Bible Query from
Q: In 1 Sam, what is the main point of these books?
A: 1 and 2 Samuel cover the two-century period from end of the book Judges to David becoming King. The predominant theme is God's sovereignty and God delegation of kingship, as people both wrongfully exercise and rightfully anticipate it.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.296, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.431-432, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.100 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 3 p.557-562 for more extensive answers.
Q: In 1 Sam, why are 1 and 2 Samuel sometimes called 1 and 2 Kings?
A: Here is a bit of history of the division and names of Samuel. In the ancient Hebrew text, 1 and 2 Samuel were one book, called Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings were one book, called Kings. The Masoretic notes said that Samuel had 1,506 verses, and 1 Samuel 28:24 was the middle verse. But since it was so long, it was split into two books in the Septuagint. Modern Jewish Bibles have it split this way too. The Septuagint called it 1 and 2 Kings, and what we know as 1 and 2 Kings were called 3 and 4 Kings. Collectively they were called the Books of Kingdoms. When Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, we kept the same names, calling them collectively "Books of Kings". See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.553, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.431, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.188, The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.957, and the New International Bible Commentary p.348 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam, what is an outline of this book?
A: This book is arranged chronologically, but there are many interweaving parts. This is why commentators differ greatly on the sections and subsections. Here is a high level outline.
1-3 Eli and Samuel : Eli's sons vs. Eli's disciple
- 1-2:11 Hannah
- 2:12-31 Eli and his wicked sons
- 3 Samuel's call
4-6 Eli and the ark : respect God's holiness, or else
- 4 The ark misused and captured
- 5 The power of the ark
- 6 Hands off the holiness of God
7-15 Samuel and Saul : from a judge to a king
- 7 Samuel the Judge
- 8 The people demand a king
- 9-10 Saul anointed as king
- 11-12 Victories of Saul
- 13-14 Saul's decline
- 15 God rejects Saul
16-20 David serving Saul : how to be a future king
16:1-13 Samuel anoints David
16:14-18:30 David serves Saul
- 19-20 Friendship of David and Jonathan
21-31 David flees from Saul : wait on the Lord in perilous times
- 21-26 David on the run
- 27-30 David among the Philistines
- 31 Death of Saul
Q: In 1 Sam 1:1, what is significant about the name "Elkanah"?
A: The name el qanah means "God creates". It apparently was not an unusual name; a seal was found with that name and the picture of an ibex. It is almost certainly not the same Elkanah though. This was also a name of a temple musician in 1 Chronicles 15:18,21. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.575 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:1, was Samuel's father from the hill country of Ephraim, or was he a Levite as 1 Chr 6:16-30 says?
A: Both are correct. Two points to consider in the answer.
1. Elkanah was descended from Levi. The Levites did not have any region of their own, but they were interspersed among the other tribes.
2. Elkanah was a Levite who lived in the hill country belonging to the tribe of Ephraim.
This should not be a problem for most atheists, as even the skeptic, Isaac Asimov, in Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.269-270 gives basically the same answer. See When Critics Ask p.155, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.220, and The NIV Study Bible p.375 for the same answer, too.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:2; Gen 16:2; 25:1; 29:23-24;28-29, 2 Sam 20:3, etc., why did God permit polygamy (many wives) for Abraham, Jacob, and David and others?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. Polygamy was never God's perfect will, as implied when He made Adam and Eve. He said the two (not many) shall become one flesh.
2. God permitted many things in the Old Testament, such as divorce (Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:2-12), being that their hearts were hard.
3. Some things, such as polygamy and rash vows, God left for people to figure out were not good.
4. Even in Old Testament times, polygamy was not necessarily the norm. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.223 points out that there were only fifteen examples of polygamy in the Old Testament until Solomon's time. There were only four or five after that time.
5. Ever since the time of Paul, and today, godly elders and deacons should not have more than one wife (1 Tim 3:2,12; Titus 1:6).
Q: In 1 Sam 1:4-5, was the story of the childless wife and her husband and a Nazirite son "rather unaptly, cast back into the Book of Judges in order to explain Samson's long hair in a non-mythological fashion" as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.270 says it might have been?
A: No, there is no evidence of this. Often when Asimov says "it may be", and he provides no support for his view, it is just a speculation.
The vows of a Nazirite go back to Numbers 6:1-21. Notice Asimov's skeptical method here. Since two facts are in common: both women were childless, and both sons were Nazirites, two common facts alone are sufficient for Asimov to suspect that one story was copied from another. However, notice four differences: Samson's mother was the only wife involved, while Samuel's wife was tormented by her rival wife. God gave Samson great strength, which remained until he cut his hair, while we have no reason to suspect that Samuel was particularly strong. Samson lived a dissolute life, while Samuel was obedient. Samuel was a prophet, who anointed two kings, while Samson did nothing of the kind. We could go on and on about more differences, but the point is that all of these differences seem irrelevant to a skeptic who wants to suggest one story was copied from another to explain the Nazirite custom, when it was already explained centuries earlier in Numbers 6.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:5, why did God deliberately shut the womb of Hannah, a godly woman?
A: Regardless of whether God deliberately shut her womb, or merely allowed a natural condition to continue, God can also use disappointing things in our life for His glory. When Hannah gave her childless condition to God in prayer, God gave her Samuel, who had such a significant impact on the whole nation. Where would David be without Samuel? Yet where would Samuel be without Hannah and her prayers?
Q: In 1 Sam 1:5,19-20, did God shut the womb perhaps because He had nothing better to do? (A Muslim asserted this.)
A: No. Sometimes God shuts a womb, or frustrates a purpose, in order to achieve a greater purpose. This attitude is disrespectful of God.
I am somewhat surprised a Muslim would give this argument, because this same type of argument was applied in Mohammed's time to Mohammed. He had no surviving sons and in fact no children who survived to adulthood except his daughter Fatima. According to al-Tabari, Mohammed married al-Shanba bint 'Amr al-Ghifariyyah; her people were allies of the banu Qurayza. When Ibrahim died, she said that if he were a true prophet his son would not have died. Mohammed divorced her before consummating his marriage with her. al-Tabari vol.9 p.136. Now Christians do not give Mohammed's inability to have more children has any reason to say he was a false prophet.
But by the Muslim accusing the God of the Bible of shutting Hannah's womb as a sign that the Bible-God was bad or had nothing better to do, this is like saying Allah killed Mohammed's only son because he had nothing better to do.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:5 (KJV), what is a "worthy" portion?
A: This means a double portion as the NKJV, NIV, NASB, NRSV, NET, and Green's literal translation say.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:8,18, was Hannah anorexic?
A: Anorexia is a psychological condition where some one, often a woman feels they are too fat, and they basically starve themselves.
However, there is no indication Hannah was anorexic. While it is true that anorexia can cause temporary barrenness, occasionally not eating a meal does not mean she was dangerously underweight, particularly when she was given double helpings in 1 Samuel 1:6.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:10, why would God allow one of his faithful children to become bitter?
A: God does not make anyone bitter. Rather bitterness is a chosen attitude to respond to bad situations. See the discussion on Ruth 1:20 for the answer.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:11, should Hannah have bargained with God?
A: Scripture does not record any rebuke, and subsequent events showed that God answered her prayer for Samuel, and gave her more children besides Samuel. While neither Hannah nor Christians today think of God as an adversary in a negotiation session, being frank with God, and making a promise to God if He answers a prayer is fine. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.201 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:11, what would be the significance of no razor coming on her son's head?
A: This means he would be a Nazirite from birth. Read Numbers 6:1-14 for the regulations concerning Nazirites.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:12-14, why did Eli think Hannah was drunk?
A: Hannah was moving her mouth, but no audible words were coming out. A drunk might do this, but in this case Hannah was praying to God.
It is a sad commentary on the spiritual life of that time, that Eli was assuming a person doing this was drunk before he would consider that she was wrestling in prayer.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:12 (KJV), what does it mean that Eli "marked her mouth"?
A: This means that Eli watched or observed her mouth, as the NET, NKJV, Green's translation, NIV, NASB, and NRSV all say.
Q: In 1 Sam 1:16, 1 Sam 2:12, 1 Sam 10:27, 1 Sam 25:17,25, 1 Sam 30:22, and 1 Ki 21:10, who was Belial?
A: This was an idiom, similar to Jesus calling a person a son of the devil. While one could read the meaning as reprobate, probably this simply means that at that time they were doers of wickedness. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.214 says that this term could either mean a son of wickedness, or else a useless good-for-nothing. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.204 also says Belial means literally "not profitable", as in worthless or empty.
Q: Does 1 Sam 1:20 endorse polygamy?
A: In Old Testament times polygamy was tolerated and permitted though not endorsed. However, in the New Testament, a man cannot be an elder in the church unless he is the husband of but one wife. Christians do not say that polygamy was wrong, especially in the Old Testament, but that it is not God's perfect will.
Q: In 1 Sam 2, what is interesting about the literary structure?
A: 1 Samuel 2 uses a beautiful Hebrew literary device called a chiasm. Each topic is repeated in a symmetric fashion. Here is the analysis:
Hannah's song, citing the Lord's anointed (2:1-10)
— Samuel ministers before the Lord (2:11)
— — The sins of Eli's sons (2:12-17)
— Samuel ministers before the Lord (2:18-19)
— — — — Eli blesses the parents (2:20-21a)
— Samuel grows in the Lord's presence (23:21b)
— — The sins of Eli's sons (2:22-25)
— Samuel grows in the Lord's presence (2:26)
The oracle of the man of God, citing the Lord's anointed (2:27-36)
Other chiasms in the 1 Samuel are in 3:17; 3:1-4:1; 8:5-22, and 18:20-26. Other chiasms in 2 Samuel are 1:19-27; 5:17-8:18; and 23:1-7. Isaiah was also fond of chiasms. The chiasms in Isaiah include Isaiah 15:1-14; 21:1-10; 22:8-11; 22:12-14; 23:1-14; 24:1-13; 26:1-21; 27:1-13; 29:9-14; 32:1-5; 37:14-20; 38:1-8; 38:10-20; 41:17-20; 42:1-4; 42:13-17; 43:1-7; 43:8-13; 43:22-24; 43:25-44:5; 44:6-8; 48:17-22; 51:1-3; 51:7-8; 51:13-15; 55:1-13; 56:9-12; 59:14-20; 61:5-9; 63:15-64:12; 65:1-66:24; 65:17-18b; 65:18c-20; 66:5-14; 66:18-24.
Another example is Isaiah 22:1-14. In this case, within this chiasm are two other chiasms: 22:8-11 and 22:12-14.
Jeremiah 9:1-11; 20:24-18; Zechariah 6:9-15 are also chiasms. Ezekiel 26:3-14 has chiastic structure, though it is not a perfect chiasm.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.588 for more info.
Q: Why is 1 Sam 2:1-11 similar to Lk 1:46-55?
A: While there are great differences between the two, there are some similar sentiments. Perhaps this is because both women lived in uncertain times, lived under foreign oppression, and were overjoyed at having their first child. In their own ways, they both knew their child was special to the Lord.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:3-10, why did Hannah seem almost adversarial here against others?
A: Her prayer was an apt sign of those times. Many of the Israelites lived under Philistine oppression. Not only was there warfare to worry about, but living under an oppressor would mean tribute, and less money to fend off starvation.
It might have seemed confusing that since the Israelites were God's people, why would God allow the Philistines to have mastery over them.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:8, does the earth rest on pillars?
A: No, Hannah in her prayer did not exactly say that. Three points to consider in the answer.
In a prayer, even if one of God's worshippers says something scientifically wrong, that is OK. If the Bible accurately records what Hannah prayed, that is OK too.
However, Hannah did not use the common Hebrew word for "pillar" (ammud). Here the word is matsuwq, which Strong's Concordance says means something narrow, such as a column or a hilltop. Thus, this word is broader than just the word "column". The NIV translates this word as "foundation".
For that matter, Job in Job 26:7 says the earth rests on nothing.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.79-80 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:10, why did Hannah say God would give strength to His king, since there was no king yet?
A: First what is most likely not the answer, and then the answer.
Probably not the answer: God is a king, and the Father will give strength to Jesus our King. While the Hebrew word here, melek, simply means king, the last word in verse 10, anointed, masiah, is the Hebrew word for Messiah. Hannah's prayer, about God being the Rock, and deliverance, is similar to Mary's prayer in Luke 1.
The answer: Israel already knew they were going to get a king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and 28:36. Between Joshua and Samuel the Israelites had been oppressed by the King of Aram, Eglon King of Moab (a smaller people), the Philistines, Jabin king of Hazor, the Midianites, The Philistines plus the Ammonites, and the Philistines again. Perhaps now they would get a king. Samuel was anointed, but as a prophet, not a king. But Hannah probably had no idea how much God would use her son, in a pivotal way, in the history of Israel.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.434 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.194 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:10 (KJV), what does "exalted the horn of his anointed" mean?
A: Horn was a symbol of strength. While priests were anointed, this does not refers to a priest, as a priest would not have strength to defeat enemies. Anointed has two other meanings.
1. It could be a reference to a king or ruler. The New Geneva Study Bible believes this is the first reference in the Bible to a king after Abimelech.
2. "The anointed one" was a term for the Messiah, who would rescue Israel in the future.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:13, is there any supporting archaeological evidence of Samuel's sons using three-pronged forks?
A: While there is no archaeological evidence of the individuals involved, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.585 mentions that three-pronged forks for use in sacrifices have been excavated at Gezer.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:15 (KJV), what is "sodden flesh"?
A: The King James version term meant boiled, as the NKJV, NET, NIV, NASB, and NRSV all say.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:25, why did God want Eli's sons to die?
A: They sinned against God, and God did not choose to abruptly transform their hearts, such as He did with Saul of Tarsus. They showed no desire to repent, and God was not under any obligation to induce a desire in them that they did not have nor want. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.201-202 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:29, why did God rebuke Eli for the behavior of his sons?
A: It was they, not Eli that committed those sins, yet God held Eli responsible for tolerating the sins of his adult sons. Eli knew of these things, and reasoned with them to correct their error in 1 Samuel 2:22-26. However, sometimes there is a place for rebuke, and there is a place for consequences.
Correction is informing somebody of what they are doing wrong, when they were ignorant that they were doing so. Rebuke is exhorting somebody to do the right thing they already know to do. Eli's words seemed like mild correction, not severe rebuke. In addition, Eli should have kicked them out of serving at the Tabernacle immediately.
Q: In 1 Sam 2:36, what is God saying here?
A: As Eli's sons took the office of priest for granted, their descendants would be begging to be allowed to serve as priests in order to get food for their families.
Q: In 1 Sam 3:1 (KJV), how was the word of the Lord precious in those days?
A: This expression means that it was scarce. There were not many oracles from God at that time.
Q: In 1 Sam 3:1-4:1, what is interesting about the literary structure?
A: 1 Samuel 3-4:1 uses a Hebrew literary device called a chiasm. Each topic is repeated in a symmetric fashion. Here is the analysis:
God spoke rarely then (3:1)
— Eli weakening with age (3:2)
— — God calls Samuel three times (3:3-9)
— — — God speaks through Samuel (3:10-15)
— — Eli calls for Samuel's report (3:16-18)
— Samuel grows up in the LORD (3:19a)
God speaks often through Samuel (3:19b-4:1)
Other chiasms in the 1 Samuel are in 2, 3:17; 8:5-22, and 18:20-26. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.592 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 3:4-10, how come Samuel did not immediately recognize the voice as from God?
A: Apparently this was the first time Samuel had directly heard the voice of God, and he was unsure about this. God chose to use Eli's experience to educate Samuel.
It is interesting that Eli was so close to God in some ways, and yet so far away from God's will in other ways, such as the discipline of his own sons.
Q: In 1 Sam 3:13, did Eli not correct his sons, or did he correct them in 1 Sam 2:23-24?
A: Eli spoke to his sons in a mild way in 1 Samuel 2:23-40. He did not kick his sons out of the Temple service, and his manner of speaking indicated that if they did not change, there would be no consequences from him.
According to the Mosaic Law, they should have been stoned to death for committing adultery. See When Critics Ask p.157 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 3:17, what is interesting about the literary structure?
A: 1 Samuel 3:17 uses a Hebrew literary device called a chiasm. In addition, it is within a larger chiasm in 1 Samuel 3:1-4:1. Here is the analysis of 1 Samuel 3:17 (NKJV): And he said,
What is the word that the LORD spoke to you?
— Please do not hide it from me.
— — God do so to you, and more also,
— If you hide anything from me
of all the things that He said to you."
Other chiasms in the 1 Samuel are in 2, 3:1-4:1; 8:5-22, and 18:20-26. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.592 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 3:18, why did Eli seem so nonchalant about the curse against his family?
A: Eli's attitude was an interesting mix of truth and irresponsible error.
Truth: Eli knew that God's revealed will would not be changed here. His sons would not change, and Eli knew God's way was the best way, and that he was not one to question God.
Error: Eli seemed apathetic and almost fatalistic about the destruction of his own children.
Q: In 1 Sam 4:3-6, were the Israelites right to bring out the ark to battle?
A: Scripture does not say that God told them to do so. They probably thought that if they brought out the ark, either God would want to give them more protection, or God would be forced to give them more protection because He would protect His own ark. However, God was more concerned with the holiness of His people than their care of the ark.
Today, sometimes people can be more concerned with the cities, buildings, religious objects, and organizations than with the holiness of the people. God's view should be our view.
Q: In 1 Sam 4:11, is there any archaeological evidence that the Philistines captured the ark?
A: Yes. According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.596 in an iron-age grain silo in Izbet Sarteh, a broken piece of pottery was found containing five lines. According to William H. Shea, the first four lines read "Unto the field we came, (unto) Aphek from Shiloh. The Kittim took (it [the Ark of the Covenant] and) came to Azor, (to) Dagon lord of Ashdod, (and to) Gath. (It returned to) Kiriath Jearim. The companion of the foot soldiers, Hophni, came to tell the elders, 'A horse has come (and) upon (it was my) brother for us to bury'" There is apparently some uncertainty about the reading, though. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.596 gives the source references for further study.
Q: In 1 Sam 5:1-10, what do we know about the Philistines and their five major cities of Ashdod, Gath, Ekron, Gaza, and Ashkelon?
A: The Philistines were the still formidable remnants of a powerful and sophisticated sea peoples from more ancient times. Archaeology tells use the Philistines were skilled at smelting iron and using chariots in warfare. As all or part of the "Sea Peoples", they were defeated in a naval battle off of the coast of Egypt about 1190 B.C. They might have been the same people who destroyed the Hittite capital of Khattushah. The Egyptians called them the "PRST", and the Assyrians called them the Pilisti and Palastu.
An interesting piece of trivia is that while dogs were often not thought of very highly in other Mideast cultures, the Biblical Archaeology Review Jan./Feb. 1991 p.26 reports that at Ashkelon the Phoenicians had a dog cemetery with 220 burials.
We are not aware of any warfare of the Philistines among themselves. They had many powerful warriors, and after defeating them, David enlisted some of their soldiers as his elite guard.
The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.271 has an insightful comment that the Philistines were "... the most technologically advanced, best organized, and hence most dangerous of the early enemies of Israel."
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1332-1335 for an extensive article on the Philistines.
Q: In 1 Sam 5:2-5, what do we know about the Philistine idol named Dagon?
A: Baal was said to be the son of Dagon in the Ugaritic religion. The Babylonians as well as the Philistines worshipped Dagon. Dagon was worshipped in Canaan prior to both the Israelites and Philistines, and as late as 147 B.C. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.704 for more info.
It used to be thought that Dagon was a fish-God, from the word dag for fish, but now scholars believe he was a grain god, from dagan, for grain. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.601-602 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 5:6-12, what is so poetic about this passage?
A: This is the only in this place that the writer introduces the term "hand of the Lord". Dagon's hands being cut off meant that the idol was powerless and helpless, in contrast to the Israelites now being able to see the hand of the Lord. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.600 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 5:12 and 1 Sam 6:5,17 (KJV), what are "emerods"?
A: There is some uncertainty on the meaning of this Hebrew word. It probably means tumors, though it could also have meant hemorrhoids. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.602 says it might actually be describing "buboles" a symptom of bubonic plague.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:1-4, was the advice of the Philistine priests and diviners correct?
A: It was not necessarily correct because they understood all about the True God. However, it was correct, as God "made it correct". Given their imperfect knowledge of God, the Lord accepted their sacrifice and turned the plague away from them.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:1-4, could idol priests give correct advice about what the true God desires?
A: In general, no. But certainly they could get a few things correct. Ancient people had the idea that they should not approach a deity empty-handed, and the Old Testament has a similar principle.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:7,10 (KJV), what is "milk kine"?
A: These were two female cows that had young and were giving milk.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:8,11,15 (KJV), what is a coffer?
A: A coffer here is a box. Often the term coffer refers to a money box. In this case, the coffer did not contain money per se, but it contained gold.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:9, was the Philistines' method a good method to use?
A: In this particular case, God allowed their simple method to work. However, do not go out and buy two cows just yet, because nothing in this verse suggests that this is a pattern believers should follow.
In general, a problem with using oxen, coin tosses, or similar methods is that they will always seem to work. For example, let's say you flipped a coin to see if God wanted to say "Yes" or "No" about something. What if God did not want to answer? What if God wanted you to use your own judgment, and for better or for worse, decide, based what was in your heart? There is no way for God to "pass" on answering with these methods.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:9, were the Philistines right to think that it could have happened by chance?
A: No. What is chance? According to scientists and mathematicians, with two possible exceptions, they have never observed any truly random event that had no cause. (One possible exception is radioactive decay, about which we know very little. A second possible exception, from an atheistic perspective, is the origin of the universe.)
When people commonly say "chance events" they really mean what mathematicians call "chaotic events". Chaotic events are such that an observer cannot predict the outcome, except by observing the outcome. Small changes in input conditions can mean large changes in output conditions. Many things are chaotic, in that within predictable bounds they are unpredictable. God is uncreated and the first cause, and we know of thing that could begin with no cause whatsoever.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:9, why did the Philistines choose to send the cart to Beth-Shemesh instead of back to Ephraim?
A: Scripture does not say, but a skeptical work, Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.272-273 has two interesting speculations, which might be correct here.
1. Though Beth-Shemesh was far from Philistia proper, it was still under Philistine influence. Archaeologists have found numerous Philistine artifacts from Beth-Shemesh from this time.
2. The ark came from Ephraim, and the territory of Benjamin and Dan was between Judah and Ephraim. Perhaps the Philistines did not mind Israelites under their influence to have it, but they did not want to give it back to the Ephraimites.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:16, who were the five lords of the Philistines?
A: The Philistines had a rather unique method of rule. Instead of one king or ruler, and instead of separate little petty states, their were five essentially "governors" over each of the five principle cities and their surrounding towns and regions. These five rulers decided things together. Millennia later, the Romans briefly had a similar system with a triumvirate of three rulers who had Supreme authority in the Roman Empire.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:19, why did God kill the Israelites of Beth-Shemesh?
A: On a physical level, it was because they looked inside the ark. God was not "required" to kill everyone who looked into the ark, even if they were forced against their will to do so. Rather, on a deeper level, God killed those Israelites because they had such a low respect for the holiness of God that they looked inside of the Ark of the Covenant. See When Critics Ask p.156 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:19, does the Hebrew say 50,070, or 70?
A: Most Hebrew manuscripts have 50,070, and a few Hebrew manuscripts have 70. Scholars disagree as to which was the original number.
70: The NSRV and RSV Catholic version translate this as 70, mentioning 50,070 in footnotes. The NIV Study Bible p.383 says it should be 70, because 50,070 was written in a grammatically incorrect way. Gleason Archer in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.222 says the number is suspiciously high, and on p.169 says that there were two correct ways to write numbers
1) 70 man and 50,000 man
2) 50,000 man and 70 man.
Archer points out that neither pattern is followed in the translation "70 man 50,000 man". This is probably why Green's Literal Translation says "70 among the people, [including] 50 chief men".
Archer also mentions that textual errors are more frequent in 1 Samuel than in any other Old Testament book. A few Hebrew manuscripts do not have 50,070, and Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 6.1.4 (c.93-94 A.D.) said the number was only 70.
50,070: The KJV, NKJV, NASB, NET, and the Septuagint say 50,070, though the NET discusses this issue in a footnote. The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.606 says that since the major Hebrew manuscripts have this, either in the text or else in the margin, 50,070 is "textually secure" vs. 70.
1,000: Changing the spacing before one letter to after the letter changes the meaning from "He struck down among the people seventy men [and] fifty thousand men" to "He struck down the people for seven days, men for five days, a thousand men" This was suggested by R. Althann, "Consonantal ym: Ending or Noun in Isaiah 3:13; Jeremiah 7:16; 1 Samuel 6:19 in Biblica 63, 4 : p.563-565. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.l3 p.606 mentions this view.
See also When Critics Ask p.156 for a complementary answer.
Q: In 1 Sam 6:19, how did God kill so many people in Beth-Shemesh?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. The Hebrew does not necessarily mean males, but can refer to men and women.
2. There was a Beth-Shemesh in Naphtali, but this refers to the Beth-Shemesh bordering Judah and Dan.
3. Beth-Shemesh was an ancient town, first settled before Abraham's time. While the New Bible Dictionary p.146 says it was an important town, it was not the size of Hazor or Jerusalem. An estimate of the population of both the town and surrounding farms is only 20,000 people.
4. The number here is not necessarily 50,070 but only 70, or possibly 1,000. See the previous question for the arguments pro and con for this point.
5. If it was in fact 50,070 people, this number would undoubtedly include people who came from other towns to gawk at the ark.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.169 for more info. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.223 for more info on Beth-Shemesh.
Q: In 1 Sam 7:3-4, why did Samuel tell the Israelites to put away the foreign gods among them?
A: This verse alludes to a sad fact. Many among the Israelites were still worshipping other gods.
Q: In 1 Sam 7:5, do the future battles against the Philistines show that 1 Samuel was wrong to show that the Philistines were massively defeated under Samuel as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.274 says?
A: No, because it was not recorded that the Philistines were massively defeated with great loss of life. Furthermore, the result of the battle was not that the Israelites conquered the Philistines, but that the Israelites had freedom from the Philistines for a period of time.
Sometimes a general chooses to retreat prior to their being great losses.
Q: In 1 Sam 7:13, did the Philistines no longer occupy the territory of Israel, or did they continue to fight later in Samuel?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
At that time, the Philistines did not either occupy Israel or fight the Israelites.
From that time on, the Philistines did not live in Israel's territory. Even after Israel's defeat at Aphek, the Philistines probably were more interested in receiving tribute and ruling over the Israelites than occupying their land.
Regardless of whether one interprets 1 Samuel 7:13 to mean the time after the battle, or from that time on, it is an accurate statement.
See When Critics Ask p.157 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 7:14, how were all the cities from Ekron to Gath restored to Israel?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. It does not say that all the Philistine cities were given to Israel.
2. It does not necessarily mean that Ekron and Gath were given to Israel. Indeed, it is most probable that those two cities remained in Philistine hands.
3. Rather, the smaller towns between Ekron and Gath, that the Israelites at one time occupied, were returned to Israel.
Q: In 1 Sam 7:16, is this Gilgal different from the Gilgal Joshua went to, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.274 categorically states?
A: It is probably the same according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.440 and the New Geneva Study Bible p.387. The liberal Dummelow's Bible Commentary p.186 says it was probably the same. The New Bible Dictionary p.469-470 mentions that there was a Gilgal which was "opposite the ascent of Adummim" However, it says this might be the same Gilgal as the famous one east of Jericho. The liberal Harper's Bible Dictionary p.227-228 mentions that it might be the same Gilgal as Joshua's or it might be between Mizpah and Bethel. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.609 says this Gilgal was "perhaps modern Khirbet el-Mefjer) and was a few miles from Bethel and Mizpah.
Q: In 1 Sam 8:1, why did Samuel make his evil sons judges over Israel?
A: His sons were lovers of money and bribes. Perhaps Samuel learned his manner of parenting and tolerating his children's sins from Eli's bad example.
Q: In 1 Sam 8:5-22, what is interesting about the literary structure?
A: 1 Samuel 8:5-22 uses an interesting Hebrew literary device called a chiasm. Each topic is repeated in a symmetric fashion. The Expositor's Bible Commentary says that this chiasm is unusual, in that each even topic reverses the speaker of the previous topic. Here is the analysis from The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.615:
The people to Samuel (8:5)
— Samuel to the Lord (8:6)
— — The Lord to Samuel (8:7-9)
— Samuel to the people (8:10-18)
— — The people to Samuel (8:19-20)
— Samuel to the Lord (8:21)
— — The Lord to Samuel (8:22a)
Samuel to the people (8:22b)
This chiasm was also mentioned in The Kingship of God p.258-259.
Other chiasms in the 1 Samuel are in 3:17; 3:1-4:1; 8:5-22, and 18:20-26.
Q: In 1 Sam 8:7-9, why did God dislike their asking for a king?
A: Deuteronomy 17:14-20 shows that God planned they would eventually have a king. However, in 1 Samuel 9:7-9, God disliked their motive for asking. They asked because they did not want God to rule them directly and they wanted to be like the other nations, as 1 Samuel 8:20 shows. A king could effectively muster the army and lead them in battle. However, God knew that kings have a habit of considering the kingdom to be theirs, and people can tend to live to serve the king more than the One, True King of all Creation.
While scripture does not say hypothetically what would have happened if they had not asked, perhaps God would have given the people David as the first king of the unified land instead of Saul
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.169-170, When Critics Ask p.157-158, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.202-204 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 8:11, why did God say the king would have chariots and horses, since Dt 17:16-17 says the king should not have chariots and horses?
A: God was not saying what he desired, but rather prophesying how the kings they asked for would oppress the people, as 1 Samuel 8:18 shows.
Q: In 1 Sam 8:18, why did God allow the Midianites to kill Gideon's brothers?
A: We do not know all of God's counsel, but the faith of one person is not a substitute for the faith of another. One question we can wonder about though, is why were Gideon's brothers at Tabor instead of in the army with Gideon?
Q: In 1 Sam 9:12,18, how did Saul not recognize a famous person like Samuel?
A: Remember, this is in the days before photographs, TV, and printing presses. Saul and his servant definitely had known of Samuel, according to 1 Samuel 9:6-8. However, they had never met him before, and so they had never seen his face, and it would not be expected that they would recognize him.
Not being able to recognize his face does not mean "he did not even know of Samuel", contrary to what Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.275 asserts.
Q: In 1 Sam 9:21, was Saul just being falsely modest to say that he was from the smallest clan from the smallest tribe of Israel?
A: Saul was from the smallest tribe, Benjamin. We cannot verify whether he was from the smallest clan or not.
Q: In 1 Sam 10:1 did Samuel privately anoint Saul king, or was Saul publicly declared king in 1 Sam 10:17-24?
A: Both are correct. There are four points to consider in the answer.
Anointing in private occurred in 1 Samuel 10:1.
Public proclamation and acceptance as king occurred in 1 Samuel 10:17-24. Lacking from this passage is any mention of Saul being anointed, as kings were. This is because he was already privately anointed in 1 Samuel 10:1.
The same pattern occurred with both Saul and David becoming king.
|private anointing||1 Sam 10:1||1 Sam 16:13|
|filled with the Spirit||1 Sam 10:5-12||1 Sam 16:13|
|Public proclamation||1 Sam 10:19-24||1 Sam 16:13|
|God's spirit possibly leaving||1 Sam 15:14||Ps 51:11|
Q: In 1 Sam 10:20-21, was Saul chosen by lot, chosen by the people in 1 Sam 8:19, or chosen by God in 1 Sam 9:17; 10:24?
A: All of the above are true. Primarily, God chose Saul. Casting lots was simply a means of demonstrating God's choice. Once this was done, all the people approved, with a few exceptions noted in 1 Samuel 10:27.
Q: In 1 Sam 10:5; 18:6 what are these instruments?
A: We are not sure. The KJV translated this as psaltery and tabret, but we don't know what those are either. The NIV translates this as "lyres and tambourines". The NASB and NET translate this as "harps and tambourines". The NKJV translates this as "stringed instruments and tambourines".
Q: In 1 Sam 10:11,12, why did Saul prophesy, since Saul later turned evil?
A: The giving of the Spirit, and the giving of prophecy were different in Old Testament times than New Testament times. The Holy Spirit could leave a disobedient Old Testament believer, as He did Samson in Judges 16:20. David was concerned that the Holy Spirit might leave him in Psalm 51:11
Q: In 1 Sam 10:16, why did Saul not tell his uncle he was anointed king?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can speculate on a couple of reasons.
1. Saul perhaps thought his uncle would not believe him.
2. Perhaps Saul himself was not sure what to make to Samuel's action. After all, at this point there was no proof that all of Israel would accept Saul as king.
Q: In 1 Sam 10:27-11:1, do we have any other evidence on Nahash the Ammonite wanting to gouge out people's eyes?
A: Yes, Josephus mentions Nahash's practice in Antiquities of the Jews 6.5.1. The Dead Sea Scroll 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)) also says that Nahash had already gouged out the eyes of Gadites and Reubenites. See The Dead Sea Scrolls & Modern Translations of the Old Testament p.119 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 11:8, where the numbers in the army too high, and was the division into Judah and Israel anachronistic, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.278 claims?
A: No. Actually the population of the Israelites from the time of the Exodus to David's time was fairly constant, with some ebb and flow. This number is considerably less than the census after the Exodus. However, 1 Samuel 11:8 did not say that Saul was successful in mustering every single able-bodied man.
Also, while it was not anachronistic because tribes had a fair degree of independence from each other, remember that 1 and 2 Samuel were written after there was civil war between Judah and the northern tribes with David fighting Saul's son.
Q: In 1 Sam 11:3,10 should this word be "surrender" (NIV), or "come out"?
A: Both verses use the Hebrew word yatsa', (Strong's 3318) which has a wide variety of meaning. Here are various translations:
"Give ourselves up" NRSV
"come out" KJV, NKJV, NASB, uNASB, NET, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.637
The entire verse is absent in Green's Literal translation.
Q: In 1 Sam 11:10, did the people of Jabesh Gilead trick the Ammonites?
A: No. Let's look at this first from the Ammonite viewpoint, then the Gileadite viewpoint, and then what was communicated.
The Ammonites understood what the Gileadites were doing and even agreed to give them seven days to ask for reinforcements in verse 3. The Ammonites were so confident of both their army and the Israelite's disorganization that they specifically allowed the Gileadites seven days. By doing this, the Ammonites thought they would have them as servants without having to fight.
The Gileadites said they would "come out" tomorrow, hoping they could trust Saul, but knowing their seven days were up.
They communicated that they would "come out" and both The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.637 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.104 says that this Hebrew word has a broad meaning, just as "come out" does in English. It can mean "attack" as well as "surrender".
Q: In 1 Sam 12:11, who is Bedan?
A: The Hebrew manuscripts read Bedan, while the Septuagint and Syriac read Barak.
X Bedan might have been some one who was not documented as a judge anywhere else. (1 Chronicles 7:17 mentions a Bedan of Manasseh.) However, while nothing in scripture prevents this, this view is highly unlikely. Manuscripts of 1 Samuel have more typographical errors than most Old Testament books, and it is likely that this is a typographical error. It also would be somewhat strange for Samuel to remind the people of an obscure judge they never heard of, so the people probably heard of the person here. If the person was famous enough for the people to have all remembered him, it would be likely he was mentioned in the history in the book of Judges.
Barak in Judges 4-5 was the judge intended here. The Expositor's Bible Dictionary vol.3 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.304 hold to this view. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.443 for more on the first two views.
Abdon in Judges 12:13-15 and 1 Chronicles 9:26 was intended here. One helpful reader sent in this: "A common transformation called the Canaanite Shift would account for the transformation from Abdon to Bedan in the text. See Merrill F. Unger, the New Unger's Bible Dictionary p.3 and 152. ...
The note about Abdon being a Benjamite is significant since Samuel is setting up a comparison here between the new king Saul and the judges. In doing so, it is expected that Saul would meet or exceed the accomplishments of the judges, but sadly he fails." Strong's Concordance also says that Bedan is probably shortened for Abdon.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.211 and the New International Bible Dictionary p.130-131 also mention the "Barak" and "Abdon" views.
Q: In 1 Sam 12:23, is it a sin not to pray for some one?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
Yes, it is a sin not to pray for some one for which you should be praying.
However, there were some cases where God specifically instructed Jeremiah not to pray for the disobedient Israelites.
Q: In 1 Sam 13:1, what does the Hebrew say?
A: According to Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.279-280, it says, "Saul was one year old when he began to reign."
We can agree that there was a copyist error here. The conservative Christian reference books Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.171-172 and When Critics Ask p.159 say the same thing. The NIV footnote says "thirty" is in the translation because a few late Septuagint manuscripts have "thirty". The Masoretic text we have says "... Saul was ... [a] year old".
Q: In 1 Sam 13:2, does the phrase "in his tent" mean the Israelites were still nomadic?
A: It gives us a hint that many of the Israelites were nomadic. Probably the majority of the Israelites did not dwell in walled cities. Today many nomads prefer a tent to a house. A tent is also more convenient for moving when the sheep and cattle are moved between the wet season and the dry season.
In Rehoboam's time most of the people were3 not nomadic, and when the northern kingdom stopped serving Rehoboam, 1 Kings 12:16f says, "So Israel departed to their tents."
Q: In 1 Sam 13:5, how were there 30,000 chariots and only 6,000 charioteers?
A: This was a scribal error in the Hebrew. The Greek Septuagint says 3,000 chariots. Philistines used chariots with two people. See Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.46, When Critics Ask p.159-160, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.172-173 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 13:13, how was Saul rejected from his dynasty reigning for all time, since the throne was prophesied to Judah in Gen 49:10?
A: While God can make conditional promises to people, God did not even make a conditional promise to Saul here. God informed Saul of what he lost by his disobedience.
Genesis 49:10 shows that Saul's disobedience was not a surprise to God. God had already planned on Saul freely choosing to disobey, and the later choice of David.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.173, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.204-206, and When Critics Ask p.160 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 13:14, how could David be a man after God's own heart, since David later committed some very serious sins?
A: Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.54 answers this well. "David's lies, wars, and adulteries are recorded with as much accuracy as his piety and his triumphs. He was a man after God's own heart, not because he never sinned, but because, having sinned, he repented."
Q: In 1 Sam 13:21 (NASB and KJV), what is a "file" or "edge" for the mattocks?
A: This should have been translated as 2/3 of a shekel as the NET, NIV and NRSV translate it. The NKJV leaves the word pim untranslated, but says in a footnote that it is two-thirds of a shekel.
Until this century, the Hebrew word here pim was not known elsewhere, so the translators of the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible could not have known what it meant. However, the New International Bible Dictionary p.1063 says that recent archaeological excavations have uncovered weights marked as "pim" which are 2/3 of a shekel.
Pim was a word that nobody would know what it meant for a 2,000 year period, yet the letters were translated accurately. See The Qur'an and the Bible p.133 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 13:22, why did the Israelite soldiers not have any swords or spears, since they had to have weapons to defeat the Ammonites back in 1 Sam 11:11?
A: You can have many weapons without having swords or spears. Sword blades are made entirely out of metal, and spears all have metal spearheads. The point of 1 Samuel 13:22 is that they did not have those kinds of metal weapons, because the Philistines held a monopoly on iron-smelting. If the Israelites had any swords or spears before, the Philistines would want to confiscate them to keep any Israelite uprising ineffective. The Israelites would still have sharp metal objects for farming, but in war they would be at a distinct disadvantage.
However, the Israelites were not defenseless. They still had other weapons, such as:
Axes (1 Samuel 13:20) (Battleaxes were one of the preferred weapons of Franks and Vikings) Those would be needed on a farm, so the Philistines permitted those.
Sharpened metal tips on farm implements such as scythes, pitchforks, and mattocks. (1 Samuel 13:20-21) (In the Middle Ages, massed scythes were effective weapons against mounted armored knights in the Hussite Revolt.)
Daggers and various knives (Judges 3:16) (Short swords, not long swords, were the preferred weapon of later Roman soldiers for close combat.)
Slings (Judges 20:13; 1 Samuel 17:50)
Ox-goads with metal tips (Judges 3:31; 1 Samuel 13:21) Ox-goads could be up to 7-10 feet long.
Possibly hammers (Judges 4:21)
Probably various clubs and sharpened wood poles.
Probably few Israelites besides Jonathan used bows and arrows yet.
In summary, the Israelites probably had an abundance of weapons and farm tools, but what they lacked were spears, swords, and other iron weapons besides those.
Q: In 1 Sam 14:15, how was there such great trembling?
A: The Philistines trembled with fear that only two (albeit well-armed) Hebrews killed twenty Philistine warriors. A minor earthquake happening at that time would tend to make them tremble with fear even more, suspecting that supernatural forces were against them.
Q: In 1 Sam 14:37-38, why did God not answer the priests here?
A: There are at least four points to observe here.
1. Saul was rash in pronouncing the curse against any Israelite that ate that day. Saul probably did that so that no one would stop pursuing the Philistines and start looting, but his decree robbed them of strength for that day.
2. God did not say "no", but rather did not answer, to see how far their rashness would carry them.
3. It probably was better that they did not pursue the Philistines in their exhausted state, after not eating.
4. God did not answer them because there was some unfinished business they had with God first. It was known to some that Jonathan had eaten honey. If that was not dealt with, people would take lightly things said to the Lord. After it was brought out in the open, and the army saw that it was not just for Jonathan to die, then they could go on.
Q: In 1 Sam 14:30, was Jonathan being disrespectful here, saying the command of his father the king was wrong?
A: On one hand, Jonathan's words were correct; Saul did make a mistake. As a commander in battle, it was fine to point out possible mistakes to his superior.
However, on the other hand, instead of Jonathan privately telling Saul that he made a mistake, Jonathan pointed out Saul's mistake publicly. Even if Jonathan was disrespectful to his father and king though, there is no suggestion that we should follow Jonathan's example. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.281 sees a certain coldness here between the king and heir apparent, that is not uncommon in monarchies. If you read 1 Samuel 14:44, where Saul promises he will kill Jonathan that day, perhaps Asimov is correct here.
Q: In 1 Sam 14:32-34,43, why were all the Israelite soldiers not executed, since they ate meat with blood?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. One did not have to microscopically drain every drop, but Leviticus 17:13 indicates all they had to do was simply drain the blood in the field prior to eating.
2. However, 1 Samuel 14:32-34 clearly indicates that at first the hungry Israelite soldiers did not even do that like they were supposed to do.
3. Samuel did not approve of their actions. Whether done out of ignorance, haste to eat, or both, Samuel insisted that they obey God's law.
4. Saul wanted to put anyone to death, even his own son Jonathan, for breaking his own rule he made that day. However, it was inconsistent that Saul did not even think of punishing the soldiers for breaking God's rule made some centuries before.
5. In the three thousand years since this was written, has anything really changed? Even today, many leaders of religious groups are more concerned with people breaking their own rules, which have no basis in the Bible, than in breaking God's rules.
Q: In 1 Sam 14:32-34,43, what other lessons can we learn for today?
A: There are at least two lessons we can learn.
1. There can be extenuating circumstances that lighten or remove a temporal punishment for breaking a law of God or law of the land. Romans 4:15 and 5:12 also show this.
2. If a religious leader is more concerned with God's people obeying their new law, than with God's commands for us, there is something wrong. That leader's emphasis should not be followed.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:1-5, why did God tell Saul to destroy all the Amalekites?
A: We can see three reasons why God gave this command to Saul.
1. The Israelites were commanded by God to kill all the inhabitants of Canaan, and the Amalekites lived, at least in part, in Canaan.
2. There was an ancient and continuing hostility between them and the Israelites.
3. Before coming to Canaan, the Amalekites attacked the Israelites without provocation, and ambushed various groups of them.
It is curious that Saul had it appear he was willing to kill his own son because of his oath in 1 Samuel 14:44, yet Saul was not willing to kill all the Amalekites.
See When Critics Ask p.161 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.206-207 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:11,35, why did God repent that He made Saul king?
A: The word can also be translated "grieved." God expresses His emotions in time as events occur. Jeremiah 15:8 goes into detail on this. Also see the discussion on Genesis 20:3,6, When Critics Ask p.41,161, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.205-206, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.108-109, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.80-81,173-174 for more extensive answers.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:11, why was Samuel "grieved all night"?
A: It was not that they should never have a king, but they should not have insisted on a king like the other nations instead of God. Finally, when they got a king, they got a king who took obedience to God lightly and obeyed in a half-hearted way.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:19, why were God and Samuel angry that Saul kept the plunder?
A: Since they would benefit from the plunder, others could claim that obeying God was only a pretense, claiming the war was really for plunder.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:22, why is obedience better than sacrifice?
A: The sacrifice of an obedient believer is precious to God. It demonstrates the person's submission to the Lord. However, sacrifices done out of a heart that is not willing to submit to God cannot really demonstrate genuine submission to God. Serving under God is not better than obedience to God. The Amalekites did not fear God, but apparently neither did Saul.
In a similar way, Paul soberly warns us in 1 Corinthians 13:3 that if we give away all we have and are burned to death for the Christian faith, yet we do not have love, our sacrifice is of no benefit.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.207-208 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:23, how is arrogance like the evil of idolatry?
A: Arrogance is assuming for yourself or others a place that belongs to some one else. Idolatry is the height of arrogance. A person assumes, for himself or his idol, a place that belongs to God, who created Him. We should worship nothing or no one except for God.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:26, once Samuel told Saul that God rejected Saul as king, should Saul have stepped down as king?
A: Samuel apparently did not expect Saul to step down immediately. However, when David was anointed as king, Saul was not asked to step down, perhaps because it was certain he would not be obedient and do so.
Note that for all of Saul's reign after his war against the Amalekites, he was a king who knew he was in a place he should not have been.
An important point is that David was honoring of Saul anyway.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:29 and Num 23:19, since God will not "repent", why did God repent in 1 Sam 15:11,35?
A: See the discussion on Genesis 6:6 and Genesis 20:3-6 for the answer.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:54, how did David take Goliath's head to Jerusalem, since Jerusalem was not under Israelite control until later?
A: Later than what? It was obviously later that David brought Goliath's head to Jerusalem. 1 Samuel 17:54 completes the story of David and Goliath. It does not say how much time passed before David came to Jerusalem, and it does not say that nothing else happened in between these events. It is easy to make mistakes if one reads details into 1 Samuel 17:53-54 that are not there.
See When Critics Ask p.164 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 15:35 how did Saul not see Samuel's face again, since Saul prophesied in Samuel's presence in 1 Samuel 19:24?
A: 1 Samuel 15:35 can be taken two ways:
a) Saul literally would not see Samuel's face again, or
b) an expression that Samuel would never come to see Saul again as he had before until his death.
Assuming it means the first way, in 1 Samuel 19:24, while Saul was on his way to hunt down and kill David, God caused Saul to lose control and prophesy. That he lost control is evidenced not just by stripping off his robes, but by laying that way on the road to David and Samuel in Ramah all that day and night. Saul was definitely out of it. 1 Samuel 19:24 does not say either that Saul, lying motionless the same way saw Samuel, or that Samuel came close enough for Saul to see Samuel's face even if he was cognizant of his surroundings.
Assuming it means the second way, Samuel never again went to see Saul. But if that is true, then what about the witch of Endor incident in 1 Samuel 28:10-11? This might not have been Samuel, but a demon impersonating Samuel. However, even if it were Samuel, 1 Samuel 15:35 only says Saul would not see Samuel's face again "until the day Samuel died".
Q: In 1 Sam 16:1-3, why did God command Samuel to mislead people?
A: Concealing something and lying are not the same. Every time you leave your house and leave the lights on, you might be misleading would-be burglars, but you are not sinning by lying. Lying is knowingly saying something that is untrue. Samuel never lied, and God never commanded Samuel to lie.
God did instruct Samuel to not tell all the truth. That is OK. When some one would do evil by killing you if you told everything you know, then do not tell everything you know. Samuel was told to do two things:
1) offer a sacrifice at Bethlehem
2) anoint a new king
Samuel told others he was going to do the first, but Samuel did not tell people he also was going to do the second. In similar situations today, believers can do the same.
See When Critics Ask p.162, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.175-178, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions 223-224, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.210-211 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 16:4, why did the elders of Bethlehem ask Samuel if he came in peace?
A: Samuel was the Hebrew most responsible for the victory over the Philistines at Gibeah in 1 Samuel 7:9-13. God supernaturally helped the Israelites while Samuel was offering a sacrifice. Since Samuel was coming to Bethlehem to offer a sacrifice, the elders might be apprehensive about what was going to happen this time.
Q: Prior to 1 Sam 16:4 and the time of Saul, is the tribe of Judah so much ignored in the Bible that there is strong suspicion that it was not considered a part of Israel up to that time, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.284 says?
A: No, here are the facts: In Judges chapters 1 to 18, here are the number of times each tribe is mentioned:
Judah (16 times) Judges 1:2,3,4,8,9,16,17,18,19; 10:9; 15:9,11; 17:7 (2x), 9, 12
Simeon (2 times) Judges 1:3,17
Ephraim (24 times) Judges 1:29; 2:9; 3:27; 4:5; 5:14; 7:24 (2x) 8:1,2; 10:1,9; 12:1; 12:4 (3x), 12:5 (3x), 12:6,15; 17:1,8; 18:2,12
Joseph (2 times) Judges 1:22,35
Manasseh (5 times) Judges 1:27; 6:15,35; 7:23; 12:4
Benjamin (4 times) Judges 1:21; 3:15; 5:14; 10:9
Asher (4 times) Judges 1:31; 5:17; 6:35; 7:23
Zebulun (7 times) Judges 1:30; 4:7,10; 5:14,18; 6:35; 12:11
Issachar (2 times) Judges 5:15 (2x)
Dan (10 times) Judges 1:34; 5:17; 13:2,25; 18:1,2,11,12,16,22
Levite (5 times) Judges 17:9,11,12; 18:3,15
Naphtali (8 times) Judges 1:33 (2x); 4:6,7,10; 5:18; 6:35; 7:23
Gilead (2 times) Judges 10:3,17
Makir (1 time) Judges 5:14
Reuben (2 times) Judges 5:15,16
The rest of Judges primarily concerns Benjamin, but here are the numbers for that.
Benjamin (42 times) 19:14,16; 20:3,4,10,12,13,15,17,18,20,21,23,24,25,28,30,31,32,34,35 (2x), 36 (2x), 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48; 21:1,6,14,15,16,17,18,20,21,23
Judah (5 times) 19:1,2,19 (2x); 20:18
Ephraim (2 times) 19:1,16
Levites (2 times) 19:1; 20:4
Dan (1 time) 20:1
Gilead (1 time) 20:1
Conclusion: Looking at the numbers, it is very hard to see why Asimov thought Judah was ignored so much that it was not considered a part of Israel until Saul's time. It was mentioned more than any other tribe except Ephraim.
Q: In 1 Sam 16:9-10, what were the names of David's brothers and sisters?
A: Their names are given in 1 Chronicles 2:13-17.
Q: In 1 Sam 16:10, did Jesse have 8 sons with David being the youngest, or was David the seventh son of Jesse as 1 Chr 2:13-15 says?
A: There are two different answers.
Seven: 1 Samuel has more copyist errors than most other Old Testament books, and this could be a copyist error in 1 Samuel.
Eight: This might be a copyist error in 1 Chronicles. The Syriac of 1 Chronicles 27:18 lists both Eliab and Elihu as sons, which makes eight sons. The Hebrew of 1 Chronicles lists Elihu but not Eliab, and the Septuagint lists Eliab but not Elihu. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.239 prefers this answer.
Childhood death: In ancient times children often died before reaching adulthood. Thus Jesse had eight sons, but only seven adult sons. When Critics Ask p.163 points out that many times people then only spoke in terms of their surviving children.
See also Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.174 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 16:14,23, and 1 Sam 18:10, how did an evil spirit from God come on Saul?
A: In Hebrew, "evil" has two meanings: 1) moral evil and 2) something that is hurtful or harmful. The second meaning is intended here. Whether God sent an angel to punish Saul, or whether God allowed a demon to torment Saul, either way, this was expressly permitted by God.
Muslims should not be surprised that the term "evil" can mean harm, and not just moral evil. The term is used in this way in their own writings, in the Bukhari Hadith volume 3 book 29 ch.7 no.56 p.35.
See When Critics Ask p.165-166, Difficulties in the Bible p.109-110, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.211-212, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.178-180 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 16:21-23, did David become Saul's armor bearer before fighting Goliath, or after in 1 Sam 17:4?
A: There is no reason David could not have been the armor bearer before fighting Goliath. Since there is nothing saying 1 Samuel 17 was after David being armor bearer, and there is no requirement that a truthful account be in strict chronological order when it does not claim to be so, David could have been armor bearer either before or after this.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:4, how tall was Goliath?
A: The Masoretic text says six cubits and a span, or roughly 9 feet 9 inches. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.287 also says this is just over nine feet. However, both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint say four cubits and a span, which would be roughly 6 feet, 9 inches, which is still rather tall.
The liberal Harper's Bible Dictionary (1961) p.231) mentions that "recovered skeletons prove that men as tall as Goliath lived in Palestine." The conservative Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.709 also says, "Recovered skeletons of equal height from archaeological excavations at Gezer and other sites bear out the unusually tall stature of individuals in ancient Palestine at roughly the same period." (also ibid p.676) In 2008, the University of North Carolina Ashville basketball team had a player named Kenny George, who was 7 ft 8 inches tall and 360 pounds. The world's tallest man today is Bao Xishun from China, and according to Wikipedia he is 7 ft 9 inches. Some people grow very tall if they have a genetic disorder causing the pituitary gland to provide too much Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
Regardless of whether he was the size of a professional basketball player or even taller, he would be menacing to a young teenage boy.
As a side note, modern people are significantly taller than ancient people, and scientists are not sure why. One mistaken view was that since Americans eat animals that have been given drugs that make them grow larger, people are larger. The problem with the view is that European farmers must obey laws against using these drugs. Europeans today are as tall as Americans today.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:5, how heavy was Goliath's coat of mail?
A: A coat of mail is a heavy suit of armor. David as a youth was unable to wear Saul's heavy armor in 1 Samuel 17:38-39. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.709 says that archaeologists uncovered bronze coats of mail at Nuzu (not Nuzi). Goliath's armor weighed 5,000 shekels, and the NIV and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.448 both say this was about 125 pounds. For reference, armor for knights in the Middle Ages weighed over 100 pounds.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:6, what are "greaves"?
A: Greaves are armor for the lower legs.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:12 (KJV), what does it mean that "the man went among men for (italicized) an old man in the days of Saul"?
A: This rather unusual wording means that in the reign of King Saul, Jesse was an elderly man.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:22 (KJV), what was David's carriage?
A: This does not mean cart or other horse-drawn vehicle. Rather, both Green's literal translation and the NIV says this means "goods" or "things". The Hebrew word is keliy (Strong's 3627).
Q: In 1 Sam 17:28, why did Eliab consider David proud and naughty?
A: David did not fit within Eliab's expectation of what a good younger brother should do. Apparently, Samuel anointing David as king did not leave much of an impression on Eliab.
Today, people can sometimes falsely think you are bad, if you do not conform to the status and position to which they judge that you should conform.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:39 (KJV), what does "proved" mean here?
A: This means that David had never tried to use Saul's armor before.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:49 and 1 Sam 21:9, did David kill Goliath, or some one else?
A: David did. See the discussion on 2 Samuel 21:19 for the answer.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:29, why did Goliath fall facedown, instead of backward, when hit on the forehead?
A: While he could have fallen either way, a person might be more likely to fall backward, if they had no armor. But since Goliath was covered with armor, and the metal would be covering the front but not necessarily all of the back, and if he was holding a sword in front, or perhaps a small shield also, his center of gravity would be forward.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:55-58, why did Saul apparently ask who David was?
A: Saul did not ask who David was. Saul asked who David's parents were. In David's answer in 1 Samuel 17:58, David did not give his name, because that was not what Saul asked. David said that he was the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. See also the next question.
Q: In 1 Sam 17:55-58, why did Saul recognize David, since David was Saul's armor bearer in 1 Sam 16:21-23?
A: There are four possible answers.
Saul had never met David: David might have been the armor bearer before he killed Goliath. There is no necessity that 1 Samuel 16:21-23 and 1 Samuel 17:4 are in chronological order. See the discussion on 1 Samuel 16:21-23 for more info on this possibility.
Saul knew only David's face and name: David was an armor bearer before killing Goliath, but Saul knew little else about this brave youth and wanted to know more. If the slayer of Goliath would marry Saul's daughter, Saul wanted to know more about his prospective son-in-law.
Saul forgot: Being an armor bearer was a great honor for a young teen, and perhaps Saul had a number of boys be armor bearer at least once. Saul might not have remembered David at all.
Saul knew David well: As the answer to the previous question shows, Saul did not ask who David was. Saul asked who David's parents were. In Saul promised his daughter's hand in marriage to the slayer of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:25, Saul was interested in the parentage of his future son-in-law. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.175 favors this view. When Critics Ask p.164 also adds that Saul might have wondered if David's father had any more brave sons.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.213-214 mentions the first three views, but it favors the second view.
Q: In 1 Sam 18:1-4, did David and Jonathan have homosexual feelings, as some homosexuals have claimed?
A: No. People can have strong feelings of friendship without there being a romantic relationship involved. Furthermore, David's heterosexual feelings toward Bathsheba got him in deep trouble. 1 Samuel 10:17 explains that David's love for Jonathan was so great, because David loved Jonathan as much as he loved himself. In the New Testament, Jesus taught as the second greatest commandment that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
In college, there were a few guys who apparently had no use for girls except for dating and marriage. Either they had romantic feelings for a particular girl or they had no feelings whatsoever. It must be hard to understand other guys who might enjoy a girl's friendship but have no romantic intentions. I have heard some guys say that girls are impossible to figure out. Perhaps one reason is that a girl might not want any kind of romantic relationship with a guy, but she still wants to be around him as a friend. Some guys just cannot figure that out.
Perhaps some homosexuals who are sure that David and Jonathan are homosexuals have reached a similar point. Either they have romantic feelings toward a guy, or they have no feelings whatsoever.
When Cultists Ask p.44 points out that David took off his armor in front of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:3; this does not mean he took off his clothes.
See When Critics Ask p.165 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 18:7-16, why was Saul against David?
A: For a variety of reasons.
Jealousy after the women praised David more than Saul (1 Samuel 18:7-9).
An evil spirit was in Saul (1 Samuel 18:10-11).
Fear of David, because God was with David and no longer with Saul (1 Samuel 18:11).
David acted very wisely (1 Samuel 18:15).
Israel and Judah loved David (1 Samuel 18:16). Saul wanted to protect his power base.
David had the reputation, support of the people, support of God, and wisdom to be a king.
Protect "his" kingdom, so that it would pass to his descendents (1 Samuel 20:31).
Q: In 1 Sam 18:17-30, why was Saul insistent on David marrying one of his daughters?
A: 1 Samuel 18:17,21 says that Saul wanted one of his daughters to be a snare to David, and a secondary cause of his death. In other words, Saul would ask David to kill a large number of Philistines to marry one of his daughters, and David would die in battle.
In addition, Saul promised that the slayer of Goliath would be his son-in-law in 1 Samuel 17:25.
Q: In 1 Sam 18:20-26, what is interesting about the structure of this passage?
A: It is a Hebrew literary device, found often in the Bible, called a chiasm. Each "topic" is paralleled by another topic.
Saul is pleased Michal is in love with David (v.20)
— Saul hopes David is killed by Philistines (v.21)
— — Saul sends a message to David (v.22-23a)
— — David sends a message to Saul (v.23b-24)
— Saul hopes David is killed by Philistines (v.25)
David is pleased to be Saul's son-in-law (v.26a)
Other chiasms 1 Samuel are in chapter 2, 3:17; 3:1-4:1; and 8:5-22. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.710 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 18:21, what is Saul saying?
A: This can be taken two ways. Either.
a) Saul is suggesting that David has a second opportunity to become his son-in-law, as the NIV translates, or
b) Saul as king is commanding the betrothal of David and Michal. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.712 for more on this viewpoint.
Regardless of the "force" Saul put in his words, Saul was really wanting David to become his son-in-law.
Q: In 1 Sam 18:27, was Saul somewhat grisly with his request to David?
A: In cultures of that time it was not uncommon to bring back "trophies" of the dead enemies. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.712 mentions the walls of the Medinet Habu mortuary temple, Rameses III (c.1198-1166) used the cut-off hands to establish how many enemies the Egyptians killed. Also on the walls was what appears to be a pile of foreskins when Rameses III drove them out of Egypt.
Q: In 1 Sam 19:13, what was an idol doing in David's house?
A: 1 Samuel 19:13 does not actually say the idol was in the house before. While there might have been an idol in the house where they were living, Michal might have got the statue from somewhere else that day to put it in the bed.
By the use of the idol in the ruse, Michal did not show any respect for it as an object of worship.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.214 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 19:14,17, was Michal right to lie twice for David?
A: Michal's motives were right, but if the methods were wrong, then Michal was wrong. Christians disagree on whether or not it is right to lie to people who want to do evil, when lying saves a life.
Q: In 1 Sam 19:17, did Michal lie a second time, or did David really threaten to kill her?
A: Michal lied twice for David. If David had threatened to kill her, Michal would not have kept the ruse against Saul's men going until the last possible moment.
Q: In 1 Sam 19:19-24, how could Saul prophesy?
A: Saul was not a very godly man at this point. We may attempt to "require" God to only let his prophecies come to upstanding, godly people, but God is not constrained to fitting within the box of our expectations. When Critics Ask p.166 says that while God's Spirit was on Saul formerly to minister to him, God's Spirit was on Saul now to restrain him. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.214-216 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In 1 Sam 19:20, were Saul's messengers godly believers, since God's Spirit came upon them?
A: Not necessarily. Saul's messengers could have been godly people, but there is no requirement that they were. The purpose of the spirit here was to immobilize them from coming to take David.
Q: In 1 Sam 19:24, why did God have Saul take off all his royal robes and lay there naked, which was very undignified?
A: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.477 says that the Hebrew word "naked" was often used of men clad only in their inner tunic. Saul taking off his royal robes would probably be a sign that Saul's kingly authority was stripped from him. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.215-216 mentions that the Hebrew word translated as "naked" can also mean poorly clothed or scantily clothed. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.717, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.180, and When Critics Ask p.166-167 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 20:6, was David right to tell Jonathan to lie for him?
A: See the discussion on 1 Samuel 19:14-17 for the answer.
Q: In 1 Sam 20:19-40, why did Jonathan work out such a complex way of communicating with David?
A: They wanted their communication to be secret in case they were watched, including by any of the many servants. Once the boy left in 1 Samuel 20:40-41, the "communication system" was unnecessary. However, Jonathan and David did not know beforehand if their system was going to be necessary or not.
Saul could have had the boy or some one else tail Jonathan. Regardless of whether Jonathan could get the boy to leave, Jonathan wanted to be certain he could communicated secretly with David without suspicion. Sometimes for a "mission critical" task, instead of using a simple way that has a fairly good chance of working, it is better also to have prepared a more complicated or time-consuming method that is almost certain to succeed.
Q: In 1 Sam 21 and 1 Sam 22, how do you pronounce the name "Doeg", the town of "Nob", and the names "Ahimelech", and Abiathar?
A: Cruden's Concordance says DO-eg with a long o and a short e, Nob has a short o, and a-HIM-el-ek has the first a being long.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary pronounces these the same, except that that in Ahimelech the first a has a dot over it and the i is long.
Harper's Bible Dictionary says the same as Cruden's Concordance except that Nob has a long o, and a-HIM-elek has a dot over the a, and a short i.
Q: In 1 Sam 21:2, did David deliberately mislead Ahimelech, a fellow believer?
A: Yes, but three points to consider in the answer.
1. Ephesians 4:25 says we are to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to one another. Of course, Ephesians was not written in David's time. On several occasions David apparently felt it was right to lie in situations of war or of life and death. (Some Christians today, such as R.C. Sproul agree with this, and other Christians disagree.) Thus everything David said was not necessarily true.
2. When David said the king (King?) sent him on a secret mission, regardless of whether he meant the King as God or not, his listeners would not think that way, and so David deliberately misled them. Thus when David said the bread was for his companions, his statement might have been true or it might have been false. This is a question Christians debate, because the Old Testament never affirms that David's lying was OK.
3. The NIV Study Bible p.407 adds that the reason David might have misled Ahimelech about the king sending him might have been to try to protect Ahimelech from the charge of aiding in David's escape. Of course, this attempt failed, as Ahimelech was killed soon after this.
Q: In 1 Sam 21:2, was David right to lie to a godly man, Ahimelech?
A: David's methods were wrong here, because we are not to lie to one another. Regardless of how you view lying to an evil enemy, David should not have lied to his godly friend.
David did not lie about the men with him, since David was going to where his men were stationed. The "men who were with David'" are not men physically present that second, but the men who sided with David that David was on his way to join.
Summary: Even though David probably was truthful in saying he was getting bread for the men, he did mislead in saying the king (Saul) commissioned him. When Jesus refers to David taking the bread, Jesus said the taking the bread of the priests was OK under the circumstances, but Jesus did not say the lying was OK.
Q: In 1 Sam 21:3-6, was David right to eat the showbread?
A: David was right to use the showbread, because Jesus said so in Mark 2:25-26 and Luke 6:3-4. This is an interesting case where there were conflicting goals and extenuating circumstances. Let's look at the reasons people did not take the showbread, reasons David did, and speculate why it was OK.
1. The showbread was twelve large loaves of bread, with about 4 quarts of flour in each loaf (Leviticus 12:1-4).
2. God specifically gave the showbread to Aaron's descendants to eat in Leviticus 24:5-9. They were only to eat it in a holy place.
3. David and his men were Aaron's descendants as they were not priests.
In David's case
1. David was the captain of Saul's bodyguard, as well as God's appointed successor to Saul in 1 Samuel 22:14. David was running for his life from Saul.
2. David and his men were hungry, and they had no provisions.
3. David said that his men were holy in general, and he said how much more holy they would be on this mission (1 Samuel 21:5).
4. Ahimelech had inquired of God for David before (1 Samuel 22:15), and perhaps Ahimelech inquired this time also.
Conclusion: Jesus taught that in circumstances like David was in, it was not wrong for David to be given the showbread.
Q: In 1 Sam 21:9, was Goliath's sword at Nob, or was Goliath's armor in David's tent as 1 Samuel 17:54 says?
A: Everything was originally in David's tent, after David killed Goliath. Later, (after David was no longer living in a tent), at least the sword was stored at Nob. See When Critics Ask p.167 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 21:11-15, was David right to pretend to be insane before the king of Gath?
A: Nothing in the entire Bible says that was wrong. David did not lie here. In order to save his life, David did mislead some one who was an enemy of God's people.
Q: In 1 Sam 22:3-4, why did David send his parents to Moab?
A: David was probably on friendly terms with Moab. Remember, David's great grandmother was Ruth the Moabitess.
Q: In 1 Sam 22:6, why would Saul hold court under a tamarisk tree?
A: Tamarisk trees have more shade than most trees. Also, while tamarisk trees are common in the desert, they are not native to the hill country of Gibeah, so this unusual tree would be easy to pick out. In Judges 4:5 Deborah held court under a palm tree, which would have been unusual in northern Israel too. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.737 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 22:9-11, since telling the truth is good, and Doeg completely told the truth, was Doeg good to do so?
A: Of course not. Giving an evil person true information to be used to accuse and kill a godly person is evil. This is in sharp contrast to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:1-3.
Q: In 1 Sam 23:22 (KJV), what is a haunt?
A: This means a place where David usually stayed.
Q: In 1 Sam 23:6, what was the importance of Abiathar bringing the Ephod?
A: God used this as a means of answering questions. Abiathar asked for David in 1 Samuel 23:9,12 and 30:7-8.
Q: In 1 Sam 23:6, what was the Ephod and how was it used?
A: Scripture does not say. The only other account is from Josephus, and we are unsure whether Josephus was correct. Josephus said that the Ephod had twelve stones, one for each tribe. The stones miraculously would light up as God answered.
Q: In 1 Sam 23:17, why was Jonathan so agreeable to give up being king?
A: Scripture does not say. However, Jonathan had a very close friendship with David, and Jonathan knew that David would treat him well.
Q: In 1 Sam 24:3 (KJV), what is a sheepcote?
A: This King James Version word means "sheep pens".
Q: In 1 Sam 24:4 (KJV), what does "privily" mean?
A: It means secretly.
Q: In 1 Sam 24:5, why did David feel guilty for cutting Saul's clothing, since he spared Saul's life?
A: David was tempted to kill Saul. While David did not kill him, David did not show respect for the king to cut off part of Saul's robe. See also the next question and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.216-217 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 24:5-22, since David felt that he sinned by cutting off part of Saul' s robe, why did David use the piece of cloth later?
A: A similar incident occurred in 1 Samuel 26, where David did not feel any guilt. In this second incident, David did not destroy any clothing or anything else, and he did not take anything that could not be returned intact.
Q: In 1 Sam 25:3 (KJV), what does "churlish" mean?
A: The NIV translates this as "surely". This means that Nabal did not respect or value others. He wanted what he wanted without taking into account the effect on others. A modern slang idiom would be that Nabal was a jerk.
Q: In 1 Sam 25:4-35, was David running a protection racket, as a Muslim said?
A: No, but the questioner would be right in not wanting to follow a religion whose prophet and early leaders profited from protection rackets. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. David did not have a protection racket, since David, the one doing protecting, was giving wealth away to those he was protecting, as 1 Samuel 30:26-31 tells us.
2. David was not asking Nabal for 1) a regular payment, or 2) gold, silver, or any other valuables. David was merely requesting whatever food Nabal could spare. Nabal never complained of any request for money of valuables. Rather, 1 Samuel 25:11 shows that Nabal understood this request as only for bread, water, and meat.
3. David later acknowledged, with regret, that he would have done evil to have killed Nabal and his men, according to 1 Samuel 25:13,33-34, 39.
4. David was not angry with Nabal because he broke any kind of agreement for protection. Rather, David was angry with Nabal'' for his insulting answer in 1 Samuel 12:10-11.
In contrast to this, Muslims from the time of Mohammed onward have had a special tax on just Christians and Jews called the Jizya. According to the Bukhari Hadith vol.2 page 7, in the glossary Jizya is a "Head-tax imposed by Islam on the people of the Scriptures and other people who have a releaved book (Non-Muslims) when they are under Muslim rule." Muslims even say that Christians and Jews should be grateful for the Jizya, because without it, they would have no right to dwell in Muslim lands without being killed.
Q: In 1 Sam 25:4-35, what lessons can we learn from this unflattering account of David?
A: There are a couple of different perspectives.
David's perspective: Even some one who loved God as much as David did could be corrupted by power and become a bully. We need to make sure that we do not do so as individuals. We also should try to make sure the organizations, churches, and nations where we live do not become bullies, either.
Abigail's perspective: A wise woman kept David from doing evil. It is wonderful if we can persuade others, believers or not, to refrain from evil today too. It is instructive to study Abigail's speech, her manner of persuasion, and what she appealed to in David.
Q: In 1 Sam 26:7-12, why was David so careful to value Saul?
A: David was anointed as Saul's successor. Samuel never said this meant David had the right to kill the one chosen by God. Perhaps David was also thinking of his own future when he set an example of not killing God's anointed leader.
Q: In 1 Sam 26:7-12, to what extent should Christians respect leaders who are not godly or not rightful leaders?
A: Though Saul was not following God, Saul may still have been the rightful leader. Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 say to submit, not rebel, pay taxes, and respect rulers and authorities. The only explicit restrictions are that our "freedom should not be a covering for evil" according to 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV), and we must live as servants of God. When there is a conflict between an authority and being a servant of God, living as a servant of God of course takes precedence.
Q: In 1 Sam 26:19, should people hate their enemies, as the Children of God (Family of Love) cult teaches?
A: No. While David may have hated some evil people, we are never commanded to hate anyone. 1 John 4:20-21 solemnly warns us that genuine believers cannot hate their brother. However, we are still to hate sin. See When Cultists Ask p.48-49 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 27:1, was David right to fear Saul?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. David probably reasoned that since Saul had come after him multiple times, and David had already done everything possible to show his loyalty prior to Saul's last search, David had every reason to continue to be suspicious.
2. On the other hand, David appeared to waver in his trust of God's ability to protect him. It was fine for David to be cautious, but fearing that God is unable to protect him is not a proper motivation for a believer.
3. It also seems questionable that David went to serve the Philistines, who were Israel's enemies.
Summary: David's actions here were very understandable, but "understandable" does not necessarily mean "right".
Q: In 1 Sam 27:1-7, why did David serve Achish as a mercenary?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. It was not unusual for armies to have mercenaries, and God never prohibited this, either in the Bible, or by direct communication with David.
2. Other Hebrews had served as mercenaries in Philistine armies in 1 Samuel 14:21.
3. While Achish was a Philistine who fought against the Israelites, David never fought against the Israelites.
4. David fought against the Amalekites, who were not friends of the Israelites or of the Philistines.
See Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.52-53 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 27:8,30, why did David raid the Amalekites, since Saul had already destroyed the Amalekites in 1 Sam 15:7-8?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. 1 Samuel 15:7-8 says that Saul claimed to have utterly destroyed just the Amalekites from Havilah to the Wilderness of Shur. (Shur was south of Judah). Amalekites could have still lived outside that region. Alternately. Saul's claim could have been partially wrong.
2. 1 Samuel 17:8 shows that some Amalekites still dwelt on the way to Shur.
3. Regardless of whether these Amalekites were not attacked by Saul, were attacked but escaped, or were captured but later released by Saul, some of these Amalekites still remained.
Q: In 1 Sam 28:6, did Saul ask of the Lord, or did he not inquire of the Lord in 1 Chr 10:14?
A: While this could be a copyist error, both the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Septuagint say the same, and there is a simpler explanation than copyist error.
There is a world of difference between doing something, and doing something sincerely.
The Hebrew word shalal in 1 Samuel 28:6. means to inquire, request, demand, beg, or borrow. There are 19 other times it is used in the Old Testament. It does not necessarily mean to ask insincerely. Rather, it is a general word for ask, and it could be sincere or insincere.
The Hebrew word darash in 1 Chronicles 10:14 means primarily to follow, and by implication to seek or ask or worship. In the 41 other places it is used in the Old Testament it is something that people either entreat of God or entreat of idols, but not both.
In contrast to the use of shalal in 1 Samuel 28:6 when Saul asked of God, 1 Samuel 28:7 uses the word darash when Saul went to the witch of Endor.
While Saul might have casually asked, he certainly did not inquire of God using the established means of the priests. Remember, Saul had killed all the priests of Nob except for Abiathar. Abiathar had taken the ephod with him when he escaped from Saul in 1 Samuel 23:6.
Saul could inquire of the Lord, but without repentance it is hard for the inquiry to be sincere after he have killed most of God's priests who could do the inquiring.
See When Critics Ask p.205, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.228, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.17 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 28:6, did Saul inquire of God by the Urim, or did Abiathar have the Urim when he went in David earlier in 1 Sam 22:23?
A: 1 Samuel 28:6 explicitly says God did not answer Saul by the Urim. Why should God even give Saul the dignity of an answer, when Saul had the priests in the town of Nob killed? Of course God did not answer Saul by the Urim, because Abiathar had the Urim, and Saul wanted to kill Abiathar. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.155-156 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 28:15-19, at Endor, to whom did the witch communicate?
A: Here are three views, followed by the definitive answer.
Nobody: Since nobody but the woman saw Samuel, perhaps she was just pretending, and nobody was there.
A demon: Nothing indicates this was anything more than a demon appearing to the witch impersonating Saul.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in A Treatise on the Soul chapter 57 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 p.234 was one of the first Christians known to answer this question and he gave this view. Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) in the Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 Commentary on Kings p.169 also answered this the same way. For the same view spoken by a modern theologian see Now That's A Good Question p.297-298. See also The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.51-52, When Cultists Ask p.49-50, When Critics Ask p.167-168, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.217-218, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.180-181, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.319 for more info.
Samuel: The woman was a fraud, and she herself was surprised when God permitted Samuel to speak with Saul. See Astrology & Psychic Phenomena in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.454 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.217-218 for more on this view. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.104-107 for more on these last two views.
The correct answer is that Scripture does not say. While it is fine to have various views, it is important to differentiate between what God said in Scripture and our own views.
Why did God not choose to clearly tell us more about this and other examples, such as Balaam? Four points to consider.
1. In Scripture, God did tell us everything we needed to know. Apparently, God did not see a need to tell us more about this.
2. In life, as in Scripture, God sometimes gives us situations where we clearly do not have all the pieces of the puzzle. In life, as in Scripture, we must accept that, piece together the "puzzle pieces" we have been given, and move on. Perhaps God gives us exactly such lessons in Scripture to prepare us for life.
3. If God had decided to tell us everything anybody desired to know, then instead of a Bible, we would have some sort of encyclopedia that would make the entire Library of Congress look small by comparison. And how would people read all of that, when many people have never even read the entire Bible that we have been given?
Q: In 1 Sam 28:19, where did Saul go to be with Samuel?
A: There are two possible answers.
The grave: Samuel's body was lying in the dust, and Saul's would too, after his death on the next day. Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.107 holds this view.
In paradise: Some see that Saul was still going to be with God, as Samuel was.
Of course, this either could have been Samuel, or else it could have been a demon impersonating Samuel. Demons do not necessarily tell the truth.
Q: In 1 Sam 29:9, why was a Philistine saying that David was as good to him as an angel of God?
A: One might see that Achish was flattering David, saying that David was as good as an angel of David's God. However, the Hebrew word for God here is elohim. This was a term for god or gods that was used by many cultures besides the Israelites.
Q: In 1 Sam 30:1, is there any archaeological evidence of this destruction of Ziklag?
A: No, nor should we expect it. While there is evidence of destruction of many cities, any evidence of destruction of Ziklag would not be interpreted to refer to this destruction. The reason is that David's people could immediately rebuild Ziklag and carry away the debris.
Q: In 1 Sam 30:1-25, what principle can we learn today about David's division of the spoils of war?
A: All received a share who were willing to fight and committed to fight. Sickness or genuine exhaustion did not make a person lose their share. Likewise, in an ideally "perfectly equitable" corporation today, rewards do not go only to those who produce results. They also go to those who would certainly have produced results but other unforeseen circumstances beyond their control prevented them from achieving as good a result.
Q: In 1 Sam 30:26-31, what can we learn about David giving away some of his hard-won spoil?
A: While Jesus was born a thousand years later, David was acting out a principle Jesus taught in Luke 16:9. "And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by how you use worldly wealth, so that when it runs out you will be welcomed into the eternal homes." (NET) David knew these people would be his future subjects, and he wanted to show them his intentions of benefiting them materially as well as protecting them.
Q: In 1 Sam 30:28, have we found the silver that David sent to Eshtemoa?
A: Actually no. A silver heard was found in Eshtemoa that was at one time thought to be from David's time, but the clay jugs found with the silver indicate that this was about a century after David. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.797 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam 31:2, why did God allow David's close friend Jonathan to die at Aphek?
A: Scripture does say what would have happened if Jonathan had lived. When some one, such as Saul, is disobedient, often their family suffers, too.
Q: In 1 Sam 31:4-5, can a person who committed suicide still go to Heaven?
A: Yes. See the discussion on Judges 16:26-27 for the answer.
Q. In 1 Sam 31:4-5, how many ways can King Saul die? Apparently three!
1 Sam 31:4-5 (Death by suicide) Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him
2 Sam 21:12 (Killed by the Philistines) And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, which had stolen them from the street of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:
1 Chr 10:13-14 (Death by Deity) So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; And inquired not of the LORD: therefore HE SLEW HIM, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.
A: If God worked so that a king's soldiers captured a criminal, and king sentenced the criminal to death, would you say that the executioner killed the prisoner, the king did, or God? Obviously all three: one directly, one indirectly, and God working though others. Saul committed suicide. The Lord often works through human means, and God caused him to lose the battle and be in a situation where there was no way He could escape alive. As for the Philistines, it never said they killed him, but it would not be expected that the Philistines would leave the body of the enemy king alone.
Q: In 1 Sam 31:4-6, did Saul commit suicide, or did an Amalekite kill Saul in 2 Sam 1:1-16?
A: Saul killed himself. 2 Samuel 1:1-16 does not say an Amalekite killed Saul. Rather, it shows an Amalekite claimed that he killed Saul to David. The Amalekite lied, expecting a reward, but David had the Amalekite executed instead.
Q: 1 Sam 31:12, is cremation a proper form of burial for a believer?
A: Cremation is fine. The Bible does not show that cremation is either better or worse than other forms of disposing of our "tent" after we are no longer in need of it.
During the times of persecution in the first two centuries of the church, Christian martyrs were not particularly concerned with what happened to their body after they were killed, whether burned to death or eaten by wild animals.
Q: In 1 Sam, when was this book written?
A: It was probably written a number of years after the events described. 1 Samuel 9:9 is the only example in the Old Testament of what is called a "semantic change". The author felt the need to say that a "prophet used to be called a seer". The Babylonian Talmud (Bab Bathra 14b, 15a) says that Samuel wrote the first 24 chapters, and the rest was written by Nathan and Gad. (1 Samuel 25:1 reports the death of Samuel.)
However, 1 Samuel 27:6 says that Ziklag ... has belongs to the kings (plural) of Judah to this day. This would mean that either all of Samuel, or at least that part, was written after the division between Israel and Judah, since there were no kings in the time of Judges.
Places where the phrase "to this day" are used are 1 Samuel 5:5; 6:18; 27:6; 30:25; 2 Samuel 4:3; 6:8; 18:18.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.553, 602, 620 for more info.
Q: In 1 Sam and 2 Sam, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) 4 copies. One of the oldest Dead Sea scrolls is a copy of Samuel, dated in the 3rd century B.C. See The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30,129, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438, and The Text of the Old Testament (by Ernst Wurthweir) for more info. The Dead Sea scroll 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)) was dated at 192-63 B.C. by mass spectrometer radiocarbon dating. (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.18)
1Q7 fragments of 1 Samuel 18 and 2 Samuel 20:6-10; 21:16-18; 23:9-12
4Q51 (=Samuel(a)) 50-25 B.C. contains fragments from 1 Samuel through 2 Samuel 25.
4Q52 end of the 3rd or start of the 2nd century B.C.
4Q53 The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.30 says the accelerated Mass. Spec at Zurich gave at date of 4Q53 as 196-47 BCE. The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.820 says the date is 100-75 B.C.
The Psalm scroll 11Q5 also contains the last words of David from 2 Samuel 23:1-7a.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls are the following verses from 1 Samuel: 1:11-13,22-28; 2:1-6,8-11,13-36; 3:1-4,18-20; 4:9-12; 5:8-12; 6:1-7,12-13,16-18,20-21; 7:1; 8:9-20; 9:6-8,11-12,16-24; 10:3-18,25-27; 11:1,7-12; 12:7-8,14-19; 14:24-25,28-34,47-51; 15:24-32; 16:1-11; 17:3-6; 18:17-18; 19:10-17; 20:26-42; 21:1-10?; 23:9-17; 24:4-5,8-9,14-23; 25:3-12,20-21,25-26,39-40; 25:30-32; 26:10-12,21-23; 27:8-12; 28:102,22-25; 30:28-31; 31:2-4. See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
See the end of 2 Samuel for Dead Sea Scroll verses from here.
See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.615 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more info.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including 1 and 2 Samuel.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) contains all of 1 and 2 Samuel
No verses of 1 or 2 Samuel are preserved in Sinaiticus.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) contains all of 1 and 2 Samuel except for 1 Samuel 12:17-14:9.
Early Christian writers referred to 1 and 2 Samuel.
Q: Which early writers referred to 1 Samuel?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in 1 Samuel are:
Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) referred to 1 Samuel 1:14,29; 2:5; 9:9; 10:22.
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) (allusion) extensively discusses the Philistines taking the ark to Ashdod. Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.132 p.266
The New Testament does not refer to 1 Samuel, but it does refer to 2 Samuel 7:8,14 in 2 Corinthians 6:18; and 2 Samuel 7:14 in Hebrews 1:5; and 2 Samuel 22:50 in Romans 15:9. Of course, at the time the New Testament was written, Hebrew-speaking Jews viewed 1 and 2 Samuel as all one book. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.559 for more info on this.
Meleto/Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) refers to the "Four Books of Kingdoms" [1, 2 Samuel, 1,2 Kings] among the books of the Old Testament in his letter to Onesimus. On Pascha p.72. Preserved in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History book 4 ch.26.
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quotes 1 Samuel 15:22 as by Samuel. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.17.1 p.482
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes all of 1 Samuel 8:13 as by the prophet Samuel. The Instructor book 3 ch.4 p.278
Tertullian (207/208 A.D.) "Samuel says to Saul, and then quotes all of 1 Samuel 15:28 Five Books Against Marcion book 2 ch.24 p.316
Tertullian (ca.208 A.D.) quotes 1 Samuel 16:14 calling it Scripture. On Flight in Persecution p.117
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) has a commentary on Kings (which includes 1 and 2 Samuel). In it he discusses if it was really Samuel that the sorceress realised before Saul or not. Fragments from Commentaries On Kings p.169
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) quotes 1 Samuel 2:35a as "it is written in kings" Interpretation by Hippolytus on the vision of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar fragment 2 ch.14 p.180
Origen (225-254 A.D.) "as when Samuel prophesies regarding three she-asses which were lost, or when mention is made in the third book of Kings respecting the sickness of a king's son." Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.36 p.412
Treatise Against Novatian (c.248-258 A.D.) ch.14 p.661 alludes to 1 Samuel 9:2. "Saul, that once good man, besides other things, is subsequently overthrown by envy, and strives to do everything that is harsh and hostile against David"
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes 1 Samuel in Treatise 12 the third book 1,14, calling it "the first book of Kings". This reflects the custom of the Septuagint, where 1, 2 Samuel are called 1, 2 Kings, and 1, 2 Kings are called 3, 4 Kings.
Gregory Thaumaturgus (240-265 A.D.) quotes part of 1 Samuel 18:1 as Scripture. Oration and Panegyric Addressed to Origen ch.6 p.28
Archelaus (277/278 A.D.) quotes one-fourth of 1 Samuel 2:6. "If you find fault with one who says, 'The Lord kills and makes alive,' why do you honor Peter, who raised Tabitha to life, but also put Sapphira to death?" A Fragment of the Disputation with Manes 1 p.234 from Cyril of Jerusalem
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) alludes to 1 Samuel 24 and 26. "Again, there was David, who, when he was pursued by Saul, found an opportunity to destroy him, but did not do so. On the contrary, he offered a prayer for him." (Adamantius is speaking) Dialogue on the True Faith First part ch.12 p.55
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-310/311 A.D.) alludes to 1 Samuel 21:13 "But upon those who have used dissimulation like David, who feigned himself to be made to avoid death, being not mad in reality; ... or giving writing, or sending heathen to do sacrifice instead of themselves, ... yet inasmuch as they escaped the notice of their persecutors by doing this, let a penalty of six months penance be imposed on them." Canonical Epistle canon 5 p.271
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) quotes 1 Samuel 2:35 as "the First book of Kings". The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.14 p.113.
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.) alludes to 1 Samuel.
Athanasius (367 A.D.) mentions "The four books of kings" in listing the books of the Old Testament. Paschal Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Athanasius (after 347 A.D.) quotes part of 1 Samuel 26:21. Defense Against the Arians ch.2 p.101
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D.)
Ephraim the Syrian (350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) quotes from 1 Samuel 7:4 as Scripture. Letter 8 ch.3 p.117
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) says that Samuel was called the Seer (1 Samuel 9:9) in the Books of the Kingdoms. Lecture 16 ch.28 p.122
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.) quotes from 1 Samuel.
Gregory of Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) quotes from 1 Samuel
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) quotes half a verse from 1 Samuel.
Syriac Book of Steps (Liber Graduum) (350-400 A.D.) quotes from 1 Samuel 8:5 and 8:11 saying "The Lord said to Samuel" Memra 22 ch.6 p.255-256
Rufinus (374-406) Commentary on the Apostles' Creed
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the Old Testament. He specifically discusses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, Job, Jesus son of Nave [Joshua], Judges, Ruth, Samuel Kings (2 books), twelve prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Letter 53 ch.7-8 p.99-101.
Epiphanius of Salamis (373-420 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) quotes 1 Samuel 14:24 volume 11 Commentary on Acts Homily 13 p.86
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) alludes to 1 Samuel 17:4-7. Defense Against the Pelagians p.117
Council of Carthage (218 bishops) (393-419 A.D.)
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) refers to 1 Samuel as Kings in History book 1 ch.24 p.86
Socrates' Ecclesiastical History (c.400-439 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (423-458 A.D.)
Leo I of Rome (440-461 A.D.)
Among heretics and spurious books
Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.)
Isidore of Seville (c.435 A.D.)
After Nicea there are other writers too.
Q: In 1 Sam, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Here are a few of the translation differences. The story of David and Goliath has a large number of variations. This analysis primarily focused on the translation differences in chapter 25:1-18. Unless otherwise noted, the first reading is from the Masoretic text, and the second is from the Septuagint.
1 Sam 1:9 "Hannah rose." vs. "Hannah rose and stood before the LORD." (Septuagint)
1 Sam 1:11 "on his head. vs. "on his head. And he will not drink wine or any intoxicating beverage."
1 Sam 1:18 "went her way" vs. "went to her quarters"
1 Sam 1:18 "ate" vs. "ate and drank with her husband"
1 Sam 1:22 "live there always." vs. "live there always. [I g]ave him (to be) a Nazirite forever all the days of [his life]" Dead Sea Scroll 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)) according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.573.
1 Sam 1:23 "his word" (Masoretic, Targum, Vulgate) "your word" (Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Syriac). The JPS translation footnote says 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)) says "an utterance of your mouth", i.e. "your word"
1 Sam 1:23 "only the Lord establish his word" (Masoretic) vs. "only the Lord establish what proceeded out of your mouth" (4Q51)
1 Sam 1:24 "with three bulls" (Masoretic) vs. "with a three-year old bull" (Dead Sea Scroll 4Q51, Septuagint, Syriac) (See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.577 for more info.)
1 Sam 1:18 "He [Elkanah] worshipped the LORD there" vs. "She [Hannah] left him [Samuel] there for the LORD" Septuagint.
1 Sam 2:1 "Hannah prayed" vs. absent in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)).
1 Sam 2:1 "the LORD" vs. "my God" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 2:1 "your victory" vs. "my victory" (Dead Sea Scrolls)
1 Sam 2:3 "God of knowledges / all-knowing God" (Masoretic) vs. "God of knowledge" (4QSam(a))
1 Sam 2:8 has a large addition in 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)) according to The Dead Sea Scrolls & Modern Translations of the Old Testament p.117-118. One can read this in the footnote in the NRSV and in the text in the NAB (New American Bible) vs. "He grants the vow of the one who vows, and blesses the years of the just" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 2:14 "take away on it" vs. "take away for himself" (Greek, Syriac, Vulgate)
1 Sam 2:17 "for they [the worshippers] dealt contemptuously" vs. "for they [Eli's sons] dealt contemptuously" (4Q51)
1 Sam 2:20 "give/grant you" vs. "repay you" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll 4Q1Sam(a))
1 Sam 2:20 "petition that she asked of" vs. "gift that she made to" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls)
1 Sam 2:21 "For/When the LORD" vs. "And the LORD" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)))
1 Sam 2:22 "and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting" (Masoretic, Targum, Vulgate, Dead Sea Scrolls) vs. [absent] (Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint)
1 Sam 2:27 "Did I reveal" (Masoretic) vs. "I revealed" (Septuagint, Targums, Syriac)
1 Sam 2:27 "when they were at the house" vs. "when they were slaves to the house" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)))
1 Sam 2:29,32 "kick" vs. "look with greedy eye" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls)
1 Sam 2:33 "your eyes ... your heart" vs. "his eyes ... his heart" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls)
1 Sam 2:33 "die young men" vs. "die by the sword" (Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls)
1 Sam 3:4 "called Samuel" vs. "called, "Samuel! Samuel!" (Septuagint. The Dead Sea Scrolls & Modern Translations of the Old Testament p.118 says, "One cannot say definitely whether 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)) had a second "Samuel" ... but there is room for it.")
1 Sam 3:13 "been making themselves vile/Contemptible" (Masoretic text) vs. "spoke evil against God" (Septuagint) vs. "blasphemed God" (scribal tradition)
1 Sam 3:15 "lay down until morning" (Masoretic, Targum, Vulgate) vs. "lay down until morning. and he arose in the morning" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 4:1 "Israel marched" (Masoretic, Targum) vs. "In those days, the Philistines gathered for war. Israel marched" (Vulgate) vs. "In those days, the Philistines gathered for war against Israel. Israel marched" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 4:13 "on a seat" (Masoretic text, Vulgate) vs. "beside the gate watching the road" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 5:4 "Dagon" (Masoretic) vs. "The head of Dagon" Septuagint, Targum, Vulgate)
1 Sam 5:6 "tumors" (Masoretic text) vs. "tumors and rats appeared in the town and death and panic/destruction were throughout the city" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
1 Sam 5:9 "tumors" vs. "tumors in the groin" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
1 Sam 6:1 "seven months." vs. "seven months and mice invaded their fields"
1 Sam 6:3 "and it will be known to you" vs. "and will be ransomed" (1QSam(a), Septuagint)
1 Sam 6:6 "tumors" (Masoretic) vs. "tumors. And rats appeared in their land, and death and destruction were throughout the city." (Septuagint and Vulgate)
1 Sam 6:13 "when they saw (it)." vs. "as they met it."
1 Sam 6:18 "villages as far as Greater Abel, where" (most Masoretic) vs. "villages. The large rock, on which" (a few Masoretic manuscripts and the Targum.) vs. "villages. The large meadow on which" (most Hebrew manuscripts according to the JPS)
1 Sam 6:19 "and he killed some of the people of Beth Shemesh because they looked into the ark" vs. "The descendants of Jeconiah did not rejoice with the people of Beth Shemesh when the greeted the ark of the Lord" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 6:19 "50,070" (most Masoretic and Septuagint) vs. "70" (a few Masoretic)
1 Sam 7:12 "Shen" (Masoretic) vs. "Jeshanah" (Septuagint, Syriac)
1 Sam 7:18 "Abel" (a proper name) ('abel) (most Masoretic texts) vs. "rock" ('eben) (some Masoretic texts)
1 Sam 8:8 "as they have done" vs. "as they have done to me" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 8:16 "young men and donkeys" (Masoretic) vs. "cattle and donkeys" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 9:17 "my people" vs. "the plight/suffering of My people" (Septuagint, Targum)
1 Sam 9:24 "strength/uprightness" vs. "sons of strength/uprightness" (4Q51 (=4QSam(a)))
1 Sam 9:24 "kept before you" vs. "set before you" (Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint)
1 Sam 9:25 "on the roof and he spoke with Saul" (Masoretic, Targum) vs. "on the roof and they spread a bed for Saul on the roof and he slept." (Septuagint) vs. "on the roof and he spoke with Saul and they spread a bed for Saul on the roof and he slept." (Vulgate)
1 Sam 10:1 "anoints you ruler" vs. "anoints you ruler over His people Israel, and you will govern the people of the LORD and deliver them from the hands of their foes roundabout. And this is the sign for you that the Lord anoints you." (Septuagint and Vulgate according to the JPS footnote, as well as NIV footnote.)
1 Sam 10:9 "they came there" vs. "going from there"
1 Sam 10:19 "No" (many Hebrew manuscripts) vs. "No to Him" (other Hebrew manuscripts according to the JPS)
1 Sam 10:21 "Matrites was indicated / taken by lot; and then Saul Son of Kish" vs. "Matrites was indicated / taken by lot; then he brought up the family of the Matrites by their men and then Saul Son of Kish" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 10:26 "Valiant [men] " vs. "sons/men of valor" 4QSam(a)
1 Sam 10:27 "not to mind. Nahash the Ammonite marched up" vs. "not to mind. About a month later Nahash the Ammonite marched up" The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.633 says, "and/but he was like one being silent" (most Hebrew manuscripts) vs. "and it was about a month [later]" (4QSAm(a) and Septuagint)
1 Sam 11:1 "Nahash" vs. "About a month later, Nahash"
1 Sam 11 "Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-Gilead." vs. "[Na]hash, king of the children of Ammon, sorely oppressed the children of Gad and the children of Reuben, and he gouged out a[ll] their right eyes and struck ter[ror and dread] in Israel. There was not left one among the children of Israel bey[ond the Jordon who]se right eye was no[t put o]ut by Naha[sh king] of the children of Ammon; except that seven thousand men [fled from] the children of [A]mmon and entered [J]abesh-Gilead. About a month later Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-Gilead." This is from Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls by Hershel Shanks p.161
1 Sam 11:8a "of Israel 300,000" vs. "of Israel 600,000"
1 Sam 11:8b "of Judah 30,000 men" vs. "of Juda 70,000 men" (4Q51 (=4QSam(a)), Septuagint)
1 Sam 11:9-11 plural pronouns (most Masoretic texts) vs. singular pronouns (some Septuagint manuscripts) This is probably a change in a few manuscripts of the Septuagint.
1 Sam 12:3 "I will restore it to you" vs. "Testify against me and I will restore it to you"
1 Sam 12:3 "taken a bribe to look the other way" vs. "taken a bribe or a pair of sandals" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 12:6 "The LORD appointed Moses" vs. "The LORD is a witness, who appointed Moses"
1 Sam 12:7 "all the saving deeds" vs. "I will declare to you all the saving deeds"
1 Sam 12:8 "Jacob came to Egypt" (Masoretic, Targums, Vulgate) vs. "Jacob to Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 12:9 "army of king Hazor" vs. "army of Jabin king of Hazor"
1 Sam 12:11 "Barak" (Syriac and some Septuagint) vs. "Bedan" (Hebrew) (NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV) (one ancient version substituted "Deborah", and one interpretation said "Bedan" was "ben-Dan", or son of Dan. Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.1, p.633.) Josephus writing around 93-94 A.D. in Antiquities of the Jews 6.5.6 p.129, in paraphrasing this verse, mentions only Jephthah and Gideon. Antiquities of the Jews 5.5.2-4 p.114-115 mentions Deborah and Barak though.
1 Sam 12:11 "Gideon" (Masoretic, Targum) vs. "Deborah" (Syriac) vs. "Deborah" (Syriac)
1 Sam 12:11 "Samuel" (Masoretic) vs. "Samson" (some Septuagint manuscripts) vs. "Simson" (Syriac)
1 Sam 12:15 "you and your ancestors" vs. "you and your king"
1 Sam 13:1 in the Hebrew, the Saul's age, and the number of years he reigned was left out. (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.171, NIV footnote) The verse is absent in the Septuagint according to the JPS footnote and the NRSV.
1 Sam 13:2, etc. "Michmas" vs. "Michmash" (other manuscripts)
1 Sam 13:5 "30,000 chariots" (Masoretic, many Septuagint, Targum, Vulgate) vs. "3,000" (some Septuagint)
1 Sam 13:8 "the time that Samuel" vs. "the time that Samuel had said" (some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Targum)
1 Sam 13:15 "Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal" (Masoretic, Targum) vs. "Samuel rose and left Gilgal and went his way. The rest of the people followed Saul to meet the soldiers, and they went from Gilgal." (Septuagint, Vulgate)
1 Sam 13:15 "to Gibeah of Benjamin" vs. "toward Gibeah of Benjamin"
1 Sam 13:18 "for the border" vs. "for Geba"
1 Sam 14:3; 14:8; 23:9; 30:7 "Ark" vs. "Ephod"
1 Sam 14:7 "is in your heart. Incline yourself" vs. "your heart inclines to"
1 Sam 14:7 "I am with you, according to your heart" vs. "I am with you, my heart is like your heart."
1 Sam 14:8 "waited seven days for Samuel" (most Masoretic texts) vs. "seven days until the time Samuel set" (a few Masoretic texts)
1 Sam 14:18 "bring the ark" (Masoretic) vs. "bring the ephod" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 14:24 uncertain but probably "The men of Israel were distressed that day" vs. "And all the troops, about 10,000 men, were with Saul; and the battle spread into the hill country of Ephraim. Now Saul committed a rash act." (JPS footnote)
1 Sam 14:33 "Roll a large stone over to me today" vs. "Roll a large stone over to me here"
1 Sam 14:34 "his own ox with him" vs. "whatever he had in his possession"
1 Sam 14:41 "Saul said to the LORD, the God of Israel" (Masoretic, Septuagint) vs. "Then Saul said, 'O LORD God of Israel" (Vulgate)
1 Sam 14:41 uncertain but probably "Show thammim" (Masoretic, Targum) vs. "Why have you not responded to Your servant today? If this iniquity was due to my son Jonathan or me, O LORD, God of Israel, show Urim; and if You say it was due to Your people Israel, show Thummim." (Septuagint, Vulgate)
1 Sam 14:44 "may God do" vs. "may God do to me" (Septuagint and many Hebrew manuscripts)
1 Sam 14:47 "kings of Zobah" vs. "king of Zobah" (Septuagint, 4Q51 (=4QSam(a)))
1 Sam 14:47 "he [Saul] inflicted punishment on them" (Masoretic) vs. "he [Saul] was victorious" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 14:49, 1 Sam 18:17 "Merab" vs. "Merob" in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint (Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.669)
1 Sam 15:9 "second-born" vs. "fatlings" (Targum, Syriac)
1 Sam 15:25 "the land" (most texts) vs. "the people [of the army] " (one Hebrew Manuscript)
1 Sam 15:29 "deceive" (Masoretic) vs. "recant/repent" (Septuagint, Dead Sea scroll)
1 Sam 15:30 "he said" vs. "Saul said" (he is obviously Saul here anyway)
1 Sam 15:32 "Surely the bitterness of death is past" vs. "Surely this is the bitterness of death" (Dead Sea scroll, Septuagint)
1 Sam 16:7 "For not as man sees" (Masoretic) vs. "For God does not see as man sees" (Septuagint) vs. "It is not by the appearance of a man" (Targum) vs. "Not do I judge according to the looks of a man" (Vulgate)
1 Sam 16:11f "not gather/turn around/sit" (Masoretic) vs. "not sit down" (some Septuagint, including Brenton's translation, Vulgate)
1 Sam 17:4 "six cubits" (Masoretic) vs. "four cubits" (Dead Sea scroll, Septuagint)
1 Sam 17:12-31,41,50,55 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
1 Sam 17:12 "advanced among men" vs. "advanced in years" (Syriac, Septuagint)
1 Sam 17:32 "no man's courage" vs. "not my lord's courage"
1 Sam 17:39 "he tried to walk; but" vs. "he was unable to walk, for"
1 Sam 17:46a "the carcasses of the Philistine camp" vs. "your carcass and the carcasses of the Philistine camp"
1 Sam 17:46b "God in Israel" vs. "God to Israel" (many Hebrew manuscripts)
1 Sam 17:52 "Gai" (Masoretic text according to the NRSV) vs. "a valley" (Masoretic text according to the NIV, NKJV, Syriac, Targum, Vulgate) vs. "Gath" (Septuagint, Syriac)
1 Sam 18:1 "he" vs. "David" (the context is obviously David)
1 Sam 18:1-6 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
1 Sam 18:8b-11,17-19,30 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
1 Sam 18:27 "200 Philistines" vs. "100 Philistines"
1 Sam 19:22 "the great cistern/well of Secu" vs. "the cistern/well of the threshing floor on the bare height/mountain"
1 Sam 20:3 "swore further" vs. "replied to him"
1 Sam 20:5a "I am to sit" vs. "I will not sit"
1 Sam 20:5b "until the third evening" vs. "until the evening"
1 Sam 20:8 absent in Dead Sea Scroll 1Q7.
1 Sam 20:23 "The LORD is between you and me forever" (Masoretic text) vs. "The LORD is a witness between you and me forever"
1 Sam 20:25 "wall. Jonathan arose" (Masoretic, Syriac, Targum, Vulgate) vs. "by the wall, opposite/across from Jonathan," (Septuagint)
1 Sam 21:6 "that had been removed" (singular) (4QSam(b)) vs. "that had been removed" (plural) (most texts, but The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.730 says that the plural is probably a mistake here.)
1 Sam 21:41 "from beside the south" vs. "from beside the stone heap"
1 Sam 22:3 "come out to you" vs. "come to you"
1 Sam 22:4 "he led them to the king of Moab" vs. "left them with the king of Moab" (Targum, Syriac)
1 Sam 22:7 "God has made a stranger of him" (Masoretic text) vs. "God has given him" (Septuagint, Targums)
1 Sam 22:8 "my servant in ambush against me" vs. "my servant as an enemy against me"
1 Sam 22:14 "captain" (archon) (Septuagint) vs. "departing" (Masoretic). The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.737 says that the Septuagint is most likely the correct reading here.
1 Sam 22:18 "who wore the linen ephod" vs. "who were bearers of the ephod"
1 Sam 23:11 "will the men/masters of Keilah surrender me into his hand. Will Saul" (Masoretic text) vs. "Will Saul" (Dead Sea scroll) vs. "Will the place be shut up/besieged? and now will Saul" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 23:14,16 "God (Elohim)" vs. "the LORD (Yhwh)" (4Q52 (=4QSam(b)))
1 Sam 24:10 "it [my eye] spared you" (Masoretic text) vs. "I spared you" (Septuagint, Syriac, Targum, Vulgate)
1 Sam 24:11 "my water" vs. "my wine" (Septuagint)
1 Sam 24:13 "the proverb of the ancient one" (most manuscripts) vs. "the proverbs of the ancient one" (A Dead Sea scroll fragment)
1 Sam 25:1f "Wilderness of Maon" (most Septuagint) vs. "Wilderness of Paran" (Masoretic, Targum, Syriac, Vulgate, a few Septuagint manuscripts) (The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.765 says the Desert of Paran is much too far south to be correct here.
1 Sam 25:2 "goats" vs. "she-goats"
1 Sam 25:3 "the man was of Caleb" vs. "the man was churlish"
1 Sam 25:4 "Nabal" vs. "Nabal the Carmelite"
1 Sam 25:22 "David" (Septuagint, NIV) vs. "David's enemies" (Masoretic)
1 Sam 25:6 "peace ... peace" vs. "prosper ... prosperity"
1 Sam 25:7 "you have shearers. And your shepherds have been with us; we have not shamed them, nor was anything missing to them..." vs. "Your shepherds who were with us in the wilderness are shearing your sheep, and we hindered them not, neither did we demand anything from them..."
1 Sam 25:8 "young men" vs. "servants" (2 times in verse 8 and through the rest of 1 Samuel 25)
1 Sam 25:8 "give to your servants, and to your son, to David" vs. "give ... to your son David"
1 Sam 25:9 "answered" vs. "sprang up and answered"
1 Sam 25:11 "water and my meat" vs. "wine and my beasts"
1 Sam 25:14 "screamed at them" vs. "turned away from them"
1 Sam 25:15 "good... not shamed us... not missed anything" vs. "very good ... not hindered ... neither did they demand"
1 Sam 25:17 "a son of worthlessness/Belial" vs. "a vile character"
1 Sam 25:18 "one hundred bunches or raisins" vs. "one homer of dried grapes"
1 Sam 25:18 "two hundred bunches of figs" vs. "two hundred cakes of figs"
1 Sam 25:22a "David" (Masoretic text) vs. "David's enemies" Septuagint, compare Syriac)
1 Sam 25:22b "with David's enemies" (Masoretic text) vs. "male" (some Septuagint)
1 Sam 27:10 "Against have you" (Masoretic) vs. "Against whom have you" (Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint, Vulgate)
1 Sam 28:12 "Samuel (Masoretic text, many Septuagint) vs. "Saul" some Septuagint)
1 Sam 28:17 "has done for Himself" vs. "has done to you" (Septuagint and some Hebrew manuscripts)
1 Sam 29:10 "And came with you. " (Masoretic, Targum, Vulgate) vs. "and came with you, and go to the place that I appointed for you. As for the evil report, do not take it to heart, for you have done well before me. " (Septuagint, NRSV)
1 Sam 30:2 "taken captive the women" (Masoretic text) vs. "take captive the women and all" (Septuagint)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, and JPS Bibles also were used. The NRSV was particularly helpful here for the Dead Sea Scrolls texts.
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