In Hebrews 11, at the end of the Hall of Faith, we get a short list:

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—Hebrews 11:32 (ESV)

This list resembles a list of Judges in Samuel:

And the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety.—1st Samuel 12:11 (ESV)

When you know that Jerubbaal = Gideon and that the list in Samuel was intended to show that a king was superfluous to God's plan, which is why he excluded David, the lists are even closer. Finally, we know that Samson was present in the list of 1st Samuel 12:11 as rendered by the Targum (Aramaic) and Peshitta (Syriac).

Is it legitimate to:

  1. Assume the author of Hebrews is quoting Samuel's list,
  2. Find the intersection of versions of the list that best cover what is found in Hebrews 11:32, and
  3. Presume that the author of Hebrews was familiar with the languages that are represented by that set?

If so, what are the languages?

  • 3
    The context of I Sam 12:11 is the time of the kingdom of Saul, so David is not yet in the list. Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


I Sam 12:11 in 4QSam Frg.d has only the word "Jerubal", the rest of the verse is missing.

Leningrad and Allepo have "...Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel...", same in Brenton's English LXX.

RASHI says Bedan is Samson as he was "in [the tribe of] Dan" ("b'Dan") or "of the tribe of Dan" ("ben Dan").

The targum has "...Gideon and Samson and Jephtah and Samuel.."

The Pshita apparently has "..Deborah and Barak..." instead of "Bedan".

Josephus drops "Bedan" entirely.

Nothing particularly pertinent in the Midrash other than as brought by RASHI above.

The English translations reading "Barak" instead of "Bedan" probably read the dalet in "Bedan" as a malformed resh and the nun sofit as a malformed quf.

NT Hebrews 11 recaps Israelite history from the view of faith, culminating in the list in 11:32, which appears to be a conflation as it apparently includes both Samson and Barak and also David. This probably does not represent a direct quote from any version of Samuel but is the authors own list of charismatic leaders drawn from his knowledge of the tradition, irrespective of literacy, to support his argument.

Varying formulations of commemorative lists of God's acts and charismatic leaders are typical exhoratives to faith, as in Psalms 78, 99 and 136 and externally, the Hagadah of Passover, particularly the Maggid section.

Interesting that Hebrews 11 stops with David and does not mention later charismatics such as Esther, Mordechai, Daniel, Judith or the Maccabees, alluding to them only indirectly by their tribulations in verses 34 through 37. This might indicate a Saducee sympathy or might indicate that at that time the books associated with these charismatics were not fully canonical as were the earlier prophets.

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