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

Composition

SEVERAL STORIES IN THE BOOK OF SAMUEL occur twice, though in different versions. Cases in point include the stories about the election of Saul ( 9.15–10.9; 10.20–24 ), his rejection by Samuel ( 13.8–14; 15.9–33 ), David's first meeting with Saul ( 16.14–23; 17.31–37, 55–58 ), the killing of Goliath (in one case by David, in the other by Elhanan, 17.40–51; 2 Sam. 21.19 ), Saul's attempt to kill David by throwing his spear at him ( 18.10–11; 19.9–10 ), David's escape from Saul ( 19.11–12; 20.1–21.1 ), his taking refuge with Achish ( 21.11–16; 27.1–28.2; 29.1–11 ), and his refusal to kill Saul when he had the opportunity to do so ( 24.1–22; 26.1–25 ). The origin of the saying, “Is Saul too among the prophets?” is explained twice and in different ways ( 10.10–12; 19.18–24 ), and there are two divergent accounts of Saul's death ( 31.1–7; 2 Sam. 1.3–10 ).

Different versions of the same story, which are often met with in folk tales, arose, in all likelihood, when these stories were transmitted orally, before they were written down. The double, and sometimes contradictory, stories were probably included in the book of Samuel because they were not seen as different versions of the same story, but as accounts of different events, or because of the light they shed on the protagonists. As for contradictions, these were looked at in a different way from today: Consistency was not considered essential. Besides, the contradictions could always be resolved in one way or another (see, for instance, how the two differing accounts of the killing of Goliath are reconciled in 1 Chron. 20.5 ).

Jewish sources ascribe the composition of the book of Samuel to Samuel himself (b. B. Bat. 14b). But since his death is already recorded in ch 25 , the prophets Gad and Nathan, who are mentioned together with Samuel as the authors of a history of David (1 Chron. 29.29 ), are said to have finished the work (b. B. Bat. 15a). In the book of Samuel itself one source is mentioned: the Book of Jashar, from which David's elegy for Saul and Jonathan was taken (2 Sam. 1.18 ).

Biblical scholarship has posited a plurality of sources. In this respect three main theories have been put forward. First, the book of Samuel is composed of two or three parallel and continuous narrative strands, which run through the whole length of the book (this viewwas current in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries). Second, the book of Samuel consists of many single, independent narratives. Third, the book of Samuel is a compilation of large thematic units—such as the Ark narrative, the Saul cycle, the history of David's rise, the so‐called succession narrative (which continues into the first chapters of Kings)—which are not parallel, but arranged one after the other. Most scholars hold that the book of Samuel was also subjected to a Deuteronomistic redaction (that is, based on the tenets of the book of Deuteronomy), but it is generally agreed that this redaction was much slighter than in the book of Judges or the book of Kings. Some scholars assume a prophetic stratum between the older narrative material and the Deuteronomistic redaction. In any case, many hands have contributed to the formation of the book of Samuel, as is also borne out by the differences in style and narrative method—yet the different elements have generally been integrated into one unified whole.

In its final form the book of Samuel, and particularly the figures of David and Saul, have had a great impact on Jewish and Western thought and art. Many compositions— religious, moral, and political—as well as innumerable works of poetry, drama, narrative prose, painting, sculpture, and music have been influenced by them, and they continue to be a source of inspiration even today.

[SHIMON BAR‐EFRAT]

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