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Poole on 1 Samuel 8:2, 3: Samuel's Wayward Children

Verse 2:[1] Now the name of his firstborn was Joel (Vashni,[2] 1 Chron. 6:28); and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba.

[Joel] In 1 Chronicles 6:28 he is called וַשְׁנִי/Vashni (Drusius, Mendoza). Perhaps from שָׁנָה, to change; that is to say, another, or one changed, who at first was Joel, that is, He was God (as the interlinear interprets it), having been correpted by gifts, degenerated much from his former sanctity (Mendoza).

[Judges in Beer-sheba, בִּבְאֵ֥ר שָֽׁבַע׃] In Beer-sheba (thus all except Junius and Tremellius). [They understand it in a variety of ways.] 1. By this it is indicated that they were not making a circuit, etc., like their father, but were compelling the Israelites at their great expense to come to the place of their residence (Munster, similarly Mendoza). Perhaps both brothers were abiding there on account of the pleasantness of the place. See Genesis 21:33 (Mendoza). 2. This was part of Southern Judah, which he delivered to be governed by the brothers; but he reserved for himself the Northern part (Lapide out of Tostatus). Since Samuel was not able to make the circuit, he willed that his sons come into part of the burden, acting as judges for the people (Menochius). 3. Josephus asserts that the province was divided by Samuel between his sons, and one was in Beth-lehem (in the place of which the history’s Teacher has Beth-el), and the other in Beer-sheba.[3] This is followed by Dionysius, Rabanus, and others. You will say, Why is Beer-sheba alone mentioned? Response: Either, because the Scripture, studying brevity, posited the principal city, from which the other might be understood; or, because the other, leaving his station, was coming to his brother in Beer-sheba (Mendoza). 4. Others translate it, Judges, even unto Beer-sheba. An elliptical Synecdoche, to be supplemented out of Judges 20:1, whereby under the one extremity he understands also the other opposed to it, namely, Dan (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda, Glassius). That is to say, who were Judges from Dan all the way to Beer-sheba (Malvenda). The prefixed preposition ב/in, among its other significations, often denotes towards or εἰς/unto with the accusative. Thus in Leviticus 16:22, he lets the goat goבַּמִּדְבָּר, towards or into the wilderness; out of verse 21.[4] Thus in Job 5:19, no evil shall reach בְּךָ, unto thee: in Psalm 19:4, בְּכָל, unto all, the earth, as in Romans 10:18.[5] It shall return בּוֹ, unto Him, Isaiah 10:22 (Glassius’ “Grammar” 665). One may expound in; that is, towards Beer-sheba. Thus בַּשָּׁמַיִם, into heaven, which Kimchi expounds as all the way unto heaven; and it is elsewhere אֶל הַשָּׁמַּיִם, to heaven. See his treatment of servile letters in Michlol 2:45 (Drusius): or in Beer-sheba, which place was far from Ramah, in which he himself was dwelling. If it is so, they did not sin; but, if they chose this seat for themselves without their father’s knowledge, they are hardly able to be excused (Drusius).

In Beer-sheba: In the southern border of the land of Canaan, where he placed his sons, because these parts were very remote from his house at Ramah; where, and in the neighbouring places, Samuel himself still executed the office of the judge; sending his sons to reside and judge in distant places, for the ease and convenience of the people.

Verse 3:[6] And his sons (Jer. 22:15-17) walked not in his ways, but turned aside (Ex. 18:21; 1 Tim. 3:3; 6:10) after lucre, and (Deut. 16:19; Ps. 15:5) took bribes, and perverted judgment.

[They walked not in his ways] Either inasmuch as they were not inspecting the province yearly, as Samuel was (Mendoza); or rather, inasmuch as they were not imitating the manners of their father (Mendoza, similarly Vatablus, Piscator).

[They declined after greed (thus Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus), אַחֲרֵ֣י הַבָּ֑צַע[7]] They followed after lucre (Drusius, Junius and Tremellius). It is a Hebraism. They followed after their lust; that is to say, led by the lust to have, with gifts received, they did not render judgment from equity and goodness (Vatablus).

[They took gifts] Which blind the eyes of the wise.[8] We see here: Heroum filii noxæ, the sons of heroes are hurtful (Lapide). But why does not God punish Samuel because of His sons, as He previously punished Eli? Responses: 1. The sins of the sons of Eli were more and more grievous than those of the sons of Samuel; for these only received gifts in secret (Lapide). 2. Their sins were not so certain and well-known, either because of the distance of Ramah from Beer-sheba (Tirinus): Or rather on account of the ignoble fear of the citizens, who feared to report these things to their father; lest they should lose the goodwill of the father, or incur the anger of the sons. Moreover, let it be noted in this place, that the sons of Samuel, declining after greed, so that they might preserve their power for a longer time, lost their power (Mendoza).

His sons walked not in his ways, etc.: Opportunity and temptation drew forth and discovered the corruption in them, which till now was hid from their father, and, it may be, from themselves.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֞י שֶׁם־בְּנ֤וֹ הַבְּכוֹר֙ יוֹאֵ֔ל וְשֵׁ֥ם מִשְׁנֵ֖הוּ אֲבִיָּ֑ה שֹׁפְטִ֖ים בִּבְאֵ֥ר שָֽׁבַע׃ [2] Hebrew: וַשְׁנִי. [3]Antiquities 6:3. [4] Leviticus 16:21: “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness (הַמִּדְבָּרָה)…” [5] Romans 10:18: “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all (εἰς πᾶσαν) the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” [6] Hebrew: וְלֹֽא־הָלְכ֤וּ בָנָיו֙ בִּדְרָכָ֔ו וַיִּטּ֖וּ אַחֲרֵ֣י הַבָּ֑צַע וַיִּ֙קְחוּ־שֹׁ֔חַד וַיַּטּ֖וּ מִשְׁפָּֽט׃ [7]בֶּצַע signifies gain made by violence or injustice. [8] Deuteronomy 16:19. See also Exodus 23:8.

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