1 Samuel 11:5

5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

Read 1 Samuel 11:5 Using Other Translations

And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, "What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?" So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh.
Saul had been plowing a field with his oxen, and when he returned to town, he asked, “What’s the matter? Why is everyone crying?” So they told him about the message from Jabesh.

What does 1 Samuel 11:5 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
1 Samuel 11:5

And, behold, Saul came after the herd out the field
Where he had been to look after the and take care of them, and see what condition they were in, and followed them on their return home; for though he was elected king, he was not inaugurated, and did not take upon him any state; and being despised by some, and no provision as yet made for his support and maintenance as a king, and no business as such for him to do, Samuel still acting in his office, he returned to his father's house, and employed himself in rustic affairs, as he used to do: though some think this was casual, that he had been in the field to recreate himself, or to meditate on the affairs of government, and happened to return just as the herd came out of the field, and so followed them; thus Jarchi interprets it not of his coming after the herd, but of his coming after the fixed and usual time of the herd's coming out of the field; but Josephus F18 is clear for it, that he had been about some rustic business, some part of husbandry in the field, and returned to the city; nor has it been unusual for emperors and kings, and persons in high offices among Greeks and Romans, and other nations, in times of peace, to employ themselves in husbandry; so did the judges of Israel, as Shamgar, and Gideon, and Boaz, ( Judges 3:31 ) ( 6:11 ) ( Ruth 3:2 ) so Quinctius Cincinnatus being taken from the plough and made dictator, after he had conquered his enemies, returned to his husbandry F19:

and Saul said, what aileth the people, that they weep?
he supposed some evil had befallen them, and desired to know what it was, that, if it lay in his power to help them, he might:

and they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh;
the message they brought, and the account they gave of the distressed case of their city.


F18 Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 5.) sect. 2.
F19 Flor. Hist. Roman. l. 1. c. 11. Aurel. Victor. de Vir. Illustr. c. 20. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 11.
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