Saint of the day:
12 interesting facts about the prophet Samuel
1. Samuel is a miracle child. The Bible tells of many significant adults, but only a handful of significant pregnancies. Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob & Esau, Perez, Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus are the others. We meet Samuel’s parents before we meet him. His mother Hannah cannot have children, but God hears her prayers and opens her womb, blessing her with the child Samuel.
2. Samuel’s name means “name of God.” The translation of Samuel (sometimes spelled “Samual” when spelled in the English alphabet) literally means “name of God,” or “God has heard.”
3. Samuel is from the tribe of Levi. Not only was Samuel from the tribe of Levi, but he may have had Ephraimite blood, too (1 Ch 6:33–38, 1 Sa 1:1). This qualified him to serve in the temple, but Samuel was much more than a priest (see below).
4. Samuel is the last judge. You can read about most of the judges in the book of—you guessed it!—Judges. After Joshua dies, the nation of Israel enters the “days of the judges,” (Ru 1:1) when there was no centralized government. During this time, God would raise up individuals to deliverer Israel from her enemies (Jdg 2:16). The book of Judges tells us about 12 judges, and First Samuel introduces two more: Eli and Samuel. Why is Samuel the last? Because after Samuel, Israel is led by kings (Ac 13:20).
5. Samuel anoints the first two kings of Israel: Saul and David. When the people demand a national king, God directs Samuel to anoint Saul, a tall man from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul doesn’t turn out so well, and so God has Samuel anoint a young shepherd named David as the future king: not the king Israel needs, but the king they deserve. You can read all about that in First Samuel. Samuel is qualified to do this because of another office he holds . . .
6. Samuel is the first of the prophets. In the book of Acts, Peter also considers Samuel to be the first of the prophets—after Moses, that is (Ac 3:24). A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God. Samuel isn’t the first person to be called a prophet in the Bible (Moses is both earlier and greater), but as far as we can tell, he lead an order of prophets in Israel (1 Sa 19:20). Samuel’s prophetic ministry is significant because it begins at a time when words from the Lord are rare and infrequent (1 Sa 3:1). But after Samuel, Israel’s history comes alive with prophetic revelation: much of which is recorded in the prophetic books of the Bible.
7. Samuel is a priest. He begins his ministry serving the chief priest in the tabernacle (1 Sa 3:1). Samuel makes sacrifices on behalf of the people, and offers intercessory prayers to God for them (1 Sa 7:9.)
8. Samuel is a Nazarite. Like the mighty Samson, Samuel is dedicated to the Lord as a child. This dedication was for life, and so he never cuts his hair (1 Sa 1:11, Nu 6:1–21).
9. Samuel is the only ghost we meet in the Bible. After Samuel dies, Saul meets with an Ewok—er, a witch of En-dor (1 Sa 28:7). The medium conjures up the spirit of Samuel, who isn’t too happy about what Saul has done. You can read the whole story in First Samuel chapter 28.
10. Samuel led the greatest Passovers. Hundreds of years after Samuel’s death, a king named Josiah celebrates the Passover. It’s such an affair, the author says it’s the greatest Passover ever—well, ever since Samuel’s day (2 Ch 35:18).
11. Samuel is remembered for his prayers. The psalmist who penned Psalm 99 ranks him with Moses and Aaron as one who called upon the Lord’s name (Ps 99:6).
12. God calls Samuel by name—twice Samuel is one of 8 people in the Bible that God calls by name … twice. The others are Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Martha, Simon, “My God,” and Saul.
BONUS: Two books of the Bible are named after Samuel, but he only shows up in one. Yes, we have the books of First and Second Samuel, but Samuel is never mentioned in Second Samuel! This is because both books were originally one document.
Tomb of Samuel
Nebi Samuel, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, is the traditional tomb of prophet Samuel, with ancient remains from the Hasmonean period (2nd century BC) through the Crusaders period (12th C AD). It is a holy place for the Jewish, Christians and Muslims.
1 Samuel 10 17: “And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh”
(Below is an Arabic sign denoting where Samuel was buried in the Tomb of Samuel, according to tradition.)
Sumac Beef Skewers
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp sumac
a small handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
450g minced beef (ideally use 20% fat))
½ onion, grated
½ tsp ground allspice
a small handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp lebanese seven-spice or baharat
1 ½ tsp aleppo pepper
25g pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Put the sliced onion into a bowl with the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt. Mix well and leave to macerate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the grill or barbecue to high. Put all the ingredients for the kebabs and a generous pinch of salt into a large bowl and mix well. Form into sausage- shaped patties and thread the meat onto flat skewers (these prevent the meat from turning when you flip them over on the barbecue). You should be able to make 8 kebabs. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until charred and juicy.
Add the sumac and parsley to the macerated onions and mix well.
To serve, spread the hummus on a serving dish. Lay the kebabs on top and pile on the onions. Serve immediately with flatbreads.