David for having allegedly killed Saul, even allegedly at Saul’s request.  The Amalekite lied to the wrong man.  Saul, as David acknowledged, was God’s anointed.

David also mourned for Jonathan, his friend and brother-in-law.  Jonathan had good character.  He was also loyal to his father to the end.  Jonathan had been honest about Saul’s failings as a man, a ruler, and a military commander.  Jonathan had spoken up on David’s behalf and incurred Saul’s verbal wrath.  Jonathan had helped David while the latter was on the run from Saul.  Yet Jonathan had never been disloyal to the kingdom and the monarchy.

The germane texts depict Jonathan as a decisive military commander and a man of good character.  I wonder about a counterfactual scenario in which Jonathan succeeded his father.  I wonder what the Biblical evaluation of King Jonathan would have been.  That, of course, is not the story we have.  The death of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 31 and 1 Chronicles 10 may be sadder than that of King Saul.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF THEODORE O. WEDEL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL, U.S. PSYCHOLOGIST AND EPISCOPAL ECUMENIST

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Samuel’s Farewell Address   Leave a comment

Above: Icon of Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XI

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1 Samuel 12:1-25

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I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

–Psalm 145:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The cutting and pasting of sources to create a composite narrative made some chronological inconsistencies.  Consider 1 Samuel 12:12, for example, O reader.

But when you saw that Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was advancing against you, you said to me, “No, we must have a king reigning over us”–though the LORD your God is your King.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

People demanded a king in Chapter 8.  Nahash the Ammonite advanced against Jabesh-Gilead in Chapter 11.

If I were a Biblical literalist, this chronological inconsistency would bother me.  I would feel compelled to reconcile the chronologies.  I am not a Biblical literalist, though.

The theological meat in 1 Samuel 12 is that (1) the call for a monarchy constitutes a rejection of God, and (2) if the people and their king obey God, the future will go well.  Keep in mind, O reader, that this series of blog posts covers texts informed by hindsight.  We humans think, speak, and write of the past through the lens of our present day.  We may preserve the accuracy of the account, but we are not disoriented, objective historians.  No, the lens is the present day, with its issues and our agendas.  Therefore, 1 Samuel 12:14-15 and 12:23-25, in retrospect, constitute heartbreaking prophecy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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The Accession of King Saul   Leave a comment

Above: The Coronation of King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART X

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1 Samuel 11:1-15

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He shall defend the needy among the people,

he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

–Psalm 72:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Saul, chosen to become the King of Israel, was not yet the monarch.  He was still working in the field at the beginning of Chapter 11.  Saul rose to the occasion and led forces into victory against those of the cruel Nahash the Ammonite.

The mention of Jabesh-Gilead, east of the River Jordan, constitutes a call-back to Judges 21:8-12.  In that passage, set after a civil war against the tribe of Benjamin, victorious tribes sacked Jabesh-Gilead  to find wives for Benjaminite men.  Judges 21:25 reads,

In those days, there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their eyes.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

In narrative context, then, the deliverance of the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead affirmed the necessity of the monarchy.

Saul’s behavior in 1 Samuel 9-11 indicated that he did not want to become the King of Israel.  The family farm seemed to be his preference.  After the anointing, Saul returned home and told nobody about the anointing.  He hid in the baggage at the assembly.  After the assembly, he was still a farmer.

Reading the stories of the beginning of Saul’s reign may create a sense of sadness.  Knowing the rest of the story places the beginning of the tale in context.  One can imagine what Saul may have become if he had made different choices or had never had to pursue runaway donkeys on a certain day.  There is also a cautionary tale about the allure of power and the fragility of some psyches.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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