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Excerpt from Homiletical Commentary: On the Books of Samuel The chronology of the events recorded in the book of Samuel in relation to those of the latter part of the book of Judges has also been a matter of some dispute. It may be stated in general that the events recorded embrace a period of about 125 years, and there is strong reason to believe that the judgeships of Eli and Samson were partly contemporaneous, and that Samuel wasbetween twenty and thirty years old when Samson died, the work of the latter being confined entirely to the west and south-west of the kingdom. The silence of the author of the one book concerning the principal persons mentioned by the other is no argument against this view. "Notwithstanding the clear and definite account given in the Book of Judges, says Hengstenberg," it has been too often forgotten that it was not the authors intention to give a complete history of this period, but that he only occupies himself with a certain class of events, with the acts of the Judges in a limited sense, the men whose authority among the people had its foundation in the outward deliverance which the Lord vouchsafed to the nation by tlieir instrumentality. In this sense Eli was by no means a Judge, although in 1 Sam. iv.18 it is said that he "judged Israel." Eli was High-priest, and merely exercised over the affairs of the nation a more or less extended free influence which had its origin in his priestly dignity. Hence the author of Judges had nothing to do witli Eli, and we are not to conclude from the fact that he does not mention him that Elis influence was not felt at the time of which he treats. And the author of the books of Samuel had just as little to do with Samson. His attention is fixed on Samuel, and he only mentions Eli because his history is so closely interwoven with that of Samuel. The Book of Samuel takes up the thread of history where the Book of Judges lets it fall, towards the end of the forty years oppression by the Philistines(1 Sam. vii.). The following table is given in Langes Commentary (English translation): Samson's judgeship, - - -B.C. 1120-1100.Eli's life(98 years)- - -B.C. 1208-1110.Eli's judgeship(40 years)- - -B.C. 1150-1110.Samuel's life, - - -B.C. 1120(or 1130)-1060.Saul's reign -----B.C. 1076-1050. But the compiler doubts "Whether we have sufiicient data at present for settling the question." The history contained in the Book of Samuel is the history of a great epoch in the history of the Jewish nation, and consequently of an epoch in the history of the kingdom of God upon the earth. In the language of Dr. Erdman, one of the authors of Dr. Langes Commentary The theocracy was extricated by Samuels labours from the deep decline pictured in the first book, and in the Book of Judges, and under the guidance of God was led by this great reformer into a new path of development. Without, under Samuel and the royal rule introduced by him, political freedom and independence of heathen powers were gradually achieved, and within, the internal theocratic covenant-relation between the people of Israel and their God was renewed and extended on the basis of the restored unity and order of political and national life by the union of the prophetic and royal offices From the beginning of our books we see the great theocratic significance of the prophetic order in the history of the kingdom of Israel; in the first place, as the organ of the Divine Spirit, and the medium of the Divine guidance and control. Samuel appears here as the true founder of the Old Testament prophetic order as a permanent public power alongside of the priesthood and the kingly office. Wordsworth says, The Book of Samuel occupies an unique place, and has a special value and interest, as revealing the kingdom of Christ. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com
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