The continuing story of Samuel and how his life leads to the "Age of Kings" in Israel.
| The boy named Samuel continued to serve in the Temple as he grew older. While other children his age were only concerned with play and other frivolous things, this young man was consumed in the service of YHWH. Another thing that set Samuel apart was his Nazarite vow.
When his mother consecrated him to YHWH, she also had set him apart as a Nazarite. This meant the lad would never allow his hair to be cut, that he would abstain from strong drink - or any drink derived from grapes, and he would not touch a corpse. The youth of Israel, making the annual pilgrimage to the Temple, would whisper amongst themselves when they caught glimpses of this strange young man. Rumors swirled about this enigmatic figure.
"Is he an angel?"
"His hair hangs past his shoulders, Jethra said."
"He's got a beard and his eyes are piercing."
And so it went. Samuel never paid much attention to anything outside of the Temple, he had too much inside to concern himself with. But that changed one day.
Samuel was going to the laver to wash and prepare to assist Eli with a peace sacrifice. It was once again time for the Sacrifice of Atonement and the streets that had formed between all of the tents were thronged with people. As Samuel walked, he noticed a commotion outside the walls of the Temple. curious, he strode to the entryway and, pulling back the heavy curtain, he peered out.
The first thing he noticed was a young girl lying in the dirt. Her nose was bleeding and there was a man towering over her. It was Hophni. A few paces away several more girls were huddled together as if sheltering from a storm.
Samuel was just in time to hear Hophni say, "When I ask you to come with me, I don't want to hear any lip. We as priests are entitled to the first fruits, and that doesn't just mean burnt offerings. Live offerings are pleasing to us as well." And with that he scooped up the girl's arm and began to drag her towards the Temple.
Sickened, Samuel watched as the pair came closer, the girl beginning to struggle. And then Hophni hit her in the face again and something happened in Samuel's spirit. He felt a rush of white-hot anger and his hair stood on end. Stepping out into the open, he grabbed Hophni's arm before he could hit the girl again. When Hophni whirled to see who it was, there stood Samuel. This boy who had come to the Temple while still a toddler. This strange lad who was above the immorality that Eli's sons involved themselves in. This too-good-to-stoop-to-your-level, snotty nosed punk.
He released the girl and, overcome by suppressed rage finally given vent, sprang towards Samuel. The younger man did not move, just stared at him with those piercing eyes. Then Samuel spoke, his voice booming and forceful.
"Your days are numbered. The Philistines are coming, and your doom faces you. No longer will you desecrate My Temple and My people. Down, dog. Grovel in the earth before My prophet."
With these words, Hophni staggered back and fell to the ground, writhing and howling. With a look of contempt Samuel turned away. Then his eyes fell on the girl. She was curled into a fetal position, crying. He crouched and placed a hand on her arm.
"Peace, daughter. No harm shall come to you. Return to your family and speak not of what you have heard this day."
Jael (that was the girl's name) had been overcome with horror at what was happening to her. She had just been walking along, laughing with her friends, when this terrifying priest had grabbed her and began to grope her. When she cried out, he had smashed her in the mouth with his hand. Then he had told her what he was going to do to her. But then this strange looking man with those piercing eyes had intervened, and now her tormentor was the tormented. And now she felt peace flooding into her spirit.
Jael sat up and the young man, she saw now that he was not much older than her, assisted her to her feet. She clung to him as a wave of dizziness came, then blushed and quickly released his arm. He smiled then, his teeth white against the black of his beard and his dark complexion.
"Shalom, sister. Go now, return to your family. You are in no danger now." With those words spoken, he turned and went back into the Temple.
She stood there for what seemed like forever, staring at the place where he had entered into the Temple. Finally, she turned and went to her friends. They all hugged and then began to walk away. Hophni still squirmed in the dirt, but now he was silent.
"Who was that?" she asked.
"The one on the ground or your hero?" Esther asked teasingly, her dark eyes flashing mischievously.
"The good one of course."
"I think that was Samuel. You know, the mystery priest. The one they say is the youngest priest in our history. I think he had beautiful eyes. And his smile was nice, too."
Jael laughed. "That seems to be all you notice. The attractive features of boys." Then she sobered. "This one is no boy. He speaks like Moses. He probably won't ever pay us any mind again."
But she was wrong on that count. That night, and for many other nights until they were reunited, Samuel lay awake, picturing the smooth lines of her face, the way she gripped his arm, and the feel of her eyes as they looked into his.