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Go to Bible: 1 Samuel 10
“Is it not that.” This is a rhetorical question. Samuel was explaining that he was anointing Saul because he was the new king of Israel.(top)
|1Sm 10:2||- (top)|
“skin-bottle.” The use of containers or “bottles” made from animal skins is a very ancient custom and was still practiced in the East until fairly recent times. The most common material that was used for skin-bottles was the skin of a goat or young kid. Bottles made from goatskin were used to hold wine, water, milk, and such.
It was important that the skin would not leak, so usually, the head of the animal was cut off, leaving as much neck as possible, and then the bones of the animal were sometimes broken so they would fit out the neck hole, and the animal was turned inside out with all the innards passing out through the neck hole. The animal was not cut open as is done when an animal is field dressed before being butchered. Once the animal was inside out, the skin was scraped so that the hide was clean and free from meat and fat. Also, the legs were cut off close to the hoof and then tied tight so fluid would not leak out through the leg hole, and the anus was sewn shut. Then usually the animal was turned hair-side out again and would hold fluid. Sometimes the hair was left on the animal skin, and sometimes it was scraped and coated with oil or grease so that it was thoroughly watertight, and also would not tend to dry out.
It was common with the smaller skins that the neck hole served as both the opening from which the skin-bottle was filled and the opening from which its contents were poured out. However, if a larger container was desired, even as large as a camel or ox, which were used as large containers and sometimes used on long journeys in the desert, often one leg was only tied shut with cord and that leg would provide the spout through which the fluid was poured.
It was common to keep the skin-bottles upright by tying a rope under the upper thighs of the animal and hanging it so it would not tip over, but sometimes a full skin could simply be set upright with the neck pointing up and tied shut. The rough and mobile life of many of the people of the East made skin-bottles a much better choice for liquids than earthenware pots, and they were much easier to seal. If a skin-bottle did get cut or tear, sometimes it could be repaired by sewing or tying it up (cp. Josh. 9:4).
When the skin-bottles were filled with wine, people had to be careful not to use old skin-bottles that had become hard and inflexible, because Eastern wine finished fermenting in the skin-bottles and would produce gasses that would cause the bottle to burst if it was sealed tightly. Jesus used that fact in his teachings (Matt. 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37).
In 1855, Horatio Hackett wrote about skin-bottles, and how common they were.
In 1875, James Freeman wrote about skin-bottles, and included in his book a reproduction of Assyrian artwork in which a woman is giving fluid to her child from a skin-bottle, holding the skin by the forelegs and back and pouring out the fluid to the child through the neck hole of the skin.b
|1Sm 10:4||- (top)|
“Gibeah-elohim.” This could be translated “Hill of God,” like some versions do, but it was not a reference to just any hill, it was the name of a hill with a garrison and village. The Hebrew text actually reads “Gibeath” instead of “Gibeah,” but it is common for the Hebrew to spell names slightly differently in different places, and to keep the continuity and so the reader can more easily follow the events at Gibeah, we used “Gibeah” here. The town is Gibeah of Benjamin, the native town of Saul (which would explain why Saul was heading in that direction), and it was often called “Gibeah of Saul” because Saul was the king and lived there (1 Sam. 11:4; 15:34; 2 Sam. 21:6; Isa. 10:29). That Saul was from Gibeah and was home explains how the people there knew him and his family, and were surprised when he prophesied and said, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” It seems likely that the town of Gibeah is called “Gibeah-elohim” (Gibeah of God) in this verse because of the High Place in or near the town where people would go to worship.(top)
“and will be turned into another man.” In the Old Testament, when God wanted to empower a person with spirit power, He would put His gift of holy spirit (usually just called “spirit”) upon the person (cp. Num. 11:17, 25-29). When that happened the person had a line of communication with God that they never had before, and they also could manifest spiritual power in various ways, and they were especially known for being able to hear from God and prophesy, like Saul did right after he got the spirit. The presence of God’s spirit upon a person was so powerful and profound that when a person got holy spirit on them they were a “different person” than they had been without the spirit. Samuel understood that, and told Saul that when he got spirit upon him he would be turned into another man. David knew that too, and after he disobeyed God by committing adultery with Bathsheba and setting her husband Uriah up to be killed in battle, he prayed for forgiveness and that God would not take the gift of holy spirit away from him because he did not want to lose that special connection with God (Ps. 51:11).
[For more on the gift of holy spirit, see Appendix 7: “What is the Holy Spirit?”](top)
“whatever your hand finds to do.” This is an idiom, meaning, whatever the circumstances require; whatever you think is best in the situation. Once Saul had the holy spirit of God upon him and could receive revelation from God, he was in a position to deal with whatever circumstances life had in store for him.(top)
“You are to go down before me to Gilgal.” This event was to occur at some point in the future, not immediately. It happened later (cp. 1 Sam. 13:7-13).(top)
|1Sm 10:9||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:10||- (top)|
“What is this that has happened to the son of Kish?” The people are very surprised at the change in Saul. He had been more of a secular person before this.(top)
“Who is their father?” Although it is not completely clear why the man asked this question, it likely relates to the fact that perhaps Saul had been taken into the group of prophets by a recognized prophet that led the group, and was now in training to be a prophet. If people knew the “father” of the group, they could find out how Saul came to be prophesying among them. Since the men of the town knew Saul and his family, the word “father” is not being used literally, but instead is being used with the standard cultural meaning of “mentor” or “teacher.” In fact, the student-teacher relationship was usually so strong in the biblical culture that if the teacher died or went away, the disciples were referred to as “orphans” (John 14:18). The mature prophets often gathered disciples, who were known as the “sons of the prophets” (1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7, 15; 4:1, 38; 5:22; 6:1; 9:1; Acts 3:25). Similarly, the “sons” of the Pharisees were not their real children, but their disciples (Luke 11:19).(top)
|1Sm 10:13||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:14||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:15||- (top)|
“told, yes told.” The Hebrew text uses the word “told” twice for emphasis, using the figure polyptoton (see commentary on Gen. 2:16).(top)
|1Sm 10:17||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:18||- (top)|
“today.” This is the cultural use of the word “today” that we see in Luke 23:43, where “today” is being used for emphasis. It had been some time since the Israelites formally rejected God and asked for a king, they did not just reject God “today” (cp. 1 Sam. 8:6-21). In many languages, including Greek, Hebrew, and English, words that we normally think of as being “time words” are often used for emphasis instead of to accurately report time. This happens with the English word “now” all the time. A teacher might say, “Now class, make sure you sign your test.” The purpose of “Now” in that sentence is not time, but emphasis, and that can be the case in both Hebrew and Greek as well (cp. Luke 11:39, Acts 13:11; 15:10; 22:16; 1 Cor. 14:26; James 4:13).
In the Hebrew culture, the word “today,” or “this day” was used for emphasis, and it is used that way many times in the Old Testament. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,...” (Deut. 4:26); “know therefore today,...” (Deut. 4:39); “And these words, which I command thee this day,...” (Deut. 6:6). “I testify against you this day, that you shall perish” (Deut. 8:19). Similarly, Jesus used the word “today” for emphasis in Luke 23:43. A use that is very similar to Luke 23:43 is Deuteronomy 30:18, “I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.”
[For more on the use of time words for emphasis, see commentary on Luke 23:43.]
“thousands.” The word may not mean a thousand here, but may refer to family groups or clans.(top)
“was taken.” That is, Benjamin was “taken” by lot.
[For more on the Urim and Thummim and people being taken by lot, see commentary on Exodus 28:30.](top)
|1Sm 10:21||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:22||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:23||- (top)|
|1Sm 10:24||- (top)|
“regulations of the kingdom.” This is almost the same as in 1 Samuel 8:11, the “way of the king.” This is the “way of the kingdom,” but here it correctly applies to the regulations of the kingdom.(top)
|1Sm 10:26||- (top)|
“sons of Belial.” This is a designation of sons of the Devil.
[For more on sons of Belial, see commentary on 1 Samuel 2:12. For more on the unforgivable sin and children of the Devil, see commentary on Matthew 12:31.](top)