1 Samuel 9:9, 12-14 – Israelite Religion in Flux


1 Samuel 9:9


First Samuel notes changes in patterns both in religious language and practice.


The note that when people wanted to inquire of God, they used to engage the services of a seer, who is now called a prophet gives a crucial window into changes in the self-understanding of Israelite religiosity. Seers for hire, and latter prophets mark a massive evolution in religious leadership over time. The author openly notes that terms have shifted, and with them ideas of what kind of leader the people look to in order to lead them and make God’s will understandable to them..  

Also, here in 1 Samuel, even the prophet and king regularly ascend to high places to offer sacrifices. In the narrative, centralization to Jerusalem and the temple has not yet occurred. Later kings and prophets will call these high places centers of idolatry. Here, they are simply part of Israelite worship.