1 Samuel 8:1

1 When Samuel got to be an old man, he set his sons up as judges in 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 got to be an old man, he set his sons up as judges in Israel.
2 His firstborn son was named Joel, the name of his second, Abijah. They were assigned duty in Beersheba.
3 But his sons didn't take after him; they were out for what they could get for themselves, taking bribes, corrupting justice.
4 Fed up, all the elders of Israel got together and confronted Samuel at Ramah.
5 They presented their case: "Look, you're an old man, and your sons aren't following in your footsteps. Here's what we want you to do: Appoint a king to rule us, just like everybody else."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.