On the first possuk in our Parsha the Medrash (Yalkut Shemoni) comments, “Rebbi Yehoshua of Sichnin in the name of Rebbi Levi said, ….Moshe said to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, the first king of Clal Yisroel (Shaul) will be stabbed to death with a sword!?” Hashem answered back, “Why are you criticizing me? Speak to the Kohanim whom he (Shaul) killed. They are the one who are prosecuting!”
Zera Shimshon asks why does the Medrash stress that Shaul was the FIRST king of Clal Yisroel? Why wouldn’t Moshe have been bewildered even if he was the second or third king?
His answer is based on two concepts.
The meforshim write that the reason that Shaul, who was a descendent of Binyamin, merited to be the first king because Binyamin was the only Tribe that didn’t bow down to Eisav (when Yaakov met him in Parshas VaYishlach). Because of this, Eisav had no power over him.
The second concept is found in another Medrash (Zohar Parshas Balak page 292/b). It is written there that Hashem came to Eisav and offered him to accept the Torah. Eisav refused since it says in the Torah “You shall not murder” and this totally contradicts the blessing that Yitzchak blessed him, that he will live by the sword.
After Eisav refused it, Hashem, so to speak, then asked him for advice on how H. can persuade Bnei Yisroel to accept it. Eisav answered that H. should give them a part of his beracha; that Clal Yisroel will be allowed to implement capital punishment.
With these two ideas in mind Zera Shimshon explains the Medrash.
Moshe Rabeinu didn’t understand how it could be that Shaul be killed by a sword. Shaul was chosen to be the first King of Yisroel because he didn’t bow to Eisav and therefore Eisav had no hold over him. Therefore, wondered Moshe, how could he be killed by a sword that is Eisav’s legacy?!
Hashem answered the sword was given to Clal Yisroel to be used in Beis Din. To simply kill though is not our lot, but Eisav’s. Therefore at the time Shaul killed the inhabitants of Nov the city of Kohanim he essentially stole Eisav’s legacy. Since he did this, then Eisav now had power over him (even though that his great grandfather, Binyamin, did not bow down to him).
It is because of this that the sword could have power over Shaul even though that he didn’t bow down to Eisav!
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