The Prophet Samuel
Commemorated on August 20
The Prophet Samuel
was the 15th and last of the Judges of Israel, living more than 1146 years
before the Birth of Christ. He was descended from the Tribe of Levi, and was
the son of Elkanah from Ramathaim-Zophima of Mount Ephraim. He was born, having
been besought of the Lord through the prayers of his mother Anna (wherefore he
received the name Samuel, which means "besought"), and even before
birth he was dedicated to God. When the boy reached age 3, his mother went with
him to Shiloh and in accord with her vow gave him over to the tabernacle in
care of the high-priest Eli, who at this time was a judge over the Israelite
nation. The prophet grew in the fear of God, and already at 12 years of age he
had the revelation, that God would punish all the house of the high-priest Eli,
because he did not restrain the impiety of his sons.
The prophecy was fulfilled when the Philistines, having slain in battle 30,000 Israelites (among them were also the sons of the high-priest, Hophni and Phinees), gaining victory and capturing the Ark of the Covenant with God. Hearing of this, the high-priest Eli fell from his seat backwards at the gate, and breaking his back, he died. The wife of Phinees, upon hearing what had happened in this very hour, gave birth to a son (Ichabod) and died with the words: "The glory is gone out from Israel, for the Ark of God is taken away" (1 Sam. [1 Kings] 4: 22).
Upon the death of Eli, Samuel became the judge of the nation of Israel. The Ark of God was returned by the Philistines on their own initiative, and after their returning to God, the Israelites returned to all the cities, which the Philistines had taken. Having gotten up in years, the Prophet Samuel made his sons – Joel and Abiah – judges over Israel, but they followed not in the integrity and righteous judgement of their father, since they were motivated by greed. Then the elders of Israel, wanting that the nation of God should be "like other nations" (1 Sam. [1 Kings] 8: 20), demanded of the Prophet Samuel that a king be established for them. The Prophet Samuel saw in this a deep downfall of the people, which until this time God Himself had governed, announcing His will through His chosen saints. Resigning the position of judge, the Prophet Samuel asked the people, whether they consent in his continued governance, but no one stepped forward for him. After denunciation of the first king, Saul, for his disobedience to God, the Prophet Samuel anointed as king Saint David, to whom he had offered asylum, saving him from the pursuit of king Saul. The Prophet Samuel died in extreme old age. His life is recorded in the Bible (1 Sam. [1 Kings]; Sirach 46: 13-20). In the year 406 A.D. the relics of the Prophet Samuel were transferred from Judea to Constantinople.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.