I Samuel – Chapter 9

Dude! Where's My Donkey?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

A man from the Tribe of Benjamin named Kish had a tall, handsome son named Shaul (Saul). One day, Kish’s donkeys went missing, so he sent Shaul and a servant to go look for them. Shaul traveled far and wide, but he didn’t find the donkeys. After a while, Shaul suggested that they return home, as by this point his father would probably be more worried about the search party than about the animals. (In his modesty, Shaul said to his attendant, “my father must be worried about us,” including the servant, rather than “about me.”) The attendant pointed out that they were not far from Shmuel’s residence in Tzuf and suggested they go to him for guidance.

They got directions from some local girls, who engaged Shaul in conversation because he was so good-looking. They informed Shaul that Shmuel was presiding over a sacrifice and directed him to the location of the altar. (At this point, subsequent to the destruction of the Tabernacle and prior to the construction of the Temple, private altars were permitted.)

The day before, G-d had spoken to Shmuel, telling him that Shaul would arrive and that he would be the man Shmuel should annoint king of Israel.

Shaul arrived and asked for Shmuel. Shmuel identified himself and told him not to worry about the donkeys, as they had been found. As an aside he added, “Why are you so worried about some donkeys when the entire wealth of the nation lies before you?” This comment was confusing to Shaul, who considered himself a member of a minor family from the smallest Tribe. Shmuel then gave Shaul a seat at the head of his table and had Shaul served a portion of great honor. (The portion had been set aside for Shaul, as G-d had told Shmuel to expect him.) Shaul stayed overnight and the next morning, Shmuel gave him instructions from G-d.

(Thanks to Aliza Libman Baronofsky, from whom I stole for the title of the synopsis.)

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