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FIGURE 8.1 Time Line: The Books of Samuel Think of the influence of George Washington on the course of the American revolution and Lenin and Trotsky on the Bolshevik revolution.

It is no surprise, then, that Israel had a sizable collection of stories about its earliest founding fathers, most significantly, Samuel, Saul, and David.

The exiled Judeans must have mulled over the questions long and hard: What shape should a new leadership take? Samuel’s birth was a miracle, and he distinguished himself early on as a prophet in Shiloh (1 Samuel Chapters 1–3).

The Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, later returning it (4–6), but thereby revealed themselves as Israel’s most dangerous foe.

David, earlier designated king, took office in Judah and later all the tribes of Israel accepted his authority (2 Samuel 1–5).

David set Jerusalem as his capital and moved the ark of the covenant there (6), and Nathan presented Yhwh’s eternal endorsement of the Davidic line (7).

The books might better be entitled “ Kingship in Israel” or “ The Rise of the Monarchy” because they deal with the development of that institution.

Would this change the fundamental spirit of the nation?

But then Saul broke holy war rules, and Samuel removed Saul’s divine endorsement though Saul remained in office (12–15).

Samuel anointed David king (16), and David demonstrated his character by defeating Goliath and the Philistines (17).

Samuel rescued Israel from the Philistines, but Israel demanded a king (7–8).

Samuel anointed Saul king (9–10), and Saul demonstrated his leadership by rescuing Jabesh-Gilead (11).

There is no compelling reason for these books to be called the books of Samuel.

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