Thursday, December 18, 2008

On Servants & Donkeys

Saul meets Samuel and becomes king due to seeking lost donkeys:
    ב וְלוֹ-הָיָה בֵן וּשְׁמוֹ שָׁאוּל, בָּחוּר וָטוֹב, וְאֵין אִישׁ מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, טוֹב מִמֶּנּוּ; מִשִּׁכְמוֹ וָמַעְלָה, גָּבֹהַּ מִכָּל-הָעָם.

    2 And he had a son, whose name was Saul, young and goodly, and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

    ג וַתֹּאבַדְנָה, הָאֲתֹנוֹת, לְקִישׁ, אֲבִי שָׁאוּל; וַיֹּאמֶר קִישׁ אֶל-שָׁאוּל בְּנוֹ, קַח-נָא אִתְּךָ אֶת-אַחַד מֵהַנְּעָרִים, וְקוּם לֵךְ, בַּקֵּשׁ אֶת-הָאֲתֹנֹת.

    3 Now the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son: 'Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.'

    ~Samuel I 9:2-3
In contrast, Shimi ben Gerah dies due to his seeking lost servants:
    לט וַיְהִי, מִקֵּץ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים, וַיִּבְרְחוּ שְׁנֵי-עֲבָדִים לְשִׁמְעִי, אֶל-אָכִישׁ בֶּן-מַעֲכָה מֶלֶךְ גַּת; וַיַּגִּידוּ לְשִׁמְעִי לֵאמֹר, הִנֵּה עֲבָדֶיךָ בְּגַת.

    39 And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying: 'Behold, thy servants are in Gath.'

    מ וַיָּקָם שִׁמְעִי, וַיַּחֲבֹשׁ אֶת-חֲמֹרוֹ, וַיֵּלֶךְ גַּתָה אֶל-אָכִישׁ, לְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת-עֲבָדָיו; וַיֵּלֶךְ שִׁמְעִי, וַיָּבֵא אֶת-עֲבָדָיו מִגַּת. {ס}

    40 And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish, to seek his servants; and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.

    ~Kings I 2:39-40
This is particularly interesting in light of the pasuk where Abraham bids the young men (possibly servants) to wait alongside the donkeys:
    ה וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל-נְעָרָיו, שְׁבוּ-לָכֶם פֹּה עִם-הַחֲמוֹר, וַאֲנִי וְהַנַּעַר, נֵלְכָה עַד-כֹּה; וְנִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, וְנָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם.

    5 And Abraham said unto his young men: 'Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship, and come back to you.'

    ~Genesis 22:5
Various commentaries observe that the servants there are equated with the donkeys in that, just as the donkeys could not see God's spirit resting on the mountain, neither could these servants.

But I was thinking how interesting it might be to take that out of context and apply it to these two situations- when it comes to lost donkeys or lost servants, one does not necessarily see "God's spirit resting on the mountain," and yet, whatever is meant to happen, happens. Either one becomes King or one loses his head, in accordance to the will of God.


Ezzie said...

In the first case, Shaul is trying to find donkeys for the sake of his father who is concerned with their welfare; then suggests turning back lest Kish worry about them instead. Shimi however is looking for his servants to get them back, not looking out for them and certainly not respecting Shlomo's wishes, but for himself. Perhaps one could suggest that the former becomes a King due to his actions (whether these specific ones or the mentality in general) while the latter loses his head because of his.

As for the Akedah... Dunno. It seems odd to make that comparison simply because it involves servants and donkeys.

Tobie said...

Well, it's hardly like nothing had been established before anything went missing and it was just because Shaul "happened" to come along that he became king, or because Shimi happened to wander off. In one case, Shmuel had been told to make him king and if he hadn't come by about the donkeys, he would just have had to find him another way. In the other case- Shlomo wanted this man dead and was waiting for a pretext. Shimi kindly provided it by disobeying his orders, but it's pretty clear that it was just a matter of time.
Which might not contradict your point that all happens in accordance to the larger plan, but in both cases, the lost items are tangential- almost plot devices.

The Talmid said...

What if you broaden your topic to include Yaakov (32:15) crossing to find his small jugs and injuring his gid hanasheh? And Yaakov sending Yosef to look for the brothers and the flocks and he ended up getting sold?

And if you only want to include Yaakov sending Yosef because that was for the sheep and exclude the case of the small jugs, we know servants are like real property (in regard to inheritance).

Your point is still valid.