1 Samuel 9:11
And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said to them, Is the seer here?
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9:11-17 The very maid-servants of the city could direct to the prophet. They had heard of the sacrifice, and could tell of the necessity for Samuel's presence. It is no small benefit to live in religious and holy places. And we should always be ready to help those who are seeking after God's prophets. Though God had, in displeasure, granted Israel's request for a king, yet he sends them a man to be captain over them, to save them out of the hand of the Philistines. He does it, listening graciously to their cry.This is manifestly a gloss inserted in the older narrative by the later editor of the sacred text, to explain the use of the term in 1 Samuel 9:11, 1 Samuel 9:18-19. It is one among many instances which prove how the very letter of the contemporary narratives was preserved by those who in later times compiled the histories. We cannot say exactly when the term "seer" became obsolete. See the marginal references. 11-13. as they went up the hill—The modern village, Er-Rameh, lies on an eminence; and on their way they met a band of young maidens going out to the well, which, like all similar places in Palestine, was beyond the precincts of the town. From these damsels they learned that the day was devoted to a festival occasion, in honor of which Samuel had arrived in the city; that a sacrifice had been offered, which was done by prophets in extraordinary circumstances at a distance from the tabernacle, and that a feast was to follow—implying that it had been a peace offering; and that, according to the venerable practice of the Israelites, the man of God was expected to ask a special blessing on the food in a manner becoming the high occasion. Going out, i.e. out of the city, and down to the bottom of the hill, where the fountain or river was. And as they went up the hill to the city,.... For the city was built upon an hill, from whence it had the name of Ramah, which signifies high and lifted up:

they found young maidens going out to draw water: going out of the city, to a fountain which was at the bottom of the hill; and this was the usual business of maidens in those countries to fetch water for the service of the family; see Gill on Genesis 24:11; see Gill on Genesis 24:15; see Gill on Genesis 24:16. R. Akiba (e) makes this observation, that whenever a man meets maidens coming out of a city before he goes into it, it is a token of prosperity to him; and instances in the cases of Abraham's servant, of Jacob, and of Moses, and here of Saul, who was informed of a kingdom, and anointed for it, see Genesis 24:14 Exodus 2:16,

and said unto them, is the seer here? meaning, is he in the city? or is he at home? or is he in the country?

(e) In Pirke Eliezer, c. 36. fol. 39. 1. 2.

And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?
11–14. Inquiry for the seer

11. as they went up] As they were ascending by the ascent to the city. The Hebrew has a peculiar construction, the repetition of which is characteristic of this chapter. Cp. 1 Samuel 9:5; 1 Samuel 9:14; 1 Samuel 9:17; 1 Samuel 9:27.

young maidens going out to draw water] Cp. Genesis 24:15; Genesis 29:9 ff.; Exodus 2:16; John 4:7. The well was in the lower ground outside the city wall.Verses 11, 12. - As they went up. Ramah was situated on a double hill, whence its name Ramathaim (1 Samuel 1:1). As, then, they go up the ascent - so the Hebrew, literally - they meet maidens on the way to the well, and ask them, Is the seer - the roeh - here? They answer, Yes; behold, he is before you. I.e. they are to go straightforward, and farther on in the town they will find him. He came today to the city. As Saul's servant knew that this city was Samuel's abode, the words must mean that he had just returned from visiting one of those places, probably, to which he was in the habit of going as judge. From 1 Samuel 16:2 we learn that Samuel went occasionally even to distant places to perform priestly duties. In the high place. Hebrew, Bamah. Samuel, we read, had built an altar at Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17), and probably the present sacrifice was to be offered upon it. Such altars, and the worship of the true God upon high places, were at this time recognised as right, and were, in fact, in accordance with, and were even the remains of, the old patriarchal religion. But gradually they were condemned, partly because of the glowing sanctity of the temple, but chiefly because of the tendency of religious rites celebrated in such places to degenerate into nature-worship, and orgies such as the heathen were in the habit of holding on the tops of mountains and hills. We thus find in the Bible an illustration of the principle that rites and ceremonies (as not being of the essentials of religion) may be changed, or even abolished, if they are abused, or lead on to evil consequences. Having been sent out by his father to search for his she-asses which had strayed, Saul went with his servant through the mountains of Ephraim, which ran southwards into the tribe-territory of Benjamin (see at 1 Samuel 1:1), then through the land of Shalishah and the land of Shaalim, and after that through the land of Benjamin, without finding the asses; and at length, when he had reached the land of Zuph, he determined to return, because he was afraid that his father might turn his mind from the asses, and trouble himself about them (the son and servant). מן חדל, to desist from a thing, to give it up or renounce it.

As Saul started in any case from Gibeah of Benjamin, his own home (1 Samuel 10:10., 1 Samuel 10:26, 1 Samuel 11:4; 1 Samuel 15:34; 1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 26:1), i.e., the present Tuleil el Phul, which was an hour or an hour and a half to the north of Jerusalem (see at Joshua 18:28), and went thence into the mountains of Ephraim, he no doubt took a north-westerly direction, so that he crossed the boundary of Benjamin somewhere between Bireh and Atarah, and passing through the crest of the mountains of Ephraim, on the west of Gophnah (Jifna), came out into the land of Shalishah. Shalishah is unquestionably the country round (or of) Baal-shalishah (2 Kings 4:42), which was situated, according to Eusebius (Onom. s.v. Βαιθσαρισάθ: Beth-sarisa or Beth-salisa), in regione Thamnitica, fifteen Roman miles to the north of Diospolis (Lydda), and was therefore probably the country to the west of Jiljilia, where three different wadys run into one large wady, called Kurawa; and according to the probable conjecture of Thenius, it was from this fact that the district received the name of Shalishah, or Three-land. They proceeded thence in their search to the land of Shaalim: according to the Onom. (s.v.), "a village seven miles off, in finibus Eleutheropoleos contra occidentem." But this is hardly correct, and is most likely connected with the mistake made in transposing the town of Samuel to the neighbourhood of Diospolis (see at 1 Samuel 1:1). For since they went on from Shaalim into the land of Benjamin, and then still further into the land of Zuph, on the south-west of Benjamin, they probably turned eastwards from Shalishah, into the country where we find Beni Mussah and Beni Salem marked upon Robinson's and v. de Velde's maps, and where we must therefore look for the land of Shaalim, that they might proceed thence to explore the land of Benjamin from the north-east to the south-west. If, on the contrary, they had gone from Shaalim in a southerly or south-westerly direction, to the district of Eleutheropolis, they would only have entered the land of Benjamin at the south-west corner, and would have had to go all the way back again in order to go thence to the land of Zuph. For we may infer with certainty that the land of Zuph was on the south-west of the tribe-territory of Benjamin, from the fact that, according to 1 Samuel 10:2, Saul and his companion passed Rachel's tomb on their return thence to their own home, and then came to the border of Benjamin. On the name Zuph, see at 1 Samuel 1:1.

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