[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.]
I. PRELIMINARY NOTES.
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.
II. THE BIBLICAL LESSON.
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.
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.
5. Special Passages for Study of Contents.
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:
4. Certain Important Conclusions. Three important conclusions follow from this:
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.