Book of Samuel

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The book of Samuel is part of the Hebrew Bible . It is named after the prophet Samuel , with whose birth story the story begins. The subject of the book is the emergence of the kingdom of Israel with Saul and David as the first two kings. Despite the division into the first and second books of Samuel , which is common today , it is historically a coherent book that was traditionally noted on a scroll. The subdivision goes back to the Septuagint ( books of kings ) and only became a citation standard for the Hebrew text in the age of printing together with the chapter division of the Vulgate . The article therefore treats the two books of Samuel as a unit.


Contents in the order of the text can be found in the articles for the 1st and 2nd books of Samuel.

The text of the Book of Samuel

Stemma codicum of the Book of Samuel (after Benjamin Ziemer)

There are several text versions of the Book of Samuel, some of which show major differences between them. The most important are the Qumran manuscripts , the Masoretic text and the various Greek versions of the text. Because the original Septuagint ( Old Greek ) has not been preserved in any manuscript , the so-called Lucian manuscripts ( Antiochene text ) are of particular importance for the Book of Samuel in addition to the Codex Vaticanus .


The oldest surviving manuscripts in the Book of Samuel come from Qumran. In the last century a large number of fragments of scrolls were found there in two caves, which belong to a total of four different Samuel scrolls (1QSam, 4QSam a-c ). Taken together, these fragments contain about one twelfth of the entire text of the Book of Samuel.

Many researchers consider 4QSam b to be one of the oldest surviving Bible manuscripts. This scroll is one of the very few Qumran finds that are dated to the third century BC. The other three Samuel manuscripts ( 1QSam , 4QSam a + c ) (like the vast majority of the Bible manuscripts from Qumran) can be dated to the second or first century BC.

The text of the Samuel scrolls from Qumran differs significantly in many cases from the later Masoretic text . Often the discrepancies coincide with the text of the Septuagint . Although the relationship between Qumran and Masoretic text is often controversial in individual cases, there is consensus that the Qumran manuscripts in many places testify to a text of the Book of Samuel that is older than the Masoretic text. However, the fragmentary state of preservation of the Qumran manuscripts makes text-critical judgment difficult.


A manuscript of the Antiochene text from the 13th century (Royal MS 1 D. II of the British Library = Rahlfs 93): beginning of the 1st Book of Kings (= 1st Sam 1)

The second important text witness for the Book of Samuel is the one in the 3rd / 2nd Bible translation into Greek, the Septuagint (LXX) , made in the century BC . The translation of the Book of Samuel is relatively literal compared to other translations of the Septuagint. However, the translator also uses free renditions. With translation knowledge, one can easily draw conclusions about the Hebrew text that was available to the translator. The similarities between readings of the Septuagint and readings from Qumran versus readings of the Masoretic text allow different conclusions to be drawn: According to Frank Moore Cross, the similarities between 4QSam b and the Septuagint versus the Masoretic text do not testify to the closeness of these two text witnesses, but to each original readings. On the other hand, according to Cross, there are also similarities in secondary readings between 4QSam a and the Septuagint, so that a common template from 4QSam a and LXX must be assumed, which is not preferred in every respect to the Masoretic text.

In some places the oldest Septuagint, here attested by the Codex Vaticanus, has a significantly shorter text than the Masoretic text (chap. 17 f .; details in the David section ). How the Masoretic long text and the Greek short text relate to each other historically is controversial in research. According to Emanuel Tov , the Hebrew model of the Septuagint represents an earlier stage in the development of the Samuel text. The masoretic text, on the other hand, was expanded secondarily by including a parallel tradition. In contrast, according to Dominique Barthélemy, it is the simpler assumption that the Hebrew Septuagint model goes back to a deliberate abbreviation.

The manuscripts of the Antiochene text have a different separation between the books of Samuel and the books of kings and count 1 Kings 1: 1 - 2:12 as Samuel. The majority of the manuscripts as well as the Masoretic text, however, testify to the usual separation between the Samuel and King books according to 2 Samuel 24.25 (David's census). From 2 Samuel 10 onwards, the text has only survived in two reviews (Kaige review and Lukian review). The original has to be reconstructed in a complex text-critical manner ( Göttingen critical edition ).

Masoretic text

Beginning of the Samuel book after three blank lines in a manuscript of the Masoretic text of the fore prophets with Targum Jonathan and Masora ( British Library , Ms. Or. 2210)

The only text form of the Book of Samuel that has been completely preserved in the original Hebrew is the Masoretic text . Compared to many other biblical books, the quality of its transmission is rather poor: It is burdened with considerable text-critical problems , for the solution of which the Septuagint and, more recently, the Qumran finds , and sometimes the Chronicle, are often used.

The Masoretic text was received as the only authoritative text in post-Christian Judaism and in large parts of Western Christianity (unlike in Orthodoxy , where the Septuagint is considered authoritative). Therefore, the Masoretic text also forms the basis of almost all modern Bible translations outside of the Orthodox countries. As the only complete text form in the original language, the Masoretic text forms the starting point of the exegesis of the Book of Samuel for most researchers .

Different position in the canon

For Qumran it can be said that the Book of Samuel was canonical because it was not only copied but also commented on: In 4Q174 (“eschatological midrash”), the prophecy of Nathan's prophecy from 2 Sam 7: 10-14  EU is quoted and interpreted in an updated manner. However, no statement can be made about the placement of the Book of Samuel in a possible Qumran scriptural canon. According to the division of the Septuagint , the books of the kingships belong to the historical books or history books . In the Hebrew Bible , Samuel is considered a prophetic book , together with Joshua, Judges and Kings it forms the group of the fore prophets .

Topic and main characters

The theme of the Book of Samuel is the emergence of kingship in ancient Israel. The plot of the book takes place in the 11th century BC. It reached its goal and its climax in the founding of the Davidic dynasty (( 2 SamEU ), see also under promise to David ). The stories of Samuel and Saul ( 1 Sam 1, ff.  EU ) read like a prelude to the story of the shepherd boy David's ascent to become king ( 1 Sam 16  EU ).

In the following, important people and groups of people from the Book of Samuel are introduced. For table of contents along the order of the biblical text, see the articles 1. Book of Samuel and 2. Book of Samuel .

Eli and the priests

"Hanna before Eli, the high priest" Malnazar (Armenian artist), 1637–1638.

Eli , the priest of Shiloh , plays a major role in the Book of Samuel. The Elid family named after him is an independent priestly family that can refer to old traditions ( 1 Sam 2.27–28  EU ). First, Eli meets in 1 Sam 1–3  EU . Eli announces to Hannah that through Yahweh she will give birth to a son. When he is born, she calls him Samuel and he grows up in the temple with Eli.

Eli's sons are Hofni and Pinchas . They are also priests, but do not adhere to the cult regulations. Thereupon a “man of God” in 1 Sam 2 : 27-36 EU proclaims  the death of the two and the annihilation of almost the entire sex.

Eli's sons die in the battle of Eben-Ezer against the Philistines , in which the ark of God is lost ( 1 SamEU ). When the message is delivered to Eli, Eli also dies.

According to the oracle of the “man of God”, later descendants should be dependent on the arbitrariness of others ( 1 Sam 2.35–36  EU ). In 1 Sam 14.3  EU there is a genealogical link between the Elids and the priests of Nob . According to this, Ahijah, priest under King Saul , Ahitub and Ahimelech are descendants of Eli . When the priests of Nob ( 1 Sam 22.20  EU ) are annihilated , only Abjatar , the son of Ahimelech, escapes . That would make him an Elide too. So the chief priest of King David would have been an Elide.

The reliability of the genealogical connection between Eli and Ahimelech or Abjatar is questionable, as it only goes back to the one note in 1 Sam 14.3  EU . It is assumed that it is a deuteronomistic addition.

Furthermore, the sons of David are referred to as priests in 2 SamEU . However, in 1 Chr 18  EU they are called “first to the side of the king”. Whether they were really priests remains to be seen.

Samuel and his sons

Samuel as an old man (St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow)

The person Samuel is characterized in a passage of text that places him in the ranks of the small judges in the judges' book ( judges1–5 ; 12.7-15 EU ) ( 1 Sam 7.15-17  EU ; 25.1 EU ). Samuel also appears as a judge after 1 Samuel 8: 1-5 EU .

Essentially, however, Samuel is not seen as a judge, but as a prophet (first 3.20 EU ). In particular his wonderful birth (1 Samuel 1 f.) And calling (1 Samuel 3), his intercession for the people (1 Samuel 7), his speeches about the kingship desired by the people ( 1 Sam 8 : 11-18  EU ; 1 Sam 12  EU ) as well as his accusations against Saul ( 1 Sam 13,13f  EU ; 15 EU ) make him appear as a prophet who bears many traits of the “original prophet” Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18.15  EU ).

Many of the Samuel reports are considered late editorial formations from which historical facts about the person Samuel cannot be easily obtained. If one tries to weight the drawn images of Samuel, Samuel's role as judge is more believable than that of the prophet, precisely because the latter is broadly embellished and is instrumentalized for the establishment of the Davidic dynasty (Peter Mommer).

Samuel's sons are introduced into 1 Sam 8,2  EU . When Samuel grows old, Joel and Abijah are appointed to succeed him as judges over Israel ; their official seat is Beersheba . The corruption and bribery of the two sons of Samuel ( 1 Sam 8,3  EU ) lead to the fact that the people of Samuel demand the installation of a king ( 1 Sam 8,5  EU ).

Saul and the Saulids

The marble statue of King Saul was made in 1865 by William Wetmore Story . It is in the North Carolina Museum of Art .

The Book of Samuel places one focus on Saul's appointment as the first Israelite king. Domestic and foreign policy reasons are given as to why Israel needs the office of king: Domestically, he should secure the judiciary ( 1 SamEU ); In terms of foreign policy, it is supposed to protect Israel against its enemies ( 1 Sam 11  EU ; 13.1 f. EU ), as it has proven itself with other peoples ( 1 Sam 8,5.20 f.  EU ). The texts then tell in different ways how Saul was appointed the first king of Israel: The first mentioned report in the Book of Samuel can be found in 1 Sam 9,1-10,16  EU . It says that Saul was anointed king by Samuel. Another report follows this pericope. According to this, Saul becomes king by lottery and subsequent confirmation of the people ( 1 Sam 10,17-27  EU ). This event is said to have taken place in Mizpah . The third description in 1 Sam 11,1–15  EU reports that the people raised Saul to king in Gilgal .

This variety of traditional reports calls for explanations. Volkmar Fritz presents some contributions to the discussion:

  • One thesis by Gerhard Wallis is based on originally independent reports.
  • Horst Seebass, on the other hand, divides 1 Sam 1–7  EU and ascribes it to two different sources. By subtracting and rearranging, he receives two related reports of Saul's becoming king. He considers the version in which Samuel plays a significant role to be historical.
  • Arthur Weiser characterizes the Ammonite campaign and the king's rising in Gilgal ( 1 Sam 11  EU ) as a recording of historical events. The stories of the Los Oracle and the anointing of Saul, however, according to Weiser, originated later.

The discussion approaches include the fact that Saul is anointed as a nagîd according to 1 Sam 9.16-10.1  EU . The title appears at this point in the OT for the first time, but is repeatedly assigned to Saul in 1 Sam 13.14  EU , occasionally also used for David ( 1 Sam 25.30  EU ; 2 Sam 5.2; 6.21; 7.8  EU ) and then transferred to Solomon ( 1 Kings 1.35  EU ). Furthermore, it is used three times in tales of the prophets ( 1 Kings 14.7; 16.2  EU ; 2 Kings 10.5  EU ). However, it has not been conclusively clarified what exactly this office means.

The demand of the population for a military leader to take action against foreign policy threats is fulfilled by Saul in the further story: He defends Israel against the Amalekites ( 1 Sam 15  EU ) and against the Philistines ( 1 Sam 13f .; 23.28  EU ). He is finally killed in a military conflict with the Philistines ( 1 Sam 31  EU ).

David , who handed over members of the house of Saul ( 2 Sam 21.8  EU ), fetches the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesch and has them buried ( 2 Sam 21.12.13a.14a.b.  EU ).

David and Saul depicted on a 15th century stained glass window in the Sainte-Chapelle Paris.

Saul's daughters Merab and Michal are named as the surviving dependents of Saulids . Merab is first offered to David for "service marriage" ( 1 Sam 17.26  EU ). But he decides against this kind of connection to Saul. Instead, David marries Merab's younger sister Michal. This is initially described as childless ( 2 Sam 6.23  EU ), but her children ( Mefiborschet / Meribaal and Armoni) are later mentioned in 2 Sam 21.8  EU . In 1 Sam 14.49–14.51  EU there is a list of Saul's relatives. This names the following people (keep order): his sons Jonathan , Yishwi and Malkishua ; the daughters Merab and Michal; Ahinoam , Saul's wife ( 1 Sam 14.50  EU ) and Kisch , Saul's father.

It is not entirely clear whether Mefiborschet / Meribaal is Saul's son and / or grandson, as this name is listed again in 2 Sam 2,10  EU as Saul's grandson.

Ischboschet / Eschbaal is omitted in this genealogy, but is named in 2 Sam 2,10  EU as the son of Saul and finally king over Israel . In addition to Ahinoam, later Rizpa is mentioned as a concubine to Saul's 2 Sam 3.7  EU .


Johann Friedrich Glocker : King David (1754)

Like Saul, David is introduced to the plot with a number of different stories (1 Samuel 16 f.): An anointing by the prophet Samuel is described ( 1 Sam 16 : 1–13  EU ), a call to the court as a musician Sauls ( 1 Sam 16,14-21  EU ) and the discovery as a military talent in a fight against the Philistine Goliath ( 1 Sam 17  EU ). Sometimes there are tensions between the descriptions: Saul brings David to his court as a personal weapon bearer after 1 Sam 16.19–21  EU , but then doesn't know him at all after 1 Sam 17.55–58  EU . The great differences between the Septuagint (it lacks the passages 1 Samuel 17.12–31; 17.55-18.5 and several smaller sections) and the Masoretic text show that these narratives were still in the 3rd / 2nd before Christian century were edited and expanded. The historicity cannot be proven for any of the stories about David's introduction to the royal court.

The following description of David's rise (1 Samuel 18 ff.) Makes it clear that with this king, too, the successes against the enemies of Israel are the central motive for finally being able to ascend the Israelite royal throne and assert himself on it (cf. especially 2 Sam 5,1–3  EU and 2 Sam 5,17–25  EU : The first measure as a king is a war against the Philistines). From the stories it emerges that the transition of the royal dignity from Saul to David was connected with considerable disputes (1 Samuel 18 - 2 Samuel 1), which also occurred in the fight against a son of Saul who also claimed the royal throne ( Ish-Baal ) (2 Samuel 2–4 EU ). When the capable troop leader Abner defected to David ( 2 Sam 3, 6 ff.  EU ), the fight was decided in his favor: David became sole ruler in Israel.

As king, David proves to be a clever tactician: not only does he skillfully involve the family and followers of Saul ( 2 SamEU ; 10-14 EU ), but also with the conquest of the Jebusite- controlled city of Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom ( 2 Sam 5,6 ff.  EU ) he succeeds in relieving the always latent tensions between the northern and southern parts of the country ( 2 Sam 2,12 ff.  EU ; 20.1 f. EU ; 1 Kings 12  EU ) from a neutral location off balance. With the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4–6) to Jerusalem ( 2 SamEU ) he establishes a central state cult there and thus lays the foundation for the YHWH cult to assert itself as the sole cult in Israel after lengthy disputes (cf. monolatry ).

From a military point of view, David succeeds in liberating Israel from its dependence on the Philistines and other neighboring peoples (cf. 1 Sam 13.19  EU ; 14.48 EU ; 2 Sam 8.1  EU ) and now, conversely, making these peoples pay tribute to Israel ( 2 Sam 8.2-14  EU ; 10.19 EU ). In David, the hopes that the people of Israel associated with the newly created kingdom were fulfilled.

In addition to David's government activities, the Book of Samuel reports a number of incidents in the king's family. The adultery with Bat-Seba and the subsequent elimination of her husband describe him as an unscrupulous, but then insightful ruler (2 Samuel 11 f.). Several stories at the end are devoted to disputes about his successor, which apparently already started during his lifetime: Two coup attempts are reported ( Absalom : 2 Sam 13–19  EU ; Sheba: 2 Sam 20  EU ). David was able to ward off both usurpations with the help of his talented military leader Joab .

Finally, 2 Samuel 21-24 are addenda to the David's narratives. Here you can find lists of particularly deserving military men ( 2 Sam 21.15–22  EU ; 23.8–39 EU ); a psalm ( 2 Sam 22  EU ; almost identical also handed down as Psalm 18) and David's last words ( 2 Sam 23 : 1-7  EU ). A late legend finally tells how David is said to have found the building site for the Jerusalem temple ( 2 Sam 24  EU ).

The story of the Israelite kingship is continued in the 1st and 2nd book of kings , which begin with the appointment of Solomon as David's successor (1st Kings 1 EU ).

Prophets in the Book of Samuel

Prophets play an important role in the book of Samuel. Besides Samuel, the court prophets Natan and Gad as well as anonymous groups of prophets should be mentioned here.

Samuel is the main protagonist of 1 Sam and is first introduced in the context of the priesthood. In 1 SamEU the story of Samuel's calling is told and 1 Sam 3,20  EU expressly identifies him as a “prophet of the LORD”. 1 SamEU is particularly central to his prophetic activity. There he is referred to as “man of God” ( Hebrew אִישׁ־השׁ־לֹהִים 'îš ha'älohîm ), “seer” (Hebrew רֹאֶה ro'ӕh ) and “prophet” (Hebrew נָבִיא nāvi ). Prophetic qualities derived from the narrative of 1 SamEU include the ability to "see" things that are beyond the ordinary, e.g. B. Samuel's knowledge of Saul's father's lost donkeys in 1 Sam 9.20  EU . Through Samuel, God speaks and acts in 1 Sam 9:17  EU to identify the one who is to be anointed ruler over Israel.

In 2 SamEU , another important prophet, Natan, appears when David expresses his intention to build a house for the Lord. Natan is identified in 2 Sam 7,2  EU as a "prophet" (Hebrew נָבִיא nāvi ). The word of God comes to him in the night. God rejects David's plans to build a temple, but promises the David's dynasty an eternal existence. A key text is Natan's judgment word to David in 2 Sam 12  EU . Nathan uses a parable ( 2 Sam 12.1–4  EU ) to condemn David for his adultery with Bathsheba in 2 Sam 11  EU . This is not necessarily a prophetic act, but it shows an important quality of prophets to oppose a ruler.

The third prophet Gad is mentioned twice in the book of Samuel. The first time he appears in 1 Sam 22.5  EU when he advises David to leave his fortress and go to Judah, and the second time in 2 Sam 24  EU . He is referred to as a "prophet" (Hebrew נָבִיא nāvi ) and a “ seer of David” (Hebrew חֹזֶה דָּוִד ḥozӕh Dāwīd ). Gad is issued in 2 Sam 24: 11ff. EU the word of the Lord that David has three judgment options to choose from as a penalty for the census .

The phenomenon of the group prophets appeared in Saul's reign. In 1 Sam 10  EU and 1 Sam 19  EU a kind of obsession with God is reported, which was inherent in these prophets and which could be transferred to others. The vocabulary for this is נבא nb ' in Hitpael, "to be seized by prophetic ecstasy" or "will", "to get into prophetic ecstasy". This obsession manifested itself in a loss of control and led to unusual behaviors such as B. Saul in 1 Sam 19:24  EU when he lay naked on the floor for a whole day and a whole night. From this narrative and from 1 Sam 10.10f. EU derives the proverb “Is Saul also among the prophets?”, Which was used as early as 1000 BC. Must have become a common saying.

Theories for the origin and editing of the Samuel book

The historical problem

The diversity of the material and the tension between the individual stories (see above) make it clear that the Book of Samuel is not “all of a piece”, but that different traditions have been combined into one story. The differences between the most important Greek text witnesses ( Codex Vaticanus and Antiochene text ), the Qumran manuscripts (especially 4QSam a and 4QSam b ) and the Masoretic text make it clear that during the Persian-Hellenistic period different versions of the Book of Samuel existed side by side, which have never been unified. Again different text versions may have served as templates for the biblical chronicle as well as for the Antiquitates Iudaicae of Flavius ​​Josephus .

The books of the DtrG

While the last phases of the creation process can be easily understood using the different text forms, you have to rely on more extensive hypotheses for the beginning . According to a widely received hypothesis by Martin Noth , the Samuel book was considered an integral part of the Deuteronomistic history , to which in addition to the Samuel book and others. a. also belonged to the royal book . Since it reports the pardon of Jehoiachin by Amel-Marduk ( 2 Kings 25,27-30  EU ), this cannot be done before 562 BC. Have been completed. Martin Noth assumed that after the conquest of Judas by the Babylonians (597 BC) in the southern empire, a reflection on its own history began in order to process and interpret the (preliminary) end of the history of Judah as a state. One began to collect the oral traditions about the fallen kingdom and to sift through the written sources (such as lists of officials, e.g. 2 Sam 8.15–18  EU ). The material that has been handed down was then put together to form a continuous narrative. At the interfaces of the individual components of this narrative, editorial additions were made to ensure that the text was as closed and consistent as possible. Through this combination and interweaving of different stories of Samuel, Saul and David - according to Martin Noth - the Samuel book would have been created in the 6th century BC. Other Old Testament scholars, such as Walter Dietrich , assume that the various traditions of the Book of Samuel were united into a whole earlier, in the 7th century.

Accepted older narrative works

In the course of the history of research, several related source works have been postulated that the authors of the Book of Samuel are said to have already found in writing - including a cycle of stories by Samuel and Saul , a story of David's rise , a story of the ark and a story of David's succession .

Narrative cycle of Samuel and Saul

Samuel anoints Saul as king (textbook illustration)

In the stories about Samuel and Saul, German-language research - unlike in the David stories - was for a long time reluctant to suspect larger collections or pre-Deuteronomic editors. Bernhard Lehnart sees the reasons for this in the fact that not one but two main characters appear here, their relationship and their portrayal have changed significantly in the course of history, the new institution of royalty is judged differently based on the text stock and in many of the places concerned extensive Deuteronomistic editorial work is expected. Nevertheless, various attempts have been made to filter out older text complexes from the traditions about Samuel and Saul.

One theory is to set the pre-Deuteronomic part of the narrative cycle at 1 Sam 9-14  EU . Often on the grounds that these chapters portray Saul as successful and supported by Samuel. Lehnart and Dietrich , however, see a more comprehensive pre-Deuteronomistic basic narrative.

Lehnart sees a predeuteronomistic narrative underlying the entire narrative cycle 1 Sam 9–31  EU . He sees the fundamental coherence of the above-mentioned corpus as proven by the coherence of content. The first part of the pre-Deuteronomistic “Samuel Saul Composition” (SSK) therefore spans an arc from 1 SamEU to 1 Sam 11  EU . In his opinion, the lot narration in 1 Sam 10,17-21a  EU forms a deuteronomistic insert . The story of the anointing of Saul ( 1 Sam 9.1–10.16  EU ) and the “savior story” of the relief of Jabesh in Gilead against the besieging Ammonites ( 1 Sam 11.1–11  EU ) were originally individual traditions, but they did found its way into the composition pre-Deuteronomistically.

The second part of the SSK begins with chapter 13. This part continues to deal with Saul's military victories, but it also prepares the end of Saul's kingship. Lehnart sees the stories about Saul's victories ( 1 Sam 13.3–14.47  EU ) as the underlying collection , which he locates in Saulid circles. Lehnart sees the first conflict between Samuel and Saul in 1 Sam 13.7–15  EU as an insertion, which, like the second conflict in chapter 15, goes back to the original, pre-Deuteronomist composer. However, Lehnart sees Saul's final rejection as a deuteronomistic insertion. The part ends in chapter 15 with a hint that Samuel and Saul will not meet again before Samuel's death. This prepares the situation in 1 Sam 28  EU .

This third part begins with the visit to the wise woman in En-Dor in 1 Sam 28.4–25  EU . The developments in chapters 13 and 15 come to the point of no return with the announcement of the end of the House of Saul. According to Lehnart, it is only here that Saul's end is finally sealed in the pre-Deuteronomist collection. According to Lehnart, the pre-Deuteronomistic story comes to an end with the death of Saul and his sons. Saul's funeral by the residents of Jabesch-Gilead connects the end of the narrative cycle with the "Savior's Tale" in the first part.

Overall, especially with regard to Chapters 9-12 and 28, Dietrich is more similar, if not the same, of opinion. Here, too, he sees pre-Deuteronomist texts as the basis, which would have been added and edited in the course of the Deuteronomist editing. In his view, Samuel's criticism of the people's desire for a king ( 1 Sam 10,18f.  EU ) is a Deuteronomist supplement. In chapter 28 he considers the reference to chapter 15 (v. 17-19), the references to the opposition between prophecy and necromancy (v. 9f.12) and possibly also the setting (v.3f.) As deuteronomistic. Dietrich's assessment of the status of chapter 15 forms a decisive contrast to Lehnart's remarks. Even though it also contains older traditions, Dietrich says, it only got into the text with the Deuteronomist editing. He sees a very brief story about the interaction of Samuel and Saul, which the Deuteronomist editorial team expanded into a conflict story and included in the text corpus. He argues that this chapter is not well anchored in the overall text.

According to Lehnart, the theme of the text corpus defined as SSK forms the "reflection on a YHWH-conforming kingship using the example of the first Israelite king, Saul". In contrast to the argument that Saul is only portrayed as somewhat successful in 1 Sam 9-14, Lehnart argues that Saul is characterized as less independent overall, which in a positive way also lets him listen to others and protects him from autocratic and cruel behavior, what runs through the entire SSK complex identified by Lehnart. Furthermore - even if he sometimes overshoots the target, such as when sparing the best animals of the Amalekites as sacrifices for YHWH - he is always careful to fulfill YHWH's will and to make him gracious. Lehnart therefore sees Saul as a tragic figure rather than a culprit.

Dietrich adopts a coherent, pre-Deuteronomistic story by a court narrator, who wrote in the period shortly after 722 BC. After the fall of the northern kingdom, but when the southern kingdom (in political dependency) still existed, tried to reconcile the north with its fate and the southern kingdom by merging different narrative traditions from north and south. He sees evidence of this in the fact that (in the parts that deal with him) David, with all the legitimacy that is emphasized again and again, by no means characterizes him as a faultless leader and, on the other hand, also Saul as legitimate and thoroughly successful, as tragic Figure whose ascent was also directed by YHWH, who was always of good will, but unfortunately acted unhappy and clumsy, is described.

Telling of David's rise

David's rise has little to do with the term ' royalty '. Rather, research uses the term 'war-lord', or in German: chief / militia leader. The biblical succession of the kingship of Saul , David and Solomon seems idealized, since the reigns of David ( 2 Sam 5.4  EU ) and Solomon ( 1 Kings 11.42  EU ), each 40 years, appear as a construct of a later time. Nevertheless, it should be noted that contemporary and archaeological evidence for a kingdom of David is almost completely lacking and one must therefore include the biblical perspective in order to get a picture of the rise of David.

This begins in ( 1 Sam 16.1-13  EU ) when David is introduced as the son of the man Isai . A servant of Saul speaks of Isai beforehand, but without having to explain who this person is. Furthermore, Samuel commands the elders to sanctify themselves according to ( 1 Sam 16.5  EU ) and then sanctifies Jesse. David's father was therefore well known and probably had large flocks of sheep and land that David had to look after. His social position did not prevent David from becoming king, as was the case previously in ( Judges 11.1–3  EU ). This is also supported by the description of David as a "respected man" (גבור חיל), which Saul's father Kisch had previously ( 1 Sam 9,1  EU ). There is archaeological evidence of an increase in the population around the 10th century BC. BC, which must have had a violent impact on the resources and the land. A new class of people without land was created. Because David was the last child according to biblical descriptions ( 1 Sam 16.11  EU ), ( 1 Sam 17.12-15  EU ), when he came of marriageable age, due to the overpopulation, he could no longer expect any country from his father and therefore probably belonged to this class, which is why he called himself a poor man, despite his wealthy origins ( 1 Sam 18.23  EU ). Without the wealth of his family, David was forced to survive through cleverness and weaponry. These traits are also characteristic of David's ascent. For example, in the name of the Philistine king Achish, he attacked the Geschurites and the Amalekites and pretended to plunder the Israelite people ( 1 Sam 27: 1-12  EU ). Furthermore, David wooed the elders of Israel with gifts ( 1 Sam 30,26  EU ) and entered into alliances with other rulers against Saul, which he could use in his own rule. Saul's fear of David's success is well founded, as many historical kings of his time were overthrown by military leaders. In addition, Saul's success was shaped by his fighting strength, in which David represented him a competition. David's marriage to Michal also suggests a political interest. Otherwise he would hardly have risked his life fighting the Philistines ( 1 Sam 18.27  EU ). Due to the apologetic nature of the descriptions that David certainly had no interest in overthrowing Saul, it can be assumed that Saul had driven David from the royal court in order to secure his power while he still had the upper hand in his domain. After his escape, David founds a group of mercenaries with whom he traveled through areas of Israel and the Philistines. It can be assumed that he not only plundered the Philistines, but also exploited the Israelite cities, since he was betrayed to King Saul in the Israelite city of Keila and in the Sif desert ( 1 Sam 23  EU ). After ( 1 Sam 30  EU ) David then defeated the Amalekites on the orders of the Philistine king. This description seems authentic, since David is carrying out the order of the Philistines here. The fact that, in the course of the Book of Samuel, attempts are repeatedly made to emphasize David's innocence in Saul's death, one can wonder whether he played a role in it after all. The battle in which Saul dies is located very north, although the Philistines and Israelites would have had no reason to carry out their battle there. Probably the site of the battle was deliberately removed from David's fight against the Amalekites to exclude his presence. In addition, Saul had won every battle against the Philistines before, so it is unlikely that a skilled warrior like him would fail this time. It is therefore possible that David had put Saul into a two-front war that Saul could not expect in this setting. So David was able to complete his final step to kingship over Judah and later all Israel. This thesis is supported by ( 2 Sam 16.8  EU ). Here comes Shimei, a Benjaminite, and curses him because he has blood guilt in Saul's house. He compares the situation in which David finds himself with his son Absalom with the situation of Saul and David.

Charge narration

Transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (Umbria 16th century)

The events in 1 Sam 4,1b  EU to 1 Sam 7,2a  EU and 2 SamEU , which Leonhard Rost considered in his work The Tradition of the Succession of David to be a narrative belonging together at an early stage, are referred to as the loading narrative. In these chapters it is told how in a defeat against the Philistines the ark is captured by them and for a time miraculously spread terror in the kingdom of the Philistines, whereupon it is sent away and received by the Israelites ( 1 Sam 4,1b  EU bis 7.2a EU ) and after a longer period of time is transferred by David to a tented shrine in Jerusalem ( 2 SamEU ). Rost suspects the author to be a priest from the Jerusalem ark sanctuary from the time of King David or King Solomon , who used various sources to compile a cult legend about a terrifying Yahweh, whose presence is symbolized by the ark. For a long time, Rost's theory of a coherent narrative found support in research, but his arguments, such as: B. a common vocabulary and style of the narrative, increasingly refuted. Likewise, Miller and Roberts showed in their work The Hand of the Lord: A Reassessment of the "Ark Narrative" of 1 Samuel that the transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem in 2 SamEU is in the context of the usual actions for the inauguration of an ancient oriental Capital ( 2 Sam 5–8  EU ) fits. Peter Porzig is in favor of the narrative being put together from different texts, revised and updated. He sees in 1 Sam 4, 2, 10-18a  EU roughly the basic structure of the first part, which is then v. a. revolves around the battle of Eben-Ezer. Porzig classifies the majority of the text components later than Rost does and even sees the mentioned base layer in 1 SamEU as written at the end of the 8th century. Dietrich, on the other hand, sees the time after 722, when refugees from the northern empire settled in Jerusalem, as the editing time of the Samuel Book, since here traditions from the northern empire, such as the Exodus tradition, and the southern empire met intensely.

Tale of David's succession to the throne

Absalom's meal in a painting by Niccolò De Simone around 1650.

The story of the succession to the throne of David includes 2 Samuel 9-20 and 1 Kings 1 and 2. Leonhard Rost regards the story of the succession to the throne as a largely uniform literary work with a prosalomonic tendency. According to Rost, the whole story answers the question asked by Bathsheba in 1 Kings 1.20  EU : "Who should sit on the throne of David after him?" The aim is to justify Solomon and to disqualify the other candidates. First, the Saulids are excluded from the line of succession. Through Natan's promise ( 2 Sam 7,12  EU ) it is revealed that the discipleship of David will come out of his body. A son of the sons of David is to be the next king. This is how the Crown Prince's dispute over the succession began.

David had 19 sons ( 1 Chr 3,1–9  EU ). There are three to choose from: ( Amnon , Absalom and Adonia ). Amnon, the first-born, raped his half-sister Thamar ( 2 Sam 13.1–14  EU ). Absalom had Amnon murdered two years later ( 2 Sam 13.23-29  EU ). Later he tried to take control himself. In the end he was killed by Joab, the centurion of David ( 2 Sam 18,14–15  EU ). Adonia also tried to become king himself when David was very old ( 1 Kings 1.5–10  EU ). His plan was thwarted by Natan.

After a few promising candidates to the throne had left, it was Solomon’s turn. It appears that the author of the Book of Samuel mentioned her actions as a reason for disqualification. In contrast, the owner of the throne, Solomon, was introduced with the remark that YHWH loved him ( 2 Sam 12.24  EU ). YHWH gave him the name Jedidja . With the establishment of the kingship in the hand of Solomon ( 1 Kings 2,46  EU ) the promise ( 2 Sam 7,12  EU ) is fulfilled in Solomon.

Walter Dietrich claims that the story of the succession to the throne contains two separate novels - one about David, Bathsheba and Solomon ( 2 Sam 10-12  EU and 1 Kings 1-2  EU ), the other about trials and tribulations in the house of David, i.e. Amnon and Absalom ( 2 Sam 13-20  EU ).

E. Würthwein tries to show that an originally anti-Davidic or anti-dynastic story was subjected to extensive prodynastic processing. David and Solomon painted the earlier depiction in extremely dark colors. David appears as an adulterer and murderer, and Solomon's enthronement is the result of a dubious palace intrigue, which was followed by a series of arbitrary murders. According to Würthwein, the author was a fundamental opponent of the Davidic dynasty. Attempts have been made to exonerate David and Solomon or to put their opponents in an unfavorable light.

Deuteronomistic editing

A topic that is intensely discussed in research is the question of the later revisions (editors) of the once created Samuel book. At the center of the discussion are texts that are described as deuteronomistic because they are closely linked to the language and content of Deuteronomy (cf. e.g. 1. Sam 12.12–15 with Deut 18.15–18; 28 , 1 f.). These texts go back to a theological school, the so-called Deuteronomists.

It is controversial whether the Deuteronomists can be considered the authors of the Samuel book, ie whether it was they who put the Samuel, Saul and David stories together into a new book and at the key points (1. Sam 12; 2. Sam 7 etc.) theirs have inserted their own positions. Another possibility is that the Deuteronomists have expanded an existing Samuel book, possibly even in several iterations at different times. Then one would have to reckon with several Deuteronomistic editorships, which took place between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC. Can lie.

The result of this process is not disputed: The final version of the Samuel Book is strongly influenced by Deuteronomistic ideas and, together with the books Deuteronomy, Joshua , Judges and Kings, forms part of the Deuteronomistic history .

Musical reception



  • Discoveries in the Judaean Desert. Volume 1 (1955) = 1QSam, Volume 17 (2005) = 4QSam a-c . Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 0-19-924955-5 .
  • Alfred Rahlfs (Ed.): Septuaginta, id est Vetus Testamentum Graece iuxta LXX interpretes. First edition Stuttgart 1935. Improved new edition: Editio altera quam recognovit et emendavit Robert Hanhart, Stuttgart 2006.
  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 5th edition, Stuttgart 1997.

Lexicon article

Further secondary literature

  • Arthur Weiser: Samuel. Its historical task and religious significance , 1962, Göttingen.
  • Gerhard Wallis: The beginnings of kingship in Israel , in: History and Tradition , 1968, Berlin.
  • Horst Seebass : Traditional history of I Sam 8, 10.17ff. and 12 , in: Journal for Old Testament Science , Vol. 77, 1965, pp. 286-296.
  • Bernhard Lehnart: prophet and king in the northern kingdom of Israel. Studies on so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern Reich of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003.
  • Georg Hentschel : The Samuel books , in Erich Zenger u. a .: Introduction to the Old Testament Kohlhammer, 9th edition Stuttgart 2016, 289–299.
  • Walter Dietrich : The front prophets , in Walter Dietrich u. a .: The Origin of the Old Testament , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2014, pp. 167–278.
  • Walter Dietrich: Historiography and storytelling in the Samuel books: Studies on the historical traditions of the Old Testament III , 1st edition, Stuttgart 2019.
  • Stefan Seiler: The story of David's succession to the throne . In: Supplements to the journal for Old Testament science, Otto Kaiser (Ed.), Volume 267, Berlin; New York 1998.
  • Gerald L. Keown: Prophecy in 1 and 2 Samuel , in: Review and Expositor 99 (2002), 175-184.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Benjamin Ziemer: Critique of the Growth Model. , Leiden / Boston 2020, p. 179.
  2. Raimund Wirth: The Septuagint of the Samuel books. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-525-53694-0 , p. 29; Pp. 219-221.
  3. ^ * Frank Moore Cross , Donald W. Parry, Richard J. Saley and Eugene C. Ulrich: Qumran Cave 4.XII: 1-2 Samuel (= Discoveries in the Judaean Desert XVII). Clarendon Press, Oxford 2005. ISBN 0-19-924923-7
  4. ^ Emanuel Tov: The Composition of 1 Samuel 16-18 in the Light of the Septuagint. In: Emanuel Tov: The Greek and Hebrew Bible. Brill, Leiden 1999, ISBN 978-90-04-11309-1 , pp. 333-362.
  5. ^ Dominique Barthélemy, David W. Gooding, Johan Lust and Emanuel Tov: The Story of David and Goliath, Textual and Literary Criticism (OBO 73); Friborg / Göttingen: University Press / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986, p. 99.
  6. Fragments 1-2, column 1, lines 2-11.
  7. Volkmar Fritz: The interpretations of the kingdom of Saul in the traditions of its creation I Sam 9-11 , in: Journal for the Old Testament Science , Vol. 88, 1976, p. 347.
  8. Volkmar Fritz: The interpretations of the Kingship of Saul in the traditions of its creation I Sam 9-11 , in: Journal for the Old Testament Science , Vol. 88, 1976, p. 347f.
  9. Volkmar Fritz: The interpretations of the Kingship of Saul in the traditions of its creation I Sam 9-11 , in: Journal for the Old Testament Science , Vol. 88, 1976, p. 348.
  10. Ina Willi-Plein: ISam 18-19 and the Davidshaus story . In: Walter Dietrich (Hrsg.): David and Saul in conflict - diachrony and synchrony in competition. Contributions to the interpretation of the first book of Samuel . Göttingen 2004, pp. 138–171 (here p. 150).
  11. Aaron Schart:  Prophetie (AT). In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (Eds.): The Scientific Biblical Lexicon on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff.
  12. ^ Adolf Hult, Bible primer, Old Testament, for use in the primary department of Sunday schools , 1919.
  13. Bernhard Lehnart: Prophet and King in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Studies on the so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern Reich of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories , Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003, ISBN 90-04-13237-6 , p. 22.
  14. Georg Hentschel: The Samuel books in Erich Zenger u. a .: Introduction to the Old Testament , Kohlhammer, 9th edition Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-17-030352-2 , p. 294.
  15. Bernhard Lehnart: Prophet and King in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Studies on the so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern Reich of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories , Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003, ISBN 90-04-13237-6 , pp. 99-102.
  16. Bernhard Lehnart: Prophet and King in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Studies on the so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern Reich of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories , Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003, ISBN 90-04-13237-6 , pp. 102f.
  17. Bernhard Lehnart: Prophet and King in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Studies on the so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern Reich of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories , Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003, ISBN 90-04-13237-6 , pp. 103f.
  18. ^ Walter Dietrich: The front prophets in Walter Dietrich u. a .: The Origin of the Old Testament , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-17-020354-9 , pp. 238-240.
  19. Bernhard Lehnart: Prophet and King in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Studies on so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern Reich of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003, ISBN 90-04-13237-6 , p. 105.
  20. Bernhard Lehnart: Prophet and King in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Studies on the so-called pre-classical prophecy in the northern kingdom of Israel based on the Samuel, Elijah and Elisha stories , Brill, Leiden / Boston 2003, ISBN 90-04-13237-6 , pp. 106f.
  21. ^ Walter Dietrich: The front prophets in Walter Dietrich u. a .: The Origin of the Old Testament , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-17-020354-9 , pp. 247–249.
  22. ^ Christian Frevel: History of Israel . Stuttgart 2018, p. 136 .
  23. Steven L. McKenzie: King David. A biography . Berlin 2002, p. 14-127 .
  24. Peter Porzig: The Ark of Yahweh in the Old Testament and in the texts of the Dead Sea . Berlin 2009, 131-134. ISBN 978-3110212921 .
  25. Christa Schäfer-Lichtenberger: Art. Charging story , WiBiLex 2006 .
  26. Peter Porzig: The Ark of Yahweh in the Old Testament and in the texts of the Dead Sea . Berlin 2009, 155. ISBN 978-3110212921 .
  27. Walter Dietrich: The front prophets. In: The Origin of the Old Testament. Ed. V. Dietrich et. al. Stuttgart 2014, 232-259. ISBN 978-3170203549 .
  28. Stefan Seiler: The story of David's succession to the throne . In: Otto Kaiser (Ed.): Supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . tape 267 . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin; New York 1998, ISBN 3-11-016234-2 , pp. 4 .
  29. ^ Walter Dietrich: Historiography and storytelling in the Samuel books: Studies on the historical traditions of the Old Testament III . 1st edition. W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2019, ISBN 978-3-17-037436-2 , pp. 192 ff .
  30. Stefan Seiler: The story of David's succession to the throne (2 Sam 9-20; 1 Kings 1-2): Studies on literary criticism and tendency . In: Otto Kaiser (Ed.): Supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . tape 267 . De Gruyter, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-11-016234-2 , p. 13 .