By Keith Bodner

This sizeable statement offers I Samuel as a cosmopolitan paintings of literature, the place the reader is challenged with a story that's fraught with interpretative percentages. In his targeted literary examining Bodner lays designated emphasis at the interesting array of characters that populate the narrative, and at the plot, in its layout and its configurations. therefore, a bunch of fascinating episodes and personalities are handed in assessment: 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 in the course of the menacing Philistine pentapolis, wreaking havoc. Then there's the complicated portrayal of Samuel the prophet, the emergence of the fugitive David as a pace-setter, and the eventual decline, insanity, and necromancy of King Saul. simply via a literary examine of its many ironies and ambiguities, Bodner amply indicates, can the richness of this vintage royal drama be absolutely liked.

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Extra resources for 1 Samuel: A Narrative Commentary

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G. Blaikie was wont to observe, ‘Eli was memorable for the passive virtues. He could bear much, though he could dare little’ (quoted in Gordon 1986: 90). However, the revelation here seems to imply that he has known about the iniquity, yet not ‘weakened’ his sons. Indeed, Eli certainly seems to have partaken of the sacrificial loot, since we find out in the next chapter that he is corpulent. 2—Eli’s eyes are ‘weakening’, and he has not ‘weakened’ his sons. 13. 9 and Gen. 22; cf. Alter 1999: 18). Recalling a key theme of Hannah’s poem, there is some further poetic justice: the household of Eli have made themselves corpulent through stealing God’s sacrifices, ergo, sacrifices will never atone for them.

As we will see, God will condescend to the people’s request for a king. As a check and balance, the office of the prophet is correspondingly elevated. However, as 1 Samuel 3 graphically illustrates, it is not always easy to hear the voice of God. Further, this chapter represents a turning point in the history of Shiloh: on the eve of its destruction, Shiloh becomes a place from which the ‘word of the LORD’ emanates. In the past, Shiloh has been a center for sacrifice, and become corrupted. At the end of 1 Samuel 3, it is now a center where the word of the LORD departs with centrifugal force: ‘What had been the ritual center under the leadership of Eli has now become the center for the prophetic word under the leadership of Samuel’ (Birch 1998: 993).

One wonders how an audience that understands the Babylonian captivity would see this reference to the ‘lamp’, and whether it contains a flicker of promise in a time of deep shadows. 3. The ark has only had a couple of cameo appearances since the heady days of the walls of Jericho (see Josh. 6), but will be in the spotlight of 1 Samuel 5–6. F. Campbell (2003: 55), ‘in the old rejected priest instructing the inexperienced young man who will replace him how to 1 1 Samuel 3 39 receive God’s word announcing evil against Eli’s own house’.

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