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Israel Demands a King

When Samuel became old, he appointed his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba. His sons did not follow Samuel’s example.[a] Instead, they pursued[b] dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.[c]

All the elders of Israel gathered together, and came to Samuel at Ramah. They told him, “Look, you’re old, and your sons don’t follow your example.[d] So appoint a king to govern us like all the other[e] nations.” Samuel was displeased[f] when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord.

The Lord told Samuel, “Listen to the people[g] in all that they say to you. In fact, it’s not you they have rejected, but rather they have rejected me from being their king. Like all the things they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this very day, they have forsaken me and followed other gods. They’re also doing the same thing to you. Now, listen to them, but you are to clearly warn them and inform them about how the king who rules over them will operate.”[h]

10 Samuel reported everything the Lord told him to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is how the king who rules over you will operate: He will conscript your sons and assign them[i] to his chariots. He will conscript them[j] as his horsemen, and they’ll run in front of his chariots. 12 He will appoint his officers over thousands and officers over fifties—some will plow his fields,[k] reap his harvest, and craft his war implements and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters for perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 He will take the best products of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves and give them to his servants.[l] 15 He will take a tenth of your seed and your vineyards and give it to his officers and servants.[m] 16 He will take your male and female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys to do his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your flock, and you will become his servants. 18 When all of this comes about, you will cry out because of your king whom you chose for yourselves, but the Lord won’t answer you at that time.”

19 The people refused to listen to Samuel.[n] Instead, they insisted, “No! Let a king rule over us instead! 20 We, too, will be like all the nations! Our king will govern us and go out before us to fight our battles.”

21 So Samuel listened to all the words of the people, and he repeated them directly to[o] the Lord. 22 The Lord told Samuel, “Listen to them, and appoint a king for them.”

Then Samuel told the men of Israel, “Each of you go to his own town.”


  1. 1 Samuel 8:3 Lit. not walk in his ways
  2. 1 Samuel 8:3 Lit. turned after
  3. 1 Samuel 8:3 Lit. caused justice to be turned aside
  4. 1 Samuel 8:5 Lit. not walk in his ways
  5. 1 Samuel 8:5 The Heb. lacks other
  6. 1 Samuel 8:6 Lit. the thing was bad in the eyes of
  7. 1 Samuel 8:7 Lit. the voice of the people
  8. 1 Samuel 8:9 Lit. the practice of the king
  9. 1 Samuel 8:11 Lit. them for himself
  10. 1 Samuel 8:11 The Heb. lacks conscripting them
  11. 1 Samuel 8:12 Lit. and to plow his plowing
  12. 1 Samuel 8:14 Or officials
  13. 1 Samuel 8:15 Or officials
  14. 1 Samuel 8:19 Lit. to the voice of Samuel
  15. 1 Samuel 8:21 Lit. them in the ears of