And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it,
&c.] Meaning either, as some think, some sauce that was poured on it, or garnish about it; or the thigh, as the Targum, and so Jarchi, Kimchi, and others; or rather the breast, as a more ancient Jew F15; since this joined to the shoulder before separated, and in sacrifices went along with it; though most think this was the left shoulder and breast, because the right shoulder and breast of the peace offerings were given to the priest, to be eaten by him and his sons, ( Leviticus 7:34 ) but in those unsettled times, with respect to sacrifices, many things were dispensed with; and Samuel, though a Levite, might officiate as a priest, and so the right shoulder and breast belonged to him as such; and this best accounts for his having the disposal of it; and upon this extraordinary occasion, Saul, though not the son of a priest, might be admitted to eat of it, it being the choicest part, and fit to be set before one designed to be king; and to show that he was to live in friendship with the priests of the Lord, and to take care of and protect the ministerial function:
and set it before Saul;
by the direction of Samuel no doubt, as a token of honour and respect unto him; it being usual in other countries to commend the best dishes, or best pieces of flesh, to the more excellent and worthy persons at table F16; and this was, as Josephus F17 calls it, a royal portion: the arm or shoulder, especially the right arm, being a symbol of strength, may denote that strength which was necessary for him to bear the burden of government, to protect his people, and fight in defence of them; and the breast being the seat of wisdom and prudence, of affection and love, may signify how necessary such qualities were for kingly government, to know how to go in and out before the people, and be heartily concerned for their good: and Samuel said,
behold that which is left;
not by the guests, and what they could not eat; for till Samuel came they did not begin to eat; and as for this part, it was but just brought in, and was never set before the guests, but it was left by Samuel in the hands of the cook, and reserved for the use of Saul:
set it before thee, and eat;
it was already set before him, but he would have him keep it by him, and eat of it, and make his meal of it, it being the best dish at the table:
for unto this time hath it been kept for thee;
by which he gave him to understand that he knew of his coming before hand, and therefore had made this provision for him; and which might serve to persuade him of the truth and certainty of what he had hinted to him:
since I said I have invited the people;
not the thirty persons before mentioned, for it does not appear that they were invited by Samuel, but rather by those who brought the peace offerings, who had a right to invite any of their friends they thought fit; but by "the people" are meant Saul and his servant; for in the eastern languages two or three persons, and even one, are called a people; and this Samuel had said to his cook, when he bid him set by the shoulder, and what was on it, because he had invited some, for whom he had designed it:
so Saul did eat with Samuel that day:
they dined together.
F15 R. Eliezer in T. Bab. Avodah Zara, fol. 25. 1.
F16 Vid. Diodor. Sicul. l. 5. p. 306.
F17 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 4. sect. 1.)