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Thirty thousand men of Judah at Bezek. And they said to the
messengers who had come, "This is what you shall say to the
men of Jabesh-gilead: Tomorrow, when the sun is hot, you
shall be saved." When the messengers came and told the
men of Jabesh, they were glad.
So the men of Jabesh said, Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you may do as you please with us. The next
day Saul divided his soldiers into three detachments; and
they attacked the camp during the morning watch, and they
cut down the Ammonites. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
Then the people said to Samuel, "Who are the people
who asked, 'Shall Saul reign over us?' Bring us the men, so
that we may put them to death."
But Saul said, "No one shall be put to death, for today
Adonai has preserved Israel."
Then Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to
Gilgal and there reaffirm the kingdom." So all the people went
to Gilgal, and there, before Adonai, they crowned Saul king.
There they sacrificed peace offerings before Adonai, and
Saul and all the people of Israel rejoiced.
I Samuel 11:1-14
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
1. Why would a monarchy be more able to unite the
people and provide for defense than a loose tribal confederacy?
2. Why was Samuel opposed to choosing a king to
govern the Israelites?
3. Who governed the Israelites before King Saul?
4. One of the problems with the judges system
was that there was no government permanently in place.
Instead a judge stepped in and took over whenever the
nation was in danger. What were the advantages and dis-advantages of this somewhat libertarian system as compared to a monarchy?
5. Why did the Israelites insist upon choosing a
king?
6. Why did the prophet Samuel finally agree to
crown Saul?
SAUL, A TROUBLED KING
Saul was a troubled king. He came into conflict with
Samuel when he failed to deal with the Amelakites as he
had been instructed. He was jealous of David, who had
killed the Philistine giant Goliath, and seemed to be gaining in popularity among the people. His mind clouded by
jealousy, Saul tried to kill David, thinking that all his
problems would then disappear.
In the end, the king who had gained his reputation
as a warrior met a hero's end on the field of battle.
Meanwhile the Philistines had begun the battle against
Israel, and the Israelites fled from them and many died on
Mount Gilboa. The Philistines closed in on Saul and killed his
sons Jonathan, Abinidab, and Malchishua.
The archers overtook Saul and wounded him critically.
He murmured to his armor-bearer, "Kill me with your sword
before the pagan Philistines capture and torture me." But his
armor-bearer was terrified, so Saul positioned his own sword
and fell upon the point of the blade, and it killed him. When
the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon
his sword and died with him. So Saul, his armor-bearer, his
three sons, and his soldiers all died together the same day.
When the Israelites on the other side of the valley and
beyond the Jordan heard that their comrades had fled and
that Saul and three sons were dead, they abandoned their
cities, and the Philistines occupied them.
The next day, when the Philistines went to strip the
dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on
Mount Gilboa.
They cut off Saul's head and stripped off his armor.
They sent the victorious news of Saul's death to the temples
of their idols and to the people throughout the land.
His armor was displayed in the temple of Ashtoroth,
and his body was fastened to the city walls of Beth-shan.
When the people of Jabesh-gilead learned what the
Philistines had done, soldiers from that town marched all
night to Beth-shan and removed the bodies of Saul and his
sons from the wall and brought them to Jabesh, where they
burned them. Then they buried their bones and ashes
beneath the oak tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven
days.
I Samuel 31:1-13
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
1. Why was Saul jealous of his son-in-law David?
2. Why did Saul refuse to surrender to the
Philistines?
3. Saul saved himself from the Philistines by corn-miffing suicide. Did he have the right to kill himself? Is
suicide ever justified?
3. How did the Israelites of Jabesh-gilead honor
their dead king?
4. Why were the people of Jabesh-gilead so
devoted to Saul's memory? What does this tell you about
Saul's reputation?
5. How long is the traditional period of mourning
for the dead (shivah)? How long did the people of Jabesh
mourn their king?

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Format Hardcover
SKU ktav2260
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