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                      AT GILGAL



                                  A Study of I Samuel 11:14-12:25








                     J. ROBERT VANNOY







                                MACK PUBLISHING COMPANY

                                         Cherry Hill, New Jersey








Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt in appreciation to author, who, as my former

             professor, opened my understanding to the Old Testament.



For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory

for ever. Amen.                                                                     Romans 11:36







                                      To my mother

                                Margaret B. Vannoy

                              In memory of my father

                                 Wesley G. Vannoy


                  February 28, 1900—September 3, 1976


                              TABLE OF CONTENTS


ACKNOWLEDGM NTS                                                                         xi

INTRODUCTION                                                                                  1


                                            PART I


                     WITH PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON



I. TRANSLATION AND EXEGESIS OF I SAMUEL 12:1-25                  9

II. TRANSLATION AND EXEGESIS OF I SAMUEL 11:14-15               61


                                          PART II


                   ANALYSIS OF I SAMUEL 11:14-12:25


III. I SAMUEL 11: 4-12:25 AS A COMPOSITE UNIT                             95

          Section 1. A Survey of the Literary Criticism of I Samuel

          11:14-12:2                                                                                    95

          A. I Samuel 12:1-25                                                                      96

                    1. I Samuel 12 as an original unity                                       98

                              a. I Samuel 12 as a reliable historical record               98

                                        1) Representatives of "conservative biblical

                                           scholarship"                                                 98

                                        2) E. Robertson                                               99

                              b. Samuel 12 as the composition of a "deutero-

                                   omistic historian"                                                 100

                                        1) J. Wellhausen                                             100

                                        2) H. P. Smith                                                 100

                                        3) M. Noth (H. J. Boecker)                              101

                                        4) R. H. Pfeiffer                                              102

                              c.  Samuel 12 as an independent tradition unit            103

                                        1) H. Gressman                                               103

                                        2) A. Weiser                                                             103

                    2. I Samuel 12 as an original unit modified by

                         redactional reworking                                                     104

                              a. K. Budde                                                             104

                              b. S. R. Driver                                                          105

                              c. O. Eissfeldt                                                           106

                              d. G. B. Caird                                                           106

                              e. M. Buber                                                             106

                              f. G. Wallis                                                               108

                              g. B. C. Birch                                                           109

                              h. N. Gottwald                                                          110

                              i.  H. J. Stoebe                                                          111

                    3. I Samuel 12 as a composite of disparate material              112

                              a. I. Hylander                                                            112

vi                                            Table of Contents

                              b. H. Seebass                                                            113

                    4. Provisional conclusion                                                     114

          B. I SAMUEL 11:14-15                                                                114

                    1. I Samuel 11:14 as a redactional introduction to I

                         Samuel 11:14                                                                 115

                              a. Entirety of I Samuel 11:12-14 as redactional                      115

                                        1) J. Welihausen                                             115

                                        2) H. P. Smith                                                 115

                                        3) H. Gressman                                               116

                                        4) H. Wildberger                                             117

                                        5) G. Wallis                                                   118

                              b. The phrase ''renew the kingdom" (v. 14) as

                                  redactional                                                            119

                                        1) S. R. Driver                                                119

                                        2) R. Press                                                      119

                                        3) K. Möhlenbrink                                         119

                                        4) M. Noth                                                     120

                                        5) A. Weiser                                                             120

                                        6) H. W. Hertzberg                                                   121

                    2. I Samuel 11:12-14 (15) as a part of an originally

                        separate tradition                                                                       121

                              a. Th. C. Vriezim                                                      121

                              b. H. Seebass                                                            122

                              c N. Gottwald                                                           123

                              d. H. J. Stoebe                                                          124

                              e. E. Robertson                                                         125

                    3. Provisional conclusion                                                     126

     Section 2. The Structure of I Samuel 11:14-12:25                               127

          A. The Relationship of I Samuel 11:14-15 to I Samuel

               12:1-25                                                                                    127

          B. Structural Elements of I Samuel 12:1-25                                    131


      I SAMUEL 11:14-12:25                                                                    132

      Section 1. The Covenant Form in the Old Testament                          132

          A. The Covenant-Treaty Analogy                                                            132

          B. Characteristic Features of the Old Testament

              Covenant Form                                                                         138

          C. Extent and Variety of Utilization of the Old

              Testament Covenant Form                                                         142

          D. Sitz im Leben of the Old Testament Covenant

               Form; Historical Implications of Its Presence                             144

                    1. The nature of the covenant form and its

                        origin—cultic or historical?                                             146

                    2. The evolution of the treaty form and its

                         implications for the date of the book of

                         Deuteronomy                                                                 150


                                Table of Contents                                                            vii

                              a. The vassal treaties of Esarhaddon compared

                                  with the Hittite suzerainty treaties                          151

                                        1) Absence of a historical prologue                  151

                                        2) Absence of a Grundsatzerklarung               152

                                        3) Absence of blessings                                   153

                                        4) Conclusion                                                 153

                              b. The Aramaic treaties from Sefire compared

                                   with the vassal treaties of Esarhaddon and

                                   with the Hittite suzerainty treaties                         154

                                        1) Similarities of the Sefire treaties to the

                                            Assyrian treaties                                         154

                                        2) Similarities of the Sefire treaties to the

                                            Hittite treaties                                             155

                                        3) Conclusion                                                 156

                              c. Implications of the treaty-covenant analogy            156

                                  for the date of Deuteronomy   

Section 2. The Covenant Form in I Samuel 11:14-12:25

          A. Characteristic Features of the Covenant Form in

               I Samuel 11:14-12:25                                                               160

                    1. Appeal to antecedent history (I Sam. 12:6-12)                            161

                    2. The challenge to the basic covenantal obligation

                        of undivided allegiance to Yahweh introduced by

                        the transitional "and now" (I Sam. 12:13a, 14a,

                        15a, 20-21, 24)                                                               164

                    3. Blessing and curse sanctions (I Sam. 12:14b, 15b,

                        25)                                                                                 167

                    4. Theophanic sign (I Sam. 12:16-18a)                                 168

          B. Implications of the Covenant Form in I Samuel

              11:1 -12:25 for its Interpretation and Unity                                 169

                    1. Implications for its Interpretation                                     169

                              a. Elucidation of the covenantal character and

                                  purposes of the Gilgal assembly                            170

                              b. Elucidation of the covenantal background for

                                  various statements and terms occurring in

                                  I Samuel 11:14-12:25                                            179

                                        1) "Renew the kingdom" (I Sam. 11:14)                     179

                                        2) Israel's wickedness in asking for a king

                                            (I Sam. 12:17, 20)                                       179

                                        3) "Peace offerings" (I Sam. 11:15);

                                            "righteous acts of Yahweh" (I Sam. 12:7);

                                             "good and right way" (I Sam. 12:23)                     182

                    2. Implications of the covenant form of I Samuel

                        11:14-12:25 for its unity                                                            184

                              a. Clarification of the relationship between

                                  I Sam. 11:14-15 and I Sam. 12:1-15                       184

                              b. The covenant form and the structural integrity

                                  of I Samuel 12                                                      185

viii                                Table of Contents


                                        1) Implications of the covenant form for

                                            viewing I Samuel 12 as an original unity

                                            modified by redactional reworking               185

                                        2) Implications of the covenant form for

                                            viewing I Samuel 12 as a composite of

                                             disparate material                                       188

                                        3) Implications of the covenant form for

                                            viewing I Samuel 12 as an independent

                                            tradition unit                                               188

                                        4) Implications of the covenant form for

                                            viewing I Samuel 12 as the composition of

                                             a "deuteronomistic historian"                     189

APPENDIX                                                                                           192



     I SAMUEL 11:14-12:25                                                                     197

     Section 1. A Survey of the History of Criticism of I Samuel

          8-12                                                                                             198

          A. The Documentary-Source Approach                                         198

                    1. J. Wellhausen                                                                 198

                    2. K. Budde                                                                       199

                    3. H. P. Smith                                                                     200

                    4. S. R. Driver                                                                    201

                    5. O. Eissfeldt                                                                     201

          B. The Fragmentary Approach                                                       203

                    1. H. Gressmann                                                                 203

                    2. M. Noth                                                                          205

                    3. H. J. Boecker                                                                  207

          C. The Tradition-History Approach                                                209

                    1. W. Caspari                                                                               209

                    2. Th. C. Vriezen                                                                210

                    3. A. Weiser                                                                                 211

                    4. B. C. Birch                                                                     216

                    5. H. J. Stoebe                                                                    217

                    6. D. J. McCarthy                                                               219

          D. The Approach of "Conservative Biblical Scholarship"                223

    Section 2. An Assessment of the Criticism of I Samuel 8-12

          in the Light of the Covenantal Character of I Samuel

          11:14-12:25                                                                                 225

          A. The Ambivalent Attitude Toward Kingship in the

               Narratives of I Samuel 8-12 in the Light of the

               Covenantal Character of I Samuel 11:14-12:25                          227

          B. The Narrative Sequence of I Samuel 8-12 in the Light

               of the Covenantal Character of I Samuel 11:14-12:25                232


                                       Table of Contents                                     ix


          C. "Deuteronomic Influence" in the Narratives of

              I Samuel 8-12 in the Light of the Covenantal

              Character of I Samuel 11:14-12:25                                             235

          D. Concluding Remarks                                                                239


BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ABBREVIATIONS                                              241

BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                                                   245

SUMMARY                                                                                          259

TRANSLATIONS                                                                                  262






          It is with praise to God for his enablement and thanks to

many individuals for their encouragement and assistance that

this study is published.

          The writer is particularly grateful to Prof. Dr. Nic. H.

Ridderbos for his example of careful scholarship, and the

readiness with which he gave generously of his time and

expertise in the supervision of the writing of this dissertation.

This writer has benefited in more ways than can be enumer-

ated here from the tutelage of Prof. Ridderbos. I also express

my appreciation to Dr. Allan A. MacRae, President and Prof.

of Old Testament at Biblical School of Theology, Hatfield,

Pa., for the inspiration and encouragement which he has been

to me in biblical studies, initially as one of his students and in

more recent years as a colleague and friend.

          Thanks is also extended to the trustees of Biblical School

of Theology whose grant of a sabbatical leave during the

1973-1974 school year enabled significant progress to be

made in the research and writing of this work. Particular

acknowledgment is due Prof. Thomas V. Taylor of Biblical

School of Theology for his cheerful assumption of additional

teaching responsibilities during my absence.

          Many others have helped with this effort in a variety of

ways contributing significantly to its completion. Thanks are

extended to Mrs. William Taylor, typing; Dr. Perry Phillips,

proof reading, checking citations; Mrs. James Pakala, proof

reading; Mrs. Blair Ribeca, proof reading; my wife, Kathe,

proof reading.

          Finally, I express appreciation to my family for their

encouragement, patience, and assistance during the time of

the preparation of this study. It is not possible to convey in a




xii                           Acknowledgments


few words the deep debt which I owe to my parents for their

support through many years of educational pursuits and for

their godly life and example. To my wife, Kathe, and our

children, Anna, Robert, Mark, and Jonathan, I express my

appreciation for their patience during the many hours that

this study took from other activities in which they could also

be actively involved.

                                                              I Chronicles 29:11-13









There are few sections in the Old Testament which have been

the object of more literary critical assessment than the narra-

tives which decribe the rise of the monarchy in Israel con-

tained in I Samuel 8-12. During the first half of the 20th

century these chapters were often pointed to by advocates of

the documentary approach to the Old Testament as a show-

case example for the combination of two contradictory

sources (one considered to be early and pro-monarchial, and

the other considered to be late and anti-monarchial) into a

composite and historically dubious narrative sequence. The

result of this approach was the obscuration of the historical

setting for the rise of kingship which in turn contributed to

the creation of many difficulties in evaluating the role of

kingship in ancient Israel and especially its theological signifi-

cance. It is inevitably the case that the question of origin has

implications for understanding the nature of a given phe-

nomenon as well as for assessing the course of its develop-

ment. This is especially true with regard to kingship in Israel.

When one considers the prominence which the notion of

kingship assumes in connection with the Messianic theme in

the Old Testament, it is certainly of great importance to

understand the circumstances and conceptual considerations

which were associated with the origin of the institution. Was

kingship an aberration from the legitimate form of rule for

the theocracy according to the Sinai covenant? Is kingship as

conceived under David properly understood as a rejection of

the covenant-kingship of Yahweh and in fundamental anti-

thesis with it? Questions such as these with their many

implications are inseparably related to the matter of how one

understands I Samuel 8-12 which describes the events asso-

ciated with the establishment of the monarchy. For this


2                                 Introduction


reason the interpretation of these chapters is of great impor-

tance for understanding one of the central themes of the Old


          It has generally been the case that I Samuel 11:14-12:25

has been granted little or no place in attempts by critical

scholars to assess the historical situation in which Israelite

kingship was established. This is largely due to the fact that

I Samuel 11:14-12:25 has generally been regarded as a late

and historically untrustworthy appendage to the preceding

narratives of I Samuel 8-12. Even from the standpoint of

conservative biblical scholarship, which has recognized the

historical trustworthiness of I Samuel 12, it has generally been

treated merely as Samuel's farewell address at the time of

Saul's inauguration to be king and little further of signifi-

cance has been attached to the events described in the chap-

ter. It is our contention, however, that neither of these

approaches do justice to the content and importance of this

passage, and that instead of a relatively insignificant appen-

dage to the preceding narratives, one here encounters the

climax to the narrative sequence of I Samuel 8-12 in which

the key to the interpretation of this section of I Samuel is

found. It is also here that a perspective is found in which the

pro and anti monarchial tension which has so often been

pointed to in these chapters is to be understood. I Samuel

11:14-12:25 is thus to be regarded as a vitally important

passage which is of great significance for understanding the

concept of kingship in Israel at the time of its establishment

and also for delineating the relationship which existed be-

tween human kingship and Yahweh's kingship.

          In the discussion which follows it is our purpose to

demonstrate by exegetical, literary critical, and form critical

analysis that many features of I Samuel 11:14-12:25 strong-

ly indicate that the assembly which is here described is

properly understood as a covenant renewal ceremony, and

that there is good reason to view this ceremony as an his-

torically appropriate if not necessary event at this particular


                                  Introduction                                                      3


juncture in Israel's national existence. In our view the re-

newal of the covenant here described served a dual purpose.

First, it served to restore the covenant relationship between

Yahweh and his people after the people had abrogated the

covenant by their sin in asking for a king "as the nations."

And secondly, it provided a means for instituting the era of

the monarchy in Israel in a manner which demonstrated that

the suzerainty of Yahweh was in no way diminished by the

establishment of kingship. It was Samuel's purpose, there-

fore, in calling for the assembly to provide for covenant

continuity through a period of major restructuring of the


          In our study of I Samuel 11:14-12:25, Chapters I and II

will be given to the translation and exegesis of I Samuel 12

and I Samuel 11:14-15 in that order. Chapter III will assess

these same two units from a literary critical standpoint.

Chapter IV will discuss the "covenant form" in the Old

Testament and then investigate the implications which this

form may have for the interpretation and unity of I Samuel

11:14-12:25. Chapter V will utilize the covenantal perspec-

tive found in I Samuel 11:14-12:25 for the assessment of the

literary criticism of I Samuel 8-12, and particularly for sug-

gesting a means for resolving the pro and anti monarchial

tension which has so often been pointed to in this section of

I Samuel.

          A few additional words of comment concerning organiza-

tion are in order at this point. First, as has already been

indicated we have chosen to place the exegetical and literary

critical discussion of I Samuel 12 before that of I Samuel

11:14-15. The reason for this is that I Samuel 12 in our view

provides the basis for understanding I Samuel 11:14-15 as a

brief synopsis of the Gilgal assembly prefaced to the narrative

of I Samuel 12, which we take to be a more detailed descrip-

tion of the same assembly. Our exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-

12:25 has no pretensions of providing a more or less com-

plete exegesis. We have delved more deeply into only those


4                                  Introduction


points which were considered of particular importance for

the purposes of this study.

          Secondly, the survey of the history of the literary criti-

cism of I Samuel 12 and I Samuel 11:14-15 precedes that of

the larger section of the book (I Samuel 8-12) for which they

form the concluding segment because our primary interest is

in these two units, and we have chosen to take them as the

starting point for our assessment of the larger section. This,

however, requires some overlap between Chapters III and V

because in certain instances it has been necessary to give a

general orientation to the criticism of the entire section

(I Samuel 8-12) in Chapter III in order to adequately de-

scribe the approach a given author has taken to the literary

criticism of I Samuel 12 and I Samuel 11:14-15. For this

reason the standpoint of certain authors is given three or four

times. This occurs from a different perspective in each case,

although of necessity some degree of repetition is involved.

This, of course, has its objections, but I hope that the

advantages will outweigh the disadvantages for the one who

reads or consults the book.

          Thirdly, the greatest difficulty was caused by the struc-

turing of Chapter IV. On the one hand, the issues which are

under discussion in this chapter are of very great significance

for our topic. On the other hand, such issues as the occur-

rence of the "covenant form" in the Old Testament, the origin

of the form, the significance of the form for the dating of

Deuteronomy, etc., are such broad matters that it is impossi-

be to handle them satisfactorily in the scope of this disserta-

tion. Let me make three remarks in this connection. 1) This

is not the first time that something has been written on these

issues. I have included a rather large number of references to

pertinent literature, particularly that which in my opinion

points in the right direction, although without ignoring litera-

ture in which other standpoints are defended. 2) Matters that

are of particular importance for my subject I have discussed

in more detail. 3) The discussion of the covenant form in the


                              Introduction                                                      5


Old Testament, Chapter IV, Section 1, does not, of course,

stand by itself; it is an introduction to Chapter IV, Section 2

and to Chapter V. The discussion in Chapter IV, Section 1

depends to a great extent on the work of M. Kline (and

others, such as K. A. Kitchen). I have tried to utilize the

model which Kline has constructed in analyzing I Samuel 12,

I Samuel 8-12. If some new light is thrown on these per-

copes in this way, that in turn can argue that Kline has

constructed his model correctly.

          Fourthly, Chapter V is chiefly concerned with the impli-

cations which the covenantal character of I Samuel 11:14-

12:25 may have for the literary critical assessment of I Sam-

uel 8-12. It is not our purpose, in this chapter, to discuss

literary critical matters which are not closely related to the

covenantal perspective provided by I Samuel 11:14-12:15. It

 is our position that the tensions and irregularities between

various segments of I Samuel 8-12 which have been pointed

out and discussed by many, are not of a sort which requires

one to conclude that contradictory sources have been linked

together in this section of I Samuel. Where such matters have

been raised in connection with specific statements in I Sam-

uel 11:14-12:2 on which the covenant form has no particu-

lar bearing, they are discussed in our exegetical discussions of

Chapters I and II.















                                PART I




















I Sam. 12:1. And Samuel said to all Israel, "Behold I have listened to

your voice1 in all which you said to me, and I have placed a king over


          The absence of a time or place designation at the begin-

ning of I Samuel 12 is an indication that it is intended to be

understood as related to the renewal of the kingdom at Gilgal

which was briefly summarized in the last two verses of

I Samuel 11. See further Chapter III, Sections 1 and 2 A.

          Samuel's statement to the Gilgal assembly makes refer-

ence to what had transpired at two previous gatherings, one

in Ramah (I Sam. 8:4, 5, 19-22) and the other in Mizpah

(I Sam. 10:17-27). At Ramah the elders of Israel had come to

Samuel and requested him to appoint them, "a king for us to

judge, us like all the nations" (I Sam. 8:5).2 Even though

Samuel warned them that a king as the nations round about

would be a burden rather than a blessing (I Sam. 8:10-18),3


            1. For the use of lvqb fmw in the sense of "yield to" or "obey" a request

or entreaty see: BDB and KBL, s.v. fmw; cf. vv. 14, 15 below.

            2. Bible quotations in most instances are from the New American Standard

Bible (New York: 1963), with the modification that Yahweh has been used in

place of LORD for the designation of the name of Israel's God (hvhy). Wherever

it has been necessary to deviate from the NASB, I have given my own translation.

            3. There is no need to assume that the description of the "manner of the

king" contained in I Sam. 8:11-18 represents a late source expressing the bad

experience that Israel and Judah had had with their kings, as has often been

maintained. See, e.g.: H. P. Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the

Books of Samuel (ICC; Edinburgh: 1899) 55; G. Caird, "Introduction and

Exegesis of I-II Samuel," IB, II (Nashville: 1953) 921-922; and M. Noth, The

History of Israel (London: 19602) 172, n. 2. For a rebuttal of this interpretation

on the basis of texts from Alalakh and Ugarit which throw light on the practices

of the city-state kings of Canaanite society from the 18th to 13th centuries B.C.,




10          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


the elders nevertheless insisted that they wanted a king

(I Sam. 8:19), and Yahweh instructed Samuel to acquiesce to

their request and, "appoint them a king" (I Sam. 8:22).

Subsequent to this, Yahweh made Saul known to Samuel as

he sought his father's stray asses, and after a private anoint-

ing, and the giving of signs to demonstrate to Saul that the

anointing was truly of Yahweh (I Sam. 9:1-10:16), Samuel

called all the people together to Mizpah (I Sam. 10:17-27)

for a public designation by Yahweh of the man who was to

be their king. After the lot had fallen on Saul, Samuel

addressed the Mizpah assembly and said, "Do you see him

whom Yahweh has chosen? Surely there is no one like him

among all the people.’ So all the people shouted and said,

‘Long live the king!’ Then Samuel told the people the manner

of the kingdom and wrote it in a book and placed it before

Yahweh . . ." (I Sam. 10:24, 25).

          Now at the gathering in Gilgal, which had been called by

Samuel to "renew the kingdom" after Yahweh had given Israel

victory in battle over the Ammonites under Saul's leadership,

Samuel had led the people in the formal inauguration of the

reign of Saul (I Sam. 11:15a, "they made Saul king before

Yahweh in Gilgal").4 This having been accomplished, he now

presents the newly inaugurated king to the people, and says

that he has done what they had requested (I Samuel 8,

Ramah), and has placed a king over them (I Sam. 10:17-27,

Mizpah; I Sam. 11:15a, Gilgal).


see, I. Mendelsohn, "Samuel's Denunciation of Kingship in the Light of Akkadian

Documents from Ugarit," BASOR 143 (1956) 17-22. Mendelsohn (ibid., 22)

concludes, "In view of the evidence from the Akkadian texts from Ugarit it seems

obvious that the Samuel summary of 'the manner of the king' does not constitute

‘a rewriting of history’ by a late opponent of kingship, but represents an eloquent

appeal to the people by a contemporary of Saul not to impose upon themselves a

Canaanite institution alien to their own way of life." See further below, Chap-

ter V, Section 2,A.

            4. For discussion of when the inauguration of Saul took place, see below,

Chapter II.


         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                     11


I Sam. 12:2. And now,5 behold, the king shall walk6 before you; as for

me, I have become old and grey headed, and behold, my sons are with

you; and I have walked before you from my youth until this day.


          With the twofold ynx and the double use of Hithpael

forms of the Verb jlh for both himself and the newly

inaugurated king,7 Samuel draws attention to the transition

in leadership which was being formally implemented at the

Gilgal assembly. Just as Samuel had lived openly before the

people for an entire lifetime, in the performance of a variety

of public functions in the service of Yahweh, so now the king

is to assume his public responsibilities under the guidelines

which Samuel had previously explained to the king and the

people at Mizpah (I Sam. 10:25).

          In his introduction of the king Samuel makes allusion to

his own advanced age, and to the presence of his sons among

the people.8 His age and his sons had both been cited by the


            5. On the various uses of htfv see H. A. Brongers, "Bemerkungen zum

Gebrauch des Adverbialen We'ATTAH im Alten Testament," VT 15 (1965)

289-299; and A. Laurentin, "Weattah-Kai nun. Formule caracteristique des textes

juridiques et liturgiques," Bib 45 (1964) 168-195. htfv is used to mark important

transitions at three places in I Samuel 12: vv. 2, 7, 13 (16 [htf-Mg]). It marks a

secondary transition in v. 10, where it is used in Samuel's resume of Yahweh's

righteous acts. See further below, Chapter IV, Section 2,A,2.

            6. GK §116 a.

            7. In BDB (s.v.) this use of jlhth is defined as, "fig. walk about=live; the

king before (ynpl) his people I S 12:2, so of Samuel v. 2." S. R. Driver (Notes on

the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel [Oxford: 19132 ]

38) comments: "To walk before any one is to live and move openly before him;

esp. in such a way as a) to deserve, and consequently b) to enjoy his approval and

favour." Smith (Samuel, ICC, 83) cites Num. 27:16 f. and comments: "the king is

thought of as a shepherd walking before his flock." See further: G. Sauer, THAT,

I, 491 f. on jlh.

            8. Some commentators have questioned whether the expression, "I have

become old and grey headed, and behold my sons are with you" is to be

considered original. See for example: K. Budde, Die Bucher Samuel (KHC 8;

Tubingen: 1902) 77; and H. Gressmann, Die älteste Geschichtsschreibung und

Prophetie Israels (SAT II/1; Göttingen: 19212) 45. There is, however, no textual

evidence for eliminating this segment of the verse, and the allusion to Samuel's

age and his sons does have relevance to the matters of concern at the Gilgal

assembly. It is also not necessary to assume as does Caird (IB, II, 941) that, "the

author must have forgotten their [the sons] misdemeanors, or he would not have

committed the blunder of mentioning them at the very moment when Samuel is

protesting his innocence from the crimes of which they had been accused."


12            Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


elders as reasons for their initial request for a king at Ramah

(I Sam. 8:5). Samuel alludes to these matters here, however,

in neutral terms, indicating neither acceptance nor rejection

of their legitimacy as a basis for the establishment of king-

ship.9 It was nevertheless, clear to all, that Samuel did not

have many more years to continue to give guidance and

counsel to the nation, and the people were well aware of the

unfitness of his sons to carry on in his place.


I Sam. 12:3. Here I am; testify against me10 in the sight of Yahweh and

in the sight of his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I

taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from

whose hand have I taken a bribe11 to pervert justice?12 And I will repay



            9. It seems that for the people Samuel's age and the conduct of his sons

provided a convenient occasion for their request for a king. Their real desire,

however, particularly in the face of the Philistine and Ammonite threats to their

borders, was for a "king as the nations" round about to lead them in battle and

bring them deliverance (see especially I Sam. 8:20). The narratives of I Samuel

8-12 make it clear that the request for a king involved a rejection of the kingship

of Yahweh (I Sam. 8:7; 10:19; 12:12, 19). The people were seeking a national

hero, a symbol of national power and unity, and a guarantee of security which they

thought they could find in the person of a human king. See further the exegesis of

I Sam. 12:12 below, and A. A. Koolhaas, Theocratie en Monarchie in Israel

(Wageningen: 1957) 53-57.

            10. For the use of hnf in the technical sense of responding as a witness or

testifying (with 2 of pers. usually meaning against) see BDB, s.v.l, 3. See also the

discussion of H. J. Boecker, Redeformen des Rechtslebens im Alten Testament

(WMANT 14; Neukirchen-Vluyn: 1964) 103.

            11. rpk is usually used in the sense of ransom for a forfeited life (Ex. 21:30;

N m. 35:31, 32). J. Herrmann, ("i[lasmo<j," TDNT, III, 303) says of its use in

I Sam. 12:3 that the, "context leaves it uncertain whether he [Samuel] means an

expiatory ransom for a forfeited life, but there is nothing to rule out this view.

The same is true in Amos 5:12." In a similar vein Driver (Notes, 89) says, "In

Amos 5:12 the nobles of Samaria are denounced as rpk yHql. This being the

uniform usage of the word, it follows that what Samuel here repudiates is that he

has ever as judge taken a money payment on condition of acquitting a murderer

brought before him for justice." According to KBL (s.v. IV) rpk has in I Sam.

12:3, Amos 5:12, and Prov. 6:35 (where it parallels rHw, cf. also I Sam. 8:3 for

7 ), however, a broader meaning: "hush-money" in general, so also, e.g., H. J.

Stoebe (Das erste Buch Samuelis [KAT VIII/I; Gutersloh: 1973] 232. This last

position appears preferable to me. There is insufficient basis for the restriction in

meaning indicated by Herrmann and Driver.

            12. a) Literally, "so that I would have covered my eyes with it." On the use

of the imperfect here, see GK § 107r. Note also the statement in I Sam. 8:3 which

indicates that Samuel's sons were guilty of this very offense.

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                        13


          Samuel now proceeds to draw attention to his own past

leadership over the people. He does this by putting himself as


            b) There is a variant reading for this phrase found in the LXXAB, the

Old Latin Version, and confirmed in the paraphrase of Ben Sira (49:19). The

LXX version reads, kai> u[po<dhma; a]pokri<qhte kat ] e]mou?, . . . which presupposes a

Hebrew text reading, yb vnf Mylfnv (utilizing the Hebrew dual form of lfn

for a pair of shoes, cf., the Greek u[podhma<twn of Ben Sira). The resulting

translation, ". . . (oil from whose hand have I taken a bribe) and a pair of shoes?

Testify against me (and I will return it to you)," may appear to make little sense.

See, however, the discussion of this phrase by E. Speiser, "Of Shoes and Shekels,"

BASOR 77 (1940) 15-20. Speiser points out that the difference between the MT

and the reconstructed Hebrew text presupposed by the LXX is only the differ-

ence between an x and n (provided the comparison is on the basis of a purely

consonantal text). The question which naturally arises with the LXX rendering,

however, is why would a shoe be used in connection with a bribe? Smith (Samuel,

ICC, 85), supported by Driver (Notes, 89) understands the expression as repre-

sentative of a bribe that would be something very insignificant, even something of

as little worth as a pair of shoes, but says that then one would expect the Hebrew

to read either Mylfn Mg or Mylfnv Jxv. Both Smith and Driver feel that rpk and

Mylfn do not agree well together, and that it is questionable whether a pair of

shoes is a likely bribe for a judge. They thus favor retention of the reading of the


            Speiser, however, maintains on the basis of a similar mentioning of shoes as

legal symbols in two Nuzi texts that the shoes here are not to be understood

simply in the sense of something of little worth, but rather, as in the Nuzi texts,

in the sense of, "token payments to validate special transactions by lending them

the appearance of normal business practice." Speiser finds similar usages in the

OT in Ruth 4:7, Amos 2:6, and 8:6. His conclusion regarding Samuel's remark in

I Sam. 12:3 is that, "in his capacity as judge he had never accepted bribes or

gratuities from any litigant; what is more, he had had nothing to do with cases

where the law could be circumvented through some technicality." On the basis

that the more difficult reading deserves preference in matters of textual criticism,

Speiser, with this "outside support" favors the LXX version. While Speiser's

argument is interesting, and may well be the key to understanding the LXX

version, the argument of Smith and Driver that one would expect something other

than simple I remains valid.

            For another approach to this problem see: R. Gordis, "Na'alam and other

observations on the Ain Feshka Scrolls," JNES 9 (1950) 44-47. Gordis maintains

that in spite of Speiser's proposal, Driver's objections are still valid. He then

proposes another solution, namely that the word in question is a Hebrew noun

MlAfEna, (otherwise unknown) meaning literally "concealing substance" or bribe,

which is then a synonym for rpk. He translates the phrase, "From whose hand

have I taken ransom-money or a bribe; testify against me." His proposal is based

on the Hebrew Genizah text of Ben Sira which reads: yGhpl ymm Mlfnv rpvk.

Gordis says, "Unfortunately, scholars have emended it to read kopher vena

‘alayim, 'ransom and shoes,' to conform with the Greek, ignoring the independent

testimony of the Syriac suhada wekurbhana, 'bribe and offering.' This latter

rendering clearly presupposes a noun, probably MlAfEna: (or MlAfAna) synonymous

with kopher."

14       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


it were on trial, and requesting legal testimony from anyone

who could point to some irregularity or injustice in his own

previous leadership of the nation.

          This testimony is to be given before Yahweh and before

the newly chosen king, who as king has now become the

chief judicial officer in the land.13 Samuel's referring to the

king as Yahweh's anointed,14 as well as granting to him the


            In conclusion, it can be said that because of the indecisiveness of the

available evidence, it is not possible to give strong preference to any one of these

three alternatives for the best reading of the text.

            With regard to the words yb vnf, while they may have fallen out after

vb yvyf because of their close similarity as is suggested by Driver (Notes, 89), it

would seem better to follow the MT unless one chooses to adopt the entire LXX

rendering, since the is not necessary for the sense of the verse. Note,

however, that both the RS V and NEB incorporate the phrase "testify against me"

(yb vnf ) into their translation, but exclude "and a shoe" ( Mylfnv).

            13. Indications of the function of the king as judge are found in the time of

David (II Sam. 15:1-6), and in the time of Solomon (I Kings 3:16, 28; and 7:7).

From these and other references it appears that legal cases could either be

appealed to the king from local jurisdiction, or in some cases be brought directly

to the king. For discussion of the legislative and judicial powers of the king in

Israel, see: R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions (New York: 1971)


            14. This is the first time in the OT (apart from the references of I Sam.

2:10, 35) that the king of Israel is referred to as Yahweh's anointed. E. Kutsch

(Salbung als Rechtsakt im Alten Testament and im Alten Orient [BZAW 87;

Berlin: 1963] 52-63) maintains that anointing of the king in Judah was done only

by representatives of the people, and the idea of anointing by Yahweh through his

representative represents a late "theologumenon," and thus the stories that utilize

the expression "the anointed of Yahweh" in I Samuel in connection with Saul and

David are late, and not historically reliable. For a variation of this view see R.

Knierim, "The Messianic Concept in the First Book of Samuel," in Jesus and the

Historian, ed. F. T. Trotter (Philadelphia: 1969) 20-51. Knierim agrees that

anointment by the people was the original practice and suggests that the reference

to the anointing of Saul through the people as contained in the LXX version of

I Sam. 11:15 has been displaced in favor of a later "prophetic view" of Saul's

anointing from Yahweh through Samuel his prophet. Knierim's view is adopted

and elaborated on by B. C. Birch, "The Development of the Tradition on the

Anointing of Saul in I Sam. 9:1-10:16," JBL 90 (1971) 55-68. This notion,

however, has rightly been questioned by J. Scharbert in his review of Kutsch's

work (BZ 9 [1965] 103, 104). Scharbert says, "Auch die Vorstellung von einer

Salbung des Königs durch Jahwe bzw einen Gottesmann dürfte kein blosses

Theologumenon sein, sondern in einem sakralen, tatsächlich geübten Ritus ihre

Grundlage haben." He says, further; "Wenn Könige in Juda durch das Volk oder

durch dessen Vertreter gesalbt wurden, schliesst das weder die Mitwirkung von

Gottesmannern noch die Vorstellung aus, dass der Konig als von Jahwe gesalbt

gilt." For further discussion of the phrase "the anointed of Yahweh" and its


            Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                   15


function of the highest tribunal in the land reflects his

positive disposition toward the king and kingship, now that

Saul has been installed and is assuming his new responsibili-


          The brief formula by which Samuel elicits either his own

indictment or exoneration touches on several major types of

misdemeanors which frequently are characteristic of the

abuse of power by public officials.

          He first asks whose ox or whose ass he had taken. These

two animals were probably the most important domestic

animals for the Israelite.15 Because of their importance it was

not uncommon for them to be stolen, and accordingly this

was specifically prohibited in the Pentateuch not only in the

general terms of the apodictic laws, "You shall not steal"

(Ex. 20:15), and "you shall not covet your neighbor's . . . ox,

or his ass or anything that belongs to your neighbor" (Ex.

20:17, cf. Deut. 5:21), but also in the specific terms of the

case laws of Exodus 21:37 (22:1); 22:3, 8 (22:4, 9).

          It is striking that Moses defended the integrity of his

leadership of the nation in a similar manner when he said to

Yahweh at the time of the rebellion of Dathan and Abiram,

"Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single ass


significance see the, essay by R. de Vaux "The King of Israel, Vassal of Yahweh,"

in The Bible and the Ancient Near East (New York: 1971) 152-166.

            Apart from the above question it is certainly noteworthy, however, that

Samuel in addressing the assembly speaks of Saul as the "anointed of Yahweh" as

if this was something which was known to the people. How is this to be

explained? Had he previously told them the story of chapters 9 and 10, or was

Samuel publicly anointed prior to this statement in the Gilgal assembly itself (cf.

LXX of I Sam. 11:14-15, and Chapter II, pp. 85-88 below)? However this may

be answered, this is one of a number of indications that I Sam. 8-12 is a com-

posite of originally separate sources (cf. below, Chapter V, Section 1, D and

Section 2). In this connection it should be noted, however, that the account of

the anointing of Saul by Samuel as the agent of Yahweh is found in I Sam. 10:1

which normally is assigned to the earlier more reliable "source," rather than to

the "later source" often viewed as the prophetically influenced, less reliable,

theological source.

            15. For a discussion of their significance, see: E. Nielsen, "Ass and Ox in the

Old Testament," in the Pedersen Festschrift, Studia Orientalia (Copenhagen:

1953) 163-174.

16         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


from them; nor have I done harm to any of them" (Num.

16:15). Now Samuel is bringing to the attention of the

people that he has not used his position of leadership for his

own personal advantage.16

          In this connection, Samuel seems to be implying a con-

trast between his own past conduct in which he had not

taken ( Hql) anything from the people, and the warning

which he had given to the people previously at Ramah

(I Sam. 8:10-17) where he had said that a king as the nations

round about would take their sons (v. 11), take their daugh-

ters (v. 13), take their fields (v. 14), take the tenth of their

seed (v. 15), take their menservants, and maidservants (v. 16),

and take the tenth of their sheep (v. 17).17 It was often the

case that kings in the ancient near East taxed and expropri-

ated property and possessions from those over whom they

ruled. Samuel had done nothing of this sort. He, like Moses

before him, had performed his duties as a true servant of

Yahweh and Yahweh's people.

          Samuel then asks whom he has defrauded (qwf )18 or

oppressed (Nycr). The defrauding of a neighbor (Lev. 19:13),


            16. G. von Rad, building on the work of K. Galling, has associated the series

of questions in this verse with the Gattung of the "confessional list," although in

doing so he questions the appropriateness of the label "confessional list" since

innocence is being asserted rather than admission of shortcoming. See: K. Galling,

"Der Beichtspiegel: eine gattungsgeschlichtliche Studie," ZAW 47 (1929) 125-

130; and G. von Rad, "The Early History of the Form-Category of I Cor. 13:4-7,"

The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays (New York: 1966) 301-317. To

support his view of the origin of the literary type represented in the questions

which Samuel asks, von Rad postulates an original list-form underlying the clauses

(I have taken no man's ox, I have taken no man's ass, etc.). He then suggests that

such professions were used outside the cultus in legal contexts or that perhaps it

was the work of a late writer to place this procedure in a secular setting. The

absence of firm evidence greatly weakens von Rad's thesis.

            17. The jlmh Fpwm (manner of the king) of I Sam. 8:9, 11 is not to be

understood as descriptive of what the king of Israel ought to be, but rather

descriptive of what a king such as "of all the nations" (I Sam. 8:5) would be like.

See further: Koolhaas, Theocratie en Monarchie, 59-61.

            18. Driver (Notes, 88) comments, "qwf is to oppress, in particular by

defrauding a labourer or dependent of his due." See also BDB, s.v., where qwf is

defined as, "oppress, wrong (oft. by extortion, || lzg); c. acc. pers. I S 12:3,

4. . . ."

         Translations and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25               17


or a hired servant that was poor and needy (Deut. 24:14) was

also prohibited in the Pentateuch. Although Nycr does not

occur in any specific legal prohibition in the Pentateuch,

oppression was clearly contrary to the spirit of covenantal

law particularly as it is summarized in the expression, "love

your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18). This question then,

just as the previous one, points to a particular category of

political abuse. The practice of fraud (qwf), often in the

form of extortion, as well as oppression (Nycr), by national

leaders was frequent in ancient as well as modern times.19

          Samuel next asks from whom he has taken a bribe to

pervert justice (literally, to hide his eyes with it).20 In Exodus

23:821 the taking of bribes was specifically forbidden because

it, "blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the

just." This prohibition is repeated in Deuteronomy in the

context of regulations for local judges and officers through-

out the land. "You shall not distort justice; you shall not be

partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the

eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous"

(Deut. 16:19).

          Samuel's purpose is thus to establish publicly his adher-

ence to the requirements of the covenantal law in the exer-

cise of his leadership over the nation. Because he has been

faithful to the covenant in the performance of his duties he

has not used his position of leadership for his own enrich-

ment, nor has he engaged in oppression, fraud or the obstruc-

tion or perversion of justice.


            19. qwf and Ccr occur together in Amos's denunciation of the people of

Samaria (Amos 4:1), and also in Hosea's denunciation of Ephraim (Hos. 5:11).

They are also used together in Deut. 28:33 to describe the actualization of the

covenant curse in the harsh treatment of Israel by a foreign nation through which

Israel herself will experience what it means to be defrauded and oppressed.

            20. See n. 11 and 12 above.

            21. In Ex. 23:8 and also Deut. 16:19 dHw is used rather than rpk, see on

dHw n. 11 above.

18         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


I Sam. 12:4. And they said, "You have not defrauded us nor oppressed

us nor taken anything from the hand of any man."


          Samuel receives complete exoneration by the people in

response to his request.


I Sam. 12:5. And he said unto them, "Yahweh is witness overagainst22

you and his anointed is witness this day that you have not found

anything in my hand." And they said,23 (They are)24 "witness."


          Samuel transposes the people's positive response into

legal terminology to which the people respond again by

asserting that Yahweh and the newly appointed king are

witness to his innocence.

          One might ask why Samuel was so interested in establish-

ing his own covenant faithfulness at a public ceremony con-

nected with the inauguration of Saul. It has often been

suggested on the basis of his request for exoneration com-

bined with his presentation of the king to the people, and the

statement which he makes about his own age (v. 2), that he is

here giving a "farewell address" before transferring his "office"

to Saul and retiring from public life.25

          A. Weiser has challenged this interpretation, and said that

I Samuel 12:1-5 can hardly be understood as, "eine Art

Indemnitätsverklärung, die er benötigt, urn ordnungsgemäss

von einem Amt (etwa wie meist angenommen als Richter)


            22. As C. J. Goslinga (Het Eerste Boek Samuel [COT; Kampen: 1968] 245)

notes, Yahweh and Saul are earwitnesses of the response of the people and

therefore Mkb is best taken as "overagainst" rather than "against."

            23. The MT (with the exception of 18 MSS) reads, rmxyv. The LXXBA,

Syriac, Vulgate and Targum, however, all give a plural reading. Driver (Notes, 90,

91) discusses this variant reading at length because it is also suggested in the

Masoretic note rybs. Driver (ibid., 91) points out that, "the rybs must be

carefully distinguished from the yrq: in no case does it direct the suggested

alternative to be substituted in reading for that which is written in the text."

Perhaps the explanation of the MT is to be found in the idea that the people (cf.

v. 6) responded as "one man."

            24. For the suppression of the subject in an exclamatory statement see, GK

§ 147c.

            25. For a more complete discussion of this interpretation of I Samuel 12 see

further the exegesis of v. 23, and also Chapter IV, Section 2,B, 1,a.

          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25           19


zurückzutreten."26  He says further that the things for which

Samuel asks vindication are not simply typical of the moral-

ity of a judge, but those things which were incumbent on

every Israelite. Thus Samuel was simply seeking to establish,

"die Tatsache einer einwandfreien, bundesgemässen Lebens-

fühning."27 The 'confirmation of this by the king and the

people would mean that, "Samuel auch unter den neuen

Verhältnissen als Repräsentant des Jahwebundes aufzutreten

berechtigt und ermächtigt zu sein wünscht."28 Weiser con-

cludes that Samuel is not retiring or resigning, but that his

action is to be understood as, "ein kluger Schritt vorwärts,

der die Vertrauensbasis schafft für die durch die Einführung

des Königtums notwendig gewordene Neuordnung. . . "29

          Weiser is certainly correct in his opposition to the "fare-

well address" approach to this section of I Samuel 12, and in

his emphasis on the continuing function of Samuel; for

Samuel does not retire after the Gilgal ceremony, but con-

tinues to function as intercessor, as prophet, as priest, as the

one who brings the message of Yahweh's rejection of Saul,

and perhaps also even as judge (cf. I Sam. 7:15).

          Yet at the same time there is an element of truth—

although not more than that—in the farewell hypothesis.

Samuel is transferring important elements of his former func-

tions to the king, and precisely those functions in which

offenses such as those mentioned in verse three could be

committed. It is thus understandable that he desires an hon-

orable discharge from these functions. In addition it is clear

from Samuel's advanced age (I Sam. 8:5; 12:2) that the time

is short in which he will continue as a leader in the nation,

and that here in the ceremony at Gilgal the matter of provid-

ing for an orderly transition in leadership is one of the major


            26. A. Weiser, Samuel. Seine geschichtliche Aufgabe und religiöse Bedeu-

tung (FRLANT, 81; Göttingen: 1962).

            27. Ibid., 83.

            28. Ibid., 83.

            29. Ibid., 84.

20         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


concerns. It is clear then that there remains a significant

distinction between Weiser's position on this point and my

own, even though Weiser has provided a valuable corrective

to the usual "farewell address" interpretation. Against

Weiser's view it can also be noted that it seems clear that

Samuel is doing more than merely seeking. confirmation that

he has lived as an ordinary Israelite in conformity to the

covenant law. While it is true that all of the things which he

mentions would be applicable to any citizen, in the context

of the Gilgal assembly and his presentation of the newly

inaugurated king to the people, they seem to have more

specific reference to Samuel's role as a national leader.

          Thus neither Weiser's suggestion nor the traditional view

of the chapter as a "farewell address" does justice to the total

picture. Samuel is not retiring, yet his advanced age is very

real. He is not simply transferring his office to Saul, yet he is

implementing a transition in national leadership and a reor-

ganization of the theocracy. There must then, be some other

over-arching explanation for this procedure of Samuel in the

Gilgal assembly in which each of these aspects of his concern

receives its due recognition. Further discussion of this matter

must await examination of the remainder of the chapter, and

lour discussion of the "covenant form" and its implications

for the interpretation of I Samuel 11:14-12:25.30


I Sam. 12:6. And Samuel said unto the people, "It is Yahweh31 who


            30. See below, Chapter IV, Section 2,B.

            31. The LXX reading (le<gwn Ma<rtuj ku<rioj) is preferred by many because

the sentence is not complete in the MT and because it is felt that df could easily

have dropped out by scribal error before or after hvhy. Among those favoring the

LXX reading are: W. Nowack, Richter, Ruth and Bucher Samuelis, (HK 1/4;

Göttingen: 1902) 53; Driver, Notes, 92; K. A. Leimbach, Die Bücher Samuel

(HSchAT III/I; Bonn: 1936) 56; and P. R. Ackroyd, The First Book of Samuel

(CNEB; Cambridge: 1971) 98. This insertion of df is in our opinion correctly

opposed by, among others: A. Schulz, Die Bücher Samuel (EH 8/1; Munchen in

Westfalen: I, 1919) 168; H. W. Hertzberg, I and II Samuel (Philadelphia: 1964)

95, 98; Weiser, FRLANT, Samuel, 84; and Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuël,

COT, 245. For further discussion see exegesis below.

       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                          21


gave you32 Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up out of

the land of Egypt.


          This verse introduces a new section of the chapter in

which Samuel turns from the matter of the character of his

previous leadership over the people to the matter of the

people's request for a king, which he views as a covenant-

breaking act and a serious apostasy.

          Samuel begins by turning the attention of the people

back to their deliverance out of the land of Egypt by Yahweh

himself. This was the foundation-event in the history of Israel

as a nation. Israel owed her very existence as a nation to this

gracious and mighty act of Yahweh performed in fulfillment

of his promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:13-16) and Jacob (Gen.

46:3, 4). Yet in connection with this, Samuel emphasizes

that Yahweh gave the people the necessary leaders, Moses

and Aaron, to guide the nation through the critical period of

her birth. In this way Samuel draws attention to Yahweh's

past provision of leadership for the nation, which was one of

the important issues to be considered at the Gilgal assembly.

          Because of the somewhat awkward construction of the

beginning of verse 6 in the MT where hvhy stands by itself

followed by two relative clauses,33 the LXX reading has often

been preferred.34 The acceptance of the LXX reading re-

quires the insertion of df before or after hvhy in the MT,

with the resulting translation: "Yahweh is witness, who gave

you Moses and Aaron, . . ." It should, however, be noted that

there is no need for a repetition of the assertion that Yahweh

is witness to the establishment of Samuel's innocence since

this has already been explicitly stated by both Samuel and

the people in verse 5. Furthermore, the acceptance of the

LXX reading is, as might be expected, sometimes advocated


            32. Literally: "who made (hWf) Moses and Aaron." See further in exegesis


            33. Schulz (Samuel, EH, 168) suggests that xvh has dropped from the MT

after hvhy and before rwx which is certainly a possibility, particularly since xvh

begins with the last letter of hvhy and ends with the first letter of rwx.

            34. See n. 31 above.

22        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


in connection with viewing verse 6 as the concluding verse to

the first section of the chapter.35 In my opinion, however,

one in this way arrives at a wrong dividing point between two

important sections in the chapter. It should be noted that in

verse 6, as contrasted with verse 5, nearly the entire address

formula, "And Samuel said unto the people," is utilized as it

was in verse 1. There is thus good reason to view verse 6 as a

new beginning, and the introduction to what follows in

verses 7-15, for which view the insertion of df is not at all


          D. J. McCarthy also views the reading, "Yahweh is wit-

ness who . . ." as the most likely.37 Nevertheless, he is of the

opinion that a new section begins with verse 6. His rationale

is that Samuel is here invoking Yahweh as witness to what

comes next in the narrative, and that the two relative clauses

following the statement that Yahweh is witness function,

"less as history than as a solemn designation of Yah-

weh. . ."38

          While this suggestion is much more attractive than the

approach to the insertion of df which ties verse 6 to the

preceding section of chapter 12, it is in my opinion still not


            35. See, e.g., S. Goldman (Samuel [SBB; London: 1962] 64) who says, "It

is better to follow Kimchi and treat this verse as the conclusion of Samuel's

self-justification. The sense is 'the Lord is witness, Who made Moses,' etc." See

also J. Muilenburg, "The Form and Structure of the Covenantal Formulations,"

VT 9 (1959) 362. Muilenburg does not advocate the insertion of df, but does

view v. 6 as the "climactic" conclusion to the first section of the chapter.

            36. There is not sufficient basis for the "garbled doxology" suggestion of K.

Baltzer in his book, The Covenant Formulary (Philadelphia: 1971) 66. Baltzer

finds v. 6 difficult to explain since it comes in between two clearly defined

sections in the chapter; vv. 1-5, the exoneration of Samuel, and vv. 7-13, contain-

ing the "antecedent history." Baltzer suggests that the verse may be the, "garbled

remnant of a doxology." He finds his primary support for this suggestion in 1QS

i. 18-19 where such a doxology occurs before the list of tvqdc. In addition he

refers to the beginning of the doxology in Neh. 9:6; Ps. 115:15; 121:2; 134:3 and

passim. A glance at these texts, however, shows that they have little resemblance

to I Sam. 12:6 and in addition the Qumran text is clearly an invocation to praise

rather than a statement as is I Sam. 12:6.

            37. D. J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant (AnBib 21; Rome: 1963) 141,

n. 1.

            38. Ibid.

       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                  23


acceptable. In McCarthy's rendering, the stress is on Yah-

weh-as-witness to the legal argument of Samuel which fol-

lows. However, the emphasis in verse 7 is not on Yahweh as 

witness, but on Yahweh as judge, before whom a case is

argued. It would thus seem best to retain the reading of the

MT. Before Samuel gives a short summary of Israel's history

(v. 8 ff.) he places as a sort of heading over this summary a

statement of the fundamental redemptive fact, the deliver-

ance out of Egypt. He then prefaces this with the statement

that Yahweh had given leaders for this deliverance. As we

already saw (p. 21) this is not strange: the provision of

leaders was the important issue at the Gilgal assembly.39

          It is in this connection that the unusual usage of hWf is

perhaps best explained. It was Yahweh who had made Moses

and Aaron what they were, and had enabled them to accom-

plish what they did in connection with Israel's deliverance

from Egypt.40


            39. M. Noth views the mentioning of Moses and Aaron in both I Sam. 12:6

and 8 as later additions taken from the parallel expression of Josh. 24:5. See: M.

Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien (Tubingen: 19673) 59, n. 3. Notice,

however, that this makes the, as it is, unusual use of hWf in v. 6 even stranger,

since Hlw is used in Josh. 24:5, and in the similar phrase of v. 8. Has the redactor

replaced Hlw by hWf in v. 6 for a particular purpose or just out of carelessness?

In spite of this, Noth's suggestion is viewed as quite probable by H. J. Boecker,

Die Beurteilung der Anfänge des Königtums in den deuteronomistischen Ab-

schnitten des I. Samuelbuches (WMANT 31; Neukirchen-Vluyn: 1969) 71.

Boecker remarks, "Alle text-kritischen Eingriffe in den Text, die an dieser Stelle

erwogen worden rind, werden dann überflüssig. Der ursprüngliche Text lautet: 'Es

ist Jahwe, der eure Väter aus dem Lande Ägypten herausgefuhrt hat.'" Stoebe

(Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 237) says that, "V 6 ist, wie das Fehlen einer

Fortsetzung zeigt, Einschub, der einen Gedanken von V. 7 ff. vorausnimmt." All

that Stoebe lets stand from verse 6 is: "And Samuel said to the people:".

            All these proposed eliminations are quite arbitrary, lack textual support, and

detract significantly from the force of the line of argumentation which Samuel is

here beginning.

            40. See: C. F. Keil, The Books of Samuel (Grand Rapids: 1956 [German

original, Leipzig: 1864] ) 116. Keil says that hWf is used here, "in a moral and

historical sense, i.e. to make a person what he is to be...." While this seems to be

the best understanding of Hlw in this context, it is also at least possible that it is

used here as a word-play-tie to v. 7 where hWf; occurs in connection with the

righteous acts of Yahweh. Elsewhere in the OT hWf is used rather frequently in

connection with the "great things" which Yahweh did (hWf) for his people (see,

e.g.,: Deut. 11:7; Josh. 24:31; Judg. 2:7, 10). The emphasis in v. 6, then, is that

24         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


          Samuel here echoes the Old Testament historical narra-

tives of the exodus where Yahweh is consistently depicted as

the deliverer of his people (see, e.g.: Ex. 14:13, 14, 25, 30,

31; 15:1b, 3, 6, 17). The statements of these verses indicate

that from the very beginning of Israel's history as a nation,

Yahweh was recognized as her deliverer and the provider for

her well being. Included in his provision for the nation was

the sending of the leaders which were appropriate and neces-

sary to care for specific needs. But these leaders were clearly

designated as instruments of the rule of Yahweh, who re-

mained the nation's sovereign. The authority of these human

leaders is not autonomous, but delegated, and their selection

was the prerogative of Yahweh himself.


I Sam. 12:7. Now then, present yourselves41 that I may enter into legal

proceedings42 with you before Yahweh43 concerning all the righteous

acts of Yahweh which He did with you and with your fathers.


          The transition from Samuel's assertion of Yahweh's pri-


Moses and Aaron are not to be regarded merely as great national leaders, but

rather as gifts of Yahweh to his people. Their capacity for leadership was to be

viewed as attributable to Yahweh's doing.

            41. For the use of bcrth in the sense of assembling before Yahweh for the

purpose of witnessing what He is about to do either for or against his people, see:

W. Harrelson, "Worship in Early Israel," BR 3 (1958) 1-14. See further n. 106.

            42. a) For the pointing of the Niphal cohortative form of Fpw see: GK,


            b) For the Niphal use of Fpw as meaning, "to go to law with someone,"

see: GK §51d. Cf. also Driver (Notes, 92, 93), who comments that the Niphal

sometimes acquires, "a reciprocal force, as Fpwn to judge one another, i.e., to

plead or dispute together in judgment...." The sense here is thus of pleading a

case as is done in a judicial procedure before a judge, who in this case is Yahweh


            c) For the use of waw with the cohortative, see: GK § 108d.

            43. The LXX has kai> a]paggelw? u[mi?n following hvhy. On this basis the

insertion of Mkl hdygxv in the MT has often been advocated. See, e.g.: Nowack,

HK 1/4, Richter, Ruth and Bücher Samuelis, 53; Driver, Notes, 93; and Ackroyd,

The First Book of Samuel, CNEB, 94. It is, in our opinion, rightly opposed by:

Smith, Samuel, ICC, 86; Schulz, Samuel, EH, 168; Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek

Samuël, COT, 246; and Stoebe, Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 233. The con-

struction in the MT is admittedly somewhat awkward ( Fpw Niphal, and tx

tvqdc-lk), but it is not impossible, cf. e.g., Ezek. 17:20. For further discussion

see below in exegesis.

       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                 25


macy in the establishment of the nation to the initiation of

the second legal proceeding of the Gilgal assembly is made by

the use of htfv.44

          The legal character of what follows is indicated by the

combination of the Hithpael imperative form of bcy with

the subsequent Niphal form of Fpw. H. J. Boecker has

pointed out that in legal cases it was customary for the judge

to sit, and for the parties to the case under consideration to

stand, and since there is no specific term in Hebrew meaning

to stand for trial, either dmf or bcy is normally utilized.45

While dmf and bcy are both used in a variety of different

ways, the sacral-legal sense of bcy in this verse is made clear

by the following phrase, hvhy ynpl Mktx hFpwxv. The

scene is thus that of a legal proceeding, as in verses 2-5, but

now the relationship of the parties is reversed.46 This time

Samuel is the accuser, the people are the defendants, and

Yahweh is the judge before whom the proceeding is held.

          Contrary to what one might expect, Samuel does not

make the people's behavior the immediate and direct focus of

attention. Instead, he utilizes the judicial scrutiny of the

"righteous acts of Yahweh" as a foil for the people's con-

duct, and thereby an instrument for their indictment.

It has often been suggested (see already above) that the

sequence hvhy tvqdc-lk tx following hFpwv requires the

insertion of Mkl hdygxv, or the changing of Mktx hFpwxv

to Mkl hrpsxv.47 Budde,48 cites Ezekiel 17:20 as evidence

that one must insert Mkl hdygxv or regard Mktx hFpwxv as

a corruption or later insertion because the accusative in

Ezekiel 17:20 introduces the misdemeanour which is being


            44. See above, n. 5.

            45. Boecker, Redeformen des Rechtslebens im Alten Testament, 85; and

Die Beurteilung der Anfdnge des Königtums, 72, n. 2. For the use of dmf in this

sense see: Ex. 18:13; Deut. 25:8; I Kings 3:16. For bcayA see: Ex. 18:14.

            46. A. F. Kirkpatrick, The First Book of Samuel (CambB; Cambridge:

1880) 119.

            47. See above, n.43, where we have appealed to Ezek. 17:20 for retaining

the MT.

            48. Budde, Die Bücher Samuel, KHC, 79.

26       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


litigated. Boecker, however, has pointed out that, "In I Sam

12,7 wird ebenso wie in Ez 17:20b in akkusativischer For-

mulierung der Verhandlungsgegenstand der Rechtsausein-

andersetzung genannt. Ein derartiger Verhandlungsgegen-

stand muss keineswegs immer ein Vergehen oder etwas

Anliches sein. Das hängt ab vom Charakter der Recht-

sauseinandersetzung. In unserem Fall liegt—in moderner

Terminologie gesprochen—nicht so etwas wie ein Strafprozess

vor; dazu würde eine Verhandlung über Vergehen oder Ver-

brechen passen; vielmehr wird hier ein Prozess anvisiert, den

man als 'Feststellungsverfahren' bezeichnen könnte."49 Sam-

uel's purpose is to establish formally the covenant fidelity of

Yahweh, which then itself indicts the people because they

have turned away from Yahweh, in spite of his constant

faithfulness, to seek deliverance from the internal and exter-

nal difficulties which faced the nation by establishing an alien

form of kingship.

          In verses 8-11 Samuel summarizes the "righteous acts" of

Yahweh in Israel's history, as manifest in Israel's deliverance

from Egypt and possession of the land of Canaan (v. 8), and

subsequently in the cycles of oppression and deliverance

during the time of the judges (vv. 9-11). His purpose is to

emphasize that Yahweh was at work in all of these historical

experiences because it was Yahweh who sold Israel into the

hand of Sisera, and into the hands of the Philistines and

Moabites when Israel forgot Yahweh and served Baals and

Astartes. It was also Yahweh who sent Jerubbaal, Bedan,

Jephthah, and Samuel when the people cried out to him for

deliverance and confessed their sin. These acts of Yahweh in

Israel's history are here characterized as demonstrative of

Yahweh's qdc and thus termed  hvhy tvqdc.

          The expression hvhy tvqdc occurs in the OT only in

Judges 5:11; I Samuel 12:7; and Micah 6:5. In Psalm 103:6

one finds the expression hvhy tvqdc tWf and in Daniel

9:16, jtqdc-lkk yndx.


            49. Boecker, Die Beurteilung der Anfänge des Königtums, 73, 74.

     Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                  27


          There are few words in the OT which have been the

object of more extensive investigation than that represented

by the root qdc in its various forms.50 In his recent very

useful and comprehensive study of this root,51 J. A. Ziesler

concludes that righteousness is "behaviour proper to some

relationship. . . . In the OT the relationship above all others

within which behaviour occurs which may be called 'right-

eous' is the covenant.”52 He comments further: "Righteous-

ness is neither a virtue nor the sum of the virtues, it is activity

which befits the covenant. Similarly, on God's side it is not

an attribute but divine covenant activity. If we must speak of


            50. Cf., the nouns qd,c, and hqAdAci, the adjective qydica, and the verb qdAcA. For

discussion of these terms see: G. Quell, "The Concept of Law in the OT," TDNT,

II, 174-178; N. H. Snaith, The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament (London:

1944) 51-78; L. Kohler, Theologie des Alten Testaments (Tubingen: 19533) 15;

W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament (2 vols.; Philadelphia: 1961-1967) I,

239-249; G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology (2 vols.; New York: 1962-1965) I,

370-383; A. Jepsen, "qdc und hqdc im Alten Testament," in the Hertzberg

Festschrift, Gottes Wort und Gottes Land, ed. H. G. Reventlow (Gottingen:

1965) 78-89; R. C. Dentan, The Knowledge of God in Ancient Israel (New York:

1968) 165-172; H. H. Schmid, Gerechtigkeit als Weltordnung (BZHT 40; Tu-

bingen: 1968); E. Berkovits, Man and God: Studies in Biblical Theology (Detroit:

1969) 292-348. For a more complete literature listing, see H. H. Schmid, ibid., 1,

n. 1, and the additional citations below.

            51. J. A. Ziesler, The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul (Cambridge: 1972).

Although Ziesler's study is directed to elucidation of the meaning of the concept

of righteousness in the writings of Paul, he considers it important to examine all

the usages of the word which are likely to have some bearing on Pauline usage.

This inevitably involves a study of the root qdc in the OT and elsewhere. Ziesler

(ibid., 14) notes that: "As far as possible the analysis has been exhaustive, all

cases being examined, but in one or two instances this has proved impracticable;

in the Rabbinic writings because of the sheer volume of the material; and in

Josephus, partly because of the relatively minor importance of the material." In

general one can say that Ziesler's view is the view which has been dominant in

recent decades with respect to qdc. In my opinion his view at least in its major

emphases is correct (see, however, my critical remark in n. 53). There are,

however, also other viewpoints, see especially that of H. H. Schmid (cf. above,

n. 50) which are also influential.

            52. Ibid., 38. Cf. the definition of K. Dronkert, "Liefde en gerechtigheid in

het Oude Testament," in Schrift en Uitleg (jubileum-bundel W. H. Gispen;

Kampen: 1970) 51. Dronkert says, "De kernbetekenis van het woord is ‘handelen

naar de mispat.' Moeilijk is het om precies to zeggen wat onder die mispat verstaan

wordt, omdat zij immers (zie boven) zo'n typisch karakter heeft. Het is een

rechtswaarde in de meest uitgebreide zin van het woord. Die rechtswaarde nu

moet in de praktijk worden gebracht door de seddqa(h). Doet men dat en handelt

men naar de mispat dan is men saddiq en staat men in de kring van sedaqa(h)."

28       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


norms, then the norm is the covenant and whatever is appro-

priate to it. . . . We must recognize that on this view God's

righteousness may take many forms. Sometimes it may take

the form of gracious, merciful, saving action, but it is too

simple to say that it is always this and that severity is never

meant by the term.... So God's righteousness means mercy

in one situation, triumph in another, judgment in another,

the establishment of good government and good justice in

another."53 As can be inferred from these comments, the

specific meanings which the various forms of the root qdc

assume may vary considerably according to the context, yet

these meanings can all be subsumed under Zeisler's above


          A prayer of Daniel (Dan. 9:3-19) is particularly instruc-

tive in this regard. The prayer begins with confession of the

nation's rebellion against the commandments of Yahweh

(vv. 5, 11) and then links the disastrous situation in Israel to

the actualization of the covenant curse poured out upon the

people because of their sin (v. 11). For Daniel this judgment

is demonstrative of Yahweh's hqdc (v. 7). He says further

(v. 14): "Therefore Yahweh has kept the calamity in store

and brought it upon us: for Yahweh our God is righteous

( qydc ) with respect to all His deeds which He has done: but

we have not obeyed his voice." The calamity which has come


            53. Ziesler, The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul, 40, 41. While this last

statement of Ziesler is certainly born out by an examination of the use of the

various forms of qdc, it is at the same time clear that the emphasis is again and

again on salvation, although not to the exclusion of punishment because of

unfaithfulness. Dronkert ("Liefde en gerechtigheid in het OT," in Schrift en

Uitleg, 53) comments: "De mens kan op Hem aan. God handelt altijd recht op

Zijn doel of en concreet naar Zijn mispat is Zijn sedaqii(h), Zijn gerechtig-

heid, die in al Zijn werken tot uitdrukking komt. Hij is rechtvaardig en Hij handelt

rechtvaardig.... Opmerkelijk is, dat de gerechtigheid Gods in het O.T. in hoofd-

zaak betrokken wordt op de gunst van God jegens de mens en dat Zijn recht en

gerechtigheid in hoofdzaak een reddend karakter dragen."

            54. In Ziesler's vocabulary analysis of the forms of the root qdc used in

relation to God's activity (cf. ibid., 28-32) he includes the following categories:

a) Legal activity; b) Gracious, saving activity; c) Vindication, giving victory or

prosperity; d) Acting reliably, trustworthily, faithfully; e) Right speaking;

f) God's forensic or relational righteousness.

         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25               29


upon Israel is acknowledged as the "just" result of Israel's

failure to take their covenant obligations seriously, as well as

their persistence in turning a deaf ear to warnings of judg-

ment.55 In verse 15 the prayer turns from confession to

supplication, and Daniel addresses Yahweh as the one who

has delivered his people from Egypt. He then requests that

Yahweh's fury be turned away from Jerusalem "in accor-

dance with all your righteousness."56 This is a striking state-

ment when it is placed in connection with the use of qydc in

verse 14. There, Daniel says Yahweh is righteous in bringing

judgment. Here, he appeals to Yahweh's righteousness as the

basis for deliverance. He is explicit in stating that the appeal

is not made on the basis of the people's tvqdc, but on the

basis of Yahweh's MymHr (Dan. 9:18),57 and in accordance

with his tvqdc (Dan. 9:16). As John Calvin pointed out so

well in commenting on Daniel 9:16: "Those who take this

word 'righteousness' to mean 'judgment' are in error and

inexperienced in interpreting the Scriptures; for they suppose

God's justice to be opposed to his pity. But we are familiar

with God's righteousness as made manifest, especially in the

benefits he confers on us. It is just as if Daniel had said that

the single hope of the people consisted in God's having regard

to himself alone, and by no means to their conduct. Hence he

takes the righteousness of God for his liberality, gratuitous


            55. As G. Kennedy (IB, VI, 489) comments: "God is not to be mocked.

Since men were perverse he executed his judgment, and in doing so he acted

rightly." G. Ch. Aalders (Daniel [COT; Kampen: 19621 206) says, "Daniel erkent

ten voile de rechtvaardigheid van het oordeel dat God over Israel heeft gebracht,

nooit kan Hem enige onrechtvaardigheid worden ten laste gelegd; en hij accen-

tueert dat nog eens door de herhaling: ‘wij hebben geen gehoor gegeven aan zijn

stem' (vgl. vs. 10.11)." See also Neh. 9:33 where after a lengthy recapitulation of

Israel's history with particular stress on the judgments brought on the nation

because of her apostasy, it is stated that Yahweh has been, "just ( qydc) in all that

has come upon us, for Thou hast dealt faithfully (tyWf tmx-yk) but we have

acted wickedly."

            56. Cf. GK § 124e (pl. intensivus).

            57. MymHr has reference to Yahweh's compassion exhibited in his covenant

fidelity. It is used in parallelism with dsH in Jer. 16:5; Hos. 2:21; Ps. 40:12 and

103:4. Note also the use of a verbal form of the root: MHr in Deut. 30:3 with

reference to Yahweh's promise to turn Israel's captivity.

30         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


favour, consistent fidelity, and protection, which he prom-

ised his servants . . . ."58 It is this latter use of tvqdc which is

of particular significance in connection with I Samuel 12:7.

          In Judges 5:11 the expression hvhy tvqdc occurs in the

Song of Deborah which celebrates the victory which Yahweh

had given the Israelites over the forces of Jabin of Hazor. B.

Holwerda has commented that this song is, "de profetische

vertolking van het gebeurde in cap. IV, en is vooral hierom

van belang, dat het aanwijst waar het eigenlijk om ging: het

toont dat het niet zuiver menselijke en militaire gebeurtenis-

sen waren, maar dat het hierin om de VERLOSSING DES

HEREN ging."59 The reference to singing of the hvhy tvqdc

is here to be understood as the singing of Yahweh's covenant

fidelity as demonstrated in Israel's historical experience. Hol-

werda comments that tvqdc in verse 11, "is het zich houden

aan verbondsafspraken, hier dus practisch ‘trouwbe-


          The use of the expression hvhy tvqdc in Micah 6:5 is

nearly identical to its use in I Samuel 12:7. The setting in

Micah as in I Samuel is that of a legal proceeding in which a

recapitulation of Yahweh's righteous acts is utilized to indict

an apostate nation.

          Samuel's use of the term hvhy tvqdc thus emphasizes

the constancy of Yahweh's covenant faithfulness toward his

people as demonstrated in their past history. As we noted

above, the question in I Samuel 12:7 is not that of judging or

vindicating God's righteous acts, but that of calling Israel to

the bar in view of all God's righteous acts on her behalf. The

emphasis here is on Yahweh's acts of deliverance although


            58. J. Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Daniel, II (Grand

Rapids: 1948 [ET of the 1561 Latin original] 177. Aalders (Daniel, COT, 206)

says in speaking of tvqdc "Hieronder moeten gerekend worden al de daden ter

verlossing van zijn yolk, in de eerste plaats het in het vorige vers genoemde voeren

van Israel uit Egypte, maar verder ook alle andere heilsdaden waarin God zich

tegenover zijn yolk als de trouwe Verbondsgod geopenbaard heeft."

            59. B. Holwerda, Seminarie-Dictaat, Richteren I (Kampen: n.d.) 21.

            60. Ibid., 24.

         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                     31


the expression need not be taken as referring exclusively and

only to salvific actions.61


I Sam. 12:8. When Jacob went into Egypt62 and your fathers cried

unto Yahweh, then Yahweh sent Moses and Aaron, and they brought

your fathers out of Egypt, and made them63 to dwell in this place.


          Samuel begins his recapitulation of the hvhy tvqdc with

a statement of the exodus (cf. already verse 6) and the

conquest. Yahweh had heard the cry of the children of Israel

in Egypt when they suffered there in bondage (Ex. 2:23; 3:7;

Deut. 26:7), and, "God remembered His covenant with Abra-


            61. The RSV translates MT hvhy tvqdc in I Sam. 12:7 as "the saving deeds of

the LORD." This translation is supported by, among others, Caird (IB, II, 942,

943) who says, "the righteous acts of the Lord (lit. ‘righteousnesses’) are those

acts in which he has appeared as the deliverer of his people, and so has manifested

that righteousness which consists in the vindication of the helpless (cf. 2:8). The

word is therefore well translated saving deeds (RSV)." This translation, however,

places too much of a one-sided emphasis on the term. Goslinga (Het Eerste Boek

Samuël, COT, 247) comments: "Ook deze pijnlijke kastijdingen van Gods hand

kunnen gerekend worden bij zijn tvqdc (vs. 7), daar zij ten doel hadden Israel

weer in de rechte verhouding tot Hem to brengen."

            62. The LXX adds kai> e]tapei<nwsen au]tou>j Ai@guptoj after Egypt. On this

basis Driver (Notes, 93) adds. Myrcm Mvnfyv to the MT saying, "The words are

needed on account of the following vqfzyv: a copyist's eye passed from the first

Myrcm to the second." While this explanation is certainly possible, it seems

preferable to leave the verse as it stands in the MT because adopting the LXX

reading raises the additional problem of the singular "Jacob," and the plural

suffix of the verb "oppressed them." This in turn necessitates another addition to

the verse, which in fact is also included in the LXX (kai> oi[ ui[oi> au]tou? ), so

that the verse reads, "When Jacob and his sons went to Egypt...." This,

however, has the problem of a plural subject and a singular verb ( 8: ), and the

absence of vynbv is not so easily explained as could be the absence of the

previous phrase.

            63. The MT gives a plural reading (MUbwy.av), while the LXXBL (kat&<kisen

au]tou>j), TargumB, Syriac, and Vulgate presuppose a singular form (MBeywiy.av).

Driver (Notes, 93) comments, " Mvbywyv expresses just what Moses and Aaron did

not do." He then advocates reading the singular form with Yahweh as the subject

and says, "The unpointed has been filled in wrongly in the MT." It would

seem more likely, however, from the flow of the sentence that the plural form is

original and that Samuel is speaking in broad general terms. Goslinga (Het Eerste

Boek Samuël, COT, 246) says, "De oude vertalingen hebben hier een oneffenheid

willen gladstrijken. Over het tijdperk der richteren is Samuel breder, dat is

betrekkelijk nog recent, vss. 9-11." In this connection it should be noted, that

several versions (LXXA, Targum, Vulgate) also have a singular form (with Yahweh

as subject) for vxycyv. Cf. Stoebe, Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 233.

32         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


ham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Ex. 2:24; cf., Gen. 46:1-4). It was in

response to this cry, and in keeping with his promises to

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that Yahweh appeared to Moses

and commissioned him to lead his people out of Egypt.

Moses was to say to the people, "I AM has sent (Hlw) me to

you" (Ex. 3:14). And he was to tell the people that Yahweh

had said, "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt

to the land of the Canaanite, ... to a land flowing with milk

and honey" (Ex. 3:17). The exodus and conquest remained

throughout Israel's history the outstanding examples of Yah-

weh's gracious and righteous acts on her behalf, and are

frequently cited in the OT literature as that which obligates

Israel to be loyal to Yahweh (cf., e.g.: Deut. 26:5-9; Josh.

24:4-8; Judg. 2:1-2; 6:8-10; 10:11-13; Amos 2:10; Ps. 105;

Neh. 9:9-25).


I Sam. 12:9-11. But they forgot Yahweh their God and he sold them

into the hand—of Sisera, chieftain of the army of64 Hazor, and into the

hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they

fought against them.

          And they cried unto Yahweh, and they said,65 "We have sinned,

because we have forsaken Yahweh, and served the Baals and the

Astartes; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will

serve you."

          And Yahweh sent Jerubbaal and Bedan,66 and Jephthah, and


            64. The LXXL (Iabin basile<wj) presupposes a Hebrew text reading 17)

rvch (j`lm Nyby) xbc. Driver (Notes, 93) says that this is more in accord with

Hebrew usage. Schulz, (Samuel, EH, 169), however, points out that the addition

is not necessary and that, "die Ausdrucksweise 'Heerführer von Hasor' ist gestützt

durch I Kn 2,32 ('Heerführer von Israel' and 'H. von Juda')...." It seems likely

that the LXX is expanded with data from Judg. 4:2.

            65. The Ketib is singular. It is not impossible that this is correct: elsewhere

in the Old Testament one finds sudden alternations of singular and plural.

            66. Bedan is an otherwise unknown judge (the name Bedan occurs elsewhere

in the OT only in I Chron. 7:17 where it designates another person). For this

reason most commentators give preference to the reading of the LXX (barak) and

Syriac. Keil (The Books of Samuel, 118) after considering and rejecting several

possibilities such as rendering Bedan as an appellative, i.e., the Danite (ben-Dan),

and thus connecting the name to Samson, concludes, "there is no other course

left, therefore, than to regard Bedan as an old copyist's error for Barak (Judg. iv.),

as the LXX, Syriac, and Arabic have done,—a conclusion which is favored by the

circumstance that Barak was one of the most celebrated of the judges, and is

            Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                      33


Samue1,67 and he delivered you from the hand of your enemies on

every side, and you dwelt securely.


          In these verses Samuel gives a brief summary of the

period of the judges in which he clearly portrays the cycle of:

          a) apostasy;

          b) oppression;

          c) repentance and confession accompanied by a request

for deliverance;

          d) deliverance through the instrumentality of leaders sent

by Yahweh.

          The ideas which Samuel incorporates in this survey of the

history of the period of the judges are found elsewhere also.

The terminology by which he frames the cyclical character of

the course of events is similar to that found in the book of

Judges, and some of it is rooted originally in Deuteronomy.

Similar expressions are subsequently to be found in the

Psalms and prophetical books as well. The cycle is formulated

with the phrases:


placed by the side of Gideon and Jephthah in Heb. xi. 32." Similar views are

advocated by: Smith, Samuel, ICC, 86; Schultz, Samuel, EH, 170; and Leimbach,

Samuel, HSchAT, 57. Goslinga, (Het Eerste Boek Samuël, COT, 247), with

hesitation, also adopts this view saying, "de lezing Barak staat toch wel het

sterkst te meer omdat door hem het leger van Sisera (vs. 9) verslagen is." This

represents a change in position from Goslinga's earlier commentary (C. J. Gos-

linga, I Samuel [KV; Kampen: 1948] 151) where he said, " 't is moeilijk denk-

baar dat een afschrijver Bedan zou schrijven, indien er geen richter van die naam

was opgetreden. Maar ook is moeilijk aan te nemen, dat Samuel wel de ver-

drukking van Sisera zou noemen (vs. 9) en niet de held, die Sisera overwon.

Daarom lijkt de beste oplossing, dat Bedan een andere naam (bijnaam?) voor

Barak is en dat deze aan Samuels hoorders evengoed bekend was als wij b.v.

Gideons bijnaam Jerubbaal kennen." This suggestion of Goslinga seems to be

more plausible than to assume a scribal error since the name of Barak was so well

known as to make that highly unlikely. It also seems preferable to seeing here the

name of a judge not mentioned in the book of Judges at all as do a number of

commentators, including: J. de Groot, I Samuel (TeU; Groningen: 1934) 123;

Goldman, Samuel, SBB, 65; and Stoebe, Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 233

Nevertheless, Stoebe is, in my opinion, perhaps correct when he suggests that the

occurrence of this name here is indicative of an independent tradition.

            67. The LXXL and the Syriac read Samson instead of Samuel. This is most

likely a correction due to the feeling that Samuel is speaking and he would no'

place his own name on the list of judges he mentions. See further the discussion

below in the exegesis.

34          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25



          "forgot Yahweh" (hvhy tx Hkwyv, verse 9);68


          "he sold them into the hand of" ( dyb Mtx rkmyv,

verse 9);69

repentance and confession, accompanied by request for de-


          "they cried unto Yahweh" (hvhy-lx vqfzyv, verse 10);70

          "we have sinned" (vnxFH, Verse 10);71

          "we have forsaken Yahweh" ( hvhy tx vnbzf, verse


          "we have served the Baals and Astartes" (Mylfbh-tx dbfnv

tvrtWfh txv);73

          "deliver us from the hand of our enemies" (dym vnlycH

vnykyx, verse 10);74

deliverance through the instrumentality of leaders sent by


          "Yahweh sent . . ." (hvhy Hlwyv, verse 11);75

          "and Yahweh delivered you from the hand of your ene-

mies" (Mkybyx dym Mktx lcyv, verse 11).76

          The cumulative effect of the phraseology is to focus on

Yahweh's works of judgment and deliverance. It was Yahweh

who gave Israel into the hand of her enemies when she sinned


            68. Deut. 6:12; 8:11, 14, 19; Judg. 3:7; Isa. 17:10; 51:13; Hos. 2:15 (13);

13:6; Jer. 2:32; 3:21; 13:25; 18:15; 23:27; Ezek. 22:12; 23:35.

            69. Deut. 32:30 (Mrkm Mrvc-yk xl-Mx ); Judg. 2:14; 3:8; 4:2; 10:7.

            70. Judg. 3:9, 15; 6:6-7; 10:10; I Sam. 7:8-9; 8:18; Hos. 7:14; 8:2; Joel

1:14; Mic. 3:4; Ps. 22:6 (5); 107:13, 19; Neh. 9:28.

            71. Num. 14:40; 21:7; Deut. 1:41; Judg. 10:10, 15; I Sam. 7:6; I Kings

8:47; Jer. 3:25; 8:14; 14:7, 20; Ps. 106:6; Lam. 5:16; Dan. 9:5, 8, 11, 15; Neh.

1:6; I Chron. 6:37.

            72. Deut. 28:20; Josh. 24:16; 24:20; Judg. 2:12; 2:13; 10:6; 10:10; 10:13;

I Sam. 8:8; I Kings 9:9; 11:33; II Kings 22:17; Isa. 1:4; 1:28; Jer. 1:16; 2:13;

5:19; 16:11; 19:4; Hos. 4:10; II Chron. 7:22.

            73. Judg. 2:11 (only Baals); 2:13; 3:7; 10:6; 10:10 (only Baals).

            74. Judg. 10:15 (the exact wording of this phrase is not paralleled in the


            75. Ex. 3:15; 7:16; Num. 16:28-29; Josh. 24:5; Judg. 6:8; I Sam. 12:8; Isa.

19:20; Jer. 23:21; Mic. 6:4; Ps. 105:26.

            76. Ex. 18:9-10; Josh. 24:10; Judg. 6:9; 8:34; I Sam. 7:3; 10:18.

     Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                       35


and forsook him. But it was also Yahweh who sent deliverers

when Israel repented. The victories of these deliverers were in

reality Yahweh's victories, and it was therefore accurate for

Samuel to conclude that Yahweh had delivered them out of

the hand of their enemies, so that they could live securely. It

was this repeated provision for Israel's deliverance from her

enemies which was of particular importance for Samuel's

demonstration of the people's apostasy in desiring a king (cf.

verse 12). Although it is true that the judges themselves were

sometimes referred to as Israel's deliverers,77 it is clear that

this is to be understood only in a secondary sense, as instru-

ments of Yahweh's deliverance (Judg. 2:18). It was Yahweh

who sent them (Judg. 6:14; I Sam. 2:11) to be the agents of

his deliverance.78

          This is made particularly clear, for example, in the case of

Gideon. When the Israelites forsook Yahweh in the time of

Gideon they were delivered into the hands of the Midianites

who oppressed them for seven years (Judg. 6:1-5). When they

cried ( qfz, verses 6-7) unto Yahweh, a prophet was sent,

who (much like Samuel at the Gilgal assembly) utilized a

brief recapitulation of Israel's previous history to explain the

reason for her present distress (Judg. 6:8-10). The emphasis

in this historical recapitulation is that Yahweh had delivered

Israel out of Egypt, and Yahweh had given Israel the land of

Canaan, but Israel had turned away from Yahweh to idolatry.

Yahweh, however, had now heard the cry of the Israelites for

deliverance, and Gideon is to become Yahweh's instrument

to achieve this end.

          Gideon asked for a sign, and said that by the sign he


            77. Judg. 3:9, 15, 31; 6:14; 10:1; 13:5.

            78. When the root fwy is used with reference to the activity of a human

leader, some indication that he was sent by Yahweh is normally made explicitly

clear in the context. See, e.g.: Judg. 2:16; 3:9, 15; 6:14; 13:5. Sam, 9:16;

II Kings 13:5; Neh. 9:27. The only exceptions I have noticed are iudg 3:31;


            In Judg. 8:22 one finds an expression of the apostate idea that Gideon was

the deliverer. A similar idea (although expressed negatively) with reference to Saul

is found in I Sam. 10:27 and perhaps 11:3.

36           Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


would, "know that Thou [Yahweh] wilt deliver (fywvt )

Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken" (Judg. 6:37). After

receiving the sign and proceeding to organize his military

force, Gideon was told to reduce the number of men in the

force so that Israel would not "become boastful" and say,

"My own power has delivered (hfywvh ydy) me" (Judg. 7:2).

Yahweh told Gideon that, "I will deliver ( fywvx) you with

the three hundred men who lapped and will give ( yttnv) the

Midianites into your hands . . ." (Judg. 7:7). After surveying

the host of the Midianites, and after hearing the dream of one

of the Midianites which depicted a victory for the Israelites

over the Midianites, Gideon called his force to advance on the

camp and said, "Arise for Yahweh has given (Ntn) the camp

of Midian into your hand" (Judg. 7:15).

          After the victory the men of Israel came to Gideon and

asked him to establish dynastic rule over Israel saying, "Rule

over us, both you and your son, also your son's son, for you

have delivered us (vntfwvh ) from the hand of Midian" (Judg.

8:22). Gideon rejected their request,79 however, because it

betrayed the apostate idea that the human leader was the real

deliverer rather than the instrument of Yahweh's deliverance,

and it sought to exchange the rule of Yahweh for the rule of

a man (Judg. 8:23).

          Because Samuel's purpose was to demonstrate Yahweh's

constant fidelity to the covenant throughout the period of

the judges (cf. hvhy tvqdc, verse 7), and contrastingly the

people's repeated apostasy, he stresses the cycle of oppres-

sions and deliverances rather than historical details of the

period. Accordingly, he mentions only three oppressors and


            79. The interpretation of this passage has provoked a great deal of discus-

sion. J. Bright (A History of Israel [London: 19722] 173) rightly comments on

the offer of kingship to Gideon that, "he is said flatly to have refused—and in

language thoroughly expressive of the spirit of early Israel." He adds in a footnote

(ibid., 173, n. 84): "It is frequently asserted (e.g., G. Henton Davies, VT, XIII

[1963], pp. 151-157) that Gideon actually accepted the kingship. But the lan-

guage of ch. 9: 1 ff. certainly does not require this conclusion; cf. J. L. McKenzie,

The World of the Judges (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966), pp. 137-144." See also below,

p. 77, n. 51.

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                 37


four deliverers, and neither the oppressors nor the deliverers

are cited in the order in which they appear in the book of


          It is, however, significant that Samuel places his own

name last in the list of deliverers, and thereby brings the

historical recapitulation right up to the time in which the

matter of kingship had become an issue. There is no need to

regard the appearance of Samuel's name as a scribal error for

Samson,81 nor to view it as either a later insertion82 or an

indication of the authorship of Samuel's speech by a ‘deuter-

onomic editor.'83 In fact, it was quite necessary for Samuel

to make very clear that Yahweh had continued to provide for

the national defense and leadership even during his own

lifetime (cf., I Samuel 7; esp. vv. 3, 8, 10, 12), in order to

make his case relevant to the current situation, and the

request for a king. In addition as Goldman has pointed out,

"if it be remembered that the figure of a trial is being

employed, the third person is not strange. Samuel the ac-

cuser, dissociates himself from Samuel, the saviour, who is

cited as evidence against his people."'


            80. The oppressors to which Samuel refers are: Sisera, the Philistines, and

the king of Moab, in that order. It would appear that he has reference to episodes

recorded in the books of Judges and I Samuel in which the order is: Eglon, king

of Moab (Judg. 2:12-30); the Philistines (Judg. 3:31); Sisera (Judg. 4, 5); and

perhaps subsequent Philistine threats (Judg. 10:7; 13:1 ff.; I Sam. 4-7). The

deliverers which Samuel mentions are Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, in

that order. The activities of these deliverers are described in Judges and I Samuel

in the following order: Bedan (if this is another name for Barak, cf. above, n. 66,

Judges 4, 5); Jerubbaal (Judg. 6-8); Jephthah (Judg. 11:1-12:7); Samuel (I Sam-

uel 7). Here also (see the end of n. 66) one must consider the possibility that

Samuel had access to traditions not contained in the book of Judges; see also,

Judg. 10:11 f.

            81. Gressmann, SAT II/1, Die älteste Geschichtschreibung, 45; cf., for

instance, above, n. 67.

            82. Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuël, COT, 247.

            83. Caird, IB, II, 943. Caird views the introduction of the name of Samuel

in this summary of the period of the judges as a "frank admission" that this is a

"Thucydidean speech" and the product of a deuteronomic editor. A similar view

is expressed by Ackroyd, The First Book of Samuel, CNEB, 99. See further

Chapter IV, Section 2,A,1 and Section 2,B,2,b; Chapter V, Section 2,C.

            84. Goldmann, Samuel, SBB, 65.

38         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


I Sam. 12:12. But when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammon-

ites came against you, you said to me, No! but a king shall reign over

us, whereas85 Yahweh your God was your king.


          Samuel now comes to the climax of his historical recapit-

ulation in which the people's desire for a king to safeguard

themselves from the threat of Nahash, is represented as a

rejection of the kingship of Yahweh, and thus as the last of

the long series of apostasies.

          The mentioning of Nahash in connection with the request

for a king is often viewed as contradictory to chapters 8 and

11, since in chapter 8 internal problems are mentioned as the

motivation for the request, and in chapter 11, according to

the opinion of many, the desire for a king arose after rather

than before the threat from Nahash. For this reason it has

often been suggested that I Samuel 12:12a is best explained

as a later insertion.86 Others have suggested that this verse as

well as the rest of I Samuel 12 is to be viewed as the free

formulation of the deuteronomistic history writer.87 Still

others see here evidence of an independent tradition which is

in conflict with chapters 8 and 11, and lays stress on the

importance of the Ammonite threat for the rise of the desire

of the people for a king.88

          While it certainly is to be admitted that from a reading of


            85. See GK (§141e, § 156a) for a discussion of the syntax of a noun-clause

connected by a waw to a verbal clause.

            86. See, e.g.: Budde, Die Bücher Samuel, KHC, 80; and Schulz, Samuel, EH,


            87. Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien, 60. More recently, Boecker

(Die Beurteilung der Anfänge des Königtums, 75, 76) says, "In I Sam 12 werden

die Berichte über die Entstehung des Königtums zusammengefasst and das

Ereignis abschliessend gewertet. V. 12 ist als das Ergebnis solch abschliessender

Zusammenfassung verschiedener Berichte anzusehen, wobei sich einmal mehr

zeigt, wie wenig die Deuteronomisten Geschichtsschreiber in modernen Sinne

waren. Sie verbinden in diesem Vers den von ihnen in ihr Werk übernommenen

Bericht von der Nachaschgeschichte mit der von ihnen selbst konzipierten

lung von dem an Samuel herangetragenen Königswunsch des Volkes, wobei die

dadurch entstehende sachliche Spannung sie offenbar weniger belastet als den

modernen Leser."

            88. Weiser, Samuel, FRLANT, 72-74, 86; Stoebe, Das erste Buch Samuelis,

KAT, 237.

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                   39


chapters 8, 10:17 ff., and 11 one could not conclude that the

desire for a king was specifically tied to the Ammonite

threat; it must also be admitted that there is nothing in

chapters 8, 10:17 ff., and 11 which contradicts this idea.

Goslinga comments that here is "een van de oneffenheden die

in ons boek meer aangetroffen worden, zonder dat een be-

paalde tegenspraak valt to constateren."89 Even though

Nahash is not mentioned in chapter 8, there is reference to

the desire for a king to lead Israel in battle (I Sam. 8:20), and

it is not at all impossible that the threat of attack from

Nahash was already a matter of concern at that time.90 It

should also be noticed, that when Samuel spoke to the

people gathered at Mizpah for the public selection of Saul to

be king, he placed the matter of desiring a king in the context

of seeking a savior ( lcn ), and said that in desiring a king

Israel had rejected their God who had saved them out of the

hand of the Egyptians, and all the other kingdoms which had

oppressed them (I Sam. 10:18, cf. also v. 19, fwy). In addi-

tion, after Saul's selection, there were those who objected to

him by asking, "how is this man going to save ( fwy ) us?"

(I Sam. 10:27), betraying their fear that he was not adequate

to the task of delivering Israel from her enemies. The manner

of expression "No! but . . ." indicates the people's response

to a preceding rejection of the kingship by Samuel. Samuel

and the elders must have repeatedly negotiated this matter

(cf. I Sam. 8:19; 10:19).

          Samuel's statement in I Samuel 12:12 is thus compatible

with chapters 8, 10, and 11, but more important is that it

reveals his own analysis of the motivation behind the initial

request of the elders for a king. In the face of the combined

pressures of the Philistines in the west (I Sam. 9:16) and the


            89. Goslinga, Het Eerste Both Samuël, COT, 248.

            90. See: J. Schelhaas, "De instelling van het koningschap en de troon-

bestijging van Israels eerste koning," GTT 44 (1944) 270, n. 62; B. J. Oosterhoff,

"De boeken 1 en 2 Samuel," Bijbel Met Kanttekeningen, eds. J. H. Bavinck and

A. H. Edelkoort (Baarn: n.d.) II, 237; Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuël, COT,


40        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


Ammonites from the east, the Israelites desired a human

king, a national hero, and a symbol of national power and

unity in whom they thought they could find a guarantee of

security and rest. They were seeking their deliverance in the

person of a human king.91 This, however, constituted a

rejection of the kingship of Yahweh, and betrayed a loss of

confidence in his care for the welfare of the nation. For

Yahweh was the deliverer of Israel (Ex. 3:8, lcn; Deut. 20:4,

fwy). He had promised to fight for them against their ene-

mies and to deliver them. He had remained faithful to this

promise throughout the periods of the exodus, the conquest

and the judges.92


I Sam. 12:13. And now behold the king whom you have given prefer-

ence to,93 whom you have requested,94 and behold, Yahweh has given a

king over you.


            91. Koolhaas, Theocratie en Monarchie, 53-57. Koolhaas (ibid., 57) sums up

his discussion of Israel's request for a king by saying, "Zo wordt in het. Oude

Testament als achtergrond van de vraag naar een koning gezien: wantrouwen

jegens de koningsheerschappij van Jahwe, vrees voor de vijanden en een eigen-

rnachtig streven naar veiligheid en eenheid."

            92. See, e.g.: (fwy) Ex. 14:30; Num. 10:9; Judg. 2:18; 10:13; 12:3; I Sam.

7:8; 10:19; (lcn) Ex. 3:8; 6:6; 18:8, 9, 10; Josh. 24:10; Judg. 6:9; 8:34; I Sam.

7:3; 10:18; 12:11. Yahweh continued to be Israel's deliverer in the kingdom

period. Cf. (fwy) I Sam. 14:6, 23, 39; 17:47; II Sam. 3:18; I Kings 14:27;

II Kings 19:34; I Chron. 11:14; II Chron. 10:9; 32:30; (lcn) I Sam. 17:37;

II Kings 17:39; 20:6.

            93. The suggestion of Stoebe (Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 234) follow-

ing, among others, M. Buber ("Die Erzahlung von Sauls Konigswahl," VT 6

[1956] 160) to retain Mtlxw rwx (see n. 94b below) but to delete MtrHb rwx  

has no textual evidence in its support. According to Keil (The Books of Samuel,

19) the use of rHb. is best understood as referring to the choice of Saul by lot in

I Sam. 10:17-25. There, however, the emphasis is not on the people's choice but

rather on the fact that Saul is the one whom Yahweh has chosen (cf. v. 24). In

view of this it seems that rHb both here and in I Sam. 8:18 may be best

translated in the sense of "give preference to" (i.e., over Yahweh). See KBL s.v.

            94. a) see GK 44d and 64f for the pointing of Mtlxw) The LXXB omits

Mtlxw rwx, and the phrase is therefore regarded by many commentators as a

gloss. See, e.g.: 0. Thenius, Die Bücher Samuels (KeH IV; Leipzig: 18983) 53;

Smith, Samuel, ICC, 88; and Driver, Notes, 94. The textual evidence for deletion,

however, is not strong and Goslinga (Het Eerste Boek Samuël, COT, 249) is right

in saying that the phrase in question is, "zonder twijfel oorspronkelijk, en juist in

Samuels mond zeer begrijpelijk, omdat hij in dit vragen en zelfs eisen van een

koning een zondige daad zag, zie vs. 17."


        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25               41


          Samuel now draws the attention of the people to the

king, and stresses that it is Yahweh who has given them this

king. In spite of the sinfulness of the people's request, Yah-

weh has chosen to incorporate kingship into the structure of

the theocratic government of his people.95 Kingship has been

given by Yahweh to his people, and from this time forward is

to function as an instrument of his rule over them.


I Sam. 12:14. If you will fear Yahweh, and serve him, and listen to his

voice, and not rebel against the commandment of Yahweh; then both

you and the king who reigns over you shall follow Yahweh your God.


          It has long been the general consensus of interpreters that

this verse contains only a protasis and ends with an aposio-

pesis.96 The translation normally adopted is similar to that of

the RSV: "If you will fear the LORD and serve him and

hearken to his voice and not rebel against the commandment

of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over

you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well" (italics

mine). The last phrase does not occur in the MT and must be

added to complete the sentence. As Smith, however, has

pointed out, "to begin the apodosis with Mtyhv is gram-

matically the correct thing to do.. . "97 Yet Smith feels that

to do so produces a redundancy because, "it makes an

identical proposition: if you fear Yahweh . . . then you will

follow Yahweh.”98

          A comparison of verse 14 with verse 15, however, con-


            95. I Sam. 12:13 with its juxtaposition of the people's request and Yah-

weh's response points to the resolution of the kingship issue which has been the

focal point of the narratives of I Sam. 8-12 (see further the exegesis of I Sam.

12:14). This verse cannot be reconciled with the assignment of I Sam. 12 to an

"anti-monarchial" source as often has been done. See further below: Chapter IV,

Section 2,A,2 and Chapter V, Section 1 and 2,A.

            96. See, e.g.: Smith, Samuel, ICC, 88 (see further below in the exegesis);

Nowack, HK 1/4, Richter, Ruth and Bücher Samuelis, 54; Schultz, Samuel, EH,

171; Driver, Notes, 94; Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuël, COT, 249; J. Mauch-

line, I and II Samuel (NCB; London: 1971) 109; and Stoebe, Das erste Buch

Samuelis, KAT, 234.

            97. Smith, Samuel, ICC, 88.

            98. Ibid.


42            Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


firms Smith's observation that as a matter of fact the apodo-

sis does begin with MtyHv,

          protasis a            vlvqb Mtfmwv . . . hvhy tx vxryt-Mx

          (verse 14)

          protasis a ...            hvhy lvqb vfmwt         xl-Mxv

          (verse 15)

          protasis b                                       hvhy yp-tx vrmt xlv

          (verse 14)

          protasis b                                           hvhy yp-tx Mtyrmv

          (verse 15)

          apodosis                                                                   Mtyhv

          (verse 14)

          apodosis                                                                   htyhv

          (verse 15)


The two verses display a remarkably close parallelism in

wording and structure, and because the apodosis is intro-

duced in verse 15 with htyhv, the parallelism strongly sup-

ports beginning the apodosis of verse 14 with Mtyhv.99

          The objection which Smith makes to beginning the

apodosis of verse 14 with Mtyhv, while understandable, is not

conclusive, since it turns on his understanding of the phrase

(hvhy) rHx . . . . Mtyhv. This phrase (rHx hyh or yrHx hyh)

is found in several other places in the OT (II Sam. 2:10;

15:13; I Kings 12:20; 16:21), in all of which it is used to

indicate that the people of Israel, or a certain segment of the

people, have chosen to follow a particular king in a situation

where there was another possible alternative.

          II Samuel 2:10 relates the decision of Judah to follow

David while Isbosheth reigned over the remainder of the


            99. It is noteworthy that in both verses "Athnah" stands under [yp-tx]

hvhy, indicating that in the opinion of the Masoretes the principal division

within the verse is to be made at that point. Cf. GK § 15b,c.

           Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25             43


nation. I Kings 12:20 relates that Judah followed the house

of David at the time of the division of the kingdom. I Kings

16:21 relates the people's divided loyalties between Tibni

and Omri after the death of Zimri. Particularly instructive,

however, is II Samuel 15:13. At the height of the rebellion of

Absalom, David is told that, "the hearts of the men of Israel

are after Absalom" (Mvlwbx yrHx lxrWy wyxbl hyh). The

clear meaning of the phrase here is that the men of Israel had

chosen to give their allegiance to Absalom and to recognize

him as king rather than David. Boecker, in his discussion of

these passages comments as follows: "Es handelt sich an all

diesen Stellen urn eine inhaltlich gepragte and in bestimmter

Richtung qualifizierte Ausdrucksweise. Die Aufnahme dieses

Ausdrucks dürfte in I Samuel 12, 14 im Sinn, der genannten

Parallelstellen erfolgt sein. Ist dort die Anerkennung eines

menschlichen Königs das Thema, so hier die Bestätigung der

Königswürde Jahwes. Paraphrasiert lautet V. 14b—wiederum

ausserhalb des syntaktischen Zusammenhanges—‘sowohl ihr

als auch der König, der uber euch regiert, werdet Jahwe,

euren Gott, als König anerkennen.’”100 When nen . . . Mtyhv

hvhy rHx in I Samuel 12:14 is understood in this, way then there

is no need to postulate an aposiopesis, because there is a

meaningful apodosis to the sentence.101


            100. Boecker, Die Beurteilung der Anfeinge des Königtums, 80.

            101. This also makes unnecessary the various suggestions for emendation

which have frequently been made in an effort to avoid what is felt to be either an

identical proposition or incompleteness in the verse. LXXL has added kai>

e]celei?tai u[ma?j in an attempt to complete the verse. J. Wellhausen (Der Text der

Bücher Samuelis [Gottingen: 1871] 79) gives Mtyhv as the reading of some

Hebrew MSS in place of Mtyhv , but points out that this does not fit with

hvhy rhx. Smith (Samuel, ICC, 88), while noting Welihausen's objection, and

also noting that De Rossi "denies the manuscript authority" nevertheless con-

cludes: "As a conjecture the reading recommends itself, even without any ex-

ternal authority. I have therefore adopted it, omitting the clause hvhy rhx

Mkyhlx, which was probably added after the corruption to Mtyhv had taken

place." Others have read the verse in a way that does not require an apodosis

either stated or unstated. Budde (Die Bücher Samuel, KHC, 80) advocates reading

vxry j`x in the place of vxryt Mx by analogy with v. 24 and Josh. 24:14. He

explains that the corruption is due to v. 15. There is, however, no textual basis for

his suggestion. Keil (The Books of Samuel, 119) and others come to a similar

44       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


          At the assembly in Gilgal Israel is confronted with the

commencement of a new era in which the old covenant

conditional (cf. Ex. 19:5, 6; Deut. 8:19; 11:13-15, 22-25,

26-28; 28:1 ff., 15 ff.; 30:17, 18; Josh. 24:20; I Sam. 7:3),

takes on a new dimension. With the institution of kingship

the potential for divided loyalties of the people and conflict

of interest between Yahweh and the human king is created,

In this new situation Samuel challenges the people to renew

their determination to obey Yahweh, and not to rebel against

his commandments, and thereby to demonstrate that they

continue to recognize Yahweh as their sovereign. This chal-

lenge is extended not only to the people, but also to the

newly inaugurated king, who is to recognize that his kingship

is a vice-regency, and that he, just as all the other people, is

obligated to follow Yahweh. It is Yahweh who has given

Israel a king, but Israel must not replace her loyalty to

Yahweh by loyalty to her human ruler. Israel is to recognize

that these loyalties lie on two different levels and total

loyalty to Yahweh must remain inviolate.

          It is then not necessary to conclude as does Smith that

the expression, "if you fear Yahweh . . . then you will follow

Yahweh" is an identical proposition. Rather this is the ex-

pression of the basic covenant conditional in terms of the

new era which Israel was entering. If Israel fears Yahweh, and

serves him, and obeys his voice, and does not rebel against his

commandments, then she will show that even though human

kingship has been introduced into the structure of the

theocracy, she continues to recognize Yahweh as her sover-

eign.102 The implication of this in terms of the covenant


result as Budde without modification of the text; they read Mx in the sense of a

wish, "Oh that ye would only. . . ." None of these proposals give sufficient weight

to the clear structural parallel between vv. 14 and 15.

            102. The terms "fear" and "serve" Yahweh in I Sam. 12:14, 20 (dbf; xry  

is used differently here than it is in vv. 14 and 24), 24 are used to characterize

Israel's fundamental obligation of loyalty to Yahweh to be expressed in obedience

to the covenant stipulations. "To fear" Yahweh and "to serve" Yahweh is to be

obedient to the commandments, statutes and judgments of the covenantal law.

The antecedents for the terminology utilized here by Samuel are to be found in


    Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                             45


conditional is that Israel and her king can then continue to

expect Yahweh's help in war and enjoy the benefits of

Yahweh's rule as described in the blessings of the covenant

(Deut. 28:1 ff.) which are received as the concomitant of


such places as Deut. 6:1-2; 10:12-13; 11:13; 17:19; 28:58; Josh. 22:5; 24:14. For

xry in v. 20, see ad locum.

            For a discussion of the meaning of hvhy-tx xry in Deuteronomy, see: B. J.

Oosterhoff, De Vreze des Heren in het Oude Testament (Utrecht: 1949) 34-39.

He concludes (ibid., 39), "In Deuteronomium is Jahwe vrezen het gehoorzamen

aan Zijn geboden met een hart vol diep ontzag voor Jahwe enerzijds, maar ook vol

dankbare wederliefde voor de liefde, die Hij bewees aan Zijn yolk anderzijds." See

also S. Plath, Furcht Gottes. Der Begriff xry im Alten Testament (Arbeiten zur

Theologie 11/2; Stuttgart: 1962).

            For a discussion of the meaning of hvhy-tx dbf in the sense of total

commitment to obedience to Yahweh's commandments, see the extremely useful

study of C. Lindhagen, The Servant Motif in the Old Testament (Uppsala: 1950).

Lindhagen (ibid., p. 155) comments: "As Yahweh's servant, Israel owes her lord

unconditional obedience. Her service implies that she hearkens to the voice

and commandments of Yahweh.... For Israel, serving Yahweh means keeping

rmw his commands and statutes and doing  hWf the commandment and the

law.... As lawgiver for Israel Yahweh appears in his royal function: Israel here

stands before Yahweh as a subject (i.e., db,f,) before his king. The demands of the

Torah apply to both cult and morals; the whole of Israel's ethos is to be moulded

by the will of Yahweh. To rebel against the commandment of Yahweh

hvhy yP-tx hrm [I Sam. 12:14] is incompatible with Israel's position as a


            Both of these expressions ("to fear" and "to serve" Yahweh) are sometimes

used in the OT in a narrower sense to indicate cultic worship of Yahweh.

Oosterhoff (ibid., 45) finds this usage of xry particularly in the historical books

and comments: "Nu betekent in Deuteronomium Jahwe vrezen zijn geboden

onderhouden en daar deze geboden voor een groot deel betrekking hebben op de

cultische verering van Jahwe, kan Jahwe vrezen de betekenis krijgen van Jahwe

cultisch vereren,' op de wijze, die Hij aan Zijn yolk in Zijn wet heeft voor-

geschreven." See further, Oosterhoff (ibid., 40-47). To serve Yahweh is also used

in this way, although as Lindhagen (ibid., 90-91) points out one must be careful

in drawing too rigid a distinction. As he notes: "To serve Yahweh means allowing

the whole of one's conduct to be ruled by obedience to the will of Yahweh. As

the cult is part of what Yahweh commanded, every right act of worship is an act

of obedience." Yet, on the other hand, as becomes clear on the basis of numerous

passages "this does not prevent the word being used in the OT not only in a

general sense but also in contexts where the ethical or cultic aspect more or less

wholly predominates." Some of the passages in which the cultic aspect is primary

are: Ex. 3:12; 4:23; 7:16, 26 (8:1); 8:16(20); 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7, 8, 11, 24; 12:31.

On this usage see also, G. Schmitt, Der Landtag von Sichem (Arbeiten zur

Theologie 1/15; Stuttgart: 1964) 40, 41.

            The use of the terms in I Sam. 12:14, 20 (dbf ), 24 in connection with

Samuel's challenge to Israel to renew her allegiance to Yahweh as her sovereign

favors understanding the terms here in the broader more inclusive sense of

obedience to all of Yahweh's commands.

46         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


covenant loyalty to Yahweh. Kingship is here being incor-

porated into the structure of the theocracy in a manner

designed to safeguard the continued recognition of the rule

of Yahweh over his people.


I Sam. 12:15. And if you will not listen to the voice of Yahweh, and

rebel103 against the commandment of Yahweh; then shall the hand of

Yahweh be against you as it was against your fathers.104


          The alternative to recognizing Yahweh as the supreme au-

thority over the nation and thereby to receive the benefits of

the covenant blessings, is to refuse to submit to Yahweh's

authority and in so doing to evoke Yahweh's wrath as ex-

pressed in the covenant curses and experienced by the ances-

tors of the people to whom Samuel spoke. Here, then, Israel

is faced with the same alternatives which long before had

been presented by Moses to the people in the plains of Moab

(Deut. 28:1-62; 30:15-20). The introduction of kingship into

Israel's socio-political structure, bringing with it a new poten-

tial for either good or evil, has not changed the fundamental

nature of Israel's relationship to Yahweh.

          The alternatives which are here opened to the Israelites

can be traced in their realization in Israel's subsequent his-


            103. Note the Qal form of hrm here, but the Hiphil form in v. 14. No

difference in meaning is involved; it would appear to be merely variety in


            104. The LXXL(BA) reads kai> e]pi> to>n basile<a u[mw?n in place of the

Mkytbxbv of the MT. Driver (Notes, 95) adopts this reading of LXXL(BA) and

points out that the mentioning together of "you" and "your king" agrees with

vv. 14 and 25b. The LXXL acids at the end of the verse e]coloqreu?sai

u[ma?j = Mkdybxhl, which reading is favored by Budde (Die Bücher Samuel, KHC,

80) and Smith (Samuel, ICC, 88). Hertzberg (I and II Samuel, 96) combines the

LXX and MT and translates the phrase: "... the hand of the LORD will be

against you and against your king to destroy you like your fathers." The Targum

and Syriac translate the phrase, "as it was against your fathers." This translation is

defended by Keil (The Books of Samuel, 119) and Goslinga (I Samuel, KV, 153)

based on the use of in a comparative sense. More recently Goslinga (Het Eerste

Boek Samuel, COT, 249) suggests: "Verreweg het eenvoudigst is aan to nemen,

dat een oorspr. k bij het afschrijven is vervangen door 1, zo dat het vs. besluit met

een vergelijking: tegen u evenals tegen uw vaderen." This is certainly a reasonable



             Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                     47


tory. The history of the northern and southern kingdoms

with few exceptions is a history of apostasy and turning away

from the commandments of Yahweh. This led to repeated

actualizations of the covenant curses in plagues, droughts,

and foreign oppressions, eventually resulting in captivity, first

to the northern and later to the southern kingdom.105


I Sam. 12:16. Now therefore, present yourselves and see this great thing

which Yahweh will do before your eyes.


          With this verse a new section of the report of the Gilgal

assembly is introduced. Samuel has presented his case demon-

strating Yahweh's faithfulness to the covenant, and by con-

trast the people's apostasy in requesting a king. He has

pointed out that Yahweh has chosen to give them a king but

it is their responsibility to continue to recognize Yahweh as

their sovereign in the new era of the monarchy. He now calls

for the attention of the people to observe something which

Yahweh himself will do in order to authenticate that which

he has been saying, and in order to remind the people that

Yahweh's power to actualize the covenant curses is very real.

Yahweh will do this by the performance of a "great thing"

which will be a tangible demonstration of his existence and

power, as well as his involvement with his people in the issues

being faced at the Gilgal assembly.

          This was to be an event of such highly unusual signifi-

cance that Samuel introduces it in terminology resembling

that of Moses when he announced Yahweh's deliverance of

his people at the Red Sea.106


            105. That this is the case is no reason to conclude that these verses must

have been written after 587 BC. See, e.g., Hertzberg's statement (I and II Samuel,

100) that vv. 14 and 15 give a "survey of the period of the kings which is now

beginning.... The standpoint of the preacher and his audience accordingly lies in

the time after 587."

            106. W. Harrelson (BR 3[19581 4, 5) has drawn attention to the specialized

meaning of bcyth in a number of its OT occurrences. Although in certain places

the word means simply to stand (Ex. 2:4; II Sam. 18:13, 30; Ps. 36:5(4); Prov.

22:29) or to stand against, as in battle (Deut. 7:24; 9:2; 11:25), Harrelson points

out that the use of the term in Ex. 14:13; 19:17; Judg. 20:2; I Sam. 10:19; 12:7,


48         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


I Sam. 12:16a: . . . . vxry vbcyth . . . .

Ex. 14:13a: . . . . vxrv vbcyth . . .

I Sam. 12:16b: Mkynyfl hWf hvhy rwx hzh lvdgh rbdh-tx vxrv

Ex. 14:31a:   hWf hvhy rwx hlvdgh dyh-tx lxrWy xryv


I Sam. 12:17. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call unto Yahweh

that he may send thunderings and rain; then you shall know107 and see

that your evil is great which you have done in the eyes of Yahweh, in

in asking108 for yourselves a king.


          In a season during which rain rarely fell (cf. Prov. 26:1),

Samuel says that he will call on Yahweh to send thunderings

(tvlvq) and rain as a sign that Israel has sinned in asking for

a king.109 In this way the people can assuredly know (ex-

pressed by the imperative vfdv) that the words of Samuel are



16 "suffice to indicate that to take one's stand, or to present oneself, is an act of

fundamental meaning for Israelite worship. When the congregation is summoned

to assemble before Yahweh, the first thing to be done is for Israel to take her

stand in expectancy and holy fear. The outcome of such gatherings cannot be

predicted in advance. The people are present for the purpose of witnessing what

Yahweh is about to do. They are not mere bystanders by any means, but they are

gathered first of all to hear from Yahweh, before they are to make confession, do

acts of sacrifice or otherwise to demonstrate their loyalty or devotion." In v. 7

the people present themselves (bcyth) before Yahweh for indictment in a

sacral-legal proceeding, now they present themselves (bcyth) to await a sign

(ldgh rbdh) from Yahweh authenticating all that Samuel had been saying. For

other references to "great things" which Yahweh had done for his people see:

Dent. 20:21; 11:7; Josh. 24:17; Judg. 2:7; Ps. 106:21.

            107. GK §110i.

            108. GK §114o.

            109. Mauchline (I and II Samuel, NCB, 109) misconstrues the intent of this

verse when he says, "the editor of this chapter cannot be reconciled to royal rule

(17) and has a final condemnation of it put on record.... This chapter is

commonly associated with chs. 7 and 8 but at this point it seems to go beyond

them in exalting Samuel and in denigrating royal rule." See further below,

Chapter V.

               Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                           49


          It has often been asserted that the reference to the time

of wheat harvest in this verse demonstrates that there was no

original connection between the events described in I Samuel

11 and those of the Gilgal assembly.110 On the basis of the

statement in I Samuel 11:5 that Saul was coming from the

field behind the oxen it is concluded that the events of

chapter 11 took place at ploughing time which was in the

rainy season of November to January and not at the time of

wheat harvest in the dry season of May and June.

          De Groot, however, has rightly pointed out that the re-

mark in I Samuel 11:5 is better interpreted as a reference to

threshing, not only because of the agreement which this

establishes between chapters 11 and 12, but also because

warfare was not normally carried on in the rainy season, and

according to I Samuel 11:1, Nahash had already brought his

military force against Jabesh-Gilead.111 Goslinga adds to this

that the crossing of the Jordan by a military force (I Sam.

11:11) also fits much better with the dry season than it does

with the rainy season, when this would be extremely diffi-

cult.112 It should also be noted that I Samuel 11:11 appears

to contain a reference to the cessation of fighting due to the

severity of the mid-day heat (cf. v. 9, and Judg. 8:13; Neh.

7:3) which would be characteristic of harvest time, not of the

season for ploughing.113


            110. See, e.g.: Budde, Die Bücher Samuel, KHC, 81; and Schulz, Samuel,

EH, 172.

            111. De Groot, I Samuel, TeU, 121, 122.

            112. Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuël, COT, 250. Stoebe's comment (Das

erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 239) that the thunder storm's occurrence at the time

of wheat harvest is emphatically against the assignment of the proceedings of this

assembly to a "hypothetical covenant renewal celebration" is apparently based on

the assumption that a covenant renewal ceremony must take place on a fixed

date, most likely at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall (cf. Deut.

31:10, 11). There is no firm evidence however for concluding that covenant

renewal ceremonies were always held at fixed times. Cf. Baltzer, The Covenant

Formulary, 61; Dentan, The Knowledge of God in Ancient Israel, 248, n. 11. For

further discussion see Chapter IV, Section 2,B,1,a.

            113. For a discussion of climatic conditions referred to in the Old Testa-

ment including those alluded to in I Samuel 11 and 12 see: R. B. Y. Scott,


50              Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


I Sam. 12:18. And Samuel called on Yahweh and Yahweh sent thunder-

ings and rain on that day, and all the people greatly feared Yahweh and



          Yahweh responded to Samuel's prayer and sent thunder-

ings and rain with the result that the people feared for their

very lives (v. 19), being convinced that Samuel's indictment

was correct, and that they had incurred upon themselves the

wrath of Yahweh. This is not the only place in the Old

Testament where it is noted that the Israelites feared for their

lives when Yahweh revealed himself in the thunderstorm (cf.

Ex. 19:16; 20:18-20; Deut. 18:16). Neither is this the only

place in the Old Testament where an expression similar to the

unusual combination at the end of the verse (Yahweh and

Samuel) is found. On another historic occasion it is said that

the Israelites "feared Yahweh and believed Yahweh and his

servant Moses" (Ex. 14:31), in response to the manifestation

of Yahweh's power at the Red Sea.114

          It is sometimes questioned whether this event is to be

regarded as a theophany or merely as an authenticating sign

that what Samuel had said was correct.115 However one may

answer this,116 it is clear that the people understood the


"Meteorological Phenomena and Terminology in the Old Testament," ZAW 64

(1962) 11-25.

            114. Notice also the statement in Josh. 4:14 after the Israelites had seen the

waters of the Jordan cut off to permit them to cross: "On that day Yahweh

exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they feared him, just as they

feared Moses all the days of his life." See further below, n. 122b.

            115. Stoebe (Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 238) contrasts the thunder and

rain in I Sam. 12:18 with Ex. 19:18 where he sees the thunderstorm at the

concluding of the covenant as a sign of the power of Yahweh, and bearing the

character of a theophany. In I Sam. 12:18 he says there is no thought of this and

he views the storm as an unexpected event authenticating a mandate. Stoebe

argues that here rain is mentioned, "und Regen gehört nun sicherlich nicht zu

einer theophanieschilderung" (239); (cf., however, Judg. 5:4). Baltzer (The Cove-

nant Formulary, 67, n. 20) suggests that the sign in vv. 16-18 has replaced an

original theophany.

            116. The question is more complicated than would appear from Stoebe's

comments. Various authors (see, e.g.: Th. C. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testa-

ment Theology [Oxford: 19702] 190 f.; Nic. H. Ridderbos, "Die Theophanie in

Ps. L 1-6," OTS, XV [1969] 213-226, esp., 216 f., and the literature there cited)

make a distinction between an epiphany and a theophany. Ridderbos (216, n. 1)

            Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                         51


thunder and rain as an attestation to Samuel's words, but at

the same time as a revelation of the power of Yahweh.

Perhaps the closest parallel to be found in the OT is the

sending of fire from heaven in response to the prayer of

Elijah on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18:36-39), which let the Israel-

ites know that Yahweh was God, and that Elijah had per-

formed his ministry at the mandate of Yahweh. In both

instances authentication is primary. Thus while a theophany

cannot be spoken of in the normal technical sense of that

term on either of these occasions, there is nevertheless in

both instances a manifestation of the power of Yahweh

which revealed something of the awesomeness of his person

and which to that extent can be said to have theophanic


          It is noteworthy that here when the people of Israel are

challenged to renew their loyalty to Yahweh and to resolve

to keep their covenantal obligations, a sign is given which

might well remind them of the establishment of the covenant

at Sinai where there were, "thunder and lightning flashes and

a thick cloud upon the mountain" (Ex. 19:16).118


comments, "Wenn Gott erscheint, urn seinem Volk (durch einen Mittler) etwas zu

sagen, spricht man von einer Theophanie; erscheint Gott zur Rettung seines

Volkes im Kampf mit den Feinden, so handelt es sich urn eine Epiphanie (die

Definitionen des Unterschieds weisen bei den einzelnen Verfassern gewisse

Abweichungen auf). Eine solche Unterscheidung kann gewiss klärend wirken...."

Vriezen (An Outline of Old Testament Theology, 190), however, rightly remarks

that "in the stories concerning Mount Sinai the descriptions are closely allied to

those of the epiphanies, though these stories are meant to describe theophanies."

Ridderbos (217, n. 1) with reason adds to this that the same can be said of

Ps. 50. We make mention of this here merely to indicate the complexity of the

question involved. We are using the term theophany, however, in the customary

manner, i.e., the designation of an appearance of God which is accompanied by

extraordinary natural phenomena.

            117. For discussion of the revelatory significance of signs and wonders in

the Old Testament, see: G. F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament (Grand

Rapids: n.d. [German original, Stuttgart: 1891] 139, 140); C. A. Keller, Das Wort

OTH als "Offenbarungszeichen Gottes" (Basel: 1946); G. Quell, "Das Phanomen

des Wunders im Alten Testament," in: Verbannung and Heimkehr, Festschrift W.

Rudolph (Tubingen: 1961) 253-300; F. J. Helfmeyer, "tvx," TDOT, I, 167-188.

On theophany in general see: J. Jeremias, Theophanie. Die Geschichte einer

Alttestamentlichen Gattung (WMANT, 10; Neukirchen-Vluyn: 1965).

            118. Cf. especially the plural tvlvq in I Sam. 12:17-18 and in Ex. 19:16;

52       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


I Sam. 12:19. And all the people said119 unto Samuel, "Pray120 for

your servants unto Yahweh your god that we die not,121 because we

have to all our sins added evil in asking for us a king."


          The people's fear motivated them to confess their sin and

request Samuel to intercede for them unto Yahweh. As they

look to Samuel to mediate between themselves and Yahweh,

they are strongly conscious that from their side they had

broken the covenant relationship with Yahweh. This being so

they do not even dare to refer to him as "our God," but ask

Samuel to pray to Yahweh "your God" (in contrast cf.

I Sam. 7:8). The evil (hfr) to which the people refer is (as in

v. 17) the request for a king with its accompanying impli-

cations. The people recognize that this evil did not stand

alone, as they have become aware that Samuel was right

when he spoke at length of the pervasiveness of their sinful

condition throughout the centuries.

          It is not explicitly stated that Samuel acceded to their

request. Yet we may conclude from verse 23 that he did. This

prayer of Samuel must have been a prayer of confession, and

a request for mercy, much like that of Moses after the

( apostasy of the golden calf worship (Ex. 32:31-32; 33:12-

17), and the unbelief at Kadesh Bamea (Num. 14:13-19).

This and other intercessions (cf., e.g., I Sam. 7:8, 9; 12:23)


20:18 (according to Mandelkern the plural occurs only twelve times in the entire

OT). It is, of course, true that there are considerable differences between Ex. 19

and 20, and I Sam. 12 (note, e.g., the absence of rain in Ex. 19 and 20; see n. 115

above). But, on the other hand, in view of the connection which Nic. H.

Ridderbos (OTS, XV, 213-226) has suggested between Ps. 50 and a covenant

renewal, it is apparent that to an Israelite the concluding and renewing of the

covenant with Yahweh is apt to be accompanied by thunder (see Ps. 50:1 ff.). See

further below, Chapter IV, Section 2,A,4.

            119. Subject sing., predicate pl., cf. kettb in v. 10.

            120. Driver (Notes, 35) defines llpth as "to interpose as mediator, espe-

cially by means of entreaty...." Although in general usage the term is about as

neutral as the verb "to pray" in English, it is often used in the sense of "asking for

someone else." J. Herrmann ("dxopat," TDNT, II, 785) notes that 25 out of 60

occurrences of the word are intercessory. Cf. the similar requests for prayer

addressed to Moses in the wilderness: Num. 11:2; 21:7. See further: P. A. H.

de Boer, "De voorbede in het OT," OTS, III (1943) 124-132; D. R. Ap-Thomas,

"Notes on some terms relating to prayer," VT 6 (1956) 225-241.

            121. GK §107p.

       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                   53


later cause Samuel to be regarded as an intercessor compa-

rable to Moses, and otherwise unequalled in the course of

Israel's history (Jer. 15:1; Ps. 99:6). The effectiveness of

Samuel's prayers appears in I Samuel 7:10 and 12:18.


I Sam. 12:20. And Samuel said to the people, "Fear not!122 You indeed

have123 committed all this evil, only do not any longer turn away from

following Yahweh, but serve Yahweh with all your heart."


          In words of comfort and admonition, also in some ways

reminiscent of those which Moses spoke to the children of

Israel at Sinai (cf. Ex. 20:20), Samuel tells the people not to

fear in spite of the evil which they had done124 and the

awesome sign which Yahweh had given. Samuel subsequently

(v. 22) explains the grounds on which he can tell the people

not to fear, but he first reminds them of their responsibility

toward Yahweh. Their duty remains to serve Yahweh with all

their heart. In this expression Samuel states concisely the

fundamental obligation of the covenant relationship (cf.

Deut. 10:12; 11:13; Josh. 22:5).125

          Here Samuel again brings to focus the central issue in the

controversy surrounding the establishment of kingship in

Israel. The evil was not kingship in itself, but turning away

from following Yahweh. In this admonition Samuel again

uses the terminology (hvhy yrHxm) which he had used earlier

to formulate the covenant conditional in verse 14 (rHx


            122. a) GK §109c. b) Samuel's exhortation in this verse not to fear utilizes

xry in a different sense than in vv. 14, 24. See n. 102 above and n. 144 below. We

can say that the meaning of xry in v. 18 is in between that in v. 14 and 24 and

that in v. 20.

            123. GK §135a; Driver, Notes, 95.

            124. There is no well founded basis for seeing here in Samuel's encouraging

words a badly harmonized tension with the previous verse as does Stoebe (Das

erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 239) who suggests that when the people have come to

the realization of their arrogance (v. 19) this is weakened with the "yes-but" idea

of v. 20. Rather than tension, here is an expression of the idea that when Israel in

repentance resumes her proper relationship to Yahweh (i.e., that of serving him)

He will not forsake them for his great name's sake (v. 22). Stoebe, however, views

vv. 21 and 22 as a late insertion. On this question, see further below.

            125. See above, n. 102.

54       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


hvhy).126 The supreme obligation of the children of Israel has

not changed with the establishment of the monarchy. Their

duty now, just as previously, is to follow Yahweh, which is to

serve Yahweh with all their heart.


I Sam. 12:21. And turn not127 away128 after vain things which do not

profit or deliver because they are vain things.


          The alternatives for Israel are again made clear. They can

follow Yahweh and find prosperity and security or follow

vain things ( vhth ) which cannot profit or deliver because

they are vain (vht). Samuel here broadens the frame of

reference from the focus on the evil (hfr, vv. 17, 19) of

requesting a king, and now warns the people to turn from

every attempt to find security outside of obedience and

loyalty to Yahweh.

          From the construction of the sentence it is clear that

vhth is to be understood in a collective sense.129 The term

vht is usually interpreted as a reference to turning aside after

heathen gods or idols.130 Because idolatry is not the issue in


            126. See above, 41-46.

            127. Here the stronger form of prohibition is used, xl and the imperfect,

rather than lx and the jussive, which was used in v. 20, cf. GK § 107o, § 109b.

            128. The yk which appears here in the MT is regarded by many as a

copyist's error and thus to be eliminated. See, e.g.: Thenius, Die Bücher Samuels,

KeH, 53; Wellhausen, Der Text der Bücher Samuelis, 79; Driver, Notes, 95; and

Smith, Samuel, ICC, 89. Keil (The Books of Samuel, 121) suggests that following

the yk after vrvst the same verb should be supplied from the context thus

yielding the translation: "Do not turn aside (from the LORD) for (ye turn aside)

after that which is vain." A. B. Ehrlich (Randglossen zur Hebraischen Bibel [7

vols.; Leipzig: 1908-1914] III, 209) suggests that since the removal of leaves

an incorrect sentence because vrHx rvs is not used in Hebrew, but rather

yrHxm rvs, it may be better to view yk as a mutilation of an original tkll with

rvs as in Deut. 11:28; 28:14. More recently Stoebe, (Das erste Buch Samuelis,

KAT, 234) following P. A. H. de Boer (Research into the Text of I Samuel I-XVI

[Amsterdam: 1938] 52) advocates retaining yk as an emphatic particle.

            In my opinion the resolution of de Boer is preferable. But whichever of these

alternatives is adopted, the meaning of the verse remains unchanged. The presence

of paseq points up the problem, but may not be used to give precedence to any

particular solution (cf. GK § 15 f., n. 2).

            129. Note the plural verb forms which follow vhth and the pronoun hmh

at the end of the sentence.

            130. See, e.g.: Keil, The Books of Samuel, 121 ("false gods"); Kirkpatrick,

    Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                      55


the context, and because the use of vht is considered by

many to be an indication that this verse cannot be dated

prior to the time of the author of "deutero-Isaiah" (c.

540 B.C.), it is frequently suggested that this entire verse

should be regarded as a later insertion.131 Such a position,

however, rests on too narrow an understanding of the mean-

ing of vht, and on the unprovable assumption that the word

could not have been used in the time of Samuel. Certain

occurrences of the word in Isaiah (where eleven of its twenty

occurrences are found), show that it is sometimes used to

express the weakness or nothingness not only of molten

images (Isa. 41:29), but also of nations (Isa. 40:17), and their

rulers (Isa. 40:23), when these are compared to the power of

Yahweh. The term is thus not to be confined in its meaning

in I Samuel 12:21 to the "nothingness" of heathen idols, but

rather has reference to the "nothingness" of anything that

would exalt itself against Yahweh. Samuel thus uses the term

here to exhort the people to turn aside from everything,

whether that be a person, a king, a nation, a god or idol,

which entails a reduction or replacement of service to Yah-

weh. For to follow anything or anyone to the deprecation of

following Yahweh is to follow a "nothing" (vht ) and a

"nothing" cannot deliver (lcn, Hiphil).


I Sam. 12:22. For Yahweh will not forsake his people, on account of

his great name's sake, for Yahweh has resolved to make you a people

for himself.


          The double use of yk serves to indicate the basis on


Samuel, CambB, 122 ("false gods"); Nowack, Richter, Ruth and Bücher Sam-

uelis, HK 1/4, 55 ("fremden Gotter"); A. R. S. Kennedy, I and II Samuel (CentB;

Edinburgh: 1904) 95 ("idols of the heathen"); and Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek

Samuel, COT, 251 ("heidense afgoden").

            131. See, e.g.: Budde, Die Bücher Samuel, KHC, 81; Kennedy, Samuel,

CentB, 95; Caird, IB, II, 945; and Stoebe, Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 239.

Schulz (Samuel, EH, 173) also questioning the use of vht by Samuel proposes a

reconstruction of the verse in which on the basis of the Targum he suggests

replacing vhth with tbfvth. His proposal, however, is quite involved and requires

other changes in wording as well, for which there is no textual evidence.

56          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


which Samuel's previous words of comfort and admonition

rest. First of all, Samuel asserts categorically that Yahweh

will not forsake ( wFn) his people for his great name's sake

(lvdgh vmw rbfb ). While wFn is used rather infrequently in

the OT in an expression of this type (normally a verb such as

bzf is used) Samuel's statement is directly paralleled in Psalm

I 94:14a. Here wFn is used in synonymous parallelism with

bzf. Samuel is thus restating the well known promise of

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 and Joshua 1:5.

          The guarantee to the people for the validity of the

promise of Yahweh's faithfulness to them rests in the in-

tegrity of Yahweh himself (lvdgh vmw).132 The idea that

Yahweh will do certain things for the sake of his own name is

equivalent to saying that Yahweh will be faithful to his own

self revelation. Yahweh cannot deny himself.133  It was on

this same basis that both Moses and Joshua had interceded

for the Israelites after previous incidents of serious apostasy

(Ex. 32:12-14; Num. 14:15-20; Josh. 7:9); and in Deuter-

onomy it is emphasized that the basis for Israel's selection to

be Yahweh's people does not lie in any quality or merit of

the people themselves, but in the oath which Yahweh had

given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deut. 7:7, 8; 9:4, 5).

This idea persisted throughout Israel's history as a nation, so

that during the exile Ezekiel is found assuring the people in

captivity that Yahweh was not finished with them, and in

spite of their present condition, Yahweh would again act on

their behalf for his holy name's sake. "Thus says Yahweh

God, It is not for your sake, 0 house of Israel, that I am

about to act, but for My holy name, which you have pro-

faned among the nations where you went. And I will vindi-

cate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned

among the nations . ." (Ezek. 36:22, 23, see further Ezek.



            132. For similar expressions see: Isa. 48:9; Jer. 14:7; Ps. 106:8.

            133. For discussion of the theological significance of the use of the term

"name" of Yahweh in this way, see: G. A. F. Knight, A Christian Theology of the

Old Testament (Richmond: 1959) 60-64, esp. 61.

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                   57


          Samuel then undergirds this assertion with a statement

introduced by the second yk which explains that the ultimate

basis for Israel's special relationship to Yahweh is the uncon-

ditional free choice of Yahweh's elective grace to make Israel

his own people. The use of (Hiphil) to express the idea

of divine determination or "good pleasure" is found else-

where only in II Sam. 7:29; Job 6:9; I Chron. 17:27. Never-

theless, it clearly expresses an idea which finds repeated stress

in Deuteronomy (Deut. 4:37; 7:6; 10:15; 14:2; 26:18, 19),

and which constitutes one of the most important and central

ideas of the OT.134

          For the simple reason that Yahweh had chosen Israel to

be his people, the people can be assured that he will not

forsake them. Yet this position is not simply one of privilege

without obligation. Yahweh's choice of Israel demanded re-

sponse and created a particular responsibility. The form

which the response was to take found its definition in the

stipulations of the Sinaitic covenant. These stipulations were

to be observed as an expression of the people's thanksgiving

and loyalty to Yahweh, who had revealed himself to them,

delivered them out of Egypt, and remained constantly faith-

ful to his covenant with them and their fathers.135


            134. For discussion of the OT idea of election see: K. Galling, Die Erwahl-

ungstraditionen Israels (BZAW 48; Giessen: 1928); H. H. Rowley, The Biblical

Doctrine of Election (London: 1950); G. E. Wright, God Who Acts (SBT 8;

London: 1952) 50-54; Th. C. Vriezen, De Verkiezing van Israel (Exegetica,

Nieuwe reeks, II; Amsterdam: 1974).

            135. D. J. McCarthy (Treaty and Covenant, 175, 176) makes the following

comment on the relation between election and covenant while discussing the

giving of the decalogue to Israel at Sinai: "To retain its special relationship with

Yahwe Israel must obey the commands. Thus in the oracle Yahwe Himself has

made known the conditions for continued covenant; or better, obedience to these

provisions is the living expression of Israel's special relation to Yahwe. It does not

produce this relationship. We may remark that this becomes even more clear when

the covenant comes to be expressed in the treaty form. It is not the stipulations

which produce the relationship; they are the obligations which are revealed by

God as resulting from that relationship rather than bringing it about." C. Lind-

hagen (The Servant Motif in the Old Testament, 153, 154) points out: "The

election was an election to a service of Yahweh. As Yahweh's servant, Israel is no

longer entitled to go her own way. Her te<loj from then onwards is to perform the

will of another, to effectuate the purpose that Yahweh laid down in the elec-

58         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


I Sam. 12:23. As for myself,136 far will it be from me that I should sin

against Yahweh, that I should cease to pray for you; but I shall instruct

you137 in the good and the right way.138


          Samuel assures the people not only of Yahweh's con-

tinued commitment to them (v. 22), but also of his own

continued interest in their well being. Samuel's great concern

is that Israel should walk in the way of the covenant, and he

intends to do all that he can to see that this is done. It is clear

from this statement that he is not planning to withdraw from

a role of leadership in the nation.139  First, he will continue

(cf. v. 19) to intercede for the people, but in addition he will

instruct them in their covenantal obligations.140 These are

lessentially the same functions which he was performing in

convening and directing the Gilgal assembly.

          This continued activity of Samuel was to be of great


tion.... As Yahweh's obedient servant, Israel will receive blessing and life. But if

she tries to free herself from Yahweh's sovereignty, the unfaithful servant will be

led into a curse and death." This does not mean, however, that Yahweh's

covenant with his people is dissolved. When the people turn away from their

covenant obligations they will experience the covenant curses (Deut. 28:15 ff., cf.

29:11[12] ) or what is termed in Lev. 26:25 the "vengeance of the covenant."

Yet the curses and the vengeance are not antipathetic to the covenant, nor do

they void the covenant, but rather belong to it. As Lindhagen (ibid., 154) notes:

"Even if Israel immediately started on the path of apostasy (the golden calf),

Yahweh never let go his servant: in the new covenant, everyone was both to know

and to do the will of Yahweh." For further discussion of the relation between

election and covenant see: M. G. Kline, By Oath Consigned (Grand Rapids: 1968)

26-38; J. Jocz, The Covenant: A Theology of Human Destiny (Grand Rapids:

1968) 40-43; D. J. McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant (Richmond: 1972) 53-56,

and the additional literature cited below in Chapter IV, n. 10.

            136. KBL3 s.v. Mg, 4, cf. Gen. 32:19(18) etc.

            137. GK §112x.

            138. GK § 126x. See further Chapter IV, n. 113.

            139. This chapter is not properly understood when it is viewed as Samuel's

farewell speech. See above, 18-20 and below, Chapter IV, Section 2,B,1,a. For this

reason statements such as that of Kennedy (Samuel, CentB, 95): "Samuel divests

himself of his authority as Yahweh's representative in the theocracy, reserving

only the privilege of being his people's intercessor" do not do justice to the

continuing role of Samuel in the national life.

            140. That the good and the right way (hrwyhv hbvFh jrdb ) is the way of

covenantal obedience is clear from comparison of this expression with Deut. 6:18

and 12:28 (see also I Kings 8:36). Samuel is here carrying on with one of the

most important functions which Yahweh had previously entrusted to Moses (see

Ex. 24:12). See further Chapter IV, Section 2,B,1,b,3.

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25                 59


significance to Saul. While from this time on Saul would

assume a position of leadership in the nation, particularly in

political and military matters, his actions would remain sub-

ject to review by Samuel, who would not hesitate to rebuke

him should his actions be in violation of the revealed will of

Yahweh, the description of the responsibilities of the king

drawn up at Mizpah previously (I Sam. 10:25), or of cove-

nantal law generally.

          More importantly, however, Samuel's continuing activity

establishes the pattern for all the future occupants of the

throne in Israel, in that their actions would always be subject

to assessment by a prophet of Yahweh.141 Samuel is here

laying the structural foundation for the functioning of the

theocracy in the new era of the monarchy which was now

beginning; and in so doing he is seeking to insure covenantal

continuity through a time of transition and into the new



I Sam. 12:24. Only fear142 Yahweh, and serve him faithfully with all

your heart, for consider what great things he has done143 for you.


          Speaking to the people, Samuel now describes how they

may walk, "in the good and the right way" (v. 23b). Much as

Joshua had done previously at the covenant renewal cere-

mony at Shechem (Josh. 24:2-14a), Samuel frames the es-

sence of the people's covenant obligation in words demand-

ing complete loyalty to Yahweh out of gratitude for the great

things which he has done for them.144 The great things to


            141. E. F. Campbell ("Sovereign God," McCormick Quarterly 20 [1967]

182) comments that the role of the prophet in Israel, "is dramatic evidence that

no man is king in Israel in an absolute sense, and that a vital office exists side by

side with the office of kingship which will never let the king forget who is really

sovereign in Israel."

            142. GK §75oo.

            143. The Hebrew expression here is difficult. Perhaps this is an elliptic

formulation:  lydigGhi rw,xE vyWAfEma txe cf. Eccl. 2:4.

            144. To fear. Yahweh, and serve him faithfully with all your heart is to live

in obedience to the covenantal obligations (see n. 102 above). Oosterhoff's

comment (De Vreze des Heren in het Oude Testament, 43) that "to fear" Yahweh

in I Sam. 12:24 has particular reference to, "de cultische dienst van Jahwe in

60       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 12:1-25


which he refers are all the manifestations throughout the

centuries of Yahweh's care for his people which Samuel has

summarized previously (vv. 8 ff.), but they also include the

more recent manifestations of Yahweh's care for his people

such as the victory over the Ammonites (I Sam. 11:13), the

giving of a king to the people in spite of the sinfulness of

their request (I Sam. 12:13), and the sending of the thunder

storm as a sign of Yahweh's concern for the condition of his

people (I Sam. 12:16, lvdgh rbdh-tx). Yahweh has been

faithful to his people; their obligation is total loyalty to him

in gratitude for his great and gracious acts on their behalf.


I Sam. 12:25. (But) if you on the contrary do evil, both you and your

king will be swept away.145


          Samuel concludes by warning the people that persistent

rejection of Yahweh will ultimately lead to the destruction of

the nation. Previously (vv. 17, 19, 20) Samuel focused on the

evil (hfr ) of seeking a king, which betrayed Israel's rejection

of the kingship of Yahweh (v. 12). Now a king has been given

to the nation with Yahweh's sanction (v. 13); but his role is

to be that of an instrument of the rule of Yahweh (v. 14, see

also 10:25). Should the nation or the king now persist in

covenant breaking conduct, then they will bring upon them-

selves their own destruction.146


tegenstelling met de verering der afgoden" is too restrictive in this context.

Lindhagen (The Servant Motif in the Old Testament, 158) notes that "the

fear-serve combination is associated with ideas like hearkening to the voice of

Yahweh [Dt 13:5(4), I S 12:14; cf. Ecclus 2:15], not being rebellious [I S

12:14], cleaving to Yahweh [Dt 10:20, 13:5(4)], being followers of Yahweh [Dt

13:5(4), I S 12:14] , walking in his ways [Dt 10:12; cf. Dt 8:6, Is 63:17, Ps

128:1, Pr 14:2], keeping his commandments and statutes [Dt 10:12f; cf. Dt

5:29(26), 6:2,24, 8:6, 17:19, 28:58 (tvWfl rmw ), 31:12 (do.), Ps 19:10, 112:1,

Ecclus 23:27 and the explanation jyhlxm txryv in 'the law of Holiness' Lev

19:14, 32, 25:17,36,43. Cf also 2 K 17:34] , swearing by his name [Dt 6:13,


            145. hps, Niphal (which is also used in I Sam. 26:10; 27:1) appears in the

Pentateuch only in Gen. 19:15, 17; Num. 16:16. In Deuteronomy only the Hiphil

is used (Deut. 32:23, in the sense of "heap up"). Similar expressions occur

frequently in Deuteronomy but using forms of dbx or dmw.

            146. The alternation of promise and warning as found here is characteristic

of the exhortations of Deuteronomy (see, e.g., Deut. 28 and 29).








I Sam. 11:14. And Samuel said unto the people, "Come, let us go to

Gilgal and renew the kingdom there."


          After the great victory over the Ammonites (I Sam. 11:

1-13) which demonstrated to the people not only that Saul

was competent to lead them in battle, but more importantly

that Yahweh was willing to bring victory to the Israelites

through Saul's leadership,1 Samuel called for the people to

assemble in Gilgal to renew the kingdom.

          By far the most significant phrase in I Samuel 11:14 is

the expression "renew the kingdom." The question of how

this expression is to be understood is inseparably tied to the

question of how one interprets the relationship between the

event here referred to and those which precede and immedi-

ately follow in the sequence of events associated with Saul's

being made king in Israel.2

          Currently the most common approach to the phrase is to


            1. In I Sam. 11:13 Saul says that "Yahweh has worked salvation (hvhy-hWf

hfvwt) in Israel." This appears to be a response to the questions of those who

opposed Saul's selection to be king at Mizpah, and who then asked, "How is this

man going to save us?" (hz vnfwy-hm, I Sam. 10:27; cf. also I Sam. 11:12). The

important point being made is that it is not merely this man who delivered Israel,

but that the promise of Deut. 20:4 ("For Yahweh your God goes with you to

fight for you against your enemies to save you"             [fywvhl] is still operative. Even

though Israel is now to have a king to lead them in battle, this does not mean that

Yahweh is being replaced, but that he will continue to lead Israel in battle,

sometimes through the instrumentality of the human king, and sometimes

through the extraordinary utilization of psychological and natural forces. The

victory of the Israelites over the Ammonites is thus to be seen as an additional

confirmation that Yahweh had chosen Saul to be king.

            2. For the literary critical background to this problem see below, Chap-

ter III, Section 1, and Chapter V, Section 1.



62       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


view it as a "harmonizing redactional insertion."3 This view

transcends many of the differences in approach to the liter-

ary analysis of I Samuel 8-12,4 and its advocates regard the

expression "renew the kingdom" as an ineffectual editorial

attempt to arrange I Samuel 10:17 ff. and I Samuel 11:15

(which are viewed as two separate and conflicting traditions

of the establishment of the monarchy) as sequential rather

than juxtaposed parallel accounts.

          Those who do not view the phrase "renew the kingdom"

as a harmonizing redactional insertion generally interpret wdH  

(renew) as inaugurate,5 confirm,6 or celebrate.7 The Gilgal


            3. B. C. Birch, (The Rise of the Israelite Monarchy: The Growth and

Development of I Sam. 7-15 [unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University,

1970] 101), says, "Most scholars have regarded this verse as the clearest evidence

of redactional activity in this chapter and there would seem to be little reason for

challenging this conclusion." Note, for example, the following expressions of this

viewpoint: Ackroyd, (The First Book of Samuel, CNEB, 92), writes, "The text

represents an attempt at harmonizing the various divergent statements about the

origins of the monarchy." N. K. Gottwald, "The Book of Samuel," Encyclopedia

Judaica (Jerusalem: 1971) XIV, 793, 794: "The disruption of the story line is

only imperfectly dealt with by the harmonizing reference 'Let us go to Gilgal and

there renew the kingdom' (11:14)." Hertzberg, I and II Samuel, 94: "The final

compiler sees this account as a continuation of the earlier ones. This may explain

the word 'renew'; originally it will have been no 'renewal,' but an institution of

the kingship. We are also able to see in the sequel that here an editorial hand has

tried to represent things as a succession rather than a juxtaposition of accounts."

See also the similar viewpoints of: Weiser, Samuel, FRLANT, 78; Stoebe, Das

erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 229; Smith, Samuel, ICC, 80. Many more commen-

taries as well as introductions could be cited which represent this viewpoint.

            4. See below, Chapter III, Section 1,B, and Chapter V, Section 1.

            5. J. Schelhaas, "De instelling van het koningschap en de troonbestijging van

Israels eerste koning," GTT 44 (1944) 268.

            6. Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuel, COT, 242; Th. C. Vriezen, "De

Compositie van de Samuel-Boeken," in Orientalia Neerlandica (Leiden: 1948)

181; Leimbach, Samuel, HSchAT, 55; 0. Eissfeldt, Die Komposition der Sam-

uelisbücher (Leipzig: 1931) 10.

            7. A. H. Edelkoort, De Profeet Samuel (Baarn: 1953) 149. Others with this

same general viewpoint propose the emendation of wdH to wdq (consecrate). See,

e.g.: Ehrlich, Randglossen, III, 205, 206; and K-H. Bernhardt, Das Problem der

Altorientalischen Königsideologie im Alten Testament (VTS, VIII; Leiden 1961)

142, n. 1. While this approach avoids the questionable interpretations of wdH as

inaugurate, confirm, or celebrate (see below), it suffers from a complete lack of

textual evidence. A. Schulz (Die Bücher Samuel, EH, 163) correctly rejects the

emendation approach saying, "Das ist aber nicht angangig, weil der Text sicher


          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15               63


assembly of I Samuel 11:14, 15 is then viewed as an addition-

al step in the process of establishing Saul's kingship, rather

than a conflicting parallel account to I Samuel 10:17-27. In

this category of approach some8 would view I Samuel 11:14,

15 as a military recognition of the previous civilian acclama-

tion of Saul as king at Mizpah.9 In this case, the "renewal of

the kingdom" would be interpreted as the formal acceptance

of Saul as military chief by the army. Unfortunately, how-

ever, there is no firm basis in the language of the text for

viewing the action at Gilgal as confined to the military.10


            8. A. R. Hulst (I en II Samuel, Commentaar op de Heilige Schrift, ed. J. A.

van der Hake [Amsterdam: 1956] 270) says, "Saul is immers reeds gezalfd; door

zijn eerste krijgsdaad heeft hij getoond ook in feite koning te kunnen zijn;

vandaar, dat het leger (de heirban) hem ook voor de toekomst als koning,

bevelhebber, aanvaardt." De Groot (I Samuel, TeU, 122, 123) says, "Als wij de

uitdrukking 'het geheele volk' mogen opvatten als beteekenende ‘alle soldaten’—

en dit is o.i. zeer wel geoorloofd—, dan hebben we hier geen plomp duplicaat van

het verhaal in 10:17w. (zelfs den meest onnoozelen redactor zouden we daartoe

niet in staat mogen achten), doch moeten we hierin zien een voortzetting en wel

speciaal de militaire erkenning van de kroningsplechtigheid te Hammispa (hoofd-

stuk 10)." De Groot's point regarding the redactor is well made, but his interpre-

tation of "renew" as a military recognition is questionable. Koolhaas (Theocratie

en Monarchie, 66) expresses a similar view and says, "No het verslaan der

Ammonieten wordt in Gilgal het koningschap vernieuwd. Deze samenkomst kan

gezien worden als een voortzetting van de plechtigheid te Mizpa, waar het yolk

Saul, na zijn verkiezing tot koning, erkende en huldigde. In Gilgal riep de heerban

hem tot koning uit en bekrachtigde zo de koningskeuze."

            9. Here the position of M. Buber (VT 6 [1956] 155, 156) can also be

mentioned. Buber takes the position that the opposition to Saul's selection as

king as expressed in I Sam. 10:27 was not merely that of a few detractors, but to

the contrary represented the great majority of the people, while those who

acclaimed Saul were only a small group whose "hearts God had touched" (v. 26).

He thus feels it is appropriate to speak of "renewing" Saul's kingdom in I Sam.

11:14. This interpretation, however, does not give adequate recognition to I Sam.


            10. In I Sam. 11:14 and 15a "the people" (Mfh) are called to Gilgal to

"renew the kingdom" and "make Saul king before Yahweh." In verse 15b "all the

men of Israel" (lxrWy ywnx-lkv) rejoiced greatly. In I Sam. 12:1 Samuel speaks to

"all Israel"

            These terms in themselves are indecisive in regard to whether or not they are

intended to have military significance, since all three are used elsewhere with

either civilian or military connotation depending on their context.

            Three things, however, should be noted. First, there is no terminology that is

clearly military in vv. 14 and 15 such as, e.g., the terms "men of war" ywnx

hmHlmh) or "warriors" (xbc CvlH). Second, the term "the people" is also used in

I Sam. 10:24, 25 without military connotation. When Saul had been chosen by

64        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


Furthermore, one can raise serious questions as to whether

the translations "inaugurate," "confirm," and "celebrate" do

justice to the meaning of wdH.11

          In the places where wdH occurs in the OT it consistently

presupposes as an object something that already exists which

is to be renewed or made anew.12 The verb occurs nine times

in the Piel. In four of these occurrences it expresses the idea

of repairing a material object which is in a state of deteriora-

tion (Isa. 61:4; II Chron. 15:8; 24:4, 12). Among the five

other occurrences there is a poetical usage in Psalm 104:30

where God's creative power is referred to as renewing the

face of the earth (apparently with reference to springtime);

and then four instances where the object to be renewed is

something non-material (I Sam. 11:14; Ps. 51:12[10]; Job

10:17; Lam. 5:21). Thus in all of its occurrences wdH speaks

of the restoration or repair of something that already exists,

be that a material or immaterial entity,13 but which in some

sense is in a condition of deterioration.14


lot, "the people" shouted and said, "Long live the king!" (v. 24). Samuel then

told "the people" the manner of the kingdom and sent "the people" to their

houses (v. 25). In I Sam. 12:6, 19, 20, 22 "the people" (Mfh) are again referred to

without any indication of military connotation. In I Sam. 11 term "the

people" (Mfh) is used with two different senses. In vv. 4, 5, 7, 12 it would appear

to refer to the general populace, while in v. 11 it appears to have military

significance. The important thing, however, for the question under consideration

is that the expression "the people" is used in I Sam. 10 when Saul was chosen by

lot to be king, and also in I Sam. 11:14, 15 when the kingdom was to be renewed,

with no clear indication in the context that a distinction between a civilian and a

military recognition is intended as the distinguishing difference between the two

ceremonies. Thirdly, the phrase, "the men of Israel" occurs in I Sam. 8:22 where

it has no military connotation and where it is used interchangeably with "the

people" (vv. 7, 10) and "the elders of Israel" (v. 4). Its use in I Sam. 11:15b is,

therefore, not a clear reference to the military.

            11. Stoebe (Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 223) comments, "wdHn darf

weder geändert (Ehrlich wdqn, . . .) noch durch erleichternde Übersetzung be-

seitigt werden (Dhorme, Inaugurer'; Klostermann, 'ein Volksfest feiern')."

            12. KBL, s.v.; BDB, s.v.

            13. M. Buber (VT 6 [1956] 155) in his discussion of the word under

consideration says that renew means, "die Stärke, Konsistenz and Gültigkeit von

etwas wiederherstellen." He rejects the translations of Wiesmann and Dhorme

(inaugurieren) as well as that of Leimbach (bestatigen).

            14. It appears, however, that wdH, is used in a more relative sense in Job

10:17. As J. H. Kroeze (Het Boek Job [COT; Kampen: 1961] 142 comments:

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15            65


          If then the kingdom is to be renewed at Gilgal this means

that something which was already established, but which

subsequently had deteriorated, needed to be restored to the

position of strength and validity which was proper to it. One

might ask why Saul's kingdom would need restoration so

soon after his selection at Mizpah. What had occurred in the

intervening time to necessitate a renewal at Gilgal? Goslinga

is of the opinion that it didn't need to be "renewed" and says

that there is, "geen grond in de tekst en evenmin in de

historische situatie" for such a conception.15 He then cites

with favor the views of Leimbach (bestätigen), Wiesmann and

Dhorme (inaugurieren), and concludes that what was done at

Gilgal was that Saul was "confirmed" (bevestigd) as king.16

          As was noted above, however, such a translation of wdH

has little support from its usage elsewhere.17 The translation


"Wat Job vreest en verwacht dat God zal doen, wordt in dit vs. vermeld: U zult

uw getuigen tegen mij vernieuwen, d.w.z. nieuwe getuigen laten verschijnen. Die

getuigen zijn z'n lijden en rampen als bewijzen van zijn schuld, 16:8."

            15. Goslinga, Het Eerste Boek Samuel, COT, 242.

            16. In his conclusion on this matter Goslinga (ibid.) also cites with favor

both Koolhaas (Theocratie en Monarchic) and J. H. Kroeze (Koning Saul

[Potchefstroom: 1962]). Goslinga comments, "Hetgeen men te Gilgal gedaan

heeft was niet een plompe herhaling maar wel een bekrachtiging (vgl. Koolhaas,

blz. 66) van de koningskeuze te Mispa." He then quotes Kroeze and says, "Nu

Saul getoond had wat hij waard was, had de huldiging te Gilgal ook meer waarde

en dieper zin dan die te Mispa, 10:24." For the view of Koolhaas, however, see

above, n. 8.

            The position of Kroeze is more general. He sees no need to view 10:17 and

11:14, 15 as a doublet, and he says (ibid., 49, 50) that the word "renew," "toon

duidelik aan dat die ‘Gilgal-verhaal’ die `Mispa-verhaal' veronderstel." Thus Saul

was chosen king at Mizpah: "Tog het daar te Mispa, vergeleke by Gilgal, iets

ontbreek. Dit was meer iets van psigologiese aard. Daar was geen merkbare

verandering van situasie nie. Elkeen het na sy huis gegaan, Saul inkluis. Was Israel

nou regtig 'n koninkryk?" But this is changed after the events of chapter 11. The

king had acted in his role, "Daarom gaan die yolk nou na Gilgal om Saul daar voor

die aangesig van die HERE koning te maak; nie weer deur verkiesing of enige

andere formele handeling nie, maar deur hulde-betoon, deur erkenning van sy

dade. Die nuwe instelling, die koningskap, het, om so te se, in twee etappes tot

stand gekom."

            As will appear below I am in general agreement with much of what Goslinga,

Koolhaas, and Kroeze write, but in my opinion as long as they continue to apply

trm to the kingdom of Saul, they cannot do justice to the meaning of the word.

            17. Bernhardt (Königsideologie, 142, n. 1) comments that with this inter-

66          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


of the NEB, "renew our allegiance to the kingdom" suggests

a better alternative. Strictly speaking it was not the kingdom

which had deteriorated and needed renewal, but rather the

recognition of the kingdom by the people. Yet even with the

introduction of this distinction, both Goslinga's suggestion

and that of the translation of the NEB are still confronted

with the difficulty of explaining the relationship between this

renewal of allegiance to the kingdom and the statement in

verse 15 that at Gilgal all the people "made Saul king before

Yahweh." How could Saul's kingdom be renewed (i.e., alle-

giance to it be renewed), if he had not yet been officially

inaugurated (to be distinguished from his having been select-

ed to be king at Mizpah) and therefore had not yet assumed

his royal functions and begun his reign?18 It would appear

that the renewal of the kingdom referred to in I Samuel

11:14 must be regarded as distinct from the inauguration of

Saul (I Sam. 11:15), even though his inauguration was enact-

ed as an important subsidiary action of the Gilgal assembly.19


pretation, "man allerdings in V. 14 statt wdHn mit Kittel wdqn lesen müsste." Yet

as was also noted above, this emendation has no textual support.

            18. Note the comment of G. Wallis (Geschichte und Überlieferung

[Arbeiten zur Theologie 11/13; Stuttgart: 1968] 74-75) that, "Erneuern aber

kann man nur, was in der Substanz vorhanden, vielleicht überholt oder hinfällig

geworden ist. Betrachten wir aber das gesamte Kap. 11, so sehen wir in Saul einen

Bauernsohn, von Jahwes Geist ergriffen, handeln, aber keinen, der schon zuvor

König war.... Ein Aufruf zur Erneuerung setzt aber die Bekanntschaft des

Volkes mit dem Konigtum voraus. Aber davon lässt der Erzahler wiederum gar

nichts erkennen." The conclusion which Wallis draws from this is quite different

than ours (see below, Chapter III, Section 1,B,1,a,5), yet the point which he

makes here certainly has merit.

            19. See, H. Wildberger, "Samuel und die Entstehung des israelitischen

Königtums," ThZ 13 (1957) 442-469. Wildberger (449) says, "Wenn V. 14 vom

Erneuern (chaddei) des Königtums spricht, so steht das mit V. 15, wo ja nicht von

seiner Erneuerung, sondern der Neuerrichtung gesprochen wird, im Widerspruch."

Wilderberger's conclusion is that vv. 12-14 are a redactional insertion to link

chapter 11 with chapter 10 (see below, Chapter III, Section 1,B,1,a,4). Note also

Birch's comment (The Rise of the Israelite Monarchy, 93): "It has long been

recognized that the exhortation of Samuel 'to renew the kingdom' Mw wdHn

hkvlmh at Gilgal stands in contradiction to vs. 15 which indicates that it was on

this occasion at Gilgal that Saul was actually 'made king' lvxw-tx Mw vklmyv by

the people. This discrepancy must be taken into account in any attempt to treat

the development of I Sam. 7-12."

       Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15                67


          The central issue here revolves around the question of

what the term "kingdom" refers to in I Samuel 11:14. Does

it refer to the kingdom of Saul, or does it perhaps have

reference to something more fundamental, namely the king-

dom of Yahweh? Considering the ramifications of the total

historical situation depicted in I Samuel 8-12, it is certainly

clear that renewed recognition of the kingdom of Yahweh

was in order. Had not the people already expressed their

disdain for the kingship of Yahweh by their request for a

king to rule over them "as the nations" round about? Was

there not the implicit danger that with the establishment of

the kingship of Saul, the recognition of the continuing rule of

Yahweh over his people would become eclipsed in the new

order of Israel's civil government?

          The pivotal question which runs through the narratives in

I Samuel 8-12 is that of how the monarchy was to be

integrated with the already existing rule of Yahweh over

Israel, without nullifying the latter.20 When the elders asked

Samuel to give them a king "like all the nations" (I Sam.

8:5), Samuel discerned that the type of kingship which they

were requesting was such that it would exclude the continued 

recognition of the kingship of Yahweh over his people (cf.

I Sam. 8:7; 10:19; 12:12, 17). To this, Samuel expressed his

opposition.21 Yet in the sequence of events described in

I Samuel 8-12 it becomes clear that a human kingship inte-

grated with the kingship of Yahweh in a manner that would

not detract from Yahweh's rule over his people but rather be

an instrument of that rule was Yahweh's intention for his

people, and that which Samuel led in establishing (cf. I Sam.

8:22; 9:16, 17; 10:1, 24, 25; 12:13-15, 20).

          It may be objected that to interpret hkvlmh in I Samuel


            20. Cf. D. J. McCarthy, "The Inauguration of Monarchy in Israel," Int 27

(1973) 401-412.

            21. Samuel's attitude toward kingship is not properly characterized as

anti-monarchial. His opposition was to the kind of kingship desired and the

reasons for which it was requested.

68        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


11:14 as a reference to the kingdom of Yahweh does violence

to the immediate context, since jlm is used with reference to

Saul in I Samuel 11:12, 15 and I Samuel 12:1, 2. Yet it

should be noticed that the preceding statement of Saul in

verse 13 makes the explicit assertion that the deliverance

from the Ammonite threat was the work of Yahweh,22 and

while it is true that the jlm terminology in the immediate

context refers to Saul, it must also be recognized that jlm

terminology is applied to Yahweh several times in the larger

context (I Sam. 8:7; 12:12; cf. also 10:19), and the con-

tinued recognition of the kingship of Yahweh is the primary

issue in the narratives of I Samuel 8-12. In this regard it is

certainly also of significance that it is not the kingship of

Saul which is the central focus of the proceedings of the

Gilgal assembly as that assembly is described in I Samuel 12,

but rather renewed allegiance to the kingship of Yahweh, at

the time of the establishment of the kingship of Saul.23 Saul's

name is not once mentioned in chapter 12, and he appears to

be strangely and inexplicably in the background if the basic

purpose of the Gilgal gathering was to renew the recognition

of his kingship. In addition, it is extremely difficult to

satisfactorily explain the phrase in the very next verse (I Sam.

11:15), "they made Saul king" if the renewal of the kingdom

in verse 14 refers to renewed recognition of Saul's already

established kingdom.24 There are then, strong contextual

arguments for interpreting hkvlmh in verse 14 as Yahweh's

kingdom, in spite of the references to the kingship of Saul

immediately preceding and following.


            22. This demonstrated Yahweh's sanction of the choice of Saul to be king,

but at the same time it also demonstrated Saul's realization that he was merely an

instrument in the accomplishment of Israel's deliverance, which, rightly under-

stood, was to be regarded as a work of Yahweh.

            23. Notice particularly the formulation of the covenant conditional in

I Sam. 12:14-15, where at the climax of Samuel's discourse before the Gilgal

assembly, the challenge to the people is presented in the terminology of renewed

allegiance to Yahweh as king. See above, Chapter I, 41-47. For the relationship

between I Sam. 11:14-15 and I Sam. 12 see below, Chapter III, Section 2,A.

            24. See below.

              Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15                69


          This interpretation, however, also raises the vexing ques-

tion of whether or not Yahweh's relationship to his people,

conceived as that of a king to his kingdom, was an early or

late conception in ancient Israel.25 Many have maintained


            25. On this issue see particularly M. Buber, Kingship of God (New York:

19673) in which he has argued that Israel understood her relationship to Yahweh

as that of the relationship of a people to her king from the very inception of her

existence as a nation when a "kingly covenant" was concluded at Sinai after

Yahweh had delivered his people out of the land of Egypt. Buber's book

provoked an extensive debate after its original publication in 1932. In the

prefaces to the 2nd and 3rd editions of his book Buber interacts with many

criticisms of his position in a manner which is helpful in bringing into focus the

issues involved.

            For a contrasting position see: A. Alt, "Gedanken uber das Königtum

Jahwes," Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel, I (Munchen: 1953)

345-357. Alt (345) maintains that the paucity of references to the kingdom of

God in the earlier writings of the OT is very much against the idea "dass man die

Vorstellung vom Königtum Jahwes für eine Urgegebenheit der israelitischen

Religion halten dürfte, die ihr von jeher zu ihrem Selbstverständnis unentbehrlich

gewesen wäre." Nevertheless, Alt does conclude that the kingship of Yahweh over

a circle of subordinate divine beings (cf. his discussion of I Kings 22:19 ff.; Gen.

3:22; 11:7) was an idea present in pre-monarchic Israel, probably bearing some

relationship to the idea of a monarchistic order in the world of the gods which

was extant among neighboring peoples.

            For the viewpoint of G. Fohrer see: History of Israelite Religion (New York:

1972) 166. Fohrer comments: "Although the earliest explicit literary evidence

(Isa. 6:5; cf. Num. 23:21 [E] ) dates only from the eighth century, the use of the

title 'king' for Yahweh is undoubtedly earlier and represents a Canaanite heri-

tage." In this way Fohrer adopts a nuanced standpoint with its attendant

advantages and disadvantages.

            G. von Rad (jl,m, and tUkl;ma in the OT," TDNT, I, 565-571) while noting that

the application of the term jlm to the Godhead is common to all the ancient Orient,

says (568) that: "In Israel the emergence of this view may be fixed with some

precision. As is only natural, references are first found only after the rise of the

empirical monarchy; Nu. 23:21; Dt. 33:5; 1K. 22:19 and Is. 6:5 are among the

earliest." He notes further (570): ". . . Yahweh is never called melek prior to the

monarchy. There is certainly no exegetical basis in the text for regarding the

Sinaitic covenant as a royal covenant."

            Koolhaas, (Theocratic en Monarchie, 23-37) gives careful consideration to

this question, including various facets of the "Buber debate" and concludes (ibid.,

133), "The idea of the royal power of Yahweh did not arise after the empirical

kingship had come into existence, but we may assume with sufficient certainty

that the nucleus of it existed among the Israelites after Yahweh's revelation at

mount Sinai." See also John Bright, The Kingdom of God (New York: 1953) 19,

where he comments, "in the heritage of Moses himself, we shall find the begin-

nings of her [Israel's] hope of the Kingdom of God. For this was no idea picked

up along the way by cultural borrowing, nor was it the creation of the monarchy

and its institutions, nor yet the outgrowth of the frustration of national ambition,

however much all of these factors may have colored it. On the contrary it is

70         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


that it was a late conception derived from the already exist-

ing human institution of kingship. Even if this were correct,

it is difficult to deny that I Samuel 8-12, as they lie before

us, present the idea that the maintenance of the kingship of

Yahweh was the central issue at the establishment of the

human kingship. Even if the statements of I Samuel 8:7;

12:12 do not derive from the time of Samuel, they can still

be of importance for the exegesis of I Samuel 11:14 (see also


          This, however, is not to deny that the question of

whether the idea of Yahweh as king over Israel is early or late

is of great significance for the exegesis of I Samuel 11:14,

and for the subject of our study in general. It should be

noted that while it is true that the Hebrew root jlm is not

frequently utilized either as a title for Yahweh or for the

characterization of his rule over his people in OT passages

dealing with the period from the exodus to the establishment

of the monarchy, nevertheless, it does occur, and not only in

passages which are often regarded as "late."26

          Because of the importance of this issue in this connection


linked with Israel's whole notion of herself as the chosen people of God, and this

in turn was woven into the texture of her faith from the beginning." He says

(ibid., 28) further, "The Exodus was the act of a God who chose for himself a

people that they might choose him. The covenant concluded at Sinai could, then,

be understood in Hebrew theology only as a response to grace. . . . The notion of

a people of God called to live under the rule of God, begins just here, and with it

the notion of the Kingdom of God." See further: A. von Gall, "Ober die Herkunft

der Bezeichnung Jahwehs als Konig," in Wellhausen Festschrift (BZAW 27;

Berlin: 1914) 145-160; 0. Eissfeldt, "Jahweh als Konig," ZAW 46 (1928) 81-105;

J. Gray, "The Hebrew Conception of the Kingship of God: Its Origin and

Development," VT 6 (1956) 268-285; L. Rost, "Konigsherrschaft Jahwes in

vorkbniglicher Zeit?" TLZ 85 (1960) 722-723; W. Schmidt, Königtum Gottes in

Ugarit and Israel. Zur Herkunft der Königsprddikation Jahwes (BZAW 80; Berlin:

19662) 80-97; J. A. Soggin, "jlm," THAT, I (Munchen: 1971) 908-920, esp.

914 f.

            26. Buber (Kingship of God, 36) says, "For the assertion that it is certain

that JHWH, before the period of the kings, is not designated as melekh, no proof

has up to now been offered either by von Rad or by any one else." See also Th. C.

Vriezen, The Religion of Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: 1967) 154-178. Vriezen

says (160): "One can fully accept, therefore, from a historical standpoint, that

such a mentality should stipulate Yahweh's sole right to the kingly title and could

reject the earthly status of a king (Judg. 8:22 f. and 9:8 ff.)."

            Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15              71


we will look briefly at the passages involved, noting particu-

larly the evidence for an early date for this material.

          The noun jlm occurs in the Hebrew Bible prior to I Sam-

uel 11:14 as a designation of Yahweh in Numbers 23:21 and

Deuteronomy 33:5.27

          The first of these occurrences is contained in the second

discourse of Balaam the Mesopotamian diviner who was hired

by the Moabite king Balak to curse Israel. Balaam, however,

could only speak that which Yahweh put in his mouth (Num.

23:26), and instead of cursing Israel he prophesied of great

and good things which Yahweh would give to them. In

Numbers 23:21 he says that, "The shout for a king is among

them." The context makes it clear that the reference is not to

a human king but to Yahweh himself. The preceding phrase

says that "Yahweh his God is with them," and the following

phrase states that, "God brings them out of Egypt." It was

Yahweh their king who led Israel from Egypt. It was Yahweh

who gave Israel victory over the Amorites (Num. 22:2) and

He is the one who has promised to give them the land of

Canaan. There is thus every reason for the shout for king-

Yahweh to be in the camp of Israel.

          The unity and authenticity of the Balaam narrative has

been defended by numerous scholars in the tradition of

conservative biblical scholarship.28 The advocates of the doc-

umentary theory of the origin of the Pentateuch have cus-

tomarily divided the Balaam narrative (in a variety of differ-

ent ways) into J, E, JE, and P components thus assigning the


            27. The noun occurs elsewhere as a designation of Yahweh in: I Sam. 12:12;

Isa. 6:5; 33:22; 41:21; 43:15; 44:6; Jer. 8:19; 10:7, 10; 46:18; 48:15; 51:57;

Mic. 2:13; Zeph. 3:15; Zech. 14:9, 16, 17; Mal. 1:14; Ps. 5:3(2); 10:16; 24:7, 8,

9, 10; 29:10; 44:5(4); 47:3(2), 7(6), 8(7); 48:3(2); 68:25(24); 74:12; 84:4(3);

95:3; 98:6; 99:4; 145:1; 149:2; Dan. 4:34(37); cf., Eissfeldt, ZAW 46 (1928) 89.

            28. See, e.g.: G. Ch. Aalders, Oud-Testamentische Kanoniek (Kampen:

1952) 147; E. J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids:

19642) 84-93; W. H. Gispen, Het Boek Numeri II (COT: Kampen: 1964) 66-72,

110-112; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids:

1969) 614-634.

72         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


material to various times long after the Mosaic era.29 There is,

however, a tendency in recent years even among certain

advocates of the documentary theory to recognize the an-

tiquity of much of the material in the Balaam narratives,30

and particularly to make a distinction between the oracles,

which are regarded as old, and the narrative framework which

is often considered to be of later origin. W. F. Albright in his

study of the Balaam oracles concluded that Balaam was a

genuine historical personality and that, "we may also infer

that the Oracles preserved in Numbers 23-24 were attributed

to him from a date as early as the twelfth century, and that

there is no reason why they may not be authentic, or may

not at least reflect the atmosphere of his age."31

          In the introduction (Deut. 33:1-5) to the blessings

which Moses pronounced on the tribes of Israel just be--

fore his death, he speaks of Yahweh's kingship over his

people which was exhibited in the giving of the covenantal

law by Yahweh at Sinai ("And he was king [jlm]32 in


            29. See the survey of positions given by Gispen, Het Boek Numeri, COT,

II, 66-69.

            30. M. Noth, e.g., (Das vierte Buch Mose. Numeri [ATD .11; Göttingen:

1966] 13, 163 considers the Balaam narrative to be composed of J and E strands,

but finds it quite difficult to divide the material between the two sources. He

comments (13), however, that, "die ‘alten Quellen,’ soweit sie im 4. Mosebuch zu

Worte kommen, auf Behr fruhe Traditionen zurückgehen, die anfangs mündlich

weitergegeben worden waren, ehe sie in die Erzahlungswerke J and E Eingang

fanden, ist nich zu bezweifeln. Das gelt für ... die Bileamgeschichte in Kap.

22-24. . . ."

            31. W. F. Albright, "The Oracles of Balaam," JBL 63 (1944) 233. See

Gispen (Het Boek Numeri, COT, II, 112) for an analysis of Albright's translation

of Num. 23:21.

            32. That jlm is here used as a designation of Yahweh is made clear in the

context and is interpreted in that way by most commentators. See, e.g., the

comments of S. R. Driver (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuter-

onomy [ICC; Edinburgh: 1901' ] 394); J. Ridderbos (Het Boek Deuteronomium,

II [KV; Kampen: 1964' ] 124); and M. H. Segal (The Pentateuch. Its Composi-

tion and Its Authorship and Other Biblical Studies [Jerusalem: 1967] 100, 101).

G. von Rad (Deuteronomy. A Commentary [London: 1966] 205), however,

writes: "Probably the sentence is to be applied to the rise of the earthly kingdom

in Israel." In my opinion this idea is contrived and von Rad's arguments are not

convincing. Thus his statement: "Elsewhere the conception of Yahweh as king is

understood to be confined to a kingdom over the gods and the nations . . ." is, as

      Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15                73


Jeshurun,33 When the heads of the people were gathered,

The tribes of Israel together" [Deut. 33:5] ). Here Yahweh's

kingship over his people is closely tied to the establishment

of the covenant at Sinai.34

          The Mosaic origin of this chapter has had many defend-

ers.35 We do not know if Moses put the material in written

form himself (cf. Deut. 33:1) but the chapter is represented

as containing his own words. Those who deny a Mosaic origin

for Deuteronomy 33 are divided over its date,36 but as with

the Balaam oracles there is increasing recognition of its an-

tiquity among critical scholars.37

          Verbal forms of jlm as a predicate of Yahweh in the

Hebrew Bible prior to I Samuel 11:14 occur in Exodus 15:18


a generalization, certainly incorrect. A view similar to von Rad's is advocated by

0. Eissfeldt (ZAW 46 [1928] 98-99).

            33. A title for Israel (apparently meaning "the upright") which is used also

in Deut. 32:15; 33:26 and Isa. 44:2.

            34. M. Kline (Treaty of the Great King. The Covenant Structure of Deuter-

onomy: Studies and Commentary [Grand Rapids: 1963] 145) comments, "As

Yahweh's earthly representative, Moses gave his covenant with its kingdom

promises to Israel (v. 4) and by the covenant ceremony Yahweh's theocratic

kingship over Israel was ratified (v. 5)."

            35. See, e.g.: J. Ridderbos (Het Boek Deuteronomium, I [KV; Kampen:

19632] 29); idem, Deuteronomium, II, 120-122) and Young, Introduction, 104.

Segal (The Pentateuch, 99-102) comments that, "its [The Blessing of Moses]

ascription in the heading to Moses immediately before his death is much more

plausible than the imaginary and contradictory dates assigned to it by its modern

critical interpreters" (102). Harrison (Introduction, 660) concludes that, "there

is no warrant whatever for assigning the blessing to some date within the period of

the divided monarchy, as Riehm, Stade, and other earlier critics did."

            36. Driver (Deuteronomy, ICC, 387) dates the chapter shortly after the

rupture of the kingdom under Jereboam I or in the middle of the reign of

Jereboam II (c. 780 B.C.). Both 0. Eissfeldt (The Old Testament. An Introduc-

tion [New York: 1965] 228-229) and A. Weiser (The Old Testament: Its

Formation and Development [New York: 1961] 117-118) maintain that no

certainty can be had for the date of the chapter but they regard certain unspeci-

fied parts of it to be "old" without indicating more precisely how old that might


            37. See the discussion of M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, "The Blessing of

Moses," JBL 67 (1948) 191-210; cf. also the comments of Albright, "The Old

Testament and the Archaeology of the Ancient East," in OTMS, ed. H. H. Rowley

(Oxford: 1951) 33, 34; and P. C. Craigie, "The Conquest and Early Hebrew

Poetry," TB 20 (1969) 76-94.

74          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


and I Samuel 8:7.38 In Exodus 15:18 jlmy hvhy is found in

the climactic phrase of the song sung by Moses and the

people of Israel to celebrate their deliverance from the Egyp-

tians at the Sea of Reeds. This is the first occurrence of the

root jlm in connection with Yahweh in the Old Testament.

This text is only of secondary importance for us, because

here Yahweh's kingship over Israel is not specifically men-

tioned. Nevertheless, this text also deserves our attention. It

is in this connection certainly not without significance that

already in ancient times Yahweh's kingship in general was

spoken of. And perhaps it is significant that this expression is

associated with Israel's deliverance from Egypt which led to

the establishment of her nationhood under the rule of Yah-

weh at Sinai.39

          Although this song has been given a late date by many

scholars,40 some of the more recent studies of its vocabulary,


            38. Verbal forms of jlm as a predicate of Yahweh also occur in Isa. 24:23;

52:7; Ezek. 20:33; Mic. 4:7; Ps. 47:9; 93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1; 146:10; I Chron.

16:31;   96:10); cf. Eissfeldt, ZAW 46 (1928) 90.

            39. See the illuminating discussion of M. Kline (The Structure of Biblical

Authority [Grand Rapids: 1972] 76-88) in which he draws attention to the

theme of divine triumph and house-building in the book of Exodus. The exodus

victory of Yahweh issued in Yahweh's house building which was of two kinds:

first, the structuring of the people Israel into the formally organized "house of

Israel," a living habitation of Yahweh, and second, the constructing of the more

literal house of Yahweh, the tabernacle. Kline points out (81) that this idea of,

"victorious kingship followed by palace-building is discovered as a thematic

pattern within the briefer unity of the Song of Triumph at the sea (Exod.


            40. See, e.g.: R. H. Pfeiffer (Introduction to the Old Testament [New York:

1941] 281) who dates the poem to the 2nd half of the 5th century B.C., and

terms it a "homiletic and devout paraphrase of Miriam's Song by a 'pseudo-

poet.' " A. Weiser (The Old Testament: Its Formation and Development, 106) is

uncertain of the date of the song, but considers it as certain that it was composed

after the time of David and Solomon. G. Fohrer (Überlieferung and Geschichte

des Exodus: eine Analyse von Ex 1-15 [BZAW 91; Berlin: 1964] 112, 115) gives

it a late pre-exilic date while J. P. Hyatt (Commentary on Exodus [NCB; London:

1971] 163) suggests the 7th century. Although it is now generally agreed that Ex.

15:1-18 is not to be considered as belonging to any of the JED or P strands of the

Pentateuch, no alternative consensus on the date or manner of its origin has been

achieved. The view that the song was used as a liturgy in a Jerusalem enthrone-

ment festival as advocated by A. Bentzen (Introduction to the Old Testament

[Copenhagen: 1952] I, 143) and others has influenced their opinion of its date.

        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15                75


poetic form and general content have yielded firm evidence

for its unity and antiquity,41 including the statement in

verse 18 that, "Yahweh shall reign for ever and ever" (It

should be noted, however, in this connection that some

authors do not hereby have in mind specifically a reigning

over Israel).42           

          The date of the use of jlm to designate Yahweh in

I Samuel 8:7 is normally regarded as closely connected with

the date of similar statements in I Samuel 10:19 and 12:12.

The three passages in which these statements are found are


See, however, the comments of W. H. Gispen (Het Boek Exodus, I [KV; Kampen:

19643] 160) in opposition to this view.

            41. See particularly F. M. Cross, and D. N. Freedman, "The Song of

Miriam," JNES 14 (1955) 237-250. Cross and Freedman emphasize that the poem

does not find its origin in the late cultus and they assert that its metrical style and

strophic structure precisely fit the pattern of old Canaanite and early Hebrew

poetry. They say further (237, 238) that, "the repetitive parallelism, mixed

meter, and the complex makeup of the strophes suggest an early date of composi-

tion. At the same time, the unity of the pattern and the symmetry of the strophic

structure indicate that the poem is substantially a single, unified composition."

While not fixing a precise date for the poem they conclude (240) that the poem,

"is scarcely later than the twelfth century in its original form." W. F. Albright

(Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan [New York: 1969] 12) says that, "The oldest

Israelite poetry of any length, judging from stylistic indication, confirmed by

content, is the song of Miriam, which I should date in the thirteenth century B.C.,

preferably in the first quarter." See also M. H. Segal, (The Pentateuch, 38, 39) for

a similar position.

            42. Cross and Freedman (JNES 14 [1955] 250) comment, "The kingship of

the gods is a common theme in early Mesopotamian and Canaanite epics. The

common scholarly position that the concept of Yahweh as reigning or king is a

relatively late development in Israelite thought seems untenable in the light of

this, and is directly contradicted by the evidence of the early Israelite poems; cf.

Num 23:21; Deut 33:5; Ps 68:25; Ps 24:9." F. C. Fensham (Exodus [POT;

Nijkerk: 1970] 86) who also dates the song between the 13th and 11th centuries

B.C. says of verse 18, "Het is beslist onnodig deze woorden to beschouwen als een

exilische of postexilische toevoeging, omdat de idee van het eeuwige koningschap

van YHWH eerst in de dagen van de tweede Jesaja volop uitgesproken zou zijn.

Reeds in oudhebreeuwse gedichten als Deuteronomium 32 (vs. 5) Psalm 68

(vs. 25) en Numeri 23 (vs. 21) treffen wij deze gedachte aan. Overigens wordt al

heel vroeg in de kanaanitische wereld het koningschap van een bepaalde vorst als

eeuwig gekwalificeerd.. .." A similar position is adopted by J. Muilenburg ("A

Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh," in Studia Biblica et Semitica [jubileum-

bundel Th. C. Vriezen; Wageningen: 1966] 233-251, especially, 249, 250) who

says that the closing celebration of the kingship of Yahweh is not necessarily late;

"it may well have been the central affirmation in the credo of the early tribal

federations (Num 23:31; Judg 8:23; 1 Sam 8:7; 12:12)."

76        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


frequently considered to compose the "late anti-monarchial

source" which is detected by many critical scholars in I Sam-

uel 8-12. It is our contention, however, that the jlm termi-

nology of I Samuel 8:7 and 12:12 is closely related to Sam-

uel's invitation in I Samuel 11:14 for all the people to come

to Gilgal to "renew the kingdom" (hkvlmh ). Moreover, the

late date of all this material as well as its anti-monarchial

character are being increasingly called in question in many of

the more recent studies of its interpretation and literary


          The abstract nouns tvklm, hkvlm, hklmm are used in

reference to Yahweh prior to I Samuel 11:14 only in Exodus

19:6 (hklmm).44 In this passage commentators are sharply

divided over both the meaning of the phrase Mynhk hklmm45

as well as its date.46 As can be seen from the discussion by B.

S. Childs,47 the critical theories which have been advanced to

explain the composition of Exodus 19 are notoriously com-

plex, and no consensus has been reached. It is our position,

however, that this passage also is to be understood as evi-

dence for the existence of the idea of Yahweh's kingship over


            43. See further below, Chapter V.

            44. Other places in which tvklm is used with reference to Yahweh are: Ps.

103:19; 145:11, 12, 13; Dan. 3:33 (4:3); 4:22, 29, 31 (4:25, 32, 34); 5:21; 6:27;

I Chron. 17:14; 28:5; II Chron. 13:8. hkvlm used in: Ps. 22:29; Obad. 21.

is used in I Chron. 29:11; cf. Eissfeldt, ZAW 46 (1928) 91.

            45. For discussion of various interpretations of the phrase see esp.: R. B. Y.

Scott, "A Kingdom of Priests (Exodus xix 6)," OTS, VIII (1950) 213-219; W. L.

Moran, "A Kingdom of Priests," in The Bible in Current Catholic Thought, ed. J.

L. McKenzie (New York: 1962) 7-20; G. Fohrer, " ‘Priesterliches Konigtum,’ Ex.

19,6," ThZ 19 (1963) 359-362.

            46. For a good summary of various positions on the date of Ex. 19:3b-8

see: B. S. Childs, The Book of Exodus. A Critical Theological Commentary

(Philadelphia: 1974) 344-351, 360-361. Positions ranging from the Mosaic era to

exilic times have been advocated.

            47. Ibid. It would take us beyond the scope of our thesis to discuss here the

details of the various critical theories. Childs comments (344): "The extreme

difficulty of analyzing the Sinai pericope has long been felt. In spite of almost a

century of close, critical work many of the major problems have resisted a

satisfactory solution." Child's own conclusion concerning Ex. 19:3b-8 is (361):

"In sum, although the passage contains old covenant traditions, probably re-

flected through the E source, its present form bears the stamp of the Deutero-

nomic redactor."

    Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15                77


his people in pre-monarchial times, and for the close linkage

of the ideas of covenant and kingship.48 The Israelites as

subjects of the kingdom of Yahweh are to fulfill a priestly

task among the nations.49

          Also indicative of the early existence of the idea of the

kingship of Yahweh are certain Hebrew personal names in-

cluding Elimelech,50 Abimelech,51 and Melchishua (see above,

the remarks on Yahweh's kingship in general in the discussion

of Exodus 15:18). The most important of these for the

purposes of our discussion is Melchishua (I Sam. 14:49; 31:2;

I Chron. 8:33; 9:34; 10:2) who was one of the sons of Saul.

In most cases Hebrew names utilizing the root jlm:

are considered theoforic that is, names which include a title


            48. For a more detailed development of this position see: W. Beyerlin,

Origins and History of the Oldest Sinaitic Traditions (Oxford: 1965) 67-77.

Although Beyerlin regards Ex. 19:3b-8 as an Elohistic tradition, he nevertheless

places its roots in pre-monarchic times and comments (74): "Exod xix. 3b-8, the

kernel of which goes back to Israel's early history, as stated, thus provides very

early evidence of Yahweh's kingship...." Such a position, in our view, is to be

preferred over that of M. Noth (Exodus. A Commentary [Philadelphia: 1962]

157) who says: "There is no particular emphasis on the word 'kingdom' in this

expression; it may be understood to mean 'state' in just the same way as the

nations on the earth are usually organized into states.

            49. Note the comment of W. H. Gispen (Het Boek Exodus [KV; Kampen:

19512] II, 54): "En Hij legt den nadruk op Israls heerlijke bestemming en dure

verplichting: konninkrijk van priesters (de dienst, dien het voor den HERE moest

verrichten als onderdanen van zijn rijk, is dus van priesterlijken aard) en een heilig,

afgezonderd, rein, aan God gewijd, Gode toebehorend, yolk moeten zij zijn (vs


            50. Cf. Ruth 1:2. The name means, God is King. Cf. M. Noth, Die israel-

itisc hen Personennamen im Rahmen der gemeinsemitischen Namengebung

(BWANT III/10; Stuttgart: 1928) 70, 90-99, 141-142; B. J. Oosterhoff, Israel-

ietische Persoonsnamen (Exegetica 1/4:Delft: 1953) 9, 28, 36, 55.

            51. Cf. Judg 8:31. The name means, Father is King, but as Oosterhoff (Het

Koningschap Gods in de Psalmen [Alphen: 1956] 26, n. 7) comments, "Evenals

in de andere eigennamen in de Bijbel, die samengesteld zijn met ab, is ook in de

naam Abimelech ab een aanduiding voor God. . . . De opmerking van Kittel, dat

uit de naam Abimelech blijkt, dat Gideon wel het koningschap heeft aanvaard en

dat de mededeling van de Bijbel, dat Gideon het koningschap niet heeft aanvaard

het gevolg is van een latere wijziging, is er dan ook geheel naast, R. Kittel,

Geschichte des Volkes Israel, II, 1925, bl. 31, aant. 2."

            For the use of bx and Hx as theoforic elements in Hebrew personal names

see: Noth, Die israelitischen Personennamen, 66-82; Oosterhoff, Israelietische

Persoonsnamen, 28-31; Bright, History of Israel, 98.

78        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


or name of God in their construction.52 The meaning of

Melchishua is thus "the king-Yahweh has delivered."53 By

giving his son this name, Saul is testifying in a forceful way to

his belief that King-Yahweh is the deliverer of his people.54

Here then is an important indication that precisely at the

time of the establishment of the earthly kingship in Israel,

the recognition of the kingship of Yahweh was extant, and

confessed by Saul who became Israel's first earthly monarch.55


            52. For the use of jlm as a theoforic element in Hebrew personal names see:

Noth, Die israelitischen Personennamen, 118-119; Oosterhoff, Israelietische Per-

soonsnamen, 26-28.

            53. Noth (Die israelitischen Personennamen, 147) says: "Eine grosse Reihe

von Namen bringt eine Beziehung zur Gottheit oder eine Seite des gottlichen

Wesens zum Ausdruck, die geeignet ist, das Vertrauen des Menschen zur Gottheit

zu erwecken und zu starken. Wir werden sie daher am besten Vertrauensnarnen

nennen." Noth includes Melchishua among this category of names. With regard to

the etymology of fvw Noth (ibid., 154, n. 2) comments, "Man pflegt dieses

Element mit dem hebräischen faOw=edel, freigebig zusammenzubringen (vgl. Gray

S. 146 f.; König, Wörterbuch), doch liegt es näher, an eine Nebenform vom

Stamme fwy zu denken (so richtig Hommel, Altisr. überl. S. 52 u. ö.; Zimmern

KAT3 S. 481 Anm 4), denn auch die Wurzel fvw=freigebig sein tritt im Arab-

ischen als ws’ auf, und fvw =helfen haben wir im Hebraischen noch in hfvwt (vgl.

hxvkt hmvry hkywt u.a.) und in Pi.=Hilfe schreien." See also Oosterhoff, Israel-

ietische Persoonsnamen, 35, 40. Oosterhoff comments, "Vele zijn de namen, die

ons melden, dat God een helper is. Helpen behoort tot het wezen van God (Ps

33:10; 70:6; 115:9; 146:5). Abiezer: Wader is een hulp’; Ahiezer: 'Broeder is een

hulp'; Ongeveer dezelfde betekenis hebben de namen Abisua: Wader heeft

verlost'; Elisua: 'God heeft verlost'; Malkisua: 'De Koning heeft verlost'; Jozua:

‘De HERE heeft verlost.’ De afgekorte naam is Sua."

            54. It is striking that Saul's statement after the victory over the Ammonites

(I Sam. 11:13) expresses the very idea which is incorporated in the name given to

his son Melchishua. On that occasion Saul said that none of those who had

opposed his selection to be king should be put to death, "for today Yahweh has

accomplished deliverance in Israel" (lxrWyb hfvwt hvhy-hWf Mvyh).

            55. Cf. further: A. H. Edelkoort, De Christus-verwachting in het Oude

Testament (Wageningen: 1941) 49-107, esp. 51-55; Koolhaas, Theocratie en

Monarchie, 24-31; Oosterhoff, Het Koningschap Gods in de Psalmen, 4-5; D. H.

Odendaal, The Eschatological Expectation of Isaiah 40-66 With Special Reference

to Israel and the Nations (Philadelphia: 1970) 38-41.

            G. Fohrer (History of Israelite Religion, 166-167), who considers the

application of the title "king" to Yahweh to be closely related to the bringing of

the ark to Jerusalem in the time of David, and the construction of the temple in

the time of Solomon, and therefore a development subsequent to the establish-

ment of the Israelite monarchy, makes the rather unconvincing statement with

respect to the name Melchishua that: "such official use [of the title "king" for

Yahweh] does not exclude the possibility that the title was used earlier and

elsewhere as a more or less private form (I Sam. 14:49)." Eissfeldt (ZAW 46

          Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15            79


It should also be said that the hesitation to utilize jlm  

terminology for Yahweh in the narratives of the history of

early Israel is at least partially explicable as a deliberate

attempt to avoid the potential for confusing Israel's relation-

ship to Yahweh with the mythological divine-kingship ideolo-

gies of various ancient near eastern peoples.56 In any case the


[1928] 89, 104), who considers Isa. 6:5 as the oldest biblical text which speaks

of the kingship of Yahweh concludes that names such as Elimelech, Abimelech,

and Melchishua, although theoforic names, must not have originally had reference

to Yahweh. He says: "Die noch in anderem Zusammenhang zu wertende

Tatsache, dass der deutlich auf Jahwe das Prädikat j`l,m,; anwendende Personenname

Uhy.Kil;ma (Jer 38:6) erst seit der Zeit Jeremias nachweisbar ist, rechtfertigt den

Verdacht, dass in den genannten Namen unter ursprünglich nicht Jahwe,

sondern ein anderer Gott zu verstehen ist." This argument is also hardly convinc-

ing particularly with regard to Melchishua (cf. I Sam. 11:13).

            56. Koolhaas (Theocratie en Monarchie, 24) says, "Maar daar Jahwes ko-

ningsheerschappij zo geheel anders was dan die van de andere goden en daar de titel

mlk bij goden en koningen gevuld was met een geheel andere inhoud en door

heidense mythologieen belast, had Oud-Israel in bepaalde tijden een afkeer om

deze naam voor Jahwe te gebruiken en bezigde men andere uitdrukkingen om

Jahwes heerschappij aan te geven.... Het ontbreken van deze titel houdt echter

niet in dat de gedachte, die later door deze titel tot uitdrukking werd gebracht,

niet aanwezig was.... Het getuigt juist van een uiterst fijn aanvoelen van deze

heerschappij van Jahwe dat men besefte dat, daar deze titel bij andere volken zo

anders gevuld was, het gevaar bestond dat Israel, door het gebruik van deze titel,

de heerschappij van Jahwe ook zou vullen met een inhoud die in strijd was met de

openbaring van Jahwe."

            Buber (Kingship of God, 37-38) also noting that this terminology is not

widely used, points out that it is found, "only in passages where it appears to be

representatively important, even indispensable. The four passages of the Penta-

teuch ... which I treat in the seventh chapter, emphatically have such a focal

significance. After the successful liberation the people proclaim its king (Exodus

15:18); the King establishes His constituency with the marking out of His 'kingly

domain' (Exodus 19:6); the mantic representative of universal man bows before

the divine kingship in Israel (Numbers 23:21); Moses remembers before dying,

before he blesses the people at parting, with the last words before the beginning

of the blessing, the hour at Sinai when over the united tribes 'a king there was in

Jeshurun' (Deuteronomy 33:5). One might investigate whether the designation

melekh in any of the four passages was dispensable, but also whether it was

indispensable in any other passages beside these four. Those responsible for the

textual selection preserved what had to be preserved, no less, but also no more. In

the book of Judges which swarms with melekhs (cf. the second chapter), in the

decisive passage 8:22 ff., the application of the word, noun or verb, to JHWH is

carefully avoided. Here it can be avoided because it is not yet a matter of the

historical fact of the Israelitish kingship with which the divine kingship is to be

confronted in the same linguistic expression, but only the first unrealized striving

after it. It can no longer be avoided in the confrontation with the historically

realized kingship: I Samuel 8:7; 12:12, 14.... Because here the vocable melekh is

80        Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


absence of a particular terminological label does not neces-

sarily mean that the reality of the function legitimately

associated with that label might not be operative.57 Thus in

spite of the paucity of references to Yahweh as king in the

parts of the OT dealing with early Israel it is clear that these

same parts nevertheless portray Israel as the kingdom of

Yahweh, and particularly in the realms of law and warfare

represent Yahweh as king over his people.58

          In fact, it is precisely the early Israelite conception of the

kingdom of Yahweh59 which most adequately explains the

rather amazing fact of the relatively late origin of the mon-

archy in the history of the Israelite socio-political structure.60

          Out of what we have argued above it is also clear that in

ancient Israel a close relationship existed between the king-

dom of Yahweh and the covenant, see especially Exodus

19:6; Deuteronomy 33:5. It was in the Sinaitic covenant that

Yahweh's rule over his people was formally structured, and it

was in the covenant ratification that Yahweh's kingdom was


given for the human ruler, it must, in the confrontation, be applied to the divine

ruler also."

            57. Note the similar debate occasioned by the infrequent use of the word

covenant by the prophets before Jeremiah. See further Chapter IV, n. 41.

            58. For the development of this basic thesis see A. E. Glock, "Early Israel as

the Kingdom of Yahweh," CTM 41 (1970) 558-605, and G. E. Mendenhall, The

Tenth Generation. The Origins of the Biblical Tradition (Baltimore: 1973). In

Mendenhall's work see particularly Chapter I, "Early Israel as the Kingdom of

Yahweh: Thesis and Methods."

            59. The idea of Israel as the kingdom of Yahweh has often been character-

ized by the term "theocracy." For discussion of this term see: Buber, Kingship of

God, 23, 24, 56-58, 93, 139-162; Koolhaas, Theocratie en Monarchie, 28; and

Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, 199, 200.

            60. Koolhaas (Theocratie en Monarchie, 53, 54) discusses various explana-

tions which have been advanced for the late rise of the monarchy in Israel such as

geographical factors or bondage to customs of the nomadic times, and concludes:

"Al kunnen deze bovengenoemde feiten, historisch gezien, zeker als argumenten

gelden voor het late opkomen van het koningschap in Israël, toch is dit niet de

zienswijze van het Oude Testament, dat het late opkomen niet als een historische,

maar als een principiele kwestie ziet. Israel was door Jahwe uitverkoren om zijn

eigendom to zijn, waarover Hij zelf koning was en in welks midden Hij woonde,

waarvan de ark als zijn troon het teken was. Het feit dat Israël zo lange tijd zonder

menselijke koning leefde, komt vooral voort uit het koningschap van Jahwe."



         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15          81


formally constituted.61 It is accordingly the allegiance to this

kingdom, and hence this covenant, which now at the time of

the institution of the monarchy was in urgent need of re-


          Here then (I Sam. 11:14), is one of those moments in

which, to borrow Buber's expression, the jlm terminology is

"indispensable."62 Precisely because the kingdom of Saul was

being formally established, the kingdom of Yahweh must not

be forgotten. The introduction of the monarchy in Israel

required that it be understood within the framework of the

provisions of the Sinaitic covenant so that the continued rule

of Yahweh in the new political order would be recognized. In

addition, because of the people's sin in seeking a human king

to replace Yahweh, there was also the necessity that formal

confession of their apostasy be made, and that they renew

their allegiance to Yahweh in the context of the introduction

of the new civil order.

          All of these considerations indicate that we should under-

stand Samuel's summons to the people to meet at Gilgal "to

renew the kingdom" as a summons for them to renew their

allegiance to the rule of Yahweh. The Gilgal assembly was

thus not simply a duplication of that which had occurred

previously at Mizpah, nor the recognition by the military of


            61. There is the possibility here of distinguishing between two OT concep-

tions of the "kingdom of God." G. Vos (Biblical Theology, Old and New

Testaments [Grand Rapids: 1959] 398) comments, "In the O.T. the thing later

called the Kingdom of God relates as to substance to two distinct conceptions. It

designates the rule of God established through creation and extending through

providence over the universe. This is not a specifically redemptive Kingdom idea, 

cf. Psa. 103:19. Besides this, however, there is a specifically-redemptive Kingdom,

usually called 'the theocracy.' The first explicit reference to the redemptive

Kingdom appears at the time of the exodus, Ex 19:6, where Jehovah promises the

people, that if obeying His law, they shall be made to Him 'a Kingdom of

priests.' It is in this latter sense that we speak of Yahweh's kingdom being

constituted at Sinai. See also Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, 199, 200. It

is not necessary here to discuss further the questions which are raised by this


            62. Buber does not include I Sam. 11:14 in the list of passages where he

finds jlm terminology utilized for the rule of Yahweh (see n. 51 above). His

argument, however, can be appropriately applied to this verse.


82      Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15


Saul's authority, nor even merely the inauguration or celebra-

tion of Saul's kingship (although this was a subsidiary and

contributing cause for the calling of the assembly, cf. v. 15).

It was rather a solemn covenant renewal ceremony, in which

at a time of important transition in leadership, and covenant

abrogation because of apostasy, Saul was made king, in

connection with the people's confession of sin, and renewed

recognition of the continuing suzerainty of Yahweh the

Great King.

          It is not surprising that Samuel selected Gilgal63 near the

Jordan river as the appropriate place for the gathering to be

held. For it was at Gilgal that the Israelites first encamped in

the promised land (Josh. 4:19-24); it was there that all those

who were not circumcised during the period of the wilderness

wandering were circumcised (Josh. 5:2-9);64 and it was there


            63. The precise geographical location of the Gilgal mentioned in I Sam.

11:14 is a matter of dispute. There are those who argue for a location near

Shechem including: E. Sellin, Gilgal. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Einwander-

ung Israels in Palästina (Leipzig: 1917) 17-18; Keil, The Books of Samuel, 114;

Kroeze, Koning Saul, 49; Edelkoort, De Profeet Samuel, 149; and J. H. Kroeze,

Het Boek Jozua (COT; Kampen: 1968) 63.

            Others, including the following, favor a location near the Jordan: J. Mauch-

line, "Gilead and Gilgal: Some Reflections on the Israelite Occupation of Pal-

estine," VT 6 (1956) 29-30; H.J. Kraus, Worship in Israel (Richmond: 1966)

152-154; A. Alt, "The Formation of the Israelite State in Palestine," in Essays on

Old Testament History and Religion (New York: 1968) 251; Goslinga, Het Eerste

Boek Samuel, COT, 189, 241-242.

            It is this latter location which is to be preferred (see particularly the reasons

adduced by Goslinga, 241-242) yet there is an additional question over the precise

identification of the ancient site. Some favor chirbet el-meflir located to the north

of tell es sultan. See, e.g., J. Muilenburg, "The Site of Ancient Gilgal," BASOR

140 (1955) 11-27. Others favor either chirbet en-netheleh or a site in its near

vicinity. See, e.g.: J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Texts in the

Old Testament (Leiden: 1959) 269. This latter location seems to be preferable in

view of the reference in Josh. 4:19 which places Gilgal east of the territory of

Jericho, but as J. Stoebe says (Das erste Buch Samuelis, KAT, 222-223) its precise

location remains a matter of uncertainty.

            64. C. J. Goslinga (Het Boek Jozua [KV; Kampen: 1927] 60) interprets the

abstention from circumcision during the wilderness period as attributable to the

brokenness of the covenant relationship. He bases this interpretation on the

statement in Num. 14:33 reading, "your children shall wander in the wilderness

forty years, and bear your harlotries ..." (italics mine). Goslinga maintains that

by the term "harlotries" the sin of apostasy or covenant breaking is pointed to. He

says, "Doordat het yolk niet naar Kanaan wilde, stelde het zich feitelijk buiten het

         Translation and Exegesis of I Samuel 11:14-15                 83


that the first observance of the passover was held in the land

of Canaan (Josh. 5:10, 11).65

          Gilgal was tied historically not only to these covenant

renewal traditions, but also to events related to the conquest

of Canaan which demonstrated Yahweh's power to deliver

the land into the hand of the Israelites, and his faithfulness to

his promise to lead Israel in the conquest of Canaan. For it

was at Gilgal that twelve stones were set up to remind the

Israelites that Yahweh had, "dried up the waters of the

Jordan . . . that you may fear Yahweh your God forever"

(Josh. 4:23, 24). It was at Gilgal that the "captain of the host

of Yahweh" appeared to Joshua (Josh. 5:13-15). It was at

Gilgal that Joshua was told of the remarkable manner in

which Yahweh would give the city of Jericho into the hand

of the Israelites (Josh. 6). It was also from Gilgal (Josh. 10:8,

9) that Israel went to the aid of Gibeon, and the biblical


verbond met Jehovah, die het juist daartoe uit het diensthuis had uitgeleid. De

Heere heft nu wel zijn verb ond met het yolk als zoodanig niet op, maar spreekt

toch den ban uit over het uit Egypte getogen geslacht en over deszelfs kinderen,

welke ban eerst zal worden opgeheven als het oudere geslacht geheel is vergaan.

Het ‘dragen van de hoererijen’ der vaderen, hield zonder twijfel ook in, dat de

kinderen niet mochten besneden worden.... Ten bewijze dat de verbondsver-

houding thans weder votkomen normaal is, laat de Heere nu diegenen die het

verbondsteeken nog missen, besnijden. Hij neemt hen daarbij tot Zijn yolk aan in

de plaats hunner ongehoorzame vaderen (vs 7)."

            Goslinga's interpretation is challenged by Kroeze (Jozua, COT, 65-69) who

maintains that the abstention from circumcision was not due to a prohibition but