Samuel, Book of
SAMUEL, BOOK OF
SAMUEL, BOOK OF , the eighth book of the Hebrew Bible and the third in the subdivision known as the Former Prophets. Originally a single unit, the Septuagint and the Vulgate divide the book in two, titling the resulting parts First and Second Kingdoms (i and ii Samuel), followed by Third and Fourth Kingdoms (i and ii Kings). In the later Vulgate tradition "Kingdoms" becomes "Kings." Hebrew manuscripts continued to treat Samuel as one book until the introduction of the printed Bible in the 15th century, when the division into i and ii Samuel was accepted. English Bibles follow the same division, i and ii Samuel appearing in ninth and tenth positions (Ruth intruding after Judges as in lxx).
Title, Authorship and Text
The title of the book (or books) in the Hebrew canon is Samuel, no doubt because Samuel is the first major personality to appear in it rather than because of any theories of authorship such as we encounter in i Chronicles 29:29 and Bava Batra 14b–15a (cf. i Samuel 10:25). In fact, the title of the book has no serious bearing on authorship. It is now generally agreed that the finished form of the book comes from the hand of a Deuteronomic compiler in the sixth century b.c.e. It has often been surmised that one or more of the sources in Samuel were written by a high official(s) in the court of David or Solomon, such as *Abiathar the priest, or *Jehoshaphat the mazkir, or Ahimaaz son of Zadok the priest (for Ahimaaz was himself one of Solomon's provincial governors; i Kings 4:15). That a royal official was responsible for the archival materials is certain, and it is plausible that such an official wrote some of the extended narrative sources; but no exact identification is compelling.
The text of Samuel has been badly preserved in the Masoretic Text, apparently because the book fell into neglect in some circles once a more idealized version of the same period was provided by Chronicles. Fortunately the Masoretic Text of Samuel can be frequently corrected with the help of Chronicles and of the Septuagint. The discovery at Qumran of portions of Samuel in a Hebrew text that closely corresponds to the Septuagint enhances the value of the Greek version for textual criticism of Samuel, in that the Septuagint now appears to have relied upon a generally more accurate Hebrew text tradition than has been preserved in the Masoretic Text.
Contents and Major Themes
The narrative of Samuel, chiefly concerned with the rise and succession of rulers in the early united monarchy of Israel, falls into divisions determined by the succession of principals who provide the central action. Complexity is introduced by the fact that the protagonists (Samuel, Saul, David) are involved in intricate relationships or interdependence and rivalry. When David emerges triumphant, the dynamics shift toward the king's relations with his sons. A division based on the principals may be schematized as follows:
(1) i Samuel 1–7 – Samuel.
(2) i Samuel 8–15 – Samuel and Saul.
(3) i Samuel 16–31 – Saul and David.
(4) ii Samuel 1–8 – David's rise to power.
(5) ii Samuel 9–20 and i Kings 1–2 – Court history or succession story of David.
(6) ii Samuel 21–24 – Appendix concerning the reign of David.
Number (6) was inserted before the end of (5) as a dramatic summary of the rule of David. This had the effect of making the deathbed deliberations of David (now i Kings 1–2) an introduction to the reign of Solomon, and the division of the Deuteronomic history into separate books recognized this fact by beginning a new book with it.
The basic narrative tells how the monarchy arose and how the line of kings was maintained in early Israel (see *History). The thematic stresses make it abundantly clear, however, that the chief interest is not in giving an account for future historical reference. Annalistic materials are included in the narrative but the overriding concern of the book is to establish the national-religious significance of the monarchy for Israel. The shaping of the materials themselves and the location of the book within the vast Deuteronomic history as the record of one phase in the history of Israel from Moses to the Exile, indicate that the intent is to assess the national-religious benefits and perils in monarchy, under the curse and blessing of Israel's God. The narrative is finally shaped by a later historical context in which Israel has lost the independent monarchy and, therefore, reads the record of the rise of the monarchy with critical questions in mind: In what way was the monarchy a gift of God? In what way was the monarchy a rejection of God? Can we identify the junctures at which the divinely granted monarchy became an occasion for apostasy? How does God overrule human sin? If Israel is to survive and be renewed as a people, what must be learned from the ambivalent experience of monarchical government?
Within the overarching set of questions posed by the Deuteronomic final stage of Samuel, many proximate thematic emphases emerge in complex sequences and patterns. Among the teeming monarchic sub-themes are the following: the triumph of David's dynastic line over Saul's; the triumph of one of David's sons over his brothers (Solomon over Absalom and Adonijah); the subduing of the enemies of Israel by Saul and David (Philistines, Amalekites, Transjordanian peoples, Arameans); the reward of Jonathan's loyalty to David (in his treatment of Mephibosheth); the giving way of the institution of judgeship to that of monarchy (Samuel both prepares for and loses out to Saul and David); prophecy as support for, and critique of, the king (Nathan and Gad); the securing of the unity of north and south by the establishment of the capital in Jerusalem; the installation of the ark in Jerusalem and the preparation for building of the Temple; the replacement of the line of Eli by the Zadokite priesthood and its immediate rival Abiathar; the expiation of the sins of kings (and of their sons and officials): as punishment for Saul's murder of Gibeonites, famine and the death of seven of his sons; as punishment for David's murder of Uriah, the death of Bath-Sheba's firstborn, the rebellion of Absalom, and the king's passive acceptance of the curse of Shimei; for Amnon's rape of Tamar, his death; for Absalom's rebellion, his death; for David's census, a plague and the building of an altar on the site of the future temple; for Joab's murder of Abner and Amasa, his death.
These sub-themes are joined, on the one hand, in the Deuteronomic Exilic context with its searching existential theological questions about the survival of Israel. They are anchored, on the other, in the immediate historical contexts in which the various single units and sub-blocs of the book emerge. The materials in Samuel, therefore, require examination in the light of the whole range of their traditional-historical development, in terms of the reasons for the preservation and compilation of the traditions and their meaning at each stage of development. They must be seen as the product of the history of Israel's ideas, as a series of widening reflections on the history of this people – particularly of its royal leaders and institutions – extended over more than five centuries from approximately 1000 to 550 b.c.e.
The Basic Building Units
Samuel is not a simple homogeneous composition by a single author, although a single hand shaped its final form. In order to understand the composition of the book, it is necessary to characterize the main kinds of primary literary units employed in it.
The majority of the basic units in Samuel are narratives which typically display unity of character, time, and place and a number of compositional features such as fondness for dialogue (sometimes expanded into lengthy disquisitions), repetition of formulas (keywords and refrains), framing by means of similar beginnings and endings (so-called "envelope" or "ring" composition), foreshadowing and retrospection, retardation of action, stylized descriptions of scene and action, and a predilection for certain numbers (notably three and seven).
For the most part, the separate narratives can be distinguished by their highly circumstantial treatment of events. At times, however, the narrative is compressed and abstract, serving to sum up a series of actions of one type or to point forward to subsequent events. The more compressed and abstract narratives are usually signs of an attempt to link up the more episodic narratives. The extent to which the distinguishable narratives form coherent sequences is a critical consideration for determining the existence of pre-Deuteronomic sources in Samuel.
Samuel contains poetic compositions which have been introduced into narratives as words attributed to characters in the story (i Sam. 2:1–10; 15:22–23; ii Sam. 1:17–27; 3:33–34; 20:1; 22:1–51; 23:1–7). The fact that some of these same poetic pieces appear in other contexts (ii Sam. 20:1 in i Kings 12:16; ii Sam. 22 in Ps. 18) and are often very general in their references, raises the question in each instance as to whether the composition should indeed be attributed to the speaker or even to his period or circle. The laments over Saul and Jonathan and over Abner are usually attributed by modern scholars to David; the Song of Hannah is usually not attributed to Hannah. The Song of David and David's "last words" probably stem from royal psalmic circles but whether from the time of David, or from David himself, is in doubt. The source of the lament over Saul and Jonathan is said to have been the Book of Jashar (ii Sam. I:18).
Speeches from God in the form of instructions or pronouncements are fairly common in Samuel, sometimes addressed directly to a person (i Sam. 3:11–14; 8:7–9; 9:15–16; 15:10–11; ii Sam. 7:4–7; 21:1; 24:11–12), but more often as a prophetic or cultic speech delivered to the addressee by a spokesman for God (i Sam. 2:27–36; 6:3–9; 8:10–18; 10:17–19; 12:6–17, 20–25; 17:45–47; ii Sam. 7:3, 8–16; 12:7–14; 24:13). The private and public forms of the oracle are complexly related in some contexts in typical messenger style, the private oracle instructing God's spokesman concerning what he is to say publicly. For the most part the oracles appear as elements within narratives, but, on occasion, they constitute virtually the entire literary unit (e.g., i Sam. 12; ii Sam. 7).
lists and annals
Frequently the narrative flow is broken by lists of persons, such as sons and officials of the king, or of foreign peoples and districts and cities in Israel. There are annals or annalistic summaries which catalog military or administrative actions. In their sharpest form the lists and annals stand as separate units (i Sam. 7:13–17; 14:47–52; ii Sam. 3:2–5; 5:13–16; 8:15–18; 20:23–26; 21:15–22; 23:20–39). More often they are subordinated stylistically to the narrative or are themselves expanded by narrative detail (i Sam. 13:1–3; 22:2; 30:26–31; ii Sam. 2:8–11; 5:4–5, 9, 17–25; 8:1–14; 12:26–31; 23:8–19; 24:5–9). The lists and annals read like materials drawn from official archives, sometimes expanded in a more popular narrative style. Literary devices for working the lists and annals into the narratives are numerous and intricate, as illustrated in ii Samuel 23 where a list of the three mighty men of David and a list of the 30 mighty men of David have been worked together with annalistic expansions concerning the three and concerning two of the 30. An inaccurate total of mighty men for the present form of the text is given as 37 (ii Sam. 23:39).
Other types of basic literary units may be noted. A prayer by David occurs at a climactic point in ii Samuel 7:18–29. On two occasions, accounts of alleged crimes requiring adjudication by the king are presented to David in order to serve as quasi-parables by which the king is tricked into condemning himself (ii Sam. 12:1–6; 14:4–17). Popular proverbs or rulings are frequent on the lips of figures in the narratives (i Sam. 10:12; 18:7; 19:24; 21:11; 24:13; 29:5; 30:24–25; ii Sam. 11:21; 20:18). Occasional explanatory remarks provide background information for understanding terms, situations, or practices which might otherwise be obscure to the reader (i Sam. 2:13–14; 9:9; 13:19–22; 28:3b; ii Sam. 13:18; 18:18).
It is widely agreed that the Book of Samuel received its finished form at the hands of the Deuteronomist, who constructed the great sequence of tradition down to Kings. However, the scope and details of the final composition and its relation to the preceding development of the contents are much disputed.
The question is whether the Deuteronomist simply compiled the separate units described above, supplying the necessary arrangement and links, or whether he made use of definite preexistent sub-blocs, or sources, so that his major contribution consisted in the articulation of the sources. Given that such sources existed, the question remains whether they can be delineated and whether they are at all related to the narrative sources which have been identified in Genesis through Numbers and perhaps also in Joshua and Judges (i.e., J and E sources). Another question is whether there was a pre-Deuteronomic edition of Samuel which the D compiler employed, expanding and deleting it in accordance with his purposes. In short, the problem is that of clarifying the process by which the distinguishable units of Samuel were linked up, either in stages or all at once, to form the extant edition.
At one extreme is the claim that the final compiler simply gathered totally separate narratives, poems, oracles, and other units and constructed his book. At the other extreme is the contention that the final compiler used a number of sources, each covering different parts of the story he wanted to tell. By arranging the sources consecutively or interweaving them, the impression of a continuous account was created.
The evidence for sizable pre-existent sources is cumulatively impressive. To be sure, the criteria for distinguishing these sources by their literary, historical, and ideological features cannot be applied with equally convincing results in all cases. Yet it is evident that Samuel is not simply a single compilation of random fragments. The materials cluster together in groupings and the constant features which link the units in the various clusters are not demonstrably Deuteronomic in origin.
Among the pre-Deuteronomic clusters which can be discerned in Samuel are the following:
(1) A story of the boyhood of Samuel (i Sam. 1–3) recites the birth and call of Samuel and the venality and prophesied doom of the priesthood of Eli.
(2) A story of the ark (i Sam. 4:1–7:2) recounts the capture of the ark, the deaths of Hophni, Phinehas, and Eli, the destruction which the captured ark visited on the Philistines, and the return of the ark, first to Beth-Shemesh and then to Kiriath-Jearim. ii Samuel 6:1–15 is the logical continuation of this story which the compiler moved to its present position because 20 years had elapsed between the placing of the ark in Kiriath-Jearim and its transfer to Jerusalem by David. Possibly, the original nucleus of ii Samuel, which seems to have anticipated how the ark would be placed in a temple, also belonged to the ark source.
(3) A story of Samuel and Saul and the rise of the monarchy associated with Mizpah and Ramah (i Sam. 7:3–12; 8:1–22; 10:17–27; 12:1–25; 15:1–35) is composed of units in which the oracles are dominant and in some cases almost crowd out narrative altogether. Samuel is the deliverer of the people from the Philistines, but, in his old age, the people call for a king rather than face the prospect of his corrupt sons becoming his successors. The kingship is condemned as contrary to God's will, and a description of the oppressive nature of kingship is supplied. Nevertheless, Saul is chosen as king by lot. Samuel gives a "farewell speech" affirming his just leadership, reviews the saving deeds of God in the past, and warns the people not to continue in the rebellion they have exhibited in demanding a king. Finally, when Saul fails to destroy all the Amale-kites and their booty in accord with the sacred ban, his rejection by God is announced by Samuel. The farewell speech of chapter 12 is worked and expanded by the d compiler, but its essential structure belongs to the older source. The units 7:3–12 and 15:1–35 are not so clearly of the same source as the other units but there are substantial if not conclusive reasons for including them.
(4) A story of Samuel and Saul and the rise of the monarchy associated with Gilgal (i Sam. 9:1–10:16; 13:1–14:46) is composed of narratives in which the oracular elements are more terse and more effectively subordinated to the narrative than in the Mizpah-Ramah source. Saul is selected by Samuel to be king at the direct initiative of God, the sign of his efficacy as king being his inspired participation in the prophesying of a band of prophets. Samuel sends Saul to Gilgal where he is to wait for seven days for further directions. At Gilgal the Philistine threat mounts, and Saul offers the sacrifices to initiate the war. Samuel arrives to condemn him for this independent sacral action and to announce Saul's rejection as king. Saul's and Jonathan's successes against the Philistines are then related. i Samuel 31 may also belong to this source since it describes the death of Saul with dignity and compassion. Less certain is the inclusion of i Samuel 28 in which Saul's recourse to a medium at En-Dor to raise up the spirit of Samuel is sympathetically presented. The problem in the present form of the story is that it is linked with the Amalek story of i Samuel 15, which may be the compiler's editorial adjustment.
i Samuel 11 is frequently assigned to the Gilgal story, but it is an erratic bloc that does not fit smoothly into either story of the rise of the monarchy. Conceivably, 11:1–11 belonged to the Gilgal source and had as its aim the demonstration of Saul's inspired military prowess against the Ammonites preparatory to his attacks on the more powerful Philistines. However, 11:12–15 can only be understood as yet another version of how Saul was made king, this time at Gilgal. The disruption of the story line is only imperfectly dealt with by the harmonizing reference, "Let us go to Gilgal, and there renew the kingdom" (11:14).
The remaining materials in Samuel may best be approached by demarcating the most obvious source first and then working backward to the less easily demarcated sections.
(5) An expiatory court history or succession story of David (ii Sam. 9–20; i Kings 1–2) consists of a series of beautifully proportioned episodes, expertly linked in a virtual novella (comparable to the Joseph story in Genesis), which focuses on the relation between David and his sons and specifically on the issue of which of David's sons will succeed him on the throne. The whole sequence is profoundly affected by the problem of David's expiation for his sin in murdering Uriah in order to possess Bath-Sheba. The death of Bath-Sheba's firstborn, the rape of Tamar and the death of Amnon, and the rebellion of Absalom and his death are connected with the initial sin of David. Joab's sin in killing Abner and Amasa is expiated by his death. The final sign that all David's wrongdoing has been adequately expiated is given in the raising of Solomon, his favorite son by Bath-Sheba, to the throne.
It is curious, however, that this superbly molded source lacks a clear beginning. ii Samuel 9 is usually assigned as the start because it introduced Mephibosheth who is integral to the story later on, and ii Samuel 10 is included because it accounts for the wars against Ammon in which Uriah perishes. However, ii Samuel 9 is not an adequate starting point for the source. Either the beginning has been lost or it is to be found somewhere between i Samuel 16 and ii Samuel 8. There are some clues in the court history that it may indeed have begun at an earlier point in David's life. In i Kings 2:5, David urges the death of Joab because he killed Abner, and Shimei's curse of David in ii Samuel 16:8 says, "yhwh has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul," which seems to make David responsible in his eyes for either the deaths of Saul and Jonathan or the death of Ishbaal, or both. These references may be construed to demonstrate that the court history went back at least to the story of Ishbaal and Abner (ii Sam. 3–4). Moreover, the common theme of making a claim to royal power by lying with the king's concubine appears not only in ii Samuel 16:20–22 and i Kings 2:13–25 but also in ii Samuel 3:6–11.
That parts of the court history may be present in sections of i Samuel 16–31 is hinted at by the way in which David's decision "to show kindness for the sake of Jonathan" to Mephibosheth alludes back to the covenant of David with Jonathan in i Samuel 18:1–4; 20:8, 14–17, 42. The story of David's acquisition of Abigail, wife of Nabal (i Sam. 25), is told in such a way as to constitute a dramatic foil to the manner in which he later acquired Bath-Sheba, wife of Uriah. So the possibility must be entertained that what is known as the court history is the culmination of a larger account of the public life of David which may have begun as early as ii Samuel 2 and perhaps even as early as i Samuel 16. If this is the case, the early parts have been excerpted and lack the tight cohesion of ii Samuel 9–20 and i Kings 1–2.
At this point it is necessary to consider the remaining materials in Samuel, extending from i Samuel 16 to ii Samuel 8. The segment in i Samuel gives an account of the anointing of David as king, by Samuel, his introduction to the court of Saul, his victories over the Philistines, Saul's growing jealousy, David's flight and exile in the Negev both as a freebooter and as a client of Achish of Gath, his marriage to Abigail, and the stroke of fortune by which he was saved having to fight with the Philistines against Saul in the latter's mortal defeat. Typical of these stories is a large number of doublets which repeatedly disturb the continuity: two versions of David's coming to Saul's court, two accounts of David's escape from Saul, two descriptions of David's desertion to the Philistines, two episodes concerning David's sparing of the life of Saul, and two explanations of the death of Saul.
These doublets are commonly seen as reflections of two parallel sources which are in turn linked with the two accounts of the rise of the monarchy and frequently regarded as segments of the j and e sources of the Pentateuch. The case for seeing two continuous sources in i Samuel 16 through all or part of ii Samuel is very insecure. The doublets when separated do not form two sources with anything like the cohesion of the two stories of the rise of the monarchy. If these materials were drawn from two continuous sources, they must have been drastically excerpted, and, if they formed the continuations of j and e, their reworking has been so extensive that their original forms are no longer discernible. It is possible, as noted above, that the court history did in fact once begin with the public emergence of David, but its unity prior to ii Samuel 9 has been shattered by the D compiler in two primary ways: for the period prior to David's enthronement the court history version of events was extracted and worked in with many other accounts of the same events (largely drawn from the various locales where the actions took place), and for the period of the early reign of David it was worked in with lists and annals, as well as with the end of the ark story transferred to ii Samuel 6–7.
The Deuteronomic Compiler
From the foregoing it may be concluded that the D compiler of Samuel had in hand the following major blocs of material: the story of the boyhood of Samuel, the story of the ark, the Mizpah-Ramah story of the rise of the monarchy, the Gilgal story of the rise of the monarchy, and the court history or succession story of David. In addition, he had access to court archives with lists and annals, some unattached poems and oracles, and a number of single (or paired) narratives concerning David which had not been drawn into any of the larger blocs.
There is no firm evidence that these preexistent materials had been arranged in parallel sources analogous to or a continuation of the pentateuchal sources. There is also no need to posit a pre-Deuteronomic linkage of the separate blocs in a larger composition. All the signs of editorial linkage can be explained either as the work of those who shaped each of the original blocs or as the work of the Deuteronomic compiler. Similarly, there is no basis for the claim that ii Samuel 21–24 was added by a post-Deuteronomic editor.
The essential method of composition of the compiler was to arrange the blocs in approximate chronological order and then to make adjustments where necessary by transferring units from one place to another in order to produce a better chronology or to associate themes, or by interweaving two accounts of the same chain of events. Thus the conclusion of the ark story in ii Samuel 6 (and perhaps the original ii Sam. 7) was moved to the proper chronological spot at the beginning of David's reign in Jerusalem. The section of the Mizpah story of the rise of the monarchy that told of Samuel's military exploits (i Sam. 7:3–12) was separated from the rest of the source by a summary of the work of Samuel (i Sam. 7:13–17), and the Mizpah version of the rejection of Saul (i Sam. 15) was placed after a summary of the work of Saul (i Sam. 14:47–52). The two stories of the rise of the monarchy were joined by splicing the Gilgal version into the Mizpah version in an effort to make them continuous. Portions of the Gilgal story were put at later points in the account since they told of the latter days of Saul (i Sam. 28:1–25; 31:1–13).
Into the resulting basic framework composed of the joined, interwoven, and readjusted blocs, the compiler introduced lists, annals, poems, and single or paired narratives at appropriate points. i Samuel 11:12–15 supplied yet a third version of the enthronement of Saul. Several duplicate accounts concerning the early fortunes of David (including some from the probable beginning of the court history) were introduced into an account of David's rise to power, from i Samuel 16 on. Lists of David's officials and sons and annalistic accounts of his wars were inserted into the materials that told of his early reign at Hebron and Jerusalem (ii Sam. 2–8).
An impression of unity was given to the resulting account by inserting annalistic summaries of the external and internal accomplishments of the chief leaders at crucial junctures in the overall story: of Samuel, in i Samuel 7:13–17; of Saul, in i Samuel 14:47–52; of David, in ii Samuel 8 and again in ii Samuel 20:23–26; 21:15–22; 23:8–39. It is noteworthy that in each instance the summary comes long before the leader described actually disappears from the story. These summaries are in fact alerting devices which indicate to the reader that a new phase of the story has been reached in which a different balance in the relationships among the principals is to be expected. After Samuel's "summary," he is important only as the one who prepares for Saul and David. After Saul's "summary," he is important only as the one who decreases as David increases in importance. After David's initial "summary," he is secure on his throne in Jerusalem, and the interest shifts to which of his sons will gain the succession; after David's final "summary," the stage is set for the entrance of Solomon as the new monarch.
Apart from these annalistic summaries, there are a few framework-like notes (in the manner of Judges and Kings) and a few harmonizing additions. By and large, the d compiler refrains from rewriting or inserting extensive interpretations of his own. i Samuel 12 and ii Samuel 7 display the fullest rewriting or expansion on the part of d, and even there the extent of the d work is debated. The compiler was largely content to let the edited story speak for itself once it was placed within the comprehensive framework of Deuteronomy through Kings. The materials in ii Samuel 21–24 which separate the end of the succession story (i Kings 1–2) from the main body (ii Sam. 9–20) are arranged in a chiastic structure as follows:
a. Narrative of the expiation of Saul's murder of Gibeonites.
b. Annalistic report of the battles of David's heroes with Philistines.
c. Song of David.
c1. Last words of David. B1. Annalistic report of battles with Philistines and lists of David's heroes.
a1. Narrative of the expiation of David's census-taking. The appendix should be read with the three pairs arranged in the order: c–c1; b–b1; a–a1. The center of the supplement is the innermost pair of poems which extol the virtues of the king as military and judicial leader and which are grouped on formal analogy with the Song of Moses (Deut. 32) and the Blessing of Moses (Deut. 33). From this center the lines radiate outward, both forward and backward, through two paired layers of tradition: exploits of David's heroes, which portrays the king as military leader; and successful expiations of guilt, in one of which David satisfies God by delivering up members of the guilty family and in the other he himself submits humbly to the judgment of God. The resulting thematically radiating chiasm is an impressive dramatic summation which brings the story of David to its effective climax.
Historical and Religious Value
Samuel is a source of incalculable importance for the understanding of the circumstances of the rise and establishment of the monarchy in Israel and for a grasp of the various ethical-religious valuations placed upon that institution by ancient Israel. Clearly there is no simple homogeneous historical account in Samuel nor is there a single undifferentiated religious perspective. Yet there is ample evidence of a firsthand nature to reconstruct the main stages in the evolution from the tribal league to the monarchy and to discern the domestic and foreign policies through which Saul and David established and consolidated power. There is also ample indication of the struggle to understand the monarchy in terms of the religious ideology of Israel. The Mizpah and Gilgal stories of the rise of the monarchy and the oracle of ii Samuel 7 are classical texts for this inquiry. The former assumption of scholars that all the pro-monarchical materials in Samuel are early and all the anti-monarchical materials are late (i.e., at least post-Solomonic) is now generally discarded. It is recognized that divergent attitudes toward the monarchy were present from earliest times and that, if anything, the anti-monarchical religious sentiments were more persuasive in the time of Saul than were the pro-monarchical religious sentiments.
Likewise, the d compiler is seen to entertain a highly ambivalent stance toward the monarchy. In fact he reads the whole history of Israel from Saul to the Exile in terms of the paradoxical reality that the God-given monarchs again and again violated the will of God but, thanks to the divine grace, the line of David was continued. d's reading of Israel's history in terms of the divine curse and the divine blessing incorporates the disparate blocs of material in Samuel in such a way that even the apparently "profane" court history of David appears as an instance of the conflict between disobedience and obedience and their active consequences in curse and blessing. The d compiler was able to give this effect largely by periodizing the separate blocs within the total framework of his ethical-theological interpretation of history (notably expressed in the programmatic prospectus of Deuteronomy and in the framework of Judges and Kings). While the developed schematic form of his evaluation can be distinguished from the earlier more naive or one-sided interpretations in his sources, it is evident that the early sources and the circles they stemmed from were already shaped by a troubling mixture of gratitude and praise for the kingship, on the one hand, and of misgiving and tormented conscience toward that same institution, on the other hand. To one degree or another, the historical and religious origins of the monarchy as preserved in Samuel attest the compiler's judgment: Israel's king is both the anointed of God and a man of bloodguilt.
commentaries: K. Budde (Ger., 1890, Eng., 1894); H.P. Smith (Eng., 1899, icc); A.R.S. Kennedy (Eng., 1904); H. Gressmann (Ger., 19212); G.B. Caird et al. (Eng., 1953); H.W. Hertzberg (Ger., 19602, Eng., 1964). general studies: S.R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel (19132); O. Eissfeldt, Die Komposition der Samuelsbuecher (1931); L. Rost, Die Ueberlieferung von der Thronnachfolge Davids (1926); I. Hylander, Der literarische Samuel-Saul-Komplex (1932); M. Noth, Ueberlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien (1957); R.R.A. Carlson, David the Chosen King. A Traditio-Historical Approach to the Second Book of Samuel (1964); M.H. Segal, The Pentateuch, Its Composition and Its Authorship… (1967), 173–220. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Gevirtz, Patterns in the Early Poetry of Israel (1973); P.K. McCarter, iSamuel (ab; 1980); idem, ii Samuel (ab; 1984); R. Klein, iSamuel (Word; 1983); idem, in: dbi, 2:431–35; A. Anderson, 2 Samuel (Word; 1989); J. Fokkelmann, Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel, 4 vols. (1981–83); A. Brenner (ed.), A Feminist Companion to Samuel and Kings; S. Bar-Efrat, iSamuel (1996); idem, ii Samuel (1996); G. Keys, The Wages of Sin: A Reappraisal of the Succession Narrative (1996). medieval jewish commentaries: M. Cohen, (ed.), Mikra'ot Gedolot "Haketer" Sefer Shemuel (1993).
[Norman K. Gottwald]
"Samuel, Book of." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/samuel-book
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