The Chronological Framework of the Deuteronomistic History
The Deuteronomistic History [=DH] was composed in the mid-sixth century BCE. The distinct resemblances in content and form between the Deuteronomistic editing in Joshua–Kings, on the one hand, and in Jeremiah, on the other, may have been the work of a single person, who prepared an extensive composition describing the history of Israel from Moses to Jeremiah. Deuteronomy serves as an introduction to the DH, whereas the Book of Jeremiah concludes it. In Deuteronomy the path was delineated and norms were determined. The main body of Joshua–Kings records the ups and downs in Israel's relationship with God. The epilogue, the Book of Jeremiah, focuses on the destruction of the Temple and the Exile in an attempt to explain the events and inform the exiles of the message of redemption. The Deuteronomist [=Dtr] presents the history of the relationship between Israel and God as intricate and complex, involving sin, repentance, and forgiveness. The message of the DH is one of hope and consolation: the merciful God, who has made an everlasting bond between himself and His elected people, forgave them in the past and he will forgive them in the future. The Exile did not mean the end of relations between God and His people. On the contrary, the Lord will rescue them and return them to their land, at the end of the epoch of the "70 years" (Jer 25,11-12; 29,10)1.
The Dtr included in the DH a total of approximately 160 numerical chronological data, most of them in the Book of Kings (ca.120). He compiles dozens of chronological data from his sources, to which he obviously attributed great importance. His composition contains information on the reigns of all the kings of Israel and Judah, without exception, including those who ruled only a few days or weeks. He also took pains to mention the synchronisms of all the kings of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms from the schism to the fall of Samaria, and even arranged the Book of Kings in chronological-synchronistic order.
In my previous two books, I studied the historical reliability of the Biblical and external chronological data for the monarchic period, and concluded that approximately 90% of the Biblical and external data could be reconciled by means of a relatively simple set of principles2. In this article, I would like to reexamine the chronological framework of the DH, and to discuss the correlation between the chronological data in Deuteronomy Samuel and the schematic framework in 1 Kgs 6,1, which determines 480 years from the Exodus to the establishment of the Temple3.
The chronology of the period from Moses to Samuel and the correlation between the chronological data in Deuteronomy Samuel and the schematic framework in 1 Kgs 6,1, have been discussed extensively in the literature. Scholars have formulated many hypotheses for the resolution of the complicated chronological problems of this period, without producing any generally accepted solution.
Many scholars are of the opinion that 480 years is a round calculation of a period of 12 generations of 40 years each, based on the Priestly tradition in 1 Chr 5,29-37 [6,1-15], which counted 12 generations from Aaron to Azariah, who served in Solomon's Temple4. However, this common claim is clearly wrong, for there is not even one evident "Priestly tradition" that numbers precisely 12 generations from Aaron, the first priest, to Azariah, the priest in the time of Solomon. Actually, there are many "Priestly traditions" in 1 Chr 5–6, and in Ezra 7,1-3, and they are self-contradictory. Only one "tradition" mentions explicitly that Azariah, "is the one who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem" (1 Chr 5,36 [6,10]). Yet, this "tradition" counted 15, not 12 generations from Aaron to Azariah, who served in Solomon's Temple5. Other scholars hold that 440 years, read by the LXX for the MT's 480 in 1 Kgs 6,1, should be preferred, and that it is based on eleven generations between Aaron and Zadok, mentioned in 1 Chr 5,29-37 [6,1-15]6. However, as Rowley rightly pointed out, "there is not the slightest reason to suppose that the author of 1 Kgs 6,1 had access to the Book of Chronicles, or that he had independent knowledge of the High Priestly genealogy"7.
Other researchers are of the opinion that most of the chronological data in Deuteronomy–Samuel was coordinated with the schematic framework in 1 Kgs 6,1, but their proposals are unconvincing.
Moore (following Nöldeke), excludes from his calculations most of the years of foreign domination, as well as the years of the "usurpers" (Saul and Abimelech), basing his chronological scheme mainly on the tenures of the Israelite leaders of this period8. He proposes the following figures for the main Israelite leaders of the pre-monarchic period: Moses – 40 years, Joshua – 40, Othniel – 40, Ehud – 80, Barak – 40, Gideon – 40, the Minor Judges with Jephthah – 76, Samson – 20, Eli – 20 (=LXX), Samuel (40). This proposal is clearly mistaken: one cannot claim that the Dtr, on the one hand, composed the theological framework of the book of Judges, and on the other excluded most of the periods of oppression, which are so important and central in the same theological framework.
Noth suggests that the Dtr sums up the whole chronology of the pre-monarchic period in 1 Kgs 6,19. In his opinion, the Dtr was extremely and consistently interested in chronological questions, and this is further proof that the Dtr is a single author and his work is self-contained. Noth assumes overlapping figures for the Philistine oppression and late interpolations added by post-deuteronomistic editors. He points out that the Dtr meant to provide an unbroken chronology, and offers the following chronological scheme:40 years of wandering in the wilderness; five years for the conquest of Cisjordan; Cushan-rishathaim/ Othniel – 48 years; Eglon/Ehud – 98; Jabin/Deborah – 60; Midian/Gideon – 47; Abimelech – 3; Tola and Jair – 45; Ammonite oppression – 18; Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon – 31; Philistine oppression – 40; Saul – 2; David – 40; Solomon – 4 or 3, if Solomon's first year coincided with David's last. Noth's proposals are very problematic, as he himself had noticed. He claims that in two places the Dtr uses an artificial conception in order to reach the total of 480. But in fact, the problem lies with Noth's proposals not with the Dtr's system, since Noth omitted the period of Samuel from his calculations, as well as the years of the last stages of Joshua and the elders that outlived him.
Richter proposed another solution10. He also assumes overlapping figures for the period of the judges (mainly for the time of Samson and Eli), suggesting the following reconstruction of the figure 480 (counting backwards from the establishment of the Temple): 46 years of the reigns of Solomon (4), David (40) and Saul (2); 136 years of "judges in the strict sense" (characterized by the formulae: l)r#&y-t) +p#$yw or l)r#&y-t) +p#$ )whw): Eli (40), Samson (20), and the "minor Judges" (76); 200 years of the "Savior" judges (characterized by the formula: Cr)h +q#$tw): Gideon (40), Barak and Deborah (40), Ehud (80) and Othniel (40); 53 years of oppression: before Gideon (7), Deborah (20), Ehud (18), and Othniel (8); 40 years in the desert; and only five years for the period of Joshua and the elders. This proposal, like Noth's, is untenable, since Richter also omits the period of Samuel, and gives Joshua only five years.
Moreover, he excluded from his calculations the 58 years of oppression by the Ammonites and the Philistines, and the three years of Abimelech11.
Moore, Noth, Richter, and other scholars, are of the opinion that the series of the "Minor Judges" with the dates assigned to them totaling 76 years, were included in the DH, and in the schematic framework in 1 Kgs 6,1. This is one of the main flaws in their systems, since, in my opinion, the notices of the minor judges were not included in the deuteronomistic edition of the book of Judges, and therefore cannot form part of the Dtr's chronology or of the schematic framework spanning 480 years from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon12. The notices of the minor judges are clearly secondary in the Book of Judges. They are devoid of any theological aspect: in these passages we find no sin, no repentance, and no forgiveness. Salvation is mentioned, but no salvation stories are related, and even the typical round figures are not mentioned. Moreover, the interpolation of these passages in chapters 10 and 12, evidently contradicts the Dtr's attitude towards the period of the judges, since, in his opinion, the Israelites were on a road downward: "as soon as the judge was dead, they would relapse into deeper corruption than their forefathers" (Judg 2,19). Accordingly, the reaction of the Lord changed: "I will deliver you no more" (Judg 10,13), so there was no more room for prosperity and success, but just for judgment, decline, and oppression. The Dtr divides the epoch of the judges into two main parts: the period of the four saviors, who succeeded in their mission (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah and Gideon), and the period of the three judges/leaders who disappointed: Abimelech, Jephthah and Samson13. The period of these last three leaders is described by the Dtr as dark and cruel, without rest or peace, characterized by deep corruption, and one of the lowest points in the relationship between God and his chosen people. This is exactly the point were a post-deuteronomistic editor inserted the notices of the minor judges, in an effort to balance the Dtr's hard and gloomy description of the relations between God and the Israelites: "In the midst of escalating social chaos, the notices of the minor judges serve as a refreshing interludes of order, family growth and prosperity..."14.
In the following pages I would like to present my reconstruction of the correlation between the note in 1 Kgs 6,1 and the chronological data in Deuteronomy-Samuel. The discussion will be divided into three main parts: (1) The chronological information relating to the beginning and to the closing of the period from the Exodus to the establishment of the Temple; (2) The chronology of the period from Cushan-rishathaim to the Philistine oppression; (3) The correlation between these two periods.
It is generally held that the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness lasted 40 years (Deut 1,3; 2,7; 8,2.4; 29,4). The Exodus was the starting point of the DH, and the first 40 years are clearly divided into three main sub-periods: (1) The first year (the Exodus; Horeb; from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea; the spies; the sin and the judgment; back to the desert); (2) 38 years of wandering from Kadesh-barnea to the brook of Zered, "until the whole generation ... had passed away" (Deut 2,14); (3) The last year ("the fortieth year"): the conquest of Transjordan; the last speech of Moses, at the beginning of the 11th month (Deut 1,3); and the death of Moses, at the age of 120 (Deut 31,2; 34,7). The chronology of the final period of the schematic framework of 480 years is similarly also clear: the Dtr assigns David a reign of 40 years (1 Kgs 2,11, cf. 2 Sam 5,4-5), and the Temple was established in the fourth year of Solomon. It is mentioned explicitly that Solomon was crowned while David was still alive. This clear co-regency is very important for understanding of the Dtr's chronology of the monarchic period. In my opinion, the Dtr has no doubt used the postdating system for the reigns of the Kings of the house of David, as was evidently the custom in the last years of Judah, a period with which he personally was closely familiar. It is reasonable to suppose that the Dtr considered the last year of David as the accession-year of Solomon, suggesting a few months of co-regency.
The figure given for Saul's reign in 1 Sam 13,1 ("two years"), is evidently too low to be historically possible. It is generally considered to be a textual corruption15. Still, in my opinion, the Dtr found this date in his sources, which were written by scribes related to the house of David. These scribes intended to present Saul's reign as a very brief and unsuccessful episode, between the glorious days of Samuel, on the one hand, and the climax in the reign of David, on the other hand. This brings the final period of the 480 years to a total of 46 years (see table).
The "period of the judges" described in the deuteronomistic edition of the Book of Judges, lasted 314 years, 200 years of peace, 111 years of oppression by a foreign enemy, and the three years of Abimelech. This period is divided into seven sub-periods by a pattern of four and three, as follows: four full theological cycles may be observed in chapters 3–8: (1) The first cycle lasted 48 years: from the first period of sin and the subsequent oppression by Cushan-rishathain, which lasted eight years, to the people's outcry, the deliverance by Othniel, and the peace of 40 years, at the end of this cycle (Judg 3,8,11); (2) The second cycle of 98 years: including 18 years of the Moabite oppression (Judg 3,14), ending with salvation by Ehud, and 80 years of peace after the death of Eglon (Judg 3,30); (3) The third cycle of 60 years: 20 years of subjection by Jabin, the Canaanite king, and 40 years of peace after the victory of Barak and Deborah (Judg 4,2-3; 5,31); (4) The fourth cycle of 47 years: seven bad years of ravage by the Midianites followed by 40 years of peace in the time of Gideon (Judg 6,1; 8,28). These four temporal cycles were followed by three sub-periods, which came immediately after the death of Gideon: (1) The short period of Abimelech (three years: Judg 9,22); (2) 18 years of Ammonite oppression (Judg 10,8); (3) 40 years of Philistine oppression (Judg 13,1). Rest and peace are not mentioned after Jephthah's victory over the Ammonites; just a slaughter of 42,000 Israelites and a faithless sacrifice of his only daughter. Moreover, the Ammonite oppression was directly followed by 40 years of the Philistine oppression, as it is stated in Judg 10,7: "The Lord was angry with Israel, and he sold them to the Philistines and to the Ammonites". Note the order of the foes (first the Philistines), and the fact that this sentence is located in the introduction to the story of Jephthah. This indicates that in the Dtr's eyes, the Ammonite oppression and the Philistine oppression are one continuous epoch.
The total of the figures discussed above is 400 years: 40 years in the desert, 46 years of Saul, David and Solomon (=86 years) and 314 years of the period of the judges. The difference between 480 and 400 is 80, and this is the time that the Dtr reckoned for the two links that are missing in this puzzle: the period of Joshua and the time of Samuel, each, in the Dtr's opinion, lasting 40 years.
Two important questions are still unanswered: (1) To when should we date the periods of Samson and Eli? (2) Is the round figure of Israel's300 years settlement in southern Transjordan in accordance with the Dtr's system?
The key to the understanding of first question is Judg 15,20. It points out clearly that the 20 years of Samson are located within the period of the 40 years of the Philistine oppression: "Samson was judge over Israel for twenty years, in the days of the Philistines". This fact is also reflected in Judg 15,11, and in the words of the angel to Samson's mother in 13,5: "He will strike the first blow to deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines". Samson has nothing to do with the ending of the Philistine oppression, since no matter what damage he caused them, in the end he died as a prisoner of the Philistines. Actually, there is no evidence of the termination of the Philistine oppression until the defeat of the Philistines by the Lord in the time of Samuel (1 Sam 7,7-14; cf. also 1 Sam 4,9). The battle of Eben-hezer was fought about 21 years before Samuel's victory over the Philistines. This view is clearly deduced from the ark tradition, especially from the chronological notes in 1 Sam 6,1 and 7,2. The ark had been in the Philistine cities for seven months (6,1), then in Beth-shemesh, probably for a short period (6,11-21), and finally in Kiriath-jearim for 20 years (7,2). The conclusion is manifest: the fatal defeat at Eben-hezer, and probably the destruction of Shilo too, happened about halfway through the 40 years of the Philistine oppression mentioned in Judg 13,116. Since Eli died of shock at the news of the defeat at Eben-hezer, it is clear that the last 19 years of Eli overlapped the first period of the Philistine oppression, just as Samson judged Israel "in the days of the Philistines". Eli's term of office goes back to the beginning of the long period of decline and oppression that started after the death of Gideon. This conclusion corresponds perfectly with the negative attitude of the author of the pre-deuteronomistic edition of the Book of Samuel to the house of Eli, expressed in detail in the first chapters of the Book of Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 1,14; 2,12-17, 22-36; 3,11-14). Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are also described as leaders that disappointed, so the three of them joined the three other failed leaders: Abimelech, Jephthah and Samson, who were active at exactly the same period. The 61 years from the death of Gideon to the end of the Philistine oppression is divided in the Book of Judges into three sub-periods (Abimelech ; Ammonite oppression ; Philistine oppression ). This period of 61 years corresponds to the 61 years from the beginning of the period of Eli to the beginning of the epoch of Samuel. This era is also divided into three sub-periods: 40 years of Eli (1 Sam 4,18); seven months of the ark in the land of the Philistines, and about 20 years of the ark in Beth-shemesh and Kiriath-jearim (see table, gray part).
Figures for the periods of Joshua and Samuel are missing in the MT. Yet, the suggestion that each epoch lasted 40 years corresponds perfectly with the chronological data in the Books of Joshua and Samuel. Josh 14,7-10 indicates clearly that the conquest of Cisjordan took 5 years, since Caleb says that he is now 85 years old, and that 45 years elapsed between the sending of the spies into Canaan (in the first year of the wandering in the wilderness) and the allotment of the land among the Israelites. Caleb's age (85=40+45) may indicate that Joshua's lifetime (110 years – Josh 24,29; Judg 2,8) was divided into three main periods: 40+40+30. He was 40 years old when he was sent as a spy to Canaan, same as Caleb ("Forty years old was I when Moses ... sent me ... to espy out the land" – Josh 14,7); and, he lived 40 years in the desert; and he led the people of Israel for 30 years. Accordingly, he was 80 years old when he was nominated as leader, the same as Moses. To the 30 years of the leadership of Joshua, the Dtr probably added a period of 10 years for the epoch of the "elders that outlived Joshua" (Josh 24,31). In Judg 2,9-10 it is pointed out that the "period of the judges" started only after the death of all the generation of Joshua, just as the period of Joshua started only after the generation of Moses had passed away. Since only the Israelites that were born in the desert entered to the land, and since, at the end of the epoch of Joshua, all his generation had passed away, it is impossible to suppose that the period of Joshua was of five years only. On the contrary, only a long period of 40 years would accord with all the traditions mentioned above. The conclusion is that the generation of Joshua passed away after 40 years, like the generation of Moses.
As for the 40 years of the epoch of Samuel, it is important to look at the lifetimes of the leaders of Israel mentioned in the DH. There is a clear line of decline in the lifetime of these leaders, according to the schematic numbers mentioned by the Dtr: Moses lived 120 years; Joshua – 110; Eli – 98 (1 Sam 4,15); and David only 70 years (2 Sam 5,4). No king of the house of David reached the age of 70 (Manasseh , and Uzziah  were close). The age of Samuel matches this pattern well: he "judged" Israel 40 years; about 21 years intervened from the battle of Eben-hezer to Samuel's victory over the Philistines; and it is stated that Samuel was a teenager ("na'ar") at the death of Eli (1 Sam 3,1)17. These calculations are also in harmony with the descriptions of Samuel as an old man in the last years of his period (1 Sam 8,1.5; 12,2; 28,14).
The 300 years of Israel's settlement in Transjordan (Judg 11,26) is a round figure, and it should not be adhered to exactly. This said, it is clear that it corresponds perfectly with the chronological framework proposed above: 274 years passed from the beginning of the oppression by Cushan-rishathim to the end of the Ammonite oppression, so the end of the epoch of "300 years" falls in the first half of the period of Joshua. This conclusion corresponds with Josh 22,1-6, which points out that "many days" passed till Joshua sent the tribes of Transjordan to settle in their allotments. It is also obvious that the chronological data in Judg 11,26 contradicts the suggestion that the series of the minor Judges, with the dates assigned to them, were included in the DH. Adding the 45 years of Tola and Jair, to the period of the Judges, would put the end of the epoch of the "300 years" after the time of Joshua, namely about 19 years after Joshua and of all his generation had passed away.
The series of the minor judges were not included in the deuteronomistic edition of the book of Judges, and therefore did not form part of the Dtr's chronology. Once this conclusion is reached, the Dtr's calculations become very simple and lucid. He constructs a chronological framework spanning 480 years from the Exodus to the establishment of the Temple, and correlates it with the chronological data in Deuteronomy–Samuel. He opens the DH with a 40 years epoch assigned to the leadership of Moses, and concludes the 480 years era with a period of 40 years plus 4 years assigned to David and Solomon (see table). The next two main links are those of the periods of the two leaders from the tribe of Ephraim, Joshua and Samuel, each lasting 40 years. The period between Joshua and Samuel, spanning 314 years, comprises 10 links, arranged by the Dtr in a pattern of 4 + 3 + 3: four periods of the successive judges (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah and Gideon), each divided into four stages (sin, oppression, outcry and salvation); three periods related to the three disappointing Judges (Abimelech, Jephthah and Samson), paralleled by a similar overlapping period also divided into three sub-periods, and also related to three unsuccessful leaders: Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas (see table, gray part).
This article points out that the series of the minor judges were not included in the deuteronomistic edition of the Book of Judges, and therefore did not form part of the Dtr's chronology. In the author's opinion the Dtr constructs a chronological framework spanning 480 years from the Exodus to the establishment ofthe Temple (1Kgs 6,1) and correlates it with the chronological data in Deuteronomy–Samuel.
Table: The 480 years framework and the epoch from the end of the period of Gideon to the beginning of the period of Samuel
1 For emphasis on the positive and optimistic message in the DH see G. VON RAD, "Das deuteronomistische Geschichtstheologie in den Königsbücher", Deuteronomium Studies, B (Göttingen 1947) 52-64; H.W. WOLFF, "Das Kerygma des deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerk", ZAW 73 (1961) 171-186; G. GALIL, "The Message of the Book of Kings in relation to Deuteronomy and Jeremiah", Bibliotheca Sacra 158 (2001) 406-414, with additional literature.
2 G. GALIL, The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah (SHCANE 9; Leiden 1996); ID., Israel and Assyria (Haifa – Tel Aviv 2001) (Hebrew).
3 For the Dtr's chronological framework spanning 400 years from the establishment of the Temple to the fall of Jerusalem, see my article "Dates and Calendars in Kings" (forthcoming).
4 J. WELLHAUSEN, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Berlin 2001 ) 225; A. GAMPERT, "Les '480 ans' de 1 Rois vi, 1", RThPh N.S. 5 (1917) 241-247; B. MAZAR, "The Exodus and the Conquest", The World History of the Jewish People: Judges (London 1971) I/3, 72; H. TADMOR, "Chronology", Encyclopaedia Biblica (Jerusalem 1962) IV, 250-251 (Hebrew); M. COGAN, "Chronology", The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York 1992) I, 1005.
5 For the emendation of vv. 9-10 [MT 5,35-36] and the assumption that the first-mentioned Azariah was a priest in the Temple of Solomon see E.D. CURTIS – A.A. MADSEN, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Chronicles (ICC; Edinburgh 1910) 128-129; S. JAPHET, I and II Chronicles. A Commentary (OTL; Louisville, KY 1993) 150. But even if we accept this common opinion, we still count 13 and not 12 generations from Aaron to Azariah.
6 For this proposal see G. GRAY, I and II Kings (OTL; Philadelphia 1970) 159; G.H. JONES, 1 and 2 Kings (NCB; Grand Rapids 1984) 163.
7 H.H. ROWLEY, From Joseph to Joshua (London 1950) 95.
8 G.F. MOORE, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges (ICC; Edinburgh 1895) xl-xliii.
9 M. NOTH, The Deuteronomistic History (JSOTSS 15; Sheffield 1981) 18-25,104-107.
10 W. RICHTER, Die Bearbeitungen des "Retterbuchs" in der deuteronomischen Epoche (Bonn 1964) 132-141; see also R.G. BOLING, Judges (AB; Garden City, NY1975) 23.
11 For another proposal to coordinate the chronological data in Deuteronomy– Samuel with 1 Kgs 6,1 see G. SAUER, "Die chronologischen Angaben in den Büchern Deuteronomium bis 2. Könige", TZ 24 (1968) 1-14. For a critical review of his suggestions see J.J. BIMSON, Redating the Exodus and Conquest (JSOTSS 5; Sheffield 1981) 83-84.
12 For the opinion that the series of the minor judges were added to the Book of Judges by a post-deuteronomistic editor see K. BUDDE,
Das Buch der Richter (KHAT; Freiburg 1897) ix, xvii, 78; C.F. BURNEY, The Book of Judges (New York 1970 ) 289-290; ROWLEY, From Joseph to Joshua, 92, 97; C.A. SIMPSON, Composition of the Book of Judges (Oxford 1957) 142-145; J. GRAY, Joshua, Judges and Ruth (NCB; London 1967) 5-6, 327; Y. ZAKOVITCH, "The Associative Arrangement of the Book of Judges and its Use for the Recognition of Stages in the Formation of the Book",
Isaac Leo Seeligmann Volume. Essays on the Bible and the Ancient World (ed. Y. ZAKOVITCH – A. ROFE) (Jerusalem 1983) I, 180-182 (Hebrew). It is a common opinion that the series of the minor judges have been included in the Book of Judges "simply to supplement the number of the 'great judges' to the conventional number of twelve, thus possibly to make the judges as representative as possible of all the elements of Israel" (GRAY, Joshua, Judges, 327).
13 For the "disappointing judges" see Y. AMIT, The Book of Judges. The Art of Editing (BIS 38; Leiden 1999) 85-92.
14 C. PRESSLER, Joshua, Judges and Ruth (WBC; Louisville – London 2002) 194.
15 For the chronological note in 1 Sam 13,1 see H.W. HERTZBERG, I and II Samuel (OTL; London 1964) 103; R.W. KLEIN, 1 Samuel (WBC 10; Waco, TX 1983) 122-125; V.P. LONG, The Reign and Rejection of King Saul. A Case for Literary and Theological Coherence
(SBLDS 118; Atlanta, GA 1989) 71-75.
16 For this proposal see NOTH, The Deuteronomistic History, 22.
17 Josephus conjectured that Samuel was 12 years old when the Lord called him (Antiquities, V, 348).