1 Samuel: A Narrative Commentary by Keith Bodner

By Keith Bodner

This massive observation provides I Samuel as a cosmopolitan paintings of literature, the place the reader is challenged with a story that's fraught with interpretative probabilities. In his precise literary analyzing Bodner lays unique emphasis at the fascinating array of characters that populate the narrative, and at the plot, in its layout and its configurations. hence, a number of fascinating episodes and personalities are handed in evaluate: from the symbolically charged closed womb of Hannah to the backwards fall and the damaged neck of Eli, to the unusual journey of the Ark of God during the menacing Philistine pentapolis, wreaking havoc. Then there's the complicated portrayal of Samuel the prophet, the emergence of the fugitive David as a pacesetter, and the eventual decline, insanity, and necromancy of King Saul. merely via a literary learn of its many ironies and ambiguities, Bodner amply exhibits, can the richness of this vintage royal drama be absolutely preferred.

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And he ran to Eli, and said, ‘I’m here, for you called to me’. He said, ‘I didn’t call. ’ And he went, and lay down. The LORD continued, calling Samuel again. Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘I’m here, for you called to me’. He said, ‘I didn’t call you, my son. ) And the LORD continued calling Samuel a third time. He arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘I’m here, for you called me’. Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling to the lad. Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lay down, and if it should happen that he calls to you, then you should say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is hearing” ’.

But its presence anticipates another song, the lament of David in 2 Samuel 1. David’s requiem for Saul and Jonathan, the reader is told, is ‘written in the Book of Jashar (scroll of the upright)’, and is chanted by a new king in memory of a fallen old king. The rich interplay of language between these songs imparts to the reader that such reversal of expectation should provide a sober accompaniment to Israel’s experiment with kingship. Joel Rosenberg (1987: 124) provides a cogent summary of Hannah’s song as it anticipates the direction of the narrative: This exuberant psalm expresses the historical outlook both of biblical tradition in general and of Samuel in particular: YHWH is invoked as the God of surprise, bringing down the mighty, raising up the downtrodden; impoverishing the wealthy and enriching the pauper; bereaving the fertile and making barren the fruitful—always circumventing the trappings of human vanity and the complacency of the overcontented.

In the larger Deuteronomistic History stretching until the end of 2 Kings, a 1 1 Samuel 2 29 similar situation will unfold in Israel’s landscape: the proud will be brought low, as dynasties collapse and new ones are formed by former servants. 4 includes a reference to the ‘bow of the mighty’. In Hannah’s song, this bow is transformed into a useless implement. But its presence anticipates another song, the lament of David in 2 Samuel 1. David’s requiem for Saul and Jonathan, the reader is told, is ‘written in the Book of Jashar (scroll of the upright)’, and is chanted by a new king in memory of a fallen old king.

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