|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.
Verses 6, 7, 8. - Her adversary also provoked her sore. The pleasure of this domestic festival was spoiled by the discord of the wives. Peninnah, triumphant in her fruitfulness, is yet Hannah's adversary, because, in spite of her barrenness, she has the larger portion of the husband's love; while Hannah is so sorely vexed at the taunts of her rival, that she weeps from sheer vexation. In vain Elkanah tries to give her comfort. The husband really is not "better than ten sons," for the joy of motherhood is quite distinct from that of conjugal affection, and especially to a Hebrew woman, who had special hopes from which she was cut off by barrenness. In ver. 7 there is a strange confusion of subject, owing to the first verb having been read as an active instead of a passive. It should be, "And so it happened year by year: when she (Hannah) went up to the house of Jehovah she (Peninnah) thus provoked her, and she wept and did not eat." It must be remembered that the Hebrews had no written vowels, but only consonants; the vowels were added in Christian times, many centuries after the coming of our Lord, and represent the traditional manner of reading of one great Jewish school. They are to be treated with the greatest respect, because as a rule they give us a sense confirmed by the best authorities; but they are human, and form no part of Holy Scripture. The ancient versions, the Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, which are all three older than the Masoretic vowels, translate, "And so she (Peninnah) did year by year;" but this requires a slight change of the consonants.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And her adversary also provoked her sore,.... That is, Peninnah, the other wife of Elkanah; for when a man had more wives, two or more, they were usually at enmity to one another, as the two wives of Socrates were, being always jealous lest one should have more love and respect than the other from the husband; and this woman provoked Hannah one time after another, and continually, by upbraiding her with her barrenness; and this was another reason why Elkanah did all he could to comfort her, not only because the Lord had restrained her from bearing children, but because also she that envied and emulated her sadly provoked her:
for to make her fret; and be uneasy, and murmur at and complain of her unhappy circumstances: some render it, "because she thundered" (l) against her; that is, Peninnah was exceeding loud and clamorous with her reproaches and scoffs, which were grievously provoking to Hannah. So said Socrates, when Xantippe first scolded at him, and then poured foul water on him: did not I say, says he, that Xantippe first thunders, and then rains (m)?
because the Lord had shut up her womb; it was this Peninnah upbraided her with, and at which Hannah fretted and grieved.
(l) "propterea quod intonabat contra eam", Piscator. (m) Laert. in Vit. Socrat. p. 112.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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