What does 1 Samuel 8:14 mean?
ESV: He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
NIV: He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.
NASB: He will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants.
CSB: He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
NLT: He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials.
KJV: And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
Here continues Samuel's warning about what a human king would do when given absolute authority in the land (1 Samuel 8:4–5). Having already described how a king would conscript the children of his citizens in order to put them to work in the service of his own household and military (1 Samuel 8:11–13), Samuel now describes the way kings confiscate private property for their own purposes.
The very specific example in this verse has to do with a king taking the best privately-owned fields, vineyards, and olive orchards away from private citizens to give them to his own high-ranking officials. A king might do this to keep his advisors and officials loyal to him and to reward them for faithful service to him. Of course, that means depriving others of their property and their freedoms.
First Samuel 8:10–18 describes a solemn, legal warning Samuel gives the elders of Israel. He cautions about all the things a human king will take from them. He will take their sons and daughters as his servants, their land for his officials, and a percentage of their crops and flocks. In many ways, Samuel officially warns the Israelites that they will become slaves to their own king. When that happens and they cry out to the Lord, He will not answer them because they will have chosen this for themselves.
Samuel is old, and his sons are corrupt. The elders of Israel gather in Ramah to ask Samuel to appoint a king over them. Samuel resists, but the Lord tells the prophet to do as the people have said after warning them about what a king will take from them. The list includes their children, property, fields, crops, and freedom. The Lord will not save them from their king, Samuel warns. The elders insist they still want a king like all the other nations. The Lord agrees and tells Samuel to provide them one.
First Samuel 8 jumps forward in time perhaps thirty years from the events of the previous chapter. Samuel is now old and his sons, also judges, are corrupt. The elders of Israel gather to ask Samuel to appoint a king for them. Samuel doesn't like it, but he takes the request to the Lord. The Lord tells Samuel to do it, even though the people are rejecting Him as their king. Samuel warns the elders of all the things a king will take from them to serve himself. The elders still insist, and the Lord grants their request.
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
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