Detail from photo, Bequest of Susan Greene Dexter in memory of Charles and Martha Babcock Armory; courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

ON THE COVER: The prophet Samuel furiously chastises King Saul for failing to heed God’s order to destroy all the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:3). The American artist John Singleton Copley (1738–1815) in Saul Reproved by Samuel for not Obeying the Commandments of the Lord depicts Saul, rejected by Samuel for having spared the life of the Amalekite king Agag, holding onto the prophet’s robe and pleading for forgiveness. When the robe tears, Samuel says, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day … ” (1 Samuel 15:28). In “King Saul—A Bungler from the Beginning,” Kenneth I. Cohen argues that Saul was a poor choice even at the outset—a foolish man and an incompetent ruler.