1 Samuel 8 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Israel Demands a King

8 And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. 2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. 3 His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

After hearing an adverse report concerning his sons there is no record of them being upbraided & reproved either by Samuel or God.

In a similar incident the house of Eli was judged for the wayward behavior of his sons.Eli did try to remonstrate with his sons nonetheless a curse & death sentence was pronounced on his house

1 Samuel 2:22 NASB

22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.

Curse pronounced on his house

1 Samuel 2:32 NASB

32 You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that [s]I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever.

Eli reproved his sons

1 Samuel 2:2 NASB

2 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 23 He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?

Nevertheless a death sentence is pronounced on Eli's sons.

1 Samuel 2:34 NASB

34 This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die.

Samuel was well aware of what happened to Hophni & Phinehas yet he failed to reprove his sons also,yet no severe judgement is pronounced either on him or his sons.

Was God lenient on the house of Samuel?

  • From one viewpoint, it does show Samuel does Indirectly take action against his sons by bringing forth the Israelite's request for a king to God, and then reluctantly anointing a king(which implies that Samuel's son's lost their leadership). Thus, Samuel is relatively more active against his sons' for their sins, while Eli was relatively Not as active against his sons' for their sins. Jun 17, 2019 at 12:59

3 Answers 3


It is not possible to tell whether or not God judged Abiah and Joel. Just because the bible is silent in that regard, does not mean it didn't happen. It appears that the reason for the account to be recorded was to provide the impetus for Israel to reject God and ask for a king to rule over them.

1 Samuel 8:1-8(KJV)

And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. 3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.


Could it be that both Eli and his sons were getting fat off the offerings that the sons were stealing from the Lord?

“So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel!” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭2:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬ https://www.bible.com/116/1sa.2.29.nlt

Then when Eli dies it again mentions his “fatness”. Also Eli only rebukes them on their sexual sins not on the sins of stealing the offerings. It seems like Eli didn’t mind benefitting from his sons sins.

  • Even if your post doesn't answer exactly to the question made, you have cited a factor that must be taken in consideration to explain the apparent different treatments between Eli (and his sons), and Samuel (and his sons). + 1 Jun 29, 2020 at 18:24

I would agree with the first to answer. I've wondered about the question myself, that is, why would God replace Eli but not Samuel? One added thought could be that Eli was the natural heir to the position while Samuel was not, hence neither were his sons. I haven't given much thought to this idea, but in asking a similar question, it had occurred to me.

  • Your answer seems to be more of a comment. Please delete this answer and repost it using the comment button. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 22, 2018 at 15:24

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