1 Samuel 4:21
And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
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(21-22) The glory is departed from Israel.—This singular and circumstantial account of the death of the widow of Phinehas, the evil warrior-priest, the son of Eli, which follows directly after the story of the great national disaster, is introduced from the records of that sad time, not from any special interest in the hapless woman and her sad fate, but solely for the purpose of showing how deeply the heart of Israel was penetrated with a love for their God, His Tabernacle, and its sacred contents. It was not the intelligence of her husband’s bloody end on the field of battle, or of her father-in-law’s death on his throne, or the downfall of her house, which stirred her so painfully; she could have borne all this better than the news that the Ark of the Covenant was in the hands of the idolatrous enemies of God. Von Gerlach remarks that “the wife of this deeply corrupt man shows how penetrated the whole people then was with the sense of the value of its covenant with God.”

The meaning of the term I-chabod is much disputed, owing to the doubt which hangs over the first syllable—“I” followed by “chabod.” It is usually taken to mean a simple negative; “not:” chabod signifying “glory:” I-chabod thus represents “not glory:” i.e., there is no glory. Others render the “I” syllable as a query, “Where?” “Where is the glory?” the answer, of course, being, “It is nowhere.” But the best rendering seems to be to understand the syllable “I” as an exclamation of bitter sorrow, “Alas !” The name then could be translated, “Alas! the glory.”

1 Samuel 4:21-22. I-chabod — Where is the glory? The glory is departed — That is, the glorious type and assurance of God’s presence, the ark, which is often called God’s glory, and which was the great safeguard and ornament of Israel, which they could glory in above all other nations. For the ark of God is taken — This is repeated to show her piety, and that the public loss lay heavier upon her spirit than her personal and domestic calamity. 4:19-22 The wife of Phinehas seems to have been a person of piety. Her dying regret was for the loss of the ark, and the departure of the glory from Israel. What is any earthly joy to her that feels herself dying? No joy but that which is spiritual and divine, will stand in any stead then; death is too serious a thing to admit the relish of any earthly joy. What is it to one that is lamenting the loss of the ark? What pleasure can we take in our creature comforts and enjoyments, if we want God's word and ordinances; especially if we want the comfort of his gracious presence, and the light of his countenance? If God go, the glory goes, and all good goes. Woe unto us if he depart! But though the glory is withdrawn from one sinful nation, city, or village after another, yet it shall never depart altogether, but shines forth in one place when eclipsed in another.Is departed - Properly, "Is gone into captivity." 13-18. Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside—The aged priest, as a public magistrate, used, in dispensing justice, to seat himself daily in a spacious recess at the entrance gate of the city. In his intense anxiety to learn the issue of the battle, he took up his usual place as the most convenient for meeting with passers-by. His seat was an official chair, similar to those of the ancient Egyptian judges, richly carved, superbly ornamented, high, and without a back. The calamities announced to Samuel as about to fall upon the family of Eli [1Sa 2:34] were now inflicted in the death of his two sons, and after his death, by that of his daughter-in-law, whose infant son received a name that perpetuated the fallen glory of the church and nation [1Sa 4:19-22]. The public disaster was completed by the capture of the ark. Poor Eli! He was a good man, in spite of his unhappy weaknesses. So strongly were his sensibilities enlisted on the side of religion, that the news of the capture of the ark proved to him a knell of death; and yet his overindulgence, or sad neglect of his family—the main cause of all the evils that led to its fall—has been recorded, as a beacon to warn all heads of Christian families against making shipwreck on the same rock. The glory, i.e. the glorious type and assurance of God’s presence, the ark, which is oft called God’s glory, as Psalm 26:8 78:61 Isaiah 64:11, and which was the great safeguard and ornament of Israel, which they could glory in above all other nations. And she named the child Ichabod,.... Which some render, "where is the glory?" as in the margin of our Bibles; but it signifies "no glory", as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; her husband being dead, she gives her child its name; the reason for which name follows:

saying, the glory is departed from Israel: the God of glory, or the glorious Lord, was departed from Israel; the ark, the symbol of his presence, being taken from them, and carried captive by the enemy; see Psalm 78:61.

because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law, and her husband; who were dead; these are the words either of the writer of this book, or, as Abarbinel thinks, of the women that assisted at her labour; who interpreted the name of the child, and suggested what were her intentions in giving this name, which she had only expressed in general terms; the particulars of which they thought fit to give, agreeably to her meaning, as they supposed; which were the taking of the ark, and the death of her father-in-law, and of her husband; but according to the same writer she before her death corrected the sense they put upon her intention in thus naming the child; showing that it was not on the account of the death of her father and husband that she supposed the glory to be departed, and therefore named her child Ichabod: but solely and alone because the ark was taken, as in the next verse.

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
21. I-chabod] The name means No-glory, or Where is glory? Cp. Rachel’s significant name for Benjamin, Ben-oni = “Son of my sorrow” (Genesis 35:18).

The glory is departed from Israel] In Exodus 16:10; Exodus 40:34-35, and many other passages, “the glory of the Lord” denotes the visible manifestation of the Presence and Majesty of Jehovah, known in later times as the Shechinah. The promise in Leviticus 16:2, “I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat,” (cp. Exodus 25:22; Numbers 7:89), connects this manifestation specially with the Ark, and though it does not appear that the Cloud rested continually between the Cherubim, yet along with the Ark the Glory which was the pledge of Jehovah’s Presence ‘had departed from Israel.’ In Romans 9:4 St Paul mentions the glory as one of the special privileges of his nation.

21, 22. The connexion will be made clearer by a literal translation as follows. And she called the child I-chabod, (saying, [The] Glory is departed from Israel), with reference to the ark being taken, and with reference to her father in law and her husband. And she said, [The] Glory is departed from Israel, because the ark of God was taken. Thus 1 Samuel 4:22 is not mere tautology. In 1 Samuel 4:21 the narrator connects the name I-chabod with the triple loss, and inserts her words “Glory is departed from Israel” parenthetically. In 1 Samuel 4:22 he repeats them with an explanation. The E. V. appears to be wrong (though the Hebrew is not decisive) in regarding “for the ark of God is taken” as the words of Phinehas’ wife.Eli was ninety-eight years old, and "his eyes stood," i.e., were stiff, so that he could no more see (vid., 1 Kings 14:4). This is a description of the so-called black cataract (amaurosis), which generally occurs at a very great age from paralysis of the optic nerves.
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