Torah Study Notes 6-8-13

June 8, 2013
NOTE TO READERS. DUE TO A COMPUTER FAILURE THE FOLLOWING NOTES ARE BASED UPON THE WRITERS RECONSTRUCTION OF THE DISCUSSION FROM MEMORY – AS WELL AS A RE-READING OF THE SIDRA.
p. 1019 First Samuel
Korach is the initial revolt against Moses’ leadership. Medieval analysis recognizes that this is not a simple confrontation as to who is right and wrong. How does this connect to the Torah portion? Here it is the prophet Samuel who is trying to reconcile the need of the people for leadership with their faith.
11:14 Saul is crowned King. What does the phrase “renew the kingship” mean since Israel had previously never had a king? There were undoubtedly hereditary chieftains and tribal leaders. This raises the question as to the basis of Moses authority. Consider the play Hamlet. We as the audience know privileged information that Hamlet has received from his father – as a ghost. Samuel reservations about Saul appear to come from God.
12:1 Samuel is telling the people that if there are negative repercussions from his naming of Saul – the people are responsible since they insisted that they needed to have a King. He rhetorically asks if he done any wrongs or taken a bribe. Is he concerned that Saul will turn upon him and make accusations?
12:6 A recitation of the history and travails of the people. Only God is their true king.
12: 13 The King serves by divine right. Both the people and the King are followers of the Eternal. This question of loyalty to God over the state continues to be a problem in both the US and Israel today. In Israel the haredi refuse to serve in the military or otherwise support the state. In the US religious group scrutinize laws to determine if they are acceptable as a matter of faith. Moral and ethical and religious aspects are found in virtually every legislative enactment.
12:16 Samuel invokes God to bring thunder and rain during the wheat harvest in order to demonstrate the wrong that the people have done in asking for a king. “It is true that you have done evil…just do not turn away from the Eternal…” LL: There are several difficulties in this account for the modern reader. Obviously Samuel has serious reservations about his selection of Saul and the confirmation of Saul’s kingship by the people. At first, Samuel seems to be avoiding responsibility for his decision by blaming the people – then by castigating them for their lack of faith. In the end he finds a middle bath.
Note that the first book of Samuel has at least three accounts as to how the kingship was established. Also, the ascension of a King might have diminished the role of Samuel as a prophet. Note the passage in Deuteronomy 17:14 wherein God anticipates the establishment of a Kingship in Israel. Modern scholars assign this passage to a much later time than Samuel.
LL/

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