1 Samuel 2:27
And there came a man of God to Eli, and said to him, Thus said the LORD, Did I plainly appear to the house of your father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?
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(27) There came a man of God.—Of this messenger of the Highest, whom, from his peculiar title, and also from the character of his communication, we must regard as one of the order of prophets, we know nothing. He appears suddenly on the scene at Shiloh, nameless and—as far as we know—homeless, delivers his message of doom, and disappears.

The term “man of God” we find applied to Moses and to different prophets some forty or more times in the Books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings. It occurs, though but rarely, in Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and in the prophetical books only once.

Until the sudden appearance of this “man of God,” no mention of a prophet in the story of Israel had been made since the days of Deborah.

Did I plainly appear . . .—The interrogations in this Divine message do not ask a question with a view to a reply, but simply emphatically appeal to Eli’s conscience. To these questions respecting well-known facts the old man would reply with a silent “Yes.” The “house of thy father” refers to the house of Aaron, the first high priest, from whom, through Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron, Eli was descended.

The Talmud has a beautiful note on this passage:—Rabbi Shimon ben Yochi said, “Come and see how beloved Israel is by the Holy One! Blessed be He! Wherever they are banished, there the Shekinah is with them; as it is said (1Samuel 2:27): ‘Did I (God) plainly appear unto the house of thy fathers when they were in Egypt?’ &c. When they were banished to Babylon, the Shekinah was with them; as it is said (Isaiah 43:14): ‘For your sakes was I sent to Babylon.’ And when they will be redeemed the Shekinah will be with them; as it is said (Deuteronomy 30:3): ‘Then the Lord thy God will return with thy captivity;’ it is not said, He will cause to return (transitively), but He will return (intransitively).”—Treatise Meguillah, fol. 29, Colossians 1.

1 Samuel 2:27-28. There came a man of God unto Eli — That is, a prophet, sent from God to deliver the following message to him: Did I plainly appear — Hebrew, Manifestly reveal myself unto the spouse of thy father — Unto Aaron, who was the head of the family of the priests. It is the way of the prophets, when they call men to repentance for their sins, to show them the aggravations of these sins, by enumerating God’s many and great mercies to them. See Isaiah 1:2, &c.; Micah 6:3-5. All the offerings made by fire — There were none of the sacrifices offered at the altar of which the priest had not some share: see Numbers 18:8-10. For even of the burnt-offerings, which were wholly consumed on the altar, the skin was, by an express law, given to the priest, Leviticus 7:8.2:27-36 Those who allow their children in any evil way, and do not use their authority to restrain and punish them, in effect honour them more than God. Let Eli's example excite parents earnestly to strive against the beginnings of wickedness, and to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the midst of the sentence against the house of Eli, mercy is promised to Israel. God's work shall never fall to the ground for want of hands to carry it on. Christ is that merciful and faithful High Priest, whom God raised up when the Levitical priesthood was thrown off, who in all things did his Father's mind, and for whom God will build a sure house, build it on a rock, so that hell cannot prevail against it.A man of God - See Judges 13:6 note. The sudden appearance of the only prophet of whom mention is made since Deborah, without name, or any notice of his country, is remarkable. 1Sa 2:27-35. A Prophecy against Eli's House.

27. there came a man of God unto Eli, and said … that there shall not be an old man in thine house—So much importance has always, in the East, been attached to old age, that it would be felt to be a great calamity, and sensibly to lower the respectability of any family which could boast of few or no old men. The prediction of this prophet was fully confirmed by the afflictions, degradation, poverty, and many untimely deaths with which the house of Eli was visited after its announcement (see 1Sa 4:11; 14:3; 22:18-23; 1Ki 2:27).

A man of God, i.e. a prophet or preacher sent from God. See 1 Timothy 6:11 2 Timothy 3:17 2 Peter 1:21. Who this was is not revealed by God, and therefore it is vain to inquire, and impossible to determine.

Did I plainly appear? did I indeed show such a favor, and appear so evidently and gloriously to thee, and for thee, and is this thy requital?

unto the house of thy father, i.e. unto Aaron the chief of thy father’s house.

When they were in Egypt: see Exodus 4:27. Pharaoh’s house, i.e. either,

1. In Pharaoh’s land; the whole kingdom being, as it were, one great family, whereof Pharaoh was the master. Or,

2. In Pharaoh’s court, where Aaron might probably be at the time of this revelation, either to answer to some accusation against him or his brethren, or to beg some relaxation of the rigour, or for some other occasion. And there came a man of God unto Eli,.... A prophet, as the Targum; he had gifts and graces bestowed on him by the Lord, qualifying him for that office; he came from God, and spoke in his name, as prophets used to do: who this was is not said, nor can it be known with certainty; many conjectures are made; some think he might he Phinehas, as Ben Gersom and Abarbinel (a), which is not at all likely; it is not probable that he was living, for if he had been alive, Eli would not have been high priest; the more ancient Jews say (b) he was Elkanah, the father of Samuel; and so Jarchi; and he is said in the Targum on 1 Samuel 1:1, to be one of the disciples of the prophets, and was reckoned by them among the two hundred prophets that prophesied in Israel (c); but of his prophecy we nowhere read in Scripture, or that he was one: other's (d) think he was Samuel himself, who through modesty conceals his name; but he was now a child, as in the preceding verse; indeed, some are of opinion that what follows is recorded in this chapter by way of anticipation, and properly belongs to, and is a part of the message sent from the Lord by Samuel to Eli, in the following chapter:

and said unto him, thus saith the Lord; using the language prophets in later times did, who spake not of themselves, but in the name of the Lord; and from whence it appears that this was not a divine Person, the Son of God in human form, since he never used to speak in this manner when he appeared:

did I plainly appear to the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? he did; this was evident and certain, and a wonderful instance of condescending goodness: the house of his father is the house of Aaron, who, and all his sons, were born in Egypt, from whose youngest son, Ithamar, Eli descended; and to whom the Lord appeared when in Egypt, and sent him to meet Moses, whose spokesman he appointed him to be; and who prophesied in Egypt, and reproved the Israelites, which is recorded in Ezekiel 20:1 as say the Jews (e).

(a) Judaei apud Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 75. A. (b) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 20. p. 53. (c) T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 14. 1.((d) See Weemse's Christ. Synagog. l. 2. c. 3. p. 250. (e) Jarchi & Ben Gersom in loc.

And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy {s} father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?

(s) That is, Aaron.

27–36. The doom of Eli’s house

27. a man of God] i.e. a prophet commissioned by God. Even in the general decay of religion (1 Samuel 3:1) God still had his messengers. The title “man of God” is applied to Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and others. It is specially frequent in the Books of Kings.

Did I plainly appear] Better, Did I indeed reveal myself. See Exodus 4:14 ff., Exodus 4:27; Exodus 12:1; Exodus 12:43 for revelations made to Aaron.

in Pharaoh’s house] In bondage to Pharaoh’s house.Verse 27. - There came a man of God. The title man of God is the usual appellation of a prophet in the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and as such is applied by Manoah to the angel who appeared to him (Judges 13:6, 8). Though the recorded interpositions of the Deity in those times were generally by angels, still the readiness with which Manoah gave his visitant this title makes it probable that prophets did appear from time to time; and the mission of one, though, as here, without a name, is recorded in Judges 6:8. As regards the date of this visitation of the man of God, we find that Eli was ninety-eight years of age when the ark was captured (1 Samuel 4:15). At that time Samuel was not merely a man, but one whose reputation was established throughout the whole land, and who was probably regarded not merely as a prophet, but as Eli's successor in the office of judge (1 Samuel 3:19, 20). But Eli was "very old" (1 Samuel 2:22) when he rebuked his sons, probably between seventy and eighty, for Samuel is then called a child (ver. 26); whereas he can scarcely have been much less than thirty years of age when the Philistines destroyed Shiloh. In 1 Samuel 8:1-3, when the misconduct of Samuel's own sons led to the revival of the agitation for a king, he is himself described as already "old;" but as he lived on till nearly the end of Saul s reign, he could not at that time have been much more than sixty. Even when God spake by him to Eli he is still described as a boy, na'ar (1 Samuel 3:1), though the higher position to which he had attained, as is proved by his duties, would lead to the conclusion that he was then verging on manhood. As some time would naturally elapse between two such solemn warnings, we may feel sure that the visit of the man of God occurred shortly after Samuel s dedication. Then, as Eli neglected the warning, and the wickedness of his sons grew more inveterate, some eight or ten years afterwards the warning was repeated in sharper tones by the voice of his own youthful attendant. Meanwhile Eli seems himself to have grown in personal piety, but he could do nothing now for his sons. Past eighty years of age, the time of activity had gone by, and resignation was the sole virtue that was left for him to practise. And so the warning given by the mouth of Samuel is stern and final. Ten or fifteen more years must elapse before the ruin came. But the gloom was deepening; the Philistines were increasing in power, and the valour of Israel was decaying as its morality declined; then there was a short violent crash, and the house of Eli met its doom. The prophet begins by enumerating Jehovah's mercies to "the house of thy father," that is, the whole family of Aaron, in selecting them for the priesthood (on the choice of the house of Aaron, see Exodus 28, 29.), and in richly endowing the office with so large a portion of every sacrifice. These portions are termed literally firings, or fire sacrifices, but the term soon became general, and in Leviticus 24:7, 9 is applied even to the shew bread. Added then to the tithes, and to the cities with their suburbs given them to inhabit, this share of every sacrifice gave the house of Aaron great wealth, and with it they had also high rank. There was no one above them in Israel except the kings. In Sparta we find that one of the endowments of the kings was the skins of animals offered in sacrifice (Herod., 6:56). Why then do Eli and his sons, who benefit so greatly by them, "kick at Jehovah's sacrifices and offerings?" The word is taken from Deuteronomy 32:15, and refers to the efforts of a pampered steer violently to shake off the yoke. Eli's sons treat the ordinances which have raised them to rank, and given them wealth and power, as if they were an injury and wrong. And Eli, instead of removing them from the office which they disgraced, preferred the ties of relationship to his duty to God and the moral welfare of the people. The particle כּי, "for" (Jehovah visited), does not mean if, as, or when, nor is it to be regarded as a copyist's error. It is only necessary to supply the thought contained in the words, "Eli blessed Elkanah," viz., that Eli's blessing was not an empty fruitless wish; and to understand the passage in some such way as this: Eli's word was fulfilled, or still more simply, they went to their home blessed; for Jehovah visited Hannah, blessed her with "three sons and two daughters; but the boy Samuel grew up with the Lord," i.e., near to Him (at the sanctuary), and under His protection and blessing.
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