Esther’s Purim Part Two: An Introduction to her Ancestor, King Saul
Transcribed and prepared by Anna Beller: Now we need Esther’s response to Hamman. This is what’s important. The Gemara in Megilah says, that Rachel had two children, who were Yosef and Binyamin. Benjamin was the great-grandfather of King Shaul. Shaul fought a battle with Amalek, and he allowed the king of Amalek to live, so Amalek’s great-grandson Hamman should come and fight Shauls great-granddaughter Esther. So threes a pattern, Esther is there for Shaul, and in fact there’s another part of Megilah that says Rachel’s personal attribute was tzniut. What was Shaul’s attribute? Tzniut and so was Esther’s. So each one of them is a continuation of the other.
Read the background of this week’s haftarah. And we also discussed how remembering something is a rejection of Amalek.
We’re going to go over the story of Shaul and Agag, and the whole general story of Shaul so we can understand the haftarah of this Shabbat and by understanding the haftarah you will also understand Esther. It’s an incredible story.
There was a man named Kish and to him there was a son and his name was Shaul, he was young and very good, the chosen, there was no Jew amongst the Jewish people who was better than this man. Can you imagine the verse attesting to the virtue of this man? So he was taking care of his donkeys, and the donkeys were lost, and in those days if you lost your donkey you went to the navi and the navi would tell you where to find it. He was going to Shmuel, Samuel the prophet, to look for them.
Why was Shmuel called Shmuel? Because he was borrowed form God. But what are the other two ways to say borrowed, one is Shmuel and the other way, the better way is Shaul. So Shaul is the other side of Shmuel. So before Shaul comes, Hashem says to him, I have seen the man I want to be the first king of the Jews. Shmuel sees Shaul, and God says that’s the guy. Shmuel meets Shaul and Shmuel takes him and says like this: Shmuel takes a jar of oil, and he poured it over the head of Shaul and he kissed him, God has appointed you the prince over his people. And then he tells him where to find his donkeys.
Shaul goes home and his uncle says to him did you see the navi and he says yes I did. The uncle asked what did he say to you? And what would you say; that I’m king, but he says to his uncle, he didn’t say anything. He said hello and where to find the donkey.
He told us that the donkeys would follow. But this thing that he had been made the king he didn’t mention to him.
So Shmuel gathers all the people and says to the people, God has chosen the king for you. So they took the twelve tribes and they pulled out the name of the tribe and it came out Benyamin, then they put in the families of Benyamin and they pulled out the name Atri. Then they put in the names of all the people from the family Atri and they came out with the name Shaul. Everyone is looking around saying they need to find the king. So they began to search for him and they couldn’t find him, so they had to ask God, for prophecy, where is he hiding?
God said he’s hiding under some barrels, so they ran and they dragged him from there and they made him stand up in front of everyone and he was a neck taller than the next tallest Jew. So people said wow, and Shmuel says to the people do you see the one God has chosen, there is non-like him amongst the people. And everyone yelled “let the king live! And then Shaul went home. And a few Jews wanted to go along with Shaul because they wanted to be his soldiers, but he went home. But there were some trouble makers who said, they cursed him and said he was an extremist, and they wouldn’t bring any parties to him and didn’t treat him with respect and Shaul ignored it.
Right away he saves the city and everyone is very happy and now he’s a big hero. So all the people who had been cursing him out before are a little uncomfortable and his original supporters wanted to kill the detractors and Shaul said no man should die today’s a happy day, God has saved us we have won a war let’s be calm. So Shmuel is so happy that everyone accepts Shaul. So he wants to go back to Gilgal and re-anoint him as king. And everyone is very happy, and Shaul goes home, he doesn’t want anything to go with this.
We see that Shaul is an unbelievable person, and you can imagine that someone who’s a head taller than anyone else around is going to be difficult, the man does not assert himself at all as king; he is very private.
So now the time has come for him to battle the Pelishtim. Immediately before the battle with the Pelishtim, the passuk says: Shaul was one year old when he was king. So the Midrash says isn’t that a little difficult to believe? That first of all he was a head taller than everyone else and he had been fighting wars already. A little difficult to believe. The Midrash says that this is the passuks way of telling you that he had as many sins as a one year old has. Meaning none. This is the way of telling you his soul was as pure and clean as a baby.
They are ready now to battle the Pelishtim, Shaul is ready to fight the battle even though they don’t have many weapons, but Shmuel has told him they are going to win the battle. So, Shmuel had told him he would be there on the 7th day and not to fight until he came. And they waited for the 7th day and Shmuel didn’t come, so people began to say Shaul this is scary, the army is approaching we need to give a sacrifice before the battle. Because the only way were going to win is with God’s help, and we need to give sacrifices. They thought they’d be killed before Samuel got there.
So Shaul lost his army, they all began to run away. So what would any normal king do? Kill the army that’s running away. Shaul doesn’t know what to do. Because Samuel said not to go into battle before giving a sacrifice, and couldn’t give a sacrifice with out him so he does not know what to do. He’s not an assertive or an aggressive person. So he says bring me animals we’ll start the sacrifice.
The minute they finish sacrificing the first animal, Shmuel walks up. So Shaul says How are you? And Shmuel says what did you do? Shaul says everyone was leaving? And you didn’t come on time, and the Pelishtim are gathering. I didn’t know what to do should I go to battle without giving a sacrifice?
Samuel says to Shaul, you acted foolish, you didn’t do what Hashem commanded you, until today God was prepared for you to be the king over the Jewish people forever, meaning all his descendants. But now your reign will not last, God wants a man who thinks like God does. God will find such a man and make him the king. You didn’t do what Hashem commanded you to do.
And then they go into battle and he wins but it was tough.