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Samuel warns the Israelites of the Dangers of Kings

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"Saul is ordered to destroy all the Amalekites and their livestock,"
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The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250)

Many Christians in 17th century England and 17th and 18th century North America were struck by some passages in I Samuel in which the prophet Samuel warned about the dangers a King would pose to the liberties of the Israelite people. This struck a chord with those who were fighting the growing power of the Stuart monarchy or the efforts of the British Empire to exert its power over the North American colonies. The art we have chosen to illustrate these passages come from the Illustrated Bible commissioned by King Louis IX (1214-1270) of France in the mid-13th century. They provide a stark contrast to the anti-monarchical sentiment of 17th and 18th century Englishmen. Louis IX arranged for these illustrations to be made because he wanted to assert his divine right to rule France and saw in the commands of Samuel and the actions of King Saul both historical and theological precedent upon which he could draw to justify his own behavior. [More]

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Introduction

Many Christians in 17th century England and 17th and 18th century North America were struck by some passages in I Samuel in which the prophet Samuel warned about the dangers a King would pose to the liberties of the Israelite people. [See The Best of the OLL No. 31: Samuel anoints Saul the First King of Israel (c. 1,000 B.C.) <oll.libertyfund.org/title/2511>. ]. This struck a chord with those who were fighting the growing power of the Stuart monarchy or the efforts of the British Empire to exert its power over the North American colonies. The following quotations are good examples of how these biblical references were used to defend English liberties against the crown:

Charles Herle, "A fuller Answer to a Treatise" [1642]:

Only take notice by the way, that those Monarchies were absolute and arbitrary not by conquest, but by consent of the people, the Jewes desired of God a King, to be governed by, after the manner of the Nations (sayes the Text) which was arbitrarily (as the Doctor observes out of Justin) and thereupon is it that God by Samuel tells them what such a King would doe to them, not what he might do (as the Doctor seemes to inferre from the place). And for the Roman Empire, its arbitrarinesse was not introduced by conquest, but by consent of the Senate, (however it may be awed thereto by Armes). And for that Title of succession (he there speakes of) it no way excludes consent, for it begins first in the election and consent of the people, and virtually continues so still in the mutuall bonds of oathes betweene King and people, to governe and bee governed by Lawes by them jointly to be made. [From Joyce Lee Malcom, The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century English Political Tracts, 2 vols, ed. Joyce Lee Malcolm (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999). Vol. 1. <oll.libertyfund.org/title/810/164717/2924280>.

Earl of Shaftesbury, "A Letter from a Person of Quality" [1675]

... the design is to declare us first into another Government more Absolute, and Arbitrary, than the Oath of Allegiance, or old Law knew, and then make us swear unto it, as it is so established: And less than this the Bishops could not offer in requital to the Crown for parting with its Supremacy, and suffering them to be sworn to equal with itself. Archbishop Laud was the first Founder of this Device; in his Canons of 1640. you shall find an Oath very like this, and a Declaratory Canon preceding that Monarchy is of divine Right, which was also affirmed in this debate by our Reverend Prelates, and is owned in Print by no less Men than Arch Bishop Usher, and B. Sanderson; and I am afraid it is the avowed opinion of much the greater part of our dignified Clergie. If so, I am sure they are the most dangerous sort of Men alive to our English Government, and it is the first thing ought to be lookt into, and strictly examined by our Parliaments; ’tis the leaven that corrupts the whole lump; for if that be true, I am sure Monarchy is not to be bounded by human Laws, and the 8. chap. of I. Samuel, will prove (as many of our Divines would have it) the Great Charter of the Royal Prerogative, and our Magna Charta that says Our Kings may not take our Fields, our Vineyards, our Corn, and our Sheep is not in force, but void and null, because against divine Institution; and you have the Riddle out, why the Clergy are so ready to take themselves, & impose upon others such kind of Oaths as these. ... [From Joyce Lee Malcom, The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century English Political Tracts, 2 vols, ed. Joyce Lee Malcolm (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999). Vol. 2. </title/1824/164753/2925584>.

Elkanah Settle, "The Character of a Popish Successour" [21 March, 1680]:

I would ask what this Lord’s Anointed is? And who ’tis our Native Soveraign, when instead of being free Subjects, Pope and Tyranny shall rule over us, and we are made Slaves and Papists? We are bound indeed by our Oaths of Allegiance, to a constant Loyalty to the King and his Lawful Successours. Very right; by that Oath we are bound to be his lawful Successour’s Loyal Subjects; but why his Loyal Slaves? Or how is an arbitrary absolute Popish Tyrant, any longer a Lawful Successour to a Protestant establisht and bounded Government, when lawfully succeeding to this limitted Monarchy, he afterwards violently, unlawfully, and tyrannically over-runs the due bounds of power, dissolves the whole Royal constitution of the Three Free States of England, and the Subjects’ Petition of Right? Whilst wholly abandoning those Reins of Government which were his lawful birthright, and making new ones of his own illegal creation, he makes us neither those freeborn Subjects we were when we took that Oath, nor himself that King we swore to be Loyal to. But alas! that Bugbear passive obedience is a notion crept into the world, and most zealously, and perhaps as ignorantly defended. There never wanted the authority even of Holy Writ itself on all occasions to vindicate everything; and there’s scarce a precedent in the oldest Historick part of the Bible, that shall not by an extorted Application, be appropriated even to the duty and necessity of all ages, places and constitutions of the world. For example, They’ll tell you that the Prophet Samuel makes this answer to the Jews that desired a King, That he would make their Sons and Daughters Slaves, and give their Fields, their Vineyards, and their Olive-yards, &c. to his Servants, and all this and much more they must expect from a King, &c. And ye shall cry out in that day, because of your King that you have chosen, and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Which was as much, as if the Prophet had said, If a King shall, as he may do this, you have no redress but to your Prayers for his conversion, and they perhaps too shall not be heard. He does not tell them they might revolt or rebel to redress themselves; no, Heaven forbid he should. For what was the King they desired, but like those of the Nations about them? And what were those Kings but Absolute? In their own breath lay the voice of the Laws, and Sic volo sic Jubeo was a Decree or Statute; and if they voluntarily submitted, and vowed allegiance to a King so absolute, and so arbitrary, as such they ought to obey him. And as they freely would run all risks of whatever might follow, it was their own choice, and Volenti non fit Injuria. Here indeed a passive obedience was due; But what’s this to a King of England? ’Tis not here, Sic volo sic Jubeo, here ’tis first sic vult populus, and then comes sic jubet Rex. Here all our Laws and Decrees by which we are governed, are of the people’s choice; first made by the Subject, and then confirmed by the King. Here a King cannot take our Sons and Daughters, or our Fields and Vineyards away, unless we please to give him them. [From Joyce Lee Malcom, The Struggle for Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century English Political Tracts, 2 vols, ed. Joyce Lee Malcolm (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999). Vol. 2. </title/1824/164760/2925774>.

Samuel Cooper, "A Sermon on the Day of the Commencement of the Constitution" [1780]:

Such was the civil constitution of the Hebrew nation, till growing weary of the gift of heaven, they demanded a king. After being admonished by the prophet Samuel of the ingratitude and folly of their request, they were punished in the grant of it. Impiety, corruption and disorder of every kind afterwards increasing among them, they grew ripe for the judgments of heaven in their desolation and captivity. Taught by these judgments the value of those blessings they had before despised, and groaning under the hand of tyranny more heavy than that of death, they felt the worth of their former civil and religious privileges, and were prepared to receive with gratitude and joy a restoration not barely to the land flowing with milk and honey, but to the most precious advantage they ever enjoyed in that land, their original constitution of government: They were prepared to welcome with the voice of mirth and thanksgiving the re-establishment of their congregations; nobles chosen from among themselves, and a governor proceeding from the midst of them. [From Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, Foreword by Ellis Sandoz (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). Vol. 1. </title/816/69278/1668699>.

A Moderate Whig [Stephen Case?], "Defensive Arms Vindicted" [June 17, 1782]:

Eighth. Afterwards, when the manner of the king presaged by Samuel, was verified in Saul’s degeneration, into many abuses of government, this privilege of resistance was not wholly mancipated, but maintained by David’s defensive appearance; with his little army, he took Goliath’s sword, not for ornament or only to fright Saul, but to defend himself with it, and was captain first to 400 men. 1 Sam. xxii. 2. Had a mind to keep out Keilah against him with 600 men. 1 Sam. xxiii. 13. And afterwards a great host came to him to Ziklag, while he kept himself close because of Saul, the son of Kish. 1 Chron. xii. 1. Throughout where they left Saul, and came and helped David against him. This is proved at large by Lex Rex, Quest. 22. page 340 [From Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, Foreword by Ellis Sandoz (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). Vol. 1. </title/816/69294/1669165>.

The art we have chosen to illustrate these passages from I Samuel come from the Illustrated Bible commissioned by King Louis IX (1214-1270) of France in the mid-13th century. They provide a stark contrast to the anti-monarchical sentiment of 17th and 18th century Englishmen cited above which show quite clearly that very divergent readings can be drawn from the same biblical text. In the case of Louis IX who arranged for these illustrations to be made he wanted to assert his divine right to rule France and saw in the commands of Samuel and the actions of King Saul both historical and theological precedent upon which he could draw to justify his own behaviour. The poeple of Israel demanded that a king be anointed by Samuel, God (via Samuel) decrees that a unified state of the Israelites under Saul be established, that rebellious tribes be forced to submit to Saul's authority, that all the traditional enemies of the Israelite poeple be totally subdued and destroyed, and that future rebels be punished with the full force of the law. Louis IX thus saw this story as justifying his own actions in leading two crusades in the Holy Land and the suppression of the dissident Cathars in France.

Summary of the Events of I Samuel 8-15

In the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament the tribal elder and seer Samuel is asked by the people to appoint a King over them so they can be like other nations - “That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”. What had been up until that time a decentralized system of government with highly regarded individuals taking the role of seer, prophet, judge, and military commander, often on a temporary basis, was on the verge of becoming a more centralized state with a permanent and professional monarchy and military command structure. In a “republican” account of this story we see Samuel warning the people that they should be careful what they wish for, that if he appoints someone as King this king will eventually confiscate their property, conscript their sons and daughters, and impose a 10% tax on everything.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. [I Sammuel 8:11-17]

This is exactly what happens to the people of Israel as the new King Saul fights their rivals and enemies. Before he can fight the traditional enemies of Israel Saul has to unite the squabbling tribes which he does by threatening to slaughter the oxen of any tribe which refuses to submit to his rule. He views any refusal as a form of rebellion which is compared to “the sin of witchcraft” and which would not be tolerated. Once the tribes were united behind him Saul wages war against Moab, Ammon, Edom, Zobah, but particularly against the Philistines and the Amalekites. After much mutual slaughter and plundering (there are accounts of 8 battles in this Book) the unification of Israel under one king was close to being achieved. One last battle had to be waged against the Amalekites in order to finally destroy the enemies of Israel.

Samuel tells King Saul that God’s command was to wipe out the entire Amalekite people in an act of revenge for what they had done to the Israelites when they fled Egypt, to “utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass,” including the King Agag. In a moment of weakness or conscience Saul spares the lives of King Agag and “the best” of the livestock. For this he is denounced as a rebel and a sinner, and Samuel himself “hewed Agag in pieces” and then turned his back on King Saul.

Source

The text of I Samuel 8-15 comes from The Parallel Bible. The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments translated out of the Original Tongues: being the Authorised Version arranged in parallel columns with the Revised Version (Oxford University Press, 1885). <oll.libertyfund.org/title/2021>

The illustrations come from The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250) <http://www.themorgan.org/collections/swf/exhibOnline.asp?id=200>. The Picture Bible has no text but closely follows the account given in I Samuel. There are 43 pages in the book with illustrations on both sides (recto and verso).

 

The Illustrated First Book of Samuel (c. 1250)

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Left: The aging Samuel is approached by four elders representing the people of Israel who ask him to anoint a King so that Israel will be powerful like other nations. Samuel warns them of the dangers a king would pose to the liberties of the Israelite people. [I Samuel 8: 4-22]

1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba.
3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.

11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

Right: Samuel chooses the young and tall Saul from the tribe of Benjamin to be the king of the Israelites and anoints him with oil, making him king. [I Samuel 9:26 - 10:1]

1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?

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The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250)

Left: "Is Saul Also among the Prophets?" The answer should be yes but the illustrator seems to have left Saul out of the picture. We see Samuel talking to a group of seers with a bird (the spirit of the Lord) flying overhead. Saul should have been seen receiving divine sanction for his kingship after having been anointed by Samuel. [I Samuel 10:9-13]

Right: Samuel tells the representaives of the tribes of Israel that Saul is now king and they confirm the choice by exclaiming "God save the King!" [I Samuel 10:17-24]

19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands.
20 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
22 Therefore they enquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
23 And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
24 And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.

 

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Left: Saul is told that the Ammonite Nahash has surrounded the city of Jabesh-Gilead and has threatened to gouge out the right eyes of the inhabitants unless they submit to him.

Right: Saul wants the full support of all the Israelite tribes in order to fight the Ammonites and decides to threaten those tribes who have refused to submit to his authority by slaughtering two of his oxen and sending the pieces to the hold-out tribes, telling them that unless they join him he will do the same to all their oxen. [I Samuel 11:1-7]

6 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
7 And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

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The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250)

Left: Saul is sitting on his throne holidng the symbol of his royal authority, the sceptre. To his left, a servant reassures a representative of the city of Jabesh-Gilead that assistance will be coming.

Right: King Saul receives the troops he has assembled. They kneel to show their fealty. A standard bearer sits in one of the supply wagons. [I Samuel 11:7-9 ]

8 And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
9 And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.

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Saul (wearing a crown and an orange tunic) defeats the Ammonites in battle. He sinks his sword into the head of King Nahash. The Ammonites are attacked by catapults (left), archers (top right), and axes (right).Their corpses lie strwen on the battle field. [I Samuel 11:11]

11 And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.

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Left: The victorious Saul is publically crowned and anointed by Samuel (wearing the grey shawl). He sits on a throne, wearing a crown, and holding his sceptre.

Right: Samuel sacrifices sheep to God who watches from above. [I Samuel 11:14-15]

14 Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.
15 And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

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Left: Saul sits under a pomegranate tree (a symbol of the fertility of the promised land) and talks to his troops, one of which is kneeling holding a shield with the imperial eagle on it.

Right: Saul's son Jonathan and his armor-bearer sneak off without telling Saul in order to scale a mountain and attack a group of Philistines, killing 20 of them. [I Samuel 14:1-14]

6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them....
12 And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
14 And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.

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Saul joins the battle against the Philistines and orders his men not to eat anything until the Philistines have been compltetely defeated. Jonathan however eats some honey he finds on the ground during the battle. A priest carries the Ark of the Covenant into battle (centre left). [I Samuel14: 17-27]

16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
17 Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.
18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel....
20 And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture...
22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
23 So the Lord saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven.
24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
26 And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened...
30 How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?
31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.

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Left: Saul asks God to give him advice during the battle but there is no response.

Right: Saul blames Jonathan for offending God by eating honey during the battle. He decides to kill his son but is persuaded not to by the people. [I Samuel 14:37-45]

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.

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"Saul is ordered to destroy all the Amalekites and their livestock,"
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Samuel tells Saul that it is God's will that he kill all the Amalekites and destroy all their livestock. Saul knocks King Agag from his horse during the battle (centre) but does not kill him. He permits his troops to keep the best livestock for themselves as plunder. [I Samuel 15:2-9]

2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass....
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

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Left: God appears before Samuel and they both regret having made Saul king of the Israelites as he disobeyed God's commands to exterminate the Amalekites and their livestock. [I Samuel 15:10-11]

10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,
11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night...
13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.
14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

Right: Samuel confronts Saul and tells him of God's displeasure with him. While arguing with Samuel Saul grabs Samuel's cloak and tears it. Samuel tells him that God has torn the Kingdom of Israel away from Saul and given it to someone else. [I Samuel 15:24-28]

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.
26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
28 And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

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[page 25 recto, lower panel]
The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250)

Left: King Agag of the Amalekites has been arrested by Saul and tied and chained and pleads for his life.

Right: Samuel orders Saul to bring him King Agag so he can carry out God's command. Samuel beheads Agag, cuts him in half, and thretens to continue mutilating the body. [I Samuel 15:31-33]

32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

 

Last modified April 10, 2014