1 Samuel 9:1
Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.
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(1) Saul.—The inspired compiler of these books—having related the circumstances which accompanied the people’s request to the last of the judges for a king—closed the first part of the story of this momentous change in the fortunes of the chosen people with the words of the prophet-judge, bidding the representative elders to return to their homes, and wait the result of his solemn communing with the Eternal Friend of Israel on the subject of this king they so earnestly desired.

The Eternal answered His servant either in a vision, or by Urim, or by an angel visitant. We are in most cases left in ignorance respecting the precise method by which God communicated with these highly-favoured men—His elect servante. The chosen Israelite whom Samuel was to anoint as the first king in Israel would meet the prophet—so said the “word of the Lord” to Samuel—on a certain day and hour, at a given place. The ninth chapter begins with a short account of the family of this man chosen for so high an office, and after a word or two of personal description, goes on to relate the circumstances under which he met Samuel. Saul, a man in the prime of manhood, distinguished among his fellows by his great stature, and for his grace and manly beauty, was the son of a noble and opulent Benjamite of Gribeah, a small city in the south of the Land of Promise.

The whole of this episode in our ancient book is singularly picturesque. We see the yet unproclaimed king occupied in his father’s business, and throwing his whole powers into the every-day transactions of the farm on the slopes of Mount Ephraim. In a few words the historian describes how the modest and retiring Saul was roused from the quiet pastoral pursuits in which his hitherto uneventful life had been spent. The reverent, perhaps slightly reluctant, admiration with which the seer of God gazed at the future king of Israel; the prophet’s significant address, the symbol gifts, the graceful hospitality, and, above all, the solemn and, no doubt, burning words of the generous old man, woke up the sleeping hero-spirit, and prepared the young Benjamite for his future mighty work. But there was no vulgar elation at the prospect which lay before him, no hurried grasping at the splendid prize which the seer told him the God of his fathers had destined for him. Quietly he took leave of the famous Samuel; the predicted signs of his coming greatness one by one were literally fulfilled; but Saul returned to the ancestral farm in the hills of Benjamin, and was subject to his father, as in old days; and when at last the public summons to the throne came to him, he seems to have accepted the great office for which he had been marked with positive reluctance and shrinking, nor does he appear materially to have altered his old simple way of living until a great national disgrace called for a devoted patriot to avenge it. Then the heroic heart of the Lord’s anointed awoke, and Saul, when the hour came, showed himself a king indeed.

Kish, the son of Abiel.—On comparison with the genealogical summaries given in Genesis 46:21; 1Samuel 9:1; 1Samuel 14:51; 1Chronicles 7:6-8, &c, the line of Samuel appears as follows:—
















Yet even here certain links are omitted, for we hear of one Matri in 1Samuel 10:21, and Jehiel in 1Chronicles 9:35.


The truth is that in each of the genealogical summaries the transcriber of the original family document left out certain names not needed for his special purpose. The names omitted are not always the same; hence, often in these tables, the apparent discrepancies.

Dean Payne Smith, too, suggests, that the hopeless entanglement in the Benjamite genealogies is in a measure due to the terrible civil war which resulted from the crime related in Judges 20. In the confusion which naturally resulted from the massacres and ceaseless wars of this early period, many of the older records of the tribes must have perished.

1 Samuel 9:1-2. A mighty man of power — This seems not to be meant of his wealth or interest in his country, for Saul himself says he was of a mean family, 1 Samuel 9:21; but of his great strength, courage, and fortitude. A choice young man and goodly — Comely and personable. Higher than any of the people — A tall stature was much valued in a king in ancient times, and in the eastern countries.

9:1-10 Saul readily went to seek his father's asses. His obedience to his father was praise-worthy. His servant proposed, that since they were now at Ramah, they should call on Samuel, and take his advice. Wherever we are, we should use our opportunities of acquainting ourselves with those who are wise and good. Many will consult a man of God, if he comes in their way, that would not go a step out of their way to get wisdom. We sensibly feel worldly losses, and bestow much pains to make them up; but how little do we attempt, and how soon are we weary, in seeking the salvation of our souls! If ministers could tell men how to secure their property, or to get wealth, they would be more consulted and honoured than they now are, though employed in teaching them how to escape eternal misery, and to obtain eternal life. Most people would rather be told their fortune than their duty. Samuel needed not their money, nor would he have denied his advice, if they had not brought it; but they gave it to him as a token of respect, and of the value they put upon his office, and according to the general usage of those times, always to bring a present to those in authority.The genealogy of Saul is here given as far as Aphiah ("Abiah," 1 Chronicles 7:8), who was of the house of Becher the son of Benjamin Genesis 46:21. "Kish" 1 Chronicles 9:35-39 was the son of "Ner" the son of "Jehiel," (or, "Abiel" here and 1 Samuel 14:51), the first settler ("father," 1 Chronicles 9:35) at Gibeon, or Gibeah of Saul, and who married "Maachah," a daughter or granddaughter of Caleb. If so, it is obvious that the names of several generations are omitted between Kish and Abiel, and among them that from which the family of Matri 1 Samuel 10:21 was called. CHAPTER 9

1Sa 9:1-14. Saul, Despairing to Find His Father's Asses, Comes to Samuel.

1. a mighty man of power—that is, of great wealth and substance. The family was of high consideration in the tribe of Benjamin, and therefore Saul's words must be set down among the common forms of affected humility, which Oriental people are wont to use.The genealogy of Kish, 1 Samuel 9:1. Saul’s person, 1 Samuel 9:2. He is sent to seek his father’s asses, 1 Samuel 9:3. He travels through the country, and finds them not, 1 Samuel 9:4,5. By the counsel of his servant, 1 Samuel 9:6-10, and the direction of young maidens, 1 Samuel 9:11-14, according to God’s revelation, 1 Samuel 9:15-17, he cometh to Samuel, who meets him; entertaineth him at the feast; telleth him the asses were found, and he should be king, 1 Samuel 9:18-20. Saul’s amazement, 1 Samuel 9:21. Samuel gives him the highest place, and a peculiar dish; eats with him, 1 Samuel 9:22-24. After secret communication leadeth him on the way; the servant goes before; Saul stands still with Samuel, 1 Samuel 9:25-27.

Whose name was Kish.

Object. His name was Ner, 1 Chronicles 8:33 9:39.

Answ. Either his father had two names, as was usual among the Hebrews; or Kish was really his father that begot him; and Ner, the brother of Kish, 1 Samuel 14:51 1 Chronicles 9:36, is called his father, because, upon the death of Kish, he took the care of his education, and brought him up as his own son.

A Benjamite, Heb. the son of a man of Jemini, i.e. either of Benjamin, or of a place, or of a man, called Jemini.

A mighty man of power, i.e. a man of great courage and strength; which tends to Saul’s commendation: otherwise, a man of great wealth. But that seems confuted by Saul’s words below, 1 Samuel 9:21, and the people’s contempt of him, 1 Samuel 10:27.

Now there was a man of Benjamin,.... Of the tribe of Benjamin, which had its name from the youngest son of Jacob, and one of this tribe was the first king of Israel:

whose name was Kish: whom the apostle calls Cis, Acts 13:21, and Josephus (i) Cises; his name, according to Hillerus (k), signifies "ensnared"; for what reason it was given him is not certain:

the son of Abiel; in 1 Chronicles 8:33, he is called Ner that begat Kish; and in this book, 1 Samuel 14:50 Ner and Kish are represented as brethren, the sons of Abiel: to reconcile this, it may be observed, that Ner being the elder brother, on the death of his father Abiel, had the care and bringing up of his younger brother Kish; and therefore when he is said to beget him, the meaning is, not that he was the parent of him, but the bringer up of him; or rather, as Kimchi thinks, Abiel had two sons, one of which was Ner; and that he had two sons, one that was called after his own name Ner, who was the father of Abner; and the other Kish, the father of Saul:

the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite; of these persons we nowhere else read:

a mighty man of power; not a man of riches, or of authority, neither a wealthy man, nor a magistrate, for his family was mean and contemptible, 1 Samuel 9:21 but a man of great strength, an able bodied man, and of great natural fortitude, and courage of mind.

(i) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 4. sect. 1.((k) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 405.

Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a {a} mighty man of power.

(a) That is, both valiant and rich.

Ch. 1 Samuel 9:1-2. Saul’s genealogy

1. Now there was a man] “The sacred historian now tracks as it were another stream of events which were to concur in working out God’s providential purpose of giving a king to Israel.” Speaker’s Commentary.

Kish, the son of Abiel] See note on 1 Samuel 14:50.

a mighty man of power] The Heb. may mean either (a) a valiant man, as in ch. 1 Samuel 16:18, or (b) a wealthy man as in Ruth 2:1. Perhaps the ideas of personal valour and family importance are both included here, as in the Sept. rendering ἀνὴρ δυνατός, ‘a powerful man.’

Verse 1. - A man... whose name was Kish. The genealogy of Saul is rendered obscure by the Hebrew custom of abbreviating such records by the omission of names. The family documents were no doubt kept in full, but when transcribed, as here and in the First Book of Chronicles, only a summary is given, and as the omitted links are not always the same, great difficulty is necessarily the result. The most satisfactory genealogy is that given by Schaff from a comparison of Genesis 46:21; 1 Samuel 9:1; 1 Samuel 14:51; 1 Chronicles 7:6-8; 1 Chronicles 8:29-33; 1 Chronicles 9:35-39, and is as follows:

1. Benjamin;

2. Becher;

3. Aphish, perhaps same as Abiah;

4. Bechorath;

5. Zeror, or Zur;

6. Abiel;

7. Ner;

8. Kish;

9. Saul.

Very many links, however, are omitted, among whom must be placed Matri, mentioned in 1 Samuel 10:21; and Jehiel, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:35 (and see ibid. 8:29). He is described as the first settler and coloniser of Gibeon, and as husband of Maachah, a daughter or granddaughter of Caleb. The spelling of his name with an ain forbids our confounding him with Abiel, as is done by Schaff and most commentators, and whom, apparently, he preceded by many generations. In the two places referred to above a large family of sons is ascribed to him; but as, first of all, the lists do not agree, as, moreover, they are said to dwell with their brethren in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 8:32), and as Ner, the father of Kish, is mentioned in the second list, it is pretty certain that we are not to regard, them as his actual children, but as the leading names among his posterity. The fearful cruelty recorded in Judges 20:48 may well account for the hopeless entanglement of Benjamite genealogies. An ancestor of Saul must, of course, have been among the 600 who escaped to the rock Rimmon, but he could have saved only his own life. A mighty man of power. Really, "of wealth." Saul, like David afterwards, was sprung from an affluent family, whose landed property was situated at Gibeah, about four miles north of Jerusalem, afterwards known as Gibeah of Saul. 1 Samuel 9:1Saul searches for his father's asses. - 1 Samuel 9:1, 1 Samuel 9:2. The elaborate genealogy of the Benjaminite Kish, and the minute description of the figure of his son Saul, are intended to indicate at the very outset the importance to which Saul attained in relation to the people of Israel, Kish was the son of Abiel: this is in harmony with 1 Samuel 14:51. But when, on the other hand, it is stated in 1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39, that Ner begat Kish, the difference may be reconciled in the simplest manner, on the assumption that the Ner mentioned there is not the father, but the grandfather, or a still more remote ancestor of Kish, as the intervening members are frequently passed over in the genealogies. The other ancestors of Kish are never mentioned again. חיל גּבּור refers to Kish, and signifies not a brave man, but a man of property, as in Ruth 2:1. This son Saul (i.e., "prayed for:" for this meaning of the word, comp. 1 Samuel 1:17, 1 Samuel 1:27) was "young and beautiful." It is true that even at that time Saul had a son grown up (viz., Jonathan), according to 1 Samuel 13:2; but still, in contrast with his father, he was "a young man," i.e., in the full vigour of youth, probably about forty or forty-five years old. There is no necessity, therefore, to follow the Vulgate rendering electus. No one equalled him in beauty. "From his shoulder upwards he was higher than any of the people." Such a figure as this was well adapted to commend him to the people as their king (cf. 1 Samuel 10:24), since size and beauty were highly valued in rulers, as signs of manly strength (see Herod. iii. 20, vii. 187; Aristot. Polit. iv. c. 24).
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