1 Samuel 16:2: Questions


My friends and I have questions about I Samuel 16:2.

Is there any particular reason Samuel was told to offer a female animal rather than a male animal?

Since the Ark was in the possession of the Philistines and the Tabernacle and the Altar for sacrifices had, apparently, ceased to function after Eli and his sons died and the Ark was lost in battle, how and where did the Israelites “do” sacrifices since there was no functioning Tabernacle and The Temple had not yet been built?

Samuel was not a priest/Levite so what “kind” (name? category?) of sacrifice was he offering?

It almost seems as though he was offering an illegitimate sacrifice “on a high place.” How can this be explained?

We would appreciate ANY light you can shed on this topic! Thanks for giving us your time!



  1. Interestingly enough the zevach offering that Samuel was instructed to take can be either a male or a female, and, yet, God commanded him to take a female. Rabbi S. R. Hirsch explains that the difference between the female and the male zevach is that the female represents the concept of following the Will of God absolutely, and the male represents a certain sense of independence. Samuel was commanded to take a female because it represented his ability to follow the Word of God without deviating from any details.

    The Holy Ark actually only remained in the hands of the Philistines for seven months. As well as capturing the Holy Ark, the Philistines also destroyed the Tabernacle that was then located in Shilo. Whilst the Holy Ark was being held by the Philistines, a new Tabernacle and accompanying altar were built in Nob. From that time onward, until the Holy Temple was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem, it was permitted for anyone to build a private altar and to offer up private offerings.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team