1 Samuel 8:2
Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.
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1 Samuel 8:2. They were judges in Beer-sheba — In the southern borders of the land of Canaan, which were very remote from his house at Ramah; where, and in the neighbouring places, Samuel himself still executed the office of judge.8:1-3 It does not appear that Samuel's sons were so profane and vicious as Eli's sons; but they were corrupt judges, they turned aside after lucre. Samuel took no bribes, but his sons did, and then they perverted judgment. What added to the grievance of the people was, that they were threatened by an invasion from Nahash, king of the Ammonites.The mention of Beer-sheba, on the extreme southern frontier of Judah, as the place where Samuel's sons judged Israel is remarkable. It was probably due to the recovery of territory from the usurpation of the Philistines 1 Samuel 7:14. CHAPTER 8

1Sa 8:1-18. Occasioned by the Ill- Government of Samuel's Sons, the Israelites Ask a King.

1-5. when Samuel was old—He was now about fifty-four years of age, having discharged the office of sole judge for twelve years. Unable, from growing infirmities, to prosecute his circuit journeys through the country, he at length confined his magisterial duties to Ramah and its neighborhood (1Sa 7:15), delegating to his sons as his deputies the administration of justice in the southern districts of Palestine, their provincial court being held at Beer-sheba. The young men, however, did not inherit the high qualities of their father. Having corrupted the fountains of justice for their own private aggrandizement, a deputation of the leading men in the country lodged a complaint against them in headquarters, accompanied with a formal demand for a change in the government. The limited and occasional authority of the judges, the disunion and jealousy of the tribes under the administration of those rulers, had been creating a desire for a united and permanent form of government; while the advanced age of Samuel, together with the risk of his death happening in the then unsettled state of the people, was the occasion of calling forth an expression of this desire now.

In the southern border of the land of Canaan, where he placed his sons, because these parts were very remote from his house at Ramah; where, and in the neighbouring places, Samuel himself still executed the office of the judge; sending his sons to reside and judge in distant places, for the ease and convenience of the people. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel,.... In 1 Chronicles 6:28 he is called Vashni; See Gill on 1 Chronicles 6:28. This was not Joel the prophet, as some have thought, neither his parentage, nor his office, nor his times, will agree with this:

and the name of his second Abiah: which two sons seem to be all he had:

they were judges in Beersheba; in the utmost border of the land, to the south, as Ramah, where Samuel dwelt and judged, was more to the north; where they were placed by their father, for the greater convenience of the people of Israel that lived southward, to bring their causes to them, as those lived more northward might bring them to him: according to Josephus (w), they were placed by their father, the one in Bethel, one of the places Samuel used to go to in his circuit and judge, and the other at Beersheba. But some, as Junius and others, think it should be rendered, "unto Beersheba"; and so takes in its opposite, Dan, which lay at the utmost border of the land northward; hence the phrase, "from Dan to Beersheba"; and that the one was settled at Dan for the sake of the northern part of the land, and the other at Beersheba, for the sake of the southern: or rather these sons of Samuel placed themselves at Beersheba; which was an ill judged thing, to be both in one place, and which must give the people of Israel a great deal of trouble, and put them to a large expense to come from all quarters thither, to have their causes tried; but that is not the worst.

(w) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 3.) sect. 2.

Now the name of his firstborn was {b} Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.

(b) Who was also called Vashni, 1Ch 6:28.

2. Now the name, &c.] Joel = “Jehovah is God:” Abiah = “Jah is my father:” names significant of a protest against the prevalent idolatry. The text of 1 Chronicles 6:28, where the names are given as “the firstborn Vashni and Abiah,” is corrupt. “Joel” has dropped out after “the firstborn,” and “Vashni” is an obvious corruption of the Heb. word meaning “and the second.”

judges in Beer-sheba] See note on ch. 1 Samuel 3:20. Beer-sheba was the most convenient centre for the southern district, which Samuel assigned to his sons, retaining the northern himself. Josephus says that “resigning his office to his sons he divided the people between them, and placed them in Bethel and Beer-sheba,” a statement which is probably his own conjecture, and does not agree with ch. 1 Samuel 7:15.Verse 2. - The name of his firstborn was Joel. The names of Samuel's sons are pledges of his faith - Joel meaning Jehovah is God, and Abiah Jab is Father. The name given in 1 Chronicles 6:28, Vashni, is a mistake. It means, "and the second," the name of Joel the firstborn having somehow been omitted. The names of Saul's sons, and even of Jonathan's, unlike those in Samuel's family, bear witness to their religion having been of a curiously mixed character. In Beer-sheba. Not, therefore, in any of the places to which Samuel went in person, and which were all near Ramah, his home. Beer-sheba was in the extreme south of the tribe of Judah (see on Genesis 21:31), on the Philistine border, and his being able to place his sons there in authority proves, not merely that his rule was acknowledged throughout the whole country, but also that the Philistines did not interfere much with the internal arrangements of the Israelites. Josephus ('Antiq.,' 6:3, 2) represents only one son as placed at Beer-sheba, and says that the other was judge at Dan, but it may be doubted whether the northern tribes were sufficiently under control to submit to be governed by a southern judge. Through this victory which was obtained by the miraculous help of God, the Philistines were so humbled, that they no more invaded the territory of Israel, i.e., with lasting success, as they had done before. This limitation of the words "they came no more" (lit. "they did not add again to come into the border of Israel"), is implied in the context; for the words which immediately follow, "and the hand of Jehovah was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel," show that they made attempts to recover their lost supremacy, but that so long as Samuel lived they were unable to effect anything against Israel. This is also manifest from the successful battles fought by Saul (1 Samuel 13 and 14), when the Philistines had made fresh attempts to subjugate Israel during his reign. The defeats inflicted upon them by Saul also belong to the days of Samuel, who died but a very few years before Saul himself. Because of these battles which Saul fought with the Philistines, Lyra and Brentius understand the expression "all the days of Samuel" as referring not to the lifetime of Samuel, but simply to the duration of his official life as judge, viz., till the commencement of Saul's reign. But this is at variance with 1 Samuel 7:15, where Samuel is said to have judged Israel all the days of his life. Seb. Schmidt has given, on the whole, the correct explanation of 1 Samuel 7:13 : "They came no more so as to obtain a victory and subdue the Israelites as before; yet they did return, so that the hand of the Lord was against them, i.e., so that they were repulsed with great slaughter, although they were not actually expelled, or the Israelites delivered from tribute and the presence of military garrisons, and that all the days that the judicial life of Samuel lasted, in fact all his life, since they were also smitten by Saul."
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