1 Samuel 1:11
And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) And she vowed a vow.—The vow of Hannah contained two solemn promises—the one pledged the son she prayed for to the service of the Eternal all the days of his life. The mother looked on to a life-long service in the ritual of the Tabernacle for him, but the Being who heard her prayer destined her son for higher work; in his case the priestly duties were soon merged in the far more responsible ones of the prophet—the great reformer of the people. The second promise undertook that he should be a Nazarite. Now the Nazariteship included three things—the refraining from intoxicating drinks, the letting the hair grow, and the avoiding all ceremonial defilement by corpses even of the nearest kin. Samuel was what the Talmud calls a perpetual Nazarite.

These strange restrictions and customs had an inner signification. The abstinence from wine and strong drink typified that the Nazarite determined to avoid all sensual indulgence which might cloud the mind and render the man unfit for prayer to, and work for, the Lord; the avoiding contact with the dead was a perpetual outward protest that the vower of the solemn vow renounced all moral defilement, that he gave up every thing which could stain and soil the life consecrated to the Eternal’s service; the untouched hair, which here is especially mentioned, was a public protest that the consecrated one had determined to refrain from intercourse with the world, and to devote the whole strength and fulness of life to the Lord’s work. The LXX. (Greek) Version here inserts the words, “and he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink,” wishing to bring the passage into stricter accordance with Numbers 6. The original Hebrew text, however, contents itself with specifying merely the outward sign of the untouched hair, by which these solemnly consecrated ones were publicly known.

1 Samuel 1:11. But wilt give unto thy handmaid — She thrice calls herself God’s handmaid, out of a profound sense of her meanness, and his majesty. And she desires a man-child, because only such could wait upon the Lord in the service of the tabernacle, as she intended her son should do, if God bestowed one upon her. Then will I give him unto the Lord — That is, consecrate him to his service in his house. No razor shall come upon his head — He shall be a perpetual Nazarite, part of whose description this is, Numbers 6:5.

1:9-18 Hannah mingled tears with her prayers; she considered the mercy of our God, who knows the troubled soul. God gives us leave, in prayer, not only to ask good things in general, but to mention that special good thing we most need and desire. She spoke softly, none could hear her. Hereby she testified her belief of God's knowledge of the heart and its desires. Eli was high priest, and judge in Israel. It ill becomes us to be rash and hasty in censures of others, and to think people guilty of bad things while the matter is doubtful and unproved. Hannah did not retort the charge, and upbraid Eli with the wicked conduct of his own sons. When we are at any time unjustly censured, we have need to set a double watch before the door of our lips, that we do not return censure for censure. Hannah thought it enough to clear herself, and so must we. Eli was willing to acknowledge his mistake. Hannah went away with satisfaction of mind. She had herself by prayer committed her case to God, and Eli had prayed for her. Prayer is heart's ease to a gracious soul. Prayer will smooth the countenance; it should do so. None will long remain miserable, who use aright the privilege of going to the mercy-seat of a reconciled God in Christ Jesus.vows are characteristic of this particular age of the Judges. (Compare Judges 11:30; Judges 21:5; 1 Samuel 14:24.) For the law of vows in the case of married women, see Numbers 30:6-16; and for the nature of the vow, see the marginal references. 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. She vowed a vow; knowing that her husband would willingly consent to it, otherwise she had not power to do it.

If thou wilt indeed look on, to wit, favourably, so as to remove it.

The affliction, i.e. the barrenness and reproach which attends it.

Give him unto the Lord, i.e. consecrate him to God’s service in his temple, as far as in me lies; for if he had any blemish, she might not do it.

All the days of his life; not only from his twenty-fifth to his fiftieth year, as all the Levites, and so he himself, were obliged by God, Numbers 4:3 8:24, but for his whole time; which is still to be understood with a reservation of God’s right, which her now must give place to, as indeed it did; for God called him to be a prophet, and a general of the army, and a judge.

There shall no razor come upon his head, i.e. he shall be a perpetual Nazarite; for under this one rule, as the chief, all the rest are contained; as elsewhere the whole Mosaical law is understood, under the title of circumcision.

And she vowed a vow,.... Which might be confirmed by her husband; otherwise the vow of a woman, if disapproved of by her husband, was not valid, Numbers 30:8 and Elkanah might make the same vow his wife did, and so it stood; for as this was a vow of Nazariteship, it is a tradition of the Jews (r), that a man may vow his son to be a Nazarite, but a woman may not; but as this instance contradicts the tradition, they endeavour to explain away this vow, as it may respect a Nazarite, as will be observed hereafter:

and said, O Lord of hosts; this is properly the first time this title was used by any that we know of; for though it is expressed in 1 Samuel 1:3 there it is used as the words of the writer of this history, and so long after this prayer was put up; See Gill on 1 Samuel 1:3; and it is an observation in the Talmud (s), that from the day God created the world, no man called him the Lord of hosts till Hannah came and called him so:

if thou wilt indeed look upon the affliction of thine handmaid the sorrow of heart she had, the reproach she met with, on account of her having no children:

and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid; which petitions are the same in other words, and are repeated to denote her vehemence and importunity in prayer, and may allude to usages among men, that will look upon a person in distress, and turn away and forget them, and never think of them more; which she deprecates may not be her case with God:

but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child; or, "a seed of men" (t); a son in the midst of men, as the Targum; such as is desirable by men, as a male child for the most part is; though some Jewish writers interpret it of the seed of righteous, wise, and understanding men, such as be fit to serve the Lord, which seems to be a sense foreign to the text; a man child she asks, because no other could serve the Lord in the temple; and that she meant by this phrase such an one is clear, because she vowed that a razor should not come on its head, which is never said of females, as Kimchi observes:

then will I give him unto the Lord all the days of his life; to serve him, and minister unto him in the sanctuary; being born a Levite, it was incumbent on him to serve the Lord, and he had a right to his service; but then a common Levite did not enter on it until twenty five or thirty years of age, and was not always serving, but was dismissed from it at fifty Numbers 8:24; but the child she vows, if the Lord would give her such an one, should be trained up in his service from his infancy, and continue it all the days of his life; and was to be also a perpetual Nazarite, as Samson was, as follows:

and there shall no razor come upon his head; as was not to come upon a Nazarite, during his Nazariteship, Numbers 6:5 and as such a vow made by a woman contradicts the tradition of the Jews before mentioned, they give another sense of this clause; as the Targum, which paraphrases it,"and the fear of man shall not be upon him;''but about this there is a division (u); but that Samuel was Nazarite, and a perpetual one, is the sense of their best interpreters.

(r) Misn. Sotah. c. 3. sect. 8. (s) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 31. 2.((t) "semen virorum", Montanus. (u) Misn. Nazir, c. 9. sect. 5.

And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. vowed a vow] The law of vows, with special limitations in the case of married women, is given in Numbers 30.

look on the affliction of thine handmaid] The rendering of the LXX. “If thou wilt indeed regard the low estate of thine handmaiden” (ἐὰν ἐπιβλέπων ἐπιβλέψῃς ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης σου) gives the words adopted by the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:48).

I will give him) The vow is twofold, involving (1) the lifelong consecration of the child to the service of Jehovah, for as a Levite he would serve from the age of 25 or 30 to 50 only, and very possibly at this time many Levites, e.g. Elkanah himself, had no official duties: (2) the special Nazirite vow, the characteristics of which were (a) abstinence from intoxicating drinks, as an act of self-denial and a protest against sensual indulgence: (b) the free growth of the hair, symbolizing apparently the complete dedication of all the man’s powers to Jehovah: (c) the avoidance of defilement by a dead body, as a token of absolute purity of life. See Numbers 6. The vow was usually taken for a limited time only, but Samson, Samuel, and St John the Baptist were dedicated to a perpetual Nazirate from their birth.

1 Samuel 1:11Hannah's prayer for a son. - 1 Samuel 1:9-11. "After the eating at Shiloh, and after the drinking," i.e., after the sacrificial meal was over, Hannah rose up with a troubled heart, to pour out her grief in prayer before God, whilst Eli was sitting before the door-posts of the palace of Jehovah, and vowed this vow: "Lord of Zebaoth, if Thou regardest the distress of Thy maiden, and givest men's seed to Thy maiden, I will give him to the Lord all his life long, and no razor shall come upon his head." The choice of the infinitive absolute שׁתה instead of the infinitive construct is analogous to the combination of two nouns, the first of which is defined by a suffix, and the second written absolutely (see e.g., וזמרת עזּי, Exodus 15:2; cf. 2 Samuel 23:5, and Ewald, 339, b). The words from ועלי onwards to נפשׁ מרת form two circumstantial clauses inserted in the main sentence, to throw light upon the situation and the further progress of the affair. The tabernacle is called "the palace of Jehovah" (cf. 1 Samuel 2:22), not on account of the magnificence and splendour of the building, but as the dwelling-place of Jehovah of hosts, the God-king of Israel, as in Psalm 5:8, etc. מזוּזה is probably a porch, which had been placed before the curtain that formed the entranced into the holy place, when the tabernacle was erected permanently at Shiloh. נפשׁ מרת, troubled in soul (cf. 2 Kings 4:27). תבכּה וּבכה is really subordinate to תּתפּלּל, in the sense of "weeping much during her prayer." The depth of her trouble was also manifest in the crowding together of the words in which she poured out the desire of her heart before God: "If Thou wilt look upon the distress of Thine handmaid, and remember and not forget," etc. "Men's seed" (semen virorum), i.e., a male child. אנשׁים is the plural of אישׁ, a man (see Ewald, 186-7), from the root אשׁ, which combines the two ideas of fire, regarded as life, and giving life and firmness. The vow contained two points: (1) she would give the son she had prayed for to be the Lord's all the days of his life, i.e., would dedicate him to the Lord for a lifelong service, which, as we have already observed at 1 Samuel 1:1, the Levites as such were not bound to perform; and (2) no razor should come upon his head, by which he was set apart as a Nazarite for his whole life (see at Numbers 6:2., and Judges 13:5). The Nazarite, again, was neither bound to perform a lifelong service nor to remain constantly at the sanctuary, but was simply consecrated for a certain time, whilst the sacrifice offered at his release from the vow shadowed forth a complete surrender to the Lord. The second point, therefore, added a new condition to the first, and one which was not necessarily connected with it, but which first gave the true consecration to the service of the Lord at the sanctuary. At the same time, the qualification of Samuel for priestly functions, such as the offering of sacrifice, can neither be deduced from the first point in the vow, nor yet from the second. If, therefore, at a later period, when the Lord had called him to be a prophet, and had thereby placed him at the head of the nation, Samuel officiated at the presentation of sacrifice, he was not qualified to perform this service either as a Levite or as a lifelong Nazarite, but performed it solely by virtue of his prophetic calling.
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