|August 20: Prophet Samuel|
The Prophet Samuel was the 15th and last of the Judges of Israel, living more than 1146 years before the Birth of Christ. He was descended from the Tribe of Levi, and was the son of Elkanah from Ramathaim-Zophima of Mount Ephraim [exact location unknown]. He was born, having been besought of the Lord through the prayers of his mother Anna (wherefore he received the name Samuel, which means "besought"), and even before birth he was dedicated to God.
When the boy reached age 3, his mother went with him to Shiloh and in accord with her vow gave him over to the tabernacle in care of the high-priest Eli, who at this time was a judge over the Israelite nation. The prophet grew in the fear of God, and already at 12 years of age he had the revelation that God would punish all the house of the high-priest Eli, because he did not restrain the impiety of his sons.
The prophecy was fulfilled when the Philistines, having slain in battle 30,000 Israelites (among them were also the sons of the high-priest, Hophni and Phinees), gaining victory and capturing the Ark of the Covenant with God. Hearing of this, the high-priest Eli fell from his seat backwards at the gate, and breaking his back, he died. The wife of Phinees, upon hearing what had happened in this very hour, gave birth to a son (Ichabod) and died with the words: "The glory is gone out from Israel, for the Ark of God is taken away" (1 Sam [1 Kg] 4: 22).
Upon the death of Eli, Samuel became the judge of the nation of Israel. The Ark of God was returned by the Philistines on their own initiative, and after their returning to God, the Israelites returned to all the cities that the Philistines had taken.
Having gotten up in years, the Prophet Samuel made his sons -- Joel and Abiah -- judges over Israel, but they followed not in the integrity and righteous judgement of their father, since they were motivated by greed. Then the elders of Israel, wanting that the nation of God should be "like other nations" (1 Sam [1 Kg] 8: 20), demanded of the Prophet Samuel that a king be established for them. The Prophet Samuel saw in this a deep downfall of the people, which until this time God Himself had governed, announcing His will through His chosen saints. Resigning the position of judge, the Prophet Samuel asked the people, whether they consent in his continued governance, but no one stepped forward for him.
After denunciation of the first king, Saul, for his disobedience to God, the Prophet Samuel anointed as king Saint David, to whom he had offered asylum, saving him from the pursuit of king Saul.
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