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

Background

THE BOOK OF SAMUEL describes the transition from the rule of the judges to the monarchic system of government. It tells of the foundation of the monarchy and its early struggles, paying special attention to questions concerning the rights, duties, and restrictions of the kings. It depicts how, through clashes between King Saul and the prophet Samuel, and between King David and the prophet Nathan, a type of kingship emerged that radically differed from the absolute kingship prevalent in the ancient Near East. According to the Bible, kings in Israel were not allowed to do whatever they fancied. They were subject to a higher power and to the rule of law and morality, upheld by the prophets.

The book also deals with the transfer of government from the old leaders to the new. Though hereditary succession was not unknown (see esp. Judg. chs 6–9 ), the three leaders Eli, Samuel, and Saul were not succeeded by their sons, but by others—each of whom had initially been under the patronage of his predecessor. The transfer was effected smoothly in the case of Eli and Samuel, with difficulty in the case of Samuel and Saul, and with bitter conflict in the case of Saul and David, culminating in Saul's recurring attempts to kill David.

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