The Books of Samuel,[a] 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, form part of the narrative history of Israel in the Nevi'im or "prophets" section of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, called the Deuteronomistic history, a series of books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) that constitute a theological history of the Israelites and aim to explain God's law for Israel under the guidance of the prophets. According to Jewish tradition, the book was written by Samuel, with additions by the prophets Gad and Nathan. Modern scholarly thinking is that the entire Deuteronomistic history was composed in the period c. 630–540 BC by combining a number of independent texts of various ages.
Samuel begins with the prophet Samuel's birth and God's call to him as a boy. The story of the Ark of the Covenant that follows tells of Israel's oppression by the Philistines, which brought about Samuel's anointing of Saul as Israel's first king. But Saul proved unworthy and God's choice turned to David, who defeated Israel's enemies, purchased the threshing floor (2 Samuel 24:24), where his son, Solomon built the Temple and brought the Ark to Jerusalem. God then promised David and his successors an everlasting dynasty.
The childless Hannah vows to Yahweh of hosts that if she has a son, he will be dedicated to him. Eli, the priest of Shiloh (where the Ark of the Covenant is located), blesses her, and a child named Samuel is born. Samuel is dedicated to the Lord as a Nazirite – the only one besides Samson to be identified in the Bible. Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, sin against God's laws and the people, of the priesthood and are killed in battle during the Battle of Aphek, but the child Samuel grows up "in the presence of the Lord."
The Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh and take it to the temple of their god Dagon, who recognizes 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 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 Joel and Abijah as judges, but because of their corruption the people ask for a king to rule over them. God tells Samuel to anoint David of Bethlehem as king, and David enters Saul's court as his armor-bearer and harpist. Saul's son and heir Jonathan befriends David and recognizes him as the 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 Jonathan are killed in battle at Mount Gilboa. At this point, David offers a majestic eulogy, where he praises the bravery and magnificence of both his friend Jonathan and King Saul.
The elders of Judah anoint David as king, but in the north Saul's son Ish-bosheth, or Ishbaal, rules over the northern tribes. After a long war, Ishbaal is murdered by Rechab and Baanah, two of his captains who hope for a 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 tells him that one of his sons will be the one to build the temple. David defeats the enemies of Israel, slaughtering Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, Syrians and Arameans.
David commits adultery with Bathsheba, who becomes pregnant. When her husband, Uriah the Hittite returns from battle, David encourages him to go home and see his wife but Uriah declines in case David might need him. David thus deliberately sends Uriah on a suicide mission; and for this, Yahweh sends disasters against his house. Nathan tells David that the sword shall never depart from his house. For the remainder of his reign there are problems. Amnon (one of David's sons) rapes his half-sister Tamar (one of David's daughters). Absalom (another son of David) kills Amnon, rebels against his father, and David flees from Jerusalem. Absalom is killed following the Battle of the Wood of Ephraim, David is restored as king, and he returns to his palace. Finally only two contenders for the succession remain, Adonijah, son of David and Haggith, and Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba.
The Second Book of Samuel concludes with four chapters (chapters 21 to 24) which lie outside the chronological narrative of Saul and David. The narrative is resumed with the first Book of Kings, which relates how, as David lies dying, Bathsheba and Nathan ensure Solomon's elevation to the throne.
The four supplementary chapters cover a great famine during David's reign, the execution of seven of Saul's remaining descendants, only Mephibosheth being saved, David's song of thanksgiving, which is almost identical to Psalm 18, his last words, a list of David's "mighty warriors", an offering made by David using water from the well of Bethlehem, David's sinful census, a plague over Israel which David opted for as preferable to either famine or oppression, and the construction of an altar on land he purchased from Araunah the Jebusite.
What it is now commonly known as 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are called by the Vulgate, in imitation of the Septuagint, 1 Kings and 2 Kings respectively. Then, what it is now commonly known as 1 Kings and 2 Kings would be 3 Kings and 4 Kings in old Bibles before the year 1516. It was in 1517 that use of the division we know now today used by Protestant Bibles and adopted by Catholics began. Some Bibles still preserve the old denomination, for example, the Douay-Rheims Bible.
1 and 2 Samuel were originally (and, in some Jewish bibles, still are) a single book, but the first Greek translation, called Septuagint and produced around the second century BC, divided it into two; this was adopted by the Latin translations used in the early Christian church of the West, and finally introduced into Jewish bibles around the early 16th century. The Hebrew text, that is used by Jews today, called the Masoretic text, differs considerably from the Hebrew text that was the basis of the first Greek translation, and scholars are still working at finding the best solutions to the many problems this presents.
According to passages 14b and 15a of the Bava Basra tractate of the Talmud, the book was written by Samuel up until 1 Samuel 25, which notes the death of Samuel, and the remainder by the prophets Gad and Nathan. Critical scholars from the 19th century onward have rejected this idea. Martin Noth in 1943 theorized that Samuel was composed by a single author as part of a history of Israel: the Deuteronomistic history (made up of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings). Although Noth's belief that the entire history was composed by a single individual has been largely abandoned, his theory in its broad outline has been adopted by most scholars.
The most common view today is that an early version of the history was composed in the time of king Hezekiah (8th century BC); the bulk of the first edition dates from his grandson Josiah at the end of the 7th BC, with further sections added during the Babylonian exile (6th century BC) and the work was substantially complete by about 550 BC. Further editing was apparently done even after then: for example, 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.
The 6th century BC authors and editors responsible for the bulk of the history drew on many earlier sources, including (but not limited to) an "ark narrative" (1 Samuel 4:1–7:1 and perhaps 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 oldest of these, the "ark narrative," may even predate the Davidic era.
The sources used to construct 1 and 2 Samuel are believed to include the following:
The Book of Samuel is a theological evaluation of kingship in general and of dynastic kingship and David in particular. The main themes of the book are introduced in the opening poem (the "Song of Hannah"): (1) the sovereignty of Yahweh, 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, Saul and David.
Samuel answers the description of the "prophet like Moses" predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15–22: like Moses, he has direct contact with Yahweh, acts as a judge, and is a perfect leader who never makes mistakes. Samuel's successful defense 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 is the chosen one, tall, handsome and "goodly", a king appointed by Yahweh, and anointed by Samuel, Yahweh's prophet, and yet he is ultimately rejected. Saul has two faults which make him unfit for the office of king: carrying out a sacrifice in place of Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8–14), and failing to exterminate the Amalekites, in accordance to God's commands, and trying to compensate by claiming that he reserved the surviving Amalekite livestock for sacrifice (1 Samuel 15).
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.
2 Samuel 23 contains a prophetic statement described as the "last words of David" (verses 1–7) and details of the 37 "mighty men" who were David's chief warriors (verses 8–38). The Jerusalem Bible states that last words were attributed to David in the style of Jacob (see Jacob's Blessing, Genesis 49) and Moses (see Blessing of Moses, Deuteronomy 33). Its editors note that "the text has suffered considerably and reconstructions are conjectural".
Books of Samuel
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Abigail (Hebrew: אֲבִיגַיִל, ’Ǎḇîḡayil) was the wife of Nabal; she became a wife of the future King David after Nabal's death (1 Samuel 25). Abigail was David's third wife, after Saul's daughter, Michal, whom Saul later married to Palti, son of Laish when David went into hiding, and Ahinoam.
She became the mother of one of David's sons, who is listed in the Book of Chronicles under the name Daniel, in the Masoretic Text of the Books of Samuel as Chileab, and in the Septuagint text of 2 Samuel 3:3 as Δαλουια, Dalouia. Her name is spelled Abigal in 2 Samuel 17:25 in the American Standard Version.Ahimaaz
Ahimaaz (Hebrew: אחימעץ ʾăḥîmaʿaṣ "My Brother Is Counselor") was son of the high priest Zadok.
He first appears in the reign of King David (reigned c. 1000-962 BCE). During Absalom's revolt he remained faithful to David, and assisted him by giving him news about the proceedings of Absalom in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:24-37; 17:15-21). He was a swift runner, and was the first to bring David news of the defeat of Absalom, although he refrained from mentioning his death (2 Samuel 18:19-33).
Under King Solomon (c. 970–930 BCE), Ahimaaz's father Zadok became high priest. When Zadok died, Ahimaaz succeeded him in that position (1 Chronicles 6:8, 53).
He may have been the same Ahimaaz who took as wife Basemath, one of Solomon's daughters (1 Kings 4:15). Subsequent kings of Israel, Ahaz, also married daughters of the high priest.Bathsheba
Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, according to the Hebrew Bible. She is most known for the biblical narrative in which she was summoned by King David, who had seen her bathing and lusted after her. She was the mother of Solomon, who succeeded David as king, making her the Queen mother.David's Mighty Warriors
David's Mighty Warriors (also known as David's Mighty Men or the Gibborim; Hebrew: הַגִּבֹּרִ֛ים ha-Gibbōrîm) are a group of 37 men in the Hebrew Bible who fought with King David and are identified in 2 Samuel 23:8–38, part of the "supplementary information" added to the Second Book of Samuel in its final four chapters. The International Standard Version calls them "David's special forces".A similar list is given in 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 but with several variations, and sixteen more names.
The text divides them into the "Three", of which there are three, and "Thirty", of which there are more than thirty. The text explicitly states that there are 37 individuals in all, but it is unclear whether this refers to The Thirty, which may or may not contain The Three, or the combined total of both groups. The text refers to The Three and The Thirty as though they were both important entities, and not just an arbitrary list of three or 30-plus significant men.
Some textual scholars regard the passages referring to The Three and The Thirty as having come from either a source distinct to the main sources in the Books of Samuel, or being otherwise out of place. Since parts of the text have distinct stylistic differences from other portions—appearing as a list, as a series of character introductions, or as a flowing narrative—Some suspect that the passages may themselves be compiled from multiple source documents. Further, as 2 Samuel 23:23–24 reads "... David put him in command of his bodyguard. Asahel, brother of Joab. Among the thirty were...", the text is regarded as corrupted, and the middle of verse 23:24 (between the words Joab and Among) is generally presumed to have been lost (some translations move Among the thirty were to be before Asahel, which smooths over the issue).David and Jonathan
David (Hebrew: דָּוִד; Dāwīḏ or David) and Jonathan (Hebrew: יְהוֹנָתָן; Yəhōnāṯān or Yehonatan) were heroic figures of the Kingdom of Israel, who formed a covenant recorded 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, of the tribe of Judah, and Jonathan's presumed rival for the crown. David became king. The covenant the two men had formed eventually led to David, after Jonathan's death, graciously seating Jonathan's son Mephibosheth at his own royal table instead of eradicating the former king Saul's line.
The biblical text does not explicitly depict the nature of the relationship between David and Jonathan. The traditional and mainstream religious interpretation of the relationship has been one of platonic love and an example of homosociality. Some later Medieval and Renaissance literature drew upon the story to underline strong personal friendships between men, some of which involved romantic love and could be described as romantic relationships.
In modern times, some scholars, writers, and activists have emphasized elements of homoeroticism in the story. A number of groups made up of gay Roman Catholics trying to reconcile their faith with their sexuality have also adopted the names: Davide e Gionata (Italy), and David et Jonathan (France).Eli (biblical figure)
Eli was, according to the Books of Samuel, a High Priest of Shiloh. When Hannah came to Shiloh to pray for a son, Eli initially accused her of drunkenness, but when she protested her innocence, Eli wished her well. Hannah's eventual child, Samuel, was raised by Eli in the tabernacle. When Eli failed to rein in the abusive behavior of his sons, Yahweh promised to punish his family, resulting eventually in the death of Eli and his sons. Later biblical passages mention the fortunes of several of his descendants, and he figures prominently in Samaritan tradition.Ephod
An ephod (Hebrew: אֵפוֹד ’êp̄ōḏ; or ) was an artifact and an object to be revered in ancient Israelite culture, and was closely connected with oracular practices and priestly ritual.
In the Books of Samuel and Books of Chronicles, David is described as wearing an ephod when dancing in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:14, 1 Chronicles 15:27) and one is described as standing in the sanctuary at Nob, with a sword behind it (1 Samuel 21:9). In the book of Exodus and in Leviticus one is described as being created for the Jewish High Priest to wear as part of his official vestments (Exodus 28:4+, 29:5, 39:2+; Leviticus 8:7).
In the Book of Judges, Gideon and Micah each cast one from a metal. Gideon's was dishonored (Judges 8:26-27); Micah's was revered (Judges 17:5).Gad (prophet)
Gad () was a seer or prophet mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and the writings of Jewish historian Josephus. He was one of the personal prophets of King David of Israel and, according to the Talmudic tradition, some of his writings are believed to be included in the Books of Samuel. He is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 22:5 telling David to return from refuge in Moab to the forest of Hereth in the land of Judah.
The next biblical reference to Gad is 2 Samuel 24:11-13 where, after David confesses his sin of taking a census of the people of Israel and Judah, God sends Gad to David to offer him a choice of three forms of punishment.Gad is mentioned a final time in the Books of Samuel in 2 Samuel 24:18, coming to David and telling him to build an altar to God after God stops the plague that David had chosen as punishment. The place indicated by Gad for the altar is "in the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite".
1 Chronicles 21:18 tells of an encounter Gad had with the angel of the Lord.
A tomb attributed to Gad is located at Halhul.Goliath
Goliath ( gə-LY-əth) is described in the biblical Book of Samuel as a Philistine giant defeated by the young David in single combat. The story signified Saul's unfitness to rule, as Saul himself should have fought for Israel. Scholars today believe that the original listed killer of Goliath was Elhanan, son of Jair, and that the authors of the Deutoronomic history changed the original text to credit the victory to the more famous character, David.The phrase "David and Goliath" has taken on a more popular meaning, denoting an underdog situation, a contest where a smaller, weaker opponent faces a much bigger, stronger adversary.Hannah (biblical figure)
Hannah (; Hebrew: חַנָּה Ḥannāh "favor, grace") is one of the wives of Elkanah mentioned in the First Book of Samuel. According to the Hebrew Bible she was the mother of Samuel.Ish-bosheth
Ish-bosheth (Hebrew: אִֽישְׁבֹּשֶׁת, Ishboshet), also called Eshbaal (אֶשְׁבַּעַל, Eshbaal; also Ashbaal or Ishbaal), was one of the four sons of King Saul and the second king over the Kingdom of Israel, after the death of his father and three brothers at the Battle of Mount Gilboa.Joab
Joab (Hebrew יוֹאָב Modern Yo'av Tiberian Yôʼāḇ) the son of Zeruiah, was the nephew of King David and the commander of his army, according to the Hebrew Bible.Jonathan (1 Samuel)
Jonathan (Hebrew: יְהוֹנָתָן Yəhōnāṯān Yahuchanon or Yehonatan; or יוֹנָתָן Yonatan) is a heroic figure in 1 Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. A prince of the United Kingdom of Israel, he was the eldest son of King Saul as well as a close friend of David, who eventually succeeded Saul as king.
Like his father, he was a man of great strength and swiftness (2 Samuel 1:23), and he excelled in archery (1 Samuel 20:20, 2 Samuel 1:22) and slinging (1 Chronicles 12:2).Midrash Shmuel (aggadah)
Midrash Samuel (Hebrew: מדרש שמואל) is an aggadic midrash on the books of Samuel.Nathan (prophet)
For other biblical people with this name, see Nathan (given name).Nathan (Hebrew: נָתַן Nāṯan; Syriac: ܢܬܢ fl. c. 1000 BC) is a prophet in the Hebrew Bible.Psalm 142
Psalm 142 is the 142nd psalm of the biblical Book of Psalms in the Masoretic and modern numbering. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate/Vulgata Clementina, this psalm is Psalm 141 in a slightly different numbering system.
The text is presented as a prayer by David at the time he was hiding in the cave (part of the David and Jonathan narrative in the Books of Samuel). It is, consequently, used as a prayer in times of distress.Samuel
Samuel is a figure who, in the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, plays a key role in the transition from the period of the biblical judges to the institution of a kingdom under Saul, and again in the transition from Saul to David. He is venerated as a prophet by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In addition to his role in the Hebrew Scriptures, Samuel is mentioned in the New Testament, in rabbinical literature, and in the second chapter of the Qur'an, although here not by name. He is also treated in the fifth through seventh books of Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, written in the first century CE (AD).
He is first called the Seer in 1 Samuel 9:9.Saul
Saul (; Hebrew: שָׁאוּל – Šāʾūl, meaning "asked for, prayed for"), according to the Hebrew Bible, was the first king of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah. His reign, traditionally placed in the late 11th century BCE, marked a transition from a tribal society to statehood.Saul's life and reign are described in the Hebrew Bible. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel and reigned from Gibeah. He fell on his sword (committing suicide) to avoid capture in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, during which three of his sons were also killed. The succession to his throne was contested by Ish-bosheth, his only surviving son, and his son-in-law David, who eventually prevailed. According to the Hebrew text of the Bible Saul was thirty years old when he came to the throne and reigned for forty years, but scholars generally agree that the text is faulty and that a reign of twenty or twenty-two years is more probable.Witch of Endor
In the Hebrew Bible, the Witch of Endor is a woman Saul consulted to summon the spirit of prophet Samuel in the 28th chapter of the First Book of Samuel in order to receive advice against the Philistines in battle after his prior attempts to consult God through sacred lots and prophets had failed. The witch is absent from the version of that event recounted in the deuterocanonical Book of Sirach (46:19–20).
Later Christian theology found trouble with this passage as it appeared to imply that the witch had summoned the spirit of Samuel and, therefore, necromancy and magic were possible.