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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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. 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.
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.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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