The age and reign of Saul (1 Sam 13:1-13:1)

“Saul was . . . (30) years old when he began to reign. He reigned . . . (40) and two years over Israel.”

There is a real dispute about this first sentence. How old was Saul? How long did he rule? The Hebrew text seems to indicate that Saul was 1 year old when he became the ruler of Israel. Then it says he ruled for 2 years. Obviously, with all the events mentioned and to come, these numbers are wrong. Some writer wrote 30. Others have speculated that he was 40 since he has older sons. Besides 40 is a favorite biblical number. We have to remember that the biblical texts say that Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. So far Saul was portrayed as a young man helping his dad. 30 years old would not be unreasonable. He ruled for a long time so that the idea he was king for 42 years is I have chosen to indicate 30 years when he began his rule that lasted 42 years.

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