Books of Samuel

Books of Samuel

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The Books of Samuel
Samuel
Samuel is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. He is also known as a prophet and is mentioned in the Qur'an....

in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, (Joshua
Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....

, Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, Samuel and Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 - the sequence of books in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 is identical, with the addition of Ruth
Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament. In the Jewish canon the Book of Ruth is included in the third division, or the Writings . In the Christian canon the Book of Ruth is placed between Judges and 1 Samuel...

), a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 (God's law for Israel) under the guidance of the prophets.

Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel
Samuel
Samuel is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. He is also known as a prophet and is mentioned in the Qur'an....

 is chosen by Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

, the god of the Israelites, at his birth. The story of the Ark
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

 which follows tells of Israel's oppression by the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

, which brings about Samuel's anointing of Saul
Saul
-People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...

 as Israel's first king. But Saul proves unworthy and God's choice turns instead to David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

, who defeats Israel's enemies and brings the Ark to Jerusalem. God then promises David and his successors an eternal dynasty.

According to Jewish tradition the author was Samuel himself, but this idea is no longer regarded as tenable. Modern scholarly thinking is that it originated by combining a number of independent units, of various ages, when the larger Deuteronomistic history (the Former Prophets plus Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

) was being composed in the period c.630-540 BCE.

Contents



See Book of Samuel at Bible Gateway

The childless Hannah
Hannah (Bible)
Hannah is the wife of Elkanah mentioned in the Books of Samuel. According to the Hebrew Bible she was the mother of Samuel...

 vows to Yahweh that if she has a son, he will be dedicated to Yahweh. Eli, the priest of Shiloh (where the ark of the covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

 is located), blesses her, and a child named Samuel is born. Eli's sons prove unworthy of the priesthood and are destroyed by God, but the child Samuel grows up "in the presence of the Lord."

The Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

 from Shiloh and take it to the temple of their god Dagon
Dagon
Dagon was originally an Assyro-Babylonian fertility god who evolved into a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain and fish and/or fishing...

, who recognises the supremacy of Yahweh. The Philistines are afflicted with plagues and return the ark to the Israelites, but to the territory of the tribe of Benjamin rather than to Shiloh. The Philistines attack the Israelites gathered at Mizpah
Mizpah in Gilead (Judges)
Mizpah is town in Gilead, where Jephthah resided, and where he assumed the command of the Israelites in a time of national danger. Here he made his rash vow; and here his daughter submitted to her mysterious fate...

 in Benjamin. Samuel appeals to Yahweh, the Philistines are decisively beaten, and the Israelites reclaim their lost territory.

In Samuel's old age, he appoints his sons as judges, but they are unworthy, and so the people clamour for a king. God reluctantly accedes and gives them Saul
Saul
-People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...

 of the tribe of Benjamin. Saul defeats the enemies of the Israelites, but commits sins against Yahweh.

Yahweh tells Samuel to anoint David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 of Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 as king, and David enters Saul's court as his armour-bearer and harpist. Saul's son and heir Jonathan befriends David and recognises him as rightful king. Saul plots David's death, but David flees into the wilderness, where he becomes a champion of the Hebrews. David joins the Philistines, but continues secretly to champion his own people, until Saul and Jonathon are killed in battle.

The elders of Judah anoint David as king, but in the north Saul's son Ishbaal rules over the northern tribes. After a long war Ishbaal is murdered hoping for reward from David, but David has them killed for killing God's anointed. David is then anointed King of all Israel. David captures Jerusalem and brings the Ark there. David wishes to build a temple, but Nathan
Nathan (Prophet)
Nathan the Prophet was a court prophet who lived in the time of King David and Queen Bathsheba. He came to David to reprimand him over his committing adultery with Bathsheba while she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite whose death the King had also arranged to hide his previous transgression.His...

 tells him that one of David's sons will be the one to build the temple. David defeats the enemies of Israel, slaughtering Philistines, Moab
Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

ites, Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

ites, Syrians and Arameans.

David commits adultery with Bathsheba and plots the death of her husband; for this God punishes him, saying that the sword shall never depart from his house. For the remainder of his reign there are problems: one of his sons rapes one of his daughters, another son kills the first, his favourite son rebels and is killed, until finally only two contenders for the succession remain, one of them Bathsheba's son Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

. As David lies dying Bathsheba and Solomon plot Solomon's elevation to the throne.

Composition



Textual history


1 and 2 Samuel were originally a single book, but the first Greek translation, produced in the centuries immediately before Christ, divided it into two; this was adopted by the Latin translation used in the early Christian church of the West, and finally introduced into Jewish bibles around the early 16th century CE. The modern Hebrew text (called the Masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

) differs considerably from the Greek, and scholars are still working at finding the best solutions to the many problems this presents.

The Deuteronomistic history


Although details remain disputed, the vast majority of recent studies agree with Martin Noth
Martin Noth
Martin Noth was a German scholar of the Hebrew Bible who specialized in the pre-Exilic history of the Hebrews. With Gerhard von Rad he pioneered the traditional-historical approach to biblical studies, emphasising the role of oral traditions in the formation of the biblical texts.-Life:Noth was...

's thesis, published in 1943, that the book of Samuel was composed as part of the Deuteronomistic history, the books of Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

, Joshua
Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....

, Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, Samuel and Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

. Noth thought the History was composed by a single individual, but this idea has been more or less given up and modern scholars argue for multiple authors active over a considerable period, culminating in the mid-6th century. Further editing was apparently done even after that - the silver quarter-shekel which Saul's servant offers to Samuel in 1 Samuel 9 almost certainly fixes the date of this story in the Persian or Hellenistic periods.

Sources


The 6th century authors/editors drew on earlier sources, including (but not limited to) an "ark narrative" (1 Samuel 4:1-7:1 and part of 2 Samuel 6), a "Saul cycle" (parts of 1 Samuel 9-11 and 13-14), the "history of David's rise" (1 Samuel 16:14-2 Samuel 5:10), and the "succession narrative" (2 Samuel 9-20 and 1 Kings 1-2). The sources used to construct 1 & 2 Samuel are:
  • Call of Samuel or Youth of Samuel (1 Samuel 1-7): From Samuel's birth his career as Judge and prophet over Israel. This source includes the Eli narrative and part of the ark narrative.
  • Ark narrative (1 Samuel 4:1b-7:1 and 2 Samuel 6:1-20): the ark's capture by the Philistines in the time of Eli and its transfer to Jerusalem by David - opinion is divided over whether this is actually an independent unit.
  • Jerusalem source: a fairly brief source discussing David conquering Jerusalem from the Jebusites.
  • Republican source: a source with an anti-monarchial bias. This source first describes Samuel as decisively ridding the people of the Philistines, and begrudgingly appointing an individual chosen by God to be king, namely Saul. David is described as someone renowned for his skill at playing the harp, and consequently summoned to Saul's court to calm his moods. Saul's son Jonathan becomes friends with David, which some commentators view as romantic
    David and Jonathan
    David and Jonathan were heroic figures of the Kingdom of Israel, whose covenant was recorded favourably in the books of Samuel. Jonathan was the son of Saul, king of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem and Jonathan's presumed rival for the crown...

    , and later acts as his protector against Saul's more violent intentions. At a later point, having been deserted by God on the eve of battle, Saul consults a medium
    Mediumship
    Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

     at Endor, only to be condemned for doing so by Samuel's ghost, and told he and his sons will be killed. David is heartbroken on discovering the death of Jonathan, tearing his clothes apart.
  • Monarchial source: a source with a pro-monarchial bias and covering many of the same details as the republican source. This source begins with the divinely appointed birth of Samuel. It then describes Saul as leading a war against the Ammonites, being chosen by the people to be king, and leading them against the Philistines. David is described as a shepherd boy arriving at the battlefield to aid his brothers, and is overheard by Saul, leading to David challenging Goliath and defeating the Philistines. David's warrior credentials lead to women falling in love with him, including Michal, Saul's daughter, who later acts to protect David against Saul. David eventually gains two new wives as a result of threatening to raid a village, and Michal is redistributed to another husband. At a later point, David finds himself seeking sanctuary amongst the Philistine army and facing the Israelites as an enemy. David is incensed that anyone should have killed Saul, even as an act of mercy, since Saul was anointed by Samuel, and has the individual responsible killed.
  • Court History of David
    Court History of David
    The Court History of David is one of the two hypothetical main source documents of the Books of Samuel . The text is believed to cover most of 2 Samuel except for the first few chapters and a few more minor parts...

    or Succession narrative (2 Samuel 9-20 and 1 Kings 1-2): a "historical novel", in Alberto Soggin
    Alberto Soggin
    Jan Alberto Soggin was a leading Italian Biblical scholar. He took his first degrees in law at the Sapienza University of Rome and in theology at the Waldensian Theological Seminary in Rome...

    's phrase, telling the story of David's reign from his affair with Bathsheba
    Bathsheba
    According to the Hebrew Bible, Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. She is most known for the Bible story in which King David seduced her....

     to his death. The theme is of retribution: David's sin against Uriah the Hittite
    Uriah the Hittite
    Uriah the Hittite was a soldier in King David’s army mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He was the husband of Bathsheba, and was murdered by order of David by having the soldiers retreat from him in battle. Uriah's wife was pregnant by King David through an adulterous affair...

     is punished by God through the destruction of his own family, and its purpose is to serve as an apology for the coronation of Bathsheba's son Solomon
    Solomon
    Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

     instead of his older brother Adonijah
    Adonijah
    Adonijah was the fourth son of King David according to the book of Samuel , which is contained in the Bible.-Life:After the death of his elder brothers Amnon and Absalom, he became heir-apparent to the throne, but Solomon, a younger brother, was preferred to him. Adonijah, however, when his father...

    .
  • Redactions: additions by the redactor to harmonise the sources together; many of the uncertain passages may be part of this editing.
  • Various: several short sources, none of which have much connection to each other, and are fairly independent of the rest of the text. Many are poems or pure lists.

The Hebrew text of Samuel is widely recognised to be heavily corrupted with errors (meaning that scribes, over the centuries, have introduced many mistakes while copying the original version), while in addition the Greek and Hebrew versions differ considerably; modern scholars are still working at finding the best solutions to the many problems this presents.

Themes



The Book of Samuel is a theological evaluation of kingship in general and of dynastic kingship and David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 in particular. The main themes of the book are introduced in the opening poem (the "Song of Hannah
Song of Hannah
The Song of Hannah is a poem interrupting the prose text of the Books of Samuel. According to the surrounding narrative, the poem was a prayer delivered by Hannah, to give thanks to God for the birth of her son, Samuel.-Contents and themes:...

"): (1), the sovereignty of Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

, the God of Israel; (2), the reversal of human fortunes; and (3), kingship. These themes are played out in the stories of the three main characters, Samuel
Samuel
Samuel is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. He is also known as a prophet and is mentioned in the Qur'an....

, Saul
Saul
-People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...

 and David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

.

Samuel


Samuel answers the description of the "prophet like Moses" predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15-22: like Moses, he has direct contact with Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

, the god of the Israelites, acts as a judge, and is a perfect leader who never makes mistakes. Samuel's successful defence of the Israelites against their enemies demonstrates that they have no need for a king (who will, moreover, introduce inequality), yet despite this the people demand a king. But the king they are given is Yahweh's gift, and Samuel explains that kingship can be a blessing rather than a curse if they remain faithful to their god. On the other hand, total destruction of both king and people will result if they turn to wickedness.

Saul


Saul is the chosen one, a king appointed by Yahweh the god of Israel and anointed by Samuel, Yahweh's prophet, and yet he is ultimately rejected. Saul loses the chance to establish his dynasty and even to continue to reign through two faults: he carries out a sacrifice in place of Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8-14), and he fails to carry out genocide against the Amalekites as God has ordered (1 Samuel 15). The Deuteronomist's negative view of Saul and desire to show David as the first real king of Israel has obscured Saul's real achievements.

David


One of the main units within Samuel is the "History of David's Rise", the purpose of which is to justify David as the legitimate successor to Saul. The narrative stresses that he gained the throne lawfully, always respecting "the Lord's anointed" (i.e. Saul) and never taking any of his numerous chances to seize the throne by violence. As God's chosen king over Israel David is also the son of God ("I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me..." - 2 Samuel 7:14). God enters into an eternal covenant (treaty) with David and his line, promising divine protection of the dynasty and of Jerusalem through all time. The story can be compared to that of a 13th century Hittite king who was forced to take the throne after a lifetime of loyalty when his life was in danger: like David, he was assisted by his god, whose divine will decided the course of events.

See also

  • Biblical judges
    Biblical judges
    A biblical judge is "a ruler or a military leader, as well as someone who presided over legal hearings."...

  • Midrash Shmuel (aggadah)
  • The Bible and history
    The Bible and history
    The Bible from a historical perspective, includes numerous fields of study, ranging from archeology and astronomy to linguistics and methods of comparative literature. The Bible may provide insight into pursuits, including but not limited to; our understanding of ancient and modern culture,...

  • History of ancient Israel and Judah
    History of ancient Israel and Judah
    Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of ancient Palestine. The earliest known reference to the name Israel in archaeological records is in the Merneptah stele, an Egyptian record of c. 1209 BCE. By the 9th century BCE the Kingdom of Israel had emerged as an important local power before...

  • Kingdom of Judah
    Kingdom of Judah
    The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

  • Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)

Translations of 1 and 2 Samuel


General

  • Coogan, Michael D. (2009) A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: the Hebrew Bible in its Context Oxford University Press


External links


Masoretic Text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

  • שמואל א Shmuel Aleph - Samuel A (Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

     - English at Mechon-Mamre.org)
  • שמואל ב Shmuel Bet - Samuel B (Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

     - English at Mechon-Mamre.org)


Jewish translations
  • 1 Samuel at Mechon-Mamre (Jewish Publication Society translation)
  • 2 Samuel at Mechon-Mamre (Jewish Publication Society translation)
  • Shmuel I - Samuel I (Judaica Press) translation [with Rashi
    Rashi
    Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

    's commentary] at Chabad.org
  • Shmuel II - Samuel II (Judaica Press) translation [with Rashi
    Rashi
    Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

    's commentary] at Chabad.org


Related articles
  • Introduction to the book of 1 Samuel from the NIV Study Bible
    NIV Study Bible
    The NIV Study Bible is a study Bible originally published by Zondervan in 1985 which uses the New International Version . Revisions include 1995, a full revision in 2002, an update in October 2008 for the 30th anniversary of the NIV, and a new update in 2011...

  • Introduction to the book of 2 Samuel from the NIV Study Bible
    NIV Study Bible
    The NIV Study Bible is a study Bible originally published by Zondervan in 1985 which uses the New International Version . Revisions include 1995, a full revision in 2002, an update in October 2008 for the 30th anniversary of the NIV, and a new update in 2011...

  • 1 Samuel at BibleStudyTools.com
  • 2 Samuel at BibleStudyTools.com