David and Goliath, the call of Samuel, the witch of Endor, David and Bathsheba -- such biblical stories are well known. But the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, where they are recorded, are among the most difficult books in the Bible. The Hebrew text is widely considered corrupt and sometimes even unintelligible. The social and religious customs are strange and seem to diverge from the tradition of Moses. In this first part of an ambitious two-volume commentary on the books of Samuel, David Toshio Tsumura sheds considerable light on the background of 1 Samuel, looking carefully at the Philistine and Canaanite cultures, as he untangles the difficult Hebrew text.