A Hypertextual Commentary

by Bartosz Adamczewski (Author)
©2021 Monographs 246 Pages


The book demonstrates that the books of Samuel–Kings, taken together, are a result of one, highly creative, hypertextual reworking of the book of Deuteronomy. This detailed reworking consists of almost 2000 strictly sequentially organized, conceptual, and at times, also linguistic correspondences between Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy. The strictly sequential, hypertextual dependence on Deuteronomy explains numerous surprising features of Samuel–Kings. The critical analysis of Samuel–Kings as a coherently composed Judaean hypertextual work disproves the hypothesis of the existence of the Deuteronomistic history and its variants. It also sheds entirely new light on the question of the origin of the so-called Enneateuch Genesis–Kings.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Sequential hypertextuality
  • Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy
  • Date of composition
  • Place of composition
  • Chapter 1. First Samuel as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Deut 1–7
  • 1.1. 1 Sam 1 (cf. Deut 1:1–11)
  • 1.2. 1 Sam 2 (cf. Deut 1:12–39)
  • 1.3. 1 Sam 3:1–4:1a (cf. Deut 1:40–43)
  • 1.4. 1 Sam 4:1b–7:2 (cf. Deut 1:44–2:7)
  • 1.5. 1 Sam 7:3–17 (cf. Deut 2:8–9)
  • 1.6. 1 Sam 8–15 (cf. Deut 2:10–16)
  • 1.7. 1 Sam 16 (cf. Deut 2:17–29)
  • 1.8. 1 Sam 17 (cf. Deut 2:30–36d)
  • 1.9. 1 Sam 18 (cf. Deut 2:36e–3:14)
  • 1.10. 1 Sam 19 (cf. Deut 3:15–4:49)
  • 1.11. 1 Sam 20:1–27:6 (cf. Deut 5:1–21)
  • 1.12. 1 Sam 27:7–29:11 (cf. Deut 5:22–6:25)
  • 1.13. 1 Sam 30–31 (cf. Deut 7)
  • Chapter 2. Second Samuel as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Deut 8:1–13:6
  • 2.1. 2 Sam 1 (cf. Deut 8)
  • 2.2. 2 Sam 2–4 (cf. Deut 9:1–8)
  • 2.3. 2 Sam 5 (cf. Deut 9:9–10:3)
  • 2.4. 2 Sam 6–7 (cf. Deut 10:4–17a)
  • 2.5. 2 Sam 8–10 (cf. Deut 10:17a–22)
  • 2.6. 2 Sam 11–19 (cf. Deut 11:1–15b)
  • 2.7. 2 Sam 20–23 (cf. Deut 11:15c–23)
  • 2.8. 2 Sam 24 (cf. Deut 11:24–13:6)
  • Chapter 3. First Kings as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Deut 13:7–27:25
  • 3.1. 1 Kgs 1–2 (cf. Deut 13:7–14:2c)
  • 3.2. 1 Kgs 3–4 (cf. Deut 14:2d–29)
  • 3.3. 1 Kgs 5–7 (cf. Deut 15:1–16:12)
  • 3.4. 1 Kgs 8–9 (cf. Deut 16:13–16)
  • 3.5. 1 Kgs 10–11 (cf. Deut 16:17–17:20)
  • 3.6. 1 Kgs 12 (cf. Deut 18:1–20)
  • 3.7. 1 Kgs 13:1–14:29 (cf. Deut 18:21–19:21)
  • 3.8. 1 Kgs 14:30–16:34 (cf. Deut 20–22)
  • 3.9. 1 Kgs 17 (cf. Deut 23:1–26:11)
  • 3.10. 1 Kgs 18 (cf. Deut 26:12–27:7)
  • 3.11. 1 Kgs 19 (cf. Deut 27:8–16)
  • 3.12. 1 Kgs 20–22 (cf. Deut 27:17–25)
  • Chapter 4. Second Kings as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Deut 27:26–34:12
  • 4.1. 2 Kgs 1–5 (cf. Deut 27:26–28:22)
  • 4.2. 2 Kgs 6–7 (cf. Deut 28:23–58)
  • 4.3. 2 Kgs 8–10 (cf. Deut 28:59–68)
  • 4.4. 2 Kgs 11–15 (cf. Deut 28:69–29:15b)
  • 4.5. 2 Kgs 16–17 (cf. Deut 29:15c–28)
  • 4.6. 2 Kgs 18–20 (cf. Deut 30:1–31:1)
  • 4.7. 2 Kgs 21 (cf. Deut 31:2–9)
  • 4.8. 2 Kgs 22 (cf. Deut 31:10–27)
  • 4.9. 2 Kgs 23 (cf. Deut 31:28–32:40)
  • 4.10. 2 Kgs 24 (cf. Deut 32:41–34:1b)
  • 4.11. 2 Kgs 25 (cf. Deut 34:1c–12)
  • General conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Primary sources
  • Secondary literature
  • Index of ancient sources
  • Series index


The books of Samuel and Kings are regarded in the Hebrew and Western canonical traditions as four books, forming two groups of writings: two books of Samuel and two books of Kings. However, the tradition of the Septuagint regards them as one group of writings, namely, the four books of Kingdoms. Taking into consideration the relatively weak boundaries between them,1 they can be regarded as one literary work. The narrative unity between the books of Samuel and Kings is provided, for example, by the continuity of the story of the old David in 2 Sam 23:1–1 Kgs 2:11. Moreover, this monograph demonstrates that the books of Samuel–Kings, taken together, resulted from a consistent hypertextual reworking of the book of Deuteronomy. This fact decisively proves that the whole narrative of Samuel–Kings should be regarded as one long literary work.

The style of this monograph is highly repetitive, resembling that of the repetitively formulated summaries in 1 Kgs 11:41–43; 14:19–20.29–31; etc. This ‘minimalistic’ style of scholarly analysis directs the attention of the reader to the hitherto unknown phenomenon of almost two thousand sequentially arranged, conceptual, but often also linguistic, hypertextual correspondences between Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy. The discovery of this phenomenon radically changes our understanding of the narrative of Samuel–Kings: its origin, literary character, and theological ideas. It reveals that Samuel–Kings as a whole, and not just some fragments thereof (the story of the inauguration of the sanctuary etc.), was consistently written as a hypertextual reworking of Deuteronomy.

The English translations of the Hebrew words, phrases, and sentences of Samuel–Kings, which are used in this monograph, are often as literal as possible, even at the cost of incorrectness of English grammar and style (‘land’ instead of ‘earth,’ ‘do’ instead of ‘make,’ etc.), to show the linguistic and conceptual ←11 | 12→connections between Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy, which are often only detectable in the original Hebrew text.

Sequential hypertextuality

The methodological approach adopted in this monograph is not based on any widely used modern exegetical method. These methods are generally based on various presuppositions, for example, that the biblical texts are similar to other ancient texts, that they have some diachrony, that they have some internal narrative coherence, that they convey some coherent ideas, etc., which are not necessarily true. The approach adopted in this monograph is therefore based on close reading and comparative analysis of the biblical texts as we have them, with paying particular attention to the order of their ideas and to their minor, somewhat surprising details, which are rarely scrutinised by other scholars. Thus, in a critical and verifiable way, it explains numerous data of the biblical texts which are very difficult to explain with the use of more widely known biblical methods, a feature which from a general methodological point of view constitutes its greatest advantage over them.2

This methodological approach was already adopted and refined in my earlier monographs concerning various biblical writings. These studies revealed that the sequentially arranged, hypertextual connections between the New Testament Gospels and their hypotexts can be counted not in tens, as I had earlier thought, but in hundreds.3 The present monograph likewise presupposes and develops the results of my earlier study on Samuel–Kings, in which I argued that there ←12 | 13→are forty-four sequentially arranged, hypertextual connections between Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy.4

According to the French literary theorist Gérard Genette, hypertextuality can be defined as any relationship uniting a text B (which is in such a case called hypertext) to an earlier text A (which is called hypotext), upon which it grafts itself in a manner that is not that of commentary.5 Accordingly, a hypertextual relationship of a given text to a hypotext by definition does not consist in directly commenting on the hypotext, its ideas, literary features, phraseology, etc. Therefore, a hypertextual relationship may include some linguistic connections between the hypertext and the hypotext, but it may also be purely conceptual. For this reason, although the presence of shared language, especially unique to two given texts, is a useful preliminary indicator of some kind of literary relationship between them, the volume of shared language should not be regarded as the primary criterion for detecting literary dependence between two given texts, especially ancient Near Eastern texts.6

My analyses of the phenomenon of hypertextuality in biblical writings reveal that the most important criterion for detecting a hypertextual relationship between two given biblical writings is the criterion of the order of their hypertextual correspondences. If two given works reveal conceptual and/or linguistic correspondences which follow a sequential pattern, it is reasonable to argue that the author of one of these works in a hypertextual way reworked the other work, preserving the basic sequence of its ideas, concepts, literary motifs, etc. In such a case, the relationship between these works may be called sequential hypertextuality.←13 | 14→

Jeffrey M. Leonard makes use of this criterion in his identification of the allusive technique called ‘narrative tracking.’7 Leonard’s criterion of detecting the mimicking of the narrative structure of an earlier text in a later text can certainly be applied to the narrative parts of Deuteronomy and Samuel–Kings (the Israelites coming to a sanctuary, protecting the socially weak ones, the ‘original sin’ in the sanctuary, the positive character of a young man, Yahweh foretelling the punishment on the old Israelite leader, etc.). However, the phenomenon of the common order of ideas, concepts, motifs, specific vocabulary, etc. can be much broader than that of the presence of ‘narrative tracking’ because it can also be detected in non-narrative or only partly narrative texts.

In the cases in which the level of verbal agreement between the conceptually corresponding fragments of two given works is very low, and consequently the relationship between both works is truly hypertextual, the criterion of order is particularly useful. In such cases, the weakness of purely linguistic signals of literary dependence (quoted or imitated sentences, reproduced characteristic phrases, characteristic vocabulary, etc.) is recompensed by the consistency of the strictly sequential reworking of the conceptual elements (ideas, images, arguments, references to time, directions of movement in space, actions taken, features of the characters, etc.) of one work in the other one.

The criterion of the common order of the conceptually and/or linguistically corresponding elements is particularly compelling if it refers not only to larger thematic sections or pericopes, but also to individual sentences or even clauses, phrases, and words. In such cases, the argumentative force of this criterion is very high, even if the level of verbal or formal agreement between the compared texts is quite low. It should be admitted that the detection of a sequence of several similar elements, which is often used in structuralist-oriented scholarship for postulating the existence of various chiastic, concentric, or parallel patterns in biblical texts (ABCDC’B’A’ etc.),8 can be regarded as more or less subjective. However, the degree of interpretative objectivity is much higher if the detected common sequence of conceptually corresponding elements consists of tens, hundreds, or thousands of sequentially arranged items.←14 | 15→

Moreover, instead of placing great emphasis on the presence or absence of shared language in two given texts, the analysis of literary dependence, especially that of a highly creative, hypertextual kind, may be based on the criterion of noticing and explaining the presence of somewhat surprising features in the later text.9 David M. Carr points to the presence of such features in the so-called ‘blind motifs.’10

Such particular, surprising, innovative, atypical features, which go beyond evoking general associations with other texts (achieved with the use of familiar motifs, formulaic language, type-scenes, literary genres, etc.), point to literary, reinterpreting dependence upon an earlier text, and not merely oral transmission of traditional material, which could be freely used by the author in his creative literary activity.11←15 | 16→

The not easily perceivable, rarely noticed, somewhat surprising features of a given literary work can often be explained if this work is an imperfect literary reworking of another text, in which such problems and surprising features are absent. In fact, every reworking of something else leaves some traces, and even a gifted and creative author is not always capable of eliminating all of them, especially if they are barely noticeable.12 A careful analysis of such minor, intriguing literary features, which are often neglected or only superficially explained by most commentators, may give important clues to the discovery of a hypertextual relationship of a given text to a hypotext. Moreover, it can help to ascertain the direction of literary dependence between two given writings.13

In particular, in the analysis of the phenomenon of sequential hypertextual reworking in the Hebrew Bible it is important to pay close attention to various intriguing linguistic phenomena in the Hebrew text of its writings: the use of the same Hebrew root in semantically apparently unrelated words, plays with the meaning of proper names, the use of ambiguous words and phrases, surprising combinations of words in phrases, linguistic differences between parallel accounts, the interpretative function of the masoretic punctuation of Hebrew homographs,14 etc.←16 | 17→

It should also be noted that the crucial hermeneutical disposition for analysing hypertextual correspondences in the Bible consists in the use of the faculty of imagination15 in order to detect imaginative, creative, at times purely conceptual correspondences between various ideas, images, statements, and words in the biblical texts.16 In imagination, as is well known, the sky is the limit. Therefore, in this respect the methods of midrashic and allegorical interpretation used by ancient rabbis and church fathers at times better reflected the complex meaning of the biblical texts, with their metaphors, allusions, word-plays, hidden polemic, and narrative illustrations of various theological and legal ideas, than do modern, often too ‘arid’ exegetical methods, which aim at being scholarly objective, and consequently prefer the more evident, but in fact more superficial level of meaning.

Therefore, if the Bible resembles a work of art, then the exegete needs a good, gifted, and trained ‘ear’ or ‘eye,’17 but also broad scholarly knowledge (and not merely following a widely used interpretative procedure), to detect signals of creative, hypertextual reworking of another work in a given biblical writing.18

The problem of adequate scholarly interpretation of the Bible, including Samuel–Kings, is additionally complicated by the question how typical the Bible is among ancient literary works. Modern biblical methodology assumes that the biblical writings generally resemble other ancient literary works of similar literary genres (literary legends, folk tales, family sagas, historical narratives, lists of heroes, royal chronicles, prophetic oracles, etc.), and therefore it is possible to understand adequately the biblical writings by using methods developed in literary criticism to interpret literary works which belong to a given literary genre. However, my own research on the phenomenon of sequential hypertextuality in biblical writings shows that the Bible may be quite unique in its extensive, systematic, detailed use of the procedure of sequential hypertextual reworking of earlier texts. Therefore, in order to maintain the standards of interpretative objectivity, the biblical writings should be analysed against the background of other writings ←17 | 18→of the same kind, so in this case other biblical, hypertextual writings, and not merely other ancient texts of only apparently similar literary genres.

Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy

As is well known, the books of Samuel and Kings are generally regarded by modern scholars as somehow related to Deuteronomy. Recent research on the origin of the Former Prophets is generally dominated by discussions concerning variants of literary-theological hypotheses which assign Samuel–Kings to the larger literary compositions of the Deuteronomistic History or the Enneateuch. In these hypotheses, the books of Samuel and Kings are regarded as para-Deuteronomic, in terms of the presence of common literary strata, and possibly also partly post-Deuteronomic.19

Overviews of recent research on the composition of the books of Samuel and Kings can be found in numerous publications.20 Therefore, the following survey will only refer to selected, recent scholarly opinions which somehow concern the issue of possible literary dependence of Samuel–Kings on Deuteronomy or vice versa.

Felipe Blanco Wißmann is of the opinion that there are no motifs connecting Deuteronomy and the original of the books of Kings. He suggests that such parallels can only be found in some texts in 1–2 Kings (e.g., 1 Kgs 14:22–24; 2 Kgs 21:7–9; and 2 Kgs 17:7–20), which employ the language of the Deuteronomistic stage of the book of Deuteronomy.21

Serge Frolov argues that 1 Samuel 1–7 is literarily based on Deut 18:3–5 because there are verbal and conceptual correspondences between these texts, ←18 | 19→and ‘there was no obvious reason for the creators of Deuteronomy to use verbatim quotations from 1 Samuel 1–7.’22 Likewise, he suggests that 1 Sam 8:5 in an anti-Deuteronomic, anti-monarchic way echoes the Deuteronomic law of the king (Deut 17:14), so that the whole section 1 Sam 1–8 is an anti-Deuteronomic addition to the Deuteronomistic substrate of the Former Prophets.23

Erhard Blum opts for the classical hypothesis of the existence of a late exilic Deuteronomistic historical work, reaching from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings, in which both Deuteronomy and Samuel–Kings were parts of the same writing. Blum’s main argument for this hypothesis is the thematic flow from the Deuteronomic ‘Torah’ through the history of Joshua and the time of the judges to the time of the kings.24 Alas, the German scholar does not take into consideration the fact that any story with a well-written sequel would display the same literary features: continuous narrative flow, analepses, recurrent motifs, etc.

Isaac Kalimi, on the other hand, states that ‘the Former Prophets, particularly Kings, were composed against the background of Deuteronomy and inspired by it.’25

Konrad Schmid claims that Deut 12, with its demand for cult centralisation, presupposes and systematises the royal assessments from the book of Kings, which would explain the differences in wording between these texts.26 In his opinion, the later stages of redaction of Deuteronomy correspond to the later stages of redaction of Genesis–2 Kings.27

Juha Pakkala somewhat similarly suggests that the redaction histories of Deuteronomy and 1–2 Kings developed in parallel steps, but 1–2 Samuel developed in a different way.28←19 | 20→

Avigdor Shinan and Yair Zakovitch, on the other hand, have rightly argued that Elijah’s biography was influenced by Moses’ life story in the books of Deuteronomy and Exodus.29

A. Graeme Auld opts for the dependence of the Deuteronomic text concerning a haughty prophet (Deut 18:20–22) on Nathan’s oracle in 2 Sam 7 because of the use of the same rare and distinctive phrase דבר דבר in both Deut 18:20–22 and 2 Sam 7:7.25. However, he offers no convincing argument for this particular direction of influence.30 Likewise, he claims that as concerns the motif of the chosen ‘place,’ Deuteronomy reformulated the book of Kings, for in Kings the idea of ‘setting’ the name of Yahweh is loosely accompanied by that of ‘dwelling’ (1 Kgs 8:12), whereas in Deuteronomy the idea of ‘making dwell’ occurs in a fixed formula.31 This argument is evidently not very compelling because also an earlier fixed formula can be variously illustrated in a later narrative. Likewise, reversible is Auld’s argument of the change of the meaning of the noun שבט from ‘staff/scepter’ in 2 Sam 7:7 to ‘tribe’ in Deut 12:14.32 Similarly reversible is the argument that in Kings the ‘place’ is chosen forever, whereas in Deuteronomy it is not.33

Michael A. Grisanti argues that the text 1 Kgs 8:46–53 summarises the main ideas of the Deuteronomic text Deut 29:1–30:10, preserving their sequence.34

K. L. Noll, on the other hand, claims that the author of 1–2 Samuel had knowledge of the evolving book of Deuteronomy but little regard for it.35←20 | 21→

Andreas Kunz-Lübcke, noting some terminological overlap and a common motif sequence, has argued that the story of Tamar’s rape (2 Sam 13:1–22) depends on the older Deuteronomic juridical text Deut 22:13–24.36

Christoph Nihan, somewhat similarly, has argued for highly selective reuse of the Deuteronomic law of the king (Deut 17:14–15a.16–17.20) in the Samuel account 1 Sam 8 and 1 Sam 10:17.20–27; 16:1–13.37

Thomas Römer, on the contrary, opts for the dependence of the Deuteronomic law of the king (Deut 17:14–15) on the accounts of the institution of the monarchy in Israel (1 Sam 8–12) because the latter accounts do not quote the Deuteronomic law. Likewise, he argues that Deut 17:16–17 is dependent on 1 Kgs 10:14–11:10.38 On the other hand, in his opinion 1 Kgs 11:2 freely alludes to Deut 7:3–4.39

Harald Samuel suggests that the redactor of Deut 18:3 knew and used the text 1 Sam 2:13b.14, regarded by him as depicting erroneous cultic activity which required correction.40

Joshua Berman has argued that 1 Sam 15:2 conflates Deut 25:17–19 with the thematically related text Exod 17:14–16.41 In his opinion, the author of 1 Sam 15:2 did not simply invoke the language of Deuteronomy, but he creatively interpreted it in light of the passage from Exodus. In a similar way, Berman has argued that 1 Sam 28:3–25 conflates Deut 18:11 with Lev 19:31; 20:6.27, and that 2 Kgs 4:1–7 ←21 | 22→conflates Deut 24:10–11 with Exod 22:22–26.42 Accordingly, in the opinion of the Jewish scholar these fragments of Samuel–Kings are post-Deuteronomic.43

Eckart Otto, on the other hand, claims that Deut 17:14b combines elements of the narratives of the rise of Saul to kingship in 1 Sam 8:5.19–20 and 1 Sam 10:19a. Therefore, in his opinion also Deut 17:15 is dependent on 1 Sam 10:24, and Deut 17:16–17 is dependent on 1 Kgs 5:6; 10:14–29; 11:1.3.44

Stephen Germany somewhat similarly argues for the hypothesis of the dependence of numerous Deuteronomic laws on narrative materials from the Enneateuch (Genesis–2 Kings). In particular, in his opinion some texts concerning Solomon (1 Kgs 4:26; 5:6; 10:14–15.26–29; 11:1–8) and the narratives in 1 Sam 8; 10 influenced the Deuteronomic law of the king Deut 17:14–20 (esp. 17:14.16–17).45 Alas, he does not offer any persuasive arguments for this direction of literary dependence. On the other hand, he notes that since the references to forced labour in 1 Kgs 9:15.21 are combined with the idea of the extermination of the Canaanites, they must be dependent on the Deuteronomic laws concerning both the forced labour (Deut 20:10–14) and the extermination (Deut 20:15–18).46 Accordingly, he postulates the reciprocal nature of the relationship between Deuteronomy and the rest of the Enneateuch.47

Hermann-Josef Stipp, somewhat similarly to Erhard Blum, opts for the classical hypothesis of the existence of a pre-exilic Deuteronomistic historical work, in which the core texts of both Deuteronomy and Samuel–Kings were parts of the same writing.48

This survey of recent research on possible dependence of Samuel–Kings on Deuteronomy or vice versa reveals that in the opinion of most scholars there are some literary connections between various parts of these works. Some scholars explain them as resulting from the literary dependence of Samuel–Kings on Deuteronomy. Other scholars suggest that these connections imply the presence of common literary Deuteronomistic strata, containing the cores of Deuteronomy ←22 | 23→and Samuel–Kings. Another group of scholars postulates the influence of parts of Samuel–Kings on Deuteronomy. Moreover, some scholars try to combine these main options in complex models of interrelations, including gradual formation of both works and their reciprocal literary dependence. Therefore, it is evident that the problem of the literary relationships between Samuel–Kings and Deuteronomy has not hitherto been solved in a satisfactory way.

Date of composition

The internal dating of Samuel–Kings to the time after the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah (2 Kgs 25:27), so to mid-sixth century bc at the earliest, is evident. However, more precise dating of the composition of Samuel–Kings is much more speculative.

As is consistently argued in this monograph, Samuel–Kings is a Judaean reworking of Deuteronomy,49 but it also contains various motifs borrowed from Genesis (cf. 1 Sam 19:13 and Gen 31:34; 1 Sam 28:22–25 and Gen 18:5–8; 2 Sam 13:1–22 and Gen 38:6–26; 2 Sam 13:18–19 and Gen 37:3.23; etc.). Therefore, the composition of Genesis, which can be dated to c.350–340 bc,50 constitutes the terminus a quo for the composition of Samuel–Kings. Accordingly, Samuel–Kings should be dated to the Hellenistic period,51 when the Ptolemaic pharaohs ruled in Egypt and governed Judaea.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (July)
Books of Samuel Books of Kings Book of Deuteronomy Intertextuality Judah (tribe) Israel
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 246 pp.

Biographical notes

Bartosz Adamczewski (Author)

Bartosz Adamczewski is Associate Professor of biblical sciences at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw (Poland). He published fourteen books and numerous articles on the relationships between biblical writings themselves and between these writings and historical facts.


Title: Samuel–Kings
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248 pages