The Samuel Cycle is primarily concerned with making Samuel a prophet of Yahweh, and making Israel was a unified nation. If you’d like a less technical overview, please check out my podcast episode on the Samuel Cycle. If you’re not familiar with the Northern Book of Judges and it’s cycles, be sure to check out all of the podcast episodes in that series. I used Tzemah Yoreh's work as the basis for my Northern Book of Judges Source.
Please note that the argumentation below is that of the opposing narrative that the Northern Book of Judges author (N) was addressing and is opposed to the N narrative itself.
Black: These statements are mirrors or echoes
Blue: These statements are an inferred cause/effect of a mirror/echo or connects two mirrors/echoes
Green: These statement have no corresponding mirrors or echoes but have supporting (e.g. alternates, denials) statements that imply them.
Orange: Words within a statement that could be variations of the opposing narrative
Italics are causal connectors (e.g. “because”)
[Brackets] are replacements for pronouns or changing tense for better flow.
For more information about mirrors, echoes, supporting categories and my methodology, please visit this post.
Aspect #1 Opposing Narrative
Aspect #1 N Response With Commentary
1. If Yahweh was the God of Israel, then why was there no record of prophecies of Yahweh? N responds to this by essentially admitting this, and simply saying that the word of Yahweh was rare in those days?
2. Samuel seems to have been well known and well respected in Israel. The problem for N was that Samuel didn’t serve Yahweh. N attempts to recaste Samuel as a priest/prophet of Yahweh.
3. Common to all the cycles of N, Yahweh was not seen as the God of Israel, so N attempts to inject Yahweh into Israel’s history, in this case, through Samuel. N says that Samuel called the Israelites back to Yahweh. This would explain, for N, why Yahweh was lacking in Israel’s history: It was because Israel had left Yahweh.
Samuel also attributes the Ebenezer rock (meaning rock or stone of help) to Yahweh.
Aspect #2 Opposing Narrative
Aspect #2 N Response With Commentary
1. The opposing narrative said that Eli had called Samuel. N explains that Samuel only thought Eli had called him, and even Eli eventually perceived that it was Yahweh calling the boy.
2. Serving under Eli may have connotations of Samuel serving another God since the name El is in Eli’s name (and Samuel’s name). If Eli did not serve Yahweh then Samuel would not have served him either.
Aspect #3 Opposing Narrative
Aspect #3 N Response With Commentary
1. A major theme in N’s narratives is the unification of Israel. In this case, N brings them together under Samuel. In the next cycle, this authority over all of Israel will be passed on to Saul.
2. All of the tribes of Israel were under the judgeship of Samuel, and he spoke to “all the house of Israel”.
3. One of the main reasons that N is trying to unify Israel is so that they will have a powerful military force. When Israel went out to fight the Philistines from Mizpah, men from all the tribes of Israel went out to fight.
Aspect #4 Opposing Narrative
Aspect #4 N Response With Commentary
1. The Israelites had achieved military victory when the Philistines were routed before Israel, and they pursued them and struck them down as far as beyond Beth-car. Yahweh is shown to be a strong God of war who defeated the Philistines for the Israelites. The only reason they had been subdued by the Philistines is because they had left Yahweh.
The spreadsheet embedded below is a list of verses used to compose the argumentation above. For further information about how these statements were categorized, please visit this post.