Pseudo-Philo: Rewriting the Bible

By Frederick J. Murphy | Go to book overview

9
From Samuel to David: Biblical
Antiquities 49-65

As in the Bible, Samuel is a transitional figure between the time of the judges and the period of the monarchy. Pseudo-Philo's concern for leadership is very much to the fore in these chapters. Saul is paradigmatic for the bad leader, and David represents the potential for model leadership. As the book now stands, David's reign is not described, so his leadership abilities remain potential.


Chapter 49: Samuel's Father

Chapter 49 marks a new beginning for the Biblical Antiquities. The period of the judges is summed up in 48:4-5 and chapter 49 begins the story of Samuel, the transitional figure between the judges and the monarchy.1.Chapter 49 is built on the image of the people reasoning among themselves, trying to discover how to do the right thing to improve their situation. As usual, they are seen in ambivalent terms, sometimes speaking the truth and making the right choice, sometimes not. They begin, "Let all of us cast lots to see who it is who can rule us as Kenaz did. For perhaps we will find a man who may free us from our distress, because it is not appropriate for the people to be without a ruler" (49:1). Casting lots puts the decision in God's hands and is a favorite mode of consulting God in the Biblical Antiquities. Kenaz is the ideal ruler. The people see their freedom as contingent on having the right ruler.

LAB 49:2 describes the initial failure of the people's consultation of God. The lots choose no one. Subscribing to the concept of moral causality, they assume that God does not answer because they are "unworthy." They try casting the lots by tribes, hoping that a group might find favor with God. They enunciate the following principle: "For we know that God will be reconciled with those worthy of him." What they "know" is supported by the book as a whole. Not even an entire tribe is found worthy. Finally the people give up

____________________
1.
For parallels between the birth of Samuel and that of John the Baptist in Luke, see Winter, "Proto-source,"193, 198.

-186-

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