Books of Samuel

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Torah | Nevi'im | Ketuvim
Books of Nevi'im
Earlier Prophets
Latter Prophets
Twelve minor prophets
  1. Hosea
  2. Joel
  3. Amos
  4. Obadiah
  5. Jonah
  6. Micah
  7. Nahum
  8. Habakkuk
  9. Zephaniah
  10. Haggai
  11. Zechariah
  12. Malachi
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The Books of Samuel (Hebrew: Sefer Sh'muel ספר שמואל), are part of the Tanakh (part of Judaism's Hebrew Bible) and also of the Old Testament (of Christianity). The work was originally written in Hebrew, and the Book(s) of Samuel originally formed a single text, as they are often considered today in Hebrew bibles.

Together with what is now referred to as the Book(s) of Kings, the translators who created the Greek Septuagint divided the text into four books, which they named the Books of the Kingdoms. In the Latin Vulgate version, these then became the Books of the Kings, thus 1 and 2 Samuel were referred to as 1 and 2 Kings, with 3 and 4 Kings being what are called 1 and 2 Kings by the King James Bible and its successors.


[edit] The contents of the books

The two books can be essentially broken down into five parts:

  • The period of Yahweh's rejection of Eli, Samuel's birth, and subsequent judgement (1 Samuel 1:1-7:17)
  • The period of the life of Saul prior to meeting David (1 Samuel 8:1-15:35)
  • The period of Saul's interaction with David (1 Samuel 16:1-2 Samuel 1:27)
  • The period of David's reign and the rebellions he suffers (2 Samuel 2:1-20:22)
  • An appendix of material concerning David in no particular order, and out of sequence with the rest of the text (2 Samuel 2:21:1-25)

A conclusion of sorts appears at 1 Kings 1-2, concerning Solomon enacting a final revenge on those who did what David perceived as wrongdoing, and having a similar narrative style. While the subject matter in the Book(s) of Samuel is also covered by the narrative in Chronicles, it is noticeable that the section (2 Sam. 11:2-12:29) containing an account of the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chr. 20.

The period of Samuel's birth and judgement involves
  • Story of Eli (portions of 1 Samuel 1:1-4:22) - Eli's sons are the priests at Shiloh, but they abuse their position. A man of God comes to Eli and tells him that owing to this behaviour, Yahweh has revoked his promise of perpetual priesthood for his family, and Eli's sons will die on the same day. Samuel confirms that there is no way for them to avoid the fate. His sons duly die on the same day during a battle, and the Holy Ark is captured by the Philistines. Upon hearing the latter, Eli drops dead from shock.
  • Story of Hannah (remainder of 1 Samuel 1:1-1:28) - Hannah is childless, but then makes a vow promising that if she has a son, he will be dedicated to Yahweh and be a Nazarite. Eli blesses her and a child is soon born. The child is identified as Samuel, though many modern academics think this is a later edit to the story and it was originally the birth narrative of Saul.
  • Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10) - Hannah pronounces a poem concerning Yahweh's magnificence that has strong similarities to the later Magnificat
  • The Philistine captivity of the Ark (1 Samuel 4:1-7:1) - The philistines attack Ebenezer and capture the ark, taking it to their temple to Dagon. Eli's daughter-in law, Pinchas's wife, goes into labour. After hearing the Eli died, the agony of labour overwhelms her and she dies, yet gives birth to a child named Ichabod (without glory). The next morning, the Dagon statue is found prostrate before it, so they adjust it, but the morning after it is found broken into pieces. The town surrounding it falls victim to a plague, so the Philistines resign themselves to get rid of the ark, first sending it on to Gath, and then to Ekron, both of which fall victim to the plague. On the advice of fortune tellers, the Philistines put the ark, and additional offerings, on a cow driven cart, and send it off, driverless, it getting to Beth Shemesh. The locals celebrate, and ask the people of Kiriath-Jearim to collect the ark, which they do, taking it to the house of Abinadab.
  • The battle of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:3-14). The Philistines attack the Israelites who have gathered at Mizpah. Samuel appeals to Yahweh, and so the Philistines are decisively beaten. Samuel sets up a stone at Ebenezer in memory. The Israelites then attack Ekron and Gath, freeing the people, and make peace with the Amorites.
The period of Saul's life before he meets David involves
  • The appointment of Saul (1 Samuel 8:1-11:15) - In Samuel's old age, he appoints his sons as Judges, but they don't follow his example, so the people clamour for a king. God begrudgingly accedes and Samuel gives the people a list of regulations about the king. Meanwhile, Saul, who is handsome, is searching for the donkeys of his family and when his search takes him to Zuph, he seeks out the wise man who lives there, on the advice of his servant and some girls. Samuel comes toward Saul as he enters the town, and realises that Saul is the man that Yahweh has chosen to be king, so he is hospitable to him. The next day, Samuel anoints him, and gives three prophecies of events on Saul's journey home. The third prophecy, that Samuel will meet a band of prophets preceded by musical instruments, comes true, leading to the phrase Is Saul among the Prophets (cf. 1 Samuel 19:24). After calling the people together at Mizpah, Samuel whittles them down by lot to Saul, and announces that he is king. Saul tries to hide but is much taller than everyone else. Some people criticise the decision.
  • The story of Nahash (1 Samuel 11:1-11) - Nahash, an Ammonite, lays siege to Jabesh-gilead, so its people request a treaty, but Nahash is harsh and requires that each person must have their right eye gouged out. The people consequently stall for time, while sending messengers out to get help. After hearing of this, Saul orders the people of Israel to join him in an attack on Nahash, and threatens them with violence if they do not. Saul consequently gathers an army and attacks that of Nahash, obliterating it. The people take this as evidence of Saul's ability to lead, and so consequently they are told by Samuel to appoint him king, which they do.
  • Saul's rejection (1 Samuel 12:1-13:15, and 15:1-35) - Samuel gives a speech reminding the Israelites not to fall into heathenism like their previous generations have done. The Hebrews/Jonathan (depending on the text - Masoretic has Jonathan, Septuagint has Hebrews) overcome the Philistines in Gibeah. Saul sounds the trumpet to tell all Israel that he (Saul) has overcome the Philistines there. The Philistines assemble for battle, frightening the Israelites, but, in accordance with Samuel's instructions, Saul waits seven days for Samuel to arrive, before giving up his wait and making a sacrifice. Samuel turns up and castigates Saul for not waiting, telling him that as a result his kingdom will not last. Saul, successful and brave, defeats Amalek. Samuel orders Saul to exterminate Amalek, but although Saul subsequently slaughters the Amalekites, he doesn't slaughter the animals, and captures the king, Agag, alive. Saul also erects a trophy at Carmel in his own honour. Samuel berates him for not carrying out the mass extermination completely, so Saul repents and begs Samuel to go with him. Samuel refuses, and leaves, but Saul grabs at him, tearing part of Samuel's mantle, for which Samuel says that part of Saul's kingdom will be torn off and given to another. Samuel kills Agag himself, by hacking him into pieces (wa-yeshassef).
  • The Battle of Michmash (1 Samuel 13:16-14:46) - While Saul and his son occupy Geba, the philistines raid the nearby land. Previously, the Philistines had ensured that there were no smiths in the land, causing the people of Israel to be devoid of weaponry, excepting Saul and Jonathan. Jonathan secretly heads to the Philistine outpost at Michmash with his armour bearer, first crossing a ravine, and manage between them to slaughter large numbers of Philistines who panic and scatter. Saul notices and eventually sends his army to help. The Hebrews were previously on the Philistine side (some translations add the words some of, making this refer only to a sub group of Hebrews), but decide to join the forces of Israel. In a moment of foolishness, Saul curses anyone that eats anything before the evening, but Jonathan doesn't notice and consumes some honey he finds. This rapidly leads to others following suit, and ignoring Saul's curse. Saul builds an altar, insisting that it be used to sacrifice before the food is eaten, and condemns the whomever Yahweh decides is at fault, for violating his curse, to death. Saul uses Urim and Thummim to find out that Yahweh has pointed the finger at Jonathan, so reluctantly condemns him, but the army say they will revolt if Saul kills him, so he doesn't.
The period of Saul's interaction with David involves
  • David's rise from obscurity (1 Samuel 16:1-17:58) - Samuel is told to go to Bethlehem by Yahweh, to find a replacement for Saul. Each of the sons of Jesse are rejected in turn, except David, the youngest, whom Samuel is told to anoint. A demon is sent by Yahweh to torment Saul, so Saul's servants try to find a harpist to sooth his temper. David is known for his skill in the art and so is brought to court. The Philistines rally against Israel, and the, imposing, Goliath of Gath steps out and suggests that rather than fight a battle, the Israelites should just send a champion to fight him. David, who is bringing provisions to his brothers in Israel's army, speaks against Goliath to his brothers, and Saul overhears him. David persuades a reluctant Saul to let him challenge Goliath. David kills Goliath with a single stone from a sling, and so the Philistines flee.
  • Details of David in Saul's court (1 Samuel 18:1-20:42) - Jonathan takes a shine to David, and since David succeeds in everything Saul tasks him with, women praise David as greater than Saul. To get rid of this perceived threat, Saul promises David the hand of his daughter, Merob, in marriage if he becomes Saul's champion, but Merob is married off to someone else before David accepts. Saul notices that Michal, his other daughter, is in love with David, so, in order to send him on to his death, offers her to him in exchange for 200 foreskins of the Philistines, but David successfully kills 200 Philistines, so weds Michal. Saul talks to Jonathan about his plans to kill David, but owing to Jonathan's relationship with David, Jonathan disuades Saul and informs David. While David is in Saul's court, Saul throws a spear at David, but misses. Saul then sends guards to David's house, but Michal makes David escape, and places a statue in the bed and pretends to the guards that it is him. On discovering David's location, Saul sends out successive guards, but they all meet a group of prophets and join them instead, as does Saul when he eventually decides to go himself, hence the phrase Is Saul among the prophets? (c.f. 1 Samuel 10). David then meets Jonathan and asks him to secretly find out Saul's intentions, but Saul tells Jonathan that he knows that Jonathan is David's companion, and that he intends to kill David. Jonathan is so hurt that he stops eating, and then later goes off to tell David.
  • The story of Ahimelech (1 Samuel 21:2-9, and 22:6-23) David flees to Ahimelech, priest of Nob, who only has holy bread. As David abstains from the company of women on such journeys, Ahimelech allows David to take the bread, and Goliath's sword which Ahimelech had been keeping. David then flees. Saul's chief henchman, Doeg, witnessed Ahimelech assisting David, so Saul has Doeg kill him, and all the people in Nob, though Ahimelech's son, Abiathar, escapes to tell David.
  • Saul's pursuit of David (1 Samuel 22:1-5, and 23:1-28) David has fled to the cave of Adullam, where he amasses a band of outlaws. David decides to leave his parents in the care of the king of Moab, where the prophet, Gad, tells him to flee, so David moves to the forest of Hereth. The people of Keilah are attacked by the Philistines so David rescues them, but Saul hears of it and sets out against him, so David flees. Jonathan briefly visits David at Horesh, and returns home. The people of Ziph tell Saul where David is, so Saul chases David into a gorge, but is forced to break off pursuit when the Philistines invade elsewhere and he must fight them. The gorge becomes known as Sela-hammahlekoth (gorge of divisions)
  • David's reconciliation with Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-25:1a, and 26:1-27). David hides in the caves near Engedi, and Saul hears of this and pursues him. Saul enters the cave where David hides, and David sneaks up on him and cuts off the end of his mantle (coincidentally, Saul has also done this to Samuel, above). As Saul has been anointed, David regrets this, and forbids his men from harming Saul, and then steps out of the cave to show himself. David convinces Saul that he isn't a threat, and the two reconcile. The two depart from one another, and Samuel dies. Men from Ziph tell Saul that David is hiding at Hachilah, so goes to search for him. David, and Abishai, sneak into Saul's camp and steal Saul's spear. They then go a long way away and shout back what they have just done, and persuade Saul that David isn't a threat, the two consequently being reconciled.
  • The story of Abigail (1 Samuel 25:1b-43) - David tries to get hospitality from a man at Maon, named Nabal, who owns property in Carmel, but Nabal is miserly and refuses. Angered, David prepares to attack Nabal and kill those surrounding him. Nabal's clever and pretty wife, Abigail, sends David provisions, causing David to relent. She tells Nabal, once he has sobered up, and Nabal is soon after struck dead by Yahweh. David thus proposes marriage to Abigail, who accepts. David also marries Ahinoam of Jezreel, though meanwhile Michal, his original wife, is transferred by Saul to another man, Palti.
  • The story of Achish (1 Samuel 21:10-16, 27:1-28:2, and 29:1-11) - David decides that it is better to be on the safe side, and so choses to reside amongst the Philistines, staying with the king of Gath, Achish. Previously David had briefly fled to Achish having left Ahimelech, where he feigned insanity to avoid attracting attention, but this time he lets Achish realise that he is an enemy of Saul. However, David continues to make raids against the surrounding population, slaughtering everyone he meets so that none will tell Achish what he has done. When he brings back spoils, he tells the king of Gath that he has raided against some foreign group or the Israelites or Judah. Achish trusts him implicitly, and so requests that David join him in an attack on Jezreel. The Philistines encamp against the Israelites, but are curious why the Hebrews (some translations have "some of the Hebrews") are amongst the Philistines. Uneasy about David's presence they tell Achish to send him away, and so Achish reluctantly does so.
  • The Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:3-25) - Samuel dies (c.f. 1 Samuel 25), and Saul sees the Philistines encamping at Shunem, and is disheartened. Saul tries to consult God for advice but receives no reply, and as he has banned necromancy and prophecy, in accordance with the mitzvah, he is forced to disguise himself and go to the Witch of Endor. He asks her to bring up Samuel from the dead, which she does, and Samuel admonishes Saul for acting this way, and tells him that owing to Saul's past failure to commit complete genocide regarding Amalek, Saul is already condemned. Saul becomes deeply shaken, and refuses to eat, but is eventually persuaded.
  • The story of Ziklag (1 Samuel 30:1-31) - Ziklag is burnt to the ground by the Amalekites, though they take the people, including David's wives, captive. David and his men therefore set off in pursuit, though some give up on the way. The men meet a slave of the Amalekites who has escaped and who leads them to the Amalekite raiders. David slaughters all but 400 of the raiders, and recovers his property and wives, as well as extra spoil which he divides amongst his followers, except those that gave up, and sends a portion of the spoil to Judah, city by city.
  • The death of Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 31:1-2 Samuel 1:27) - the Philistines attack the Israelites at Gilboa, and kill Jonathan and inflict a mortal wound on Saul. Saul asks his armour bearer to finish him off. His armour bearer refuses so Saul falls on his own sword. The armour bearer then kills himself. The Philistines cut the bodies into pieces, displaying them on the wall of Bethshan, though the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead later rescue the bodies, cremating them and burying the bones under a tamarisk tree. An Amalekite comes to David and tells him that Saul and Jonathan are dead, and that Saul was mortally wounded and asked him to finish him, so he did so. David is incenced and orders the Amalekite to be killed, delivering a eulogy about Jonathan and Saul, which is recorded in the Book of Jasher.
The period of David's reign involves
  • The story of Ishbaal (2 Samuel 2:1-3:1, 3:6-4:3, and 4:5-5:5) David is anointed king in Hebron, but only over Judah. Saul's son, Ishbaal, is taken by Abner to Mahanaim and appointed king of Israel. The two sides meet at Gibeon and stage some form of activity between 12 men on each side, thrusting swords into their opponents, hence the place became known as Helkath-hazzurim (field of sides). After a fierce battle, David's side wins. Asahel, brother of Joab, David's commander, sets out after Abner, but Abner twice tells him to stop, but since he doesn't listen, Abner thrusts his javelin into Asahel, who dies. Joab continues the chase as far as Ammah, where Abner warns him to stop to avoid more bad blood, so Joab stops the pursuit. However, there was a war between the two groups that lasted for ages with David's side gradually winning. Abner is intimate with Rizpah, one of Saul's concubines, angering Ishbaal. Abner decides to change sides, and brings Michal back to David, sending Paltiel, her other husband, back home weeping. Abner persuades the elders of Israel to change to David's side as well. When Abner arrives in David's court, Joab secretly follows him, and stabs him in revenge for killing his brother. David however curses Joab for this, and sings a eulogy to Abner. Ishbaal is killed in his sleep by his own leaders, the sons of Rimmon, who cut off his head and take it to David, but David has them killed for killing a king. David is anointed King of Israel in Hebron.
  • A list of the sons of David (2 Samuel 3:2-5 and 5:13-16) - During Ishbaal's rebellion, David has some children. Later, David takes more concubines and has further children.
  • The conquest of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6-12, and 5:17-7:29) - David sets out for Jerusalem, and manages to take the stronghold of Zion. Since he was told by the Jebusites that the blind and the lame would turn him away, he makes the blind and the lame his personal enemy. David instructs his people to attack the Jebusites via the water shaft. Hiram, king of Tyre, sends master craftsmen to David to build him a palace, and David also builds up the area surrounding it. The Philistines attack, overrunning the valley of Rephaim, but he defeats them at a place that becomes known as Baal-perazim (lord of scatterings). The second attack by the Philistines is defeated when David approaches via the rear, and they are routed. David then requests the Ark be moved to Jerusalem, but when it reaches Nodan it is unsteady, and Uzzah puts his hand on it to steady it, but is struck dead for this by Yahweh. David becomes more cautious and leaves the ark with Obed-edom for three months, though noting Obed-edom's subsequent good fortune, brings the Ark to Zion. David joins the subsequent celebrations, but is castigated for doing so by Michal, who accuses him of exposing himself, and hence Michal is made permanently infertile by Yahweh. David asks Nathan whether the Ark should be housed in grander settings, but Nathan tells him that where it is fine for the moment and prophecies that one of David's sons will be the one to build a new home for it.
  • The story of David's vassal states (2 Samuel 8:1-15) - David attacks the Philistines, taking their methegammah (literally bridle of the cubit though many translations render this as chief cities). David also defeats Moab and executes a proportion (either ⅓ or ⅔) of their entire population, making Moab a vassal. David then defeats Hadadezer, and though the Aramaeans come to Hadadezer's aid, David slaughters them, making the Aramaeans vassals. King Toi of Hamath, Hadadezer's enemy, congratulates David and adds to his spoils of precious metals. On his return (from an unspecified location), David becomes famous for slaughtering 18,000 Edomites, whereupon Edom becomes a vassal state.
  • A list of officers in David's court (2 Samuel 8:16-18, and 20:23-26) - A list of officers in David's court is given on two occasions. The list includes the head of the army, chancellor (Jehoshaphat), master of the slaves, and commander of foreign troops, as well as the two priests - Zadok and Abiathar, David's personal priest - Ira the Jairite, and the name of a scribe - Shawsha.
  • The story of the mercenaries of the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:1-19) - The king of the Ammonites dies, and is succeeded by Hanun, so, reflecting the prior king's kindness to David, David sends messengers to Hanun to give his condolences. However, they are interpreted by Hanun as spies, so he has the base of their beards cut off, and the base of their garments below their buttocks, giving them a babylonian appearance. When they return, David tells them to wait in Jericho until their beards grow. The Ammonites then prepare for war, and hire a mercenary army from Aram, Tob, and Maacah, but it doesn't reach the Ammonites before David's army are too close. Joab splits David's army into two groups, one to attack the Aramaeans, and one to attack the Ammonites. The Aramaeans flee before David's army, and so the Ammonites, now without help, withdraw. Hadadezer hires Aramaeans that live beyond the Euphrates, and they attack the Israelites at Helam. Shobach, Hadadezer's general, is defeated and killed, and so Hadadezer's vassal states decide to become David's vassals instead.
  • The story of Bathsheba (11:1-12:31) David sends his army to besiege Rabbah. From his rooftop, he spots a pretty woman, and later finds out that she is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, Joab's armour bearer. David has relations with her, and she becomes pregnant, so he orders Uriah to be placed in the heaviest part of the fighting, and for the army to draw back from him. Uriah is consequently killed by an archer, and David marries Bathsheba. Nathan, a prophet, tells David a parable, asking him for an analysis. When Nathan reveals that the parable describes his actions over Uriah, David realises that by his analysis he has condemned himself. Nathan tells him that the house of David will be cursed with always falling victim to the sword. More directly, Bathsheba's child dies as punishment. David has relations with her again, and she has a son that she names Solomon, but Nathan names Jedediah. Joab finally captures Rabbah and the bejewelled crown of Milcom is taken and given to David for his own head.
  • The rape of Tamar (13:1-14:33). David's son, Amnon, becomes lovesick for his half-sister, Tamar. His cousin advises him to feign illness and have Tamar be his sick nurse, which he does. Persuading Tamar to feed him at his bedside, Amnon rapes her. Tamar complains to her brother, Absalom, but as Amnon is his eldest son, David won't do anything. Absalom holds a party and invites all the princes, and Amnon is sent there on David's behalf. When Amnon becomes drunk, he is killed by Absalom's servants, under the order of Absalom. The princes flee back to David, and Absalom flees to the king of Geshur. Over time, David becomes reconciled to Amnon, and so Joab hatches a plan. Joab gets a woman to visit David and feign sorrow about a situation that mirrors that of David, tricking him into acknowledging that Absalom should be brought back and not harmed. When Absalom is brought back, David orders him to remain in his own home, but Absalom keeps asking Joab to see David. Joab doesn't respond so Absalom sets Joab's field on fire, and when Joab turns up, persuades him to let him see David, who becomes reconciled to Absalom.
  • The rebellion of Absalom (15:1-37, 16:5-19:24, and 19:32-41) - Absalom builds up a gradual following, eventually having enough supporters that he plans a coup against David. An informant tells David, who tells his supporters to flee Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives. At the Mount of Olives, David tells his foreign mercenaries to go back to Jerusalem as they owe no allegiance, but they insist on going with David. David also sends back Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, and his friend, Hushai, to act as an informant. A man, Shimei, throws stones at David and curses him, so Abishai asks David to kill Shimei, but David won't let him, claiming that Yahweh has made Shimei do this. On the advice of Ahithophel, Absalom has relations with David's concubines, on his roof, so that the whole nation can see his contempt for David. After receiving counsel from both Ahithophel and Hushai, Absalom chooses Hushai's plan to send all Israel to attack David over Ahithophel's, so Ahithophel commits suicide in shame. Hushai sends word to David of the plan via spies hidden in a cistern at En-rogel. Absalom sends his army across the Jordan, and David prepares his own troops, asking that Absalom be treated gently. A huge battle erupts between the armies in the forests near Mahanaim, but while riding on his mule, Absalom gets caught in a tree by his hair, and is stuck hanging there. Although the first people from David's side to discover Absalom like this refuse to harm him, owing to David's request, Joab has no such qualms and kills Absalom. David becomes extremely upset, but pulls himself together and returns victorious to Jerusalem, accompanied by Judah.
  • The story of Meribbaal (2 Samuel 4:4, 9:1-13, 16:1-4, and 19:25-31) - Jonathan had a son named Meribbaal, who was 5 when Jonathan and Saul were killed. When she heard the news of this, Meribaal's nurse took him and fled, but he fell and became crippled. In memory of Jonathan, David shows Meribbaal kindness, gives him Saul's lands, and lets him dine at David's table. He also tells Ziba, a servant of Saul, that Ziba, and his family, must now serve Meribbaal. During Absalom's revolt, Meribbaal remained in Jerusalem, Ziba telling David that this was because Meribbaal hoped that the people of Israel would restore him to his father's throne. Meribbaal doesn't wash his feet, or his clothes, or even trim his moustache, until David returns to the throne in Jerusalem. On meeting David, Meribbaal tells him that Ziba was lying about his motive for remaining, and reminds David that Meribbaal is lame. David doesn't care, and orders Meribbaal to split his property with Ziba.
  • The Rebellion of Sheba (2 Samuel 19:42-20:22) - The people of Israel feel slighted that those of Judah were preferred by David to accompany him back to the throne, so a war of words breaks out between them. A man named Sheba sounds a horn rallying the people of Israel to him. David asks Amasa to summon the people of Judah to him, and go after Sheba. At the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa meets Joab and them, and while asking how he is, Joab stabs Amasa to death, and drag the body to the side of the road. Joab leads the ammassed army of Judah against Sheba who has ammassed his own army of Israel at Abel Beth-maachah. Joab lays siege to the town, but a wise woman tells Joab of an ancient expression and that Joab is effectively trying to destroy Yahweh's inheritance. Joab tells her they are only after Sheba, so she gets the townspeople to cut off Sheba's head and throw it over the wall to Joab. Joab then returns to Jerusalem and the rebellion ends.
The appendix contains a fairly unorganised miscellany of information
  • Gibeon avenged' (2 Samuel 21:1-14) - A famine arises which David blames on Saul having put many of the Gibeonites to death. David asks the Gibeonites what he should do as atonement, and they ask to dismember seven men from among Saul's descendants on Yahweh's mountain. David gives seven of Sauls descendants to them, and they are dismembered. Rizpah, the mother of two of them, uses a sackcloth to protect the remains from scavengers, and so David collects the bones of Saul, Jonathon, and those of the seven, and buries them at the tomb of Kish. The famine consequently ends.
  • The Rephaim (2 Samuel 21:15-22) There are four battles against the Philistines, in each one a Rephaim being killed. Goliath is one of these, and is killed by Elhanan.
  • The Song of David (2 Samuel 22) - a psalm, which also constitutes Psalm 18, with minor variations, and involves an obscure reference to leaping over a wall, and another to Yahweh riding a Cherub.
  • The Last words of David (2 Samuel 23:1-7) - an enigmatic poem purporting to be David's last words, but lacking context, ending abruptly, and occurring some way before David's death.
  • The Exploits of the Three and the Thirty (2 Samuel 23:8-24a) - Several warriors of David are listed, with a gloss covering some of their deeds. A significance is attached to the Thirty and the Three, all the warriors being in at least one of these groups, with the Three being the more significant. The last part of the text is presumed lost, since after naming Ashahel it abruptly breaks off.
  • The The Thirty (2 Samuel 23:24b-39) - a list of the Thirty. Despite the name of the group, 37 people are listed, and it is made explicit that there are 37. As 23:23-24 is ...David put him in command of his bodyguard. Ashahel, brother of Joab. Among the thirty....., the middle of verse 23:24 (between the words Joab and Among) is generally presumed to have been lost.
  • The Census of David (2 Samuel 24:1-25). Yahweh makes David angry with the people, so David orders a census (this story is also told in 1 Chronicles 21:1ff, where instead it is Satan who orders the same census). The census makes Yahweh angry, because then Yahweh and David would know how many people there were, so Gad, the prophet, tells David that Yahweh is going to punish him, but will give him the choice of 3 punishments. David chooses the pestilence option, and so an angel duly goes out and starts killing people. When the angel approaches Jerusalem, Gad repents, and halts it, so David buys the land where the angel halted from its owner, Araunah, and builds an altar upon it.

[edit] Authorship

Traditionally, the authors of the books of Samuel have been held to be Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel is believed to have penned the first twenty-four chapters of the first book. Gad, the companion of David (1 Sam. 22:5), is believed to have continued the history thus commenced; and Nathan is believed to have completed it, probably arranging the whole in the form in which we now have it (1 Chronicles 29:29).

However, this theory is not supported by most modern scholars, who consider that the text is clearly not the work of men contemporary with the events chronicled. Even the Book of Chronicles explicitly refers to multiple source texts for the information, naming several. Roughly in the order they are believed to have been created historically, the sources that modern scholarship considers to have been interlaced to construct 1 & 2 Samuel are:

  • jerusalem source: a fairly brief source briefly 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, Jonathon, takes a shine to David, which many commentators view as romantic, 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 find himself consulting the Witch of 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 Jonathon, tearing his clothes apart.
  • court history of David a very continuous source covering the history of David's kingship, and believed to be the source going by this name in the Book of Chronicles. This source continuously describes Israel and Judah as two separate kingdoms, with David originally being king of Judah only. David conquers Israel, but Israel rebels under Absalom, identified as David's son, and David is forced into exile. Israel's forces attack David while he is in exile, but he wins, and Judah accompanies him back to Jerusalem. Israel makes another rebellion, but David lays siege to a city housing the leader, and wins.
  • sanctuaries source: a short source which interrupts the narrative in order to recount an episode concerning the capture of the Ark by the Philistines, and their subsequent voluntary return of it. The source demonstrates a bias toward the viewpoint of the Kingdom of Israel.
  • 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 (many scholars think it originally referred to Saul, see below). It then describes Saul as leading a war against the Ammonites and hence being chosen by the people to be a king, 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.
  • redactions: additions by the redactor to harmonise the sources together; many of the uncertain passages may be part of this
  • 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 relationship between these sources is uncertain, though it is generally agreed that many of the various shorter sources were embedded into the larger ones before these were in turn redacted together. Though a slim majority of scholars disagree, many academics have proposed that several of the sources are continuations of others, such as the jerusalem source, and royal source being in some way continuous with one another, and the prophetic source and sanctuaries source being likewise continuous with each other. Some, most recently Richard Elliott Friedman, have proposed that the sources were originally parts of the same texts as the Elohist, Yahwist, and possibly Priestly, sources of the Torah, with the court history of David being considered part of the Yahwist text. What is definitely considered likely is that the deuteronomist is the one which redacted together these sources into the Books of Samuel.

Currently, the verses attributed to these sources are:

  • jerusalem source: 2 Samuel 5:6-16, 6:9-20
  • republican source: 1 Samuel 9:1-10:16, 11:1-11, 11:15, 13:1-14:52, 16:14-23, 18:6-11, 18:20-27, 19:11-21:1, 21:11-16, 25:1b-25:43, 28:3-25, 31:1-13, 2 Samuel 1:1-5, 1:8-12, 2:1-3:1, 3:6-33a, 3:34b-5:2, 5:17-25, 21:15-22
  • court history of David: 2 Samuel 9:1-20:26, 1 Kings 1:1-2:46
  • sanctuaries source: 1 Samuel 4:1-7:1
  • monarchial source: 1 Samuel 1:1-3:21, 8:1-22. 10:17-24, 17:1-18:5, 18:12-19, 18:28-19:10, 21:2-10, 22:1-23, 26:1-28:2, 29:1-30:31, 2 Samuel 1:6-7, 1:13-16
  • redactions: 1 Samuel 2:27-36, 7:2b-16, 11:12-14, 12:1-25, 15:1-35, 2 Samuel 7:1-29
  • various: 2 Samuel 1:17-27; 3:2-5; 3:33b-34a; 22:1-51; 23:1-7; 23:8-24a; 23:24b-39; 24:1-25
  • uncertain: 1 Samuel 7:2a, 7:17, 10:25-27, 16:1-13, 23:1-25:1a, 2 Samuel 6:1-8, 6:21-23, 8:1-18, 21:1-14

Within these, there are sometimes what appear to be very minor redactions. For example, 1 Samuel 1:20 explains that Samuel is so called because his mother had asked Yahweh for him; however Samuel means name of God, and it is Saul that means asked; this has suggested to many biblical critics that the narrative originally concerned Saul at this point, a later editor substituting Samuel's name. There are also several points in the masoretic text that appear more obviously corrupted in comparison to the septuagint version.

[edit] Tribes and peoples

Although most traditional interpretations of Jewish history view the Israelites as the ancestors of both the Kingdom of Israel and that of Judah, which arose only after David's rule, and Hebrews as an alternative name for them, the text makes a strong distinction between Hebrews, Judahites, and Israelites:

  • Israelites consistently refers to Saul's forces. It also is used to refer to the supporters of the rebellions against David's reign, in contrast to his supportes.
  • Judahites consistently refers to David's supporters during the rebellions against his rule, in contrast to the rebels.
  • Hebrews is consistently used to designate a group that are separate and distinct to the Israelites and Judahites, and who sometimes take the side of the Philistines against those of Israel and Judah. It is weakly associated with Jonathan initially, and then more strongly with David's band of outlaws.

An additional curiosity is that none of the three terms are ever described as representing groups which were ever part of one another, suggesting that Israel, Judah, and the Hebrews, had always been three distinct groups, rather than divisions that arose from a once united peoples.

When referring to the northern tribes of Israel, Gilead and Jezreel are listed amongst three other tribes, rather than being treated strictly as locations. In accordance with evidence of this kind elsewhere, all attributed by scholars to the earliest sources, such as in the Song of Deborah, some scholars have concluded that the tribal system wasn't rigidly the 12 tribes now referred to as the tribes of Israel, but actually evolved over a period of time. The different tribal structures being visible by virtue of the different dates of sources hypothesised under textual criticism. The four following aspects are usually amongst such proposals:

  • Gilead, Jezreel, and Joseph were originally three tribes in the confederation
  • Jezreel later split into Zebulon and Issachar
  • Gilead later split into Machir, Gad, and Reuben
  • Machir later merged with part of Joseph to form Manasseh, while the other part split off to become Ephraim

[edit] In Islam

The Qur'an also contains elements of the books of Samuel. The stories of David and Goliath and the appointment of King Saul are told (see Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an).

[edit] External links

This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.zh-min-nan:Sat-bó·-jíⁿ-kì ca:Llibres Samuel cs:1. kniha Samuelova de:1. Buch Samuel et:Saamueli raamatud es:I Samuel eo:Samuel (libro unua) fr:Premier livre de Samuel ko:사무엘 상 id:Kitab 1 Samuel it:Libri di Samuele he:ספר שמואל jv:I Samuel nl:I en II Samuel ja:サムエル記 pl:1 Księga Samuela pt:I Samuel ru:Книга Царств scn:1 Samueli sk:Knihy Samuelove fi:Ensimmäinen Samuelin kirja sv:Första Samuelsboken zh:撒母耳记

Books of Samuel

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