Knowledge & power in 1 Samuel 3: A narrative-critical reading

Author: Samiuela Hukehuke

Hukehuke, Samiuela, 2019 Knowledge & power in 1 Samuel 3: A narrative-critical reading, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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This dissertation is an exegetical analysis of 1 Samuel 3:1-4:1a. This narrative tells of Samuel’s first encounter with the Divine on an ordinary evening in the Shiloh sanctuary and his rise to becoming a nationally recognised prophet. Yet, the crux of the story is the word of the LORD, its reception and transmission. The core thesis of this paper is that the word of the LORD communicates knowledge and power. Power dynamics shift between the youthful Samuel and the elderly priest, Eli, which accompanies the transmission and reception of the divine word. The word of God also carries with it knowledge, not only of the divine will but also of the relationship between the LORD and the Elide priesthood. As an example of speech, the word of the LORD is also inherently tied to communication, speaking and listening, which is seen in the resistance God encounters when calling to Samuel. This same thematic framework is also evident in the wider context of 1 Samuel 1-4. More often than not communication is hindered by misunderstanding which stems from a lack of knowledge and perception: Eli misinterprets Hannah’s vow (1 Sam. 1:13-14), Eli’s sons do not listen to him (2:25), Samuel and Eli do not immediately realise the LORD is calling (3:4-8), the Israelites speak and act in ignorance and are defeated in battle (4:2-11). Yet, there are also examples of clear and precise communication, most closely related to the LORD, which exhibit and describe power and knowledge, e.g., Hannah’s song of praise (2:1-10) and the LORD’s two words concerning Eli and his house (2:27-36; 3:11-14). In all these instances the word of the LORD is central, even in its absence, in conveying power and knowledge to the people of Israel.

Keywords: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, word of the LORD

Subject: Theology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Paul Jones