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NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY 121 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY. 

II. Saul. 

Time and tradition have not dealt kindly with the memory of the 
first king of Israel. Textual confusion has given him a paltry two 
years' reign (i Sam. xiii. i), and editorial theoiy has made him rejected 
but a short while after his accession (xiii. 8-14). Throughout, the 
priestly or prophetic party are against him, and one is almost in- 
clined to feel that tradition is having its revenge upon Saul for the 
wickedness of the people in desiring a king. The greater part of 
the life-history of Saul is bound up either with Samuel or with David. 
He is overshadowed, in the one case, by the seer and prophet who 
ranks with Moses and Elijah ; in the other, by the youth who is one 
day to reign over his kingdom. So, Saul is not represented in a favour- 
able light : he is petulant, mad vrith insane jealousy, treacherous and 
ungrateful, and plays a sorry part by the side of the austere Samuel 
or the gracious David. In the few chapters where Saul is not made 
subservient to these two we gain, I think, a more pleasing picture 
of the king. That he was at heart a devout worshipper of Yahweh 
appears, for example, in i Sam. xiv. 35, where he builds his Jirst altar 
to Yahweh. That he was brave and courageous — even in death— is 
familiar to every one, and the hold he had upon the people's heart 
comes out clearly in the well-known quotation from the Book of 
Jashar (2 Sam. i). This essentially secular passage testifies to the 
feeling of gratitude which the people had for the hero who delivered 
them from the Philistines and enriched them with the booty of war ; 
Saul and his son Jonathan are a heroic pair, who were not to be 
divided even in death — a very different picture from what some 
of the preceding chapters would have led one to expect, and pleasing 
in its obvious simplicity. In point of fact, the really genuine old 
narratives relating to the history of Saul and his kingdom are 
lamentably few, and such as they are — e. g. his wars (xiv. 47 sq.)— have 
to be carefully examined. 

For the earlier part of his life critics are now tolerably agreed that 
the only historical passages are to be found in i Sam. ix-x. 16, xi, xiii 
(omitting vers. 7 6-15 a) and xiv. That even the older portions are 
not free from serious difiBculties is recognized, and helpful solutions 
have been proposed. In xiii it is evident that two situations are 



122 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

represented. In one (a) the Philistines have invaded Israel, and 
are encamped in Michmash ; the Israelites are put to flight, and take 
refuge across the Jordan in rocks and holes. Saul alone with a small 
band remains in Gilgal (xiii. 5-7). In the other (b) Saul is operating 
with a still smaller body of six hundred men at Gibeah (cp. xiii. 1 5 b-i6), 
clearly an excessively small number of men to put the Philistines 
to flight. H. P. Smith (Sam., p. 94), who has not failed to recognize 
this absence of homogeneity in xiii, accordingly proposes to treat 
the whole of vers. 4-15 a as an excerpt from a different source. 
But it is preferable to consider the situation in connexion with xiv, 
where it appears probable that the same twofold representation can 
be traced. For, as a careful comparison of the two chapters shows, 
the great Philistine invasion and the consequent flight of the people ' 
presents a state of affairs which agrees very well with the notice of 
the marauding bands in xiii. 17 sq., and implies that the enemy had 
practically taken possession of the country. The obscure account 
of the lack of arms in Israel (xiii. 19-22) is not altogether strange 
in such a context, and the general effect goes to suggest that it is 
most unlikely that Jonathan's exploit (xiv. i sqq.) is associated with 
it in any way. In the latter, the rival camps are at Michmash and 
Geba, and Saul is at Gibeah surrounded by his six hundred men 
and the representatives of the priests (ver. 3, cp. xiii. 15). Jonathan, 
accompanied by his armour-bearer, proposes to make an attack upon 
the Philistine garrison, and intends to take the first words of the 
watchmen as an omen. "If they say, 'Come up,' we will go up, 
for Yahweh hath delivered them into our hand." The Philistine's 
challenge is the required sign, and the two Hebrews throw the 
garrison into confusion (xiv. 1-13). Only ver. 116 reads strangely 
in its present connexion ; the Philistines, before replying, cry to one 
another : " Behold, the Hebrews are come forth from the holes where 
they hid themselves." This can only be a reference to xiii. 6, which 
belongs to (a) ; and it does not seem rash to look for further traces 
of this situation in the chapter. These are perhaps to be found in 
vers. 21 sq., the return of the fugitives, and in the general impression 
given by the narrative ". 

If the account of Jonathan's exploit (xiv. i-i i a, 12, 13 . . . ?) reflects 
a situation corresponding to (6), the rest of the narrative allows one 
to gain some idea of the sequel to («). The great fight in which Israel 

'■ One is reminded of the situation after the fight on Mount Gilboa. 

' Ad. Lods, too, has found evidence of conflation and composition in 
ch. xiv (see Atudes de Theologie, &c., Paris, 1901, pp. 259-284). Budde's 
objections ignore historical difficulties, and arise from an uncompromising 
retention of a hard-and-fast theory of the literary sources. 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY 1 23 

was victorious was evidently an earthquake : there was a quaking 
in the land "among all the people, the garrison (gloss to connect 
with a), and the spoilers (cp. xiii. 17), they also trembled" (ver. 15)*. 
Their ranks were broken; the Hebrews who had been pressed into 
the service of the Philistines deserted and clustered around Saul, and 
the enemy were routed to a point beyond Beth-horon (so ver. 23). 
That one of Joshua's great battles reads like a reflection of this event 
has suggested itself also to H. P. Smith (0. T. History, p. 82) ^, and 
it is a valuable gain to find some historical foundation for what has 
frequently been regarded as untrustworthy romance (Josh. x). It is an 
interesting detail that the Book of Jashar should be quoted here also 
(x. 12 sq.), since it is to the same source that we are indebted for 
another valuable sidelight upon the character of Saul (2 Sam. i). 
The original continuation of the narrative in i Sam. xiv has perhaps 
been expanded. The story of the violation of Saul's tabu by Jonathan 
(vers. 24-35) opens in the LXX with an introductory description, 
" And Israel was with Saul, about ten thousand men, and the battle 
was spread over Mount Ephraim '." Again, in ver. 31, there is another 
description: "And they smote on that day among the Philistines 
from Michmash to Aijalon" (or with Lucian's text, "more than at 
Michmash ";. StiU preceding, it is not until after another diversion 
that Saul proposes to go down by night and spoil the already smitten 
Philistines (ver. 36), and it seems far from Unlikely that interpolation 
is responsible for the present form of Saul's great fight*. One 
remarkably interesting piece of information is the account of the 
first altar Saul built unto Yahweh (ver. 35). It is one which we 
could ill spare, and the words, "Roll ye (173 ver. 33) a great stone," 
suggest that the scene was originally laid in Gilgal. The erection 
of this altar is not merely an episode in the pursuit of the Philistines, 
but more probably a memorial of his great victory (cp. Exod. xvii. IS)^ 
This theory of a twofold situation finds subsidiary support else- 
where, ix. 16 states that the Philistines are oppressing the Israelites, 

1 Whence the obscure mn in xiii. 7 has perhaps arisen. 

^ Cp. J. Q. B., 1904, p. 418. 

^ Tlie rest of this vei-se may have been " Saul sinned a great sin (or 
perhaps rather ' had laid a great tabu ') on that day " (see H. P. Smith, 
Budde). 

* For analogous cases, where editors have inserted passages by means 
of brief topographical introductions, cp. a Sam. xv. 18, 23, 30 ; xix. 15 sq., 
24, 31, 40 (see A. J. S.L., XVI, pp. 161 sq., 169 sqq.). 

* It perhaps came after ver. 23 a, where the day's work is summed up, 
vera. 31-34 are probably an aetiological legend; cp. again incidents in 
the story of Joshua (ch. iv ; origin of the name Gilgal). 



124 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

and that Tahweh will send a deliverer. This can be no other than 
Saul, and therefore not his son Jonathan, whatever the sequel of 
the latter's exploit may have been. But xiii. 3 apparently anti- 
cipates the feat (Geba, not Michmash), and if xiii. 4 inconsistently 
ascribes it to Saul, this is only what Samuel's charge (x. 5 a) would 
lead us to expects These charges are so complete that the allusion 
to the Philistines can scarcely be pointless. Thus, we read here 
(o) the place where the lost asses are to be found (x, 2), (6) the 
meeting with the men who are going up to Bethel, probably an 
allusion to xi (cp. xi. 4, and see below), (c) a reference to the 
Philistines (ver. 5 a), (d) the meeting with the band of prophets 
(vers. 5&, 6), cp. vers. 10-13, and finally (e) the order to go down 
to Gilgal (ver. 8), which is the preparation for xiii. 8-15. That the 
last is a gloss is generally admitted, but it seems highly probable 
that the charges have at least been expanded from time to time*. 
It has been held by some that the whole account of Saul's introduction 
to Samuel is younger than xiii and xiv, and certainly the part which 
the seer plays in the account of Jabesh-Gilead (xi), at all events, 
is very clearly due to later redaction. Further, there is the familiar 
difficulty that Saul, who appears as a young and inexperienced youth 
in ch. ix, suddenly has a grown-up son in xiii-xiv. When these points 
are taken into consideration it seems probable that Jonathan's exploit 
is foreign to the earliest account of the defeat of the Philistines 
by Saul*. We have good reason to infer from the Book of Jashar 
that Jonathan on many an occasion distinguished himself valiantly, 
and this exploit of his was no doubt only one of many ; we know that 
" there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul." 

* The vei'se begins : "After that thou shalt come to 'GHbeah of G-od,' 
■where is the governor (?) of the Philistines, and let it come to pass when 
thou art come thither — " the remaining words are an introduction to 
X. 10-13. 

' For an analogous example of such amplification, cp. i Kings six. 
15 sq. the charge given to Elijah to anoint Hazael and Jehu, which 
anticipates what really belonged to the career of Elisha. 

' xiv. 23 6-30, 36-45 (46) betray the Saul who in his hour of victory 
was ready to sacrifice his son ; tradition has sought to anticipate his 
attempt upon Jonathan's life (xx. 30-34). The episode requires the 
introductory note ver. 3, ver. 17 links Jonathan's exploit to the main 
narrative. The tradition gives effect to a popular feeling ; Saul's vow 
(as H. P. Smith points out) was not ill-advised or arbitrary from the 
religious point of view. But the question is whether the deliverer of 
Israel freed the people in the manner described in xiv. 15-46, or whether 
later tradition has not obscured and expanded the original sequence of 
events. 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTOEY I25 

As regards the freeing of Jabesh-Gilead from Nahash king of 
Ammon by Saul (xi. 1-11) it is held that originally Samuel found no 
place*. It has been remarked by others that this is the simplest 
and most natural account of Saul's rise, and the nah'e introduction, 
X. 27 h, " and it came to pass after a month " (so LXX), is probably 
redactional. It has also been observed that it is by mere chance that 
the opportunity presented itself to Saul. Messengers were sent from 
Jabesh-Grilead throughout Israel, and when they reached " Gibeah of 
Saul " (proleptic) they made no inquiry for Saul, simply because they 
were not seeking him. The conjecture (above) that x. 3 sq. is to be 
associated with this, presupposes that, according to another tradition, 
Saul was on his way home, and met the men proceeding to Bethel. 
Both traditions have been modified, with the result that in xi. 4 the 
reader is expected to assume that the messengers were seeking 
the anointed king in the city which was to bear his name, and that 
in X. 3 sq. they had come to make him a present of bread and wine, 
apparently as a solemn offering or sacrificial feast. 

The resemblance between the achievement in x, and some of the 
stories of the " Judges " is particularly striking ; and had Saul lived 
in that period we should have expected him to become head or chief 
of Jabesh-Gilead. But if Saul is the last of the judges he is also 
the first of the kings, and we are now in a position to conclude that 
the oldest surviving traditions ascribed to Saul two great deeds— the 
freeing of Gilead, an event of local importance, and the defeat of 
ijie Philistines, an achievement which affected the very existence 
of Israel. 

The belief that the Philistine oppression was subsequent to the 
defeat of Ammon, or was occasioned by Saul's attempt to establish 
a kingdom, is contrary to the tradition. Whatever may have been 
the true history of this early period, Saul, it was believed, owed his 
position to the fact that he was chosen by Yahweh to deliver Israel. 
The Philistines had long laid Israel under their yoke, and the people 
in their distress had cried unto Yahweh, and he had regarded their 
affliction (ix. 16). It may be objected that this represents a position 
of hopeless weakness which is not borne out by other passages % but 
it corresponds accurately with the older situation reflected in xiii-xiv. 
The most serious difficulty is to find an explanation of the invasion 
of the Philistines ; all attempts to bring it into touch with preceding 
narratives being practically failures'. It is assumed that after the 

^ The mention of Judah, too, in ver. 8 is due to a gloss. 
^ e. g. ix. 1-14, where Saul wanders around the land accompanied only 
by one servant. 
* Note that vii. 13 sq., the final subjugation of the Philistines, is late. 



126 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

ark was brought to Kirjath-jearim a wave of oppression swept over 
the country, Shiloh was destroyed, and the power of Israel was 
broken ; and it is observed that the establishment of a Philistine 
governor (or garrison) at Gibeah in Benjamin clearly indicates 
the extent of the Philistine supremacy. But this does not solve 
the problem. Jeremiah seems to speak of the fall of Shiloh as 
a comparatively recent event ; and one Philistine governor or garrison 
is hardly enough to account for the oppression from which Israel 
is suffering (ix. i6). All the historians recognize the difficulty ; and, 
unless one is prepared to assume that there is an unaccountable gap 
in the narratives, no effort must be spared to discover the prelude. 

The events which chronologically precede Saul's deliverance of 
Israel from the Philistine yoke cannot be traced either in i Samuel 
or in the Appendix to the Book of Judges. Samson, it is true, is said 
to have hegun to free Israel ; but he was a Judaean or Danite hero, 
and his exploits would not affect Israel ^ It is only when we reach 
the story of Jephthah and the introductory passage (x. 6-xii. 7) that 
we meet the required situation, and it seems justifiable to argue 
that the story of Saul's victories over Ammon and over the Philis- 
tines were once the immediate sequel to that extremely obscure 
introduction. The removal of all the nanutives between Judg. xi and 
I Sam. ix will naturally strike the reader as exceedingly bold. As 
far as the literary analysis is concerned, it may be observed that 
Judges xvii-xxi is an appendix added to the book by one of the 
latest redactors, that the story of Samuel's youth has been written 
to form an introduction to the history of Eli and his sons, and that 
vii is of even later origin. For equally serious changes one may 
point to Num. x. 29, which resumes JE's narratives after Exod. 
xxxiv. 28, and to the insertion of the Elijah and Elisha narratives 
in 1-2 Kings. It need scarcely be said that the interpolated matter 
is not necessarily later than its new context. The historical contents 
of the intervening chapters in Judges and i Samuel will be con- 
sidered later. 

Judges X. 6-18 is an " Introduction to the History of the Oppression 
of Israel by the Ammonites and the Philistines" (G. P. Moore). It is 
a preface to a new oppression, and in its present form is extremely 
complicated. How much of it is Deuteronomic and how much 
belongs to an earlier writer (there are affinities with Joshua xxiv and 
I Sam. vii, xii) it is difficult to determine. It has references which 
as they stand are out of place, and allusions which it is impossible 
to trace in the immediately following story of Jephthah. The 
affinities with i Sam. vii are, in their turn, interesting, inasmuch 

1 Besides, Judges xiii. 5 6 is probably a gloss. 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY I27 

as this chapter describes an overwhelming defeat of the Philistines 
■which, on historical and literary grounds, has been rejected. Certainly, 
as regards the literary analysis, this abruptly introduced chapter (vii) 
finds no place in the older account of the history of Israel, but it is 
exceedingly improbable that it is wholly an invention. It seems to be 
a later story of the conclusion of the great oppression which 
Judges X. 6-18 introduces, and ascribes to Samuel, the theocratic ruler, 
what the older history ascribed to Saul. The narrative may or may 
not be based upon one of Saul's battles, but that it is deliberately 
intended to ignore Saul seems almost certain ^. Even as the earlier 
Introduction to the Philistine and Ammonite oppression in Judges 
X. 6-18 finds its conclusion in Saul, so we may believe that the later 
hand who has worked upon it intended it to introduce his readers 
to that period of history which concluded with Samuel's victory at 
Eben-ezer. The later and the earlier redactions of the Introduction 
imply later and earlier narratives respectively. Apart from the 
literary affinities between the two which have been noticed by 
the commentators, it may be added that when mention is made of 
the "eighteen years'" oppression (Judges x. 8) one thinks of the 
"twenty years" that all the house of Israel lamented (?) after 
Yahweh (i Sam. vii. 2), and when the climax is reached and the 
Introduction relates that the Israelites were assembled and encamped 
at Mizpah, one is at once reminded of Samuel's summons, " Gather 
all Israel to Mizpah " (i Sam. vii. 5). 

As regards the Ammonite oppression, it is tempting to suppose that 
Jephthah's defeat of the Ammonites was the occasion for Nahash's 
subsequent revenge. Jephthah was made chief of all the inhabitants 
of Gilead— possibly at Jabesh ^— and that the children of Ammon 
meditated vengeance at the first opportunity is only to be expected. 
As regards the Philistine oppression, we note the interesting statement 
(Judges X. 8) that some foe crushed "all the Israelites who were across 
the Jordan in the land of the Amorites who were in Gilead." This 
can scarcely apply to the Ammonites who, curiously enough, are 
said to have made war on the west of the Jordan (contrast the position 
in Judges xi) ; but it is precisely the plight of the Israelites when Saul 
prepared to drive out the Philistines (i Sam. xiii. 7). The words 
appear to be a trace of the oldest account which has been postulated in 
I Sam. xiii-xiv. Next, the penitent cry of the Israelites (Judges x. 10) 
and Yahweh's refusal to hear them culminates in fresh signs of 

' Observe how even in i Sam. xiv we hear more of Jonathan than 
of Saul. 

' Instead of ir'jj 'ic S3, was it originally nrSa xet (x. 18, xi. 8) ? Cp. for 
a somewhat similar emendation i Kings xvii. i. 



128 THE JEWISH QUAETERLY REVIEW 

penitence, " then they put away the foreign gods from among them, 
and served Yahweh, and he could bear the misery of Israel no longer " 
(vers, 13-16). The immediate sequel of this is wanting, but, as Moore 
remarks, it must have been followed by the raising up of the deliverer. 
Obviously we have a deliverer in Jephthah, but his is a local story ; 
Gilead's misfortunes would scarcely account for the penitence of the 
people of Israel. But when we turn to the history of Saul it is 
impossible not to be struck byTahweh's words to Samuel : "He shall 
save my people from the hand of the Philistines : for I have seen 
the affliction of my people, for their cry is come unto me" (i Sam. 
ix. 16) ^ Many obscure points still remain, but if the attempt is to be 
made to discover the background to this Introduction it may perhaps 
be enough to indicate what seems to have been the true sequence. 
One may not hope to recover all the threads of the original story ; 
only here and there may an occasional hint be gleaned from the 
narrative. 

The composite character of the stories of Gideon, Abimelech, and 
Jephthah would indicate that the work of criticism has not ceased 
when we recover what is supposed to have been the earlier form of 
the Saul-narratives. Three stages appear to be required, and only 
two at present have been considered. Now (i) in seeking for the 
raison ffitre of the elaborate religious Introduction (Judges x), which 
is quite inapplicable to the story of Jephthah, it is held that we have 
here a preface to the period closing with i Sam. vii. Both, in their 
present form, are late, and the latter is unhistorical. (2) The late 
redaction of Judges x, taken with the late account of the overthrow of 
the Philistines in i Sam. vii, suggests that the Introduction in an 
earlier form is the prelude to some older and more historical narra- 
tive, and it is argued that the latter can only be the story of Saul. 
Lastly (3), at a still earlier date we may assume that the religious 
element was wanting, or at least less pronounced. One may compare 
the old story of Gideon with its additions (e.g. Judges vi. 25 sqq.), and 
to the twofold narratives of the exploits of Gideon and Jephthah we 
may find a parallel in Saul's victory (a) over Ammon, and (6) over the 
Philistines. The fact that Saul's successes led to the establishment 
of a monarchy will explain the repeated redaction which the original 
account of this important event has received, and will make it 
intelligible why in the second stage the figure of Samuel begins to 
attain prominence. It is suspected that Samuel once found no place 
in the story of Saul's rise, and this appears fairly obvious in the case 
of I Sam. xi. It is singular that in the account of the Midianite op- 

^ With the statement that the people were in straits (Judges x. 9) cp. 
I Sam. xiii. 6. 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTOKY 1 29 

pression (Judges vi. 76-10), a prophet suddenly springs up from nowhere 
to call the people to remember the great deeds which Yahweh did for 
them ; denunciation and subsequent penitence are wanting, and the 
man of G-od disappears as suddenly as he came. Such a passage may 
once have stood in Judges x, since at some point in the development 
of the narrative a Samuel would certainly have been introduced to 
the reader. With the subsequent dislocation and redaction the figure 
was removed ; but it is perhaps correct to believe that in the process 
the opportunity was taken to use his words, with necessary modifica- 
tion, in the opening part of the story of Gideon. The growth of the 
tradition between the stages is apparent from the chapters which 
now intervene between the Introduction and the life of Saul. Theory 
divided the history of Israel into a series of epoch-making ages, and at 
each epoch (e. g. the exodus, conquest, the era of the Judges, the 
monarchy), the narratives betray a strong theological colouring 
representing the successive steps in the development of national 
tradition and religious thought. So the figure of Samuel increases 
in grandeur until he overtops Saul, and becomes, through Yahweh, 
practically the founder of the monarchy. Saul is no longer the 
"judge" who established his might by force of arms or earned the 
submission of a people by warlike success ; the idea of a monarchy 
is resented, the priesthood typified by Samuel are opposed to the 
innovation, and Saul, if he is a monarch, is second to this high-priest. 
As for the narratives which have found a place between the dates 
represented by the ultimate and penultimate stage, it will be recog- 
nized that the story of a Samson, even if he lived at the age of the 
Judges, has no literary connexion with its present context. The 
appendix to the Judges appears to belong to a cycle with which 
the story of Eli and the ark is associated, and, it will be argued 
subsequently, does not belong to this period. Finally, with the life 
of Eli is interwoven the story of the youth of Samuel, and here it 
will be enough for the present to quote Prof. Kent's words (Israel's 
Historical and Biographical Narratives, p. 51) : — 

" Tradition rarely begins with the childhood of the heroes. Jacob, 
Moses, and Samuel are the conspicuous Old Testament exceptions. 
Furthermore, stories regarding the childhood of a great man in 
antiquity were not appreciated, and therefore not recounted until long 
after he had ceased to live. In their origin they are, therefore, 
usually much later than those which record his life-work.'' 

The rest of the history of Saul, as we have already observed, 
generally presents him in an unfavourable light. From xvi onwards 
it is the aim of tradition to exalt and magnify David's bravery and 
nobility, and to depreciate the character of Saul. The literary 

VOL. XVIII. K 



130 THE JEWISH QUAKTERLY REVIEW 

analysis is admitted to be exceedingly complicated, and illustrates the 
gradual growth of the stories which subsequent generations loved 
to tell of the first great king over all Israel. But in spite of their 
complexity it is not easy to ignore the belief that, so far as Saul 
is concerned, the narratives oifer popular stories rather than plain 
history. How utterly we are at the mercy of the writers whose only 
care was to preserve what interested them is evident from the lacunae, 
the puzzling gaps which the Books of Samuel do not allow us to fill 
up. The mysterious destruction of Shiloh, and the remarkable 
appearance of the priestly families at Nob, and of the guild of 
prophets at Naioth, are problems that evade solution unless more 
rigorous criticism be applied. The casual allusion to Saul's dealings 
with the Gibeonites (2 Sam. xxi. 2) remains one of the many puzzles 
of early Hebrew history, although if Nob be a corruption of Gibeon^ 
the ground is partly cleared. If commentators have not failed to 
refer to Joshua ix, may one not go a step farther, and call to mind 
the suggestion that Joshua's southern campaign has for its historical 
basis Saul's defeat of the Philistines? Now this campaign is so 
closely associated with Joshua's covenant with the men of Gibeon 
that it is perhaps not too hazardous to conjecture that Saul's great 
victory was, in like manner, brought into connexion with the 
Gibeonites. I merely note the coincidence, and would emphasize 
one important difference between the two narratives. Saul, according 
to 2 Sam. xxi. 2, had shed blood, and had thereby incurred blood- 
revenge ; whereas Joshua delivered the men out of the hand of the 
children of Israel (Joshua ix. 26), which is a clear sign that this 
narrative could have told us more of the hostility of Israel had later 
editors left it intact. Again, it is perhaps only a coincidence, 
but the conclusion of Joshua's great iight with the five kings 
of the south', and their slaughter, at once recalls Saul's defeat of 
the Amalekites and the sacrificial slaying of Agag. i Sam. xv is one 
of the most obscure narratives in the whole of Saul's life, and, as 
H. P. Smith has shown, "the character and position of Samuel 
as here portrayed agree closely with his picture as drawn in the life 
of Samuel, chapters vii, viii, and xii." How far it is historical is 
extremely uncertain ; it can scarcely be rejected entirely ; and the 
analogy of ch. vii alone is suificient to warrant the conviction that 
a certain amount of truth underlies it. In both some historical 
incident has been worked up to serve a specified purpose. There is 
scarcely room for a defeat of the Amalekites so soon before David's 
victory, and they are unfortunately just the people whom it is difficult 

* Enq/c. Bib., col. 3430. 

' We may bear in mind the Jive tyrants of the Philistines. 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY 131 

to fix, owing to the conflicting statements in the Old Testament. 
The story is not wholly unfavourable to Saul, He is represented as 
the Lord's anointed, commissioned to take vengeance upon Amalek. 
The scene of the campaign agrees with i Sam. xxvii. 8, the motive with 
David's victory in xxx. 26, and the consideration which Saul shows 
for the Kenites is quite in harmony with the character of a king 
who built altars to Yahweh, and whose son Jonathan bears a name 
which gives expression to his religious belief. The narrator represents 
Samuel as a more autocratic being than even Elijah or Elisha, and, 
in view of the relative lateness of the chapter, the statement that 
Saul appears to be king over Judah need not be taken as correct. 
The age of Elisha is the one conspicuous early period where the 
prophets could make and unmake kings ; and it does not seem far- 
fetched to suppose that among the prophetic guilds which flourished 
at that time there were many who believed that their political 
power extended back to the days of the first king of Israel. And 
this being so, the allusion to the Kenites (xv. 6) may not be quite 
meaningless : for if Jehu was indebted to Elisha, he was no less under 
the influence of Jehonadab the Rechabite ; and if i Chron. ii. 55 is to be 
trusted, the Eechabites were related to the Kenites. More suggestive 
than this, moreover, is the fact (loc. cit.) that these were related to 
" the families of scribes," whose care it would be to put in writing the 
traditional history of their land. This highly interesting statement 
is surely of some importance for the history of the Israelites. 

I Sam. XV and xiii. 8-14 (an episode in the Philistine war) are 
stories of Saul's rejection, and this may be viewed as a slight support 
for the connexion (which has been hazarded above) between the slaying 
of Agag by Saul and of the five South Palestinian kings by Joshua. 
But the links are so slight that at the most a confusion of traditions 
in the oral, not in the literary stage, can only be postulated. On the 
other hand, the reference to Carmel (xv. 12) raises the question 
whether Samuel (like Elijah and Elisha) may not have been associated 
here, not with the unimportant town in the neighbourhood of Hebron, 
but with the more famous mountain not far remote from the closing 
incidents in Saul's life. 

It is to be feared that it is a matter of no little difficulty sometimes 
to comprehend Saul's position in Gibeah, living as he was in constant 
danger of invasion by the Philistines. He had war against them all 
his lifetime (xiv. 52), and ever and again they invaded his territory, 
once, so the story went, to the manifest advantage of David (xxiii. 27). 
Retaliatory raids were made, but it is noteworthy that throughout 
the whole cycle of the Saul-David narratives the scene is placed in 
Judah and Benjamin. In connexion with this, it is to be noticed 

K a 



132 THE JEWISH QUAETERLY REVIEW 

that as the narratives proceed, Saul and David drift further and 
further apart, until finally in 1 Sam. xxx we have a selection from 
an independent story of David, whilst xxviii. 3-25, xxxi give us an 
equally independent story of Saul. It is here that we find David 
gradually strengthening his position among the elders south of 
Hebron, whilst Saul appears to be quite naturally located in the plain 
of Jezreel. Read in the light of the narratives which precede, we 
are to understand that on this occasion, when Saul fights his last fight 
against the Philistines, the king leaves Gibeah for Gilboa, and the 
five tyrants march northwards from their cities in order to encamp 
at Jezreel. Must it not be admitted that the narratives as they stand 
present a new difiiculty ? We may read between the lines, and we 
may assume that Saul had moved to a fresh capital ; in fact, half a 
dozen conjectures or assumptions could be made. The historians 
seem to find no difficulty in the sudden shifting of the scene, or if 
they find it, it is ignored. Now, in the previous section reference was 
made to the results of Budde's investigations on the literary character 
of the closing chapters in i SamueP. According to this scholar, 
xxvii, xxviii. 1, 2, xxix-xxxi are Judaean ; in David's life as an out- 
law, apart from a few Ephraimite passages, the Judaean element 
predominates, whilst in the history of David at the court of Saul 
the source is almost wholly Ephraimite. These results sufficiently 
indicate in a general way the character of the chapters as a whole. 
The oldest source appears most distinctly at the close of i Samuel, 
where, as we have just seen, the lives of David and Saul are presented 
separately. To this same source Budde (it will be noticed) ascribes 
also xxvii and xxix, and it is precisely the latter chapter which links 
together the two lives. But however closely ch. xxix may be proved 
to be connected with its context, it is none the less embarrassing, 
and introduces a fresh difficulty. It is strange that David's presence 
was not discovered until the Philistines reached Aphek ; and although 
David has been living under the care of Achish for some time, it 
only now occurs to them that this is the renowned hero of Saul's 
previous triumphs. The Philistine confederation was too united for 
us to assume that the four lords were ignorant that the fifth had had 
the renowned David as a vassal living at Ziklag ; and if the Philistine 
army was large enough to inflict a crushing defeat upon Saul, and to 
occupy the Israelite cities, David and his six hundred men (xxx. 10) 
would scarcely be sufficient to turn the tide in favour of Israel. 

It would certainly seem that the separate stories of Saul and David 
stand on a different footing, and are more trustworthy compared 
with those wherein their fortunes are mingled with one another 

» J. Q. B., XVII, p. 787 sq. 



NOTES ON OLD TESTAMENT HISTOKY I33 

or -with that great forerunner of the prophetic guilds — Samuel. 
A similar conclusion seemed to be reached from our study of 2 Samuel, 
where those narratives which presupposed an intimate relation 
between David and Saul's house did not appear to be from the same 
source as the other records of David's life. One is inclined to assume 
that we have a cycle of local traditions centring around Bethlehem 
and Benjamin. Comparative history affords many parallels. 

But here we must take leave of Saul for the present. If the 
criticism has been destructive, it has at least brought into prominence 
the heroic and devout figure whose achievements move us more deeply 
than the pettiness of character* which looms so large through many 
of the apparently less authentic narratives. If we can but dimly 
grasp the personality of this king, we cannot, at all events, feel 
sufficiently grateful that the triumphant ode from the Book of Jashar 
has been preserved to tell us how his memory was cherished. And 
if a few scattered indications have been correctly interpreted, it is no 
slight gain to believe that Saul became the " Joshua " of the northern 
Hebrews (Joshua x), even as we may suspect that David was the 
"Joshua" of the southern (Joshua xi). 

We cannot too strongly emphasize the fact that we have only what 
the historians, or rather, the editors, have chosen to give us. It is 
only by a comparative study of one king with the other, or by the 
welcome discovery of independent evidence, that we can comprehend 
the greatness of an Omri or a Jeroboam II. We know too well how 
apt history is to sum up the character and reign of past monarchs 
in a single epithet ; we know also how later ages are wont to ascribe 
to treasured heroes of the past the legends and traditions that have 
grown up since their death. Allowance has to be made in two 
directions therefore ; and as a "bloody" Queen Maiy suffers in com- 
parison with a "good" Queen Bess, so may we not feel that the 
Old Testament narratives, with their obvious interest for the ideal 
king David and for Samuel, the prototype of prophetic power, have 
left little room for Saul to play his part ? In this early period with 
which we are dealing, the quality of the material must always be 
the first object of criticism. But the quantity must also be carefuUy 
obseiTcd; and, on reflection, it may perhaps appear extremely re- 
markable that we should ever possess so fuU and varied an account 
of the times of Samuel and David, whereas for the history of the 
kingdoms of Israel and Judah our sources are relatively meagre, and, 

* That this weakness and lack of virility in the Saul-David narratives 
has some foundation may, however, follow from a consideration of the 
strain of weakness which marked Saul's descendants. Neither Ishbaal 
nor Meribaal is represented as a sturdy or even as a pleasing figure, 



134 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

with only a few brilliant exceptions, are treated from one and the 
same religious point of view. Of the exceptions, the most notable are 
the narratives relating to Solomon, and those which are woven around 
Elijah and Elisha. It is perhaps only a coincidence that these 
are associated respectively with the ideal monarchy and with the 
predominance of the prophets, and thus suggest the names of David 
and Samuel. This leads to the study of Samuel's life, and a com- 
parison with Elijah and Elisha ; and the question will arise whether 
the situations represented in even the older stories of Samuel naturally 
belong to the period covered by the close of the Judges and the 
institution of a Monarchy. 

Stanley A. Cook.