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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 8


1 In his old age Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel.


His first-born was named Joel, his second son, Abijah; they judged at Beer-sheba.


His sons did not follow his example but sought illicit gain and accepted bribes, perverting justice.


Therefore all the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah


and said to him, "Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us."


Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them. He prayed to the LORD, however,


who said in answer: "Grant the people's every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.


As they have treated me constantly from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this day, deserting me and worshiping strange gods, so do they treat you too.


Now grant their request; but at the same time, warn them solemnly and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them."


Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full to those who were asking him for a king.


He told them: "The rights of the king who will rule you will be as follows: He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses, and they will run before his chariot.


He will also appoint from among them his commanders of groups of a thousand and of a hundred soldiers. He will set them to do his plowing and his harvesting, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.


He will use your daughters as ointment-makers, as cooks, and as bakers.


He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his officials.


He will tithe your crops and your vineyards, and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves.


He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best oxen and your asses, and use them to do his work.


He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves.


When this takes place, you will complain against the king whom you have chosen, but on that day the LORD will not answer you."


The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel's warning and said, "Not so! There must be a king over us.


We too must be like other nations, with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight our battles."


When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say, he repeated it to the LORD,


who then said to him, "Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them." Samuel thereupon said to the men of Israel, "Each of you go to his own city."



1 [1] From this chapter on, the First Book of Samuel gives us two and sometimes three viewpoints on most of the events with which it is concerned, such as the appointment of Saul as king, the reasons for his downfall, his relationship with David, even the circumstances of Saul's death (1 Sam 31; 2 Sam 1). The choice of Saul as king is seen, in 1 Sam 8, followed by 1 Sam 10:17-27 and 1 Sam 12 as motivated by the people's defection from the proper service of God; this later editorial approach incorporates not only narratives with which it is consistent, but also early traditions ( 1 Sam 9:1-10, 16 and 1 Sam 11) which portray the events and their motivation quite differently.

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