The Books of Samuel

“The Books of Samuel tell the story of the transition from the period of the Judges to the monarchy…
The transition to monarchy was a major development, which marks a new era in the history of Israel.”

Samuel Study, Section One

The story of the Hebrew people moves from the time of nomadic tribes governed by Judges who emerged in the time of crisis to the era of Israeli monarchy. The central characters are Saul, David and Solomon, well known for their special connections with God, their leadership, and temple building. Jewish law, documented in Deuteronomy, is woven into the lives of these leaders. These stories practically beg for historical/archaeological validation; unfortunately, that “proof” has not been found.

Nevertheless, these important Biblical characters are presented as realistic and complex human beings. They deal with all manner of human emotion, temptation, failure and redemption. We can learn about the traditional stories of the Hebrew people and how their heroes shape their tradition as well as how people handle the good and bad events that life presents. We also learn about God’s hand and voice in the world. Studying these stories and thinking about the way modern life presents similar challenges informs our own spirituality. An interesting and nourishing study!

Meet Our Professors

Prof. Joel Baden, Professor of Hebrew Bible, is a specialist in the Pentateuch, Biblical Hebrew, and disability theory in biblical studies. He is the author of the numerous articles, essays, and books on individual pentateuchal texts, critical methodology, and Biblical Hebrew; future projects include commentaries on Deuteronomy and Exodus. He holds degrees in Judaic Studies (BA, Yale), Semitic Languages (MA, University of Chicago), and Hebrew Bible (PhD, Harvard).



John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, a native of Ireland, was a professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago from 1991 until his arrival at YDS in 2000. He previously taught at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely on the subjects of apocalypticism, wisdom, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has participated in the editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls and is general editor of the Yale Anchor Bible series. He holds degrees from University College Dublin (BA, MA, and an honorary D.Litt.) and Harvard University (PhD).