Of Elkanah and His Two Wives.
1, 2. a certain man of
Ramathaim-zophim—The first word being in the dual number,
signifies the double city—the old and new town of Ramah (1Sa 1:19). There were five cities of this
name, all on high ground. This city had the addition of Zophim attached
to it, because it was founded by Zuph, "an Ephrathite," that is a
native of Ephratha. Beth-lehem, and the expression "of
Ramathaim-zophim" must, therefore, be understood as Ramah in the land
of Zuph in the hill country of Ephratha. Others, considering "mount
Ephraim" as pointing to the locality in Joseph's territory, regard
"Zophim" not as a proper but a common noun, signifying watchtowers, or
watchmen, with reference either to the height of its situation, or its
being the residence of prophets who were watchmen (Eze 3:17). Though a native of Ephratha or
Beth-lehem-judah (Ru 1:2),
Elkanah was a Levite (1Ch 6:33, 34). Though of this order, and a good man,
he practised polygamy. This was contrary to the original law, but it
seems to have been prevalent among the Hebrews in those days, when
there was no king in Israel, and every man did what seemed right in his
own eyes [Jud 21:25].
3. this man went up out of his city yearly to
worship in Shiloh—In that place was the "earth's one
sanctuary," and thither he repaired at the three solemn feasts,
accompanied by his family at one of them—probably the passover.
Although a Levite, he could not personally offer a sacrifice—that
was exclusively the office of the priests; and his piety in maintaining
a regular attendance on the divine ordinances is the more worthy of
notice because the character of the two priests who administered them
was notoriously bad. But doubtless he believed, and acted on the
belief, that the ordinances were "effectual means of salvation, not
from any virtue in them, or in those who administered them, but from
the grace of God being communicated through them."
4. when … Elkanah offered, he gave to
Peninnah … portions—The offerer received back the
greater part of the peace offerings, which he and his family or friends
were accustomed to eat at a social feast before the Lord. (See on Le 3:3; De 12:12). It was out
of these consecrated viands Elkanah gave portions to all the members of
his family; but "unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion"; that is, a
larger choice, according to the Eastern fashion of showing regard to
beloved or distinguished guests. (See on 1Sa
9:24; also see on Ge 43:34).
6. her adversary also provoked her
sore—The conduct of Peninnah was most unbecoming. But
domestic broils in the houses of polygamists are of frequent
occurrence, and the most fruitful cause of them has always been
jealousy of the husband's superior affection, as in this case of
11. she prayed … she vowed a
vow—Here is a specimen of the intense desire that reigned in
the bosoms of the Hebrew women for children. This was the burden of
Hannah's prayer; and the strong preference she expressed for a male
child originated in her purpose of dedicating him to the tabernacle
service. The circumstance of his birth bound him to this; but his
residence within the precincts of the sanctuary would have to commence
at an earlier age than usual, in consequence of the Nazarite vow.
12-18. Eli marked her mouth—The
suspicion of the aged priest seems to indicate that the vice of
intemperance was neither uncommon nor confined to one sex in those
times of disorder. This mistaken impression was immediately removed,
and, in the words, "God grant," or rather, "will grant," was followed
by an invocation which, as Hannah regarded it in the light of a
prophecy pointing to the accomplishment of her earnest desire,
dispelled her sadness, and filled her with confident hope [1Sa 1:18]. The character and services of the
expected child were sufficiently important to make his birth a fit
subject for prophecy.
20. called his name Samuel—doubtless
with her husband's consent. The names of children were given sometimes
by the fathers, and sometimes by the mothers (see Ge
4:1, 26; 5:29; 19:37; 21:3);
and among the early Hebrews, they were commonly compound names, one
part including the name of God.
21. the man Elkanah … went up to offer
… his vow—The solemn expression of his concurrence in
Hannah's vow was necessary to make it obligatory. (See on Nu 30:3).
22. But Hannah went not up—Men only were
obliged to attend the solemn feasts (Ex 23:17). But Hannah, like other pious women,
was in the habit of going, only she deemed it more prudent and becoming
to defer her next journey till her son's age would enable her to
fulfill her vow.
24. three bullocks—The Septuagint
renders it "a bullock of three years old"; which is probably the true