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).


Third Study.—The Times Before the Administration of Samuel.

[The material of this "study" is furnished by Profs. Beecher and Burroughs. It is edited by Prof. Harper.]



1. In his Bible-study, the student should pursue the inductive method:

(1) Gather for himself the facts;

(2) Learn from these the general principles which they teach;

(3) Apply these principles to all further work. How to study the Bible will best be learned by studying it.

2. References are given for use, not for ornament. Facts can be collected only by studying the passages indicated. The Bible is to be kept constantly in hand.

3. The "Inductive Bible-studies" are intended for those who desire to approach the Bible from the student's stand-point, who expect to find in Bible-study intellectual discipline. Thoroughness is therefore essential. Nothing short of mastery will prove satisfactory. The energy and fidelity demanded by other studies will be demanded by this. The reward will be equally great.

4. The "studies" are intended for Bible-students of all classes. Among those who make use of them there will be difference sin natural capacity for work, in opportunities for study. Results will vary according to circumstances. One policy, however, must rule, whatever the circumstances: Only as much of the work outlined should be undertaken as can be mastered in the time one has to devote to it. Omit one-half, if necessary three-fourths; but learn the remainder.

5. By all means use the Revised Version. Whatever may be its shortcomings, it is vastly superior to the Authorized Version.


Read 1 Sam. 1-7:4, and study the account

(1) of the sons of Eli, and of Eli himself, 2:12-17, 22-25; 4:12-22;

(2) of the prophet's message to Eli, 2:2736;

(3) of the birth and childhood of Samuel, 1 and 2:18-21,26;

(4) of Samuel's vision, 3:1-18;

(5) of the loss of the ark, 4:1-11;

(6) of the ark in the land of the Philistines, 5;

(7) of its return to Israel, 6;

(8) of Samuel's character, and the reformation in Israel, 3:19-21; 4:la; 7:1-4.


1. Eli and His Sons; 2:12-17,22-25; 4:12-22.

(1) Observe the marginal notes, e. g., on 2:12,16,17, etc., of the Revision. Compare with the margin of the Authorized Version. Note their character. Decide as to their helpfulness individually and as to their yalue, taken collectively, as a popular critical apparatus.2

(2)Notice constantly the marginal readings from the Septuagint.3 Cf. on this section marginal note on 4:13; 5:6; 6:1, 19, and as far as you are able, conclude as to their helpfulness.

(3) Discover the character of the sin of Eli's sons, comparing vs. 13-16 with Ex. 29:28; Lev. 3:3-5; 7:29-34.4 How was it two-fold?

(4) Why were the women (2:22) at the tent of meeting (R.V. "did service")? cf. Num. 4:23; 8:24, and especially Ex. 38:8. Do you find here any corrupting influence of Phoenician worship?

(5) Meaning of "the glory," 4:22? See Ex. 16:10; 40:34, 36; Ps. 78: 60, 61; Rom. 9:4.

(6) Picture the scene, 4:12-22, in order to test your knowledge of its details, of the dress, customs, manners of the time. Notice the vivid description. What may be inferred from it as to the source of the narrative?

2. The Prophet's Message; 2:27-36.

(1) Meaning of phrase man of God? To whom is the title applied'? See Deut. 33:1; Judges 13:6, etc. Discover in what books of the O. T. it is most used?

(2) What functions of the priest are here mentioned? Make a study of these functions from Bible statements.

(3) Study the prediction 2:35, 36. In whom fulfilled? Samuel (3:1; 7:9, 10; 9:12, 13; 10:1; 16:13; 1 Chron. 7:33; 25:1, 4, 5; Ps. 99:6), Zadok (1 Chron. 6:8-15), or a line of priests, culminating in Christ? On "anointed" (2:35), cf. 2:10; where is it first used in connection with the kingly office?5

3. Birth and Childhood of Samuel; ch. 1; 2:18-21, 26.

(1) Study this section in connection with the following references to the Pentateuch: " yearly " (1:3 and 2:19), cf. Ex. 34:23; Deut. 16:16; " gave portions " (1:4), cf. Lev. 7:11-18, and infer character of sacrifice; "a vow" (1:11), cf. Num. 30; how two-fold? Nazarite vow? Num. 6; "all his house" (1:21), cf. Deut. 12:10-12; if three bullocks (1:24), for what severally intended? Num. 15:8; "flour, wine," Num. 15:9, 10, etc. Complete the references.

(2) Picture the scenes in order to gain a conception of the religious solemnities of the time.

(3) The LORD of Hosts (1:3), here first found. See Dictionaries, also Note I, Kirkpatrick's Samuel, p. 235. Study passages cited and determine the meaning.

4. Samuel's Vision; ch. 3.

(1) Samuel, three significations of the name? Choose one. Other Samuels in the O. T.?

(2) What prophets spoken of in days of Judges? Judges 4:4; 6:8. Are there others?

(3) Form an estimate of Eli's character.

5. Loss of the Ark; 4:1-11.

(1) Make, with a concordance, a study of the Philistines, e.g., Origin? Country? Government? Amos 9:7; Deut. 2:23; Josh. 13:2, 3. History? Gen. 21:32; 26:1, 14-20;Ex. 13:17; Judges 3: 3; etc. See Dictionaries and Note Iv., Kirkpatrick's Samuel.

(2) Why was the ark brought into the camp? cf. Josh. 6:6, 7; 2 Sam. 5:21; other reasons? Were the Hebrews affected religiously by their surroundings? In what respects?

6. Samuel's Character and Reformation; 3:19-21; 4:la; 7:1-4.

(1) Develop the contrast seen in the narrative, between the unfolding of Samuel's character and his surroundings.

(2) Characterize politically and religiously the period of twenty years preceding the reformation of Samuel.

(3) Study Samuel's character and his principles

(a) as a ruler,

(b) in his personal relations,

(c) as a religious teacher.

(4) Distinguish, in the study of his character,

(a) personal traits,

(b) those peculiar to his time,

(c) those belonging to the Hebrews as a nation.

7. Hannah's Song; 2: 1-0. Prepare a criticism comparing it with Luke 1: 46-55, and 67-79.6


Explain, with map, the terms

(1) "hill country of Ephraim;"

(2) Ramathaim-zophim;

(3) Ephrathite;7

(4) Shiloh, 1:3;

(5) Dan and Beersheba, 3:20;

(6) Ebenezer and Aphek, 4:1;

(7) the land of the Philistines, Ashdod, Gath, Ekron, Ashkelon, Gaza,5 and 6;

(8) Beth-shemesh, 6:9, etc.;

(9) Kirjath-jearim, 6:21; cf. Josh. 9:17and context.


1. The time covered by these events was sixty years, 4:18; 7:2, Eli being chief magistrate of Israel forty years, with an interregnum of twenty years following.8

2. Among important facts of the civil history of the period are the following: Israel was subject to the Philistines, 4:9; 7:3, etc., and made an unsuccessful effort to throw off the yoke. That the country was populous and reasonably prosperous appears from the general tenor of the account and from the numbers mentioned in 4:10, and perhaps in 6:19.

3. It is an unexplained fact, without parallel in the times of the judges, that Eli was both judge and high-priest. It is equally an unexplained fact that the high priesthood should now be in the family of Ithamar, and not in that of Eleazar. These facts must have had their origin in certain unrecorded, and now unknown, previous events in the history of Israel.

4. It is a favorite statement with certain writers that the Philistines destroyed Shiloh after capturing the ark, but as to this we have absolutely no information. Perhaps sixty years later, the city of the priests was Nob, and no longer Shiloh, 1 Sam. 21. Later still, the choosing of Jerusalem as the sanctuary-city sealed the rejection of Shiloh, Ps. 78:60,67,68. Several hundred years later, Shiloh was perhaps a ruin, Jer. 7:12,and context. But no one knows how long Shiloh continued in existence, either as a city or as the sanctuary of Israel.

5. Kirjath-jearim was one of the four Gibeonite cities, Josh. 9:17. The impression made by 1 Sam. 6:21; 7:1 is that the men of Kirjath-jearim were ordered to take charge of the ark, as if they had no right to refuse, at a time when no one else dared to take charge of it. This would be explained if we should suppose that they acted as Gibeonites, the traditional slaves of the ark.

6. The condition of things after the death of Eli seems to have been this: The people were left without their natural leaders; but Samuel, in virtue of his ability, his worth, his relations with Eli, and his prophetic character, had great influence among them; for twenty years, however, he chose to exercise his influence rather in securing personal reformation among the people, than in re-establishing their civil or religious institutions.

Note.—The history of prophetism, and of the religious institutions of Israel, during the period covered by this and the two following studies, is very important, and is reserved for separate treatment in the sixth study.


1. How may the influence of character, good and bad, be shown from this study? By what characters? In what respects?

2. How may the influence of surroundings and atmosphere be shown?

3. How is the relation of individual life to social welfare shown?

4. Note carefully the elements of weakness and power in each of the historical characters studied.  


1) These topics are not intended to be exhaustive of the text. They are simply helps toward inductive self-work. The "studies" are not a commentary, imparting Bible-knowledge. They are intended to stimulate and encourage independent investigation.

2) See April ('87) STUDENT, pp. 229-234, Popular Uses of the Margin n the Old Testament Revision. Prof. J. F. McCurdy, Ph. D.

3) The Septuagint, or LXX., is the Greek version of the O. T., made gradually and by different hands at Alexandria, during the third and second centuries B. C. A very valuable discipline for those who read readily the Greek N. T., would be the comparison of the LXX. with the English text, as representing the Hebrew. For this work, obtain " S. Bagster & Son's Gk. LXX. with Eng. trans.. and with various readings and critical notes; a new edition; price, 16s," New York, John Wiley & Sons; or " the latest edition of Tischendorf's TX. in Greek."

4) It may be of service to note carefully the references to the Pentateuch which the text suggests, their number and general character. A wise and careful use may be made, by the student personally, of the references in the margin of the A. V.

5) See Briggs's "Messianic Prophecy " chap. V. 40,translation, notes, comments, New York, Chas. Scribner's Sons; also Orelli's"0. T. Prophecy," pp. 148 seq.; "The Anointed of the Lord," Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark; also Edersheim's "Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah," Lect. 2; New York, A. D. F. Randolph & Co.

6) On the Song of Hannah, see in particular Lange's " Commentary;" also Briggs' "Messianic Prophecy," pp. 123-126, "The All-knowing Judge," remarks, translation, notes and. comments. The remarks relative to the period are valuable. The condensed notes and analysis in Kirkpatrick's Samuel are helpful.

7) " Ephraimite " of the R.V. is a mistake. The Palestinian survey-maps correctly locate Ramathaim-zophim near Bethlehem. Elkanah was an Ephrathite, in the ordinary sense of the term, however we may connect this with the fact that he was also from the hill country of Ephraim.-W. J. B.

8) It seems certain that these statements are correct, though the matter is much in dispute. Back to about 800 B. C. the differences of opinion in regard to biblical chronology concern matters of detail; the differences in regard to dates earlier than about 800 B. C. are radical, and, at present, irreconcilable. In dealing with the dates previous to David, it is very common to reject the 480 found in 1 Kgs. 6:1, the 800 found in Jud. 11:2, the 450 and the 40 found in Acts 13: 20, 21, and other biblical numerals. The chronological scheme which lies at the basis of my statement may be briefly given as follows:

Five forty year periods, beginning with the close of the 40 years of the exodus, the other numerals given for these periods being included in the five forties (Jud. 8:11, 80; : 31; 8:28) 200 yrs.
Administrations of Abimeleoh, Tola, Jair, Samson (Jud. 9:22; 10:2, 8; 15:20 compared with 10:7), in years, 3+23+22+20 = 68 yrs.
Ammonite oppression (Jud. 10: 8) 18 yrs.
  286 yrs.

(This is the round number 300, Jud. 11: 26.)

Administration of Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Eli, and interregnum (Jud. 12:7,9,11,14; 1 Sam. 4:18; 7:2), in years, 6+7+10+8+40+20 = 91 yrs.
Samuel's administration, computed 20 yrs.
  397 yrs.

(Perhaps this, with the 40 years of the exodus added, making 437, is the round number 450 of Acts 13:20.)

Reigns of Saul, David, and 3 years of Solomon (Acts 13:21; 2 Sam. 5: 4; 1 Kgs. 6:1), 40+40+3= 83 yrs.

(The " long number," 1 Kgs. 6:1)

480 yrs.


Other views shorten or lengthen the period by from 100to 300 years. See articles in current commentaries and encyclopadias. It is quite common to regard Samson and Eli as contemporaries, and to count some of the judges as only petty officials. The scheme just given counts every judge as actually chief magistrate of Israel. The 40 in Jud. 13:1 is the same with that in 1 Sam. 4:18.—W. J. B.