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Now, whereas it is said, that in the meanwhile the ark was in Nobs, Mizpeh, and Galgala, it wag the tabernacle, which was at this time severed from the ark; or at least, it was for the present occasion brought to these places, and anon returned to Kirjath-jearim 7.
These tragedies overpast and ended, Samuel, to whom God appeared while he was yet a child, became now judge and governor of Israel He was descended of the family of Chore or Korach'. For Levi had three sons; Gerson, Cheath, and Merari j Cheath had Amram, and Isaar; of Amram came Moses and Aaron; of Isaar, Chore *, and of the family of Chore, Samuel. His father Elcana, a Levite, was called an Ephratean, not that the Levites had any proper inheritance, but because he was of mount Ephraim*, like as Jesse, David's father was called an Ephratean, because born at Ephrata, or Bethlehem. Hannah his mother being long fruitless, obtained him of God by prayers and tears; it being an exceeding shame to the Jewish women to be called barren, in respect of the blessing of God, both to Abraham, that his seed should multiply as the stars of heaven, and the sands of the sea, as in. the beginning to Adam, ' increase and multiply •* and in Deuteronomy vii. 'there shall be neither * male nor female barren among you.'
Samuel was no sooner born, than his mother, according to her former vow, dedicated him to God* fuid his service, to which she delivered him even
6 2 San. vi. and J Chron. zii. 7 See in this book. ch. xii- sect. i. in the
margin. 1 1 Chron. vi. 22; 2 Which region was called Ephrata, aa
appeareth Judges xii. 5. whence for distinction we read, Ruth. i. 2. Epkratmie Ittttblemo Jehuda; the town Ephratah, which is Bethlehem in Judah, Gen. xiat. 39. from the region of Ephrata', which is in mount Ephraim, whence] Psal. csuih •. Ephrata is put for Silbo, which was in the tribe of Ephraim.
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from the dug. For as the first born of all that were called Nazarites, might be redeemed till they were five years old, for five shekels, between five years and twenty for twenty shekels; so was it not required by the law, that any of the race of the Levites should be called to serve about the tabernacle, till they were twenty-five years old.
St. Peter reckons, in the Acts, the prophets from Samuel, who was the first of the writers of holy scriptures, to whom usually the name of a prophet was given; and yet did Moses account himself such a one, as in Deuteronomy xviii. 15., * The Lord thy
* God will raise up unto thee a prophet like unto
* me,' &c. But he is distinguished from those that preceded him, who were called seers; as 1 Sam. ix« 'Before time in Israel, when a man went to seek 'an answer of God, thus he spake ; come and let us
* go to the seer: for he that is now called a pro4 phet, was in old time called a seer.' And although it pleased God to appear by his angels to Moses, as before to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; yet in the time of Eli, there was no manifest vision: not that God had altogether withdrawn his grace from Israel; but as the Chaldean paraphrast hath it, those revelations, before Samuel's time, were more clouded and obscure. The places wherein Samuel3 judged were Maspha or Mizpeh, seated on a hill in Benjamin near Judah; also Gilgal, and Bethel, of which we have spoken elsewhere.
The Philistines, taking knowledge of the assembly and preparations for war at Mizpeh in the beginning of Samuel's government, gathered their army and marched towards the city; at whose approach, the Israelites, strucken with fear, and with the memory of their former slaughters and servitude, besought Samuel to pray to God for them, who was then 4 performing his sacrifice when the Philistines
3 1 Sam. xiii. See it- this book, chap. xii. sect. 1. 4 Plutarch reports of
Numa the 3d kn g of Rome, thai when as he was sacrificing, it was told him that the enemies approached, he, nothing dismayed, antwered, Eg" autm sacrifice.
were in view. But God being moved with Samuel's prayers, (as he was by those of Moses, when Israel fought against the Amalekites at their first entrance into Arabia,) it pleased him, with thunder and tempest, to disperse and beat dowh the army of the Philistines, according to the prophecy of Hannah, Samuel's mother: * The Lord's adversaries shall be de
• stroyed, and out of heaven shall he thunder upon
* them V &c. Josephus affirms, that a part of the Philistines were swallowed with an earth-quake; and that Samuel himself led the Israelites in the prosecution of their victory. After which Samuel erected a monument in memory of this happy success obtained by the miraculous hand of God, which Josephus called taptdem fortem; Samuel, Ebenezeri, of the stone of assistance; and then following the opportunity and advantage of the victory j the Israelites recovered divers eities of their own formerly lost, and held long in possession of the Philistines, who for a long time after did not offer any invasion or revenge. And the better to attend their purposes, and to withstand any of their attempts, the Israelites! made peace with the Amorites, or Canaanttes, which lay on their backs, and to the north of them, that they might not be assaulted from divers parts at once » having the Philistines towards the west and sea-coast, the Canaanite towards the north and east, and the Idumite on the south. The estate being thus settled, Samuel, for the ease of the people, gave audi* ence and judgment in divers places by turns, as hath been elsewhere said.
t l Sua. ii. 10.
OJ the deliberation to change the government into d
BUT when age now began to overtake Samuel, and that he was not able to undergo the burthen of so careful a government, he put off from himself the weight of the affairs on his sons, Joel and Abijah, who judged the people at Beersheba, a city, the very utmost towards the south, of Judea. And as the place was inconvenient and far away, so were themselves no less removed from the justice and virtue of their father. For the thirst of covetousness, the more it swalloweth, the more it drieth, and desireth, finding taste in nothing but gain; to recover which they set the law at a price, and sold justice and judgment to the best chapmen. Which when the elders of Israel observed, and saw that Samuel, as a natural man, (though a prophet,) could not so well discern the errors of his own, they prayed him to consent to their change of government, and to make them a king, by whom they might be judged as other nations were; who might also lead them to the war, and defend them against their enemies. For after the ill and lamentable success which followed the rule of Eli's sons, when those of Samuel, by their first blossoms, promised to yield fruit no less bitter, they saw no way to put the government from out his race, whom they so much reverenced, but by the choice of a king.
In a cause of so great consequence, and alteration, Samuel sought counsel from God; which surely he did not for the establishing of his own sons; who being as they were, God would not have approved his election. Now as it appears by the text, this speech or motion displeasing him, he used his best arguments to dehort them; which when he perceived to be over-feeble, he delivered unto them, from God's revelation, the inconveniences and miseries which should befal them. And yet all which he foreshewed was not intolerable, but such as hath been borne, and is so still by free consent of the subjects towards their princes. For, first, he makes them know that the king will use their sons in his own service to make them his horsemen, charioteers, and footmen; which is not only not grievous, but by the vassals of all kings according to their birth and condition desired; it being very agreeable to subjects of the best qualito command for the king in his wars; and to till e ground no less proper and appertaining to those that are thereto bred and brought up; so are likewise the offices of the women-servants to dress meat, to bake bread, and the like. But whereas immediately it is threatened, 'He will take your fields, 'and your vineyards, and your best olive trees, and 'give them to his servants,' with other oppressions; this hath given, and gives daily occasion to such as would be ruled by their own discretion, to affirm that Samuel describeth here unto them the power of a king, governed by his own affections, and not a king that feareth God. But others, upon further examination, construe this text far otherwise, as teaching us, what subjects ought with patience to bear at their sovereign's hand. Theformeropinion is grounded, first, upon that place of Deuteronomy xvii., where God foresneweth this change of government from