The story is the following

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”

Samuel, being a nepotist himself, installed his sons as judges.

Samuel's sons are bribe able. They got bribed and we know what that means.

I can imagine many businessmen manage to condemn their competitors to death by bribing judges. Many people end up becoming slaves because the judge accept that they owe a million dinar or accept plaintif's frivolous lawsuits. Well, bribed judges. What do we expect? Chrony capitalism.

Obviously the israelites are enraged. So they ask for a king.

Instead of thinking, "Oh boy. Those judges sucks." Hashem think, "the israelites are wrong for asking for a king. They rejected me."

Well duh? Hashem is a God that install this system resulting in these corrupt judges being installed. Of course the israelites complain and want some "solutions".

Hashem even defend Samuel by saying, "They didn't reject you, they reject me." Look, this Samuel guy, directly installed corrupt judges, not based on merit but based on nepotism, and well, messed things up. Rejecting Samuel is a very rational thing to do.

What would you do if Donald Trump installed his son as Supreme Court Nominee and actively and openly accepting bribes? You would have demand something too right?

That doesn't make sense. Any normal person would think Hashem would at least address the corruption problem first before condemning a legitimate complain and it's solution. Hashem, could, for example, change the judge selection process, introduce jury duty, prohibit nepotism, or I don't know, do make better laws than the current system that result in corruptible judges.

Instead Hashem condemn Israelites for asking for a solution.


  • 3
    "Samuel, being a nepotist himself, installed his sons as judges." Can you demonstrate that his decision was based on nepotism? Insulting Jewish prophets without basis in a way not even necessary for your question is likely to earn the ire of other users... – mevaqesh Mar 31 '17 at 20:59
  • 1
    "Obviously the israelites are enraged. So they ask for a king." Can you demonstrate that this potential local issue was the impetus for a national monarchy? – mevaqesh Mar 31 '17 at 21:00
  • 1
    "not based on merit but based on nepotism," You keep repeating assertions with absolutely no evidence. How do you know that they didn't have respectable resumes; perhaps more impressive than others who applied? – mevaqesh Mar 31 '17 at 21:01
  • "What would you do if Donald Trump installed his son as Supreme Court Nominee and actively and openly accepting bribes? You would have demand something too right?" For the parallel to be true, Samuel would have had to accept bribes. Can you demonstrate that this was the case? – mevaqesh Mar 31 '17 at 21:02
  • 3
    It seems that this question could be greatly improved by simply asking: "Why did God criticise Israel for requesting a king? Did their request have to do with a perceived failure of the former system, and if so, why was their request for a king nevertheless unjustified." This seems like a much much better question than one currently posted. – mevaqesh Mar 31 '17 at 21:04

This is a situation in which the tanach judges people extremely harshly for actions that are not as serious as the literal text. For example Rashi says

and they perverted: Something else; viz. justice. (I. e., ‘va’yattu’ is a transitive verb of the ‘hiph’il’ or causative conjugation.) And our Rabbis said: Samuel’s sons did not sin. They merely did not follow their father’s footsteps. While their father would travel to all places of Israel and judge them in their cities they did not do so, in order to increase the income of their sheriffs and scribes, (who were employed to summon the litigants to trial).

This means that they themselves did not take (literal) bribes, but their actions were regarded as improper and appeared to be like bribery, since they used their authority to make people travel to them and hire the scribes who were in the central location (like insisting on a particular group of lawyers).

Additionally, if his sons were that bad, they would have been punished themselves and Hashem would have told Shmuel to remove them from office. Hashem's answer to Shmuel shows that it was really a political complaint and not an actual result of bribery. Had they really felt that the sons were improper judges, they would have asked Hashem to name judges that would follow the ways of Shmuel and lead the nation correctly.

  • So the sons weren't that bad? You sure? The scripture cleary said they perverted justice and aim for dishonest gain. Did Rashi "retcon" that to white wash their reputation? By the way, what would have happened if they were that bad? Hashem would interfere? Do Israelites law at that time were designed to require constant intervention of Hashem? – user4951 Apr 1 '17 at 7:01
  • Also there are many bad kings and judges (and presidents) long after that and Hashem didn't interfere to get rid of them. So what makes you think that Hashem would interfere to judges at that time. That's assuming Hashem exist in the first place, but let's assume that. – user4951 Apr 1 '17 at 7:08
  • @JimThio The reaction assuring Shmuel that it was a complaint against Hashem and not Shmuel himself shows that his sons had not sinned. It is because Shmuel was dealing directly with Hashem and with a prophesy that explains the circumstances. That is why at the time of the judges we see the miracles and in the time of the kings we see the prophets giving the appropriate messages. – sabbahillel Apr 2 '17 at 0:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .