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Israel’s Request for a King

When Samuel was old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beersheba. His sons did not follow in his footsteps. Instead, they turned aside to seek dishonest gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons are not walking in your ways. Now appoint a king for us so that he can judge[a] us like all the other nations.” But in Samuel’s eyes, their request to receive a king to judge them looked evil, so Samuel prayed to the Lord.

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people regarding everything they have said to you, because it is not you whom they have rejected. I am the one they have rejected as king over them. This is just like all the actions they have taken from the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, right up to this present day. They have forsaken me and served other gods, and now they are also acting the same way toward you. So now listen to them. Nevertheless, warn them strongly and show them what the king who reigns over them will do.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people, who had asked him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who reigns over you will do. He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and with his teams of horses,[b] and they will have to run ahead of his chariots. 12 He will make them serve as commanders of a thousand soldiers and as commanders of fifty. He will assign some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest. He will assign some to make his weapons and the trappings[c] for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to serve as perfume makers, cooks, and bakers. 14 He will take your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, even the best of them, and give them to his officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards, and he will give it to the members of his court and to his officials. 16 He will take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men,[d] and your donkeys, and he will use them to do his work. 17 He will take a tenth from your flocks, and you will become his servants. 18 In that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you on that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel. Instead they said, “No, we want to have a king over us, 20 so that we also can be like all the nations, and our king can judge us and lead us out to fight our battles.”

21 Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. 22 The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to them, and appoint a king for them.”

So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Each of you go home to your own city.”

Footnotes

  1. 1 Samuel 8:5 In the book of Judges, the concept of judging includes other ruling activities besides judicial functions.
  2. 1 Samuel 8:11 Or charioteers. There is no evidence for the use of cavalry in battle at this time.
  3. 1 Samuel 8:12 Trappings is the technical term for equipment like the reins and harnesses but also includes decorative elements of metal and leather. Collections of chariot trappings have been preserved archaeologically.
  4. 1 Samuel 8:16 The translation follows the Hebrew. The Greek Old Testament reads your cattle.

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