Gidon and Shaul

This topic has not yet undergone editorial review

Introduction

Though Gidon and Shaul might initially appear to have little in common, the narratives of the two leaders actually have significant overlap. A study of the parallels reveals that in the beginning of their paths, Shaul and Gidon are much alike. However, with time, Shaul gradually moves in a different direction, until he turns into a tyrannical ruler, much closer in nature to Gidon's son Avimelekh, than to the Shofet.1

Content Parallels

There are many content similarities between the two narratives.  Some relate to the early stages of the leaders' careers, others to their main battle, and finally, several concern not Shaul and Gidon, but Shaul and Avimelekh.

I. The Early Stages of Gidon and Shaul's Careers

II. Gidon's Battle with Midyan and Shaul's Battle at Michmas

III. Avimelekh and Shaul

Literary Allusions

The above similarities in content are buttressed by several linguistic parallels. 

I. The Early Stages of Gidon and Shaul's Careers:    Open Table 1

II. Gidon's Battle with Midyan and Shaul's Battle at Michmas   Open Table 2

III. Avimelekh and Shaul   Open Table 3

Analysis

As much of each narrative revolves around battle it is perhaps not surprising that there should be similar language in the respective chapters. In addition, much of the parallel language is not unique to these stories. Nonetheless, the abundance and concentration of the examples might point to some level of intentionality and not simply sheer coincidence

Points of Contrast

Most of the points of contrast between the narratives relate to the difference between Shaul's behavior in the battle of Michmas and that of Gidon in his war against Midyan:

Conclusions

The comparison of the two narratives serves to highlight both the potential and the ultimate downfall of Shaul.  The beginning of his career is promising.  Like Gidon before him, he is appointed savior of Israel, given encouragement by God, and merits that the spirit of God descend on him.  He is victorious in war, and, like Gidon, attributes the success to Hashem.  As his reign continues, however, he begins to move in a different direction, beginning to rely on himself rather than God. The words of the prophet at the opening of the story, that Hashem is the nation's true savior, have been forgotten.  It is not long before the once modest and forgiving king, becomes an honor-seeking, tyrannical ruler, ready to kill those who stand in the way of his power.
×