The prophet Samuel was one of the most important figures in Jewish history; our sages describe him as the equivalent of "Moses and Aaron combined." He was the last of the Shoftim ("Judges") who led the people of Israel during the four centuries between the passing of Joshua and the establishment of the monarchy, and the author of the biblical books of "Judges", "Samuel" and "Ruth"

Samuel was born in the year 2830 from creation (931 BCE) after his barren mother, Chanah (Hannah), prayed for a child at the Sanctuary at Shiloh and pledged, "O L-rd of hosts... If You will give Your maidservant a man child, I shall dedicate him to G‑d all the days of his life..." (I Samuel 1:11). At age two, his mother brought him to Shiloh in fulfillment of her vow, where he was raised by Eli the High Priest; shortly thereafter, Samuel had his first prophetic communication (described in I Samuel 3). In 890 BCE, Samuel succeeded Eli as leader of the Jewish people.

After ten years under Samuel's guidance, the people approached him with the request, "Appoint for us a king... like all the nations around us." Samuel disapproved of their request, believing that the people of Israel should be subject only to G‑d and not to any mortal king; but G‑d instructed him to do as the people ask. Samuel then anointed (879 BCE) Saul as the first king of Israel. When Saul disobeyed G‑d during the war on Amalek, Samuel proclaimed David the legitimate king in Saul's stead. Shortly thereafter, Samuel passed away at age 54 in his birthplace, Ramah, in the hills of Judah.