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Israel Tells Samuel to Appoint a King

And it happened when Samuel was old that (A)he appointed his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in (B)Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after greedy gain and (C)took bribes and caused justice to turn aside.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at (D)Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now (E)appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing was (F)evil in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And (G)Samuel prayed to Yahweh. Then Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for (H)they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. So now, listen to their voice; (I)however, you shall solemnly [a]testify to them and tell them of (J)the [b]custom of the king who will reign over them.”

The People Refuse Samuel’s Words

10 So Samuel spoke all the words of Yahweh to (K)the people who had asked of him a king. 11 And he said, “(L)This will be the [c]custom of the king who will reign over you: (M)he will take your sons and appoint them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen, and (N)they will run before his chariots. 12 (O)And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to [d]do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 (P)He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his [e]servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will also take your male slaves and your female slaves and your best young men and your donkeys and [f]use them for his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 Then (Q)you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but (R)Yahweh will not answer you in that day.”

19 Nevertheless, the people (S)refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20 (T)that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 So Samuel heard all the words of the people, and (U)he repeated them in the hearing of Yahweh. 22 Then Yahweh said to Samuel, “(V)Listen to their voice and [g]appoint them a king.” So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”


  1. 1 Samuel 8:9 Or warn
  2. 1 Samuel 8:9 Lit judgment
  3. 1 Samuel 8:11 Lit judgment
  4. 1 Samuel 8:12 Lit plow his plowing
  5. 1 Samuel 8:14 Or slave, cf. 8:16; see Foreword, “The Terminology of Slave”
  6. 1 Samuel 8:16 Lit make
  7. 1 Samuel 8:22 Lit cause a king to reign for them