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Saul

Saul

The first king of Israel, Saul (reigned ca. 1020-1000 B.C.) was a man of valor who brought the virtues of modesty and generosity to his office.

The youngest son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin, Saul was a modest shepherd boy, a resident of Gibeah, when the prophet Samuel, after a chance meeting, secretly chose and anointed him king of Israel. It was a period of national humiliation, for the Philistines had defeated the Israelites at Shiloh and captured the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized the presence of God in their midst. This calamity convinced the Israelites that they must either strive for national unity with a king as leader or face complete and permanent subjugation.

Saul succeeded in freeing Israel of its enemies and extending its boundaries. He fought successfully against the Philistines, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Arameans, and Amalekites. He also succeeded in drawing the tribes of Israel into a closer unity.

Saul's initial conflict with Samuel occurred after Saul offered a sacrifice to God, thereby assuming Samuel's office. Samuel rebuked Saul and proclaimed that Saul's dynasty would not be continued on the throne of Israel. Their second disagreement took place after Saul retained the war booty of the defeated Amalekites, Israel's traditional enemy, and spared the life of their king, Agag. Samuel publicly pronounced Saul's deposition from the throne. Saul fell into a state of melancholia that developed into an emotional disorder.

Saul's fits of depression and his moody, suspicious temperament caused him to attack the lad David, who had been brought into his household to soothe him by playing music. Jealous of David, Saul persecuted him, attacked him, sent him on perilous expeditions, and finally made him into an outlaw.

The Philistines then renewed their attack on Israel. Without David's support and depressed by the feeling that God had deserted him, Saul consulted a witch of Endor, seeking to recall the spirit of the dead Samuel. He was reproached and advised of his impending doom. In a battle against the Philistines Saul fought valiantly but vainly. His forces routed and his three sons slain, Saul died by his own hand. The tragic tale is told by David in an exquisite elegy lamenting the death of Saul and Jonathan. It is one of the most beautiful poems in the Bible.

The affection in which Saul was held is reflected in the action of the men of Yabesh-gilead, whose city he had saved in his first act as monarch. They risked their lives to rescue his body from the Philistines and gave it an honorable burial.

Further Reading

Although there is no single authoritative biography of Saul, there are numerous volumes of fiction, making it difficult to distinguish between historical and legendary accounts. An excellent short essay on him is in Rudolph Kittel, Great Men and Movements in Israel (trans. 1929). For historical background the following works are recommended: William Foxwell Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (1940; 2d ed. with new introduction, 1957); Max I. Magolis and Alexander Marx, A History of the Jewish People (1944); Salo Wittmayer Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, vol. 1 (2d ed. 1952; 2d rev. ed. 1969); and Martin Noth, The History of Israel (trans. 1958; 2d ed. 1960). □

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Saul

Saul, first king of the ancient Hebrews. He was a Benjamite and anointed king by Samuel. Saul's territory was probably limited to the hill country of Judah and the region to the north, and his proximity to the Philistines brought him into constant conflict with them. The Bible tells his story dramatically, for it is really the story of David, first the protégé, then the rival, and finally the successor, of the king. Saul's son Jonathan was David's friend—a fact that adds pathos to the story of Saul's attempts to destroy David. David would not harm Saul, who nevertheless met a melancholy end after he went to the witch of Endor and heard his defeat and death prophesied. Saul, defeated and wounded in battle with the Philistines on Mt. Gilboa, committed suicide rather than be captured. Though Saul was unsuccessful in defeating the Philistines, he paved the way for enhanced national security and unity under David. The Saul of the Book of Genesis is elsewhere called Shaul.

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Saul

Saul (active late 11th century bc) First king of the Hebrew state of ancient Israel (c.1020–c.1000 bc). He was the son of Kish, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel, and acclaimed as king by all Israel. For much of his reign, he waged war against Israel's threatening neighbours, notably the Philistines, the Ammonites, and the Amalekites. He and his sons eventually died in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. The story of Saul is contained in the First Book of Samuel, the ninth book of the Old Testament.

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Saul

Saul1 (in the Bible) the first king of Israel (11th century bc); chosen as king and anointed by the prophet Samuel. In later life Saul lost God's favour; he became violently jealous of his former favourite David, who was to succeed him as God's chosen king after the death of Saul and his son Jonathan in battle against the Philistines.

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"Saul." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Saul

Saul. The first king of the Israelites. 1 Samuel contains several stories about Saul's accession (see 9. 1–10. 16; 10. 17–27; 11), some indicating conflict about the propriety of so great an innovation.

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"Saul." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Saul

Saul2 in the Bible, Saul of Tarsus was the original name of St Paul1.

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Saul

Saulall, appal (US appall), awl, Bacall, ball, bawl, befall, Bengal, brawl, call, caul, crawl, Donegal, drawl, drywall, enthral (US enthrall), fall, forestall, gall, Galle, Gaul, hall, haul, maul, miaul, miscall, Montreal, Naipaul, Nepal, orle, pall, Paul, pawl, Saul, schorl, scrawl, seawall, Senegal, shawl, small, sprawl, squall, stall, stonewall, tall, thrall, trawl, wall, waul, wherewithal, withal, yawl •carryall • blackball • handball •patball • hardball • netball • baseball •paintball • speedball • heelball •meatball • stickball • pinball • spitball •racquetball • basketball • volleyball •eyeball, highball •oddball • softball • mothball •korfball • cornball •lowball, no-ball, snowball •goalball •cueball, screwball •goofball • stoolball • football •puffball • punchball • fireball •rollerball • cannonball • butterball •catchall • bradawl • holdall • Goodall

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