|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-8 Elkanah kept up his attendance at God's altar, notwithstanding the unhappy differences in his family. If the devotions of a family prevail not to put an end to its divisions, yet let not the divisions put a stop to the devotions. To abate our just love to any relation for the sake of any infirmity which they cannot help, and which is their affliction, is to make God's providence quarrel with his precept, and very unkindly to add affliction to the afflicted. It is evidence of a base disposition, to delight in grieving those who are of a sorrowful spirit, and in putting those out of humour who are apt to fret and be uneasy. We ought to bear one another's burdens, not add to them. Hannah could not bear the provocation. Those who are of a fretful spirit, and are apt to lay provocations too much to heart, are enemies to themselves, and strip themselves of many comforts both of life and godliness. We ought to notice comforts, to keep us from grieving for crosses. We should look at that which is for us, as well as what is against us.
Verse 5. - A worthy portion. This rendering is based upon the idea that the Hebrew, which is literally "one portion of two faces," may mean "one portion enough for two persons." But for this there is no sufficient authority, and though the word is a dual, it really signifies the two sides of the face, or more exactly "the two nostrils," and so simply the countenance. The Syriac translation, "a double portion," is based upon an accidental resemblance between the words. As the term sometimes signifies anger from the swelling of the nostrils of an enraged person, the Vulgate translates, "And Elkanah was sad when he gave Hannah her portion; for..." The Septuagint has a different reading, epes for apaim, and though the words look different in our writing, they are nearly identical in Hebrew. This is probably the true reading, and the translation would then be, "And to Hannah he gave one portion only (because she bad no child, while Peninnah had many portions, as each son and daughter had a share); for he loved Hannah (and did not leave her without this mark of affection), though Jehovah had shut up her womb." These portions were of course taken from those parts of the victim which formed a feast for the offerers, after Jehovah and the priests had had their dues. It is plain from this feast that Elkanah's annual sacrifice was a peace offering, for the law of which see Leviticus 7:11-21.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion,.... Or, one choice portion, as the Targum; the best part or portion in the peace offering, of what the priest had not; he had the breast and the right shoulder, the next best piece he gave to Hannah; and the word being of the dual number, some render it a double portion; others, "one part of two faces" (h); which Jerom interprets, which might be received with a cheerful countenance, it was so good and excellent in its kind; others interpret it that he gave it with a sorrowful (i) and displeased countenance, because of the reason following, that she had no children; but Ben Gersom understands it of a part or portion of meat that had two faces or appearances; that he gave her one of the pieces, one part of which was very fat, and the other had no fat on it, so that she might choose what she liked best:
for he loved Hannah; loved her best, and therefore did everything to please her, and make her comfortable under her affliction for want of children, and to express his tender affection for her:
but the Lord had shut up her womb; restrained her from conception, and bearing children; see Genesis 20:18 or "though the Lord had shut up her womb" (k); this did not abate his love to her.
(h) "unam portionem duarum facicrum", Sanctius Belgae. (i) Sic Stockins, p. 79. (k) "quanquam Jehovah", Piscator.
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