Reading the Text: Haftarah Zachor VI
Transcribed and prepared by Anna Beller: “Shmuel woke up order to greet Shaul early.” He was crying the whole night, so I don’t know how he woke up early, he must have fallen asleep. “And it was told to Shmuel saying, Shaul has come to Mount Carmel and he’s building there an altar so he turned and he went down to the Gilgal.
So Shaul is building an Altar on Mount Carmel. Know the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel? The verse there says that he rebuilt a broken Altar? Which broken Altar? It’s Shaul’s!
If he’s building an Altar to offer a sacrifice does he think he did anything wrong? Note where is he building the Altar? To Gilgal? Why does he go to Gilgal? Because one of the places the Mishkan was at Gilgal so to honor the place where the Mishkan once stood he wanted to be in that area. He obviously feels the place has holiness even if the tabernacle isn’t there.
This a man who is sensitive and is aware of what he’s doing and pays attention to details.
So Shmuel went to Shaul, and Shaul said, I bless you in the name of God. I kept the word of God.
Is this a man who did something wrong? Unless he’s a liar but it doesn’t make sense that he think he can outsmart a prophet.
Shmuel says: why do I hear sheep, and my ears hear to pick up the sound of some cattle? (We know that Shaul had at least 210,000 sheep to count his soldiers, so why would Shmuel be surprised by the sheep? And if you say because Shaul went to Gilgal, and did not bring all the sheep; Why did Shaul go to Gilgal? To offer sacrifices. Of course, he has sheep!)
So Shaul says, I brought them from the Amelekites, the nation had mercy on the best of the sheep and the cattle in order to sacrifice them to God, your Lord, and whatever was left, we destroyed.
What stands out here? He has no hesitation saying he got them from Amalek. That the nation has mercy, he’s leaving himself out. In verse 9 it says Shaul and the people has mercy. He leaves out himself. Now does it mean that he’s lying? Why is he leaving it out?
And Shmuel says to Shaul I want you to pay attention so I can tell you what God said to me this past night. Shaul says to him speak: is this a man who has a guilty conscience?
I want you to look at one thing. Vayomer– is how I read it- and he said. How is it actually written in the book? Vayomeru – they said. It’s written one way but we read it another. There are few verses that are written one way but are read another. It’s through mesorah- a tradition passed down. It has incredible implications whenever there’s a switch.
This is an interesting thing. Shmuel doesn’t say to Shaul, Well God said. He says, listen I want you to listen to what I have to say and he waits for Shaul to say okay. So Shmuel obviously understands that Shaul thinks all is fine. So he asks the king’s permission to speak for God, and understands Shaul will say yes. Shaul is dealing with personal things and thinks everything else is okay.
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