The Question Column
QUESTION: How could Samuel be both a Levite (1 Chron. 6:23, 28) and an Ephraimite (1 Sam. 1:1: “Ephrathite” — KJV)? Is this a contradiction?
ANSWER: We are indebted to Mr. James Gunn for the following brief study of Samuel, which provides an answer to this question and also presents some lessons for today from this great man of God.
1. There are several suggestions as to the meaning of Samuel’s name: “placed by God,” “heard by God,” and “asked from God.” This last meaning is the one that was understood by Hannah (1 Sam. 1:20).
2. Samuel’s father was a Levite, a descendant of Korah (Ex. 6:18; 1 Chron. 6:22-23).
3. The Levites were dispersed among the tribes of Israel to teach the law of God. In this ministry the sons of Korah received cities in Ephraim (1 Chron. 6:66).
4. After the death of Eli, Samuel apparently left Shiloh and made Ramah, the city of his birth, his fixed place of residence (1 Sam. 7:15-17).
5. Although Samuel was a Levite, a descendant of Kohath, he was not a member of the house of Aaron; therefore, he was not a regular priest by descent.
This remarkable man was not anointed as a king; nevertheless, as a regent he judged Israel all the days of his life (1 Sam. 7:15). He was not anointed and consecrated as a priest, but on the failure of the house of Aaron (1 Sam. 2:12, 22-24; 3:10-18), he did priestly ministry (1 Sam. 7:8-10). Furthermore, he was not anointed as a prophet; yet in the New Testament he is called “Samuel the prophet” (Acts 3:24; 13:20).
W. W. Fereday called Samuel “God’s Emergency Man.” Others have spoken of him as the “last of the judges” and the “first of the prophets.” There is no doubt but that Samuel is one of the most remarkable men in all the Bible.
Hopefully, these facts and references will provide the questioner with the answers to his difficulties concerning the life of this distinguished servant of God.
(Please send all questions to Dr. James T. Naismith, 1121 Hilltop St., Peterborough, Ont., K9J 5S6.)