Samuel (Heb. Shemuel, "heard of God"), a Hebrew seer or prophet, the last judge of Israel. He was the son of Elkanah and Hannah, of the tribe of Levi, and was born in the latter part of the 12th century B. C, probably at Ramathaim Zophim in Mt. Ephraim. Even before his birth his mother had bound him to the obligations of a Nazarite, and ho was set apart from his early youth to the service of the tabernacle at Shiloh, under the immediate tutelage of Eli. His first prophecy concerned the doom of Eli's house. Twenty years after the death of Eli Samuel assembled the people at Mizpah, urging them to remain faithful to the Lord, and promising them speedy deliverance from the Philistines. At this time he seems to have been acknowledged as judge, an office which he held for about 20 years, restoring everywhere the neglected national worship. The Philistines, the most dangerous foes of Israel, were routed, and did not recruit their strength during the remainder of his leadership. The Amorites, the eastern foes of Israel, remained in peace with him. His dwelling was at Ramah, and in his old age he appointed two of his sons deputy judges at Beersheba. The people became dissatisfied, and demanded a king.
Samuel, with great reluctance, at length yielded by divine direction to this demand, and anointed Saul the first king of Israel. He rebuked Saul on several occasions, and at length, in the name of the Lord, anointed David as second king before the demise of Saul. He died before 1060 B. C. According to Jewish tradition, he was the author of the book of Judges and of a part of the books of Samuel.