1 Samuel 9-12
God chooses Saul to be Samuel’s successor. There’s no reason given, and Saul shows no indication of any special characteristics that prove him a leader. In fact, he is has just lost the donkeys he is supposed to be tending – not a good omen. Samuel finds them without even looking, invites Saul to supper, and offers him the choicest cut of meat. And just which cut is that? In the original Hebrew, it’s the thigh. In the KJV, it’s the shoulder. The NIV goes back to the original ‘thigh’. The NLT stays out of the argument and just refers to it as the ‘finest cut’ (v 23-24). It’s little differences in translation like this that create the different interpretations in the many versions of the bible.
Well this is mighty fanciful. It starts with Samuel sending Saul off to Gilgal, and telling Saul ahead of time exactly who he will meet along the way and what each person will be carrying and doing. Among these is a band of musical prophets. At this point the spirit of the lord comes powerfully down upon Saul and he is changed into a different person. But when it’s time for him to be anointed king, he is found hiding among the luggage. Doesn’t sound much like leadership material.
Now it gets interesting. My online version of the NLT (on the Bible Gateway website) has an addendum to ch 10 that the KJV does not have. It reads:
“Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the people of Gad and Reuben who lived east of the Jordan River. He gouged out the right eye of each of the Israelites living there, and he didn’t allow anyone to come and rescue them. In fact, of all the Israelites east of the Jordan, there wasn’t a single one whose right eye Nahash had not gouged out. But there were 7,000 men who had escaped from the Ammonites, and they had settled in Jabesh-gilead.” And there is a citation – “This paragraph, which is not included in the Masoretic Text, is found in Dead Sea Scroll 4QSAMa”.
I couldn’t figure out how this verse related to ch 10 at all; it seems out of context.
But turn to chapter 11, and it makes total sense. In fact, the beginning of ch 11 makes little sense without this additional info.
So moving right along, the nasty king of Ammon now threatens to gouge out the right eyes of “all the men” of Jabesh-Gilead. These men can’t have resided long in that ghost town, because just a few chapters ago, in Judges 21:10-14, everyone who lived there was murdered (except the virgins who were hauled away)….. well anyway, Saul rises to the occasion and rescues the town.
Another melodramatic farewell speech, another teary goodbye. Samuel doesn’t rant for as long as Moses and Joshua did, and his threats are less graphic. He still resorts to the old standby – a magic trick will surely make the people believe in god’s powers – so he conjures a thunderstorm in v 18. Nothing else remarkable here.