1 Samuel 8:1

Israel Demands a King

1 When Samuel became old, 1he made his sons judges over Israel.

1 Samuel 8:1 Meaning and Commentary

1 Samuel 8:1

And it came to pass, when Samuel was old
The common notion of the Jews is, that he lived but fifty two years F20; when a man is not usually called an old man, unless the infirmities of old age came upon him sooner than they commonly do, through his indefatigable labours from his childhood, and the cares and burdens of government he had long bore; though some think he was about sixty years of age; and Abarbinel is of opinion that he was more than seventy. It is a rule with the Jews F21, that a man is called an old man at sixty, and a grey headed man at seventy:

that he made his sons judges over Israel;
under himself, not being able through old age to go the circuits he used; he sent them, and appointed them to hear and try causes in his stead, or settled them in some particular places in the land, and, as it seems by what follows, at Beersheba; though whether that was under his direction, or was their own choice, is not certain.


F20 Seder Olam Rabba, ut supra. (c. 13. p. 35.)
F21 Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21.

1 Samuel 8:1 In-Context

1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel.
2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.
3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah
5 and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations."

Cross References 1

  • 1. Deuteronomy 16:18
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.