Advances in Historical Studies
2013. Vol.2, No.2, 70-80
Published Online June 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ahs) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ahs.2013.22011
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Communities Inferred from the Books of Samuel
in the Old Testament of the Bible
Department of Computer Science, Houghton College, New York, USA
Email: wei.hu@houg hton.edu
Received February 16th, 2013; revised March 17th, 2013; accepte d March 27th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Wei Hu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
The books of First and Second Samuel are part of historical books in the Old Testament of the Bible,
which appear as a single book in Jewish scriptures. These two books record the critical transition of gov-
erning system in Israel from judges to kings and from 12 tribes to a centralized state. The three major
characters in these books are Samuel priest, prophet and the last judge, Saul the first king of Israel, and
David the second king, a man after God’s own heart. These books contain many fascinating stories that
present the life of Samuel, the rise and fall of Saul, the long journal for David to become king, and the es-
tablishment of his kingdom. In this study, we constructed a sequence of social networks from these two
books based on the interactions of many characters and their locations. Our aim was to apply a computa-
tional approach to identifying the communities in these networks, which summarized the interactions be-
tween the key figures and others, along with their locations. As a result, the rich information of this part
of Israel history was encoded and visualized concisely through this sequence of networks of communities
Keywords: Samuel; Bible; Community
The books of First and Second belong to the historical books
of the Bible that record the history of the Israel, covering the
time of this nation from conquering Canaan the promise land to
the loss of this land through the Babylonian exile because of
their disobedience to God (Payne, 1982; Magennis, 2011). Th es e
two books trace the social transition period of Israel from
loosely organized 12 tribes to a centralized monarchy in the
promise land, along with the political leadership change from
tribal judges to kings. They provide a natural continuation of
the book of Judges reflecting from the content overlapping be-
tween the start of the First Samuel and the end of the book of
Judges. The time of the judges was a chaotic era in the history
Israel since there was a repeated pattern of rebellion, oppression,
and deliverance. In those days there was no king in Israel, but
every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges, 17:
6). When Samuel, their prophet, priest, and the last judge, was
quite old, the Israelites demanded a king, similar to the kings of
the surrounding nations. However, the whole purpose of God
creating the nation of Israel is to make this nation to be unlike
all other nations (Exodus, 19: 5- 6), as God Himself was the ruler,
king, and God of Israel. Moses predicted Israel’s desire for a
human king in (Deuteronomy, 17: 14-20), but the human kings
must serve as representatives of God’s kingship over Israel.
The unity of contents of the First and Second Samuel sug-
gests these two books are one book in reality as seen from the
original Hebrew text (Gordon, 1999). Further, such division
appears in the other books of the Bible such as First and Second
Kings and First and Second Chronicles. These books were
named after Samuel, because his life formed the foundation of
First Samuel and he was a partial author of the book. Samuel
was not merely an editor and a character of this book, but the
author of the history of this critical period of Israel, who played
a pivotal role in rise of kingship of Israel (Tsumura, 2007).
These books are not a narrative of historical events solely, but
rather to elucidate the significance of the divine guidance of the
nation Israel, revealing God is the real maker of human history.
These two books primarily chronicle the life of Samuel (1
Samuel, 1: 12), the reign of Saul (1 Samuel, 13: 31), and the
reign of David (2 Samuel), since they were essential in the es-
tablishment of the monarchy. In particular, these books give a
comprehensive account of the life of David, a man of faith even
while a man of weakness, as illustrated from his victories and
struggles and his trust and reliance upon God. As the youngest
of the eight sons of Jesse, David was born in Bethlehem and
served as a shepherd during his childhood. Besides being a
great king, David was also well known as a great psalmist as
well as a great warrior. The description of David in the Bible,
as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel, 13: 14), is more
detailed than any other Bible character except Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the name David is the third most often used name
in the whole Bible, with Moses and Abraham being first and
second respectively. In the New Testament, Jesus is described
as a “descendant of David according to the flesh” (Romans, 1: 3)
according to God’s Davidic covenant recorded in (2 Samuel, 7).
The birth of Samuel was God’s answer to his mother’s faith-
ful prayer. From the tribe of Levi, Samuel was the maker of
Israel kings and played a key role as God’s messenger and
leader, who found and anointed both Saul from the smallest
tribe of Hebrews, Benjamin, and David from the tribe of Judah.
He guided Israel’s transition to kingship and bridged the peri-
ods of the judges and the monarchy. In addition to these three
main figures, there were three more important characters in
First Samuel, who were Eli that raised Samuel and the high
priest prior to Samuel, Hannah mother of Samuel, and Jonathan
son of Saul. Other key figures in Second Samuel were Joab the
general of David’s army, Bathsheba wife of Uriah and after-
ward of David, Nathan the prophet, and Absalom son of David.
Nonetheless, the books of Samuel were cogently organized into
stories of Samuel, Saul, and David, covering approximately the
time period from 1050 to 970 BC (Gordon, 1999).
The books of Samuel capture so many attractive storied oc-
curred in the history of Israel that are among the most famous
from the entire ancient world (Tsumura, 2007). To discover the
patterns of interactions among so many characters in these sto-
ries, we applied a community detection algorithm to a sequence
of social networks made from these books. Our aim was to gain
new insight into these interesting books, as God’s word is a
lamp to our feet and a light for our path.
Materials and Methods
The text of the Bible used in this study is from the King
James version (1611 authorized version), downloaded from
http://printkjv.ifbweb.com. Because First and Second Samuel
are used as data in our study, this section provides some back-
ground information about three major characters in these two
books, Samuel, Saul, and David.
Family of Samuel
Hannah and Elkanah were Samuel’s mother and father who
lived at Ramah. Elkanah was a Levite. He had another wife
Peninnah who had children but Hannah had no children at the
beginning of the book of First Samuel. Samuel had two sons
Joel and Abijah.
Family of Saul
Saul was son of Kish from Gibeah, in the tribe of Benjamin.
His wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. They had four
sons and two daughters. The sons were Jonathan, Abinadab,
Malchishua and Ish-bosheth, and the daughters were Merab and
Michal. He had additional two sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth,
born from his concubine Rizpah daughter of Aiah.
Family of David
David was born in Bethlehem, in the tribe of Judah. His fa-
ther was Jesse. He had eight wives: Michal, daughter of Saul,
Ahinoam the Jezreelite, Abigail the Carmelite, former wife of
Nabal, Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur, Haggith,
Abita, Eglah, and Bathsheba, former wife of Uriah the Hittite.
David also had at least one daughter, Tamar by Maachah. He
had six sons born in Hebron: Amnon by Ahinoam, Daniel by
Abigail, Absalom by Maachah, Adonijah by Haggith, Shepha-
tiah by Abital, and Ithream by Eglah. By Bathsheba, his sons
were: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. He had others
sons born in Jerusalem by other wives.
Compared to random networks, real social networks exhibit
several characteristic features such as small world, power law
degree distribution, and community structures (Newman, 2010).
A community in a network is a group of vertices that are
densely connected inside the group but sparsely outside. In this
study, we made use of Walktrap, a community detection algo-
rithm, which relies on random walks on graphs to calculate a
distance that could then be used to define the structural similar-
ity between vertices. The advantage of the method is that this
distance cab be computed efficiently. Finally, a hierarchical
clustering algorithm is used to merge the vertices iteratively
into communities. The intuition of this approach is that: random
walks on a graph tend to get trapped into densely connected
parts corresponding to communities (Pons & Latapy, 2006).
Division of First and Secon d Samuel in to Segments
In order to make a sequence of social networks from the
books of Samuel, we divided First Samuel into three logical
segments, chapters 1-8 presenting the birth and life of Samuel
and serving as an important preface for this book, chapters 9-
15 describing the rise and fall of the first king Saul, and chapter
16-31 depicting God's choice of David to be Saul’s successor,
and David’s long journey for accession to the throne. Similarly,
Second Samuel was partitioned into four segments, chapters 1-
4 showing David’s victory over the house of Saul to become
king of Judah, chapters 5-10 presenting the success of David’s
rule as king of all Israel, chapters 11-21 telling David’s sins and
their punishments, and chapters 22-24 covering David’s faith,
thanksgiving, and sin.
Social Network of First and Second Samuel
To gain a global perspective of First and Second Samuel, we
present the Meta data of the social network made from the two
books, including the appearances of Samuel, Saul, and David in
each chapter, the social network from these two books, top 30
vertices of highest degrees in the network, and the histogram of
degree distribution of all vertices in the network (Figures 1-3).
The social network of First and Second Samuel displayed three
characteristic traits of a real social network: small world with
average geodesic distance of vertex pair = 1.847, power law
degree distribution (histogram in Figure 3), and communities
structures (Figure 2). The histogram in Figure 3 suggested that
vertices with small degrees are most frequent in this network.
We present the communities found in a sequence of social
networks from the segments of the books of Samuel as de-
scribed in Section 2. With different colors these communities
visualized the interactions of different characters and their loca-
tions, thereby rendering this part of Israel history with a se-
quence of networks of communities in time with a sense that a
picture is worth a thousand words (Figures 4-12). Additionally,
to give a quick summery of the chapters in each segment, the
word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these
chapters are displayed next to the network of the same chapters
Figures 4-12). (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 71
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Appearances of Samuel, Saul, and David in each chapter of First and Second Samuel.
Social network made from First and Second Samuel with 300 vertices, 8692 edges , and average shortest distance of vertex pairs = 1.847.
Top 30 Names (Vert ices) of Highest Degrees in the Network of First and Second Samuel
Top 30 vertices of highest deg rees and histogram of degree distribution with bin size = 20 in the ne t wo rk of First and Second Samuel.
Communities in the network of chapters 1-8 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 73
Communities in the network of chapters 9-15 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Communities in the network of chapters 16-31 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Communities in the network of five chapters on Saul’s Pursuit of David (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Communities in the network of chapters 1-4 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Communities in the network of chapters 5-10 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Communities in the network of chapters 11-19 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 75
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Communities in the network of chapters 20-21 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Communities in the network of chapters 22-24 (left) and word clouds of top 50 most frequently occurred words in these chapters (right).
Communities in the Social Netw o r ks from First
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 1-8
The main actor in these chapters is Samuel along with other
key players such as Hannah, Eli and his two sons, Hophni and
Phinehas, plus his grandson I-chabod, and Samuel’s two sons
Joel and Abijah. Born to Hannah and Elkanah, Samuel grew up
in the temple at Shiloh, defeated Philistines at Mizpah, anointed
Saul and then David, died and was buried at Ramah. The name
Samuel meant “God has heard”, as the child Samuel was given
in answer to Hannah’s prayer. These chapters present the life of
Samuel, decay of the priesthood as shown by Eli and his two
sons, and the Ark of the Covenant taken by Philistines when
they won the battle against Israelites. But the Ark caused a
disaster in the land of the Philistines and out of fear they re-
turned the Ark back to Israel. Finally Israel asked for a human
Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah, and the other
was Peninnah, who bore children to Elkanah, but Hannah re-
mained childless. One day Hannah and Elkhana went from their
hometown Ramah to the temple at Shiloh, where Hannah
prayed to God for a child while Eli was there. Eli was the high
priest in Shiloh. God gave three sons and two daughters to Han-
nah including Samuel (1 Samuel, 2: 21). Samuel grew up in the
presence of the Lord and established a school to train young
prophets in Ramah. He also died and was buried there. He was
the last of the judges, after whom Saul became king of Israel.
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were wicked and the sons
of Belial (meaning worthless) although served as priests, as
they had no regard for the Lord. Eli was high priest and judge
over Israel, but he did not take actions to correct them. One day
a man of God came to Eli to inform him of God’s judgment on
his household: his descendents would die at an early age, Ho-
phni and Phinehas would die on the same day, and another
family of Aaron would be given the office of high priest. Ho-
phni and Phinehas were slain in chapter 4. Phinehas’s wife gave
birth to a son I-chabod. As a judge, Samuele visited the area
between Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpeh, and Ramah regularly. But his
sons Joel and Abiah who also served as judges at Beer-sheba,
Encoded with so much information about the stories hap-
pened during this period, this network showed two prominent
communities with different colors, with Samuel, Ramah, and
Israel being at the center of the whole network (Figure 4). The
vertices Eli and Philistines were at the center of their own
community. Samuel was close to Ramah and Eli close to Shilon.
Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were close to their father
and also to Belial (meaning worthless), and Samuel’s two sons
Joel and Abiah were close to Beer-sheba where they served as
priests. Vertex Philistines was connected to their three major
cities, Ashdod, Askelon, and Gaza, where the temple of Dagon
was located. Philistines captured the Ark after defeating the Is-
raelites in a battle at a location between Eben-ezer where the
Israelites encamped and Aphek where the Philistines encamped.
In Figure 4, Israel and Eben-ezer were in one community col-
ored light blue, and Philistines and Aphek were in the other
community colored red.
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 9-15
The main figures in these chapters are Samuel and Saul with
a focus on the rise of King Saul. Saul was anointed king by
Samuel and presented to Israel, rescued Jabesh-Gilead and was
acclaimed king by Israel. These chapters describe Saul’s vic-
tory over the Ammonites, Samuel’s farewell speech to Israel,
Saul’s first failure to offer burnt offering by himself instead of
by Samuel as priest, Jonathan’s victory and Saul’s second fail-
ure to follow the Lord’s command to totally destroy Amalekites
and their properties, and God’s final rejection of Saul due to his
disobedience. The events in Chapter 15 marked a turning point
in Saul’s life, since God instructed Samuel to anoint David as
the next king of Israel in chapter 16. Samuel did not see Saul
again until he died and he told Saul that “to obey is better than
sacrifice” (1 Samuel, 22), a verse still having great value in our
Saul’s father Kish was close to him in the network (Figure
5). Kish was son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath,
the son of Aphiah. The commander of Saul’s army was Abner
son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. Saul reigned from Gibeah, his home-
town. The vertex Gibeah was next to Saul in the network,
showing its close relationship to Saul. His family members
were in the same community colored light green. In his farewell
speech, Samuel reminded Israel of God’s protection to them
using Moses and Aaron as their heroes. Moses and Aaron were
in one small community colored blue. Saul did not obey God’s
instructi ons from Sa muel by making a burnt offering by himself
at Gilgal and not destroying Amalekites and their properties.
Samuel, Saul, and Gilgal were in the same group, but Amale-
kites was close the Saul but in another group.
Eli and Shiloh were at the boundary of the community col-
ored light green and Ramah of Samuel was at the boundary of
the community colored red, reflecting their reduced importance
at this time.
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 16-31
These chapters document the decline of Saul and the rise of
David through the interplay between Saul and David, one as the
current king and one as the successor to Saul and the next king.
The stories presented in these chapters picture a clear contrast
between Saul as a king after the people’s own heart and David
as a king after God’s own heart. They record David as an ano-
inted king to replace Saul by God’s selection, David’s famous
victory over Goliath, Saul’s growing jealousy and quest to de-
stroy David. Other topics included David fled from Saul,
friendship of David and Jonathan, the defense of David by Jon-
athan and Michal, David fled to the priest at Nob, to the king of
Gath, and to the cave at Adullam, Saul’s revenge on the priests
of Nob for having helped David, David’s exile at Kehilah and
in the wilderness of Ziph, David spared Saul’s life in the Wil-
derness of Engedi, Nabal and Abigail, David spared Saul for
second time, David fled to Achish, king of the Philistines, Saul
went to the witch at Endor, Achish sent David back to Ziklag,
David destroyed Amalekites, the death of Saul and his three
sons including Jonathan.
The song of the Israelite women, “Saul has slain his thou-
sands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel, 18: 7), made
Saul very jealous of David, revealing Saul’s focus on earthly
reputation. Instead, David placed a higher value on unseen over
the seen. The flight of David against Goliath revealed their dif-
ference in character, since Saul was tall and David was just a
boy at that time. David refused the physical protection of the
king Saul’s armor in favor of prayer and demonstrated his cour-
age, wisdom, and faith, proving that he was the ideal man for
the throne of Israel. Many of the older sons of Jesse were very
impressive in their physical appearance, but God instructed Sa-
muel to anoint the youngest son David, a shepherd boy, to be
the next king after Saul.
It was a long journal for David from his anointing as a future
king of Israel to eventually becoming king. During this whole
period, David refused to take up the throne by forceful means
but left it in the hands of God and waited for His timing. Saul
pursued David into the desert where David spared his life twice,
one in a cave and the other in Saul’s tent while he was asleep.
Still, Saul continued his pursuit. During this period, Jonathan
developed a brother-like friendship with David. These chapters
also record the weakness of David as he showed panics under
the pressure of being pursued and lied to Ahimelech, the priest
at Nob (1 Samuel, 21: 1-9), and to Achish the king of Gath (1
Samuel, 21: 10-15). These stories of Saul and David reinforced
the supremacy of divine justice as articulated in Hannah’s song:
The proud will be humbled and the humble exalted.
Saul and his three sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-
shua died on Mount Gilboa. Now Judah of David was at the
center of the network, while Gibeah of Saul moved a little bit
farther away from the center (Figure 6). Goliath, the champion
of the Philistines, was in the red community and not very close
to the vertex Philistines since this vertex is also strongly con-
nected to other vertices. The couple, Nabal and Abigail, was in
the same community colored light green and Zeruiah, David’s
sister, with her two sons, Joab and Abishai, were in the same
community colored light blue. Samuel was in the center of the
networks in Figures 4 and 5, but in this Figure 6, he was in a
community colored yellow, not at the center anymore. David
definitely entered the picture as a major character, along with
another key player Jonathan, which was located in the center of
this network. David and Jonathan were close to each other in
the same group because of their friendship, and both of them
were in the center. David was close to his father Jesse although
they belonged to two different groups, and Jesse was connected
to his other three sons, Abinadab, Eliab, and Shammah, and his
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 77
Saul’s Pursuit of David
This story was the most interesting one in First Samuel,
which displayed the opposite traits of Saul and David. Saul was
trying to kill David, but David spared Saul’s life not only once
but twice. Each time after learning David had spared his life,
Saul cried and promised David not to kill him anymore, but
Saul continued his pursuit afterwards. We singled out the chap-
ters that described the direct contact between Saul and David
during this period and summarized each chapter below.
Chapter 18: All Israel and Judah loved David, so Saul be-
came jealous of David. One day Saul hurled a spear towards
David while he was playing the harp for Saul. But David eluded
him twice. Saul promised to give his daughter Merab to David
as his wife but Saul instead gave her to Adriel of Meholathite as
wife. Saul’s son Jonathan was very fond of David and protected
David. David and his men went out and killed two hundred
Philistines. Then Saul gave David his second daughter Michal
as his wife.
Chapter 19: Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear
as David was playing the harp, but David eluded him again.
Saul then sent men to watch and kill David, and Michal helped
David to flee. David went to Samuel at Ramah and then Saul
went from a great well in Sechu to Naioth at Ramah to find
Chapter 23: The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah a nd said,
“Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on
the hill of Hachilah, south of Jeshimon?” So Saul pursued Da-
vid from Keilah to the desert of Ziph and then to the wilderness
of Maon. When a messenger came to Saul, saying the Philis-
tines are raiding the land. Then Saul broke off his pursuit of
David and went to fight the Philistines. Abiathar the priest was
with David during this time.
Chapter 24: David spared Saul’s life in a cave at En Gedi.
Chapter 26: Abishai and Ahimelech went with David to the
camp of Saul at night. Abner son of Ner was with Saul as his
commander of the army. Saul made his camp beside the road on
the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon. David asked Ahimelech the
Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, to go to
Saul’s camp by night. When David and others went into Saul’s
camp, he was asleep. So David spared Saul’s life again.
Because of the direct interactions between the people of Saul
and those of David, there was no clear separation between the
followers of Saul from the followers of David as illustrated by
the two communities identified in this network (Figure 7).
However, these two communities did show Saul and David as
being the center of both of them.
Communities in the Social Networks fr om Second
Chapters 1-10 of Second Samuel detail the rise of David’s
kingdom. Because of the resolution limit of the community
graphs, we divided these chapters into two parts, chapters 1-4
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 1-4
The last part of First Samuel marks the end of Saul’s life and
Second Samuel opens with more details to the death of Saul.
We have to remember that Saul had hunted David for many
years prior to Saul’s death. Chapters 1-4 record David’s lament
over Saul and Jonathan who died on the battlefield of Mount
Gilboa, David was anointed in Hebron as king over Judah his
own tribe, Saul still had one surviving son Ish-bosheth who was
crowned king over Israel, the war between the houses of David
and Saul, David had six sons born in Hebron: Amnon, Kileab,
Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, Ithream, David asked Abner
and Ish-bosheth to return his wife Michal, Joab had two broth-
ers, Abishai and Asahel, Asahel was killed by Abner who was
cousin to Saul and the commander-in-chief of Saul’s army and
went over to David, Joab murdered Abner for revenge, and fi-
nally Ish-bosheth was killed and the northern tribes asked
David to rule the entire nation of Israel.
David, Israel, and Saul remained at the center of the network,
and Saul was next to Benjamin, his tribe. Zeruiah, sister of
King David, had three sons, Joab, Abishai and Asahel. David
had six sons born in Hebron. All these family members of
David were in the same group colored yellow. Jonathan was
next to Gilboa where he and his father died. Abner was a pro-
minent figure in these chapters as his name appeared 46 times
and many David’s activities occurred in Hebron while he was
king over Judah, which explained the centrality of these verti-
ces in the network (Figure 8).
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 5-10
Chapters 5-10 include David united the kingdom and became
king over Israel, David brought the Ark to Jerusalem, God’s
promise to David, David’s victories over the enemies including
Moab, Philistia, Zobah, and Syria, David’s kindness to Mephi-
bosheth son of Jonathan since David made a covenant with Jo-
nathan, and David defeated the Ammonites and Syrians. David
took Israel into several battles to win some of the promised land
that had never been fully claimed.
The Davidic covenant recorded in chapter 7 is the theological
centerpiece of this book. God made the house of David to pros-
per and in light of this the desire to build a permanent dwelling
place for God arose in David. So he wanted to build a temple
for worshiping God. Through the prophet Nathan, God in-
formed David that He would not allow David to do so but his
son Solomon would. Further God promised David that He
would establish a house for David and the house and kingdom
of David would endure forever before God and his throne
would be established forever. God promised David that the
Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come from the lineage of David
and the tribe of Judah and would establish an everlasting king-
dom. This promise to David was in fact the further unfolding of
a previous promise God gave to Abraham in (Genesis, 15: 18).
It also fulfills Jacob’s promise that the scepter will never depart
from Judah, David’s tribe (Genesis, 49: 10).
One noticed that Saul moved from the center to a community
colored red and Jerusalem became the center of this network,
signaling the beginning of David’s kingdom. In Hebron David
reigned over Judah for seven years and six months and in Jeru-
salem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel, as a re-
sult Jerusalem was at the center of this network. Judah and
Hebron were in the same group colored red. Mephibosheth was
next to his father Jonathan, and David showed graciousness to
him due to the covenant between David and Jonathan (Figure
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 11-19
Chapters 11-21 cover David’s sins and their consequences.
For the sake of clear visual presentation, we divided these
chapters into two groups, chapters 11-19 and 20-12. Chapter
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
11-19 describe David’s adultery and murder, God’s punishment
on David, birth of Solomon, defeat of Ammon, rape of Tamar
by Amnon, death of Amnon, and rebellion as well as death of
David committed adultery with a married woman, Bathsheba,
and got her pregnant. He then attempted a cover-up. When that
failed, he conspired having her husband Uirah killed. Although
David repented when the prophet Nathan confronted him re-
garding his sins and God forgave him, He promised David the
judgment: “Now the sword shall never depart from your house”
(2 Samuel, 12: 10).
The consequences of David’s sins affected not only himself
but also his family and his nation. Up to this point, three of
David’s son had died, Amnon, Absalom, and the first child
born to David and Bathsheba. After the death of his elder bro-
thers Amnon and Absalom, Adonijah, the fourth son of David,
considered himself to be the rightful heir to the throne and pro-
claimed to be king when his father was dying. He was put to
death after Solomon became king of Israel as successor of
David (1 Kings, 2: 13-25). Amnon Absalom, and Adonijah died
not only as punishments to David, but also because of their own
sins. Absalom was prominently featured in these chapters. Com-
pletely di fferent from Solomon, Absalom commi tted many hei -
nous crimes such as sleeping with his father’s concubines, plot-
ting a conspiracy to kill his father.
Absalom was a new key player in this time, since he killed
Amnon who rapped Tamar, rebelled against his father, and was
killed by David’s general Joab in the forest of Ephraim. After
Absalom had killed Amnon, he fled to Talmai, the son of Am-
mihud, king of Geshur, since Absalom’s mother was princess
of Geshur. Ahithophel was a wise counselor of David, but dur-
ing Absalom’s rebellion against David, he betrayed David and
became an adviser to Absalom. These names were next to each
other in the network. The chief figures in David’s adultery, Ba-
thsheba daughter of Eliam, Uriah of Hittite, and Nathan, were
in one community along with Solomon who had another name
Jedidiah given by God through Nathan.
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 20-21
Chapters 20-21 present the rebellion of Sheba son of Bicri, a
Benjamite, three years of famine because Saul and his house
put the Gibeonites to death, the revenge of Gibeonites, and the
defeat of Philistines. In Canaan the Philistines were strong,
having battles against Israel throughout the period of the judges.
However, the leadership of Samuel, Saul and then David even-
tually made the Philistine threat declined.
Israel, Abishai, Daivd, and Judah were mentioned in both
chapters, which explained why they were at the center of this
network. Saul is at the boundary of the community colored blue
Communities in the Social Network from Chapters 22-24
Chapters 22-24 conclude this book with final reflections on
the life of David, showing the closing phase of David’s reign,
his faith through his psalm of praise to God, his thanksgiving in
his last words, the names of his mighty men including Uriah of
Hittite, and his sin of numbering people and the resultant pla-
gue as God’s punishment, his construction of an altar.
Araunah, appeared in the blue community (Figure 12), was a
Jebusite whose threshing-floor in Jerusalem was pointed out to
David by the prophet Gad as an ideal site for building an altar
of burnt offering to God. The destroying angel, sent to punish
David for his sin in taking a census of his people, was withheld
from his destruction near that threshing-floor. Araunah offered
it to David as a free gift, but David insisted on purchasing it at
its full price (2 Samuel, 24: 24), for he could not offer to God
what cost him nothing. On the same location Solomon after-
wards built the temple. Joab, a central figure in this network,
was killed by Solomon according to David’s command (I Kings,
2: 5-6). The end of this book seemed sad for Saul as he became
a single outlier in this network, but David remained in the cen-
ter of the network (Figure 12).
Discussion and Conclusion
Israel started as a nation of loosely organized tribes led by
priests and heroes. The books of Samuel document Israel’s
transition from a group of 12 tribes ruled by judges, represented
by the last two judges Eli and Samuel, to a united state ruled by
kings, represented by the first two kings Saul and David.
Through three central figures, Samuel, Saul, and David, two
obeyed and one disobeyed, they demonstrate that God reigns by
adapting to human situations to accomplish His plans and pur-
poses, regardless of their response to Him. The history of Israel
proves that trusting in God would lead to victory over their ene-
mies whereas relying on their own strength would result in
failure and defeat. It is interesting to notice that Saul, David,
and Solomon all served as king of Israel for 40 years.
The service of Samuel brought to an end of judges and gave
hope in a humanly desirable king. Saul, a man according to
human flesh, was more concerned with earthly objectives than
with spiritual matters of God. On the other hand, the kingship
of David, a man according to the heart of God, demonstrated
the characteristics of an ideal ruler relying on God in every
situation, and brought hope in the coming Messiah. The books
of Samuel document many positive achievements of David as
well as his transgressions and punishments, which show that
God remained loyal to His promise although David at times
failed the covenant. God gave David and Bathsheba the child
Solomon, whom later became king of Israel. He was merciful
by safeguarding David during the rebellions of Absalom and
Sheba. On the other hand, David confessed his sins before God,
unlike Saul who always tried to excuse his sins, which made all
the difference in their life, revealing that God hates and pun-
ishes sins but loves sinners. Hannah described God in (1 Sam-
uel, 2: 3-10) as: He brings low the boastful, arrogant, mighty,
full, rich, and wicked, and in contrast He exalts the feeble, hun-
gry, barren, poor, low, needy and godly.
Through the communities found in a sequence of social net-
works from the books of Samuel, we could learn the roles
played by key figures such as Eli, Samuel, Saul, David and
their interactions with others during each important period. The
community structures discovered from this sequence of net-
works visualized the interesting stories occurred during this
critical transition of Israel from rule by judges to rule by kings.
We thank Houghton College for its financial support.
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