Talut and Gideon

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Mar 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/17/98

Recently we saw a number of articles about Talut. They were based
on the assumption that Talut of the Quran was Saul of the Bible.
The description of Talut fits more with Gideon than it does with
Saul. The Bible describes Gideon as a "mighty man of valour". The
Quran describes him as having been increased abundantly in body.
Talut may be derived from ‘tal’ which means he became tall or high.

>The prophet is Samuel and the first king of Israel is Saul (1
>Samuel 10:1,24-25). The author of the Qur'an does not name the
>prophet (a/their prophet: 2:246-248) (may we ask "Why?") nor
>correctly state the name of the king. The prophet remains
>anonymous and the king is instead called Talut in the Qur'an

Here is the verse Jochen is complaining about:

2:247. Hast thou not heard of the chiefs of the Children of
Israel after Moses, when they said to a Prophet of theirs,
'Appoint for us a king that we may fight in the way of ALLAH ?'
He said, `It is not likely that you will not fight, if fighting
is prescribe for you ?' They said, `What reason have we that we
should not fight in the way of ALLAH when we have been driven
forth from our homes and our sons ?' But when fighting was
ordained for them, they turned back except a small number of
them. And ALLAH knows the transgressors well.

It is after this verse that we first hear about Talut.

Now lets look at the verses of the Bible just before we are
introduced to Gideon:

And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites;
and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.
And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the
LORD because of the Midianites,
That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which
said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you
up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;
And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of
the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from
before you, and gave you their land;
And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of
the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my
And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which
was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his
son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the
Midianites. (Judges 6:6-11)

The Bible does not name the prophet mentioned in these verses,
may we ask why? I know the Jews have an idea who the prophet is
but I don't know if Christians agree.

Anyways, that is not important, I only bring it up because Jochen
asked why the Quran does not mention the prophet by name. We
can see the Bible does not mention the prophet by name either.

Here we have another complaint from Jochen:

>The Israelites asked for a king because the new judges (Samuel's
>sons) were evil, and they wanted a king just like other nations
>(1 Samuel 8:1-5). In the Bible, the Israelites left Egypt by
>God's command and they were even sent away with gifts (Exodus
>11:1-2; 12:35-36). During Samuel's time, "being forced from
>their homes" was no issue. The Qur'an states that the Israelites
>asked for a king so that they may fight in the cause of Allah,
>because they had been forced from their homes! (2:246)

I should add that the Israelites have been driven from their
homes before the time of Gideon and as mentioned above they
are asking for God's help.

Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites
prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and
strongholds. (Judges 6:2)

In the Bible an unnamed prophet comes to the Israelites when they
have been driven from their homes and are crying for help and
after this Gideon is selected by God to lead the Israelites.

In the Quran the Israelites are asking for a leader to help them
fight because they have been driven from their homes. There
request is made to an unnamed prophet and after this Talut is
selected by God to lead the Israelites.

Talut of the Quran is identified as a king so if Gideon and
Talut are the same person Gideon would have to be a king.
I have checked several different commentaries of the Bible
by both Jews and Christians and it seems quite easy to argue
Gideon was a king. I earlier asked Jochen what Gideon named
his son and below is the answer I received:

>Gideon's firstborn son is Jether (Judges 8:20) which means
>"his excellence".

I was not asking about Jether, I was talking about Abimelech
who was also a son of Gideon.

His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son,
whom he named Abimelech. (Judges 8:31)

Gideon names his son Abimelech which literally means
'My Father is King'. I can only assume Jochen did not
know this.

If Gideon was not a king, why would he name his son Abimelech
(My Father is King)?
Here is an extract from the Jerome Biblical Commentary:

"Two separate traditions are used by the deuteronomic author in
8:22-23 and 8:30-9:57. Both agree that the victory of Gideon
over the Midianites, whose termination was recounted in 7:22b,
24-8:3, led to his assuming the function, if not the title, of
king over certain clans centered around Shechem..."

The New Bible Commentary:
"It is a hereditary monarchy that Gideon is invited to set up.
What is ostensibly Gideon's refusal might be an oblique

The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion(pg 262) and Harper's
Bible Commentary(pg 254) also both present the idea that Gideon
could have been a king.

2:248. And their Prophet said to them, `ALLAH has appointed for
you Talut as king.' They said, `How can he have sovereignty
over us while we are better entitled to sovereignty than he, and
he is not given abundance of wealth ?' He said, `Surely, ALLAH
has chosen him above you and has bestowed upon him abundant
increase in knowledge and in strength of body. And ALLAH
gives sovereignty to whom HE pleases. And ALLAH is Bountiful,

Talut is referred to as a king in the Quran. The Bible is unclear
as to whether Gideon is a king or not even though he assumes the
functions of a king. Christians usually refer to Gideon as one
of the chief "judges" although the term "judge" is not specifically
ever used of him. Many Christian and Jewish commentators forward
the idea that Gideon was more than a Judge and similar to a king.

>Samuel 10:17-27, we read how Saul is made king and we find that
>the majority of people are very pleased to receive him as king
>(10:24). Only a very small minority of a few trouble makers
>despised him (10:27). In the Qur'an (2:247) it looks as if most
>(of the leaders) rejected his authority and appointment as king.

Gideon says to God,

But Lord," Gideon asked, "How can I save Israel? My clan is
the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.
(Judges 6:15)

This tallies with the description given in the Quran which
represents the chiefs among the Israelites as saying with regard
to the new king,

2:248. And their Prophet said to them, `ALLAH has appointed for
you Talut as king.' They said, `How can he have sovereignty over
us while we are better entitled to sovereignty than he, and he
is not given abundance of wealth?'

Furthermore it was at the time of Gideon and not Saul that the
Israelites were tried by means of water:

But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take
them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I
say, `This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say,
`This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go.
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him,
"Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog
from those who kneel down to drink."
Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All
the rest got down on their knees to drink.
The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped
I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all
the other men go, each to his own place. (Judges 7:4-7)

After the trial by water we learn that Gideon is left with only
300 men.

It is interesting to note that a Companion of Prophet Muhammad said,
"We were 313 men in the Battle of Badr, and this number
corresponds to the number of men who followed Talut."
(Tirmidhi, chapter on Siyar)

This hadith lends great support to the conclusion that Talut was
no other than Gideon.

2:250. And when Talut set out with the forces, he said, `Surely,
ALLAH will try you with a river. So he who drinks therefrom is not
of me; and he who tastes it not is assuredly of me, save him who
takes only a handful of water with his hand.' But they drank of
it, except a few of them. And when they crossed it - he and those
who believed along with him - they said, `We have no power today
against Jalut and his forces.' But those who knew for certain that
they would one day meet ALLAH, said, `How many a small party has
triumphed over a large party by ALLAH's command ! And ALLAH is
with the steadfast.'

The trial by water is described differently in the Quran. According
to the Bible those that lapped the water with their tongues like
dogs were left behind. According to the Quran those that drank more
than a handful were left behind. According to the Bible Gideon’s
men were not warned in advance while according to the Quran Talut’s
men were warned not to drink too much. According to the Bible only
300 of the 10000 men did not drink like dogs. According to the
Quran only a few of the men did not drink. Both accounts are very
similar and I will leave it up to the reader to decide which account
makes more sense.

This is the first of a two part article in an attempt to show Talut
and Gideon are the same person. I am touching on some other issues
that were brought up before I finish the second part. (If interested
please read the article on Quran 2:244 which should be posted at
the same time as this article).
Saqib Virk

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Jochen Katz

Mar 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/22/98

In article <6emv7i$6...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>,
sv...@hotmail.com writes:

} This is the first of a two part article in an attempt to show Talut
} and Gideon are the same person.

I will patiently wait for part two and then see if there is any
substance that needs answering. Don't think I am defeated just
because I am not responding yet. I have read it, I have several
answers, but I want to see the complete argument before I
formulate my response.


Jochen Katz

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