1 Samuel 9:12
And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people to day in the high place:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) He came to-day.—The little scene—in itself in no way remarkable—is recounted by an eye-witness, evidently as introducing momentous consequences.

Every detail of that day’s proceedings was of deep interest to Israel. Some of the maidens of Raman were at the well side, drawing water for their homes. The two strangers accost them with the words, “Is the seer who dwells among you here just now?” and they eagerly reply, “Yes, this very day he came from his house into the town. It is a festival day—you will find him presiding up there,” pointing, no doubt, to the high place, where the sacrifices were being offered. Every word spoken by the girls of Ramah, loving to chatter and exhibit their local knowledge and their interest in their great fellow-citizen, the seer and judge, to whom they, in common with the inhabitants of Ramah, were, no doubt, much attached, was remembered in after time by Saul and his companion.

1 Samuel 9:12-13. He came to-day to the city — He had been travelling abroad, and was now returned to his own house in Ramah. High place — Upon the hill mentioned 1 Samuel 9:11, and near the altar which Samuel built for this use. Ye shall straightway find him — At home and at leisure. Before he go up to eat — The relics of the sacrifices. Because he doth bless the sacrifice — This was a peace-offering or a thank-offering, and the blessing of it, no doubt, consisted both of thanksgiving to God for mercies received, and of prayer to him that this sacrifice might be accepted. But perhaps it was not what was offered upon the altar, but what the people ate afterward, that he blessed. We may observe here, that by blessing of victuals in Scripture, is meant, chiefly, the giving thanks to God for the food before it be eaten. Instances of which we have in abundance in the New Testament, our Lord and his apostles being continually said to give thanks before any thing was eaten. And here it is said, He doth bless the sacrifice, and afterward they eat that be bidden — It is probable, however, that Samuel both prayed for God’s blessing on what they ate, and gave thanks that they had it to eat. We see here how ancient the custom has been of praying to God, and giving thanks at our meals, and how blameable they are that neglect it.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. He came today to the city: she so speaks, though this was his own constant habitation, because he had been travelling abroad, possibly in his circuit, described 1 Samuel 7:16,17, and was now returned to his own house in Ramah, as he used to do, and so she implies they come in a good and seasonable time to meet with him.

There is a sacrifice, otherwise feast; but it seems to be understood of a sacrifice. First, Because so the Hebrew word signifies most properly, and most frequently. Secondly, Because this eating was in the high place, which was the common place for sacrifices, but not for private feasts. Thirdly, The prophet’s presence was not so necessary for a feast as for a sacrifice. Of the people; so this sacrifice is called, because this was a public solemnity, and possibly the new moon, when the people brought several sacrifices, to wit, peace-offerings, whereof part fell to the offerer’s share; and of those parts united together, they here made a common feast; not without Samuel’s direction, who being forewarned the day before by God, of Saul’s coming, made this feast more solemn for his entertainment, 1 Samuel 9:22-24.

In the high place; upon the hill mentioned 1 Samuel 9:11, and near the altar which Samuel built for this kind of use, 1 Samuel 7:17, by Divine dispensation, as was there noted; otherwise to sacrifice in high places was forbidden by the law, after the building of the tabernacle. And they answered them, and said, he is,.... That is, he is in the city, at home, and to be spoken with:

behold, he is before you; his house is straight before you as you go along, you cannot miss of it. Some Jewish writers say (f) they gave a token to know it by, that there was a cloud at the door, and when they saw that, they might know it was the seer's house:

haste now, for he came today to the city; from the suburbs to it, or from his country house, or from the other Ramah, for there were two of them, one over against the other, see 1 Samuel 1:1, for that he was just now come off a circuit, is not so probable, since he was now old, and past riding his circuits; and indeed the meaning may be no more than as it may be rendered, "today he comes into the city" (g); that is, he comes out of his own house into the city, and was then just coming out; so that, if they made haste, they might meet him in the street before he got to the place of sacrifice and feasting:

for there is a sacrifice of the people today in the high place; whether it was the new moon, or some festival they observed, though the tabernacle was not there, is not certain; at which, besides the offerings required, freewill offerings and peace offerings were brought by the people, on part of which they feasted with their friends; and very probably, as Samuel was acquainted by the Lord that he who was to be king of Israel would be with him that day, he might add to the sacrifices of the people, to make the entertainment the more grand and liberal; since he had a principal concern in ordering the guests, and dividing the portions, as well as blessing the food, which indeed he might take upon him, as being judge, priest, and prophet: this was an high place where this sacrifice or feast was; for Shiloh being destroyed, and the tabernacle removed elsewhere, and that being in one place, and the ark in another, and they not together, no distinction of places was made, none being yet chosen, all were fit; and particularly high places, which were always reckoned the most proper for divine service and sacrifice.

(f) Midrash Schemuel & Pesikta apud Abarbinel in loc. (g) "venit", Pagninus, Montanus.

And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a {g} sacrifice of the people to day in the high place:

(g) That is, a feast after the offering, which would be kept in a high place of the city appointed for that use.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. he is before you] Before thee, addressing the speaker. It is a direction to go straight forward.

he came to day to the city] If “the city” was Ramah, Samuel may have been absent from home on one of his official circuits.

a sacrifice of the people] Possibly at the New Moon (Numbers 28:11-15) or upon some special occasion of thanksgiving.

in the high place] Here probably was the altar which Samuel had built (1 Samuel 7:17). A natural instinct among all nations chooses hill-tops as fitting places of worship. Such “high places” were frequently consecrated to the worship of Jehovah in spite of the prohibition implied in the command that there should be only one sanctuary (Deuteronomy 12:11-14). That this was the case in the unsettled period of the Judges is not surprising, but even after the building of the temple the high-place worship continued, though it is condemned in the books of Kings as a blot on the character of otherwise good monarchs.When Saul proposed to return home from the land of Zuph, his servant said to him, "Behold, in this city ('this,' referring to the town which stood in front of them upon a hill) is a man of God, much honoured; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now we will go thither; perhaps he will tell us our way that we have to go" (lit. have gone, and still go, sc., to attain the object of our journey, viz., to find the asses). The name of this town is not mentioned either here or in the further course of this history. Nearly all the commentators suppose it to have been Ramah, Samuel's home. But this assumption has no foundation at all in the text, and is irreconcilable with the statements respecting the return in 1 Samuel 10:2-5. The servant did not say there dwells in this city, but there is in this city (1 Samuel 9:6; comp. with this 1 Samuel 9:10, "They went into the city where the man of God was," not "dwelt"). It is still more evident, from the answer given by the drawers of water, when Saul asked them, "Is the seer here?" (1 Samuel 9:11), - viz., "He came to-day to the city, for the people have a great sacrifice upon the high place" (1 Samuel 9:12), - that the seer (Samuel) did not live in the town, but had only come thither to a sacrificial festival. Moreover, "every impartial man will admit, that the fact of Samuel's having honoured Saul as his guest at the sacrificial meal of those who participated in the sacrifice, and of their having slept under the same roof, cannot possibly weaken the impression that Samuel was only there in his peculiar and official capacity. It could not be otherwise than that the presidency should be assigned to him at the feast itself as priest and prophet, and therefore that the appointments mentioned should proceed from him. And it is but natural to assume that he had a house at his command for any repetition of such sacrifices, which we find from 2 Kings 4 to have been the case in the history of Elisha" (Valentiner). And lastly, the sacrificial festival itself does not point to Ramah; for although Samuel had built an altar to the Lord at Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17), this was by no means the only place of sacrifice in the nation. If Samuel offered sacrifice at Mizpeh and Gilgal (1 Samuel 7:9; 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 13:8.), he could also do the same at other places. What the town really was in which Saul met with him, cannot indeed be determined, since all that we can gather from 1 Samuel 10:2, is, that it was situated on the south-west of Bethlehem.
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