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Reference: Samuel, Books Of


The LXX. translators regarded the books of Samuel and of Kings as forming one continuous history, which they divided into four books, which they called "Books of the Kingdom." The Vulgate version followed this division, but styled them "Books of the Kings." These books of Samuel they accordingly called the "First" and "Second" Books of Kings, and not, as in the modern Protestant versions, the "First" and "Second" Books of Samuel.

The authors of the books of Samuel were probably Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel penned the first twenty-four chapters of the first book. Gad, the companion of David (1Sa 22:5), continued the history thus commenced; and Nathan completed it, probably arranging the whole in the form in which we now have it (1Ch 29:29).

The contents of the books. The first book comprises a period of about a hundred years, and nearly coincides with the life of Samuel. It contains (1) the history of Eli (1-4); (2) the history of Samuel (5-12); (3) the history of Saul, and of David in exile (13-31). The second book, comprising a period of perhaps fifty years, contains a history of the reign of David (1) over Judah (1-4), and (2) over all Israel (5-24), mainly in its political aspects. The last four chapters of Second Samuel may be regarded as a sort of appendix recording various events, but not chronologically. These books do not contain complete histories. Frequent gaps are met with in the record, because their object is to present a history of the kingdom of God in its gradual development, and not of the events of the reigns of the successive rulers. It is noticeable that the section (2SA 11:2-12: 29) containing an account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1Ch 20.

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1. Title.

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Samuel, Books of,

are not separated from each other in the Hebrew MSS., and, from a critical point of view, must be regarded as one book. The present, division was first made in the Septuagint translation, and was adopted in the Vulgate from the Septuagint. The book was called by the Hebrews: "Samuel," probably because the birth and life of Samuel were the subjects treated of in the beginning of the work. The books of Samuel commence with the history of Eli and Samuel, and contain all account of the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy and of the reigns of Saul and David, with the exception of the last days of the latter monarch which are related in the beginning of the books of Kings, of which those of Samuel form the previous portion. [KINGS, B00KS OF] Authorship and date of the book,--

See Kings, First and Second Books of

1. As to the authorship. In common with all the historical books of the Old Testament, except the beginning of Nehemiah, the book of Samuel contains no mention in the text of the name of its author. It is indisputable that the title "Samuel" does not imply that the prophet was the author of the book of Samuel as a whole; for the death of Samuel is recorded in the beginning of the 25th chapter. In our own time the most prevalent idea in the Anglican Church seems to have been that the first twenty-four chapters of the book of Samuel were written by the prophet himself, and the rest of the chapters by the prophets Nathan and Gad. This, however, is doubtful.

2. But although the authorship cannot be ascertained with certainty, it appears clear that, in its present form it must have been composed subsequent to the secession of the ten tribes, B.C. 975. This results from the passage in

1Sa 27:6

wherein it is said of David, "Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah to this day:" for neither Saul, David nor Solomon is in a single instance called king of Judah simply. On the other hand, it could hardly have been written later than the reformation of Josiah, since it seems to have been composed at a time when the Pentateuch was not acted on as the rule of religious observances, which received a special impetus at the finding of the Book of the Law at the reformation of Josiah. All, therefore, that can be asserted with any certainty is that the book, as a whole, can scarcely have been composed later than the reformation of Josiah, and that it could not have existed in its present form earlier than the reign of Rehoboam. The book of Samuel is one of the best specimens of Hebrew prose in the golden age of Hebrew literature. In prose it holds the same place which Joel and the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah hold in poetical or prophetical language.

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