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Israelite Monarchy - The Origin

Samuel, from the Hebrew name pronounced shem-oo-ale, meaning Name of God or His Name is El, was a unique Levitical priest who is generally regarded as the last of The Judges (1 Samuel 7:6,15-17) and the first of the prophets (1 Samuel 3:20, Acts 3:24, 13:20). Samuel was not a king however; he led Israel by means of serving as The Lord's representative, as Moses did. The Lord was Israel's King, while Samuel, in modern-day terminology, could have been regarded as The Lord's Prime Minister (prime minister means first servant).

"That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles"

When Samuel grew old, he would have been succeeded by a son, according to Levitical law. The problem however was that Samuel's sons did not inherit their father's integrity and leadership ability (a political reality that various nations have sometimes learned, the hard way, through history).


"And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto The Lord." (1 Samuel 8:1-6 KJV)

The Lord first responded by reminding them that He was their King, fighting their battles and guaranteeing victory for them, whereas a human king would use them for personal gain and involve them in wars of egotistical conquest. The people of Israel nevertheless ignored the warning, so The Lord granted their request for a leader from among themselves - to teach them a lesson.

And Samuel told all the words of The Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and The Lord will not hear you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of The Lord.

And The Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king." (1 Samuel 8:10-22 KJV)

Fact Finder: Who was chosen as Israel's first human king?
See Saul

Studies in this series:
1. Israelite Monarchy - The Origin
2. Israelite Monarchy - The Civil War
3. Israelite Monarchy - The United Kingdom
4. Israelite Monarchy - The Division Of Israel
5. Israelite Monarchy - The Northern Kingdom
6. Israelite Monarchy - The Southern Kingdom
7. Israelite Monarchy - The Messiah

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