Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of Sulpitius Severus.: Chapter XXXIII.
Accordingly, Saul, having been first anointed by Samuel with the sacerdotal oil, was appointed king. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, and his fathers name was Kish. He was modest in mind, and of a singularly handsome figure, so that the dignity of his person worthily corresponded to the royal dignity. But in the beginning of his reign, some portion of the people had revolted from him, refusing to acknowledge his authority, and had joined themselves to the Ammonites. Saul, however, energetically wreaked his vengeance on these people; the enemy were conquered, and pardon was granted to the Hebrews. Then Saul is said to have been anointed by Samuel a second time. Next, a bloody war arose by an invasion of the Philistines; and Saul had appointed Gilgal as the place where his army was to assemble. As they waited there seven days for Samuel, that he might offer sacrifice to God, the people gradually dropped away owing to his delay, and the king, with unlawful presumption, presented a burnt-offering, thus taking upon him the duty of a priest. For this he was severely rebuked by Samuel, and acknowledged his sin with a penitence that was too late. For, as a result of the kings sin, fear had pervaded the whole army. The camp of the enemy lying at no great distance showed them how actual the danger was, and no one had the courage to think of going forth to battle: most had be-taken themselves to the marshes. 301 For besides the want of courage on the part of those who p. 87 felt that God was alienated from them on account of the kings sin, the army was in the greatest want of iron weapons; so much so that nobody, except Saul and Jonathan his son, is said to have possessed either sword or spear. For the Philistines, as conquerors in the former wars, had deprived the Hebrews of the use of arms, 302 and no one had had the power of forging any weapon of war, or even making any implement for rural purposes. In these circumstances, Jonathan, with an audacious design, and with his armor-bearer as his only companion, entered the camp of the enemy, and having slain about twenty of them, spread a terror throughout the whole army. And then, through the appointment of God, betaking themselves to flight, they neither carried out orders nor kept their ranks, but placed all the hope of safety in flight. Saul, perceiving this, hastily drew forth his men, and pursuing the fugitives, obtained a victory. The king is said on that day to have issued a proclamation that no one should help himself to food until the enemy were destroyed. But Jonathan, knowing nothing of this prohibition, found a honey-comb, and, dipping the point of his weapon in it, ate up the honey. When that became known to the king through the anger of God which followed, he ordered his son to be put to death. But by the help of the people, he was saved from destruction. At that time, Samuel, being instructed by God, went to the king, and told him in the words of God to make war on the nation of the Amalekites, who had of old hindered the Hebrews when they were coming out of Egypt; and the prohibition was added that they should not covet any of the spoils of the conquered. Accordingly, an army was led into the territory of the enemy, the king was taken, and the nation subdued. But Saul, unable to resist the magnitude of the spoil, and unmindful of the divine injunctions, ordered the booty to be saved and gathered together.
The text here is very uncertain; we have followed the reading of Halm, “lamas,” but others have “lacrimas” or “latebras.”87:302
“Armorum” is here supplied, but some prefer “cotis,” according to 1 Sam. xiii. 20.
Next: Chapter XXXIV.
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