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The Birth of Samuel
1There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.11Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. Septuagint And, although he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the Lord had closed her womb 6And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
9After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
12As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
19They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”22Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for heard of God
Samuel Given to the Lord
21The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,33Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew three bulls an ephah44An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.
1Sa 1:1-8. 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 Hannah.
1Sa 1:9-18. Hannah's Prayer.
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.
1Sa 1:20. Samuel Born.
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 rendering.