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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

1 Samuel - Introduction

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally a single book recounting the beginning of the monarchy and the reigns of its first two kings, Saul and David. The book was named after Samuel because he plays a prominent role in its beginning section, which was even attributed to his authorship. The name is not entirely appropriate, however, since Samuel dies well before 1 Samuel ends ( 25.1 ). This book was also part of a larger unit known as the Deuteronomistic * History, which incorporates the present books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, and 1–2 Kings. The Deuteronomistic History is the central history of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. It relates Israel's history from their conquest of the land under Joshua (related in Josh 1–12 ) to the end of the kingdoms of Israel (2 Kings 17 ) and Judah (2 Kings 24–25 ). It evaluates that history according to the laws and theology of the book of Deuteronomy, with which it begins. The Deuteronomistic History as a whole stresses such matters as obedience to the law, God's choice of Jerusalem as a central place of worship for Israel, and the kingship of David. This history was composed by one or more authors whose names have not come down to us, and who are therefore referred to as “deuteronomists.” It was probably written during the Exile * (after 586 BCE) as a way of collecting Israel's traditions and editing them into a single, running historical account. The collectors or editors occasionally inserted commentary, sometimes in the form of speeches and always in their own distinctive deuteronomistic style. First Samuel 8, with its reference to the Exodus (v. 8 ) and the people crying out (v. 18 ), and 1 Sam 12 , with its review of Israel's history and its command to “heed the voice of the LORD” (vv. 14–15 ), give examples of deuteronomistic style.

While the book of Samuel may contain older source material, its final composition as part of the Deuteronomistic History took place in the Exile (after 586 BCE). This was hundreds of years after the events described in Samuel (David reigned around 1000 BCE). The author/editor was attempting to offer a theological explanation for the great crisis of the Exile and perhaps some hope and even a model for restoration in David. Hence, David is the central character not only in 1–2 Samuel but in the entire Deuteronomistic History.

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