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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Samuel, First and Second Books of.
These two historical portions of Scripture, in all the editions of the original and versions, immediately precede the books of Kings, and are intimately connected with them. There is less critical dispute concerning them than respecting those books that precede them.
I. Name and Division. — The books so called received this name (which is now customarily attached to them in Hebrew printed texts) subsequently to the completion of the Sept., in which their present name is Βασι λείων Πρώτη, Βασιλείν Δευτέρα (First and Second of Kings); and similarly in the Vulg. Hence they are entitled in the English version "The First [or Second] Book of Samuel, otherwise called the First [or Second] Book of the Kings." The name may in some measure be explained and justified on the ground that the early part of the first book is chiefly concerned about Samuel, and that the two kings Saul and David, whose reigns occupy all the rest of the books, were both anointed by Samuel to their office.
In Hebrew MSS. the work is one and not two. The present division was first made in the Sept., and was thence adopted into the Vulg. But Origen, as quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 6, 25), expressly states that they formed only one book among the Hebrews. Jerome (Proefatio in Libros Samuel et Malachim) implies the same statement; and in the Talmud (Baba Bathra, fol. 14, c. 2), wherein the authorship is attributed to Samuel, they are designated by the name of his book, in the singular number (ספרו שמואל כּתב ). After the invention of printing they were published as one book in the first edition of the whole Bible printed at Soncino in A.D. 1488, and likewise in the Complutensian Polyglot printed at Alcala, A.D. 1502-1517; and it was not till the year 1518 that the division of the Sept. was adopted in Hebrew, in the edition of the Bible printed by the Bombergs at Venice. The work constitutes a separate and independent whole, and is not to be joined either with the book of Judges or with that of Kings, from which it differs by many important characteristics.
II. Contents. — The statements of the books of Samuel belong to an interesting period of Jewish history. The preceding book of Judges refers to the affairs of the republic as they were administered after the conquest, when the nation was a congeries of independent cantons, sometimes partially united for a season under an extraordinary dictator. As, however, the mode of government was changed, and remained monarchical till the overthrow of the kingdom, it was of national importance to note the time, method, and means of the alteration. This change happening under the regency of the wisest and best of their sages, his life became a topic of interest. The first book of Samuel gives an account of his birth and early call to the duties of a seer, under Eli's pontificate; describes the low and degraded condition of the people, oppressed by foreign enemies; proceeds to narrate the election of Samuel as judge; his prosperous regency; the degeneracy of his sons; the clamor for a change in the civil constitution; the installation of Saul; his rash and reckless character; his neglect of, or opposition to, the theocratic elements of the government. Then the historian goes on to relate God's choice of David as king; his endurance of long and harassing persecution from the reigning sovereign; the melancholy defeat and death of Saul on the field of Gilboa; the gradual elevation of the man "according to God's own heart" to universal dominion; his earnest efforts to obey and follow out the principles of the theocracy; his formal establishment of religious worship at Jerusalem, now the capital of the nation; and his series of victories over all the enemies of Judea that were wont to molest its frontiers. The annalist records David's aberrations from the path of duty; the unnatural rebellion of his son Absalom, and its suppression; his carrying into effect a census of his dominions, and the divine punishment which this act incurred; and concludes with a few characteristic sketches of his military staff. The second book of Samuel, while it relates the last words of David, yet stops short of his death. As David was the real founder of the monarchy and arranger of the religious economy; the great hero, legislator, and poet of his country; as his dynasty maintained itself on the throne of Judah till the Babylonian invasion, it is not a matter of wonder that the description of his life and government occupies so large a portion of early Jewish history. The books of Samuel thus consist of three interlaced biographies — those of Samuel, Saul, and David. The following are the details:
1. Israel under Samuel (1 Samuel 1-12; B.C. 1120-1093). — The parentage, birth, and consecration of Samuel (ch. 1); Hannah's prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10); the evil practices of the sons of Eli; a man of God predicts the troubles which shall befall Eli (1 Samuel 2:10-33); God calls Samuel in the night, and reveals to him the judgment of the house of Eli, to whom Samuel declares it (1 Samuel 3:1-18); Samuel is established to be a prophet in Shiloh (1 Samuel 3:19 to 1 Samuel 4:1); a battle of the Philistines with the; Israelites between Aphek and Eben-ezer; the Israelites, being defeated, send for the ark from Shiloh; another battle ensues, in which Israel is again smitten, the ark is taken, and the two sons of Eli slain; the news is carried to Eli, who dies; Ichabod is born (ch. 4); penalties inflicted on the Philistines on account of the ark of God; it is sent back with presents to Israel, first to Beth-she-mesh, and then to Kirjath- jearim (1 Samuel 5-7); the reformation under Samuel and the national assembly at Mizpeh (1 Samuel 7:2-6); the Philistines again invade Israel, but at the cry of Samuel the Lord discomfits them with thunder, and they are smitten before Israel; their conquests restored to Israel from Ekron to Gath, and peace established (1 Samuel 7:7-14); Samuel judges Israel in a circuit of four cities yearly (1 Samuel 7:15-17); becoming old, he makes his sons judges over Israel, but their conduct is bad (1 Samuel 8:1-3); the elders of Israel come to Samuel at Ramah and demand a king; Samuel protests, but by divine direction yields at length (1 Samuel 8:4-22); Saul, son of Kish, seeking the lost asses of his father, visits Samuel, who, forewarned by God of his coming, entertains him with honor, and on parting anoints him to be king, and gives him signs in confirmation, which come to pass; Samuel then calls an assembly at Mizpeh, and there Saul is publicly designated by lot to be king over Israel, but not acknowledged by all the people (1 Samuel 9, 10); the men of Jabesh-gilead, sending to Gibeah in their distress, Saul is roused to aid them, and gains a great victory over the Ammonites; then Saul is joyfully recognized as king by all the people at Gilgal, where Samuel renews the kingdom (1 Samuel 11); there Samuel addresses the people, vindicates his own conduct, and exhorts them to fidelity to God and their king; the miracle of thunder and rain at wheat harvest (1 Samuel 12).
2. Israel under King Saul (1 Samuel 13-31; B.C. 1093-1053). — Saul forms an army of two thousand men under his own command at Michmash, and one thousand under Jonathan at Gibeah; Jonathan smites the Philistine garrison at Geba, and the Philistines gather a great army; Israel is greatly distressed; Saul awaits Samuel at Gilgal, but begins to offer sacrifice before his arrival, for which act of disobedience he is rejected of God (1 Samuel 13:1-14); in the extremity of the times Jonathan and his armor bearer discomfit the Philistines at Michmash; in the general pursuit Jonathan tastes honey contrary to the command of Saul; his life is spared at the demand of the people (1 Samuel 8:15-14, 45); Saul's successes in war against the neighboring tribes; his children and relatives named (1 Samuel 14:46-52); Saul, commanded to exterminate Amalek, only partially obeys, and Samuel declares to him his rejection from the kingdom; Samuel and Saul finally part (1 Samuel 15); Samuel is sent to Bethlehem to anoint David, son of Jesse, to be king (1 Samuel 16:1-13); in consequence of Saul's malady, David is sent for to cheer him with music (1 Samuel 16:14-23); the Philistines and the Israelites arrayed for battle in the valley of Elah; Goliath challenges Israel, and is killed by David (1 Samuel 17); Jonathan and David make a covenant of friendship; Saul retains David near him, and sets him over his men of war; the women- singers give greater honor to David than to Saul, who is displeased, and seeks to destroy David (1 Samuel 18); Jonathan takes David's part and Michal also; David flees to Samuel at Ramah; they go together to Naioth; Saul sends messengers, and then goes himself to fetch David; they all prophesy (ch. 19); David visits Jonathan; they renew their covenant; Jonathan makes known to David by the device of the arrows Saul's determination to kill him; their parting (ch. 20); David flees to Nob, where he obtains the shewbread, and proceeds to Achish, king of Gath, and feigns madness; then to the cave of Adullam, to Mizpeh of Moab, and to Hareth; Saul kills Ahimelech and the priests by the hand of Doeg the Edomite (ch. 21, 22); David saves Keilah from the Philistines, but leaves it on the approach of Saul, and abides in the wilderness of Ziph, where Jonathan visits him; Saul is recalled from the pursuit of David by an invasion of the Philistines (1 Samuel 23); David in the wilderness of Engedi spares Saul's life (ch. 24); Samuel's death and burial; the narrative of Nabal and his wife Abigail (ch. 25); David again spares the life of Saul at Hachilab; he goes with six hundred men to Achish, king of Gath, who gives him Ziklag to dwell in the Philistines encamp against Israel; Saul in vain seeks counsel from God, and then has recourse to the witch of Endor; the princes of the Philistines refuse David's aid in battle (1 Samuel 26-29); David returns to Ziklag and finds it desolated; he pursues the Amalekites and recovers the spoil (ch. 30); the battle of Gilboa; Saul and his three sons die (ch. 31); the news of Saul's death reaches David at Ziklag, and calls forth his touching dirge or lamentation over Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1).
3. The Unsettled Succession, — Ishbosheth king of Israel, David of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1 to 2 Samuel 5:3; B.C. 1053-1046). — David is anointed king of Judah at Hebron; Ishbosheth is made king of Israel; the fight between the followers of David and of Ishbosheth by the pool of Gibeon (ch. 2); David's power increases in Hebron; six sons born to him there; Abner forsakes Ishbosheth, and makes terms with David to transfer the kingdom of Israel to him; is slain by Joab; David's lamentation over him (ch. 3); the head of Ishbosheth is brought by Rechab and Baanah to David, who punishes them for the deed (ch. 4); the tribes of Israel make David their king (2 Samuel 5:1-3).
4. Israel under King David (2 Samuel 5:4-24; B.C. 1046-1013). — David, after being king of Judah for seven vears and a half, reigns thirty- three years in Jerusalem over all Israel; he captures the fortress of Zion from the Jebusite, forms a friendship with Hiram king of Tyre, defeats the Philistines at Baal-perazim, and again from Geba unto Gazer (ch. 5); David brings up the ark of the Lord; the breach of Uzzah; the house of Obed- edom is blessed; the ark brought to Jerusalem; Michal derides David for dancing before the ark (ch. 6); David is forbidden to build a house for the Lord in a message brought to him by Nathan the prophet, who announces the establishment of his dynasty; David's prayer (ch. 7); his victories over the Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, etc., recited (ch. 8); his kindness to Mephibosheth (ch. 9); his victory over Bene-ammon (ch. 10); his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah; Nathan's parable; punishment denounced; David's penitence; the child dies; Solomon is born; David captures Rabbah of Bene-ammon (ch. 11, 12); the affair of Amnon and Tamar; Absalom's revenge and flight to Geshur; Joab artfully procures his return after three years' absence (ch. 13, 14); the rebellion of Absalom and the flight of David; the ark, the priests, and Hushai sent back to Jerusalem; the treachery of Ziba; the reviling of Shimei; conflicting advice given by Hushai and Ahitophel to Absalom, and Ahitophel's suicide (ch. 15-17); the battle in the forest of Ephraim; Absalom's death; David's great grief (ch. 18); David's return to Jerusalem; the conduct of Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai; the rivalry between Judah and Israel in bringing back the king (ch. 19); the rebellion of Sheba; Joab slays Amasa; Sheba's head given to Joab at Abel (ch. 20); the three years' famine, and the appeasement of the Gibeonites; the burial of the bones of Saul and his sons; the giants of the Philistines slain by David's servants (ch. 21); David's song (Psalms 18) (ch. 22); the last words of David; the names and exploits of his heroes (ch. 23); the numbering of the people and the pestilence (ch. 24).
III. Origin and Structure. — It is evident that Samuel could not be the author of the whole of these books, since his death is recorded in the 25th chapter of the first book, and the history continues after his death down to nearly the end of the reign of David, a period of perhaps forty-five years. There is a somewhat common opinion that the first twenty-four chapters were written by Samuel and the rest by Gad and Nathanan opinion founded on 1 Chronicles 29:29 : "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, are they not written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer?" There is much in the general structure of the books, (and in the relation of the several parts to each other, to render it probable that different writers, living at different times, were concerned in their production, notwithstanding the degree of uniformity which the style and language exhibit. The most reasonable supposition is: that they were the work of one compiler, who used historical records of various sources. This opinion, though held by nearly all modern critics, as Thenius, and even by Hä vernick and Keil, is not new, as Diodorus of Tarsus, Theodoret, St. Athanasius, and St. Gregory observed that the four books of Kings were historical abridgments of several books or memoirs of the prophets which are cited in them. The grounds on which this view of the origin of these books is based have, however, only in very recent times been fully expounded. Warning the reader against attaching undue importance to the evidence which has been adduced in proof of this position, his attention may nevertheless be directed to the following points:
1. There is considerable difference in the manner of the writers; some portions contrasting in their brief, fragmentary, chronological character with others which are more full and copious, and (in one part at least) minutely biographical (comp. 1 Samuel 5:1-12; 1 Samuel 8; 1 Samuel 20:15-22; 1 Samuel 23:8-29, with 2 Samuel 11-20).
2. In several places there may be perceived the conclusion of the original documents, to which additional matter has been attached, yet without being so joined as to appear like a natural continuation. In some places the compiler has placed together what he found narrated by different writers respecting the persons whose histories they wrote, without having so worked them up into one narrative as to harmonize all their parts (1 Samuel 7:15-17; 1 Samuel 14:47-52; 2 Samuel 8:15-18; 2 Samuel 20:23-26).
3. Of some events there appear to be double accounts recorded, and occasionally these accounts are different, and sometimes, apparently at least, inconsistent; as, for instance, how Saul became king (1 Samuel 9-10; 1 Samuel 16, and 1 Samuel 10:17-27); how and why Saul was rejected (1 Samuel 13:8-14; 1 Samuel 15:10-26); how David became known to Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-21, and 1 Samuel 17:55 to 1 Samuel 18:2); how David spared Saul's life (1 Samuel 24, 26); how David went over to the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Samuel 27:1-4); how the proverb "Is Saul also among the prophets?" arose (1 Samuel 10:9-13; 1 Samuel 19:22-24). It should here be remarked that these alleged discrepant passages, as well as many more which skeptical critics have adduced, need to be explained, whatever opinion may be held respecting the authorship of these books. As, for instance, the statement that Samuel (1 Samuel 7:15-17) was all his life long judge over Israel, but according to 1 Samuel 8:1-3 had surrendered the office to his sons (but see 1 Samuel 12:2); the occasion and the motives for demanding a king, as differently stated in 1 Samuel 8:5 and 1 Samuel 12:12; the two accounts of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1-10, and 2 Samuel 21:19); the double record of Samuel's death (1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Samuel 28:3); the two descriptions of the manner of Saul's death (1 Samuel 31:1-6 and 2 Samuel 1:1-10); the twofold account of the battle with the Syrians (2 Samuel 8, 10), etc. Such different, though not therefore discordant, portions of the work may probably be best explained on the assumption that the books consist of materials brought together from various sources. This origin may be granted, however, without admitting that there is any inconsistency or contradiction among the materials so joined together; just as in the case of the Gospel history, which is constituted by the separate narratives of four different, but not therefore discordant, writers. It is not the object of this article to explain the alleged inconsistencies, however completely that might be done. They are here mentioned only as they bear upon the question of authorship, and as they seem to indicate the use of a variety of materials by the author or compiler of these books.
4. The relation between the books of Chronicles and the books of Samuel is thought to point to the same conclusion. It can scarcely be maintained that the author of the Chronicles has derived from the books of Samuel all the materials for the narratives which are common to both works. There are so many variations between the history as related by the chronicler and as related in Samuel as to render it probable, not that the chronicler derived everything from Samuel, but that he had access to the sources used also by the compiler of Samuel. This may be explained by a comparison of 2 Samuel 5:1-10; 2 Samuel 23:8-39 with 1 Chronicles 11:12. The chronicler has placed in continuous narrative David's anointing as king of Israel at Hebron, the capture of Jerusalem, the building of the city of David, and the list of David's heroes, with their deeds, probably as he found them connected in the documents which he used; while in Samuel they are detached, the list of heroes being placed separately in the history of the latest period of the life of David. So in 1 Chronicles 3, the list of David's children is given in a form probably drawn from some official register to which the writer of Samuel had access, as he gives the list in two portions to suit the course of his narrative (2 Samuel 3, 2-5; 2 Samuel 5, 14-16).
5. The hand of a compiler is thought to be perceptible in certain detached observations here and there occurring in the course of the history, in the way of explanation of some portion drawn from the documents; as for example, in 1 Samuel 9:9, the expression הָרֹאֶה . is explained: For "the prophet" of today was called formerly "the seer." 1 Samuel 17:14-15, is regarded as an interposed remark, to connect this history with the account given in the previous chapter of the family of Jesse.
IV. The Sources. — Should these books then appear to be a compilation from several original documents, the interesting question arises, How far may it be possible to resolve the whole work into its constituent parts, so as to obtain some idea of the nature of the sources whence the parts were derived? Thenius has attempted to solve this difficult problem in the following way. On internal grounds he distinguishes five principal sources:
(a.) A History of Samuel, contained in 1 Samuel 1-7, which seems to conclude naturally as a separate and independent narrative, in which Samuel is altogether the principal person.
(b.) A History of Saul, comprised in the following portions: 1 Samuel 8; 1 Samuel 10:17-27; 1 Samuel 11; 1 Samuel 12; 1 Samuel 15; 1 Samuel 16; 1 Samuel 18:6-14; 1 Samuel 26; 1 Samuel 28:3-25; 1 Samuel 31. The materials derived from this source are interwoven with others derived from a third source, viz.:
(c.) A History of David, from which have been derived the following portions: 1 Samuel 14:52; 1 Samuel 17; 1 Samuel 18, in part; 19; 20; 21, in part; 22; 23; 24; 25; 27; 1 Samuel 28:1-2; 1 Samuel 29; 1 Samuel 30; 2 Samuel 1-5; 2 Samuel 7; 2 Samuel 8.
(d.) Another History of Saul, from which 1 Samuel 9; 1 Samuel 10:1-16; 1 Samuel 8; 1 Samuel, 14 have been drawn. This is regarded as an older and more strictly historical document than b, that being considered as of much later origin, and as founded on tradition.
(e.) Lastly, a Biography of David, embracing full details of the second half of his life, and recounting his family history (2 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 12:1-25; 2 Samuel 13-20).
The relation of 2 Samuel 21-24 to the preceding portions seems to be that of a supplement or appendix of matters not related in chronological order, nor having any close connection with each other.
There is doubtless very much hypercriticism in this account of Thenius. So far as authorities or sources are quoted in the books themselves, the matter is much more simple. To only one work is direct reference made, viz. to the book of the upright (Jasher), הִיָּשָׁר סֵפֶר (2 Samuel 1:18), elsewhere also quoted only once (Joshua 10:13), and, as both the quotations are in verse, the work is thought to have been a book of poems. (See JASHER, BOOK OF).
There are, however, certain parts of the books of Samuel which must have been derived either from verbal tradition or from some written documents, such, for instance, as the following poetical pieces: the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10); David's lamentation over Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:19-27); David's lament over Abner (2 Samuel 3:33-34); Nathan's parable (2 Samuel 7:1-4); a song or psalm of David (2 Samuel 22:2-51 [Psalms 18]); the last words of David (Psalms 23:1-6). To these must be added the lists of names and genealogies, etc.
It is said in 1 Chronicles 29:29, "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer." The old opinion as to the authorship of Samuel, to which we have already alluded, was founded on this quotation. The prophets were wont to write a history of their own times. That Samuel did so in reference to the great events of his life is evident from the statement that he "wrote the manner of the kingdom in a book, and laid it up before the Lord" (1 Samuel 10:25). The phrase דַּבְרֵי שְׁמוּאֵל, "words of Samuel," may not refer to our present Samuel, which is not so comprehensive as this collection seems to have been. It does not, like the treatise to which the author of Chronicles refers, include "the acts of David, first and last." The annals which these three seers compiled were those of their own times in succession (Kleinert, Aechtheit d. Jes. pt. 1, p. 83); so that there existed a history of contemporary events written by three inspired men. The portion written by Samuel might include his own life, and the greater part of Saul's history, as well as the earlier portion of David's career. Gad was a contemporary of David, and is termed his seer. Probably also he was one of his associates in his various wanderings (1 Samuel 22:5). In the latter part of David's reign Nathan was a prominent counsellor, and assisted at the coronation of Solomon. We have, therefore, prophetic materials for the books of Samuel. Hä vernick (§ 161) supposes there was another source of information to which the author of Samuel might resort, namely, the annals of David's reign — a conjecture not altogether unlikely, as may be seen by his reference to 2 Samuel 8:17, compared with 1 Chronicles 27:24. The accounts of David's heroes and their mighty feats, with the estimate of their respective bravery, have the appearance of a contribution by Seruiah, the scribe, or principal secretary of state. Out of such materials ample and authoritative, some of them written and some of them oral — the books of Samuel appear to be made up (Bunsen, Bibelwerk, pt. 2. p. 496; Karo, De Fontibus Librorum quoe feruntur Samuelis ).
V. Antiquity. — The external evidence carries the book only to the age of the Ptolemies, when the Sept. version was made, or possibly to the age of Nehemiah, if we may trust the apocryphal account of the foundation of a library by the latter (2 Maccabees 2:13). But the internal evidence is much stronger. The high antiquity of the books of Samuel, or of the sources whence they were principally derived, in comparison with that of the Kings and Chronicles, appears from the absence of reference to older sources or authorities in the former, such as is frequently made in the latter. It hence appears that the compiler did not live at any great distance from the events which he relates, and therefore does not deem it needful to refer his readers to sources already known to them; while the original sources have for the most part all the marks of having been written by persons contemporaneous with the events described. Against this opinion as to the early age of the books of Samuel, various objections have been brought. The phrase "unto this day" is often employed in them to denote the continued existence of customs, monuments, and names whose origin has been described by the annalist (1 Samuel 5:5; 1 Samuel 6:18; 1 Samuel 30:25). This phrase, however, does not always indicate that a long interval of time elapsed between the incident and such a record of its duration. It was a common idiom. Joshua (1 Samuel 22:3) uses it of the short time that Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh had fought in concert with the other tribes in the subjugation of Canaan. So, again, he (1 Samuel 23:9) employs it to specify the time that intervened between the entrance into Canaan and his resignation of the command on account of his approaching decease. Matthew, in his Gospel (1 Samuel 27:8, and 1 Samuel 28:15), uses it of the period between the death of Christ and the composition of his book. Reference is made in Samuel to the currency of a certain proverb (1 Samuel 10:12), and to the disuse of the term seer (1 Samuel 9:9), but in a manner which by no means implies an authorship long posterior to the time of the actual circumstances. The proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" was one which for many reasons would obtain rapid and universal circulation; and, if no other hypothesis be considered satisfactory, we may suppose that the remark about the term "seer" becoming obsolete may be the parenthetical insertion of a later hand; or, it may be that in Samuel's days the term nabi came to be technically used in his school of the prophets. (See PROPHET).
There is little reason for supposing that any part of the work was composed even so late as subsequently to the division of the kingdom. For the expression "Israel and Judah" (occurring 1 Samuel 11:8; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 3:10; 2 Samuel 5:5; 2 Samuel 24:1), which is claimed as proof of an origin after the division of the kingdom under Rehoboam, has no such force (as must be obvious from 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 2:9-10; 2 Samuel 2:17; 2 Samuel 2:28; 2 Samuel 18:6-7; 2 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 19:9, compared with 12, 15, 16), from which it is clear that the phrase, if not already in use, originated in the circumstances that at first only the tribe of Judah adhered to David, while the remaining tribes under the common name of Israel formed a separate kingdom for seven years and a half, under Ishbosheth, and afterwards for a short time under Absalom. There is, however, one passage, 1 Samuel 27:6, "Therefore hath Ziklag been to the kings of Judah till this day," which is not so clearly reconcilable with this view, unless it should prove to be a note added by a later hand.
With this claim to high antiquity the other internal evidence, so far as it goes, entirely agrees. In the unsettled times of the judges the observance of the ritual enjoined in the books of Moses had fallen greatly into disuse. Sacrifices which were lawful only before the door of the tabernacle were offered at many places, as at Mizpeh and Gilgal. No disapprobation of this practice is expressed in Samuel, though it very often is so in Kings. The Pentateuch seems to exert little influence on the habits of the people as described in Samuel, or on the ideas and language of the writers. There are, in; deed, fewer allusions to Moses and his writings in Samuel than in any other of the early books of Scripture. But this may doubtless be in part accounted for by the disorganized and somewhat anomalous state into which matters fell in consequence of the capture of the ark by the Philistines, and the essentially new era which was shortly afterwards introduced by the institution of the kingdom, with the stirring events that followed in the personal histories of Saul and David. The name of Moses occurs fifty-six times in Joshua, in Judges three, in Samuel two, in Kings ten, in Chronicles thirty-one. The law of Moses is never once named in Samuel.
The language is distinguished by its purity, and this also is an argument for the early origin of these books. A considerable number of words and forms of words are peculiar to them, and several occur which are found only in one other book besides. But it is unnecessary here to give lists of them.
VI. The Author or Compiler. — With the exception of a brief expression in the Talmud (Egyptian Gemara, A.D. 500, Baba Bathra, fol. 14), שמואל כהב ספרו (" Samuel wrote his book"), there is no opinion expressed by antiquity respecting the name of the author. No mention is made of it in the books of Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles, or in any part of the Bible. Nor is it named in the Apocrypha or in Josephus. The work is generally attributed to some competent historian, who availed himself of authentic documents in preparing it. Some writers, as Abarbanel and Grotius, ascribe it to Jeremiah, some to Ezra, and some to Isaiah. There is not nearly so much probability that Jeremiah compiled the books of Samuel (as is argued at some length by Hitzig, Die Psalmen, p. 48-85) as there is that he was the writer of the books of Kings. There is much greater dissimilarity of language, style, and spirit between Samuel and Jeremiah than between Kings and Jeremiah. The great number of words and forms of words peculiar to this work point out a distinct author and age, and it would seem most likely that it was compiled in an early period after the death of David, and previously to the rending of the kingdom under Rehoboam; unless the opinion which has widely prevailed in the Christian Church should be finally adopted, that the work begun by Samuel was carried on and finished before the death of David by Nathan and Gad, or that it was the work of some member of the school of the prophets who had personal knowledge of the events which he narrates. If, however, this theory cannot be maintained, and there should be grounds for supposing that the compiler lived not earlier than the times of Rehoboam (see Thenius on 2 Samuel 8:7; 2 Samuel 14:27), still it must be acknowledged that the materials which he used were of earlier date, and must for the most part have been written by persons who were contemporaneous with the events. It appears certain that memoirs were written by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad (see 2 Chronicles 29:29), and perhaps also by other members of the schools of the prophets, although it may not be equally certain that those memoirs are identical with the present books of Samuel. The fact that a recorder or remembrancer (מִזְכַּיר ), whose office it was to prepare memoirs or annals of passing events, is mentioned early among the household of David, is not without an important bearing on this question. It is clear that the authors of the original documents, if not of the work itself, must have occupied such positions of honor and influence as gave them ample opportunity of knowing the events of the times in which they wrote. Such minute details as we find, for instance, in the history of David, belonging rather to his private than to his public life — the story of Bathsheba, of David's behavior on the death of her child, of Amnon and Tamar, of the secret sending to the priests from Mahanaim, etc. — bespeak perfectly well instructed writers, who had access to the best sources of information.
Stä helin (Einleit. § 25, etc.) conjectures that a large portion of Samuel was written by the author of the Pentateuch and of the books of Joshua and Judges. But continuity of history in the same form does not prove identity of authorship, nor are the similar phrases found in these books sufficient in number or characteristic idiom to support the theory. Nay, Samuel is free from the so called Chaldaisms of Judges and the archaisms of the Pentateuch. The peculiar theory of Jahn, on the other hand, is that the four books of Samuel and Kings were written by the same person, and at a date so recent as the 30th year of the Babylonian captivity. His arguments, however, as well as those of Eichhorn (Einleit. § 468), and Herbst (Einleit. 2, 1-139), who hold a similar view, are more ingenious than solid (introduction, § 46). The fact of all the four treatises being named "Books of Kings" is insisted on as a proof that they were originally undivided and formed a single work — a mere hypothesis, since the similarity of their contents might easily give rise to this general title, while the more ancient appellation for the first two was The Books of Samuel. Great stress is laid on the uniformity of method in all the books. But this uniformity by no means amounts to any proof of identity of authorship. It is nothing more than the same Hebrew historical style. The more minute and distinctive features, so far from being similar, are very different. Nay, the books of Samuel and Kings may be contrasted in many of those peculiarities which mark a different writer:
(a.) In Kings there occur not a few references to the laws of Moses; in Samuel not one of these is to be found.
(b.) The books of Kings repeatedly cite authorities, to which appeal is made, and the reader is directed to the "Acts of Solomon," "the book of the Chronicles of Kings of Israel," or "Judah." But in the books of Samuel there is no formal allusion to any such sources of information.
(c.) The nature of the history in the two works is very different. The plan of the books of Samuel is not that of the books of Kings. The books of Samuel are more of a biographical character, and are more limited and personal in their view.
(d.) There are in the books of Kings many later forms of language. For a collection of some of these the reader is referred to De Wette (Einleit. in das A.T. § 185, note e). Scarcely any of those more recent or Chaldaic forms occur in Samuel. Besides, some peculiarities of form are noted by De Wette (§ 180), but they are not so numerous or distinctive as to give a general character to the treatise (Hirzel, De Chaldaismi Bibl. Origine, 1830). Many modes of expression common in Kings are absent from Samuel (Keil, Einleit. § 53). (See KINGS, BOOKS OF).
(e.) The concluding chapters of the second book of Samuel are in the form of an appendix to the work — a proof of its completeness. The connection between Samuel and Kings is thus interrupted. It appears, then, that Samuel claims a distinct authorship from the books of Kings. Stä helin, indeed, supposes that the present division between the two treatises has not been correctly made, and that the two commencing chapters of 1 Kings really belong to 2 Samuel. This he argues on philological grounds, because the terms והפלתי והכרתי (1 Kings 1:38), מלט נפש (1 Kings 1:12), and נפש פדה (1 Kings 1:29) are found nowhere in Kings but in the first two chapters, while they occur once and again in Samuel. There is certainly something peculiar in this affinity, though it may be accounted for on the principle that the author of the pieces or sketches which form the basis of the initial portions of 1 Kings not only composed those which form the conclusion of Samuel, but also supervised or published the whole work which is now called by the prophet's name.
Thus the books of Samuel have an authorship of their own — an authorship belonging to a very early period. While their tone and style are very different from the later records of Chronicles, they are also dissimilar to the books of Kings. They bear the impress of a hoary age in their language, allusions. and mode of composition. The insertion of odes and snatches of poetry, to enliven and verify the narrative, is common to them with the Pentateuch. They abound in minute sketches and vivid touches. As if the chapters had been extracted from a diary, some portions are more fully detailed and warmly colored than others, according as the original observer was himself impressed. Many of the incidents, in their artless and striking delineation, would form a fine study for a painter.
VII. The Object. — So far as the compiler of these books might be conscious of a direct aim in his work, producing it, as doubtless he did, under the impulse and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it might be his endeavor to continue the history of the chosen people, and especially to record the remarkable change which was effected in the method of the divine government, when the God of Israel ceased to rule the people by judges, and permitted them to be governed by kings, as were the other nations of the earth. In pursuing this object the writer took care to point out the important distinction which was to be maintained between the kings of Israel and those of other nations, in the separation of the civil from the ecclesiastical, or the secular from the religious authority; and also to describe the origin and influence of the prophetical order in relation both to the monarchy and to the people. The books of Kings are a history of the nation as a theocracy; those of Chronicles have special reference to the form and ministry of the religious worship, as bearing upon its reestablishment after the return from Babylon. Samuel is more biographical, yet the theocratic element of the government is not overlooked. It is distinctly brought to view in the early chapters concerning Eli and his house, and the fortunes of the ark; in the passages which describe the change of the constitution; in the blessing which rested on the house of Obed-Edom; in the curse which fell on the Bethshemites and Uzzah and Saul for intrusive interference with holy things.
VIII. Particular Relation to the Books of Chronicles. — That portion of the history which is common to the books of Samuel and of Chronicles is found in 2 Samuel 1-24, and 1 Chronicles 10-21, beginning with the account of the death of Saul and ending with the story of the pestilence. Between these two narrations of the same period of history the following differences may be pointed out.
1. The book of Samuel contains, but that of Chronicles omits:
1. The story of David's kindness to Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 9.
2. Of Bathsheba and Uriah, 2 Samuel 11:2-12; 2 Samuel 11:25.
3. The rebellion of Absalom, 2 Samuel 13, etc.
4. The surrender of seven of the sons of Saul to the Gibeonites, 2 Samuel 21:1-14.
5. A war with the Philistines, 2 Samuel 21:15-17.
6. David's song (Psalms 18), 2 Samuel 22.
7. The last words of David, 2 Samuel 23.
2. The book of Samuel omits, but that of Chronicles contains:
1. A list of David's adherents.
2. A list of those who chose David to be king at Hebron.
3. David's preparation for building the Temple.
4. The arrangement of the Levites and priests for Temple service.
5. David's officers and heroes, etc.
3. The two works present several portions of the history in a different order, such as the following:
2 Samuel 5:11-25 .............. 1 Chronicles 14
2 Samuel 6:1-10..............1 Chronicles 11:1-9.
2 Samuel 6:3-11..............1 Chronicles 13.
2 Samuel 6:12-23 .............1 Chronicles 15.
2 Samuel 23:8-10 ........... 1 Chronicles 11:10-47.
4. The differences of verbal and grammatical forms in the narration of the same events in these two works are of such a nature as to indicate the greater antiquity of the books of Samuel. Nearly all the points in which Chronicles differ from Samuel may be distinctly explained by the more recent origin of the former. They are too numerous and minute to be here mentioned.
5. Many of the numbers in Samuel and Chronicles differ, as 2 Samuel 10:13; 2 Samuel 18:24, and 1 Chronicles 19:12. 2 Samuel 23:8, and 1 Chronicles 11:11. 2 Samuel 24:9; 2 Samuel 24:13, and 1 Chronicles 21:5; 1 Chronicles 21:12.
These discrepancies are doubtless to be accounted for on the ground of errors of transcription. Whether the numbers in Samuel are generally right, and those in Chronicles generally wrong, which is the common (but perhaps usually incorrect) opinion, or whether errors exist in both, cannot be determined until more careful attention shall have been given to the subject, and a more critical edition of the Hebrew text shall have been prepared. (See CHRONICLES, BOOKS OF).
IX. Chronology. — One of the most striking points of difference between the books of Samuel and of Kings is the more sparing use of dates in the former. The means of determining the periods of time in which the various events recorded in them happened are exceedingly scanty. The most helpful are found in other parts of Scripture. Thus, in Acts 13 we find that Saul was king "by the space of forty years." We know already that David reigned over Judah and all Israel forty years, and we have also calculated that Samuel must have lived about 110 years. If, then, Samuel died about five years before Saul, we find that the history covers a period of 155 years, except that brief portion of the life of David not contained in Samuel. These numbers agree with the usual dates assigned to the commencement and termination of the books of Samuel. (See CHRONOLOGY).
X. Canonicity, etc. — The historical credibility and canonicity of these books need not be fully discussed in this place. The internal evidence of their truthfulness and the external evidence of their canonical authority are both complete. The style in which they are written is simple, natural, and bold. Places, times, and other minute details are freely and artlessly given. The course and connection of the history carry with them the proof of their truthfulness. The characters and events are in accordance with the times in which they are placed. Attempts to establish contradiction and discrepancy have not succeeded. The history contained in these books fits in and accords with the preceding and subsequent portions of the history of the Israelitish people, although the several portions were composed at long intervals and by different authors. Portions of them are quoted in the New Test. (2 Samuel 7:14, in Hebrews 1:5; 1 Samuel 13:14, in Acts 13:22). References to them occur in other sections of Scripture, especially in the Psalms, to which they often afford historic illustration. The old objections of Hobbes, Spinoza, Simon, and Le Clerc are well disposed of by Carpzov (Introductio, p. 215). Some of these supposed contradictions we have already referred to, and for a solution of others we refer to Davidson's Sacred Hermeneutics, p. 544, etc. Some of the objections of Vatke, in his Bibl. Theol. — "cujus mentio est refutatio" — are summarily disposed of by Hengstenberg (Die Authentie des Pentat. 2, 115). See, in addition to the ordinary Introductions to the Old Test. — such as those of Horne, Hä vernick, Keil, De Wette — the following later works: Bleek, Einleitung in das Alte Testament (Berl. 1860), p. 355-368; Stä helin, Specielle Einleitung in die kanonischen Bucher des Alten Testaments (Elberfeld, 1862), p. 83-105; Davidson, Introduction to the Old Testament (Lond. and Edinb. 1862), p. 491-536.
XI. Commentaries. — The exegetical helps on the entire books of Samuel alone have not been numerous: Origen, Selecta (in Opp. 2, 479; also in Gallandii Bibl. Patrum, 14); Ephrem Syrus, Explanatio (in Opp. 4, 331); Theodoret, Quoestiones (in Opp. 1, 1); Gregory, Expositiones (in Opp. 3, 2, 1); Jerome, Quoestiones (in Opp. [ Spur.], 3, 755); Eucherius, Commentaria (in Bibl. Max. Patr. 6); Procopius, Scholia [includ. other hist. books] (in Meursii Opp. 8, 1); Isidore, Commentaria (in Opp.); Babe, Expositio, etc. (in various forms, in Opp.); Angelomus, Enarrationes (in Bibl. Max. Patr. 15); Hildebert, Versio Metrica (in Opp. p. 1191); Raban, Commentarii (in Opp.); Rupert, Commentarii (in Opp. 1, 345); Hugo Victor, Annotationes (in Opp. 1); Abrabanel, פֵּרוּשׁ [includ. other hist. books] (s.1. et a. [Pesaro, 1522]; Naples, 1543, fol.; Leips. 1686, fol.); Bafiolas, פֵּרוּש ׁ (Leiria, 1494, fol.; also in the Rabbinic Bibles); Bugenhagen, Adnotationes [includ. Deuteronomy] (Basil. 1524; Argent. 1525, 8vo); Menius, Commentarius [on 1 Samuel] (Vitemb. 1532, 8vo); Brentius, Commentaria (in Opp. 2); Lambert, Commentarius (Argent. 1526; Francof. 1539, fol.); Caussin [R.C.], Dissertationes (Par. 1550, fol.; Colon. 1552, 4to); Weller, Commentaria [includ. 1 Kings] (Francof. 1555, 2 vols. 8vo); Peter Martyr, Commentarii (Tigur. 1567, fol.); Strigel, Commentarius [includ. Kings and Chronicles] (Lips. 1569, 1583, fol.; Neost. 1591, 8vo); Borrhä us, Commentarius [includ. other hist. books] (Basil. 1577, fol.); Allschul, שַׁמוּאֵל (Cracow, 1595, fol., and later); Ascheich, מִרְאוֹת הִצּיֹבְאוֹה [includ. other hist. books] (Venice, ] 1601, 1620, fol., and later); Pflacker, Predigten (Tü b. 1602, fol.); Lafado, יָקָר כְּלַי [includ. other hist. books] (Venice, 1603, fol.); Bidemach, Auslegung (Tü b. 1605, fol.); Willet, Harmony (Cambr. 1606; Lond. 1607, 4to; ibid. 1614, fol.); Leonhart, Hypomnete [includ. Kings and Chronicles] (Erf. 1608, 1614, 8vo); Serarius [R.C.], Commentaria [includ. other books] (Lugd. 1613; Mogunt. 1617, fol.); Laurent, Auslegung (Leips. 1615, 1616, fol.); Drusius, Adnotationes [on parts, includ. other books] (Franec. 1618, 4to); Rangolius [R.C.], Commentarii (Par. 1621-24, 2 vols. fol.); De Mendoza [R.C.], Commentaria [on 1 Samuel 1-15] (Lugd. 1622-31, 3 vols. fol.); Sanchez [R.C.], Commentarius (Antw. 1624; Lugd. 1625, fol.); Crommius [R.C.], Theses (includ. other hist. books] (Lovan. 1631, 4to); De Vera [R.C.], Commentaria (Limae, 1635, fol.); Bonfrere [R.C.], Commentarius [includ. Kings and Chronicles] (Tornaci, 1643, 2 vols. fol., and later); Wulffer, Predigten (Nü remb. 1670, 4to); De Naxera [R.C.], Excursus (Lugd. 1672, 3 vols. fol.); Osiander, Commentarius (Stuttg. 1687, fol.); Schmid, Commentarius (Argent. 1687-89, 2 vols. 4to); Moldenhauer, Erlä uterung [includ. other hist. books] (Quedlinb. 1774, 4to); Obornik, בְּאֹר [on 1 Samuel] (Vienna, 1793, 8vo); Detmold, שְׁמוּאֵל (ibid. 1793, 8vo, and later); Hensler, Erlä uterung [on 1 Samuel] (Hamb. and Kiel, 1795, 8vo); Horsley, Notes (in Bibl. Criticism, 1); Mulder, נְבַיאַים רַאשׁוֹנַים [includ. other hist. books] (Amst. 1827, 8vo); Lindsay, Lectures (Lond. 1828, 2 vols. 12mo); Kalkar, Quoestiones [on the authenticity of 1 Samuel] (Othin. 1835); Kö nigsfeldt, Annotationes [on 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles] (Havn. 1839, 8vo); Wellhausen, Der Text d. B. S. (Gö tt. 1841, 8vo); Thenius, Erklä rung (in the Kurzgef. exeg. Handb., Leips. 1842, 1864, 8vo); Keil and Delitzsch, Commentar (ibid. 1864; transl. in Clarke's Library, Edinb. 1866, 8vo); Erdmann, Erklä rung (in Lange's Bibelwerk, Bielefeld, 1873, 8vo). (See OLD TESTAMENT).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samuel, First and Second Books of.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/samuel-first-and-second-books-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.