Samuel (Hebrew: שְׁמוּאֵל, pronounced "Shmu'el") (15 January 1151 BC–fl. 18 June 1101 BC–ca. 1060 BC) was the fifteenth and last Judge and the first of the major prophets of Israel in the Bible. Given as a gift to serve God when God answerd the prayers of his mother to allow her to become pregnant, Samuel served in the temple under Eli and heard God call him. God had to call him several times as each time Samuel would go to Eli, not realizing it was God.
Samuel is considered the last judge and the first prophet. His judgeship marks the transition from the time of the judges to the time of Kings in that he anointed Saul and David as the first two kings of Israel. Samuel's deeds are described in the book of I Samuel.
The name of Samuel means either "heard of God" (from the same root at the name of Ishmael, meaning God hears) or "name of God" (from the same root as the name of Shem, meaning renown or name). Today, Samuel is a common name in many languages and cultures, including English, Irish, Scottish, French, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Jewish.
Floyd Nolen Jones dates Samuel's career from the date of the Fall of the Temple of Dagon (when Samson died) to five years before King Saul fell in battle with the Philistines. Archbishop William Lloyd, in 1701, had suggested that Samuel had been born twenty years earlier, as shown in the marginal dates in some surviving copies of the Authorized Version of the Bible. This would imply that Samuel lived to the age of 111 years, which is not impossible, but less likely in his era.
By tradition, Samuel wrote most of the first of the books that bear his name, and the prophet Nathan and a minor seer named Gad wrote the rest. Some modern authorities suggest instead that the present Books of Samuel (originally published as one volume) were written much later than the events that they describe, and are actually compilations of often inconsistent stories. Hirsch also declares, with no warrant, that the Masoretic Text of the books of Samuel is "corrupt."
The main objection seems to be to the two different narratives concerning the accession of Saul. But these authorities never consider that Saul might have received two separate acclamations. The first acclamation occurs after a choice by lot. The apparent reliance on randomness is misleading. God is Sovereign over all events, and therefore nothing is truly random. The second acclamation follows a military victory as decisive as the victory of Gideon, and such a victory would be a further sign that Saul had the blessing of God, at least at first.
Samuel appears in many motion picture and television projects about the life and career of King David. Such projects often begin with Samuel's sharp rebuke of Saul for making a treaty with the Amalekites and continue with Samuel's secret anointing of David.
- I Samuel 7:6, Acts 3:24
- "Samuel," WebBible Encyclopedia, n.d. Accessed December 26, 2008.
- Blank, Wayne, "Samuel," Daily Bible Study, 2001. Accessed December 26, 2008.
- Jones, Floyd N., The Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, p. 279 and Chart 4
- Hirsch EG, Bachler W, and Lauterbach JZ, "Samuel," The Jewish Encyclopedia, n.d. Accessed December 26, 2008.
- "Samuel." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed December 26, 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/520794/Samuel>.
- Hirsch EG, "Samuel, Books of," The Jewish Encyclopedia, n.d. Accessed December 26, 2008.