The decision about where to establish a large army camp was an extremely important matter. It had to be a place with good supplies of food and water. It had to be a place where the soldiers could easily gather together. It should not be too near to the enemyís camp. You would not want your enemy to have an opportunity to attack before you were ready. It should not be too far away, because your soldiers would be too tired to fight after a long march.
On this occasion, Saul chose Gilgal. It was near to Jericho, although that city did not exist then. It was a suitable place for a large camp. Israelís people had gathered there on previous occasions (Joshua 5:9-10; 1 Samuel 11:14-15). It was about 10 miles (15 kilometres) from the enemyís camp at Michmash. However, its situation was not perfect. Gilgal was in a very deep valley. Michmash is on a high hill. Such a steep march would make Saulís soldiers tired.
Saul wanted to gather a very large army, as he had done for the battle against Ammon (11:6-11). He urged every man in Israel who could fight to join him at Gilgal. It would take several days for all of the men to gather.
One man whom Saul especially wanted to come to Gilgal was Samuel. When Saul became king, Samuel gave him a message from God about Gilgal (10:8). There would be a test for Saul at Gilgal. Saul would have to wait there for 7 days before Samuel arrived. However, Samuel would certainly come, and he would give Saul another message from God. That message would tell Saul what he must do next.
Next part: Saulís plan fails (1 Samuel 13:5-7)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.