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Catholic Dictionary




An Ephraimite, son of Elkanah and Hannah. Deeply religious, he "grew up in stature and in favour both with Yahweh and with men . . ." (I Samuel 2:26). "All Israel from Dan to Beersheba came to know that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of Yahweh" (I Samuel 3:20). Following a disastrous defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, Samuel rallied his humiliated people and won for himself recognition as a judge and prophet (I Samuel 7:6). He anointed Saul as Yahweh's choice as ruler, and his prestige with the people ensured Saul's elevation to the kingship (I Samuel 11:12-14). But, despite military victories, Saul disappointed Yahweh by his disobedience, and Samuel turned against him in favor of young David (I Samuel 15:10-35). Fearful of David's growing popularity, Saul tried in vain repeatedly to have the young man killed, but Yahweh protected him (I Samuel 19, 23). Samuel secretly anointed David as future king of Israel (I Samuel 16:12-13), and as soon as the insane Saul died, David succeeded him. Samuel was thus Yahweh's instrument in establishing two sucessive kings who ruled over a sixty-year period. An inspiring, selfless leader, Samuel was held in high regard by his people throughout his life. Two books of the Bible are named after him (I Samuel and II Samuel).