The Number Seventeen in the Bible

Seventeen as a number is used sixteen times in the KJV; six of those are associated with numerical list of people, two have a positive inflection, and eight have a negative association.  Five of the negative associations are connected with rulers of the land.  The seventeenth letter of the Jewish alphabet also has a connection with a leader of Israel.

Peh or Fey is the seventeenth letter of the Jewish alphabet.  In the Hebrew numbering system it is the number 80.  Peh is associated with the mouth and the power of speech.  This reminds us of the power of our words for both good and bad.  Moses is the leader that ties these thoughts together.  According to some teachings he was 80 years old when he was given a “new mouth” to speak with. (He stuttered.)

The two positive references are Genesis 47:28 and Jeremiah 32:9. These show God’s provisions and mercy for believers.  Jacob lived in Egypt and was taken care of by Joseph for 17 years before he died, he never thought he would see the day.  Jeremiah paid 17 units of money for a field while Jerusalem was being attacked; it was to show the people that there would be a positive end to the situation.

The first two mentions of 17 are the starting and stopping of Noah’s Flood (Genesis 7 + 8).  This is when God was cleansing His world from the evil that was running rampant.  Using the lunar calendar (30 days to a month) they are 150 days apart.  The next use of 17 is Genesis 37:2, it is the age of Joseph when he spoke out against his brothers; they plotted evil against him (this did turn out for good).  He was a prisoner for thirteen years before he became ruler of Egypt.

The other five references to 17 all involve kings/rulers and are either how long they have reigned or connected to when they began.  The rulers are: Rehoboam, Ahaziah, Jehoahaz, Ahaz (Pekah is the reference).  They are in the Kings Timeline post.

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Pey/pey.html

http://www.walkingkabbalah.com/hebrew-alphabet-letter-meanings/

Samuel – Saul’s Servant

The unsung hero in the story of Samuel and Saul is the servant.  I am pretty sure I have never heard a sermon about his role in the crowning of Saul as king.  He is never named and only referred to as a servant (na ar).  He had a “God part” to do and did it well.  He is easily compared to Ananias (Acts 9) in the story of Saul the Apostle.  He did the job that needed to be done and was never heard of again.  Na ar is mentioned nine times before Saul’s signs and only once after them.

In the Strong’s/Vines Concordance the first definition listed is probably not the description of this servant.  I think he would have been younger than Saul but not a boy.  He was certainly trusted and displayed knowledge of his physical surrounding.  He was also spiritually aware because he encouraged Saul to “see the prophet” when he was ready to go home.  He had brought his own money, and was willing to use it to resolve the “donkey problem.”  He was obedient and loyal to Saul and followed Saul’s leading when the uncle asked about Samuel.

He was honored at the sacrifice because he got to eat with Saul in the main room.  But he was not allowed to witness the actual pouring of the oil.  He would have seen the results of the anointing because the oil would have been all over Saul’s head.  He observed/witnessed the three signs and I cannot believe Saul was not talking about them as they went.

God used an unnamed servant to affect the history of Israel; sometimes we have to do things “just because.”  It turned out well for him.  Who knows maybe he was Ziba the servant in 2 Samuel 9 who did play a part in the life of Mephibosheth and the story of Lo Debar.

Samuel and the Priest

One aspect of the story of Samuel that has always made me curious was the Levitical priest.  Samuel may have been “adopted” by Eli, but he was from the wrong Tribe.  He assumed the role of prophet and clearly was a judge (leader of Israel), but he could not be a priest.  Eli and his sons died on the same day, so that left his grandsons.  They would have needed to be trained.  I had written in another post that Samuel may have done this, but I had not counted on the other part of the family that had gone very quiet.

Aaron had four sons during the Exodus.  The first two died because they did not have proper respect for God.  That left Eleazar and Ithamar.  Eli was a descendant of Ithamar.  Eleazer’s side of the family had “disappeared” for some reason.

Eli’s side of the family was removed from serving as priest by Solomon.  The two graphics show the list and the family tree of Aaron’s sons.  I used the NIV and various concordances to make the list.  The websites will help with further study.

 

 

samuel-list-of-priest

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samuel-list-of-priest-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_High_Priests_of_Israel#/media/File:Kohanim.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Priest_of_Israel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_High_Priests_of_Israel

Samuel – Saul, and the Signs

Background

Saul’s anointing in 1 Samuel 10 follows a pattern that can be seen in lives of other leaders.  There is a calling followed by a physical anointing/visitation, that is confirmed by “signs” with the person doing the job they have been called to do.  The reason I say “a pattern” is that every step may not be recorded in Biblical text, or at least a matter of discussion between friends.  God also can individualize the pattern to fit the person and situation.  I can see this pattern in the lives of Moses, David, Samuel, and others.

Like an onion this story has several layers that can be viewed, but all of them are presented as one solid story.  Josephus and Matthew Henry were used in this study and they exposed layers in this story that I had not noticed.

I have said before the anointing of Saul was a “faith building situation” for the old prophet Samuel.  Samuel’s “building” part started the day before Saul arrived in his town.  (NOTE: Many of the places in chapter 9 and 10 are unknown.  It would be fun to be able to follow Saul’s exact footsteps but that is not a reality.)  If this was Samuel’s hometown, this took place in Ramah.  Most maps put this in southern Benjamin near Jerusalem.  So for the Lord to say, “I am sending you a Benjamite” could be viewed as vague.  Samuel took this information and reserved a “royal” portion of the meat; he also knew about the donkeys.

I think these “words” were also given to build faith in Saul, in order to prepare for the anointing the next day. How specific the “words” were is a reflection of God trying to build up Saul, who may have been a little weak in his understanding of God.  I say this because of his need to “reward” the prophet for his time, the timing of when he calls for a fast, and his need to do the work of Samuel with respect to the offerings.

After the physical oil was poured on Saul, he was told that three very specific things would happen: at Rachel’s tomb he would get news of the donkeys, he was required to take bread, and that he would join in the activities of a group of prophets.  I wonder if 10:8 was not a fourth thing that needed to be done.  Verse 7 and 9 talk about his heart being changed before the trip to Gilgal could take place, and some resources put this reference to another time.  Gilgal was where Joshua circumcised the men before the conquest of the land could begin.  The “seven days” may represent the work/rest cycle (Genesis and the Law) before the new time in Israel’s history was to begin.

First Sign – verse 2  This sign has several interesting layers.  Saul being a Benjamite and starting at Rachel’s tomb begins the symbolism.  Benjamin was the thirteenth child of Jacob/Israel and the second child of Rachel.  The only child of Jacob born in Canaan, and this tomb was the starting place of the Tribe of Benjamin.  Zelzah may mean “a cover for his bright spot”, and its exact location is unknown, the text is also rendered “south border.”   There is a traditional Rachel’s tomb near Jerusalem.  This was Saul’s “pull back” to “present problems.”  The men confirm Samuel’s word that the donkeys were found, but that Kish was worried about him.  Saul and the servant may have been gone for a while because it would seem they went north, came in a large arc to the south covering a lot of territory.  Family is the theme that unifies the first sign. This includes past and present.

Second Sign – verse 3 and 4  Saul and his servant were moving toward home.  The next place they were going was the “great tree of Tabor.”  Tabor means brokenness; this shadows Jesus on the cross. Here he would meet three men going to the House (Bethel) of God.  What they are carrying (young goats, bread, and wine) indicates these would be and offering.  Saul was to accept part of their offering; this is stated in such a way as to suggest he might have refused it.  Again there could be several things here that God is working on.  First, it was immediate provisions for them to finish their journey.  Second, pride could have been a factor; in taking the offering it was doing a work in him.  Also it would seem that God was willing to share His offering with them.  The theme here is a personal work done in Saul.   

Third Sign – 5 to 7 The two wanders move now to Gibeah of God.  Gibeah and several variations refer to “hill.”  Here at Gibeah Saul is to meet prophets and join in the prophesying. Samuel tells him that he will be changed as he prophesies because of the Spirit of the Lord.  He is now ready (supposedly) to act as king.  There is still some narrative before he is introduced to the people in verse 24.  The sign’s theme is spiritual change.

Observations – 1.  The Philistine outpost on or near the Hill of God should disturb us.  They let God’s people worship and did not try to stop them, but they were still in charge, and keeping an eye on them.

  1. People noticed the change. Saul’s uncle was curious.  Both Josephus and Matthew Henry comment on this and Saul’s incomplete answer; they feel that if he had told what happened, jealous and ill feelings would have started in the family.
  2. Saul did continue to prophesy. 1 Samuel 18: 10

4. His hiding in the baggage could be seen as him going back to the “old Saul.”

The Bible and Science – Just a Cloud

I saw this driving home today (I did pull over to take the pic).  The two vertical columns are raincell 2developing rain cells.  Even though we see this frequently in south Texas, the science behind this common scene never ceases to amaze me.

H2O

Water molecules get heat from the ground by convection and start to rise.  They bind to dust particle to form droplets.  The heat keeps them going up until the air becomes cool (loss of conventional heating).  The clouds do absorb some radiant energy but the majority of the heat comes from the ground.  Those clouds contain hundreds/thousands/millions of gallons of water and will have more mass than the car I am sitting in; yet they are floating and I am stuck on the ground.  There is a lot of chemistry/physics here: bond angles within the molecule, positive and negative charges that form ions with other chemicals in the air, and the movement of electrons that cause lightning.

HEAT

The force behind all of this is radiant energy from our sun.  The photons or bundles of energy made an eight to nine minute trip from the sun to get here.  Talk about speeding that is 670,616,629 mph.  This heat affects us at the local, continental, and global level.  These clouds/moisture are being pulled into a weather center thousands of miles from the Texas Gulf Coast.  Heat and rotation of the earth build and move these fronts with the help of jet streams (wind bands) around the earth.

COLOR – Black and White

The white part of the clouds maybe easier to understand, but it is still awesome.  Light is reflecting off of all those drops.  They jumble the different colors of light together so we can see the clouds as white.  The black part of the cloud is where the light is being reflected so that it does not make is to your eye.  Someone at a different angle will not see what you see.  We can say it is thicker or really heavy with water, but it still comes down to the light reaching our eyes.

COLOR – Blue

I tend to take the physics of a blue sky for granted.  The angle of the earth and sun, air particle size, moisture, and pollutant level all contribute to our blue skies.

EYES

The very fact that we see it at all is another miracle.  Our eyes are very complex chemical, muscular, and nerve-based organs that are protected inside our skull.  They are attached to a marvelous creation that not only allows us to see the cloud, but to feel emotions and make hypothesis about what is happening, our brain.  I am stopping and not talking about the camera that allowed me to take this picture

JUST A CLOUD, I DON’T THINK SO.

∞Father thanks for Your creation, and help us to remember that there are miracles all around us.