I read 1 Samuel 11 on Bible Gateway. At the end of the chapter was a footnote.

1 Samuel 11:1 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls gifts

Now Nahash king of the Ammonites oppressed the Gadites and Reubenites severely. He gouged out all their right eyes and struck terror and dread in Israel. Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, except that seven thousand men fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead. About a month later, 1 Nahash... then it goes into the siege of Jabesh Gilead.

During the time of the Judges Israel seemed to go through cycles. A judge led them, the judge died, the people turned to false idols, they fell prey to another people, they repented, and God appointed a new judge who led them out of oppression.

In 1 Samuel, Samuel led them out of Philistine oppression and their idolatry seemed to be in check. Then because of perversions of justice by Samuels sons the people decide they're tired of judges and want a king. To the reader, replacing theology with a monarchy seems incredibly foolish. However if the Ammonites have been wreaking havoc and God wasn't repelling them, it's no wonder they wanted a king.

The additional text referred to above indicates that Jabesh Gilead is not a new aggression but one that has already done considerable damage to two of the northern tribes. If idolatry is in check and the people are for the most part behaving, the Ammonite oppression doesn't fit the model of the period of the judges.

What does "Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls gifts" mean and is it reliable enough to add as pre 1 Sam 11 text? Your comments?

1 Answer 1


When the dead sea scrolls were discovered, one of the scrolls in cave 4 was found to contain fragments of 1 Samuel that had the extra paragraph about Nahash gouging out the eyes of the Israelites. This is scroll 4QSama here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Samuel_Scroll

Whether or not this paragraph should be included is an exercise in textual criticism. On the one hand, the LXX and MT doesn't have it, and it was only found in this scroll. OTOH, this is an older scroll. Here is David Tsumura in NICOT:

While it is possible that 4QSama “correctly preserves an entire narrative section lost from all other biblical mss,” another possibility is that the 4QSama section is a later addition. Or, maybe there existed simply more than one version: see, for example, the coexistence in one text of short (abridged) and long (full) versions of Sennacherib’s third campaign. Lack of information contained in one of the versions could be drastic to a modern reader who has no other information, but not to the contemporary readers who might have had other information unknown to us. It might be possible that 4QSama got its information from some other version. This information “makes excellent narrative and historical sense,” but this does not give us the right to reform the shorter version into a longer one. The biblical narrator is concerned more with the delivery of the Transjordan Israelites by Saul than with their oppression by Nahash, king of the Ammonites. The demand for a king to rule over them in ch. 8 might have been made in the midst of this Ammonite oppression; see on 12:12. Tsumura, D. (2007). The First Book of Samuel (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

In other words, there isn't a strong consensus one way or another about whether this paragraph should be included in the text, so a compromise is to provide it as a footnote, which you discovered.

  • Thank you Robert
    – Randy
    Jan 12, 2021 at 7:05

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