Samuel (Prophet)

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David is anointed king by Samuel. Illustration from the Ingeborg Psalter .

Samuel or Schmu'el ( Hebrew שְׁמוּאֵל, šəmūʔēl ) or Ṣamwīl ( Arabic صمويل) was a biblical prophet and the last judge of Israel . The first book of Samuel tells of his ministry. He lived around the 11th century BC. And is also mentioned in medieval commentaries on the Koran .

Biblical report


Hannah was a childless woman from Elkanah "[...] because the Lord had locked her womb" ( 1 Sam 1.5  EU ). She was regularly humiliated by his other wife, Peninna . Hanna suffered from the situation and said to the Lord in Shiloh : “Lord of armies, if you really look at the misery of your maid, if you think of me and do not forget your maid and give your maid a male offspring, then I will be for him surrender all life to the Lord; no razor shall come to his head ”( 1 Sam 1,11  EU ). The priest Eli spoke to Hannah and promised her that God would grant her wish. The next morning Hanna and Elkanah returned to Rama , where he “recognized” her and became pregnant. She named the son she bore Samuel.

With Eli

After Samuel was weaned , Hanna brought him, a three-year-old bull, an efa flour and a bottle of wine to Shiloh, where she sacrificed the bull, and gave Samuel into the care of Eli. Every year Hanna brought her son an upper garment . Unlike Eli's sons, Samuel's practice was not reprimanded. God was so displeased with their behavior that a “man of God” ( 1 Sam 2.27  EU ) came to Eli and prophesied: “There will be days when I will cut off your arm and destroy the power of your father's house; there won't be an old man in your house. [...] There is only one I will not tear from my altar if I break your eyes and let your soul languish; but all the offspring of your house will die in their prime. And that should be the sign that will be realized in your two sons Hofni and Phinehas : Both will die in one day. But I will appoint a reliable priest who will act according to my heart and my mind. I will build him a house that will endure, and he will always serve before the eyes of my anointed. Whoever is left of your house will come and bow down in front of him for a coin or a loaf of bread and say: Take me into one of the priestly groups, so that I may have a piece of bread to eat. "( 1 Sam 2, 31-36  EU ) At Eli one day, Samuel was called three times by God. Each time Samuel went to Eli, thinking that Eli had called him. The third time, Eli realized that Samuel was called of God and told him how to react next time. When God called Samuel the fourth time, Samuel responded as directed by Eli and God spoke to him, reinforcing the threats against Eli and his house. Samuel was afraid to tell Eli of the vision ; but since the latter insisted that Samuel tell everything, he did so. In the course of time Samuel was recognized as a prophet . ( 1 Sam 3.20  EU )

War with the Philistines

In the war against the Philistines , the Israelites suffered a defeat and decided to send the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh to their camp in Eben-Eser . The ark of the covenant was brought into the camp accompanied by Eli's sons, whereupon great joy broke out, which the Philistines heard. They feared God would support the Israelites, but attacked them nonetheless, taking the Ark of the Covenant and killing Eli's sons. When a messenger told Eli, Eli fell backwards from the chair and broke his neck.

As a judge

The Israelites turned to Samuel with a request to be delivered from the Philistines. This told them that they are the "[...] strange gods together with the Ashtaroth [create] from [their] center fort" and her heart turn to God ( 1 Sam 7,3  EU ). After the Israelites did so, Samuel gathered them at Mizpah where they offered sacrifices. God created confusion among the attacking Philistines, whereupon they were beaten by the Israelites. The cities conquered by the Philistines were recaptured. Every year he traveled to Bet-El , Gilgal , Mizpah and Rama to do justice. When he grew old, he made his sons ( Joel the first, Abijah the second) judges. They were bribed and bent the law ( 1 Sam 8,3  EU ), which is why the elders of the Israelites demanded that Samuel appoint a king ( 1 Sam 8,5  EU ). Samuel disapproved of the proposal, but God said in prayer to him that he should listen to the people, because they no longer wanted him (God) as king. Samuel spoke to the Israelites and made them aware of the negative consequences (e.g. serfdom , military service , tithe ) of a king. However, the Israelites insisted on a king, and God told Samuel to appoint a king for them.


One day God revealed to Samuel that the next day a man from the Benjamin area would come to him and anoint him as prince of the people of Israel . In search of a runaway donkey, Saul and a servant came to the Zuf area . There they decided to seek advice from the well-known seer, Samuel. Saul and Samuel met and God told Samuel that Saul was the future ruler. The next day, Samuel anointed Saul as prince and told him what would happen in the next few days and how Saul should act. In seven days Samuel would come to Saul. In Mizpah Samuel gathered the tribes of Israel to choose a king, the first lot falling to the tribe of Benjamin, the next lot within the tribe to the Matri clan and the last lot to Saul. After a victory of the Israelites under Saul's leadership against the Ammonite Nahash , Saul was made known as king in Gilgal at the suggestion of Samuel ( 1 Sam 11,14  EU ).

When Samuel grew old, he gathered the Israelites together, reminded them of the stories of their fathers, and exhorted them to serve God.

Saul disregarded the instructions Samuel had given him before a fight with the Philistines. Samuel found out about this and prophesied that Saul's rule would not last ( 1 Sam 13:14  LUT ). Saul was militarily successful, so, as Samuel had instructed him, he defeated Amalek and liberated Israel. However, he did not kill “[...] men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys!” ( 1 Sam 15.3  EU ), as Samuel demanded, but “[...] spared [n] Agag , as well as the best of the sheep and cattle, namely the beef cattle and the lambs and everything else that was valuable ”( 1 Sam 15.9  EU ), they wanted to sacrifice the animals. The disobedience displeased God and he told Samuel that he regretted choosing Saul as king. The next day, Samuel confronted Saul with the incomplete execution of orders, telling him that obedience was better than sacrifice and that defiance and unruliness was a sin. Saul saw his sin and asked Samuel to forgive his sin, but the latter turned away from him: Saul had rejected God's word and God had now rejected Saul as king; God would give rulership over Israel to another. Samuel and Saul then went back to worship God. Subsequently, Samuel had the bound Agag brought and “cut [him] to pieces” ( 1 Sam 15.33  EU ). Then Samuel went to Rama and "[...] mourned Saul because the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel" ( 1 Sam 15.35  EU ).


After Saul was cast off, God directed Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of Jesse's sons as king; he would tell Samuel which one it should be. The choice fell on the eighth and youngest son David , who was initially not present at the sacrificial meal. Samuel anointed him king and went back to Rama ( 1 Sam 16,13  EU ). When Saul wanted to have David killed, he fled to Samuel in Rama and told him of Saul's hatred against him ( 1 Sam 19.18  EU ). Samuel and David went to the prophet's house . All the messengers that Saul had sent to the prophet's house to fetch David got there, like Saul himself, into "prophetic rapture" ( 1 Sam 19.23  EU ). After Saul's arrival, David fled the prophet's house to Jonathan , Saul's son.


Samuel died while David was fleeing from Saul and was buried near his house in Rama ( 1 Sam 25.1  EU ).


Samuel was one of the great prophets of the Tanakh and is mentioned in the same breath next to Moses and Aaron : "Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among those who call on his name, they called on the Lord, and he answered them." Psalm 99.6  EU )

Samuel's life was flanked by the upheaval between the anarchy of the Judges' days, which was marked by regular invasions by neighboring peoples, and the establishment of a monarchy in Israel. After Saul shows himself not up to the demands of his office, Samuel anoints David as his successor. Samuel shows the people of Israel a criticism of kingship. The kingship fails if the king does not submit to the divine order, as Samuel accused Saul. But it becomes clear that Samuel will bring the renewal of the land. After the disintegration, described in Ri 17  LUT - 1 SamLUT , Samuel can reform the country again: But based on the descriptions of the bad examples of the sons of Eli and Samuel it becomes clear: A kingship is wanted, but there is no dynastic rule .

Samuel's work is an example of the tension between kings and prophets.

Samuel's tomb

Nabi Samwil with the tomb of the prophet Samuel, night shot

At the traditional location of Samuel's tomb in the village of Nabi Samwil in the West Bank, there is now a mosque and a synagogue . At the time of the Crusaders , the Premonstratensian Abbey of St. Samuel was located at the presumed location of the tomb .

Memorial days

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Koran comments on Sura 2, 246 f.
  2. Hans Jansen : Mohammed. A biography. (2005/2007) Translated from the Dutch by Marlene Müller-Haas. CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56858-9 , p. 244.
  3. ^ Samuel in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints


Web links

Commons : Samuel  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Eli Judge Saul (King)