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1 Samuel 8: The Desire For a King over Israel, Texts and Traditions, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Ktav Publishing House, Hoboken NJ, 1998.

samuel-annointing-saulSamuel can be seen as the last of the judges, yet with his career, biblical leadership takes a decided turn toward the prophetic. So long as Samuel, the righteous judge, made his rounds throughout the land, there was justice in Israel, and the Philistines did not attack. But with the appointment of Samuel’s sons as judges, corruption and injustice again appeared, and Israel had once again exposed itself to God’s wrath. The people came to Samuel with the request that he anoint a king over them as the solution to this leadership crisis.

8-4 All the elders of Israel assembled and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and they said to him, “You have grown old, and your sons have not followed your ways. Therefore appoint a king for us, to govern us like all other nations.” 6 Samuel was displeased that they said “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7 and the Lord replied to Samuel, “Heed the demand of the people in everything they say to you. For it is not you that they have rejected; it is Me they have rejected as their king. 8 Like everything else they have done ever since I brought them out of Egypt to this day—forsaking Me and worshipping other gods—so they are doing to you. 9 Heed their demand; but warn them solemnly, and tell them about the practices of any king who will rule over them.”

10 Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people, who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This will be the practice of the king who will rule over you- He will take your sons and appoint them as his charioteers and horsemen, and they will serve as outrunners for his chariots. 12 He will appoint them as his chiefs of thousands and of fifties; or they will have to plow his fields, reap his harvest, and make his weapons and the equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 He will seize your choice fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take a tenth part of your grain and vintage and give it to his eunuchs and courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, your choice young men, and your asses, and put them to work for him. 17 He will take a tenth part of your flocks, and you shall become his slaves. 18 The day will come when you cry out because of the king whom you yourselves have chosen; and the Lord will not answer you on that day.”

19 But the people would not listen to Samuel’s warning. “No,” they said. “We must have a king over us, 20 that we may be like all the other nations- Let our king rule over us and go out at our head and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he reported it to the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their demands and appoint a king for them.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “All of you go home.”

Posted in: Exodus

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