Perek 1: Elkonoh lived in the land of Efraim and had two wives: Chana and Peninah. Chana was barren, whilst Peninah had ten children. The family went up to Mishkan at Shilo annually and offered sacrifices; Elkonoh would give Chana a double portion to console her for having no children, but Peninah taunted her. One year, Chana went to the Mishkan. She prayed and vowed that if she had a child, she would make him a nazir and serve in the Mishkan. Eli the Kohen mistook her praying quietly for someone drunk and misjudged her; when she explained her actions, he blessed her that her prayers should be answered. She had a son and named him Shmuel. When he was weaned Chana brought him to Eli with sacrifices and informed Eli of her vow.
Perek 2:Chana prayed a tefillah now known as ‘Shiras Chana’ of gratitude to Hashem for answering her request. Eli’s two sons: Chofni and Pinchas would take the meat from sacrifices before they were offered up and would act immorally towards women who came to the Mishkan. Each year when Chana would visit the Mishkan, Eli would bless her that she should have more children, subsequently she had an additional 3 sons and 2 daughters. Eli in his old age rebuked his children who continued to disobey him. A Novi told Eli that Chofni and Pinchas would die on the same day in battle. Eli’s family would always die young, would be destitute and would not retain their senior position in the Mishkan.
Perek 3: One night Shmuel heard the voice of Hashem calling him twice. Each time Shmuel ran to Eli, as he assumed Eli called him. On the third occasion, based on instructions from Eli, Shmuel responded and Hashem relayed Eli’s downfall to Shmuel. Shmuel informed Eli what would occur to his household. Shmuel was respected as a Novi amongst Israel.
Perek 4: Israel instigated war against the Pilishtim and over 4,000 Bnei Yisrael were massacred. The following day, the Elders of Israel decided to bring the Aron with them to war. 30,000 soldiers were killed, the Aron was captured and Chofni and Pinchas died in battle. Eli at 98, was told the news that the Aron was captured and fell off his chair and broke his neck. Pinchas’s wife died that day giving birth prematurely and called the boy Ichovod- there is no glory.
Perek 5: The Pilishtim placed the Aron next to their god (Dagan) in their Temple in Ashdod. Every morning Dagan was found on its’ face. The residents of Ashdod were inflicted with haemorrhoids (a disease) so they moved the Aron to Gas and then Ekron. Wherever the Aron went the nearby Pilishtim suffered from haemorrhoids; eventually the Pilishtim agreed to return the Aron to the Jewish people.
Perek 6: They returned the Aron with five golden images of mice and haemorrhoids. They sent it on a wagon pulled by calves who had not never had a yoke placed on them and miraculously the cows managed to direct the Aron to Bet Shemesh. The citizens of Bet Shemesh were ecstatic and offered sacrifices, however 50,000 (according to Rashi’s 2nd understanding) of the Bnei Yisrael of the calibre of the 70 Elders treated the Aron disrespectfully and were killed. They sent the Aron to Kiryas Yearim.
Perek 7: Elazar ben Avinodov looked after the Aron for 20 years in his house. Shmuel told the Jewish people to remove their idols and serve Hashem, in return they will be saved from the Pilishtim. The people fasted, repented and Shmuel offered up a lamb. Hashem confounded the Pilishtim who were defeated; the Pilishtim no longer entered Israeli cities. In this chapter, Shmuel becomes a Shofet- Judge, Leader and Novi till he died. He travelled around Israel judging Israel, but he was based in Romoh where he built an altar.
Perek 8: Shmuel’s sons: Yoel and Aviyoh did not follow in their father’s ways; the people asked for a king to rule over them. Shmuel reminded them of the Biblical rights a king has e.g. to confiscate fields and people’s children to serve him and warned them that even if you cry out, Hashem will not answer you. Nevertheless, the nations were adamant they wanted a king.
Perek 9: Kish (a Benjaminite) lost his donkeys, he sent his son Shaul with their servant to search for them. They found no trace of the donkeys and were about to despair when the attendant suggested they visit Shmuel, known as ‘the Seer’ to tell them where the donkeys were. Hashem had told Shmuel that Shaul would come to him and that he is the right man to become king. Shmuel put Shaul at the head of the feast and gave him the choicest portion of food. Shmuel accompanied Shaul on the beginning of his return journey and told him to instruct the attendant to walk ahead.
Perek 10:Shmuel anoints Shaul and tells him that two men next to Kever Rachel will tell him about the donkeys’ whereabouts. Shaul will meet 3 men; one carrying 3 kids, one 3 loaves of bread and the latter a container of wine; he should accept the 2 loaves of bread he is offered. He will prophesize with a group of Neviim on the way. He should go to Gilgal and wait for 7 days for Shmuel to join him. These events occurred. Shaul concealed his royal status from his uncle. Shmuel gathered the people at Mitzpah and singled out the tribe of Binyamin and eventually Shaul, but Shaul hid himself among the baggage. The people accepted him as a king although some cynics ridiculed him.
Perek 11: Ammon besieged Yavesh Gilaad, the Jews begged Nachash- King of Ammon to enter into a covenant with them; he agreed on the basis the Israelites remove their right eye, they were given three days to decide. Shaul was enraged; on the third day Shaul divided the troops into three and they battered their opposition. They celebrated and offered sacrifices to Hashem.
Perek 12: Shmuel delivers a speech where he emphasises that he derived no personal benefit from leading Israel. He summarises history from Yetzias Mitzrayim till that day; he highlights how when the Jewish people served Hashem they were victorious. He criticises the people for demanding a king, he declares “Hashem is your King”. He urges the people to serve Hashem; he told Hashem to make it thunder and rain heavily, in order that the people should pray to him. He consoles them that if they fear Hashem, they will not be forsaken.
Perek 13: Shaul selected 2,000 troops to serve under his command and 1,000 under Yonosan, his son; the remaining warriors were sent home. Yonason murdered the Philishti general and Shaul gathered all of Israel to fight, the Jewish people were outnumbered therefore many hid in caves. Shaul waited for 7 days in Gilgal, but Shmuel did not arrive. Due to the impending war, Shaul offered up the sacrifices without waiting further. After Shaul finished, Shmuel arrived; he criticised Shaul and told him that his kingdom would not endure. Shaul mobilised his troops, but they had no metal weapons, the Pilishtim ensured only they had all the tools to create weaponry.
Perek 14: Yonason and his attendant went into Pilishti territory; they agreed if they were instructed to halt, then they would obey, but if they were told to approach the Pilishtim then it would signify that they should attack. The latter was told and they killed about 20 men, this created great confusion in the Pilishti camp. Shaul sensed this and made an oath that no man eat, so the enemy could be wiped out, however Yonason was not aware of this order and ate some honey. The Jewish people smote the Pilishtim and took abundant spoils, including flock; the people offered it up, but ate the meat with the blood- against Halacha. Shaul insisted that only he would slaughter animals for the people. Shaul wanted to plunder the Pilishtim that night and asked Hashem who did not answer. He realised someone sinned and conducted a lottery to find the culprit- Yonason was singled out. Shaul decided that Yonason must be killed for eating the honey and disobeying the oath, nevertheless the people protested and Yonason was spared. Shaul fought several successful battles to consolidate the land.
Perek 15: Shmuel instructed Shaul to eradicate Amalek: men, women, children and possessions. Shaul killed the people, but left their King Agag and the cattle alive. Shmuel told Shaul that Hashem had rejected him as king, Shaul felt remorse. Shmuel executed Agag and then returned to Ramah and never saw Shaul again.
Perek 16: Hashem ordered Shmuel to choose a new leader and sends him to Yishai in Beis Lechem. He offers an offering there and invites Yishai and his sons to the feast, Shmuel rejected the first 7 sons based on Hashem’s instructions. Finally the last son and shepherd, Dovid was brought and Shmuel anointed him as king. Shaul was slightly depressed and asked his servants to select a harpist; they chose Dovid who cheered up Shaul when he played and also became Shaul’s armour bearer.
Perek 17: The Pilishtim prepared for war, the Pilishtim and Israel were divided by a valley. Golias who was about 13 foot challenged any Jew to a duel, the victor’s nation would be served by the other; he taunted Israel for 40 days. Dovid brought food to his 3 oldest brothers who served in the army; he witnessed Golias teasing the soldiers. Dovid was dismayed that the Jewish people were being disgraced and volunteered to combat Golias. Dovid was not used to armour and refused to wear it and approached Golias with a slingshot and 5 stones. Dovid told Golias that although he was unarmed, Hashem will provide salvation. Dovid hurled one stone which struck Golias’ temple and he fell forward miraculously, Dovid took Golias’ sword and cut off his head. Israel killed many Pilishtim; Shaul inquired about Dovid’s genealogy.
Perek 18: Dovid and Yonason were the classic example of a loyal friendship and sealed a covenant together. When Dovid returned from war the women sang “Shaul kills thousands, but Dovid tens of thousands”, this enraged Shaul. The next day, a spirit of melancholy overcame Shaul as Dovid was playing the harp for him. Shaul thrust a spear at Dovid twice in an attempt to murder him, but Dovid evaded it. Dovid became very popular among the people; Shaul offered Dovid his eldest daughter Merav,on condition that Dovid fight against the Pilishtim – with the hope that Dovid would be killed. Merav, however married someone else and Shaul agreed for Dovid to marry his next daughter Michal. Instead of a dowry Shaul asked Dovid to bring him 100 foreskins from the Plishtim. Dovid brought back 200 foreskins and married Michal.
Perek 19: Shaul spoke to Yonason and his servants about killing Dovid; Yonason persuaded him not to harm him, but warned Dovid to be cautious. Dovid defeated thePilishtim; Shaul attempted to kill Dovid again, therefore Dovid escaped with Michal’s help. Michal pretended Dovid was ill in bed. When Shaul found out, he was infuriated. Shaul found out that Dovid was in Romoh with Shmuel prophesying, and sent groups to capture Dovid, but each time the search party joined in with the prophesying as did Shaul himself.
Perek 20: Dovid fled from Romoh and met Yonason. Yonason disagreed with Dovid and felt that Shaul did not want to kill him. They planned that Dovid would not attend the Rosh Chodesh feast and Yonason would relay Shaul’s reaction. Yonason and Dovid made a covenant that Dovid would not kill Yonason’s descendants and Yonason promised to be loyal to Dovid. They made a sign between them using the arrows. If Yonason shot the arrows and told his attendant that ‘The arrows are on this side of you’ then Shaul was no threat. If the arrows passed the attendant, and Yonoson said to him ‘Behold the arrows are beyond you’ then Dovid’s life was in danger. On the first day of Rosh Chodesh Shaul assumed Dovid was impure and could therefore not attend the feast, but when he enquired on the second day, Yonason told him that Dovid went to a family sacrifice. Shaul was furious and decided Dovid was deserving of death. Yonason signalled to Dovid that his life was in danger; he dismissed the lad and wished Dovid an emotional farewell.
Perek 21: Dovid arrived at Nov and asked Achimelech the Kohen for food and weapons in Doeg’s presence. Achimelech gave him the holy Lechem Haponim- show bread (Radak argues and says bread of Todah offering) and Golias’s sword as that was all that was available. Dovid sought refuge in Gas- a Pilishti city, but their King Achish was told of Dovid’s identity. Dovid feigned insanity and was let go free.
Perek 22: Dovid escaped to the Caves of Adullom where he became a leader of about 400 men with different troubles. Dovid placed his parents with the King of Moav and progressed to the Forest of Chores. Shaul demanded loyalty from his servants; Doeg told him that he witnessed Achimelech give Dovid provisions. Achimelech was summoned; Shaul instructed his servants to kill Achimelech and his household, they refused (putting their lives at risk for disobeying the king). Doeg went ahead and killed 85 Kohanim and wiped out all the inhabitants of Nov. Eviyosor the son of Achimelech escaped and informed Dovid, who accepts the responsiblity for the fate of Nov. He offers Eviyosor protection against Shaul.
Perek 23: Dovid was told that the Pilishtim waged war against Keilah. Although his men were hesitant to come out of hiding and help fight, they fought based on instructions from the Urim V’tumim and defeated the Pilishtim. Eviyosor had brought the ephod with him when he fled from Nov. Shaul went to Keilah to capture Dovid; Dovid asked the Urim V’tumim’s advice, subsequently he and his 600 men hid in Midbar Zif. There Dovid was reunited with Yonason who offered him encouragement. The Zifites disclosed Dovid’s location to Shaul who pursued Dovid. Shaul surrounded Dovid when a messenger told Shaul that the Pilishtim were attacking and Shaul retreated.
Perek 24: Dovid dwelt in Ein Gedi and Shaul found this out and brought 3,000 of the best warriors. Shaul entered a cave to relieve himself. Dovid and his men were sitting in the far end of the cave. Dovid’s men advised him to kill his enemy, but Dovid refused and instead cut off the corner of Shaul’s garment. Dovid felt guilty afterwards. Dovid approaches Shaul and asks him why he was being pursued; he showed Shaul the corner of his garment and tells him how he had spared his life. Shaul is overcome by Dovid’s graciousness and starts to weep. He expresses his remorse and praises him, he acknowledged that he was wrong and there is reconciliation.
Perek 25: Shmuel died; he was buried at his house in Romoh. Dovid travelled to Midbar Poron. Dovid sent messengers to Novol (a wealthy man who lived in Maon) to request food; Novol was having a feast celebrating the shearing of his sheep. While in hiding, Dovid helped Novol’s shepherds and protected them, despite this Novol refused to give Dovid’s messengers food and was disrespectful about Dovid. Dovid instructed his men to kill Novol (for rebelling against the King), meanwhile one of Novol’s servants informed Novol’s wife, Avigayil what occurred. Avigayil took an abundant supply of food to take to Dovid. Both Avigayil and Dovid met; Avigayil blessed Dovid, but begged him to take the food and keep Novol alive. Dovid agreed and praised Avigayil for her swift action which prevented him from killing Novol. Once Novol sobered up after his party, Avigayil told her husband what she did, he had a heart attack (Rashi). Ten days later he died; Dovid praised Hashem for punishing wrongdoing. Dovid sent for Avigail as a wife in addition to Dovid’s wife Achinoam. Shaul’s daughter.
Perek 26: The Ziphites disclosed Dovid’s whereabouts to Shaul; Shaul sent 3,000 elite troops to search for Dovid. Dovid found Shaul’s camp where he, Avner (the commander of the army) and the entire camp lay asleep. Dovid and Avishai went down into the camp and took Shaul’s spear and flask of water, yet again Dovid shows his loyalty and refused to kill Shaul. Dovid called out to Avner and rebukes him for being remiss in protecting the King. Shaul awoke and realised what happened; he admitted that he had sinned and asks for reconciliation. Shaul returned home and Dovid continued on his way.
Perek 27: In desperation,Dovid goes to dwell in the Pilishti cities in order to escape from Shaul. Dovid and his 600 men dwelt with Achish the King of Gas; Shaul ceased searching for Dovid. Dovid requested a town for him and his men, Achish agreed and gave him Ziklag (which became part of Yehuda’s territory); Dovid dwelt there for 4 months and 2 days. Dovid annihilated cities of Israel’s enemies and pretended to Achish that he was raiding Jewish cities. Dovid would give Achish the spoils he captured from these cities and Achish believed David’s false claim.
Perek 28: The Pilishtim prepared for war against Israel; Achish asked Dovid to be his personal bodyguard during the war. Shaul was afraid when he saw the Philistine camp and inquired through the Urim V’tumim, but received no reply, he therefore resorted to necromancy. Despite banning witchcraft in Israel, Shaul disguised himself and asked a woman who practiced necromancy to call Shmuel from his eternal resting place. Shmuel informed him that his reign as King had ended and he and his sons will die in battle the next day and the Jewish people will be delivered into the hands of the Pilishtim. Shaul was stunned and refused to eat, his men persuaded him to eat.
Perek 29: The Pilishti officers told Achish that Dovid should not accompany them in battle. Achish explained to Dovid that although he was righteous the generals doubted his loyalty, Dovid pretended to be offended.
Perek 30: Upon return, Dovid and his men found that Amalek had attacked and burnt the city of Ziklag, additionally they captured all the women and children including Dovid’s two wives. Dovid’s men were distraught and blamed Dovid for not leaving warriors to defend the city. Dovid inquired of the Urim V’tumim whether he should pursue after Amalek, Hashem responded that he should and would be successful. 400 men were strong enough to go, 200 remained behind who were too exhausted to fight. Dovid’s men received directions from an Egyptian servant who guided them to the Amalekim. They smote the cohort who attacked them and rescued all the captives and possessions; they also took spoils from the Amaleki camp. They met the other 200 men; some of the 400 demanded that only they share out the loot as they fought. Dovid refused and said that the portions are equal for those who fought and those that looked after the possessions; he also sent some of the spoils to several places throughout Israel.
Perek 31: The Pilishtim were fighting against Israel, many Jews were killed including Shaul’s sons: Yonason, Avinodov and Malkishua. Shaul was targeted by the Pilishti archers; he asked his armour bearer to kill him, so he would not be killed by the enemy. The armour bearer refused, so Shaul fell on his sword and died, the armour bearer then fell on his sword. Upon hearing this news, the Bnei Yisrael fled from their cities and the Pilishtim plundered the cities. They removed Shaul’s head and took his equipment and stored it in their temple. The residents of Yavesh Gilaad rescued Shaul’s and his sons’ remains and buried them.