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Amram came Moses and Aaron; of Izaar, Chore; and of the family of Chore, Samuel. His father Elcana, a Levite, was called an Ephratean; not that the Levites had any proper inheritance, but because he was of mount - Ephraim, like as Jesse, David's father, was called an Ephratean, because born at Ephrata, or Bethlehem. Hannah his mother being long fruitless, obtained him of God by prayers and tears : it being an exceeding shame to the Jewish women to be called barren, in respect of the blessing of God both to Abraham, that his seed should multiply as the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea, as in the beginning to Adam, Increase and multiply, &c. and in Deuteronomy vii. There shall be neither male nor female barren among you.
Samuel was no sooner born, but that his mother, according to her former vow, dedicated him to God and his service, to which she delivered him even from the dug. For as the firstborn of all that were called Nazarites might be redeemed till they were five years old for five shekels, between five years and twenty for twenty shekels; so was it not required by the law that any of the race of the Levites should be called to serve about the tabernacle, till they were twenty-five years old. *
St. Peter reckons in the Acts the prophets from Samuel, who was the first of the writers of holy scriptures, to whom usually this name of a prophet was given, and yet did Moses account himself such a one, as in Deuteronomy xvii. 15. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet like unto me, &c. But he is distinguished from those that preceded him, who were called seers; as 1 Sam. ix. 9. Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to seek an answer of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a prophet was in old time called a seer. And although it pleased God to appear by his angels to Moses, as before to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; yet in the time of Eli there was no manifest vision ; not that God had altogether withdrawn his grace from Israel : but as the Chaldean paraphrast hath it, those revelations before Samuel's time were more clouded and obscure. The places wherein y Samuel judged were Maspha, or Mitspa, seated on a hill in Benjamin near Juda; also Gilgal and Bethel, of which we have spoken elsewhere.
* Which region was called Ephrata, as appeareth Judgesj xii. 5; whence for distinction we read, Ruth j. 2, Ephratæi e Bethlehemo Jehudæ ; " The town Ephratah, which is
“ Bethlehem in Juda," Gen. xxxv. 19, from the region of Ephrata, which is in mount Ephraim ; whence, Psal. cxxxii. 6, Ephrata is put for Silo, which was in the tribe of Ephraim.
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The Philistines, taking knowledge of the assembly and preparation for war at Mispa in the beginning of Samuel's government, gathered their army, and marched towards the city; at whose approach the Israelites strucken with fear, and with the memory of their former slaughters and servitude, besought Samuel to pray to God for them ; who was z then performing his sacrifice when the Philistines were in view. But God being moved with Samuel's prayers, (as he was by those of Moses, when Israel fought against the Amalekites at their first entrance into Arabia,) it pleased him with thunder and tempest to disperse and beat down the army of the Philistines, according to the prophecy of Hanna, Samuel's mother : a The Lord's adversaries shall be destroyed; and out of heaven shall he thunder upon them, &c. Josephus affirms, that a part of the Philistines were swallowed with an earthquake; and that Samuel himself led the Israelites in the prosecution of their victory. After which Samuel erected a monument in memory of this happy success obtained by the miraculous hand of God, which Josephus called lapidem fortem; Samuel, Ebenezer, or the stone of assistance: and then following the opportunity and advantage of the victory, the Israelites recovered divers cities of their own formerly lost, and held long in possession of the Philistines, who for a long time after did not offer any invasion or revenge. And the better to attend their purposes, and to withstand any of their attempts, the Israelites made peace with the Amorites, or Canaanites, which lay on
y i Sam. xiii. See in this book, that the enemies approached, he, nochap. 12. sect. 1.
thing dismayed, answered, Ego auz Plutarch reports of Numa, the ten sucrifico. second king of Rome, that when, as a i Sam, ii. 10. he was sacrificing, it was told him
their backs, and to the north of them, that they might not be assaulted from divers parts at once; having the Philistines towards the west and sea-coast, the Canaanite towards the north and east, and the Idumite on the south. The estate being thus settled, Samuel, for the ease of the people, gave audience and judgment in divers places by turns, as hath been elsewhere said.
SECT. I. Of the deliberation to change the government into a kingdom. BUT when age now began to overtake Samuel, and that he was not able to undergo the burden of so careful a government, he put off from himself the weight of the affairs on his sons, Joel and Abijah, who judged the people at Beersheba, a city the very utmost towards the south of Judæa. And as the place was inconvenient and far away, so were themselves no less removed from the justice and virtue of their father. For the thirst of covetousness the more it swalloweth, the more it drieth and desireth, finding taste in nothing but gain; to recover which they set the law at a price, and sold justice and judgment to the best chapmen. Which when the elders of Israel observed, and saw that Samuel, as a natural man, (though a prophet,) could not so well discern the errors of his own, they prayed him to consent to their change of government, and to make them a king, by whom they might be judged as other nations were ; who might also lead them to the war, and defend them against their enemies. For after the ill and lamentable success which followed the rule of Eli his sons, when those of Samuel by their first blossoms promised to yield fruit no less bitter, they saw no way to put the government from out his race, whom they so much reverenced, but by the choice of a king
In a cause of so great consequence and alteration, Samuel sought counsel from God; which surely he did not for the establishing of his own sons, who being as they were, God would not have approved his election. Now as it appears by the text, this speech or motion displeasing him, he used his best arguments to dehort them; which when he perceived to be over-feeble, he delivered unto them, from God's revelation, the inconveniencies and miseries which should befall them. And yet all which he foreshewed was not intolerable, but such as hath been borne, and is so still by free consent of the subjects towards their princes. For first he makes them know that the king will use their sons in his own service to make them his horsemen, charioteers, and footmen ; which is not only not grievous, but by the vassals of all kings, according to their birth and condition, desired; it being very agreeable to subjects of the best quality to command for the king in his wars, and to till the ground no less proper and appertaining to those that are thereto bred and brought up: so are likewise the offices of women-servants to dress meat, to bake bread, and the like. But whereas immediately it is threatened, He will take up your fields, and your vineyards, and your best olive trees, and give them to his servants, with other oppressions; this hath given, and gives daily occasion to such as would be ruled by their own discretion, to affirm that Samuel describeth here unto them the power of a king governed by his own affections, and not a king that feareth God. But others, upon further examination, construe this text far otherwise, as teaching us what subjects ought with patience to bear at their sovereign's hand. The former opinion is grounded first upon that place of Deuteronomy xvii. where God foresheweth this change of government from judges to kings, and after he had forbidden many things unto the kings, as many wives, covetousness, and the like, he commandeth that the kings, which were to reign over Israel should write the law of Deuteronomy, or cause it to be written : and to shew how greatly the king should honour the law, he addeth, It shall be with him, and he shall read
therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep all the words of this law and these ordinances for to do them; that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his sons. But to take away any other man's field, say they, is contrary to the laws of God, in the same book written. For it is said, Deut. vi. That which is just and right shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live. Now if it be not permitted to carry away b grapes more than thou canst eat out of another man's vineyard, but forbidden by God; it is much less lawful to take the vineyard itself from the owner, and give it to another. Neither are the words of the textc, say they, such as do warrant the kings of Israel, or make it proper unto them, to take at will any thing from their vassals. For it is not said that it shall be lawful for the king, or the king may do this or that; but it is written, that the king will take your sons: and again, This shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: God thereby foreshewing what power, severed from piety, (because it is accountable to God only,) will do in the future. And hereof we find the first example in Achab, who took from Naboth both his vineyard and his life, contrary to the trust which God had put in him, of governing well his people. For God commanded, Deut. xvi. that his people should be judged with righteous judgment. Wherefore though the king had offered unto Naboth composition, as a vineyard of better value, or the worth in money, which he refused; yet because he was falsely accused and unjustly condemned, (though by colour of law,) how grievously Achab was punished by God, the scriptures tell us. Neither was it a plea sufficient for Achab against the all-righteous God, to say that it was done without his consent, and by the elders of Israel. For God had not then left his people to the elders, but to the king, who is called a living law, even as David testifieth of himself; Posuisti me in caput gentium : for this of St. Augustine is very true; Simulata innocentia non est innocentia: simulata æquitas non est æquitas: sed duplicatur pecb Deut. xxiji. 24.