Samuel's Work as an Itinerant Judge

Hugo Bouter

"He went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places" (1 Samuel 7:16)


Every year, Samuel, the last judge and the first prophet of God's people, administered justice in a number of places in the land of Israel. In all, there were four of them, of which Bethel here is the first mentioned. Bethel (meaning "house of God") was a town of great renown in the history of God's people. It was the place where Abraham the patriarch had set up his tent, and where Jacob had received precious promises from God (cf. Gen. 12, 28 and 35). In the Book of Judges, too, Bethel played an important role. Deborah lived between Ramah (the later residence of Samuel) and Bethel, and there she dealt with the legal matters of the Israelites (Judg. 4:4-5).

Later on we see that Bethel was the place where the tribes gath