First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Eli (Heli), the priest and judge, had two sons, Hophni (Ophni) and Phinehas (Phinees); and because he was negligent in the discipline and punishment of his sons, he himself was punished by the Lord; for when he learned of the defeat of both his sons, and the capture of the ark, he fell from his seat, broke his neck, and died of pain at the age of ninety-eight years.[Eli was a descendant of Ithamar the fourth son of Aaron, and successor of Abdon as high priest and judge of Israel. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were temple priests in name, but at heart "sons of Belial;" for they knew not the Lord. The meat offerings brought by the people they appropriated to themselves for the gratification of their own appetites. In consequence of his negligence and injudicious management of his sons, Eli suffered punishment at the hands of the Lord. The judgments to be visited upon him were disclosed to him by Samuel, and they came to pass twenty-seven years later. His sons were slain in battle with the Philistines, into whose hands the ark of God also fell at the same time. The aged priest, then in his 98th year, was overwhelmed when these calamities were made known to him, and he fell backward from his seat and broke his neck (I Samuel 2:12-17; 3:13-14; 4:12-18).]

Samson, the twelfth and last judge of Israel, judged for twenty years. Among the Hebrews he was the strongest. His birth was prophesied to Manoah, his father, through an angel,[The circumstances attending the annunciation of Samson’s birth are to be found in Judges 13:3-24: "And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, Behold, now you are barren, and bear not; but you shall conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore, beware, I pray you, and drink not wine or strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing; For see, you shall conceive and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines . . . And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson."] and he was given a wife out of the city of Timnath (Thamna).[This woman was a daughter of the Philistines, the uncircumcised; and such marriages were prohibited among the Israelites. Samson married her against the customary law and over the objections of his parents.] There he gave thirty youths a riddle to solve, which through the secret information given them by the cunning of this woman, they were able to do. He burned the fruit trees of the enemy with torches attached to the tails of foxes. He slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, out of which the Lord caused water to flow to satisfy his thirst.

On his way to Timnath to fetch his bride, Samson slew a lion, and afterward found in its carcass a swarm of bees, and he ate of the honey and took some to his parents. This occurrence gave rise to a riddle that he propounded at his marriage feast: "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." Unable to solve the riddle within the three days allotted, Samson’s thirty companions resorted to his wife who, by the most urgent entreaties had obtained from him the solution. By cruel threats they extorted the secret from her, and gave him the answer. Although he kept his word and awarded the prizes he had offered, it was at the expense of the lives of thirty of their countrymen. He also forsook the wife who had been false to him. (Judges 14:5-20)

Samson returned to Timnath for reconciliation with his wife; but she had married again and he was not permitted to see her. Immediately he caught 300 foxes, joined their tales together in pairs, with firebrands between, and let them loose in the fields and vineyards of the Philistines, spreading fire and desolation over the country. To avenge themselves they set fire to the house where his former wife lived, and she and her father were burned in it. This again drew Samson’s vengeance. Finding a new jawbone of an ass, he slew 1,000 Philistines with it. "And he was very thirsty and called on the Lord, and said, You have given this great deliverance into the hand of your servant; and now shall I die of thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised? But God split open a hollow place that was in the jaw, and water came out from it; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again." (Judges 15:1-8).

Finally, his hair, in which his strength was lodged, was cut off through the cunning of Delilah. He was taken prisoner by the Philistines and robbed of his eyesight. However, as his hair grew again and his strength was restored, he broke down the pillars of the house in which the princes and many people were assembled; and the house fell upon the princes and upon himself, and three thousand people were killed as a result of that; and there were more dead than living. And he was buried in his father’s grave.[Samson attached himself to Delilah, a mercenary woman who discovered that the secret of his strength lay in his hair. And the Philistines came upon Samson while he was asleep, cut off his hair, put out his eyes, carried him to Gaza and imprisoned him. They were having a feast, and, to add to the merriment, had Samson brought in and seated between the two main pillars of the house, where the nobles and many people were assembled. He laid hold of the pillars and pushed with all his might. The entire structure thus collapsed, burying both Samson and the Philistines. (Judges 16:1-31).]

Ahitub (Achitob) the son of Phinehas, was the father of Ahimelech. Saul slew him, together with his entire house, because of David.[Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, and his successor in the priesthood, gave David some of the show-bread and the sword of Goliath, when he fled from Saul. For this offense he and all the priest of Nob were slain by Saul.]

Eli (Hely) was a judge after Samson, and also a priest. Because of the more worthy office of priest, he was not called a judge, but a priest. When the priesthood was diverted from the sons of Eleazar, Eli, first of the sons of Ithamar, attained the priesthood; and as he was a judge, he may have passed on the office to himself. However, he began to judge in the 356th year from the time of exodus from Egypt; being the year 861 in the third age of Abraham, and of the age of the world the 2,809th; and he judged forty years. During this time occurred the story of Ruth, as previously related.

Samuel, the holiest prophet of the Lord, a priest and judge of the Hebrews, ruled the people of the Lord forty years after Eli. He was the son of the man called Elkanah (Helcane) and Hannah (Anna), his wife. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah (Phenena). Hannah was barren, but was loved most by her husband. Peninnah gave birth, and therefore she scorned Hannah because of her barrenness. This greatly saddened Hannah; and she went into the temple and made a vow and prayed God to give her a son. And as she prayed as one intoxicated, Eli the priest thought she was drunk and upbraided her. But she meekly excused herself, making her great sorrow known to him. And the Lord listened to her prayer and gave her a son, Samuel the prophet. At the suggestion of the Lord she dedicated him to the tabernacle and allowed him to serve there. And from childhood to maturity he served the Lord worthily.

Samuel, the son of Elkanah and Hannah, was a celebrated Hebrew prophet, and the last of their judges. While a child he officiated in some form in the temple, and was favored with revelations of the divine will respecting the family of Eli, the high priest, under whose care and training his mother had placed him (I Samuel 3:4-14).

After the death of Eli, Samuel was acknowledged as a prophet, and soon commenced a work of reformation. Idolatry was banished, the worship of the true God was restored, and Samuel was publicly recognized as a judge of Israel. Residing on his patrimonial estate in Ramah he made annual circuits throughout the country to administer justice until his infirmities forbade it, and then he deputed to his sons to execute this duty. They proved unworthy of the trust and the dissatisfied people wanted a change of government. They applied to Samuel, who, under divine direction, anointed Saul to be their king, and Samuel resigned his authority to him. After Saul was rejected, Samuel was instructed to anoint David; after which he returned to Ramah, where he died. (I Samuel 12; I Samuel 25:1).

And after having also officiated as a judge of Israel for forty years he died, two years before the passing of Saul. And Israel mourned him as its own father and his body was buried in Ramah (Kamatha).


To get our bearings in the Priestly Lineage, let us review: (1) At Folio XXIX verso we began with Aaron, who branched off to Ithamar, whose two sons were consumed by fire. So the office of high priest descended upon Eleazar, his remaining son. At Folio XXXVII verso the lineage was continued through Phinehas, Abishua, Bukki and Uzzi; and at Folio XL verso, Uzzi’s descendats, Zeraiah, Meraioth (Azariah was skipped), Amariah and Ahitub were added. Following the text of Ezra 7:1-6, we should now proceed with Zadok, Shallum, Hilkiah, Azariah, Seraiah, finally coming to Ezra. But we do not, and Zadok will not appear until Folio XLVIII recto is reached.

In this new panel (XLI verso) we begin with Eli, who, according to the text, followed the collateral line of Ithamar, when the priesthood was diverted from the sons of Eleazar:

  1. Eli (Heli) appears in his high pontificals, with the crescent upon his mitre. He is followed by
  2. Phinehas (Phinees), who was already incorporated in the Priestly Line at Folio XXXVII verso, though there represented by a different woodcut. Both portraits give the subject the indicia of a high priest. And so with
  3. Ahitub (Achitob), who already appeared in the Priestly Line at Folio XL verso, although represented by an entirely different portrait and not as a high priest, as at present. He is followed by his son
  4. Ahimelech, also in his high priestly robes. He has a square bejeweled plate on his mitre, set with gems. His hands are placed together in an attitude of prayer. It was he and his house who were slain by Saul for giving assistance to the hunted David.
  5. Abiathar (Abyathar), the last in the panel, holds an open book with both hands. Like Ahimelech, he too has a square bejeweled plate on his mitre, set with gems. He is not mentioned in the text. Abiathar was a son of Ahimelech, who was head of the family of priests in charge of the sanctuary at Nob (I Samuel 21:1). All except Abiathar were massacred by Saul (I Samuel 22:20). When the rest obeyed the king’s summons, he may have remained at home to officiate. On hearing of the slaughter he took refuge with David, carrying with him the oracular Ephod. Abiathar and Zadok accompanied the outlaw in his wanderings. During Absalom’s rebellion they and their sons rendered yeoman’s service to the old king (II Samuel 15:17). Abiathar’s adhesion to Adonijah was of great importance, not only because of his position as priest, but also owing to his friendship with king David. Solomon, therefore, as soon as he could safely do it, deposed Abiathar from the priesthood and relegated him to the seclusion of Anathoth. His sons lost the priestly office along with their father.

  2. ELI

The Lineage of the Judges which ended at Folio XLI recto, with Abdon, the last of the minor judges of Israel according to Judges 12:13-15, is here resumed with Samson, whose record occupies several succeeding chapters of the book of Judges.

  1. Samson, having failed in his first matrimonial venture (which began with his Philistine courtship at Timnath, and ended with the slaughter of a thousand of his wife’s kinsmen with the jawbone of an ass), soon thereafter went to Gaza, and saw there a prostitute; and he went in to her. As soon as the Gazites learned that Samson was among them, they encompassed him, and laid in wait for him all night "in the gate of the city." And Samson lay till midnight, when he arose and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them to the top of a hill (Judges 16:1-3). So here the artist and woodcutter have caught him in his triumphant march. In embroidered and intricate robes, including a great coat, but bareheaded, he gallantly (note the pose that he strikes) steps forward, with the gates on his shoulders. Taken in connection with the biblical text, this is one of the most comical woodcuts in the Chronicle.
  2. Eli, who appeared at the head of the priestly line on this page, is now repeated in the Lineage of the Judges, for it will be remembered, he was both priest and judge. Here he appears as "Hely," just below the doughty Samson. He wears a medieval cap and gown, and according to his gestures, is engaged in the argument of some legal question. Below him is
  3. Samuel, who is clothed in the same manner as Eli, and engaged in the same pursuit. He branches off from a triple portrait of
  4. Elkanah (Helcana) and his two wives: Peninnah (Phenena) and Hannah (Anna). Peninnah is by far the younger of the two women. Both wear voluminous head-dresses, that of the younger woman the more pretentious. Peninnah has her hands folded in prayer, while Hannah holds the genealogical branch that proceeds to her beloved son Samuel. Elkanah is an elderly man and does not seem to feel particularly happy in his dual role of husband. But then, very few people in the Chronicle ever laugh, or even smile. He loved Hannah more than the scoffing Peninnah who bore him a number of children.