1 Samuel 1:5
But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
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(5) A worthy portion.—Literally, one portion for two persons: i.e., a double portion. It was an expression of his deep love for her. As Von Gerlach puts it, “Thou art as dear to me as if thou hadst borne me a child.” Some scholars would translate the difficult Hebrew expression here by, “But to Hannah he gave a portion of anger or sadness,” thus intensifying the natural sorrow of Hannah by representing her husband as unkind. The Vulgate, Luther, and Abarbanel favour this singular interpretation; but the one adopted by the English Version, and explained above, is in all respects grammatically and exegetically to be preferred.

1 Samuel 1:5-6. Unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion — Or, a double portion; in token of his extraordinary respect and kindness to her. For he loved Hannah: but the Lord — Or, though the Lord, had shut her womb — Her barrenness did not cause him to love her less, but rather more; because he would comfort her under her affliction. To abate our just love to any relations for the sake of any infirmity which they cannot help, is to add affliction to the afflicted. Her adversary also provoked her sore — Peninnah, through envy or jealousy, set herself against her, though so nearly related to her, and strove to vex her by upbraiding her with her barrenness.

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.A worthy portion - Probably as in the margin. Naturally she would have had a single portion of the sacrifice (compare 1 Samuel 9:23), but because of his love to her he gave her a double portion, enough for two people (compare Genesis 43:34). 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 [230]Le 3:3; [231]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 [232]1Sa 9:24; also see on [233]Ge 43:34). A worthy portion, or, an honourable or select part, such as the master of the feast usually gave to the person most respected or beloved. See Genesis 43:34 1 Samuel 9:23,24.

He loved Hannah, with a singular and eminent love. Compare Genesis 29:30.

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.

But unto Hannah he gave a worthy {c} portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

(c) Some read, a portion with a hearty cheer.

5. a worthy portion] Lit., one portion for two persons: a double portion. If the text is sound, this seems to be the best explanation of an obscure expression. Elkanah marked his love for Hannah by giving her a double portion. Similarly Joseph distinguished Benjamin by sending him a fivefold portion (Genesis 43:34). But the Sept. points to a different reading which would give the following sense: “And to Hannah he gave a single portion, because she had no child: nevertheless Elkanah loved Hannah most: but the Lord had shut up her womb.”

had shut up her womb] Hannah’s faith might have been strengthened by the recollection that Sarah (Genesis 16:1), Rachel (Genesis 30:1), Manoah’s wife (Jdg 13:2), all had to bear the reproach of childlessness for a time, and all eventually bore illustrious sons.

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. 1 Samuel 1:5"And it came to pass, the day, and he offered sacrifice" (for, "on which he offered sacrifice"), that he gave to Peninnah and her children portions of the flesh of the sacrifice at the sacrificial meal; but to Hannah he gave אפּים אחת מגה, "one portion for two persons," i.e., a double portion, because he loved her, but Jehovah had shut up her womb: i.e., he gave it as an expression of his love to her, to indicate by a sign, "thou art as dear to me as if thou hadst born me a child" (O. v. Gerlach). This explanation of the difficult word אפּים, of which very different interpretations have been given, is the one adopted by Tanchum Hieros., and is the only one which can be grammatically sustained, or yields an appropriate sense. The meaning face (facies) is placed beyond all doubt by Genesis 3:19 and other passages; and the use of לאפּי as a synonym for לפני in 1 Samuel 25:23, also establishes the meaning "person," since פּנים is used in this sense in 2 Samuel 17:11. It is true that there are no other passages that can be adduced to prove that the singular אף was also used in this sense; but as the word was employed promiscuously in both singular and plural in the derivative sense of anger, there is no reason for denying that the singular may also have been employed in the sense of face (πρόσωπον). The combination of אפּים with אחת מגה in the absolute state is supported by many other examples of the same kind (see Ewald, 287, h). The meaning double has been correctly adopted in the Syriac, whereas Luther follows the tristis of the Vulgate, and renders the word traurig, or sad. But this meaning, which Fr. Bttcher has lately taken under his protection, cannot be philologically sustained either by the expression פניך נפלוּ (Genesis 4:6), or by Daniel 11:20, or in any other way. אף and אפּים do indeed signify anger, but anger and sadness are two very different ideas. But when Bttcher substitutes "angrily or unwillingly" for sadly, the incongruity strikes you at once: "he gave her a portion unwillingly, because he loved her!" For the custom of singling out a person by giving double or even large portions, see the remarks on Genesis 43:34.
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