1 Samuel 1:8
Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weep you? and why eat you not? and why is your heart grieved? am not I better to you than ten sons?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Than ten sons.—Merely a round number to express many. The simple narration evidently came from Hannah, who, no doubt, in after years loved to dwell on her past sorrowful life, contrasted with her present strange blessedness as mother of the Restorer of the people.

1 Samuel 1:8. Am not I better to thee than ten sons — Oughtest thou not to value my love to thee more than the having as many sons as Peninnah hath; who would willingly change conditions with thee? In Elkanah here we have an example of a most excellent husband; who patiently bore with the insolent humour of Peninnah, and comforted dejected Hannah with words full of tender affection.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.And as he did so ... - It should rather be "And so she did year by year, as often as she went up to the House of the Lord, so she provoked her." Though the verb is masculine, Peninnah must be the subject, because as often as SHE went up follows. The Vulgate has "they went up." 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. Oughtest thou not to value my hearty love to thee, more than the having of as many sons as Peninnah hath? She would willingly change conditions with thee. Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou?.... Since it was a time of rejoicing, as every festival was, especially at the ingathering of the fruits of the earth:

and why eatest thou not? since they were at a feast, and she had the best part and portion of the provision:

and why is thy heart grieved? to such a degree that she could neither eat nor drink:

am not I better to thee than ten sons? which, as Jarchi says, Peninnah had borne to him; his meaning is, that the share she had in his love and affections ought to have been esteemed by her more than if she had ten or many children by him; and it suggests that Peninnah would have been glad to have such a share in his affections as Hannah had; and it would have been more eligible to her, than to have borne him so many children as she had.

Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten {d} sons?

(d) Let this comfort you, that I love you no less than if you had many children.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. better to thee than ten sons] Cp. Ruth 4:15.Elkanah had two wives, Hannah (grace or gracefulness) and Peninnah (coral), the latter of whom was blessed with children, whereas the first was childless. He went with his wives year by year (ימימה מיּמים, as in Exodus 13:10; Judges 11:40), according to the instructions of the law (Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16), to the tabernacle at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts. "Jehovah Zebaoth" is an abbreviation of "Jehovah Elohe Zebaoth," or הצּבאות אלהי יהוה; and the connection of Zebaoth with Jehovah is not to be regarded as the construct state, nor is Zebaoth to be taken as a genitive dependent upon Jehovah. This is not only confirmed by the occurrence of such expressions as "Elohim Zebaoth" (Psalm 59:6; Psalm 80:5, Psalm 80:8,Psalm 80:15, 20; Psalm 84:9) and "Adonai Zebaoth" (Isaiah 10:16), but also by the circumstance that Jehovah, as a proper name, cannot be construed with a genitive. The combination "Jehovah Zebaoth" is rather to be taken as an ellipsis, where the general term Elohe (God of), which is implied in the word Jehovah, is to be supplied in thought (see Hengstenberg, Christol. i. p. 375, English translation); for frequently as this expression occurs, especially in the case of the prophets, Zebaoth is never used alone in the Old Testament as one of the names of God. It is in the Septuagint that the word is first met with occasionally as a proper name (Σαβαώθ), viz., throughout the whole of the first book of Samuel, very frequently in Isaiah, and also in Zechariah 13:2. In other passages, the word is translated either κύριος, or θεὸς τῶν δυνάμεων, or παντοκράτωρ; whilst the other Greek versions use the more definite phrase κύριος στρατιῶν instead.

This expression, which was not used as a divine name until the age of Samuel, had its roots in Genesis 2:1, although the title itself was unknown in the Mosaic period, and during the times of the judges. It represented Jehovah as ruler over the heavenly hosts (i.e., the angels, according to Genesis 32:2, and the stars, according to Isaiah 40:26), who are called the "armies" of Jehovah in Psalm 103:21; Psalm 148:2; but we are not to understand it as implying that the stars were supposed to be inhabited by angels, as Gesenius (Thes. s. v.) maintains, since there is not the slightest trace of any such notion in the whole of the Old Testament. It is simply applied to Jehovah as the God of the universe, who governs all the powers of heaven, both visible and invisible, as He rules in heaven and on earth. It cannot even be proved that the epithet Lord, or God of Zebaoth, refers chiefly and generally to the sun, moon, and stars, on account of their being so peculiarly adapted, through their visible splendour, to keep alive the consciousness of the omnipotence and glory of God (Hengstenberg on Psalm 24:10). For even though the expression צבאם (their host), in Genesis 2:1, refers to the heavens only, since it is only to the heavens (vid., Isaiah 40:26), and never to the earth, that a "host" is ascribed, and in this particular passage it is probably only the stars that are to be thought of, the creation of which had already been mentioned in Genesis 1:14.; yet we find the idea of an army of angels introduced in the history of Jacob (Genesis 32:2-3), where Jacob calls the angels of God who appeared to him the "camp of God," and also in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:2), where the "ten thousands of saints" (Kodesh) are not stars, but angels, or heavenly spirits; whereas the fighting of the stars against Sisera in the song of Deborah probably refers to a natural phenomenon, by which God had thrown the enemy into confusion, and smitten them before the Israelites (see at Judges 5:20). We must also bear in mind, that whilst on the one hand the tribes of Israel, as they came out of Egypt, are called Zebaoth Jehovah, "the hosts of Jehovah" (Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:41), on the other hand the angel of the Lord, when appearing in front of Jericho in the form of a warrior, made himself known to Joshua as "the prince of the army of Jehovah," i.e., of the angelic hosts. And it is in this appearance of the heavenly leader of the people of God to the earthly leader of the hosts of Israel, as the prince of the angelic hosts, not only promising him the conquest of Jericho, but through the miraculous overthrow of the walls of this strong bulwark of the Canaanitish power, actually giving him at the same time a practical proof that the prince of the angelic hosts was fighting for Israel, that we have the material basis upon which the divine epithet "Jehovah God of hosts" was founded, even though it was not introduced immediately, but only at a later period, when the Lord began to form His people Israel into a kingdom, by which all the kingdoms of the heathen were to be overcome. It is certainly not without significance that this title is given to God for the first time in these books, which contain an account of the founding of the kingdom, and (as Auberlen has observed) that it was by Samuel's mother, the pious Hannah, when dedicating her son to the Lord, and prophesying of the king and anointed of the Lord in her song of praise (1 Samuel 2:10), that this name was employed for the first time, and that God was addressed in prayer as "Jehovah of hosts" (1 Samuel 1:11). Consequently, if this name of God goes hand in hand with the prophetic announcement and the actual establishment of the monarchy in Israel, its origin cannot be attributed to any antagonism to Sabaeism, or to the hostility of pious Israelites to the worship of the stars, which was gaining increasing ground in the age of David, as Hengstenberg (on Psalm 24:10) and Strauss (on Zephaniah 2:9) maintain; to say nothing of the fact, that there is no historical foundation for such an assumption at all. It is a much more natural supposition, that when the invisible sovereignty of Jehovah received a visible manifestation in the establishment of the earthly monarchy, the sovereignty of Jehovah, if it did possess and was to possess any reality at all, necessarily claimed to be recognised in its all-embracing power and glory, and that in the title "God of (the heavenly hosts" the fitting expression was formed for the universal government of the God-king of Israel, - a title which not only serves as a bulwark against any eclipsing of the invisible sovereignty of God by the earthly monarchy in Israel, but overthrew the vain delusion of the heathen, that the God of Israel was simply the national deity of that particular nation.

(Note: This name of God was therefore held up before the people of the Lord even in their war-songs and paeans of victory, but still more by the prophets, as a banner under which Israel was to fight and to conquer the world. Ezekiel is the only prophet who does not use it, simply because he follows the Pentateuch so strictly in his style. And it is not met with in the book of Job, just because the theocratic constitution of the Israelitish nation is never referred to in the problem of that book.)

The remark introduced in 1 Samuel 1:3, "and there were the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, priests of the Lord," i.e., performing the duties of the priesthood, serves as a preparation for what follows. This reason for the remark sufficiently explains why the sons of Eli only are mentioned here, and not Eli himself, since, although the latter still presided over the sanctuary as high priest, he was too old to perform the duties connected with the offering of sacrifice. The addition made by the lxx, Ἡλὶ καὶ, is an arbitrary interpolation, occasioned by a misapprehension of the reason for mentioning the sons of Eli.

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