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Books of Samuel

SAMUEL, BOOKS OF. The Hebrew Book of Samuel, like the Hebrew Book of Kings, is in modern Bibles divided into two books, after the Septuagint and Vulgate, whose four books of "kingdoms" answer to the Hebrew books of Samuel and Kings. The connexion between the books of Samuel and Kings has been spoken of in the article KINGS (q.v.). These two books, together with Judges, are made up of a series of extracts and abstracts from various sources worked over from time to time by successive editors, and freely handled by copyists down to a comparatively late date, as the variations between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint show. The main redaction of Judges and Kings has plainly been made under the influence of the ideas of the book of Deuteronomy, and it was in connexion with this redaction that the history from the accession of Solomon onwards was marked off as a separate book (see Kiscs). In Samuel the Deuteronomistic hand is much less prominent, but in 1 Sam. vii. 2-4, and in the speech of Samuel, ch. xii., its characteristic pragmatism is clearly recognizable ; the nature of the old narrative did not invite frequent insertions of this kind throughout the story. So, too, the chronological system which runs through Judges and Kings is not completely carried out in Samuel, though its influence can be traced (1 Sam. iv. 18, vii. 2, xiii. 1 sq., xxvii. 7, 2 Sam. ii. 10 sq., v. 4 sq.). In 1 Sam. xiii. 1, in the note " Saul was years old when he became king and reigned [two] years over Israel " (lacking in LXX.), one of the numbers has been left blank and the other has been falsely filled up by a mere error of the text ; the similar note in 2 Sam. ii. 10 seems also to have been filled up at random ; it contradicts and disturbs the context. But, though the book of Samuel has been much less systematically edited than Kings, unsystematic additions to and modifications of the oldest narratives were made from time to time on a very considerable scale, and in this book, as in Judges, we not seldom find two accounts of the same events which not only differ in detail but plainly are of very different date.

The book as a whole may be divided into three main sections : - (1) Samuel and Saul, 1 Sam. i.–xiv.; (2) Vie rise and kingdom, of David, 1 Sam. xv.-2 Sam. viii.; (3) The personal history of David's court at Jerusalem (mainly examined in the article ISRAEL, a very brief resume of the contents of each of the main sections must here suffice.

The story of Samuel's birth, consecration to the service of the sanctuary at Shiloh, and prophetic calling (1 Sam. i.–iii.) connects itself through the prophecy of the rejection of the house of Eli (iii. 11 sq.) with the history of the disaster of Ebenezer and the capture and restoration of the ark (iv. 1–vii. 1). But the second of these two sections does not seem to have been originally written as the sequel to chaps. i.–iii. ; in it we lose sight of Samuel and his prophecy altogether. The song of Hannah (ii. 1-10) and the prophecy of the nameless man of God (ii. 27-36) are later insertions (see Wellhausen-Bleek, Elul., p. 207).

Chap. vii., with its Deuteronomistic introduction (verses 2-4) and its account of a victory at Ebenezer (the counterpart of the defeat in chap. iv.) which delivered Israel from the Philistines during all the days of Samuel, is inconsistent with the position of the Philistine power at the accession of Saul. The chapter in its present form must be late, though hardly post exilic, and it is the necessary introduction to the later and less authentic account of the way in which Saul came to the kingdom (chaps. viii., x. 17– 27, xii.). It should be noted, however, that, though Samuel is taken by the late narrator to have a widespread authority, inconsistent with the facts disclosed in the older narrative of the choice of Saul, the sphere assigned to him in vii. 16, 17 is very narrow and agrees with chap. ix.

Of the beginnings of the kingship of Saul we have a twofold account, the older being that in ix. 1–x. 16, xi. The relative value of the two accounts has been already discussed in IsuAEL, vol. xiii. p. 403. The older history is continued in chaps. xiii., xiv., but here xiii. 7b-15 - a doublette of the account of the rejection of Saul in chap. xiv. - is certainly foreign to the original context. The summary of Saul's exploits in xiv. 47 sq. is written by an admirer, who appears to ascribe to him some of David's victories. But this does not affect the value of the preceding more detailed narrative,iwhich is plainly based on a full and authentic tradition.

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