1 Samuel 10:14
And Saul's uncle said to him and to his servant, Where went you? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
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(14) Saul’s uncle.—Most probably, this uncle was the subsequently famous Abner—so Ewald, Josephus, and others. Kish, the father of Saul, a quiet, plain man, evidently was quite content that his beasts were found, and that his son had returned in safety and so asks no curious questions about his son’s journey. Not so Abner, who was a restless, ambitious man, and who, very probably, had heard something already from the servant who accompanied Saul (traditionally supposed to have been Doeg) of the strange honours paid to his nephew by the great and revered judge of Israel, the famous Samuel, and also of the long private interview between them. Abner, the uncle of the future king, an observant man, might well have been struck with the change that had passed over his nephew since he had last seen him; hence his question, “Tell me what Samuel said unto you?”

10:9-16 The signs Samuel had given Saul, came to pass punctually; he found that God had given him another heart, another disposition of mind. Yet let not an outward show of devotion, and a sudden change for the present, be too much relied on; Saul among the prophets was Saul still. His being anointed was kept private. He leaves it to God to carry on his own work by Samuel, and sits still, to see how the matter will fall.From the order of the narrative, and the mention of Saul's servant, it looks as if Saul found his uncle at the high place. Perhaps some solemnity similar to that mentioned in 1 Samuel 9:19 was going on at this time, in which the prophets had been taking part. 12. But who is their father?—The Septuagint reads, "Who is his father?" referring to Saul the son of Kish. Saul’s uncle, being there present, and observing this great alteration in his nephew. And Saul's uncle said unto him, and to his servant, whither went ye?.... Since they had been absent so long a time. This was his father's brother, as the Targum, and so Aquila; whose name was Ner, the father of Abner, 1 Samuel 14:50 who met with him at the high place, or found him in the city, in his father's house it may be. Josephus (g) says, Saul went into the house of his kinsman Abner, whom he loved above all his relations, and that it was he that discoursed with Saul, and asked him, the questions before and after related:

and he said, to seek the asses: he first observes the end of their going, the business they went upon, in which not succeeding, then he answers more directly to the question:

and when we saw that they were nowhere; could not see them, nor find them any where, or hear of them where they went:

we came to Samuel; at Ramah, to inquire of him, if he could direct us which way to go, and what methods to take, to find the asses.

(g) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 4.) sect. 3.

And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
14. Saul’s uncle] Possibly Ner. See note on 1 Samuel 14:50. He may have been at the high-place for some public solemnity, at which the prophets also had been present; or the conversation may have occurred on a subsequent occasion.Verses 14-16. - Saul's uncle. According to 1 Samuel 14:50, 51; 1 Chronicles 8:33, this would be Abner. The conversation probably took place after Saul had returned from the Bamah and gone to his own home, for in so brief a summary much necessarily is omitted. It is curious that the conversation should have taken place with the uncle, and not with the father; but possibly the latter was too well pleased to have his son back again to be very particular in his inquiries. Not so Abner. He was evidently excited by his nephew s visit to the prophet, and struck perhaps by the change in Saul himself, and would gladly have heard more. But Saul does not gratify his curiosity. Of the matter of the kingdom... he told him not. It was not merely prudent, but right to keep the matter secret. An able man like Abner would probably have begun to scheme for so great an end. Saul s silence left the fulfilment of the prophet's words entirely to God.

CHAPTER 10:17-27 PUBLIC SELECTION OF SAUL AS KING (vers. 17-24). In conclusion, Samuel gave him an important hint with regard to his future attitude: "And goest thou before me down to Gilgal; and, behold, I am coming down to thee, to offer burnt-offerings, and to sacrifice peace-offerings: thou shalt wait seven days, till I come to thee, that I may show thee what thou art to do." The infinitive clause וגו להעלות is undoubtedly dependent upon the main clause וירדתּ, and not upon the circumstantial clause which is introduced as a parenthesis. The thought therefore is the following: If Saul went down to Gilgal to offer sacrifice there, he was to wait till Samuel arrived. The construction of the main clause itself, however, is doubtful, since, grammatically considered, ירדתּ can either be a continuation of the imperative עשׂה (1 Samuel 10:7), or can be regarded as independent, and in fact conditional. The latter view, according to which ירדתּ supposes his going down as a possible thing that may take place at a future time, is the one required by the circumstantial clause which follows, and which is introduced by והנּה; for if וירדתּ were intended to be a continuation of the imperative which precedes it, so that Samuel commanded Saul to go down to Gilgal before him, he would have simply announced his coming, that is to say, he would either have said וירדתּי or ארד ואני. The circumstantial clause "and behold I am coming down to thee" evidently presupposes Saul's going down as a possible occurrence, in the event of which Samuel prescribes the course he is to pursue. But the conditional interpretation of וירדתּ is still more decidedly required by the context. For instance, when Samuel said to Saul that after the occurrence of the three signs he was to do what came to his hand, he could hardly command him immediately afterwards to go to Gilgal, since the performance of what came to his hand might prevent him from going to Gilgal. If, however, Samuel meant that after Saul had finished what came to his hand he was to go down to Gilgal, he would have said, "And after thou hast done this, go down to Gilgal," etc. But as he does not express himself in this manner, he can only have referred to Saul's going to Gilgal as an occurrence which, as he foresaw, would take place at some time or other. And to Saul himself this must not only have presented itself as a possible occurrence, but under the existing circumstances as one that was sure to take place; so that the whole thing was not so obscure to him as it is to us, who are only able to form our conclusions from the brief account which lies before us. If we suppose that in the conversation which Samuel had with Saul upon the roof (1 Samuel 9:25), he also spoke about the manner in which the Philistines, who had pushed their outposts as far as Gibeah, could be successfully attacked, he might also have mentioned that Gilgal was the most suitable place for gathering an army together, and for making the necessary preparations for a successful engagement with their foes. If we just glance at the events narrated in the following chapters, for the purpose of getting a clear idea of the thing which Samuel had in view; we find that the three signs announced by Samuel took place on Saul's return to Gibeah (1 Samuel 10:9-16). Samuel then summoned the people to Mizpeh, where Saul was elected king by lot (1 Samuel 10:17-27); but Saul returned to Gibeah to his own house even after this solemn election, and was engaged in ploughing the field, when messengers came from Jabesh with the account of the siege of that town by the Ammonites. On receiving this intelligence the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him, so that he summoned the whole nation with energy and without delay to come to battle, and proceeded to Jabesh with the assembled army, and smote the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-11). Thereupon Samuel summoned the people to come to Gilgal and renew the monarchy there (1 Samuel 11:12-15); and at the same time he renewed his office of supreme judge (1 Samuel 12), so that now for the first time Saul actually commenced his reign, and began the war against the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:1), in which, as soon as the latter advanced to Michmash with a powerful army after Jonathan's victorious engagement, he summoned the people to Gilgal to battle, and after waiting there seven days for Samuel in vain, had the sacrifices offered, on which account as soon as Samuel arrived he announced to him that his rule would not last (1 Samuel 13:13.).

Now, it cannot have been the first of these two gatherings at Gilgal that Samuel had in his mind, but must have been the second. The first is precluded by the simple fact that Samuel summoned the people to go to Gilgal for the purpose of renewing the monarchy; and therefore, as the words "come and let us go to Gilgal" (1 Samuel 11:14) unquestionably imply, he must have gone thither himself along with the people and the king, so that Saul was never in a position to have to wait for Samuel's arrival. The second occurrence at Gilgal, on the other hand, is clearly indicated in the words of 1 Samuel 13:8, "Saul tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed," in which there is almost an express allusion to the instructions given to Saul in the verse before us. But whilst we cannot but regard this as the only true explanation, we cannot agree with Seb. Schmidt, who looks upon the instructions given to Saul in this verse as "a rule to be observed throughout the whole of Samuel's life," that is to say, who interprets ירדתּ in the sense of "as often as thou goest down to Gilgal." For this view cannot be grammatically sustained, although it is founded upon the correct idea, that Samuel's instructions cannot have been intended as a solitary and arbitrary command, by which Saul was to be kept in a condition of dependence. According to our explanation, however, this is not the case; but there was an inward necessity for them, so far as the government of Saul was concerned. Placed as he was by Jehovah as king over His people, for the purpose of rescuing them out of the power of those who were at that time its most dangerous foes, Saul was not at liberty to enter upon the war against these foes simply by his own will, but was directed to wait till Samuel, the accredited prophet of Jehovah, had completed the consecration through the offering of a solemn sacrifice, and had communicated to him the requisite instructions from God, even though he should have to wait for seven days.

(Note: The difficulty in question has been solved on the whole quite correctly by Brentius. "It is not to be supposed," he says, "that Samuel was directing Saul to go at once to Gilgal as soon as he should go away from him, and wait there for seven days; but that he was to do this after he had been chosen king by public lot, and having conquered the Ammonites and been confirmed in the kingdom, was about to prepare to make war upon the Philistines, on whose account chiefly it was that he had been called to the kingdom. For the Lord had already spoken thus to Samuel concerning Saul: 'He will save my people from the hands of the Philistines, because I have looked upon my people.' This is the meaning therefore of Samuel's command: Thou hast been called to the kingdom chiefly for this purpose, that thou mayest deliver Israel from the tyranny of the Philistines. When therefore thou shalt enter upon this work, go down into Gilgal and wait there seven days, until I shall come to thee: for thou shalt then offer a holocaust, though not before I come to thee, and I will show thee what must be done in order that our enemies the Philistines may be conquered. The account of this is given below in 1 Samuel 13, where we learn that Saul violated this command.")

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