I have been absent for a while. Meanwhile, my friend Christy has not. She has set herself the task of writing a blogpost each day, for reasons outlined in the link. I don’t think I can do the same, but I’d like to try writing a snippet every Monday about a text that crosses my path, any text, a book or a sentence, it does not matter.
So let’s start here and now, with the story of King Saul which I have been reading. It’s a story I have been familiar with for a long time: the tall man chosen and anointed to be the first king of Israel. He seems rather reluctant at first, but comes to accept and even to love his position. When David threatens to outshine him, he hunts him (unsuccessfully) up and down through the land. Eventually he meets his fate in battle, dying together with his heirs.
Actually Saul’s downfall is announced before the name of David is even mentioned. A Philistine army is coming for him while Saul waits for the prophet Samuel, the one who has anointed him, to offer sacrifices. But because Samuel is late and the soldiers are starting to fidget and desert, Saul takes it upon himself to begin the ceremony. This is problematic because an Israelite king, unlike his colleagues in the Ancient Middle East (who are seen as divine beings), typically has no religious functions. So when Samuel arrives, he gets angry and tells Saul that his kingship is coming to an end.
There is one detail in the story that I never noticed before. It happens when Saul goes to Samuel for the first time, not with the goal of being anointed king, but because he is on a family errand and needs some help. Saul enters the city where Samuel lives and asks if the prophet is around. The young women answer him,
He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat.