Crises & Kings: The Book of Samuel I & II

Crises & Kings explores the Book of Samuel, which recounts a tumultuous period in Biblical history. The Israelites have settled in their new land but tribal rivalries weaken them against the ascendant Philistines. Saul, the first king, brings hope but his reign is marred by missteps, leading to his downfall.

David, arguably the most famous character in Jewish tradition, succeeds Saul and strategically lays the foundations for an empire. His exploits, including some spectacular moral failures, are unrivaled.

The dramatic narrative of Sefer Shmuel introduces us to themes still relevant today: divine destiny vs. human initiative, faith vs. misplaced religious devotion, and good leadership vs. corrosive and self-serving rule.

This series is a production of Pardes North America in partnership with The Koren Podcast Network and is lovingly sponsored by the Neustein family in memory of Rabbi Dr. Joseph Neustein, on the occasion of his 4th yahrzeit.

The table below will be updated every time a new podcast is published. You can also subscribe to Pardes From Jerusalem where new episodes will post weekly.

pardes from jerusalem subscribe itunes Pardes podcast subscription on google pardes from jerusalem spotify


Bonus Content
– Behind-the-Scenes with Rabbi Alex Israel

In this bonus episode, Rabbi Alex Israel, in conversation with Rabbi Michael Hattin, goes behind the scenes of Crises and Kings. Alex and Michael discuss highlights and challenges in the making of Samuel I and reveal an exclusive sneak peek at the end.



Episode 1

Introduction – The Backdrop of the Book of Judges

In order to appreciate the opening chapters of the book of Samuel, we must first consider the backdrop of the book of Judges. Understanding this context will help us appreciate the challenges that the people of Israel face, as Sefer Shmuel begins.



Episode 2
Chana’s Triumph

Our book begins by introducing us to the fraught family dynamics of Elkana and his two wives, Penina and Chana. Chana, childless and desperate, teach us about hope and devotion. Her tearful vow at Shilo becomes the template in our tradition for sincerity. God will answer her prayers.


Episode 3

The Crimes of the Priests

Chana’s piety stands in direct contrast to the officiating priests at Shilo, Chofni and Pinchas the sons of Eli. These two abuse their power and exalted position, desecrating God’s service and victimizing the people of Israel. In consequence, doom is pronounced upon the house of Eli by God.



Episode 4
Shmuel’s Coming of Age

Eli the high priest is young Shmuel’s mentor and guide. But now the word of God comes to Shmuel directly, sidelining old and blind Eli in the process. This moment, which marks the end of Eli’s tenure as the religious leader of Israel, is painful as well as poignant for both of them.


Episode 5
The Israelite Defeated

Initially defeated in battle by the Philistines, the Israelites bring the ark of the covenant to the fray. But its mere presence will not grant them victory. The Philistines prevail, the ark is taken captive and Shilo is destroyed.


Episode 6

The Philistines Chastened

The pagan Philistines believe that by capturing the ark, they have prevailed against the God of Israel. But He soon makes it clear that while His ways are subtle, His power is unmatched.


Episode 7

The Ideal Judge

The old corrupt order has been swept away. Shmuel now emerges as a true judge in Israel, highlighting what real religious/political leadership can accomplish.


Episode 8

The Clamor for a King

With Shmuel’s career-ending, the elders and the people demand that he appoint a king. But Shmuel is reluctant. A close reading of Deuteronomy 16 – 17 reveals why.


Episode 9

The King’s Law

Monarchy as an institution has great potential but also carries great risks. In this podcast, we begin to consider both.


Episode 10

In Search of Donkeys

The appointment of Israel’s first king implausibly begins with Saul’s fruitless search for lost donkeys. It ends with Saul instead discovering kingship.


Episode 11

The Ideal Judge


Saul is offered three curious signs to indicate that he has been chosen. But they are not random.


Episode 12

In Those Days there was a King in Israel


Although Saul is officially king, he will not win the people’s confidence until he can act like one. The defeat of the Ammonites will be his moment.


Episode 13

Retrospect for Shmuel

Shmuel, old and tired, officially hands over power to the king. But will the king be able to live up to the example of Shmuel’s lifetime of selfless leadership and integrity?



Episode 14

Shaul’s Tragic Lapse

Saul now faces his first serious crisis as King. How will he respond?



Episode 15

Yonatan’s Steadfastness

Even as Saul stumbles as king, his son Yanatan emerges as a natural and inspired leader.



Episode 16

Shaul’s Undoing

God gives Saul a second chance and commands him to destroy Amalek. But Saul has other ideas.



Episode 17

The Unlikely Election of David

Saul’s rejection as king leads unexpectedly to David’s emergence from obscurity.



Episode 18

David and Goliath

In one of the most famous moments in the Hebrew Bible, David puts his trust in God and defeats the Philistine giant Goliath.


Episode 19

David in Flight from Shaul

David’s triumph is short-lived as he is forced to flee Shaul’s jealous wrath. rejection as king leads unexpectedly to David’s emergence from obscurity.


Episode 20

Jonathan and David

Jonathan emerges as David’s defender and true friend. In an ultimate act of altruism, he will put David’s future ahead of his own.


Episode 21

Achimelech and the Priests of Nov

David’s flight takes him to Nov and to Philistine territory. Saul’s rage will know no bounds.
(Samuel I 21:1 – 22:16)LISTEN NOW!

Episode 22

Shaul in Pursuit

 After Nov’s overthrow, Saul continues to pursue David. David manages to stay one step ahead, until their meeting at the cave in Ein Gedi… (Samuel I 22:17 – 24:22)


Episode 23

Avigayil’s Intervention


David is saved from spilling blood through the heroic intervention of a wise woman – Avigayil. (Samuel I 25:1 – 44)


Episode 24

David and Shaul’s Final Encounter

In an encounter very reminiscent of chapter 24, David and Shaul meet for a final time. Now, though, David will make it clear that Shaul has been manipulated by unscrupulous men.
(Samuel I 26:1 – 27:12)LISTEN NOW!

Episode 25

Shaul and the Witch of En Dor

As the Philistines mass for battle, Shaul becomes desperate. God will not respond to his entreaties, so instead, he reaches out to the spirit of dead Shmuel.
(Samuel I 28:1 – 25)LISTEN NOW!

Episode 26

David’s Triumph

Sent home by the Philistines, David and his men discover that Ziklag has been sacked by the Amalekites. How will David regroup?
(Samuel I 29:1 – 30:38)LISTEN NOW!

Episode 27

Shaul’s Bitter End

In this final battle Shaul dies, but as the noble king of Israel. (Samuel I 31:1-13)



End of Samuel Book I – Stay Tuned for Samuel Book II After the High Holidays!