Kish the Benjaminite was not only the father of Saul, first king of the first Israelite Commonwealth.  He was also a herder who cared about his animals.

Kish sent Saul to find them and, on the way, Saul, a head taller than anyone, attracted the attention of a group of young maidens.

He was a handsome young man and the young ladies kept him talking for a while. All he wanted to achieve was the return home of his father’s donkeys, and while in the area, he wished to meet Samuel the Prophet (pictured).

Although Samuel told him that Kish’s animals had been found, Samuel had other ideas for Kish’s son and crowned him King of Israel.

Kish is named in the scroll of Esther as ancestor of Mordechai, cousin of Queen Esther of Persia, father of Shim’i, the obedient one.

Mordechai raised Darius II, who oversaw the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Was this the same Kish as the father of Saul?

One Midrash claims he was a fifth generation descendent. Another Midrash suggests that Mordechai was compared to Kish, father of Saul, because they shared the same characteristics.

Mordechai, claims the Midrash, was unlike Saul and more like his father Kish. By taking charge of situations of lost hope, both Mordechai and Kish in their own way brought salvation to Israel through the Benjaminite tribe.

By contrast, Saul did not persevere, but rushed in to things, letting his temper and jealousy get the better of him against both David and his own son Jonathan, and lost his kingdom thereafter.

Mordechai restored strong-headed leadership to the House of Benjamin and salvaged Saul’s reputation as the impatient king who lost royal lineage to the tribe of Judah, to being remembered for his obedience and perseverance.

 

ω Ariel Abel is rabbi of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and chaplain to Army Cadets on Merseyside