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Books of Samuel

The Books of Samuel are two books in the Bible Old Testament and Hebrew Tanakh.

The Septuagint translators regarded the books of Samuel and of Kings as forming one continuous history, which they divided into four books, which they called "The Books of the Kingdom." The Vulgate version followed this division, but styled them "The Books of the Kings." These books of Samuel they accordingly called the "First" and "Second" Books of Kings, and not, as in the modern Protestant versions, the "First" and "Second" Books of Samuel.

Traditionally, the authors of the books of Samuel have been held to be Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel is believed to have penned the first twenty-four chapters of the first book. Gad, the companion of David (1 Sam. 22:5), is believed to have continued the history thus commenced; and Nathan is believed to have completed it, probably arranging the whole in the form in which we now have it (1 Chronicles 29:29). Modern criticism regards this view as untenable, and the books are thought not to have reached their final written form until the 7th or 6th century BC, whereas the events they describe come from around the year 1000 BC. They do of course preserve an older oral tradition to which the traditional authors may have contributed.

The contents of the books

The first book comprises a period of about a hundred years, and nearly coincides with the life of Samuel. It contains
  1. the history of Eli (1-4)
  2. the history of Samuel (5-12)
  3. the history of Saul, and of David in exile (13-31).

The second book, comprising a period of perhaps fifty years, contains a history of the reign of David
  1. over Judah (1-4), and
  2. over all Israel (5-24), mainly in its political aspects. The last four chapters of Second Samuel may be regarded as a sort of appendix recording various events, but not chronologically.

These books do not contain complete histories. Frequent gaps are met with in the record, because their object is to present a history of the kingdom in its gradual development, and not of the events of the reigns of the successive rulers.

It is noticeable that the section (2 Sam. 11:2-12: 29) containing an account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chr. 20.

Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed