How did Achinoam become Consort of the Future King?
The Wife of Saul
Legends of the First King of Israel-1
In 1-Samuel chapter 20
we are told how Yehonatan ("Jonathan") the son of King Saul helped David escape from the wrath of his father.
David son of Jesse from the Tribe of Judah had entered the service of Saul as a musician and warrior. He was successful as a leader in battle and became very popular. Saul feared that David would take the Kingdom for himself either directly from Saul himself or from his son. He became jealous and was overwhelmed with melancholy. The prophet Samuel had already told Saul that the Kingdom would be taken away from him and his house.
14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.
Saul correctly perceived that David was to become his replacement. He attempted to kill David and plotted against him but did not succeed. Yehonatan the son of Saul loved David (1-Samuel 18:1, 2-Samuel 1:26). This was not a physical love but rather the deep camaraderie that males sometimes have for each other. Yehonatan helped save the life of David and warned him of a plot that had been weaved agaisnt him. When Saul realized that Yehonatan must have warned David he was angry.
1-Samuel (NASB) 20:
30 Then Saul's anger burned against Jonathan, and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? 31 For, as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now then, send men and bring him to me, for he is doomed to die!"
Saul was admitting that he intended to kill David, that David had not committed any crime, only that David posed a potential threat to the stability of the royal line.
32 But Jonathan replied to his father Saul and said to him, "Why must he be put to death? What has he done?"
Jonathan was not denying that with David around the lineage of Saul (meaning Jonathan himself) might have difficulty in asserting itself. Nevertheless David was not responsible for this State of Affairs. He had no offensive intention, on the contrary. He had served Saul faithfully. David did not deserve to be treated as an enemy. Saul was angry with Yehonatan. He had spoken harshly to him, insulted his mother, and then he even tried to throw a spear at him!
33 Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike and kill him; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. 34 Then Jonathan got up from the table in the heat of anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, because he was worried about David since his father had insulted him.
Saul had called Yehonatan, "...son of a perverse, rebellious woman!"
A whole legendary tradition has grown up around this expression. This was the wife of Saul who was being so described! Saul and Yehonatan were from the Tribe of Benjamin. The hard words that Saul spoke against his wife relate back to a previous episode in the history of Benjamin:
In the Book of Judges we are told that members of the Tribe of Benjamin in the village of Gibeah sinned grievously.
They first attempted to rape a travelling Levite from the region of Ephraim who was passing through with his concubine (Judges 19:22). The concubine was pushed out and the men then raped her during the night. In morning she died on the threshold of the house they had been lodging in (Judges 19:22). The Tribe of Benjamin refused to turn the culprits over to the rest of Israel who demanded justice and retribution. There was a Civil War (Judges 20:12-14).
The Tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. The rest of the Israelites were then still encamped at Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim. No women from Benjamin had been left alive but there were still several hundred male warriors who had survived. These were holed up in the region of Rimon. They had no wives. The rest of the Israelites had taken a vow not to give any of their females to Benjaminites because of the way the concubine had been treated (Judges 21:1). In order that the Tribe of Benjamin not die out it was necessary to find female mates for the remaining warriors. Prior to that, when they first went out to War against Benjamin the Israelites had declared that whoever did not come with them would be wiped out. They searched around and found that no-one had come to join them in war from Jabesh-Gilead. The inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead east of the Jordan were probably part of the Tribe of Manasseh. They had not participated in the War and therefore were judged to be all killed. Twelve thousand Israelite warriors from the camp at Sholoh went to Jabesh (pronounced as "Yavesh")-GIlead there and killed nearly everyone (Judges 21:10) except for some of the women. Four hundred virgins had been found in Jabesh-Gilead and these were kept alive. They were given as wives to the Benjaminite warriors (Judges 21:13-15). This however was not sufficient. There were still Benjaminites without a better half. The danger of the Tribe dying out altogether still existed (Judges 21:17).
It was the custom that once a year, traditionally of the 15th of Av in the Summer, that all the young girls would dance in vineyards by Shiloh.
Judges (NASB) 21:
20 And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, "Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards, and each of you shall seize his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we shall say to them, 'Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin a wife in battle, nor did you give them to them, otherwise you would now be guilty.' " 23 The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they seized. And they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24 And the sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one departed from there to his inheritance.
On this occasion the oath not to give an Israelite woman to any man from Benjamin was annulled. It also seems to previously have been the practice (though not a law and not always adhered to) that a person from one Tribe would NOT marry anyone from another. This custom was also abandoned. Henceforth all the Tribes intermarried freely with each other.
The 15th of Av was to be celebrated as a day of happiness. It may have come to symbolize the futrue union of all the Tribes.
# the 15th of Av, a day designated for finding one's predestined soulmate, and one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar. # https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2263460/jewish/Av.htm
We see from the above that the men of Benjamin had lain in wait and when the daughters of Israel came out they had grabbed themselves a woman. According to tradition Saul was one of the men of Benjamin present at the occasion. Saul however, despite being tall and handsome and a mighty warrior was too shy to grab any girl.
cf. "Saul, a young and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome man than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people" (1-Samuel (9:2).
An enterprising maiden (named Achinoam) amongst the dancing damsels grabbed him! She did this since she saw what noble qualities Saul possessed and she wanted to bear children from such a refined gentleman.
The commentator Binyamin Wolf following the Commendatory of Rashi explained that Achinoam had perceived that Saul possessed exceptional qualities of modesty. Through Divine Inspiration she also foresaw that he was destined to be King over Israel. She wished to marry such a person and perhaps become in turn the mother of a future king.
This is what Saul was referring to when he called Yehonatan, "...son of a perverse, rebellious woman!"
It was not correct behavior for a young woman to physically take hold of an eligible man and demand that he marry her, as Achinoam had done! It smacked of effrontery. If however she correctly foresaw that in this way she was not only marrying a future king but also placing herself in line to give birth to one it could be justified. As a result of the union of Saul and Achinoam, Jonathan entered the world. Jonathan indeed was of royal character. By preferring to help David against the interests of the dynasty of Saul Jonathan in the eyes of Saul was hurting himself. He was (according to Saul) betraying the effrontery of his mother which retroactively could be justified only if Jonathan were to become monarch.
(1) "Shaul, Chosen of the Almighty," ("Shaul, Bechir HaShem", Hebrew, Jerusalem, 5764, 2004)
by Eliyahi Yedid adapted on behalf of Brit-Am by Yair Davidiy.