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prefer, and to provide for. Then Saul said unto his servants, that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites: Will the son of yelle give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds? That is, Will he do for you as I have, and mean to do ?
His captains, we here see, were of his own kindred; and whom can we presume him so solicitous to exalt to these stations, as his own sons and grandfons? or whom else can we presume him so solicitous to supply with fields and vineyards ?
Now I desire to know how Saul could do this? He could not so much as purchase the possessions of one tribe, and transfer them to another, much less could he transfer their lands by force. We know of no territories wrested from his enemies, to accommodate his Benjamites. It is true he smote the Amalekites from Havilab to Shur, (1 Sam. xv. 7.) but it is no-where said, that he took poffeffion of their country, or that he took fo much as one city from them; or if he did, the country or city so taken, must immediately become the property of that tribe, in whose lot that part of the Amalekite land
lay; lay; which most certainly was not Benjamin. But although it should be allowed that he took some cities from the Amalekites, there is good reason to believe, that he loft more to the Philistines *, and possibly some of them belonging to Benjamin.
Upon the whole, it is evident to a demonstration, that Saul had no possible way of enriching his Benjamites, with fields and vineyards, but by destroying and dispoffefing the Gibeonites. When therefore we are told from the mouth of God, that the plague sent upon the people was for Saul and his bloody house, becaufe be new the Gibeonites of, is it not evident, that it was sent for their guilt, as well as his ? And can we imagine, that this guilt of theirs could be any thing less, than that of being the instruments of his executions? It is plain, that they were his captains of hundreds, and captains of thousands; and it is as plain, that as such, they must be the instruments of his cruelty : and if they were not, why are they called bloody? They refused, indeed, to laughter the priests, at his command; bad as the Benjamites were, they had not yet forgotten to fear God, and to reverence his priests. But is there the least colour of reason to believe, that they were so scrupulous with regard to the Gibeonites? And if they were not, is there less equity in God's destroying their sons, for the fins of their fathers, which they adopted and shared in, than there was in his destroying Jeboram, the son of Ahab, for that vineyard, which the father had cruelly and unjustly acquired, and the son as unjustly detained? And indeed there seems to be no imaginable reason why Saul, when he had destroyed the priests of Nob, should, after that, destroy the inhabitants of that whole city, but because they were most, if not all of them, Gibeonites, (who were obliged to attend there upon the altar) whose spoils might become a prey.
* i Sam. xxxi. 7. And when the men of Israel, that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his fons were dead, they for fook the cities, and fled ; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
+ The words which we render, he slew, might as properly be rendered, they flew.
the lot of Benjamin *; and how could Saul so conveniently enrich his tribe, and his family, as by dividing these possessions amongst them?
And now, as I humbly apprehend, was fulfilled, more clearly, more naturally, and more circumstantially than in any or all other events, throughout the whole history of the scriptures, that prophecy of their father Jacob concerning them, Gen. xlix. 27. Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf : in the morning, be fall devour the prey, and in the evening, he shall divide the spoil. And indeed what can be a stronger or a clearer emblem of a wolf tearing and ravaging an innocent Aock of sheep, than Saul destroying a quiet, submitting, unoffending race of Gibeonites, and, when he had done so, dividing their spoils among his partners in the prey ? It must be owned, that the pretext for doing
so was not unplausible, inasmuch as these men were spared, contrary to the express
* See 7 of.ix. 17. compared with chap. xviii. ver. 25, 26. chap. ix. ver. 17. And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day : now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim. Chap. xviii. ver. 25. Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth. Ver; 26. And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah. VOL. III.
command of God. And for whom, do we. think, Saul was more solicitous to provide, out of these spoils, than his own sons by Rizpab his concubine, and the children of his daughter? And this reasoning is strengthened by reflecting, that Nob was in the tribe of Benjamin ; and when both the priests and Gibeonites were destroyed out of this city, who then could take possellion of it but Benjamin? · When the Gibeonites were taken into league, they were left in possession of their cities: this sufficiently appears from their sending to Joshua (Fof. x.) to deliver them from the Amorite kings, who besieged their capital, and had combined to destroy them: and he did as they desired. Their complaint against Saul now is, that he devised to destroy them from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel (2 Sam. xxi: 5.). Can this complaint mean less, than that Saul had taken measures to strip them of all their poffefsions? That he stripp'd them of one city, hath fully been shewn in the preceding part of this history: and their complaint now is, that he devised to strip them of all: and. why he did so is, I believe, no longer a question.