1 and 2 Samuel
Leslie J. Hoppe
Before Beginning …
The books that we call 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book. The division into two was the work of those responsible for the Septuagint, the third‐century BC Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Perhaps the translators thought it was necessary to make two shorter books out of one long one. The division was introduced into the Hebrew Bible in the sixteenth century AD and has become standard ever since. Ending 1 Samuel with the death of Saul seems to make sense until the reader realizes that this division breaks up the story of David's rise to the throne. The story of the succession to David, which begins in 2 Samuel 9 is interrupted by extraneous material in 2 Samuel 21–24 and is not completed until 1 Kings 1–2 .
The books of Samuel are so named because the early rabbis believed the prophet wrote 1 Samuel 1–25 . They held that the rest of 1 Samuel and the whole of 2 Samuel were the work of the prophets Nathan and Gad on the basis of 1 Chronicles 29, 29 . Modern scholarship ascribes the books of Samuel in their present form to the anonymous author of the Deuteronomistic History of Israel, which begins with the book of Joshua and continues through 2 Kings. Its purpose is not historiographic but homiletical. The story of Israel in its land is told to provide the people of Judah with hope for their future and a pattern for renewing their life in the land promised to their ancestors.