Shmuel 1-Chapter 11: The battle against Amon

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Chapter 11: The battle against Amon

1. King of Amon threatens the town of Yaveish Galaad: (11:1-3)

  • The threat and proposition: Nachash the Ammonite encamped by the town of Yaveish Galaad [to battle them in war]. The residents of Yaveish Galaad replied to Nachash that they desire to make a pact with him, and they will serve him. Nachash replied that he will only agree to make a pact with them if they agree to allow him to remove the right eye of all the residents [and burn a Sefer Torah[1]], and shame them amongst Israel.
  • The response: The elders of Yaveish replied that they ask for a seven day period to think over the proposition, and in the interim they will send messengers to all the borders of Israel, and if no one comes to save them, then they will capitulate to the demands.

2. The nation is told of the threat on Yaveish Galaad and prepare for battle: (11:4-10)

  • The messengers arrived to Givat Shaul and they informed the nation of the threat. The nation raised their voice in a cry. Shaul had arrived after the completion of the grazing of the cattle and was told of the new threat for which reason all the nation was crying.
  • Shaul summons the nation: Shaul became filled with the spirit of G-d upon hearing the devastating news, and he became very angry. He took a pair of oxen and dismembered them, sending the various limbs through messengers [of Yaveish Galaad[2]] to the tribes of Israel. He sent them with the following message, that whoever follow Shaul and Shmuel [in battle] will have the same happen to their cattle. The nation became stricken with fear and so they followed like one nation after Shaul. Shaul counted the nation in Bazek [using stones, or pieces of pottery that each person provided for the counting[3]], and there was a total of 300,00 men from the tribes of Israel, and 30,000 men from the tribe of Judah.
  • A message of encouragement is sent to Yaveish Galaad: The people told the messengers [of Yaveish Galaad] that they should tell the residents that tomorrow they will see salvation in the heat of the sun [i.e. during daytime, by midday[4]]. So, the messengers arrived back to Yaveish Galaad and told them the news and they rejoiced.
  • Yaveish Galaad connivingly tells Amon that they will comply the next day: The men of Yaveish Galaad [told Amon[5]] that the next day they will go greet them and that they could do with them all that they see fit in their eyes.

3. Shaul leads the nation in battle and Amon is smitten: (11:11)

  • The next day Shaul appointed three generals over the nation and they approached the camp [of Amon[6]] towards morning and smote them until the heat of the day. The remaining men were scattered, and there did not remain two men together.

4. The people desire to kill those who questioned Shaul’s kingship: (11:12-13)

  • The nation told Shmuel: Who are the one’s who [brazenly[7]] said that who is Shaul that he should rule over us? Give us those men and let us put them to death.
  • Shaul replied to them: No man shall die on this day, as on this day Hashem has done a great salvation for the Jewish people.

5. Shaul is re-coronated: (11:14-15)

Shmuel said to the nation, let us go to Gilgal and renew the monarchy [and have it now be accepted by all the people[8]]. So, the entire nation went to Gilgal and they coronated Shaul there as king, before G-d at Gilgal. They offered Shelamim sacrifices there before Hashem, and Shaul and all the Jewish people rejoiced


[1] Rashi 11:2

[2] Metzudos David 11:7

[3] Rashi 11:8

[4] Metzudos Tziyon 11:9

[5] Metzudos David 11:10

[6] Metzudos David 11:11

[7] Rashi 11:12

[8] Rashi 11:14

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