First and Second Books of Kings
Two books of the Old Testament (also known and First and Second Samuel)
Kings, FIRST AND SECOND BOOKS OF, also known as FIRST AND SECOND BOOKS OF SAMUEL.—For the First and Second Books of Kin s in the Authorized Version see Third and Fourth Books of Kings.—In the Vulgate both titles are given (Liber Primus Samuelis, quem nos Primum Regum dicimus, etc.); in the Hebrew editions and the Protestant versions the second alone is recognized, the Third and Fourth Books of Kings being styled First and Second Books of Kings. To avoid confusion, the designation “First and Second Books of Samuel” is adopted by Catholic writers when referring to the Hebrew text, otherwise “First and Second Books of Kings” is commonly used. The testimony of Origen, St. Jerome, etc., confirmed by the Massoretic summary appended to the second book, as well as by the Hebrew MSS., shows that the two books originally formed but one, entitled “Samuel”. This title was chosen not only because Samuel is the principal figure in the first part, but probably also because, by having been instrumental in the establishment of the kingdom and in the selection of Saul and David as kings, he may be said to have been a determining factor in the history of the whole period comprised by the book. The division into two books was first introduced into the Septuagint, to conform to the shorter and more convenient size of scrolls in vogue among the Greeks. The Book of Kings was divided at the same time, and the four books, being considered as a consecutive history of the Kingdoms of Israel and Juda, were named “Books of the Kingdoms” (basileion biblia). St. Jerome retained the division into four books, which from the Septuagint had passed into the Itala, or old Latin translation, but changed the name “Books of the Kingdoms” (Libri Regnorum) into “Books of the Kings” (Libri Regum). The Hebrew text of the Books of Samuel and of the Books of Kings was first divided in Bomberg’s edition of the rabbinical Bible (Venice, 1516-17), the individual books being distinguished as I B. of Samuel and II B. of Samuel, I B. of Kings and II B. of Kings. This nomenclature was adopted in the subsequent editions of the Hebrew Bible and in the Protestant translations, and thus became current among non-Catholics.
CONTENTS AND ANALYSIS.—I—II Books of Kings comprise the history of Israel from the birth of Samuel to the close of David’s public life, and cover a period of about a hundred years. The first book contains the history of Samuel and of the reign of Saul; the second, the history of the reign of David, the death of Saul marking the division between the two books. The contents may be divided into five main sections: (I) I, i-vii, history of Samuel; (2) viii-xiv or, better, xv, history of Saul’s government; (3) xvi-xxxi, Saul and David; (4) II, i-xx, history of the reign of David; (5) xxi-xxiv, appendix containing miscellaneous matter. The division between (3) and (4) is sufficiently indicated by the death of Saul and by David’s accession to power; the other sections are marked off by the summaries, vii, 15-17; xiv, 47-58; xx, 23-26; xv, however, which is an introduction to what follows, according to the subject-matter belongs to (2).
(I) History of Samuel. Samuel’s birth and eonsecration to the Lord, I, i-ii, 11. Misdeeds of the sons of Heli and prediction of the downfall of his house, ii, 12-36. Samuel’s call to the prophetic office; his first vision, in which the impending punishment of the house of Heli is revealed to him, iii. The army of Israel is defeated by the Philistines, Ophni and Phinees are slain and the ark taken; death of Heli, iv. The ark among the Philistines; it is brought back to Bethsames and then taken to Cariathiarim, v-vii, 1. Samuel as judge; he is instrumental in bringing the people back to the Lord and in inflicting a crushing defeat on the Philistines, vii, 2-17.
(2) History of Saul’s Government.—The people demand a king; Samuel reluctantly yields to their request, viii. Saul, while seeking his father’s asses, is privately anointed king by Samuel, ix-x, 16. Samuel convokes the people at Maspha (Mizpah) to elect a king; the lot falls on Saul, but he is not acknowledged by all, x, 17-27. Saul defeats the Ammonite king, Naas, and opposition to him ceases, xi. Samuel’s farewell address to the people, xii. War against the Philistines; Saul’s disobedience for which Samuel announces his rejection, xiii. Jonathan’s exploit at Machmas; he is condemned to death for an involuntary breach of his father’s orders, but is pardoned at the people’s prayer, xiv, 1-46. Summary of Saul’s wars; his family and chief commander, xiv, 47-52. War against Amalec; second disobedience and final rejection of Saul, xv.
Saul and David.—David at Court.—David, the youngest son of Isai (Jesse), is anointed king at Bethlehem by Samuel, xvi, 1-13. He is called to court to play before Saul and is made his armor-bearer, xvi, 14-23. David and Goliath, xvii. Jonathan’s friend-ship for David and Saul’s jealousy; the latter, after attempting to pierce David with his lance, urges him on with treacherous intent to a daring feat against the Philistines by promising him his daughter Michol in marriage, xviii. Jonathan softens his father for a time, but, David having again distinguished himself in a war against the Philistines, the enmity is renewed, and Saul a second time attempts to kill him, xix, 1-10. Michol helps David to escape; he repairs to Samuel at Ramatha, but, seeing after Jonathan’s fruitless effort at mediation that all hope of reconciliation is gone, he flees to Achis, King of Geth, stopping on the way at Nobe, where Achimelech gives him the loaves of proposition and the sword of Goliath. Being recognized at Geth he saves himself by feigning madness, xix, 11-xxi.
David as an Outlaw.—He takes refuge in the cave of Odollam (Adullam), and becomes the leader of a band of outlaws; he places his parents under the protection of the King of Moab. Saul kills Achimelech and the priests of Nobe, xxii. David delivers Ceila from the Philistines, but to avoid capture by Saul he retires to the desert of Ziph, where he is visited by Jonathan. He is providentially delivered when surrounded by Saul’s men, xxiii. He spares Saul’s life in a cave of the desert of Engaddi, xxiv. Death of Samuel. Episode of Nabal and Abigail; the latter becomes David’s wife after her husband’s death, xxv. During a new pursuit, David enters Saul’s camp at night and carries off his lance and cup, xxvi. He becomes a vassal of Achis, from whom he receives Siceleg (Ziklag); while pretending to raid the territory of Juda, he wars against the tribes of the south, xxvii. New war with the Philistines; Saul’s interview with the witch of Endor, xxviii. David accompanies the army of Achis, but his fidelity being doubted by the Philistine chiefs he is sent back. On his return he finds that Siceleg has been sacked by the Amalecites during his absence, and Abigail carried off with other prisoners; he pursues the marauders and recovers the prisoners and the booty, xxix-xxx. Battle of Gelboe; death of Saul and Jonathan, xxxi.
History of the Reign of David.—David at Hebron.—He hears of the death of Saul and Jonathan; his lament over them, II, i. He is anointed King of Juda at Hebron, EL, 1-7. War between David and Isboseth, or Esbaal (Ishbaal), the son of Saul, who is recognized by the other tribes, ii, 8-32. Abner, the commander of Isboseth’s forces, having quarrelled with his master, submits to David and is treacherously slain by Joab, iii. Isboseth is assassinated; David punishes the murderers and is acknowledged by all the tribes, iv-v, 5.
David at Jerusalem.—Jerusalem is taken from the Jebusites and becomes the capital, v, 6-16. War with the Philistines, v, 17-25. The ark is solemnly carried from Cariathiarim to Sion, vi. David thinks of building a temple; his intention, though not accepted, is rewarded with the promise that his throne will last forever, vii. Summary of the various wars waged by David and list of his officers, viii. His kindness to Miphiboseth, or Meribbaal, the son of Jonathan, ix. War with Ammon and Syria, x.
David’s Family History.—His adultery with Bethsabee, the wife of Urias, xi. His repentance when the greatness of his crime is brought home to him by Nathan, xii, 1-23. Birth of Solomon; David is present at the taking of Rabbath, xii, 24-31. Amnon ravishes Thamar, the sister of Absalom; the latter has him assassinated and flies to Gessur; through the intervention of Joab he is recalled and reconciled with his father, xiii-xiv. Rebellion of Absalom; David flies from Jerusalem; Siba, Miphiboseth’s servant, brings him provisions and accuses his master of disloyalty; Semei curses David; Absalom goes in to his father’s concubines, xv-xvi. Achitophel counsels immediate pursuit, but Absalom follows the advice of Chusai, David’s adherent, to delay, and thus gives the fugitive king time to cross the Jordan, xvii. Battle of Mahanaim; Absalom is defeated and slain by Joab against the king’s order, xviii. David’s intense grief, from which he is aroused by Joab’s remonstrance. At the passage of the Jordan he pardons Semei, receives Miphiboseth back into his good graces, and invites to court Berzellai, who had supplied provisions to the army, xix, 1-39. Jealousies between Israel and Juda lead to the revolt of Seba; Amasa is commissioned to raise a levy, but, as the troops are collected too slowly, Joab and Abisai are sent with the body-guard in pursuit of the rebels; Joab treacherously slays Amasa. Summary of officers, xix, 40-xx.
(5) Appendix.—The two sons of Respha, Saul’s concubine, and the five sons of Merob, Saul’s daughter, are put to death by the Gabaonites, xxi, 1-14. Various exploits against the Philistines, xxi, 15-22. David’s psalm of thanksgiving (Ps. xvii), xxii. His “last words”, xxiii, 1-7. Enumeration of David’s valiant men, xxiii, 8-39. The numbering of the people and the pestilence following it, xxiv.
UNITY AND OBJECT.—I-II Books of Kings never formed one work with III-IV, as was believed by the older commentators and is still maintained by some modern writers, although the consecutive numbering of the books in the Septuagint and the account of David’s last days and death at the beginning of III Kings seem to lend color to such a supposition. The difference of plan and method pursued in the two pairs of books shows that they originally formed two distinct works. The author of III-IV gives a more or less brief sketch of each reign, and then refers his readers for further information to the source whence he has drawn his data; while the author of I-II furnishes such full and minute details, even when they are of little importance, that his work looks more like a series of biographies than a history, and, with the exception of II, i, 18, where he refers to the “Book of the Just”, he never mentions his sources. Moreover, the writer of III-IV supplies abundant chronological data. Besides giving the length of each reign, he usually notes the age of the king at his accession and, after the division, the year of the reign of the contemporary ruler of the other kingdom; he also frequently dates particular events. In the first two books, on the contrary, chronological data are so scant that it is impossible to determine the length of the period covered by them. The position taken by the author of III-IV, with regard to the facts he relates, is also quite different from that of the author of the other two. The former praises or blames the acts of the various rulers, especially with respect to forbidding or allowing sacrifices outside the sanctuary, while the latter rarely expresses a judgment and repeatedly records sacrifices contrary to the prescriptions of the Pentateuch without a word of censure or comment. Lastly, there is a marked difference in style between the two sets of books; the last two show decided Aramaic influence, whereas the first two belong to the best period of Hebrew literature. At the most, it might be said that the first two chapters of the third book originally were part of the Book of Samuel, and were later detached by the author of the Book of Kings to serve as an introduction to the history of Solomon; but even this is doubtful. These chapters are not required by the object which the author of the Book of Samuel had in view, and the work is a complete whole without them. Besides, the summery, II, xx, 23-26, sufficiently marks the conclusion of the history of David. In any case these two chapters are so closely connected with the following that they must have belonged to the Book of Kings from its very beginning.
The general subject of I-II Kings is the foundation and development of the Kingdom of Israel, the history of Samuel being merely a preliminary section intended to explain the circumstances which brought about the establishment of the royal form of government. On closer examination of the contents, however, it is seen that the author is guided by a leading idea in the choice of his matter, and that his main object is not to give a history of the first two kings of Israel, but to relate the providential foundation of a permanent royal dynasty in the family of David. This strikingly appears in the account of Saul’s reign, which may be summarized in the words: elected, found wanting, and rejected in favor of David. The detailed history of the struggle between David and Saul and his house is plainly intended to show how David, the chosen of the Lord, was providentially preserved amid many imminent dangers and how he ultimately triumphed, while Saul perished with his house. The early events of David’s rule over united Israel are told in few words, even such an important fact as the capture of Jerusalem being little insisted on, but his zeal for God’s worship and its reward in the solemn promise that his throne would last forever (II, vii, 11-16) are related in full detail. The remaining chapters tell how, in pursuance of this promise, God helps him to extend and consolidate his kingdom, and does not abandon him even after his great crime, though he punishes him in his tenderest feelings. The conclusion shows him in peaceful possession of the throne after two dangerous rebellions. The whole story is thus built around a central idea and reaches its climax in the Messianic promise, II, vii, 11 sqq. Besides this main object a secondary one may be observed, which is to convey to king and people the lesson that to obtain God’s protection they must observe His commands.
AUTHOR AND DATE.—The Talmud attributes to Samuel the whole work bearing his name; this strange opinion was later adopted by St. Gregory the Great, who naively persuaded himself that Samuel wrote the events which occurred after his death by prophetic revelation. Rabbinical tradition and most of the older Christian writers ascribe to this prophet the part referring to his time (I, i-xxiv), the rest to the Prophets Gad and Nathan. This view is evidently based on I Par., xxix, 29, “Now the acts of king David first and last 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.” But the wording of the text indicates that there is question of three distinct works. Besides, the unity of plan and the close connection between the different parts exclude composite authorship; we must at least admit a redactor” who combined the three narratives. This redactor, according to Hummelauer, is the prophet Nathan; the work, however, can hardly be placed so early. Others attribute it to Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechias, or Esdras. None of these opinions rests on any solid ground, and we can only say that the author is unknown.
The same diversity of opinion exists as to the date of composition. Hummelauer assigns it to the last days of David. Vigouroux, Cornely, Lesetre, and Thenius place it under Roboam; Kaulen, under Abiam the son of Roboam; Haevernick, not long after David; Ewald, some thirty years after Solomon; Clair, between the death of David and the destruction of the Kingdom of Juda. According to recent critics it belongs to the seventh century, but received retouches as late as the fifth or even the fourth century. No sufficient data are at hand to fix a precise date. We can, however, assign certain limits of time within which the work must have been composed. The explanation concerning the dress of the king’s daughters in David’s time (II, xiii, 18) supposes that a considerable period had elapsed in the interval, and points to a date later than Solomon, during whose reign a change in the style of dress was most likely introduced by his foreign wives. How much later is indicated by the remark: “For which reason Siceleg belongeth to the kings of Juda unto this day” (I, xxvii, 6). The expression kings of Juda implies that at the time of writing the Kingdom of Israel had been divided, and that at least two or three kings had reigned over Juda alone. The earliest date cannot, therefore, be placed before the reign of Abiam. The latest date, on the other hand, must be assigned to a time prior to Josias’s reform (621 B.C.). As has been remarked, the author repeatedly records without censure or comment violations of the Pentateuchal law regarding sacrifices. Now it is not likely that he would have acted thus if he had written after these practices had been abolished and their unlawfulness impressed on the people, since at this time his readers would have taken scandal at the violation of the Law by such a person as Samuel, and at the toleration of unlawful rites by a king like David. The force of this reason will be seen if we consider how the author of III-IV Kings, who wrote after Josias’s reform, censures every departure from the Law in this respect or, as in III, iii, 2, explains it. The purity of language speaks for an early rather than a late date within the above limits. The appendix, however, may possibly be due to a somewhat later hand. Moreover, additions by a subsequent inspired revisor may be admitted without difficulty.
SOURCES.—It is now universally recognized that the author of I-II Kings made use of written documents in composing his work. One such document, “The Book of the Just”, is mentioned in connection with David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan (II, i, 18). The canticle of Anna (I, ii, 1-10), David’s hymn of thanksgiving (II, xxii, 2-51; cf. Ps. xvii), and his “last words” were very probably also drawn from a written source. But besides these minor sources, the writer must have had at hand, at least for the history of David, a document containing much of the historical matter which he narrates. This we infer from the passages common to I-II Kings and the First Book of Paralipomenon (Chronicles), which are shown in the following list: I K., xxi
II K., iii, 2-5 Although these passages often agree word for word, the differences are such that the author of Paralipomenon, the later writer, cannot be said to have copied from I-II Kings, and we must conclude that both authors made use of the same document. This seems to have been an official record of important public events and of matters pertaining to the administration, such as was probably kept by the court “recorder” (II Kings, viii, 16; xx, 24), and is very likely the same as the “Chronicles of King David” (I Par., xxvii, 24). To this document we may add three others mentioned in I Par. (xxix, 29) as sources of information for the history of David, namely, the “Book of Samuel”, the “Book of Gad”, and the “Book of Nathan”. These were works of the three Prophets, as we gather from II Par., ix, 29; xii, 15; xx, 34, etc.; and our author would hardly neglect writings recommended by such names. Samuel very probably furnished the matter for his own history and for part of Saul’s; Gad, David’s companion in exile, the details of that part of David’s life, as well as of his early days as king; and Nathan, information concerning the latter part, or even the whole, of his reign. Thus between them they would have fairly covered the period treated of, if, indeed, their narratives did not partially overlap. Besides these four documents other sources may occasionally have been used. A comparison of the passages of I-II Kings and I Par. given in the list above shows further that both writers frequently transferred their source to their own pages with but few changes; for, since one did not copy from the other, the agreement between them cannot be explained except on the supposition that they more or less reproduce the same document. We have therefore reason to believe that our author followed the same course in other cases, but to what extent we have no means of determining.
THE CRITICAL THEORY.—According to recent critics, I-II Kings is nothing but a compilation of different narratives so unskillfully combined that they may be separated with comparative ease. In spite of this comparative ease in distinguishing the different elements, the critics are not agreed as to the number of sources, nor as to the particular source to which certain passages are to be ascribed. At present the Wellhausen-Budde theory is accepted, at least in its main outlines, by nearly the whole critical school. According to this theory, II, ix-xx, forms one document, which is practically contemporary with the events described; the rest (excluding the appendix) is chiefly made up of two writings, an older one, J, of the ninth century, and a later one, E, of the end of the eighth or the beginning of the seventh century. They are designated J and E, because they are either due to the authors of the Jahwist and Elohist documents of the Hexateuch, or to writers belonging to the same schools. Both J and E underwent modifications by a revisor, J2 and E2 respectively, and after being welded together by a redactor, RJE, were edited by a writer of the Deuteronomic school, RD. After this redaction some further additions were made, among them the appendix. The different elements are thus divided by Budde:
J.—I, ix, 1-x, 7, 9-16; xi, 1-11, 15; xiii, 1-7a, 15b-18; xiv, 1-46, 52; xvi, 14-23; xviii, 5-6, 11, 20-30; xx, 1-10, 18-39, 42b; xxii, 1-4, 6-18, 20-23; xxiii, 1-14a; xxvi; xxvii; xxix-xxxi. II, i, 1-4, 11-12, 17-27; ii, 1-9, 10b, 12-32; iii; iv; v, 1-3, 6-10, 17-25; vi; ix-xi; xii, 1-9, 13-31; xiii-xx, 22.
J2.—I, x, 8; xiii, 7b-15a, 19-22.
E.—I, iv, 1b-vii, 1; xv, 2-34; xvii, 1-11, 14-58; xviii, 1-4, 13-19; xix, 1, 4-6, 8-17; xxi, 1-9; xxii, 19;
19-xxiv, 19; xxv; xxviii. II, i, 6-10, 13-16; vii.
E2.—I i, 1-28; ii, 11-22a, 23-26; iii, 1-iv, la; vii, 2-viii, 22; x, 17-24; xii.
RJE.—I, x, 25-27; xi, 12-14; xv, 1; xviii.21b; xix, 2-3, 7; xx, 11-17, 40-42a; xxii, 10b; xxiii, 14b-18;
16, 20-22a. II, i, 5.
RD.—I, iv, 18 (last clause); vii, 2; xiii, 1; xiv, 47-51; xxviii, 3. II, ii, 10a, 11; v, 4-5; viii; xii, 10-12.
Additions of a later editor.—I, iv, 15, 22; vi, lib, 15, 17-19; xi, 8b; xv, 4; xxiv, 14; xxx, 5. II, iii, 30; v, 6b, 7b, 8b; xv, 24; xx, 23-26.
Latest additions.—I, ii, 1-10, 22b; xvi, 1-13; xvii, 12-13; xix, 18-24; xxi, 10-15; xxii, 5. II, xiv, 26; xxi-xxiv.
This minute division, by which even short clauses are to a nicety apportioned to their proper sources, is based on the following grounds. (I) There are duplicate narratives giving a different or even a contradictory presentation of the same event. There are two accounts of Saul’s election (I, viii, 1-xi), of his rejection (xiii, 1-14 and xv), of his death (I, xxii, 1 sqq., and II, i, 4 sqq.), of his attempt to pierce David (I, xviii, 10-11, and xix, 9-10). There are also two accounts of David’s introduction to Saul (I, xvi, 14 sqq., and xvii, 55-58), of his flight from court (xix, 10 sqq., and xxi, 10), of his taking refuge with Achis (xxi, 10 sqq., and xxvii, 1 sqq.), of his sparing Saul’s life (xxiv, and xxvi). Lastly, there are two accounts of the origin of the proverb: “Is Saul too among the prophets?” (x, 12; xix, 24). Some of these double narratives are not only different but contradictory. In one account of Saul’s election the people demand a king, because they are dissatisfied with the sons of Samuel; the prophet manifests great displeasure and tries to turn them from their purpose; he yields, however, and Saul is chosen by lot. In the other, Samuel shows no aversion to the kingdom; he privately anoints Saul at God’s command that he may deliver Israel from the Philistines; Saul is proclaimed king only after, and in reward of, his victory over the Ammonite king, Naas. According to one version of Saul’s death, he killed himself by falling on his sword; according to the other, he was slain at his own request by an Amalecite. Again, in xvi, David, then arrived at full manhood and experienced in warfare, is called to court to play before Saul and is made. his armor-bearer, and yet in the very next chapter he appears as a shepherd lad unused to arms and unknown both to Saul and to Abner. Moreover, there are statements at variance with one another. In I, vii, 13, it is stated that “the Philistines… did not come any more into the borders of Israel all the days of Samuel”; while in ix, 16, Saul is elected king to deliver Israel from them, and in xiii a Philistine invasion is described. In I, vii, 15, Samuel is said to have judged Israel all the days of his life, though in his old age he delegated his powers to his sons (viii, 1), and after the election of Saul solemnly laid down his office (xii). Finally, in I, xv, 35, Samuel is said never to have seen Saul again, and yet in xix, 24, Saul appears before him. All this shows that two narratives, often differing in their presentation of the facts, have been combined, the differences in some cases being left unharmonized. (2) Certain passages present religious conceptions belonging to a later age, and must therefore be ascribed to a later writer, who viewed the events of past times in the light of the religious ideas of his own. A difference of literary style can also be detected in the different parts of the work. If all this were true, the theory of the critics would have to be admitted. In that case much of I-II Kings would have but little historical value. The argument from the religious conceptions assumes the truth of Wellhausen’s theory on the evolution of the religion of Israel; while that from literary style is reduced to a list of words and expressions most of which must have been part of the current speech, and for this reason could not have been the exclusive property of any writer. The whole theory, therefore, rests Oil the argument from double narratives and contradictions. As this seems very plausible, and presents some real difficulties, it demands an examination.
DOUBLETS AND CONTRADICTIONS.—Some of the narratives said to be doublets, while having a general resemblance, differ in every detail. This is the case with the two accounts of Saul’s disobedience and rejection, with the two narratives of David’s sparing Saul’s life, and of his seeking refuge with Achis. Such narratives cannot be identified, unless the improbability of the events occurring as related be shown. But is it improbable that Saul should on two different occasions have disregarded Samuel’s directions and that the latter should repeat with greater emphasis the announcement of his rejection? Or that in the game of hide-and-seek among the mountains David should have twice succeeded in getting near the person of Saul and should on both occasions have refrained from harming him? Or that under changed conditions he should have entered into negotiations with Achis and become his vassal? Even where the circumstances are the same, we cannot at once pronounce the narratives to be only different accounts of the same occurrence. It is not at all strange that Saul in his insane moods should twice have attempted to spear David, or that the loyal Ziphites should twice have betrayed to Saul David’s whereabouts. The two accounts of Saul among the prophets at first sight seem to be real doublets, not so much because the two narratives are alike, for they differ considerably, as because both incidents seem to be given as the origin of the proverb: “Is Saul too among the prophets?” The first, however, is alone said to have given rise to the proverb. The expression used in the other case—”Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?”—does not necessarily imply that the proverb did not exist before, but may be understood to say that it then became popular. The translation of the Vulgate, “Uncle et exivit proverbium”, is misleading. There is no double mention of David’s flight from court. When in xxi, 10, he is said to have fled from the face of Saul, nothing more is affirmed than that he fled to avoid being taken by Saul, the meaning of the expression “to flee from the face of “being to flee for fear of some one. The double narrative of Saul’s election is obtained by tearing asunder parts which complement and explain one another. Many a true story thus handled will yield the same results. The story as it stands is natural and well connected. The people, disgusted at the conduct of the sons of Samuel, and feeling that a strong central government would be an advantage for the defense of the country, request a king. Samuel receives the request with displeasure, but yields at God’s command and appoints the time and place for the election. In the meanwhile he anoints Saul, who is later designated by lot and acclaimed king. All, however, did not recognize him. Influential persons belonging to the larger tribes were very likely piqued that an unknown man of the smallest tribe should have been chosen. Under the circumstances Saul wisely delayed assuming royal power till a favorable opportunity presented itself, which came a month later, when Naas besieged Jabes. It is objected, indeed, that, since the Jabesites did not send a message to Saul in their pressing danger, chap. xi, 4 sq., must have belonged to an account in which Saul had not yet been proclaimed king, whence a double narrative is clearly indicated. But even if the Jabesites had sent no message, the fact would have no significance, since Saul had not received universal recognition; nothing, however, warrants us to read such a meaning into the text. At all events, Saul on hearing the news immediately exercised royal power by threatening with severe punishment anyone who would not follow him. Difficulties, it is true, exist as to some particulars, but difficulties are found also in the theory of a double account. The two accounts of Saul’s death are really contradictory; but only one is the historian’s; the other is the story told by the Amalecite who brought to David the news of Saul’s death, and nothing indicates that the writer intends to relate it as true. We need have little hesitation in pronouncing it a fabrication of the Amalecite. Lying to promote one’s interests is not unusual, and the hope of winning David’s favor was a sufficient inducement for the man to invent his story.
With regard to the apparent contradiction between 14-23, and xvii, it should be remarked that the Vatican (B) and a few other MSS. of the Septuagint omit xvii, 12-31 and xvii, 55-xviii, 5. This form of the text is held to be the more original, not only by some conservative writers, but by such critics as Cornill, Stade, W. R. Smith, and H. P. Smith. But though this text, if it were certain, would lessen the difficulty, it would not entirely remove it, as David still appears as a boy unused to arms. The apparent contradiction disappears if we take xvi, 14-23, to be out of its chronological place, a common enough occurrence in the historical books both of the Old and of the New Testament. The reason of the inversion seems to be in the desire of the author to bring out the contrast between David, upon whom the spirit of the Lord came from the day of his anointing, and Saul, who was thenceforth deserted by the spirit of the Lord and troubled by an evil spirit. Or it may be due to the fact that with xvii the author begins to follow a new source. This supposition would explain the repetition of some details concerning David’s family, if 17-21, is original. According to the real sequence of events, David after his victory over Goliath returned home, and later, having been recommended by one who was aware of his musical skill, he was called to court and permanently attached to the person of Saul. This explanation might seem inadmissible, because it is said (xviii, 2) that “Saul took him that day, and would not let him return to his father’s house.” But as “on that day” is often used in a loose way, it need not be taken to refer to the day on which David slew Goliath, and room will thus be left for the incident related in xvi, 14-23. It is not true, therefore, that it is impossible to reconcile the two accounts, as is asserted. The so-called contradictory statements may also be satisfactorily explained. As vii is a summary of Samuel’s administration, the words “the Philistines did not come any more into the borders of Israel” must be taken to refer only to Samuel’s term of office, and not to his whole lifetime; they do not, therefore, stand in contradiction with xiii, where an invasion during the reign of Saul is described. Besides, it is not said that there were no further wars with the Philistines; the following clause: “And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines, all the days of Samuel”, rather supposes the contrary. There were wars, indeed, but the Philistines were always defeated and never succeeded in gaining a foothold in the country. Still they remained dangerous neighbors, who might attack Israel at any moment. Hence it could well be said of Saul, “He shall save my people out of the hands of the Philistines” (ix, 16), which expression does not necessarily connote that they were then under the power of the Philistines. Ch. xiii, 19-21, which seems to indicate that the Philistines were occupying the country at the time of Saul’s election, is generally acknowledged to be misplaced. Further, when Samuel delegated his powers to his sons, he still retained his office, and when he did resign it, after the election of Saul, he continued to advise and reprove both king and people (cf. I, xii, 23); he can therefore be truly said to have judged Israel all the days of his life. The last contradiction, which Budde declares to be inexplicable, rests on a mere quibble about the verb “to see”. The context shows clearly enough that when the writer states that “Samuel saw Saul no more till the day of his death” (xv, 35), he means to say that Samuel had no further dealings with Saul, and not that he never beheld him again with his eyes. Really, is it likely that a redactor who, we are told, often harmonizes his sources, and who plainly intends to present a coherent story, and not merely a collection of old documents, would allow glaring contradictions to stand? There is no sufficient reason, then, why we should not grant a historical character to the section I, viii, as well as to the rest of the work. Those internal marks—namely, lifelike touches, minuteness of detail, bright and flowing style—which move the critics to consider the latter part as of early origin and of undoubted historical value, are equally found in the first.
THE HEBREW TEXT, THE SEPTUAGINT, AND THE VULGATE—The Hebrew text has come down to us in a rather unsatisfactory condition, by reason of the numerous errors due to transcribers. The numbers especially have suffered, probably because in the oldest manuscripts they were not written out in full. In I, vi, 19, seventy men become “seventy men, and fifty thousand of the common people.” In I, xiii, 5, the Philistines are given the impossible number of thirty thousand chariots. Saul is only a year old when he begins to reign and reigns but two years (I, xiii, 1).
Absalom is made to wait forty years to accomplish the vow he made while in Gessur (II, xv, 7). In I, viii, 16, oxen are metamorphosed into “goodliest young men”, while in II, x, 18, forty thousand footmen are changed into horsemen. Michol, who in II, vi, 23, is said to have had no children, in II, xxi, 8, is credited with the five sons of her sister Merob (cf. I, xviii, 19; xxv, 44; II, iii, 15). In II, xxi, 19, Goliath is again slain by Elchanan, and, strange to say, though I Par., xx, 5, tells us that the man killed by Elchanan was the brother of the giant, some critics here also see a contradiction. Badan in I, xii, 11, should be changed to Abdon or Barak, and Samuel, in the same verse, to Samson, etc. Many of these mistakes can readily be corrected by a comparison with Paralipomenon, the Septuagint, and other ancient versions. Others ante-date all translations, and are therefore found in the versions as well as in the Massoretic (Hebrew) text. In spite of the work of correction done by modern commentators and textual critics, a perfectly satisfactory critical test is still a desideratum. The Septuagint differs considerably from the Massoretic text. Besides some transpositions, it contains a number of additions; while on the other hand it omits (in the Vatican MS., printed in the Sixtine and Swete’s edition) some passages, of which I, xvii, 12-31, 55-xviii, 5; xviii, 10-11, 17-19, are the most important. Moreover, it contains many interpolations in the form of double translations. The Septuagint is without doubt to be preferred to the Massoretic text in many instances; in others the case is not so clear. The Vulgate was translated from a Hebrew text closely resembling the Massoretic; but the original text has been interpolated by additions and duplicate translations, which have crept in from the Itala. Additions occur, I, iv, 1; v, 6, 9; viii, 18; x, 1; xi, 1; xiii, 15; xiv, 22, 41; xv, 3, 12; xvii, 36; xxi, 11; xxx, 15; II, i, 26; v, 23; x, 19; xiii, 21, 27; xiv, 30; duplicate translations, I, ix, 25; xv, 32; xx, 15; xxiii, 13, 14; II, i, 18; iv, 5; vi, 12; xv, 18, 20.