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1 Samuel 7:15-17 – Samuel’s Career in a Nutshell

Summary

This brief summary of Samuel's work so far compares him to Israel's ancient charismatic leaders, the judges.

Analysis

Three times in these three verses we read that Samuel "judged" Israel (NRSV's "administered justice" in v. 17 is the same Hebrew word). The importance of this brief summary of Samuel's career lies in the comparisons it makes between Samuel and the charismatic leaders like Deborah and Gideon that God had raised up in the book of Judges. The previous material had lifted up Samuel's impressive military victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:7-14). The reference to "peace" between Israel and its enemies in verse 14 is especially reminiscent of the accounts in the book of Judges that see the "judge" as a military hero endowed by God with special gifts to deliver the people from their oppressors. Here, we see another aspect of the office of "judge," that of administrator. Samuel, with Ramah as his home base, would ride through a circuit of Benjaminite towns as a governmental official of sorts. This was a much broader conception of the office of judge and suggests that Samuel is truly being presented as a transitional figure between the era of rule by judge and the monarchy.

1 Samuel 7:15-17

15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16He went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all these places. 17Then he would come back to Ramah, for his home was there; he administered justice there to Israel, and built there an altar to the Lord.

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10 February 2011

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