I asked a previous question about Saul and the prophets in 1st Samuel 10:9-13, but now I've read on and I see an alternate origin story:

David made good his escape, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. He and Samuel went and stayed at Naioth. Saul was told that David was at Naioth in Ramah, and Saul sent messengers to seize David. They saw a band of prophets speaking in ecstasy, with Samuel standing by as their leader; and the spirit of God came upon Saul’s messengers and they too began to speak in ecstasy. When Saul was told about this, he sent other messengers; but they too spoke in ecstasy. Saul sent a third group of messengers; and they also spoke in ecstasy. So he himself went to Ramah. When he came to the great cistern at Secu, he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” and was told that they were at Naioth in Ramah. He was on his way there, to Naioth in Ramah, when the spirit of God came upon him too; and he walked on, speaking in ecstasy, until he reached Naioth in Ramah. Then he too stripped off his clothes and he too spoke in ecstasy before Samuel; and he lay naked all that day and all night. That is why people say, “Is Saul too among the prophets?”—1st Samuel 19:18-24 (NJPS)

Now I know that the book of Samuel isn't a strict chronological history, but it does seem like there's a contradiction between the two origin stories of the same proverb. Since the same editor compiled both stories into one account, how are we meant to resolve this discrepancy?

1 Answer 1


It seems to me that multiple similar events could both contribute to a phrase becoming a proverb, and that's whats happened here.

For example we have the phrase "smart aleck," supposedly derived from the actions of a con-man Aleck Hoag: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/smart_aleck. Aleck did not enter our lectionary for a single action but for repeated actions over a lifetime of conning.

Similarly, the proverb did not arise due to a single action by Saul, but rather having done it twice.

  • Welcome Biblical Hermeneutics! That's an excellent point and makes perfect sense when you put it that way. Mar 16, 2012 at 21:33

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