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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

1 Samuel - Name and Contents

THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL were originally one book. In the Septuagint it was divided into two, owing to its length, and the Christian tradition followed this division. In Hebrew Bibles used by the Jewish community, this division was not made before the 15th century, under the influence of the Vulgate. Following a pattern found in some other biblical books, which end with the death of a main character, the division in the book of Samuel was made at the point of Saul's death. Thus, 1 Samuel recounts the periods of Eli (chs 1–4 ), Samuel (chs 5–12 ), and Saul (chs 13–31 ); 2 Samuel tells of the reign of David. The work was named after the prophet Samuel (b. B. Bat. 14b), because the story of his birth opens the book and he is the principal figure in the first part. He greatly influenced events during his life and even after his death, since he anointed the first two kings, whose actions and fate occupy the major part of the book of Samuel.

The book of Samuel consists chiefly of narratives, which are supplemented with a few songs, lists, and brief notices. Its central concern is with the personal life of the leaders. Their aspirations, feelings, and passions are depicted realistically, displaying negative qualities as well as positive ones. Through the events of their lives the main ideas of the book are expressed. As a rule, human beings, not God, occupy the central stage, their lot being determined by their conduct. God acts behind the scenes, usually refraining from direct, supernatural intervention, shaping individual destinies through the natural course of events.

Samuel, the only person in the Bible whose biography begins before his birth and extends after his death, acted as both judge and prophet. Saul, the first king, who led Israel after Samuel, is depicted in most of the book as an unstable character. When he tries to free himself from Samuel's stern tutelage, a break ensues between the two men, and Saul is rejected in favor of David—the focal figure in both books. David, as opposed to Saul, is generally portrayed in a favorable light. His personality is many‐faceted and richer than any other figure in the Bible. He is a strong leader, successful in war and peace, a gifted musician and poet, deeply religious, endowed with a strong sense of justice, respectful and loyal towards Saul. Only in his dealings with his children does he appearweak. He sins, abusing his power, but repents wholeheartedly. At the peak of his reign he receives God's promise that his dynasty will reign forever.

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