[1-Samuel 19:1] AND SAUL SPAKE TO JONATHAN HIS SON, AND TO ALL HIS SERVANTS, THAT THEY SHOULD KILL DAVID.
Saul now made his intention to kill David public. Until now his murderous intentions had been arranged in such a way that if something happened to David he could make it seem as unintentional. Even the two spear throwing attempts, according to one explanation (Eliyahu Yedid) at least, could be made to appear as spear throwing practice.
[1-Samuel 19:2] BUT JONATHAN SAUL'S SON DELIGHTED MUCH IN DAVID: AND JONATHAN TOLD DAVID, SAYING, SAUL MY FATHER SEEKETH TO KILL THEE: NOW THEREFORE, I PRAY THEE, TAKE HEED TO THYSELF UNTIL THE MORNING, AND ABIDE IN A SECRET PLACE, AND HIDE THYSELF:
[1-Samuel 19:3] AND I WILL GO OUT AND STAND BESIDE MY FATHER IN THE FIELD WHERE THOU ART, AND I WILL COMMUNE WITH MY FATHER OF THEE; AND WHAT I SEE, THAT I WILL TELL THEE.
[1-Samuel 19:4] AND JONATHAN SPAKE GOOD OF DAVID UNTO SAUL HIS FATHER, AND SAID UNTO HIM, LET NOT THE KING SIN AGAINST HIS SERVANT, AGAINST DAVID; BECAUSE HE HATH NOT SINNED AGAINST THEE, AND BECAUSE HIS WORKS HAVE BEEN TO THEE-WARD VERY GOOD:
[1-Samuel 19:5] FOR HE DID PUT HIS LIFE IN HIS HAND, AND SLEW THE PHILISTINE, AND THE LORD WROUGHT A GREAT SALVATION FOR ALL ISRAEL: THOU SAWEST IT, AND DIDST REJOICE: WHEREFORE THEN WILT THOU SIN AGAINST INNOCENT BLOOD, TO SLAY DAVID WITHOUT A CAUSE?
The Malbim says that Jonathan approached his father from a psychological angle. David is your servant, maybe he sins (?) but not against you. He works to your advantage. He recklessly risks his life (which may be negative) but Israel gained by it and you were happy about it. Why should you stain your hands with innocent blood? Let the man go.
[1-Samuel 19:6] AND SAUL HEARKENED UNTO THE VOICE OF JONATHAN: AND SAUL SWARE, AS THE LORD LIVETH, HE SHALL NOT BE SLAIN.
[1-Samuel 19:7] AND JONATHAN CALLED DAVID, AND JONATHAN SHEWED HIM ALL THOSE THINGS. AND JONATHAN BROUGHT DAVID TO SAUL, AND HE WAS IN HIS PRESENCE, AS IN TIMES PAST.
[1-Samuel 19:8] AND THERE WAS WAR AGAIN: AND DAVID WENT OUT, AND FOUGHT WITH THE PHILISTINES, AND SLEW THEM WITH A GREAT SLAUGHTER; AND THEY FLED FROM HIM.
Once again David saved the day and gained a great victory. This evidently got Saul to brooding once again until the evil spirit overcame him. Saul was attacked by a very severe form of manic depression. This is in itself if properly controlled is not necessarily bad and can be channeled into positive avenues. Churchill suffered from it and according to Aristotle (as quoted somewhere by Maimonides) all great men do. The same quality can destroy us or make us. It depends how we manage to use it.
[1-Samuel 19:9] AND THE EVIL SPIRIT FROM THE LORD WAS UPON SAUL, AS HE SAT IN HIS HOUSE WITH HIS JAVELIN IN HIS HAND: AND DAVID PLAYED WITH HIS HAND.
[1-Samuel 19:10] AND SAUL SOUGHT TO SMITE DAVID EVEN TO THE WALL WITH THE JAVELIN: BUT HE SLIPPED AWAY OUT OF SAUL'S PRESENCE, AND HE SMOTE THE JAVELIN INTO THE WALL: AND DAVID FLED, AND ESCAPED THAT NIGHT.
This was the third attempt and the murdering designs of Saul were now in the open. Neither side could any longer deny to themselves or to others that Saul was out to do away with David.
[1-Samuel 19:11] SAUL ALSO SENT MESSENGERS UNTO DAVID'S HOUSE, TO WATCH HIM, AND TO SLAY HIM IN THE MORNING: AND MICHAL DAVID'S WIFE TOLD HIM, SAYING, IF THOU SAVE NOT THY LIFE TO NIGHT, TO MORROW THOU SHALT BE SLAIN.
<<MICHAL DAVID'S WIFE>>: Michal was the daughter of Saul and the wife of David. Scripture describes her here as the wife of David because that is what she was and how she acted. The first loyalty of a woman should be to her husband. We should remember that Michal was risking her own life.
[1-Samuel 19:12] SO MICHAL LET DAVID DOWN THROUGH A WINDOW: AND HE WENT, AND FLED, AND ESCAPED. [1-Samuel 19:13] AND MICHAL TOOK AN IMAGE, AND LAID IT IN THE BED, AND PUT A PILLOW OF GOATS' HAIR FOR HIS BOLSTER, AND COVERED IT WITH A CLOTH.
Hebrew "teraphim". The Commentators are not sure exactly what this was.
Cf. The same words is translated as "images" in Genesis 31:19 and
is recalled in Judges 18:14 without translation in the KJ as TERAPHIM
alongside images and items of worship: "YE KNOW THAT THERE IS IN THESE
HOUSES AN EPHOD, AND TERAPHIM, AND A GRAVEN IMAGE, AND A MOLTEN
IMAGE" ( Judges 18:14).
Abarbanel says it was some kind of figure of a man that women kept to remind them of their husbands. It may even have been a kind of dummy. In those days there is evidence of a certain type of exclusive (and very expensive in our terms) weaving of garments without seams that must have been done on dummies. Such garments were later used in the Temple. I would suggest that the word "Teraphim" is derived from the root "RFA" or "RFH" which can connote weakening and relaxation (RFH) and healing (RFA) and also "ghost" or "ghostlike" (RFA) in the sense that reality is blurred.
"Teraphim" then become a meagre imitation of a body, in other words a kind of dummy. Incidentally in English the word "dummy" means " an imitation of a real or imaginary object, intended to be used as a practical substitute" (American heritage Dictioary) and that fits "teraphim" very well. It can also mean "a mute person". It is said to derive "dummie, dumbie, dumb person from DUMB" which in turn is traced to a theoretical Indo-Germanic root meaning "rise in a cloud"?? All that may well be BUT in Hebrew one has the root "DOM" meaning "silent" and another root DMH which can take the form "DOMEH" meaning to resemble. If we were to apply the Hebrew (and consequently be classed as "eccentrics") as the a possible source of the words "dumb" and "dummy" then we would get a much more exact fitting. The experts are liable to reply that such resemblances are mere coincidence and that one cannot rely upon them and they could have a point if such "coincidences" occurred only now and again. The trouble is they occur more often than not.
Isaac Mozeson has written a complete dictionary on this matter. Other people produced similar works before him and we too in a very small way comparatively speaking have made a contribution to this subject. <<PILLOW>>: Hebrew "cabir" rendered as "pillow" by some while others say that it means a kind of netting or network. She placed a pillow of goat's hair for his head. Shimeon ben-Ephrat suggests that the goat's hair of the pillow could have been arranged to appear like the hair of David lying on the bed with most of the body covered by a blanket or piece of clothing. <<CLOTH>>: Hebrew "BeGeD". The word usually connotes garment.
[1-Samuel 19:14] AND WHEN SAUL SENT MESSENGERS TO TAKE DAVID, SHE SAID, HE IS SICK.
<< MESSENGERS>>: Hebrew "Malachim" meaning "messengers" but also meaning "angels". The word for angel and the word for messenger in Hebrew are the same. Angles are heavenly messengers.
[1-Samuel 19:15] AND SAUL SENT THE MESSENGERS AGAIN TO SEE DAVID, SAYING, BRING HIM UP TO ME IN THE BED, THAT I MAY SLAY HIM.
[1-Samuel 19:16] AND WHEN THE MESSENGERS WERE COME IN, BEHOLD, THERE WAS AN IMAGE IN THE BED, WITH A PILLOW OF GOATS' HAIR FOR HIS BOLSTER.
There was the dummy (teraphim) that under the garment looked like a body and the pillow of goat's hair that looked like the hair of a person sleeping.
[1-Samuel 19:17] AND SAUL SAID UNTO MICHAL, WHY HAST THOU DECEIVED ME SO, AND SENT AWAY MINE ENEMY, THAT HE IS ESCAPED? AND MICHAL ANSWERED SAUL, HE SAID UNTO ME, LET ME GO; WHY SHOULD I KILL THEE?
[1-Samuel 19:18] SO DAVID FLED, AND ESCAPED, AND CAME TO SAMUEL TO RAMAH, AND TOLD HIM ALL THAT SAUL HAD DONE TO HIM. AND HE AND SAMUEL WENT AND DWELT IN NAIOTH.
Yehudah Kiel ("Sefer Shmuel", Daat Mikra) quotes from the sages to the effect that Samuel on that night gave David an extremely intensive "crash" course in Prophecy (se Midrash Shmuel 22,5 see Eliyahu Yedid, "Shaul Bechir HaShem"). Samuel ran a kind of training school for Prophets. Individuals who felt a calling and were suitable would come to Samuel and he would teach them. At our level we cannot understand very much about these matters. Neither necessarily should we. They say that since the Temple was destroyed the possibilities of Divine Inspiration everywhere have become much more limited than they once were. All of us at one time or other have experienced insights, intuitions, and the potential within us of a another dimension.
We all realize that under certain circumstances and with the right knowledge that we could enhance these abilities. We also realize that they can be dangerous. People have become mentally unbalanced through trying to penetrate the supernatural side of existence. Saul himself may have been a victim. In the verses below it is evident that one of the weapons of "Samuel" was to cast the Spirit of Prophecy on those who were unprepared for it and thus temporarily unhinge them. Why did David go to Samuel? The Book of Samuel does not tell us much about the inner workings of the spirit of David. The Book of Psalms tells us quite a lot but not everything. It may well be that David was confused and confounded by the turn of events and hoped that Samuel the Prophet would have an answer.
[1-Samuel 19:19] AND IT WAS TOLD SAUL, SAYING, BEHOLD, DAVID IS AT NAIOTH IN RAMAH.
[1-Samuel 19:20] AND SAUL SENT MESSENGERS TO TAKE DAVID: AND WHEN THEY SAW THE COMPANY OF THE PROPHETS PROPHESYING, AND SAMUEL STANDING AS APPOINTED OVER THEM, THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS UPON THE MESSENGERS OF SAUL, AND THEY ALSO PROPHESIED.
Ordinary people meeting up with a band of prophets and being overcome with a spirit of prophecy is a recurring theme in the story of Saul. Great playwrights such as Shakespeare may well have learned the secrets of dramatic narration by studying the Book of Samuel and other works of the Bible.
[1-Samuel 19:21] AND WHEN IT WAS TOLD SAUL, HE SENT OTHER MESSENGERS, AND THEY PROPHESIED LIKEWISE. AND SAUL SENT MESSENGERS AGAIN THE THIRD TIME, AND THEY PROPHESIED ALSO.
[1-Samuel 19:22] THEN WENT HE ALSO TO RAMAH, AND CAME TO A GREAT WELL THAT IS IN SECHU: AND HE ASKED AND SAID, WHERE ARE SAMUEL AND DAVID? AND ONE SAID, BEHOLD, THEY BE AT NAIOTH IN RAMAH.
[1-Samuel 19:23] AND HE WENT THITHER TO NAIOTH IN RAMAH: AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS UPON HIM ALSO, AND HE WENT ON, AND PROPHESIED, UNTIL HE CAME TO NAIOTH IN RAMAH.
[1-Samuel 19:24] AND HE STRIPPED OFF HIS CLOTHES ALSO, AND PROPHESIED BEFORE SAMUEL IN LIKE MANNER, AND LAY DOWN NAKED ALL THAT DAY AND ALL THAT NIGHT. WHEREFORE THEY SAY, IS SAUL ALSO AMONG THE PROPHETS?
<<NAKED>>: Yehyudah Kiel points out that the word translated as "naked" in Hebrew "ARUM" can also mean poorly dressed, cf. Job 22:6. At the beginning of the career of Saul meeting a band of prophets and being overtaken with a spirit of prophecy (1-Samuel 10:11-12) indicated his approaching elevation whereas now it comes to mark a degradation of the spirit. <<IS SAUL ALSO AMONG THE PROPHETS?>>: This became a popular saying. At the beginning (1-Samuel 10:12) according to the Radak (Kimchi 1157-1236, Italy) it was used to denote a lowly person who suddenly achieves greatness. Later it would seem, as in our present case, to describe a great man suddenly made lowly. We thus have the same Phrase being popularly applied to two opposite phenomena. The early Celtic and Scandinavian heroes before battle sometimes entered a state of ecstasy and stripped themselves naked. These days they would be taken away by men in white cloaks with a van. Times change. In this chapter we have seen how Saul now openly tries to kill David. David however is saved thanks to Yehonatan the son of Saul, Michal the daughter of Saul, and Samuel the prophet who raised Saul up to be king and who had a deep spiritual and psychological bonding with Saul as we discussed at length several times previously [see our commentary to 1-Samuel 10:27 15:11]. Saul was tormented by an "evil spirit". It may be that even Saul at some level really wanted David to escape and his family and Samuel his mentor were giving expression to this better more hidden aspect of his tortured being. We should not forget that despite his madness and weakness Saul was a great man, an anointed king of Israel, and a savior of the people.
"And I will bless them that bless you" (Genesis 12:15).
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