David and Goliath, the call of Samuel, the witch of Endor, David and Bathsheba—such biblical stories are well known. But the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, where they are recorded, are among the most difficult books in the Bible. The Hebrew text is widely considered corrupt and sometimes even unintelligible. The social and religious customs are strange and seem to diverge from the tradition of Moses. In this first part of an ambitious two-volume commentary on the books of Samuel, David Toshio Tsumura sheds considerable light on the background of 1 Samuel, looking carefully at the Philistine and Canaanite cultures, as he untangles the difficult Hebrew text.
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David Tsumura’s commentary on 1 Samuel is a major work in an already well-populated field. His specialty in Hebrew language and stylistics enables him to make a unique contribution to the textual study of this biblical book, and he challenges many settled explanations of the text. Tsumura’s engagement with the secondary literature is formidable, and his introduction is unusually informative on a wide range of features relating to the text and its interpretation. This is a notable commentary achievement.
—Robert P. Gordon, regius professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge
A recognized expert in Ugaritic and modern linguistics, David Tsumura brings the full resources of both to bear in this remarkable commentary based on a new interpretation of the Hebrew text of 1 Samuel. . . . An essential starting point for future study of this biblical book.
—Richard S. Hess, Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Denver Seminary
David Tsumura has made his reputation in precise, well-balanced studies of Hebrew poetry and in the language of Ugarit. He applies his wide knowledge of ancient Semitic languages and of modern discourse linguistics to illuminate the biblical text. He clarifies many obscure passages—for example, the ‘golden mice’ of chapter 6. Aware of current fashions in biblical exegesis, Tsumura presents his independent, carefully considered judgments to help readers appreciate the excitement and the value of 1 Samuel.
—Alan Millard, emeritus professor, University of Liverpool