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Samuel Books of

Samuel, Books of, are not separated from each other in the Hebrew MSS, and, from a critical point of view, must be regarded as one book. The present division was first made in the Septuagint translation, and was adopted in the Vulgate from the Septuagint. The book was called by the Hebrews “Samuel,” probably because the birth and life of Samuel were the subjects treated of in the beginning of the work. The books of Samuel commence with the history of Eli and Samuel, and contain an account of the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy and of the reigns of Saul and David, with the exception of the last days of the latter monarch, which are related in the beginning of the books of Kings, of which those of Samuel form the previous portion. [Kings, Books of.] Authorship and date of the book.

1. As to the authorship. In common with all the historical books of the Old Testament, except the beginning of Nehemiah, the book of Samuel contains no mention in the text of the name of its author. It is indisputable that the title “Samuel” does not imply that the prophet was the author of the book of Samuel as a whole; for the death of Samuel is recorded in the beginning of the 25th chapter. In our own time the most prevalent idea in the Anglican Church seems to have been that the first twenty-four chapters of the book of Samuel were written by the prophet himself, and the rest of the chapters by the prophets Nathan and Gad. This, however, is doubtful. 2. But although the authorship cannot be ascertained with certainty, it appears clear that, in its present form, it must have been composed subsequent to the secession of the ten tribes, b.c. 975. This results from the passage in 1 Sam. 27:6, wherein it is said of David, “Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah to this day”: for neither Saul, David, nor Solomon is in a single instance called king of Judah simply. On the other hand, it could hardly have been written later than the reformation of Josiah, since it seems to have been composed at a time when the Pentateuch was not acted on as the rule of religious observances, which received a special impetus at the finding of the Book of the Law at the reformation of Josiah. All, therefore, that can be asserted with any certainty is that the book, as a whole, can scarcely have been composed later than the reformation of Josiah, and that it could not have existed in its present form earlier than the reign of Rehoboam. The book of Samuel is one of the best specimens of Hebrew prose in the golden age of Hebrew literature. In prose it holds the same place which Joel and the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah hold in poetical or prophetical language.