Inductive Bible Studies,

[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]

PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).


Second Study.—Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

[The material of this "study" is furnished largely by Prof. Beecher, though in part by Prof. Harper, by whom it is edited.]



1. Make it a principle to accept no statement, contained in these "studies," concerning a biblical matter, without first verifying it.

2. When references are cited in connection with a proposition or statement, examine them and note the additional details which they furnish.

3. The particular kind of Bible-knowledge which most men lack, is a knowledge of the contents of the several books. This knowledge will be gained not by reading and memorizing the analysis of a book furnished by an instructor or a commentator; but only by making one's own analysis and mastering it. Use the outlines given below simply as a guide. Verify them, and thus make them your own; or make others.


1. Make such an examination of the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles as your time will permit, having especially in mind the general contents and purpose of each book.

2. Upon the basis of your former knowledge of these books and from the information gained by the examination just made, prepare, before studying the remainder of this lesson, a brief statement (40 or 50 words) upon each of the three books, covering the general scope of the book.


1. Contents of Books of Samuel.

(1) 1 Samuel 1-15 contains a history of Israel from the time of the birth of the prophet Samuel, to the time when David appears.

(2) The remaining sixteen chapters are made up of incidents from the life of David, including an account of the latter part of the reign of Saul.

(3) 2 Samuel is a history of the reign of David. The last four chapters contain six short pieces1 which are evidently appendices to the connected part of the book. In mentioning that David reigned forty years and six months, 2 Sam. 5:5, the books of Samuel presuppose the death of David. They neither mention nor allude to any events much later than this.2

2. Contents of Books of Kings. These contain the history from the accession of Solomon to the burning of the temple, narrating, however, by way of introduction, certain events that occurred before David's death. The latest fact mentioned is the liberation of Jehoiachin, and the provision made for him, about twenty-five years after the destruction of the temple, 2 Kgs. 25:27-30.

3. The Books of Kings a different work from the Books of Samuel. That they are part of the same work has been inferred from the fact that they take up the history at the point where the books of Samuel leave it. But this is not decisive, and is contradicted by phenomena which appear in the books.3

4. Contents of the Books of Chronicles.

(1) Genealogical lists, 1 Chron. 1-9;4

(2) a repetition of the history found in Samuel and Kings, with most of the parts relating to the northern ten tribes omitted, and with large additions, mostly of matters relating to the temple and its service. Among the latest events mentioned in Chronicles are the royal genealogies, brought down several generations later than Jehoiachin (Jeconiah), 1 Chron. 3:17-24.

5. Special Passages for Study of Contents.

(1) Parallel accounts, 1 Sam. 31 and 1 Chron. 10; 2 Sam. 7 and 1 Chron. 17.

(2) Not in Chronicles,2 Sam. 1-4; 1 Kgs. 16-21.

(3) Only in Chronicles,1 Chron.12 and 22-29; 2 Chron.29:3-ch.31.

(4) Parallel accounts, amplified in Chronicles, 1 Chron.15,16.


1. Authorship of the Books. According to Jewish tradition, Samuel the prophet wrote the books of Samuel, and the prophets Gad and Nathan completed them; Jeremiah wrote the books of Kings; Ezra wrote the books of Chronicles, and Nehemiah completed them. It is quite common to reject these statements, but the view that these books were written under the influence and in the times of these men agrees with the inference that would be drawn from the latest events mentioned in each work, and with all the other known facts in the case. Common opinion now doubtless assigns the composing of the books of Samuel to a date considerably later than the death of Nathan, but without sufficient evidence.5

2. The Mode of their Composition. A study of the passages in Chronicles that are duplicates of those in the other books, will throw light on questions concerning the composition of all these writings. Some of the phenomena to be studied appear in the English version, though they appear much more distinctly in the Hebrew. The author of Chronicles compiled large portions of his work from our present books of Samuel and Kings, or possibly from earlier writings that had been used by the authors of Samuel and Kings. Instead of reading these writings, and remembering their contents and stating these in his own language, as most modern writers would do, he did his work of compilation largely by the process of transcribing sections of the earlier works. The transcribed portions he commonly abbreviates and renders more fluent, by dropping words and changing phrases. Occasionally he adds a fact or a comment, often in Hebrew that is linguistically quite different from the transcribed portions. There are sufficient indications that the authors of Kings and Samuel did their work largely in the same way, transcribing the whole or parts of previous writings.

3. The Sources from which they were Compiled. These previous writings were largely those mentioned in the books themselves:

(1) For the times covered by the books of Samuel, one source is prominently mentioned, namely, "the Words "6 of Samuel, of Gad, and of Nathan, 1 Chron. 29:29. This is either a single work, including our present books of Samuel, or a group of works which served as sources for our books. Other writings are referred to in 1 Sam. 10:25; 2 Chron. 35:4; 1 Chron. 24:6; 27:24, etc.

(2) For the times covered by the books of Kings, the literature cited is much more abundant:

(a) By "the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel," cited in 1 Kgs. 14:19, and seventeen other places, and

(b) that " of the kings of Judah," 1 Kgs. 15:7, and thirteen other places, we naturally understand public records, and there is no valid reason against this.

(c) "The book of the Words of Solomon," 1 Kgs. 11:41, and

(d) the books of Nathan, Ahijah, Jedo (not Iddo), Shemaiah, Jehu, and Isaiah, 2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 20:34; 26:22; 32:32, were writings of prophets, and were doubtless used by the author of Kings. See, for example, 1 Kgs. 1; 11:26-40 and 14; 12:22. The author of Chronicles had the sections of these works now found in Kings, and perhaps had the original works also.

(3) Other writings referred to in Chronicles are

(a) two genealogical works, 1 Chron. 9:1; 2 Chron. 12:15;

(b) two "Commentaries," 2 Chron. 13:22; 24:27;

(c) the Lamentations;

(d) "the Words of Hozai," and

(e) the "Words of the kings of Israel," 2 Chron. 35:25; 33:18, 19. Different from any of these, and probably identical with our present books of Kings, is the book of Kings, 2 Chron. 16:11; 25:26, and several other places.7

4. Certain Important Conclusions. Three important conclusions follow from this:

(1) These histories approach much more nearly to the character of records contemporaneous with the events recorded, than they would if they had been compiled according to modern methods.

(2) The inspiration to which these books owe their place in the canon is primarily that of the men who wrote the books in their present form, and is entirely independent of all questions concerning the inspiration of the men who originally wrote the writings from which our present books were compiled, and of all questions touching the inspiration of any actual or supposed men of later times, who edited or collected the scriptural books.

(3) Particular phrases in the transcribed sections may not have the connection that they at first seem to have with the context in which they are now found. For instance, the phrase "after this," 2 Sam. 8:1; 10:1, may possibly not refer to the events mentioned in the previous chapters, but to something else, that was recorded in the writing from which the transcription was made.


1. Employ the method applied in the former lesson to "Bethel" in the case of "Gilboa" and "Negebh" or "the south country."

2. Continue the practice of drawing an outline map of Palestine, and locate upon it five additional places of interest.


1) (1) The account of the revenge of the Gibeonites, 21:1-14; (2) anecdotes of Philistine giants, 21:15-22; (3)and (4) two poems, 22and 23:1-7; (5)the roll of heroes, 23:8-39; (6) the account of the pestilence, 24.

2) Many passages are often cited as alluding to later times, but they are explicable without that hypothesis. E. g., (1) the phrase "unto this day " often occurs where it must be referred to times as early as those of David, and never where it is impossible so to refer it, 1 Sam. 8:8; 29:3, 6, 8, etc. (2) The mention of "Israel and Judah," 1Sam. 18:16, is not an allusion to the divided kingdom of later times, but calls attention to the fact that David was a favorite not only with his own tribe, Judah, but with the whole nation. And there is an equally good explanation in every instance where Israel and Judah are named in the books of Samuel. (3) There is no reason for saying that "seer" is mentioned in 1 Sam. 9:9 as an archaic title, or that the mention of Tamar's dress, 2 Sam. 13:18, is made by the author as a matter of archeological interest. And so with other items.

3) Note, as a part of the proof of this: (1) The position of the six appendices at the close of 2 Samuel; the natural place for an appendix is at the close of a work. (2) The different habit of the writers in the matter of citing sources of information; the author of Kings does this with great form more than thirty times, e. g., 1 Kgs. 11:41; the author of Samuel never does it. (3) Their different habit in the matter of formal condemnation of false worship, e. g., 1 Kgs. 11:6, and many places; no formal statements of this kind are found in Samuel. (4) Differences of linguistic character, though there are also some marked linguistic resemblances, especially between Samuel and the first eleven chapters of Kings.

4) They may have been mainly made up from the books that precede Chronicles in the English Bible; but they contain a few incidents and a few statements of fact not found in the other books, e. g., 1 Chron.4: 9, 10,39-43, or, in part, 6: 22-38.

5) See introductions to the various books in different commentaries.

6) "Words," as thus used, is perhaps equivalent to "acts" or " history," and is so translated in the versions.

7) It seems quite reasonable to suppose that the authors made some use also of oral predictions handed down.