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A Handbook on the First Book of Samuel

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What if you were responsible for translating God's Word into a language that never had a Bible before? Can you imagine the burden you would feel to do a good job?

God takes His Word pretty seriously, and you would certainly do everything in your power to make sure that you were not putting words into God's mouth, but that you were providing a text that clearly communicated God's Word as closely to the original as possible.

This challenge to understand the heart of the original Scriptures, in order to put the original text into a new language, was the impetus for the United Bible Societies to create handbooks for Bible translators working on this very thing. The United Bible Societies' Handbook Series is a comprehensive verse-by-verse guide to understanding exactly what is being communicated by the author in the original Scriptures.

  • Exegetical, historical, cultural, and linguistic information on the original text
  • Verse-by-verse guides
  • An essential tool for Bible translators

Top Highlights

“The man after his own heart is David (see chapter 16; also Acts 13:22). In Hebrew thought the heart is the place where one’s will, desire, and choice are exercised. This may be expressed as ‘a person whose desire is to serve the Lord’ or ‘the kind of man he wants’ (ncv).” (Page 262)

“The explanation of the name Samuel reflects a play on words in which the name has a similarity of sound to the Hebrew verb ‘to ask.’ In fact, though, ‘Samuel’ means ‘name of God’ or ‘God’s name is El.’ It is rather the name ‘Saul’ that comes from the same root as the Hebrew verb ‘to ask.’ Since the writer intended the readers to recognize the play on words here, translators are urged to use a footnote similar to that in tev. The footnote in the pocket edition of njb is also a useful model: ‘Samuel is derived from shem-˒el (= the Name of God), but is here related to sha˒al (= ask).’” (Page 43)

“It is possible that Elkanah took her as a second wife when Hannah was unable to give him a child.” (Page 25)

“The rsv translation is based on the Septuagint. njb likewise follows the Septuagint in reading ‘to Hannah, however, he would give only one portion. for, although he loved Hannah more, Yahweh had made her barren’ (similarly reb). Note that, according to the Septuagint, he gave Hannah one portion although (or despite the fact that) he loved her more. That is, Elkanah gave Hannah one portion only, not because he loved her less but rather because she had no children and therefore needed only one portion for herself. According to the Hebrew, however, he gave her a special (or, double) portion because he loved her more.” (Page 28)

  • Title: A Handbook on the First Book of Samuel
  • Authors: Roger L. Omanson and John E. Ellington
  • Series: The United Bible Societies' Handbook Series (UBSHS)
  • Publisher: United Bible Societies
  • Pages: 621


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  1. David A Fraser

    David A Fraser


    Problem: The pagination on this book starts only on p. 22. Before that there are no pages registering. Not sure what is going on but the book is defective.
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