Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Book of 1Samuel
Title, Contents, Character, and Origin of the Books of Samuel
The books of Samuel originally formed one undivided work, and in the Hebrew MSS they do so still. The division into two books originated with the Alexandrian translators (lxx), and was not only adopted in the Vulgate and other versions, but in the sixteenth century it was introduced by Daniel Bomberg into our editions of the Hebrew Bible itself. In the Septuagint and Vulgate, these books are reckoned as belonging to the books of the Kings, and have the heading, Βασιλειῶν πρώτη, δευτέρα (Regum, i. et ii.). In the Septuagint they are called "books of the kingdoms," evidently with reference to the fact that each of these works contains an account of the history of a double kingdom, viz.: the books of Samuel, the history of the kingdoms of Saul and David; and the books of Kings, that of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. This title does not appear unsuitable, so far as the books before us really contain an account of the rise of the monarchy in Israel. Nevertheless, we cannot regard it as the original title, or even as a more appropriate heading than the one given in the Hebrew canon, viz., "the book of Samuel," since this title not only originated in the fact that the first half (i.e., our first book) contains an account of the acts of the prophet Samuel, but was also intended to indicate that the spirit of Samuel formed the soul of the true kingdom in Israel, or that the earthly throne of the Israelitish kingdom of God derived its strength and perpetuity from the Spirit of the Lord which lived in the prophet. The division into two books answers to the contents, since the death of Saul, with which the first book closes, formed a turning-point in the development of the kingdom.
The Books of Samuel contain the history of the kingdom of God in Israel, from the termination of the age of the judges to the close of the reign of king David, and embrace a period of about 125 years, viz., from about 1140 to 1015 b.c. The first book treats of the judgeship of the prophet Samuel and the reign of king Saul, and is divided into three sections, answering to the three epochs formed by the judicial office of Samuel (1 Samuel 1-7), the reign of Saul from his election till his rejection (1 Samuel 8-15), and the decline of his kingdom during his conflict with David, whom the Lord had chosen to be the leader of His people in the place of Saul (1 Samuel 16-31). The renewal of the kingdom of God, which was now thoroughly disorganized both within and without, commenced with Samuel. When the pious Hannah asked for a son from the Lord, and Samuel was given to her, the sanctuary of God at Shiloh was thoroughly desecrated under the decrepit high priest Eli by the base conduct of his worthless sons, and the nation of Israel was given up to the power of the Philistines. If Israel, therefore, was to be delivered from the bondage of the heathen it was necessary that it should be first of all redeemed from the bondage of sin and idolatry, that its false confidence in the visible pledges of the gracious presence of God should be shaken by heavy judgments, and the way prepared for its conversion to the Lord its God by deep humiliation. At the very same time, therefore, at which Samuel was called to be the prophet of God, the judgment of God was announced upon the degraded priesthood and the desecrated sanctuary. The first section of our book, which describes the history of the renewal of the theocracy by Samuel, does not commence with the call of Samuel as prophet, but with an account on the one hand of the character of the national religion in the time of Eli, and on the other hand of the piety of the parents of Samuel, especially of his mother, and with an announcement of the judgment that was to fall upon Eli's house (1 Samuel 1-2). Then follow first of all the call of Samuel as prophet (1 Samuel 3), and the fulfilment of the judgment upon the house of Eli and the house of God (1 Samuel 4); secondly, the manifestation of the omnipotence of God upon the enemies of His people, by the chastisement of the Philistines for carrying off the ark of the covenant, and the victory which the Israelites gained over their oppressors through Samuel's prayer (1 Samuel 5-7:14); and lastly, a summary of the judicial life of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:15-17). The second section contains, first, the negotiations of the people with Samuel concerning the appointment of a king, the anointing of Saul by the prophet, and his election as king, together with the establishment of his kingdom (1 Samuel 8-12); and secondly, a brief survey of the history of his reign, in connection with which the only events that are at all fully described are his first successful conflicts with the Philistines, and the war against the Amalekites which occasioned his ultimate rejection (1 Samuel 13-15). In the third section (1 Samuel 16-31) there is a much more elaborate account of the history of Saul from his rejection till his death, since it not only describes the anointing of David and his victory over Goliath, but contains a circumstantial account of his attitude towards Saul, and the manifold complications arising from his long-continued persecution on the part of Saul, for the purpose of setting forth the gradual accomplishment of the counsels of God, both in the rejection of Saul and the election of David as king of Israel, to warn the ungodly against hardness of heart, and to strengthen the godly in their trust in the Lord, who guides His servants through tribulation and suffering to glory and honour. The second book contains the history of the reign of David, arranged in four sections: (1) his reign over Judah in Hebron, and his conflict with Ishbosheth the son of Saul, whom Abner had set up as king over the other tribes of Israel (1 Samuel 1-4): (2) the anointing of David as king over all Israel, and the firm establishment of his kingdom through the conquest of the citadel of Zion, and the elevation of Jerusalem into the capital of the kingdom; the removal of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem; the determination to build a temple to the Lord; the promise given him by the Lord of the everlasting duration of his dominion; and lastly, the subjugation of all the enemies of Israel (1 Samuel 5-8:14), to which there is appended a list of the principal officers of state (1 Samuel 8:15-18), and an account of the favour shown to the house of Saul in the person of Mephibosheth (1 Samuel 9): (3) the disturbance of his reign through his adultery with Bathsheba during the Ammonitish and Syrian war, and the judgments which came upon his house in consequence of this sin through the wickedness of his sons, viz., the incest of Amnon and rebellion of Absalom, and the insurrection of Sheba (1 Samuel 10-20): (4) the close of his reign, his song of thanksgiving for deliverance out of the hand of all his foes (1 Samuel 22), and his last prophetic words concerning the just ruler in the fear of God (1 Samuel 23:1-7). The way is prepared for these, however, by an account of the expiation of Saul's massacre of the Gibeonites, and of various heroic acts performed by his generals during the wars with the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:1-15); whilst a list of his several heroes is afterwards appended in 1 Samuel 23:8-29, together with an account of the numbering of the people and consequent pestilence (1 Samuel 24), which is placed at the close of the work, simply because the punishment of this sin of David furnished the occasion for the erection of an altar of burnt-offering upon the site of the future temple. His death is not mentioned here, because he transferred the kingdom to his son Solomon before he died; and the account of this transfer forms the introduction to the history of Solomon in the first book of Kings, so that the close of David's life was most appropriately recorded there.
So far as the character of the historical writing in the books of Samuel is concerned, there is something striking in the contrast which presents itself between the fulness with which the writer has described many events of apparently trifling importance, in connection with the lives of persons through whom the Lord secured the deliverance of His people and kingdom from their foes, and the summary brevity with which he disposes of the greatest enterprises of Saul and David, and the fierce and for the most part tedious wars with the surrounding nations; so that, as Thenius says, "particular portions of the work differ in the most striking manner from all the rest, the one part being very brief, and written almost in the form of a chronicle, the other elaborate, and in one part composed with really biographical fulness." This peculiarity is not to be accounted for from the nature of the sources which the author had at his command; for even if we cannot define with precision the nature and extent of these sources, yet when we compare the accounts contained in these books of the wars between David and the Ammonites and Syrians with those in the books of Chronicles (2 Samuel 8 and 10 with 1 Chronicles 18-19), we see clearly that the sources from which those accounts were derived embraced more than our books have given, since there are several places in which the chronicler gives fuller details of historical facts, the truth of which is universally allowed. The preparations for the building of the temple and the organization of the army, as well as the arrangement of the official duties of the Levites which David undertook, according to 1 Chronicles 22-28, in the closing years of his life, cannot possibly have been unknown to the author of our books. Moreover, there are frequent allusions in the books before us to events which are assumed as known, though there is no record of them in the writings which have been handed down to us, such as the removal of the tabernacle from Shiloh, where it stood in the time of Eli (1 Samuel 1:3, 1 Samuel 1:9, etc.), to Nob, where David received the shewbread from the priests on his flight from Saul (1 Samuel 21:1.); the massacre of the Gibeonites by Saul, which had to be expiated under David (2 Samuel 21); the banishment of the necromancers out of the land in the time of Saul (1 Samuel 28:3); and the flight of the Beerothites to Gittaim (2 Samuel 4:3). From this also we must conclude, that the author of our books knew more than he thought it necessary to mention in his work. But we certainly cannot infer from these peculiarities, as has often been done, that our books are to be regarded as a compilation. Such an inference as this simply arises from an utter disregard of the plan and object, which run through both books and regulate the selection and arrangement of the materials they contain. That the work has been composed upon a definite plan, is evident from the grouping of the historical facts, in favour of which the chronological order generally observed in both the books has now and then been sacrificed. Thus, in the history of Saul and the account of his wars (1 Samuel 14:47-48), the fact is also mentioned, that he smote the Amalekites; whereas the war itself, in which he smote them, is first described in detail in 1 Samuel 15, because it was in that war that he forfeited his kingdom through his transgression of the divine command, and brought about his own rejection on the part of God. The sacrifice of the chronological order to the material grouping of kindred events, is still more evident in the history of David. In 2 Samuel 8 all his wars with foreign nations are collected together, and even the wars with the Syrians and Ammonites are included, together with an account of the booty taken in these wars; and then after this, viz., in 1 Samuel 10-12, the war with the Ammonites and Syrians is more fully described, including the circumstances which occasioned it, the course which it took, and David's adultery which occurred during this war. Moreover, the history of Saul, as well as that of David, is divided into two self-contained periods, answering indeed to the historical course of the reigns of these two kings, but yet so distinctly marked off by the historian, that not only is the turning-point distinctly given in both instances, viz., the rejection of Saul and the grievous fall of David, but each of these periods is rounded off with a comprehensive account of the wars, the family, and the state officials of the two kings (1 Samuel 14:47-52, and 2 Samuel 8). So likewise in the history of Samuel, after the victory which the Israelites obtained over the Philistines through his prayer, everything that had to be related concerning his life as judge is grouped together in 1 Samuel 7:15-17, before the introduction of the monarchy is described; although Samuel himself lived till nearly the close of the reign of Saul, and not only instituted Saul as king, but afterwards announced his rejection, and anointed David as his successor. These comprehensive accounts are anything but proofs of compilations from sources of different kinds, which ignorance of the peculiarities of the Semitic style of writing history has led some to regard them as being; they simply serve to round off the different periods into which the history has been divided, and form resting-places for the historical review, which neither destroy the material connection of the several groups, nor throw any doubt upon the unity of the authorship of the books themselves. And even where separate incidents appear to be grouped together, without external connection or any regard to chronological order, on a closer inspection it is easy to discover the relation in which they stand to the leading purpose of the whole book, and the reason why they occupy this position and no other (see the introductory remarks to 2 Samuel 9:1-13; 2 Samuel 21:1-24:25).
If we look more closely, however, at the contents of these books, in order to determine their character more precisely, we find at the very outset, in Hannah's song of praise, a prophetic glance at the anointed of the Lord (1 Samuel 2:10), which foretells the establishment of the monarchy what was afterwards accomplished under Saul and David. And with this there is associated the rise of the new name, Jehovah Sabaoth, which is never met with in the Pentateuch or in the books of Joshua and Judges; whereas it occurs in the books before us from the commencement (1 Samuel 1:3, 1 Samuel 1:11, etc.) to the close. (For further remarks on the origin and signification of this divine name, see at 1 Samuel 1:3.) When Israel received a visible representative of its invisible God-king in the person of an earthly monarch; Jehovah, the God of Israel, became the God of the heavenly hosts. Through the establishment of the monarchy, the people of Jehovah's possession became a "world-power;" the kingdom of God was elevated into a kingdom of the world, as distinguished from the other ungodly kingdoms of the world, which it was eventually to overcome in the power of its God. In this conflict Jehovah manifested himself as the Lord of hosts, to whom all the nations and kingdoms of this world were to become subject. Even in the times of Saul and David, the heathen nations were to experience a foretaste of this subjection. When Saul had ascended the throne of Israel, he fought against all his enemies round about, and extended his power in every direction in which he turned (1 Samuel 14:47-48). But David made all the nations who bordered upon the kingdom of God tributary to the people of the Lord, as the Lord gave him victory wherever he went (1 Samuel 2:8, 1 Samuel 2:14-15); so that his son Solomon reigned over all the kingdoms, from the stream (the Euphrates) to the boundary of Egypt, and they all brought him presents, and were subject to him (1 Kings 5:1). But the Israelitish monarchy could never thus acquire the power to secure for the kingdom of God a victory over all its foes, except as the king himself was diligent in his endeavours to be at all times simply the instrument of the God-king, and exercise his authority solely in the name and according to the will of Jehovah. And as the natural selfishness and pride of man easily made this concentration of the supreme earthly power in a single person merely an occasion for self-aggrandisement, and therefore the Israelitish kings were exposed to the temptation to use the plenary authority entrusted to them even in opposition to the will of God; the Lord raised up for Himself organs of His own Spirit, in the persons of the prophets, to stand by the side of the kings, and make known to them the will and counsel of God. The introduction of the monarchy was therefore preceded by the development of the prophetic office into a spiritual power in Israel, in which the kingdom was to receive not only a firm support to its own authority, but a strong bulwark against royal caprice and tyranny. Samuel was called by the Lord to be His prophet, to convert the nation that was sunk in idolatry to the Lord its God, and to revive the religious life by the establishment of associations of prophets, since the priests had failed to resist the growing apostasy of the nation, and had become unfaithful to their calling to instruct and establish the congregation in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Even before the call of Samuel as a prophet, there was foretold to the high priest Eli by a man of God, not only the judgment that would fall upon the degenerate priesthood, but the appointment of a faithful priest, for whom the Lord would build a permanent house, that he might ever walk before His anointed (1 Samuel 2:26-36). And the first revelation which Samuel received from God had reference to the fulfilment of all that the Lord had spoken against the house of Eli (1 Samuel 3:11.). The announcement of a faithful priest, who would walk before the anointed of the Lord, also contained a prediction of the establishment of the monarchy, which foreshadowed its worth and great significance in relation to the further development of the kingdom of God. And whilst these predictions of the anointed of the Lord, before and in connection with the call of Samuel, show the deep spiritual connection which existed between the prophetic order and the regal office in Israel; the insertion of them in these books is a proof that from the very outset the author had this new organization of the Israelitish kingdom of God before his mind, and that it was his intention not simply to hand down biographies of Samuel, Saul, and David, but to relate the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God at the time of its elevation out of a deep inward and outward decline into the full authority and power of a kingdom of the Lord, before which all its enemies were to be compelled to bow.
Israel was to become a kingship of priests, i.e., a kingdom whose citizens were priests and kings. The Lords had announced this to the sons of Israel before the covenant was concluded at Sinai, as the ultimate object of their adoption as the people of His possession (Exodus 19:5-6). Now although this promise reached far beyond the times of the Old Covenant, and will only receive its perfect fulfilment in the completion of the kingdom of God under the New Covenant, yet it was to be realized even in the people of Israel so far as the economy of the Old Testament allowed. Israel was not only to become a priestly nation, but a royal nation also; not only to be sanctified as a congregation of the Lord, but also to be exalted into a kingdom of God. The establishment of the earthly monarchy, therefore, was not only an eventful turning-point, but also an "epoch-making" advance in the development of Israel towards the goal set before it in its divine calling. And this advance became the pledge of the ultimate attainment of the goal, through the promise which David received from God (2 Samuel 7:12-16), that the Lord would establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. With this promise God established for His anointed the eternal covenant, to which David reverted at the close of his reign, and upon which he rested his divine announcement of the just ruler over men, the ruler in the fear of God (2 Samuel 23:1-7). Thus the close of these books points back to their commencement. The prophecy of the pious mother of Samuel, that the Lord would give strength unto His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed (1 Samuel 2:10), found a fulfilment in the kingdom of David, which was at the same time a pledge of the ultimate completion of the kingdom of God under the sceptre of the Son of David, the promised Messiah.
This is one, and in fact the most conspicuous, arrangement of the facts connected with the history of salvation, which determined the plan and composition of the work before us. By the side of this there is another, which does not stand out so prominently indeed, but yet must not be overlooked. At the very beginning, viz., in 1 Samuel 1, the inward decay of the house of God under the high priest Eli is exhibited; and in the announcement of the judgment upon the house of Eli, a long-continued oppression of the dwelling-place (of God) is foretold (1 Samuel 2:32). Then, in the further course of the narrative, not only is the fulfilment of these threats pointed out, in the events described in 1 Samuel 4; 1 Samuel 6:19-7:2, and 1 Samuel 22:11-19; but it is also shown how David first of all brought the ark of the covenant, about which no one had troubled himself in the time of Saul, out of its concealment, had a tent erected for it in the capital of his kingdom upon Mount Zion, and made it once more the central point of the worship of the congregation; and how after that, when God had given him rest from his enemies, he wished to build a temple for the Lord to be the dwelling-place of His name; and lastly, when God would not permit him to carry out this resolution, but promised that his son would build the house of the Lord, how, towards the close of his reign, he consecrated the site for the future temple by building an altar upon Mount Moriah (2 Samuel 24:25). Even in this series of facts the end of the work points back to the beginning, so that the arrangement and composition of it according to a definite plan, which has been consistently carried out, are very apparent. If, in addition to this, we take into account the deep-seated connection between the building of the temple as designed by David, and the confirmation of his monarchy on the part of God as exhibited in 2 Samuel 7, we cannot fail to observe that the historical development of the true kingdom, in accordance with the nature and constitution of the Old Testament kingdom of God, forms the leading thought and purpose of the work to which the name of Samuel has been attached, and that it was by this thought and aim that the writer was influenced throughout in his selection of the historical materials which lay before him in the sources that he employed.
The full accounts which are given of the birth and youth of Samuel, and the life of David, are in the most perfect harmony with this design. The lives and deeds of these two men of God were of significance as laying the foundation for the development and organization of the monarchical kingdom in Israel. Samuel was the model and type of the prophets; and embodied in his own person the spirit and nature of the prophetic office, whilst his attitude towards Saul foreshadowed the position which the prophet was to assume in relation to the king. In the life of David, the Lord himself education the king of His kingdom, the prince over His people, to whom He could continue His favour and grace even when he had fallen so deeply that it was necessary that he should be chastised for his sins. Thus all the separate parts and sections are fused together as an organic whole in the fundamental thought of the work before us. And this unity is not rendered at all questionable by differences such as we find in the accounts of the mode of Saul's death as described in 1 Samuel 31:4 and 2 Samuel 1:9-10, or by such repetitions as the double account of the death of Samuel, and other phenomena of a similar kind, which can be explained without difficulty; whereas the assertion sometimes made, that there are some events of which we have two different accounts that contradict each other, has never yet been proved, and, as we shall see when we come to the exposition of the passages in question, has arisen partly from unscriptural assumptions, partly from ignorance of the formal peculiarities of the Hebrew mode of writing history, and partly from a mistaken interpretation of the passages themselves.
With regard to the origin of the books of Samuel, all that can be maintained with certainty is, that they were not written till after the division of the kingdom under Solomon's successor. This is evident from the remark in 1 Samuel 27:6, that "Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day." For although David was king over the tribe of Judah alone for seven years, it was not till after the falling away of the ten tribes from the house of David that there were really "kings of Judah." On the other hand, nothing can be inferred with certainty respecting the date of composition, either from the distinction drawn between Israel and Judah in 1 Samuel 11:8; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Samuel 18:16, and 2 Samuel 3:10; 2 Samuel 24:1, which evidently existed as early as the time of David, as we may see from 2 Samuel 2:9-10; 2 Samuel 5:1-5; 2 Samuel 19:41; 2 Samuel 20:2; or from the formula "to this day," which we find in 1 Samuel 5:5; 1 Samuel 6:18; 1 Samuel 30:25; 2 Samuel 4:3; 2 Samuel 6:18; 2 Samuel 18:18, since the duration of the facts to which it is applied is altogether unknown; or lastly, from such passages as 1 Samuel 9:9; 2 Samuel 13:18, where explanations are given of expressions and customs belonging to the times of Saul and David, as it is quite possible that they may have been altogether changed by the time of Solomon. In general, the contents and style of the books point to the earliest times after the division of the kingdom; since we find no allusions whatever to the decay of the kingdoms which afterwards took place, and still less to the captivity; whilst the style and language are classical throughout, and altogether free from Chaldaisms and later forms, such as we meet with in the writings of the Chaldean period, and even in those of the time of the captivity. The author himself is quite unknown; but, judging from the spirit of his writings, he was a prophet of the kingdom of Judah. It is unanimously admitted, however, that he made use of written documents, particularly of prophetic records made by persons who were contemporaries of the events described, not only for the history of the reigns of Saul and David, but also for the life and labours of Samuel, although no written sources are quoted, with the exception of the "book of Jasher," which contained the elegy of David upon Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:18); so that the sources employed by him cannot be distinctly pointed out. The different attempts which have been made to determine them minutely, from the time of Eichhorn down to G. Em. Karo (de fontibus librorum qui feruntur Samuelis Dissert. Berol. 1862), are lacking in the necessary proofs which hypotheses must bring before they can meet with adoption and support. If we confine ourselves to the historical evidence, according to 1 Chronicles 29:29, the first and last acts of king David, i.e., the events of his entire reign, were recorded in the "dibre of Samuel the seer, of Nathan the prophet, and of Gad the seer." These prophetic writings formed no doubt the leading sources from which our books of Samuel were also drawn, since, on the one hand, apart from sundry deviations arising from differences in the plan and object of the two authors, the two accounts of the reign of David in 2 Samuel nd 1 Chronicles 11-21 agree for the most part so thoroughly word for word, that they are generally regarded as extracts from one common source; whilst, on the other hand, the prophets named not only lived in the time of David but throughout the whole of the period referred to in the books before us, and took a very active part in the progressive development of the history of those times (see not only 1 Samuel 1-3; 1 Samuel 7:1-10:27; 12; 15:1-16:23, but also 1 Samuel 19:18-24; 1 Samuel 22:5; 2 Samuel 7:7-12; 2 Samuel 24:11-18). Moreover, in 1 Chronicles 27:24, there are "chronicles (diaries or annals) of king David" mentioned, accompanied with the remark that the result of the census appointed by David was not inserted in them, from which we may infer that all the principal events of his reign were included in these chronicles. And they may also have formed one of the sources for our books, although nothing certain can be determined concerning the relation in which they stood to the writings of the three prophets that have been mentioned. Lastly, it is every evident from the character of the work before us, that the author had sources composed by eye-witnesses of the events at his command, and that these were employed with an intimate knowledge of the facts and with historical fidelity, inasmuch as the history is distinguished by great perspicuity and vividness of description, by a careful delineation of the characters of the persons engaged, and by great accuracy in the accounts of localities, and of subordinate circumstances connected with the historical events.
I. History of the People of Israel Under the Prophet Samuel - 1 Samuel 1-7
The call of Samuel to be the prophet and judge of Israel formed a turning-point in the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God. As the prophet of Jehovah, Samuel was to lead the people of Israel out of the times of the judges into those of the kings, and lay the foundation for a prosperous development of the monarchy. Consecrated like Samson as a Nazarite from his mother's womb, Samuel accomplished the deliverance of Israel out of the power of the Philistines, which had been only commenced by Samson; and that not by the physical might of his arm, but by the spiritual power of his word and prayer, with which he led Israel back from the worship of dead idols to the Lord its God. And whilst as one of the judges, among whom he classes himself in 1 Samuel 12:11, he brought the office of judge to a close, and introduced the monarchy; as a prophet, he laid the foundation of the prophetic office, inasmuch as he was the fist to naturalize it, so to speak, in Israel, and develope it into a power that continued henceforth to exert the strongest influence, side by side with the priesthood and monarchy, upon the development of the covenant nation and kingdom of God. For even if there were prophets before the time of Samuel, who revealed the will of the Lord at times to the nation, they only appeared sporadically, without exerting any lasting influence upon the national life; whereas, from the time of Samuel onwards, the prophets sustained and fostered the spiritual life of the congregation, and were the instruments through whom the Lord made known His purposes to the nation and its rulers. To exhibit in its origin and growth the new order of things which Samuel introduced, or rather the deliverance which the Lord sent to His people through this servant of His, the prophetic historian goes back to the time of Samuel's birth, and makes us acquainted not only with the religious condition of the nation, but also with the political oppression under which it was suffering at the close of the period of the judges, and during the high-priesthood of Eli. At the time when the pious parents of Samuel were going year by year to the house of God at Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifice before the Lord, the house of God was being profaned by the abominable conduct of Eli's sons (1 Samuel 1-2). When Samuel was called to be the prophet of Jehovah, Israel lost the ark of the covenant, the soul of its sanctuary, in the war with the Philistines (1 Samuel 3-4). And it was not till after the nation had been rendered willing to put away its strange gods and worship Jehovah alone, through the influence of Samuel's exertions as prophet, that the faithful covenant God gave it, in answer to Samuel's intercession, a complete victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7). In accordance with these three prominent features, the history of the judicial life of Samuel may be divided into three sections, viz.: 1 Samuel 1-2; 3-6; 7.
Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:Samuel's pedigree. - 1 Samuel 1:1. His father was a man of Ramathaim-Zophim, on the mountains of Ephraim, and named Elkanah. Ramathaim-Zophim, which is only mentioned here, is the same place, according to 1 Samuel 1:3 (comp. with 1 Samuel 1:19 and 1 Samuel 2:11), which is afterwards called briefly ha-Ramah, i.e., the height. For since Elkanah of Ramathaim-Zophim went year by year out of his city to Shiloh, to worship and sacrifice there, and after he had done this, returned to his house to Ramah (1 Samuel 1:19; 1 Samuel 2:11), there can be no doubt that he was not only a native of Ramathaim-Zophim, but still had his home there; so that Ramah, where his house was situated, is only an abbreviated name for Ramathaim-Zophim.
(Note: The argument lately adduced by Valentiner in favour of the difference between these two names, viz., that "examples are not wanting of a person being described according to his original descent, although his dwelling-place had been already changed," and the instance which he cites, viz., Judges 19:16, show that he has overlooked the fact, that in the very passage which he quotes the temporary dwelling-place is actually mentioned along with the native town. In the case before us, on the contrary Ramathaim-Zophim is designated, by the use of the expression "from his city," in 1 Samuel 1:3, as the place where Elkanah lived, and where "his house" (1 Samuel 1:19) was still standing.)
This Ramah (which is invariably written with the article, ha-Ramah), where Samuel was not only born (1 Samuel 1:19.), but lived, laboured, died (1 Samuel 7:17; 1 Samuel 15:34; 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Samuel 19:18-19, 1 Samuel 19:22-23), and was buried (1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Samuel 28:3), is not a different place, as has been frequently assumed,
(Note: For the different views which have been held upon this point, see the article "Ramah," by Pressel, in Herzog's Cyclopaedia.)
from the Ramah in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), and is not to be sought for in Ramleh near Joppa (v. Schubert, etc.), nor in Soba on the north-west of Jerusalem (Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 329), nor three-quarters of an hour to the north of Hebron (Wolcott, v. de Velde), nor anywhere else in the tribe of Ephraim, but is identical with Ramah of Benjamin, and was situated upon the site of the present village of er-Rm, two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem, upon a conical mountain to the east of the Nablus road (see at Joshua 18:25). This supposition is neither at variance with the account in 1 Samuel 9-10 (see the commentary upon these chapters), nor with the statement that Ramathaim-Zophim was upon the mountains of Ephraim, since the mountains of Ephraim extended into the tribe-territory of Benjamin, as is indisputably evident from Judges 4:5, where Deborah the prophetess is said to have dwelt between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. The name Ramathaim-Zophim, i.e., "the two heights (of the) Zophites" appear to have been given to the town to distinguish it from other Ramah's, and to have been derived from the Levitical family of Zuph or Zophai (see 1 Chronicles 6:26, 1 Chronicles 6:35), which emigrated thither from the tribe of Ephraim, and from which Elkanah was descended. The full name, therefore, is given here, in the account of the descent of Samuel's father; whereas in the further history of Samuel, where there was no longer the same reason for giving it, the simple name Ramah is invariably used.
(Note: The fuller and more exact name, however, appears to have been still retained, and the use of it to have been revived after the captivity, in the Ῥαμαθέμ of 1 Macc. 11:34, for which the Codd. have Ῥαθαμεΐ́ν and Ῥαμαθαΐ́μ, and Josephus Ῥαμαθά, and in the Arimathaea of the gospel history (Matthew 27:57). "For the opinion that this Ramathaim is a different place from the city of Samuel, and is to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Lydda, which Robinson advocates (Pal. iii. p. 41ff.), is a hasty conclusion, drawn from the association of Ramathaim with Lydda in 1 Macc. 11:34, - the very same conclusion which led the author of the Onomasticon to transfer the city of Samuel to the neighbourhood of Lydda" (Grimm on 1 Macc. 11:34).
The connection between Zophim and Zuph is confirmed by the fact that Elkanah's ancestor, Zuph, is called Zophai in 1 Chronicles 6:26, and Zuph or Ziph in 1 Chronicles 6:35. Zophim therefore signifies the descendants of Zuph or Zophai, from which the name "land of Zuph," in 1 Samuel 9:5, was also derived (see the commentary on this passage). The tracing back of Elkanah's family through four generations to Zuph agrees with the family registers in 1 Chronicles 6, where the ancestors of Elkanah are mentioned twice, - first of all in the genealogy of the Kohathites (1 Chronicles 6:26), and then in that of Heman, the leader of the singers, a grandson of Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:33), - except that the name Elihu, Tohu, and Zuph, are given as Eliab, Nahath, and Zophai in the first instance, and Eliel, Toah, and Ziph (according to the Chethibh) in the second, - various readings, such as often occur in the different genealogies, and are to be explained partly from the use of different forms for the same name, and partly from their synonymous meanings. Tohu and Toah, which occur in Arabic, with the meaning to press or sink in, are related in meaning to nachath or nuach, to sink or settle down.
From these genealogies in the Chronicles, we learn that Samuel was descended from Kohath, the son of Levi, and therefore was a Levite. It is no valid objection to the correctness of this view, that his Levitical descent is never mentioned, or that Elkanah is called an Ephrathite. The former of these can very easily be explained from the fact, that Samuel's work as a reformer, which is described in this book, did not rest upon his Levitical descent, but simply upon the call which he had received from God, as the prophetic office was not confined to any particular class, like that of priest, but was founded exclusively upon the divine calling and endowment with the Spirit of God. And the difficulty which Ngelsbach expresses in Herzog's Cycl., viz., that "as it was stated of those two Levites (Judges 17:7; Judges 19:1), that they lived in Bethlehem and Ephraim, but only after they had been expressly described as Levites, we should have expected to find the same in the case of Samuel's father," is removed by the simple fact, that in the case of both those Levites it was of great importance, so far as the accounts which are given of them are concerned, that their Levitical standing should be distinctly mentioned, as is clearly shown by Judges 17:10, Judges 17:13, and Judges 19:18; whereas in the case of Samuel, as we have already observed, his Levitical descent had no bearing upon the call which he received from the Lord. The word Ephrathite does not belong, so far as the grammatical construction is concerned, either to Zuph or Elkanah, but to "a certain man," the subject of the principal clause, and signifies an Ephraimite, as in Judges 12:5 and 1 Kings 11:26, and not an inhabitant of Ephratah, i.e., a Bethlehemite, as in 1 Samuel 17:12 and Ruth 1:2; for in both these passages the word is more precisely defined by the addition of the expression "of Bethlehem-Judah," whereas in this verse the explanation is to be found in the expression "of Mount Ephraim." Elkanah the Levite is called an Ephraimite, because, so far as his civil standing was concerned, he belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, just as the Levite in Judges 17:7 is described as belonging to the family of Judah. The Levites were reckoned as belonging to those tribes in the midst of which they lived, so that there were Judaean Levites, Ephraimitish Levites, and so on (see Hengstenberg, Diss. vol. ii. p. 50). It by no means follows, however, from the application of this term to Elkanah, that Ramathaim-Zophim formed part of the tribe-territory of Ephraim, but simply that Elkanah's family was incorporated in this tribe, and did not remove till afterwards to Ramah in the tribe of Benjamin. On the division of the land, dwelling-places were allotted to the Levites of the family of Kohath, in the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and Manasseh (Joshua 21:5, Joshua 21:21.). Still less is there anything at variance with the Levitical descent of Samuel, as Thenius maintains, in the fact that he was dedicated to the Lord by his mother's vow, for he was not dedicated to the service of Jehovah generally through this view, but was set apart to a lifelong service at the house of God as a Nazarite (1 Samuel 1:11, 1 Samuel 1:22); whereas other Levites were not required to serve till their twenty-fifth year, and even then had not to perform an uninterrupted service at the sanctuary. On the other hand, the Levitical descent of Samuel receives a very strong confirmation from his father's name. All the Elkanahs that we meet with in the Old Testament, with the exception of the one mentioned in 2 Chronicles 28:7, whose genealogy is unknown, can be proved to have been Levites; and most of them belong to the family of Korah, from which Samuel was also descended (see Simonis, Onomast. p. 493). This is no doubt connected in some way with the meaning of the name Elkanah, the man whom God has bought or acquired; since such a name was peculiarly suitable to the Levites, whom the Lord had set apart for service at the sanctuary, in the place of the first-born of Israel, whom He had sanctified to himself when He smote the first-born of Egypt (Numbers 3:13., Numbers 3:44.; see Hengstenberg, ut sup.).
And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.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.
And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.
And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:"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.
But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb."And her adversary (Peninnah) also provoked her with provocation, to irritate her." The גּם is placed before the noun belonging to the verb, to add force to the meaning. רעם (Hiphil), to excite, put into (inward) commotion, not exactly to make angry.
And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat."So did he (Elkanah) from year to year (namely give to Hannah a double portion at the sacrificial meal), as often as she went up to the house of the Lord. So did she (Peninnah) provoke her (Hannah), so that she wept, and did not eat." The two כּן correspond to one another. Just as Elkanah showed his love to Hannah at every sacrificial festival, so did Peninnah repeat her provocation, the effect of which was that Hannah gave vent to her grief in tears, and did not eat.
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 sons?Elkanah sought to comfort her in her grief by the affectionate appeal: "Am I not better to thee (טּוב, i.e., dearer) than ten children?" Ten is a found number for a large number.
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.Hannah's prayer for a son. - 1 Samuel 1:9-11. "After the eating at Shiloh, and after the drinking," i.e., after the sacrificial meal was over, Hannah rose up with a troubled heart, to pour out her grief in prayer before God, whilst Eli was sitting before the door-posts of the palace of Jehovah, and vowed this vow: "Lord of Zebaoth, if Thou regardest the distress of Thy maiden, and givest men's seed to Thy maiden, I will give him to the Lord all his life long, and no razor shall come upon his head." The choice of the infinitive absolute שׁתה instead of the infinitive construct is analogous to the combination of two nouns, the first of which is defined by a suffix, and the second written absolutely (see e.g., וזמרת עזּי, Exodus 15:2; cf. 2 Samuel 23:5, and Ewald, 339, b). The words from ועלי onwards to נפשׁ מרת form two circumstantial clauses inserted in the main sentence, to throw light upon the situation and the further progress of the affair. The tabernacle is called "the palace of Jehovah" (cf. 1 Samuel 2:22), not on account of the magnificence and splendour of the building, but as the dwelling-place of Jehovah of hosts, the God-king of Israel, as in Psalm 5:8, etc. מזוּזה is probably a porch, which had been placed before the curtain that formed the entranced into the holy place, when the tabernacle was erected permanently at Shiloh. נפשׁ מרת, troubled in soul (cf. 2 Kings 4:27). תבכּה וּבכה is really subordinate to תּתפּלּל, in the sense of "weeping much during her prayer." The depth of her trouble was also manifest in the crowding together of the words in which she poured out the desire of her heart before God: "If Thou wilt look upon the distress of Thine handmaid, and remember and not forget," etc. "Men's seed" (semen virorum), i.e., a male child. אנשׁים is the plural of אישׁ, a man (see Ewald, 186-7), from the root אשׁ, which combines the two ideas of fire, regarded as life, and giving life and firmness. The vow contained two points: (1) she would give the son she had prayed for to be the Lord's all the days of his life, i.e., would dedicate him to the Lord for a lifelong service, which, as we have already observed at 1 Samuel 1:1, the Levites as such were not bound to perform; and (2) no razor should come upon his head, by which he was set apart as a Nazarite for his whole life (see at Numbers 6:2., and Judges 13:5). The Nazarite, again, was neither bound to perform a lifelong service nor to remain constantly at the sanctuary, but was simply consecrated for a certain time, whilst the sacrifice offered at his release from the vow shadowed forth a complete surrender to the Lord. The second point, therefore, added a new condition to the first, and one which was not necessarily connected with it, but which first gave the true consecration to the service of the Lord at the sanctuary. At the same time, the qualification of Samuel for priestly functions, such as the offering of sacrifice, can neither be deduced from the first point in the vow, nor yet from the second. If, therefore, at a later period, when the Lord had called him to be a prophet, and had thereby placed him at the head of the nation, Samuel officiated at the presentation of sacrifice, he was not qualified to perform this service either as a Levite or as a lifelong Nazarite, but performed it solely by virtue of his prophetic calling.
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.
And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.But when Hannah prayed much (i.e., a long time) before the Lord, and Eli noticed her mouth, and, as she was praying inwardly, only saw her lips move, but did not hear her voice, he thought she was drunken, and called out to her: "How long dost thou show thyself drunken? put away thy wine from thee," i.e., go away and sleep off thine intoxication (cf. 1 Samuel 25:37). לבּהּ על מדבּרת, lit. speaking to her heart. על is not to be confounded with אל (Genesis 24:45), but has the subordinate idea of a comforting address, as in Genesis 34:3, etc.
Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.Hannah answered: "No, my lord, I am a woman of an oppressed spirit. I have not drunk wine and strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord (see Psalm 42:5). Do not count thine handmaid for a worthless woman, for I have spoken hitherto out of great sighing and grief." לפני נתן, to set or lay before a person, i.e., generally to give a person up to another; here to place him in thought in the position of another, i.e., to take him for another. שׂיה, meditation, inward movement of the heart, sighing.
Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.
Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.Eli then replied: "Go in peace, and the God of Israel give (grant) thy request (שׁלתך for שׁאלתך), which thou hast asked of Him." This word of the high priest was not a prediction, but a pious wish, which God in His grace most gloriously fulfilled.
And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.Hannah then went her way, saying, "Let thine handmaid find grace in thine eyes," i.e., let me be honoured with thy favour and thine intercession, and was strengthened and comforted by the word of the high priest, which assured her that her prayer would be heard by God; and she did eat, "and her countenance was no more," sc., troubled and sad, as it had been before. This may be readily supplied from the context, through which the word countenance (פּנים) acquires the sense of a troubled countenance, as in Job 9:27.
And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.Samuel's birth, and dedication to the Lord. - 1 Samuel 1:19, 1 Samuel 1:20. The next morning Elkanah returned home to Ramah (see at 1 Samuel 1:1) with his two wives, having first of all worshipped before the Lord; after which he knew his wife Hannah, and Jehovah remembered her, i.e., heard her prayer. "In the revolution of the days," i.e., of the period of her conception and pregnancy, Hannah conceived and bare a son, whom she called Samuel; "for (she said) I have asked him of the Lord." The name שׁמוּאל (Σαμουήλ, lxx) is not formed from שׁמוּ equals שׁם and אל, name of God (Ges. Thes. p. 1434), but from אל שׁמוּע, heard of God, a Deo exauditus, with an elision of the ע (see Ewald, 275, a., Not. 3); and the words "because I have asked him of the Lord" are not an etymological explanation of the name, but an exposition founded upon the facts. Because Hannah had asked him of Jehovah, she gave him the name, "the God-heard," as a memorial of the hearing of her prayer.
Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.
And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.When Elkanah went up again with his family to Shiloh, to present his yearly sacrifice and his vow to the Lord, Hannah said to her husband that she would not go up till she had weaned the boy, and could present him to the Lord, that he might remain there for ever. הימים זבח, the sacrifice of the days, i.e., which he was accustomed to offer on the days when he went up to the sanctuary; really, therefore, the annual sacrifice. It follows from the expression "and his vow," that Elkanah had also vowed a vow to the Lord, in case the beloved Hannah should have a son. The vow referred to the presentation of a sacrifice. And this explains the combination of את־נדרו with לזבּח.
(Note: The lxx add to τὰς εὐχὰς αὐτοῦ the clause καὶ πάσας τὰς δεκάτας τῆς γῆς αὐτοῦ ("and all the tithes of his land"). This addition is just as arbitrary as the alteration of the singular נדרו into the plural τὰς εὐχὰς αὐτοῦ. The translator overlooked the special reference of the word נדרו to the child desired by Elkanah, and imagined - probably with Deuteronomy 12:26-27 in his mind, where vows are ordered to be paid at the sanctuary in connection with slain offerings and sacrificial meals - that when Elkanah made his annual journey to the tabernacle he would discharge all his obligations to God, and consequently would pay his tithes. The genuineness of this additional clause cannot be sustained by an appeal to Josephus (Ant. v. 10, 3), who also has δεκάτας τε ἔφερον, for Josephus wrote his work upon the basis of the Alexandrian version. This statement of Josephus is only worthy of notice, inasmuch as it proves the incorrectness of the conjecture of Thenius, that the allusion to the tithes was intentionally dropped out of the Hebrew text by copyists, who regarded Samuel's Levitical descent as clearly established by 1 Chronicles 6:7-13 and 1 Chronicles 6:19-21. For Josephus (l. c. 2) expressly describes Elkanah as a Levite, and takes no offence at the offering of tithes attributed to him in the Septuagint, simply because he was well acquainted with the law, and knew that the Levites had to pay to the priests a tenth of the tithes that they received from the other tribes, as a heave-offering of Jehovah (Numbers 18:26.; cf. Nehemiah 10:38). Consequently the presentation of tithe on the part of Elkanah, if it were really well founded in the biblical text, would not furnish any argument against his Levitical descent.)
Weaning took place very late among the Israelites. According to 2 Macc. 7:28, the Hebrew mothers were in the habit of suckling their children for three years. When the weaning had taken place, Hannah would bring her son up to the sanctuary, to appear before the face of the Lord, and remain there for ever, i.e., his whole life long. The Levites generally were only required to perform service at the sanctuary from their twenty-fifth to their fiftieth year (Numbers 8:24-25); but Samuel was to be presented to the Lord immediately after his weaning had taken place, and to remain at the sanctuary for ever, i.e., to belong entirely to the Lord. To this end he was to receive his training at the sanctuary, that at the very earliest waking up of his spiritual susceptibilities he might receive the impressions of the sacred presence of God. There is no necessity, therefore, to understand the word גּמל (wean) as including what followed the weaning, namely, the training of the child up to his thirteenth year (Seb. Schmidt), on the ground that a child of three years old could only have been a burden to Eli: for the word never has this meaning, not even in 1 Kings 11:20; and, as O. v. Gerlach has observed, his earliest training might have been superintended by one of the women who worshipped at the door of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:22).
But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.
And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.Elkanah expressed his approval of Hannah's decision, and added, "only the Lord establish His word," i.e., fulfil it. By "His word" we are not to understand some direct revelation from God respecting the birth and destination of Samuel, as the Rabbins suppose, but in all probability the word of Eli the high priest to Hannah, "The God of Israel grant thy petition" (1 Samuel 1:17), which might be regarded by the parents of Samuel after his birth as a promise from Jehovah himself, and therefore might naturally excite the wish and suggest the prayer that the Lord would graciously fulfil the further hopes, which the parents cherished in relation to the son whom they had dedicated to the Lord by a vow. The paraphrase of דּברו in the rendering given by the lxx, τὸ ἐξελθὸν ὲκ τοῦ στόματός σου, is the subjective view of the translator himself, and does not warrant an emendation of the original text.
And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.As soon as the boy was weaned, Hannah brought him, although still a נער, i.e., a tender boy, to Shiloh, with a sacrifice of three oxen, an ephah of meal, and a pitcher of wine, and gave him up to Eli when the ox (bullock) had been slain, i.e., offered in sacrifice as a burnt-offering. The striking circumstance that, according to 1 Samuel 1:24, Samuel's parents brought three oxen with them to Shiloh, and yet in 1 Samuel 1:25 the ox (הפּר) alone is spoken of as being slain (or sacrificed), may be explained very simply on the supposition that in 1 Samuel 1:25 that particular sacrifice is referred to, which was associated with the presentation of the boy, that is to say, the burnt-offering by virtue of which the boy was consecrated to the Lord as a spiritual sacrifice for a lifelong service at His sanctuary, whereas the other two oxen served as the yearly festal offering, i.e., the burnt-offerings and thank-offerings which Elkanah presented year by year, and the presentation of which the writer did not think it needful to mention, simply because it followed partly from 1 Samuel 1:3 and partly from the Mosaic law.
(Note: The interpretation of שׁלשׁה בּפרים by ἐν μόσχῳ τριετίζοντι (lxx), upon which Thenius would found an alteration of the text, is proved to be both arbitrary and wrong by the fact that the translators themselves afterwards mention the θυσία, which Elkanah brought year by year, and the μόσχος, and consequently represent him as offering at least two animals, in direct opposition to the μόσχῳ τριετίζοντι. This discrepancy cannot be removed by the assertion that in 1 Samuel 1:24 the sacrificial animal intended for the dedication of the boy is the only one mentioned; and the presentation of the regular festal sacrifice is taken for granted, for an ephah of meal would not be the proper quantity to be offered in connection with a single ox, since, according to the law in Numbers 15:8-9, only three-tenths of an ephah of meal were required when an ox was presented as a burnt-offering or slain offering. The presentation of an ephah of meal presupposes the offering of three oxen, and therefore shows that in 1 Samuel 1:24 the materials are mentioned for all the sacrifices that Elkanah was about to offer.)
And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.
And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.When the boy was presented, his mother made herself known to the high priest as the woman who had previously prayed to the Lord at that place (see 1 Samuel 1:11.), and said, "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath granted me my request which I asked of Him: therefore I also make him one asked of the Lord all the days that he liveth; he is asked of the Lord." וגם אנכי: I also; et ego vicissim (Cler.). השׁאיל, to let a person ask, to grant his request, to give him what he asks (Exodus 12:36), signifies here to make a person "asked" (שׁאוּל). The meaning to lend, which the lexicons give to the word both here and Exodus 12:36, has no other support than the false rendering of the lxx, and is altogether unsuitable both in the one and the other. Jehovah had not lent the son to Hannah, but had given him (see 1 Samuel 1:11); still less could a man lend his son to the Lord. The last clause of 1 Samuel 1:28, "and he worshipped the Lord there," refers to Elkanah, qui in votum Hannae consenserat, and not to Samuel. On a superficial glance, the plural ישׁתּחווּ, which is found in some Codd., and in the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, appears the more suitable; but when we look more closely at the connection in which the clause stands, we see at once that it does not wind up the foregoing account, but simply introduces the closing act of the transference of Samuel. Consequently the singular is perfectly appropriate; and notwithstanding the fact that the subject is not mentioned, the allusion to Samuel is placed beyond all doubt. When Hannah had given up her son to the high priest, his father Elkanah first of all worshipped before the Lord in the sanctuary, and then Hannah worshipped in the song of praise, which follows in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.