• Issue: August 1960
  • Designer: A. Kalderon
  • Plate no.: 26 - 28
  • Method of printing: Photolithography on WMP 2


Saul, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, was the first king in Israel. He was a peasant at the time when the tribes of Israel demanded a king who would unite them and fight their battles. Samuel, the seer, anointed him king over Israel. Saul immediately began to raise an army and his reign was marked by difficult wars against the enemies of Israel. Saul conquered Ammon, Amalek, and the Philistines and consolidated his kingdom.

After his victory over Agag, the king of Amalek, he lost favor in the sight of Samuel because he had spared Agag. This led to the end of his reign; ". . . and the Lord had rejected thee from being king over Israel.

Saul knew that the shepherd David of Bethlehem whose heroism had won the heart of the nation was destined to reign after him, and he, therefore. pursued him all his days. Towards the end of his reign Philistines won the upper hand and in a battle on Mount Gilboa, Saul's army was beaten and the three sons of the king were killed. Saul was wounded and not wishing to die at the hands of the enemy fell on his sword and died. Saul did not found a dynasty. His great significance in the history of the nation, however, lies in the fact that he united the tribes into one people and laid the foundations of the kingdom of Israel.

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David, the son of Jesse, of peasant stock from Bethlehem in Judea, was the second king of Israel and the founder of the first Temple. In his youth he smote Goliath, the Philistine giant, and was brought before King Saul and appointed an officer in his army. His many successes won him the love of the people and aroused the envy of the king. David was forced to flee and hide from Saul when the king had lost favor in the eyes of the prophet Samuel who anointed David king in his stead.

After Saul's defeat on Mount Gilboa, David reigned in Hebron, first only over the tribe of Judah and after the death of Ish-Boshet, the son of Saul, he reigned over all the tribes of Israel. King David was a warrior and a conqueror. His glorious victories over the Philistines, Aram, and Ammon and his deliverance of Jerusalem from the hands of the Jebusites strengthened his kingdom and extended its borders. He transferred the seat of his kingdom to Jerusalem. In his latter days his son, Absalom, rebelled against him but the rebellion was surpressed and David reigned until the day of his death. "Seven years reigned he in Hebron, and three and thirty years in Jerusalem."

In the annals of the nation David is known as "the Messiah of the God of Jacob, and the Psalmist of Israel." "The Messiah of the God of Jacob" in that his kingdom continued for generations, and Princes of Israel and leaders of the Diaspora in the time of the Talmud and later were descendants of the House of David. Even the final redemption of the people of Israel is to be brought about by a Messiah of the House of David. He is called "the Psalmist of Israel" because of Psalms which consists of 150 psalms, songs of supplication and prayer in time of' sorrow. and songs of praise and thanks in times of prosperity and salvation. Some of the psalms express the agony and joy of the individual and others the sorrow of the nation in time of trouble, its faith in the God of its deliverance and the joy of the nation when all is well. Many of the psalms are included in the regular prayers of all Jewish communities. The proverbial saying "David, king of Israel, lives on for ever" is the expression of the attachment of the nation throughout history to its king and messiah.

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Solomon, son of David. reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years in succession to his father. His reign was one of peace after David's wars and the borders of his kingdom were "over all the region on this side of the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah" in which all the tribes of Israel were united. Solomon strengthened the kingdom by stabilizing domestic rule and by consolidating the economy of the country. The land was divided into twelve districts, not according to the tribes, but geographically with regional officials and central offices to administer all affairs. The basic branches of the economy were commerce, crafts, agriculture, metal mining. and the fleet at Eilat and at ancient Etzion Geber and Jaffa which served to develop international trade and strengthened the bonds with other kingdoms. Solomon strengthened the alliance which David had made with Hiram, king of Tyre, and formed additional alliances.

His main undertaking was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was to be the main center for the offering up of sacrifices to the God of Israel and for the prayers of the nation everywhere, including the stranger and the convert. The sanctity of the Temple for those who wished to worship the God of Israel did not end with its destruction, and the Second Temple was built on the same site. To this day Jews everywhere turn their faces and their hearts in prayer towards this place.

After Solomon's death the kingdom was split into the kingdom of Israel which seceded from the House of David and into the kingdom of Judah in Jerusalem which remained in the hands of Solomon's successors. Solomon is remembered as the wisest of men and as the poet of the Song of Songs, the Book of Proverbs, and the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Song of Songs assumed special sanctity in the tradition of the nation, since wise men interpreted its love poem as the symbol of God's love for Israel. The Book of Proverbs is an anthology of wise sayings on various aspects of life and the Scroll of Ecclesiastes contains reflections on the vanity and insignificance of material possessions.

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Festivals 1960