Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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:FIRST PART: SAMUEL
1 SAM. 1–7
SAMUEL’S LIFE AND WORK AS JUDGE, PRIEST AND PROPHET, DIRECTED TOWARDS A THROUGH REFORMATION OF THE THEOCRACY AND LAYING THE FOUNDATION OF THE THEOCRATIC KINGDOM
FIRST DIVISION: SAMUEL’S EARLY LIFE
1 SAM. 1–3
Samuel’s Birth in Answer to Prayer to the Lord
1 SAMUEL 1:1–20
I. Samuel’s parents, the Ephrathite Elkanah and the childless Hannah. 1 Samuel 1:1–8
1Now [om. Now1] there was a certain [om. certain] man of Ramathaim-zophim,2 of Mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of 2Elihu, the son of Tohu, the Son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah 3had children, but [and] Hannah had no children. And this man went up yearly out of [from] his city to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts [Hosts] in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there [And there the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, 4were priests of Jehovah3]. And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he 5gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions; but unto Hannah he gave a worthy [double4] portion, for he loved Hannah, but [and] 6the Lord [Jehovah] had shut up her womb. And her adversary also [om. also] provoked her sore [ins. also], for [om. for] to make her fret because5 the Lord [Jehovah] 7had shut up her womb. And as he did so [And so it happened6] year by year; when she went up to the house of the Lord [Jehovah], so she [she thus] provoked 8voked her, therefore [and] she wept and did not eat. Then said Elkanah her husband [And Elkanah her husband said] 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?
II. Hannah’s Prayer far a Son. 1 Samuel 1:9–18 a
9So [And] Hannah rose up after they [she7] had eaten in Shiloh, and after they [she] had drunk. Now [And] Eli the priest sat upon a [the] seat by a [the] post 10of the temple [Sanctuary8] of the Lord [Jehovah]. And she was in bitterness of 11soul, and prayed unto the Lord [Jehovah], and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts [Jehovah of Hosts], if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thy handmaid, but [and] wilt give unto thine handmaid a male-child, then I will give him unto the Lord [Jehovah] all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his 12head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord [Jehovah], 13that Eli marked her mouth. Now [And] Hannah, she [om. she9] spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore [and] Eli 14thought she had been [was] drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou 15be 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 strong16drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord [Jehovah]. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial [dissolute woman10]; for out of the abundance 17of my complaint and [ins. my] grief have I spoken hitherto. Then [And] Eli answered and said, Go in peace; and the God of Israel grant thee [om. thee] thy 18a petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight [thine eyes].
III. Samuel’s Birth. 1 Samuel 1:18–20
18b So [And] the woman went her way and did eat, and her countenance was no 19more sad.11 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord [Jehovah], and returned and came to their house to Ramah. And Elkanah 20knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord [Jehovah] remembered her. Wherefore [And] it came to pass, when the time was come about, after Hannah had [that Hannah] conceived, that she [and] bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because [For, said she,] I have [om. have] asked him of the Lord [Jehovah].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL12
I. Samuel’s Parents. 1 Samuel 1:1–8
1 Samuel 1:1, 2. And there was a man of Ramathaim-zophim.—Here an account is given of Samuel’s genealogy and birth-place.
There is no sufficient ground for adopting (as Thenius does) the reading of the Sept. MS. R. (Vat.) אִיש הָיָה [there was a man] instead of וַיְהִי אִישׁ [and there was a man], since this latter does not affect the independence of the Books of Samuel; for the ו [and] does not indicate attachment to something preceding, the continuation of the Book of Judges, but וַיְהִי [and there was] stands here, as it often does at the beginning of a narrative, as historical introductory formula, Jos. 1:1; Judg. 1:1; Ruth 1:1; 2 Sam. 1:1; 1 Kings 1:1; Esth. 1:1; Ezra 1:1; Ezek. 1:1; Jonah 1:1.
The father of Samuel was a man of Ramathaim-zophim in the hill-country of Ephraim, named Elkanah. The place Ramathaim (הָרָֽמָתַיִם) is doubtless the same that is called in 1 Samuel 1:3 “his city,” and afterwards in 1 Samuel 1:19 and 2:11 by the shorter name Ramah (הָרָמָה), whence it appears that it was not merely the family-residence, but also Elkanah’s abode, where he had “his house.” The full name Ramathaim-zophim is found here only. The dual “Two-hills” points to the site of the place as on the sides or summits of two hills. It is the birth-place of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:19); the same Ramah in which he had his house (7:17), the central point of his labors (8:4; 15:34; 16:13; 19:18–22) and his abode as long as he lived, and where he was buried (26:1; 28:3). But this Ramah of Samuel, according to Pressel’s clear statement in Herzog (R.-E. s. v. Rama), is most probably identical with the Ramah in the tribe of Benjamin (Jos. 18:25); for the statement of Josephus (Ant. 8, 12, 3) that Ramathon,13 which = רָמָתַיִם [Ramathaim] and is therefore doubtless the Ramah of Samuel, was forty Stadia from Jerusalem, and that of Eusebius (Onomast. s. v. ’Αρμαθὲμ) that it was somewhat farther north in a line from Jerusalem towards Bethel, carry us into the territory of Benjamin. If it be urged against this view that, according to Judg. 4:5 and this passage, Ramah of Samuel was in the mountains of Ephraim, and therefore in the Tribe-territory of Ephraim, it is to be observed on the other hand that the mountains of Ephraim stretch into the Tribe of Benjamin, and not only include its northern mountains, but extend towards Jerusalem and unite with the mountains of Judah. The Ramah of Samuel lay in Benjamin near Gibeah, Saul’s home, and Mizpah. The addition zophim (צוֹפִים) distinguishes it from the other places of the same name, and indicates the district (the land of Zuph 9:5) in which it lay, whose name is to be derived from the family of Zuph or Zophim from whom Elkanah descended (comp. 1 Chr. 6:11, 20). Since, according to this, Zophim indicates a region, which took its name from the descendants of Zuph, the place Sôba, which has lately been discovered west of Jerusalem, cannot be the Ramah of Samuel, as Robinson and Ritter suppose (see Then. sächs, exeget. Studien, II. 134 sq., and Ewald, Gesch. II. 595). It is rather to be sought in the site of the present Er-Ram between four and five (Eng.) miles, as Josephus states, from Jerusalem on the summit or side of a conical mountain on the road from Jerusalem to Bethel. When Saul (in 1 Samuel 9:5) comes into the “ land of Zuph,” he straightway finds Samuel in “this city.” That “this city,” Samuel’s abode, is identical with Ramathaim-zophim here is beyond doubt. But against the view that it, together with the region “Zuph,” belonged to Benjamin, and in support of the view that it is different from Ramah of Benjamin, and lay in the territory of Ephraim, the principal consideration adduced is Saul’s route (9:4–10:2): on the return from Ramah to Gibeah, Saul, it is said, certainly took the directest road; but, according to 10:2–5, he first crossed the border of Benjamin (10:2), and then came into the neighborhood of Bethel (10:3), which lay close to the border of Benjamin and Ephraim; according to this, Ramah of Samuel was situated north of Bethel in Ephraim not far from Gibeah (1 Samuel 1:20) but near Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:24), for if it had been far from Shiloh, the animals for offering would not have been carried from home. So Then. on 9:5, p. 34. But the assumption that Saul went the directest way to Gibeah is not certain. In 1 Samuel 1:3, remarks Winer correctly (W.-B. s. v.), nothing is said really of the neighborhood of Bethel, but only that Saul should meet men who were going to Bethel, from what direction we know not. And Ramah of Benjamin was so near Shiloh, that there was no need14 to drive thither the animals which could not easily be purchased on the spot.15 The other geographical term אֶפְרָתִי “Ephraimite” (which must not be connected with צוּף (Luth.) in which case it would have been הָאֶפְרָתִי) certainly describes Elkanah as an Ephraimite, who belonged not only to the mountains, but also to the Tribe of Ephraim—and not as a Bethlehemite, as Hoffmann (Weissag. u. Erfüll. II. 61) and Robinson (Pal. II., 583 [Am. ed. 2:7 sq.])sup. pose; for in 17:12 and Ruth 1:2, to which appeal is made, the word is further expressly defined by the phrase “of Bethlehem.” “It by no means follows, however, from this description of Elkanah (comp. Then. p. 2) that Ramathaim-zophim pertained to the territory of Ephraim, but only that Elkanah’s family had settled in this Ramah, and had afterwards moved to Ramah in Benjamin” (Keil, p. 18). As Elkanah came from the Levitical family of Kohath, son of Levi, whose land lay in Ephraim, Dan and Manasseh (Josh. 21:5, 21 sq.), and as the Levites generally were counted as citizens of the tribes in which their residence was, it is not strange that Elkanah is here designated as an Ephraimite according to his descent, while he lived in Benjamin, whither his forefathers had immigrated.
The family of Elkanah is here traced back only through four generations to צוּף “Zuph,” no doubt with reference to the preceding designation Zophim, because Zuph had settled in this district with his family, and it had taken its name from him. It would therefore properly be written צוּפִים “Zuphim.” This explanation of the name is certainly more natural than that which supposes that the district in which it lay, the “land of Zuph” (9:5) was so called from its abundant supply of water, and than the explanation of some Rabbis, “Ramathaim of the watchers or prophets.” [The first question with regard to this word, whether we read Zophim or, with Erdmann, Zuphim, is a grammatical one: is the combination Ramathaim-zophim in accordance with Heb. usage? In proper names the rule is that the first word of a compound is in the construct. state, but the two exceptions, compounds with אָבֵל “meadow,” Gen. 50:11, etc., and שָׁוֵה “plain,” Gen. 14:5, seem to prove the possibility of an appositional construction, so that we must admit (against Wellhausen “Der Text. d. Bücker Sam.” in loco) Ramathaim-zophim to be a possible form. But, as “Zophim” never appears again as an appendage to Ramathaim, and the old vss. Chald. and Syr. render it as an appellative, it would perhaps be better, with Wellhausen, to suppose that the final ם m comes by error of transcription from the following word, and to read צוּפִי “a Zuphite,” which would then correspond to the “Zuph” at the end as “an Ephraimite” does to “Mount Ephraim.”—Tr.]. From a comparison of the two genealogies in 1 Chr. 6:26, 27 (Heb. 11, 12) 34, 35 (Heb. 19, 20) with this genealogy of Samuel it appears that they agree except in the last three names, which in the first list in Chr. are Eliab, Nahath and Zophai, and in the second, Eliel, Toah and Ziph. They are plainly the same names with various changes of form. These changes are probably to be ascribed to differences of pronunciation or to the mis-writing of the original forms which are preserved in this passage (comp. Then. 2).
The Levitical descent of Elkanah and Samuel is put beyond doubt by a comparison of the genealogy here with those in Chronicles. In the first of these, 1 Chr. 6:22 sq. (Heb. 7 sq.) the genealogical list descends from the second son of Levi, Kohath, to Samuel and his sons; in the second, 1 Samuel 1:33 sq. (Heb. 18 sq.), it ascends from the singer Heman, Samuel’s grandson, to Kohath, Levi and Israel. These Levites of the Family of Kohath had their dwellings appointed them in the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and Manasseh. As the Levites were usually designated by the tribes in which their dwellings were fixed (Hengstenb. Beitr. [Contributions] zur Einl. ins. A. T. III. 61), the name “Ephraimite” here cannot be adduced against the Levitical descent of Samuel, as is done by Knobel (II. 29, Anm. 2), Nagelsbach (Herzog, R.-E. s. v. Samuel) and others. The latter himself refers to Judg. 17:7 and 19:1 as cases where a Levite is described as belonging to another tribe, but thinks it strange that, while in those passages the Levitical descent of the men is also expressly mentioned, Elkanah’s descent from Levi is here not hinted at, and this is all the more surprising, if he was really a Levite, when his ancestor came from Ephraim to Ramah and gave his name to the region. But the author of the Book of Judges had a special motive for mentioning the Levitical character of those persons, while our author had little or none, since in his narrative of Samuel he lays all the stress on his prophetic office, and writes, as we have seen, from a prophetic stand-point. There was the less need to emphasize Samuel’s Levitical character because, as Ewald (II. 594) remarks, the Levites that were not of Aaron’s family, seem in early times to have been more blended with the people. And the statement in “Chronicles” of Samuel’s Levitical descent was not occasioned by the fact that the prophet performed priestly functions (Knobel ubi sup.), nor is it to be explained by saying that perhaps quite early the conviction that Samuel must have been a Levite grew out of the difficulty which every Levite must have felt at the discharge of priestly duties by Samuel, if he were not of the stem of Levi (Nagelsbach, ubi sup.)—nor to be referred, with Thenius (p. 2), to the fact that, perhaps in later times the genealogy given in our Book was attached to that of Levi in order thus to justify Samuel’s offering sacrifices. “Chronicles” throughout makes its statistical-historical statements from the Levitical point of view, and thus supplements the history of David and Samuel in our Book. Hengstenberg well says (ubi sup.): “We cannot suppose these genealogies to be an arbitrary invention, simply because, if the author had been disposed to this, he would doubtless have put Samuel among the descendants of Aaron.” Ewald remarks, “Anyone who looks narrowly at the testimony in ‘Chronicles’ cannot possibly doubt that Samuel was of a Levitical family,” while our author attached no importance to this fact (ubi sup. Anm. 2). So Bunsen (in loco), referring to Josh. 21:21, where the dwellings of the Kohathites are fixed in Mount Ephraim also, says: “The Levitical descent of Samuel is certain; only it is not made specially prominent here.” Nägelsbach himself is obliged to admit that the proofs of Samuel’s Levitical descent are convincing; for 1) looking at “Chronicles” (1 Chr. 25:4; comp. 6:18 sq.), he is obliged to concede that Samuel’s posterity is very decidedly considered as belonging to the Levites, since Heman, the renowned singer, grandson of Samuel and father of a numerous posterity, has an eminent place in the lists of Levites of David’s day; and 2) he urges further as a not unimportant consideration the name of Samuel’s father, “Elkanah, that is, he whom God acquired or purchased,” for this name is both in signification and use exclusively a Levite name, and all the Elkanahs mentioned in the Old Test, (leaving out the one in 2 Chr. 28:7, whose tribe is not stated) were demonstrably Levites, and belonged mostly to the family of Korah from whom Samuel also was descended. See Simonis Onomast., p. 493; Hengstenb., ubi supra 61; Keil in loco.—The further objection is made that Samuel was really dedicated to the Sanctuary-service by his mother’s vow, which would not have been necessary if Elkanah had been a Levite. To this the answer is not that Hannah’s vow referred to the Nazariteship of her son—for though all Nazarites were specially consecrated to the Lord, they did not thereby come under obligation to serve in the Sanctuary like the Levites—but rather that in Hannah’s vow the words “all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11 and 22) are to be emphasized. While she consecrates him to the Lord as Nazarite, she at the same time by her vow devotes him for his whole life to the service of the Lord in the Sanctuary; while the Levites did not enter the service till the age of twenty-five or thirty (Numb. 8:23 sq.; 4:23, 30, 47), and then needed not to remain constantly at the Sanctuary, Samuel as soon as he is weaned is destined by his mother to continual service there (1 Samuel 1:22), and while yet a boy wears there the priestly dress.—It is again urged against the Levitical descent of Elkanah that, according to the Septuagint rendering of 1 Samuel 1:21 (which adds πάσας τὰς δεκάτας τῆς γῆς αὐτοῦ “all the tithes of his land”), he brought tithes (Then.); but the genuineness of this addition is very doubtful, and, even if it be received, the bringing of tithes is no evidence of Elkanah’s non-Levitical character (Josephus, who relates the Levitical descent, makes no difficulty in speaking of the tithe-bringing), for, according to the Law, the Levites had to bestow on the priests, as gift of Jehovah, one-tenth of the tenth which they themselves received from the other tribes, Numb. 18:26 sq.; comp. Neh. 10:38 (Keil 26, Note). Ewald (II. 594) says: “The tithe which Elkanah (according to 1:21, Sept.) brought proves nothing against his Levitical cha racter.” See his Alterthümer (Archæology), p. 346. Thenius refers the fulfilment of the prophecy in 1 Sam. 2:35 to Samuel, and thereon bases the assertion that Samuel’s Levitical descent is set aside by the prophecy; but, even if his reference be conceded, this consequence does not follow, for in this prophecy the sense requires us to emphasize not the priest but what is predicted of him.
חַנָּה, ̓́Αννα, Hannah (found in Phœnician also; Dido’s sister was named Anna), a common name for women among the Hebrews, signifying “charm,” “favor,” “beauty,” and in a religious sense “grace.”
Elkanah’s bigamy with Hannah and Peninnah (“coral,” “pearl”), like the custom of taking concubines along with the proper wives, is fundamentally opposed to the original divine ordination of monogamy. The Mosaic Law does not forbid polygamy, but never expressly approves it; it accepts it as a custom and seeks to restrict and govern it by various regulations (Lev. 18:18; Ex. 21:7–10; Deut. 17:17; 21:15–17). According to Gen. 4:19 it was a Cainite, Lamech, that first violated the original ordinance. As it was usually only the men of more wealth and higher position that took two or more wives, we may suppose that Elkanah was a wealthy man.—The curse which attached to this relation appears in Elkanah’s married and family-life; Peninnah, who was blessed with children, exalts herself haughtily above the childless Hannah, and embitters her soul. The resulting discord in the family-life shows itself at the holy place, where Hannah’s heart is continually troubled by her “adversary,” while Elkanah seeks to console her by all the more affectionate conduct.
1 Samuel 1:3–5. Elkanah’s yearly worship and sacrifice at Shiloh. And this man went up, etc.16—The expression “from year to year” (מִיָּמִים י׳) is used in Ex. 13:10 of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and so elsewhere (Judg. 11:40; 21:19). On the traces of the Passover in the Period of the Judges see Hengstenberg Beitr. [Contrib.] 3. 79–85. It is this Feast that is meant here. For Elkanah is said in the text to have traveled regularly every year with his whole household. (1 Samuel 1:21) to the Sanctuary. This journey was not taken at pleasure, but at an appointed time, and therefore at one of the festivals at which the people were required by the Law to appear before the Lord, Ex. 34:23; comp. Deut. 16:16. It was only at the Passover that the whole family were accustomed to go up to the Sanctuary, only then that every man without exception went. But Elkanah attended the feast regularly only once a year. Nothing but the Passover, therefore, can be meant here. At this feast Elkanah went up once every year to the Sanctuary with his whole family. [This statement—that the feast which Elkanah attended was the Passover—would be probable, if we could assume regularity in carrying out the Mosaic Law at this time; but this cannot be assumed. See Judges 17., 18., 19.; 1 Sam. 2:12–17. Some prefer to see here a feast different from any of the three great festivals, referring to the feasting (1 Samuel 1:9) and David’s “yearly sacrifice,” 1 Sam. 20:6; comp. Deut. 12:11–14 (Bib. Comm. in loco). This, however, is not conclusive; feasting would be appropriate at the great festivals, (see Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:12); and the question what occasion this was must be left undecided.—Tr.].
To worship and to sacrifice.—The beautiful picture of Israelitish piety which we have in the following account of Elkanah and Hannah is introduced by these features as the chief and fundamental ones. The worship relates to the name of the Lord who dwells in His chosen place in the Sanctuary, and is the expression of the remembrance of this name before the Lord. The sacrifice is the embodied prayer; in the sacrifice worship is presented to the Lord as the act by which the offerer brings himself, and all that he has, to the Lord. According to the Law (Ex. 23:15; 34:20; comp. Deut. 16:16) those who came to the Sanctuary to attend the festival were not to appear empty-handed before the Lord, but “every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee.” The לִזְבֹּחַ (“to sacrifice”) is to be understood of the Shelamim, which consisted of free-will offerings (Deut. 16:10), partly from the tithes set apart for this purpose (Deut. 14:22 sq.) and the first-born of cattle (Deut. 15:20; Numb. 18:17), which were preceded by burnt offerings, (Numb. 10:10) and followed by joyful feasting. (Oehler, Herzog R.-E. IV. 386). With reference to this sacrificial meal, which belonged essentially to the peace-offerings (Shelamim), the whole act of sacrifice is designated by זָבַח, because this word denotes slaying with reference to a meal to be afterwards held, and the expressions שְׁלָמִים (peace-offerings) and זְבָחִים (sacrifices) are exactly equivalent, the זָבַח זֶבַח (“to sacrifice a sacrifice”) being used of the Shelamim. This peace-offering, whose performance is called זֶבַח “slaughter,” was preceded by a sin-offering and a burnt-offering, of which the former removed the alienation from God occasioned by sin, and the latter through the worship offered made the offerer acceptable in the sight of God; and thus the peace-offering was the representation and confirmation of the relation of integrity, the peaceful and friendly communion between the Lord and the man who was brought near to Him (שָׁלֵם integer fuit); comp. Oehler in Herzog 10:637, Hengstenb. Beitr. III., p. 85 sq.
To the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth. Elkanah draws near with worship and with sacrifice. The signification of the name יָהוֶה [Jahveh, which probably, and not Jehovah, is the correct pronunciation,—Tr.] is the ground of the worship and of the presentation of the offering. The living, unchangeable eternal God, who by His historical self-revelation as His people’s Covenant-God has prepared Himself the name by which they are to know and call Him, and by which He comes into direct intercourse with them, has thus first made possible for His people the worship and sacrifice which they are to bring to His honor, and also made it a sacred duty.
In Shiloh Elkanah brings his offering to the Lord of Hosts. Shiloh (שִׁלֹה, that is, “Rest”) lay in the territory of Ephraim, “on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem and on the south of Lebonah,” Judg. 21:19. Here the Sanctuary of Israel, the Tabernacle with the Ark, which immediately after the entrance into Canaan was placed in Gilgal (fifty stadia from Jordan, ten from Jericho), was located from the time mentioned in Josh. 18:1 (the sixth year after the passage of the Jordan according to Joseph. Ant. 5., 1. 19), to the capture of the Ark by the Philistines. For a time only, during the Benjamite war (Judg. 20:27), the Ark was in Bethel. Shiloh was the permanent seat of the Sanctuary till the unfortunate Philistine war under Eli. And this Sanctuary was, during the whole period of the Judges up to Samuel’s time when the Ark fell into the hands of the Philistines, the only one that the people of Israel had, the national Sanctuary instituted by Moses, where men came into the presence of the Lord, where all sacrifices were offered and the great festivals celebrated, where the whole nation assembled: the dwelling, the house, the temple of God (1 Samuel 1:7, 9, 22). In regard to Shiloh as the religious centre of the people during the whole period of the Judges on account of the location there of the Sanctuary with the Ark by Joshua, see for further details Hengstenb. Beitr. [Contrib.] III., p. 52 sq. Shiloh was the home of the prophet Ahijah under Jeroboam II. (1 Ki. 11:12, 14) and was still in existence at the time of the Exile (Jer. 41:5). Jerome found there some ruins and the foundation of an altar (see on Zeph. 1:14). According to Robinson (3:302 sq. [Am. ed. II. 267–270]) and Wilson (The Lands of the Bible, II. 292 sq.) the ancient Shiloh is the present ruin Seilûn, whose situation answers exactly to the description in Judg. 21:19. The position of the place was such that, in accordance with its name, the Sanctuary of Israel could there have a quiet permanent place. This quiet place, situated on a hill (Ps. 78:54) was the scene of the mighty revolution brought about in the history of the Theocracy by the call of Samuel to be the Prophet of God and by the overthrow of the priestly house of Eli.
Instead of “and there the two sons, etc.” (וְֹשָם שְׁנֵי בּ׳) the Sept. gives καὶ ἐκεῖ ‘Ηλί καὶ οἱ δύο υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ (“and there Eli and his two sons,” 1 Samuel 1:3), as if the text had read “and there Eli,” etc. (וְשָׁם עֵלִי); but this is clearly a change of the original text occasioned by the fact, which seemed strange to the translator, that not Eli but his two sons are mentioned at the beginning of the Book. This mention of the priests accords with the following narrative, which speaks of the sacrificial function, which Eli on account of age no longer discharged. Eli, though termed only priest, yet filled the office of High-priest, but had made over the priestly duties to his sons; hence it is that they, and not he, are here specially mentioned as persons who were priests to the Lord (כֹּהֲנִים ליהוה), by which it is intimated that there were others who performed this priestly service before the Lord. From the fact that only these two, with their father, are here mentioned expressly, it has been concluded that the Priesthood was numerically very meagre and simple; but this conclusion is wholly unfounded; for, on the one hand, not all the priests are mentioned here, but only the two who figure in the succeeding history and illustrate the corruption of the Priesthood, and, on the other hand, from the fact that all Israel sacrificed at the Sanctuary at Shiloh it is clear that two or three priests would not suffice for the service, comp. 2:14, 16. What a contrast is given us here in the two sons of Eli, representatives of a priesthood inwardly estranged from God and sunk in immorality, and the pious God-fearing Elkanah and his consecrated wife Hannah!
1 Samuel 1:4. “The day” (הַיּוֹם), that is, on the day when he came to Shiloh to sacrifice.17
That Elkanah’s sacrifice (זָבַח) was a praise or thank-offering is clear from what follows; for, according to the Law (Lev. 7:15) the flesh of this offering, of which the offerer kept a part, had to be eaten on the day on which it was brought. This praise-offering or thank-offering is (Lev. 7:11 sq.) the first and principal sort of the peace-offering (זֶבַח עַל־תּוֹדָה = שְׁוָמִים or זֶבַח תּוֹדת שׁ׳ 1 Samuel 1:13, 15), the sacrifice of the thankful recognition of God’s undeserved benefits. The second sort of peace-offering is the vow-offering (נֶדֶד), which was promised when a request was made for God’s favor, and offered when it was granted; the third sort is the free-will-offering (נְדָבָה) for a special experience of God’s favor, and in a wider sense a voluntary contribution to the Sanctuary and its furniture [Ex. 35:29.—Tr.].—Elkanah’s whole family took part in the feasts which he made there from the Shelamim [peace-offerings] in accordance with the provision of the Law, Deut. 12:11, 12, 17, 18. These meals had a joyful character, comp. Deut. 12:12; 16:11; 27:7. In Elkanah’s household this joy was disturbed all the while by the childlessness of Hannah.
While he divided to Peninnah and her children their pieces, parts, portions of the flesh of the offering, he gave Hannah
1 Samuel 1:5. מָנָה אַחַת אַפָּיִם. Of the various explanations of these words (in which the אַפַּיִם makes the difficulty), only two now deserve consideration; the first (Syr., Targ., Gesen., Winer, De Wette, Bunsen, Keil [Wordsworth, Bib. Com., Cahen]) takes אַפָּיִם in the sense of “persons,” so that it would read “a, portion for two persons,” or “for persons” ([Fürst], Bunsen, that is, “a large piece”); the second (Thenius, Böttcher, “neua exeget. krit. Aehrenlese z. A. T.”, p. 85 sq.) after the Vulgate and Luther renders אַפָּיִם “sad,” or better, “displeased,” “unwilling.” Against the first explanation is the fact that the sing. אף never has the meaning “person,” nor can it be shown that this meaning belongs to the dual; it means “countenance,” but it is only by forcing that the signification “person” can thence be gotten (Keil) on the ground that לְאַפֵּי is equivalent to לִפְנֵי in 1 Sam. 25:23, and פָּניִם is used for “person” in 2 Sam. 17:11. It is, however, on linguistic grounds, better to explain the word, according to its usual signification, as expressing a displeased disposition or emotion, akin to anger. It is then to be taken adverbially (as, for example, the opposite feeling נְדָבָה, Deut. 23:24; Hos. 14:5) equivalent to בְּאַפָּיִם in Dan. 11:20, “in anger.” In contrast with the joy which ought to have reigned undisturbed at this feast, Elkanah’s heart was full of sadness because his beloved Hannah remained without the blessing of children, while her adversary, proud of her children, vexed her with it; for childlessness was held to be a great misfortune, a reproach, yea a divine punishment (Gen. 19:31; 30:1, 23). The one portion, which alone he could give Hannah, was a contrast to the many portions which he gave to Peninnah and her sons and daughters, and was, as it were, the mark of her desolate despised condition over against the fortunate and boastful Peninnah.
[It is difficult to give any satisfactory rendering of this much-disputed phrase. The word אַפַּים has only three meanings in the Old Test. (excluding this passage): 1) nostrils (Gen. 2:7; Lam. 4:20); 2) face (1 Sam. 20:41); 3) anger (1 Sam. 11:6). The rendering, therefore, “sadness,” “displeasure,” defended above by Dr. Erdmann, is hardly allowable. Nor does the word mean “person;” in 2 Sam. 17:11 (adduced by Keil) the similar word פָּנִים means not “persons,” but “presence,” and offers no support to this rendering. The Chaldee translation “a chosen portion” takes it in the sense “presence,” “a portion worthy to be set in one’s presence,” as the bread in the Tabernacle was called לֶחֶם פָּנִים “bread of presence,” “show-bread.” Another translation (mentioned by Gesenius, Thesaurus s. v.) is “one portion of faces,” that is, two slices of bread with meat between. The Syriac translation “double” is apparently based on an accidental resemblance in two words. The Sept. omits the word and renders “one portion,” but the context requires an explanatory word here. The original strictly allows only two translations, either “a portion of anger” (so Abarbanel, who speaks of two angers or griefs which Elkanah had), which seems out of keeping with Elkanah’s character, or “a portion set in one’s presence,” that is, “an offered portion,” which is jejune. In this failure of the strict rendering to make sense, it is perhaps better to conjecture a meaning “persons” for אַפַּיִם, (following Syr. and Arab.) and render “a double portion.”—TR.].
1 Samuel 1:6–8. Hannah, provoked by her adversary, consoled by Elkanah. Peninnah is Hannah’s adversary on account of Elkanah’s special love for the latter (1 Samuel 1:5); out of jealousy she is her rival. Bigamy, which is in opposition to God’s appointment, bears its bitter fruits for Elkanah and his house.—גַּס־כַּעַם “with anger (or vexation) also.” כַּעַם is not simply “vexation” in a subjective-intransitive sense, but is found also in an objective-transitive sense, as in Deut. 32:27 (the wrath which the enemy produces in me) and 2 Kings 23:26 (כְּעָסִים, provocations to anger, in reference to God). This last is the sense here also, and the גַּם (“also”) indicates the heaping up of anger and vexation which Peninnah occasioned in Hannah. In what sense and with what design Peninnah did this is shown by the following words (בַּעֲבוּר etc.). The word (רָעַם)in Hiph. means “to rouse, excite, put in lively motion;” here, as the context (כִּי סָגַר י׳) shows, against God; she not only held up before her her unfruitfulness, itself reckoned a reproach, but represented it also as a punishment from God, or at least as a lack of God’s favor.—In 1 Samuel 1:7 Elkanah cannot be taken as subject, as is done in the present pointing (יַעֲשֶׂה); for in the preceding independent sentence (1 Samuel 1:6) Peninnah is the subject; still less, for the same reason, can the suffix in עֲלֹתָהּ (when she went up) according to this construction be referred to Hannah. In accordance with the tenor of the narrative it is better, with Luther, De Wette, Bunsen, Thenius, to read יִעָשֶׂה and translate “and so it happened.” [Others read not so well תַּעֲשֶׂה “and so she did.”—Tr.]. The two כֵּן (so … so) correspond therefore in relation to Peninnah’s conduct, not in relation to Elkanah’s bearing towards Hannah, and Peninnah’s provocation (Keil). “So it happened (in reference to Peninnah) etc., thus she provoked her (Hannah).” The words “and she wept, etc.” (וַּתִּבְכֶּה) are referred naturally to Hannah by a sudden change of subject, which is allowable only in this understanding of the subjects from “it happened” (יֵעָשֶׂה) on.—In 1 Samuel 1:8 Elkanah’s consoling address is contrasted with Peninnah’s provocations. After “Hannah” the Sept. adds: “and she said, “Here am I, my lord, and he said;” but we are not to suppose (with Thenius) that the corresponding Hebrew words have fallen out of the text, for this phrase, a very common one in the circumstantial accounts of speeches and conversations, is here clearly an insertion. The attempt to give a more fitting expression to Elkanah’s feeling gives too subjective a character to this reading; and this feeling is sufficiently portrayed by the Masoretic text, in which the first three questions about the why or wherefore of her grief set it forth in a climax (weeping, not eating, grief of heart). The translation of the Sept. τί ἐστί σοι ὅτι (“what is to thee that”) does not warrant us in taking (with Thenius) for the original text the corresponding Heb. (מַה־לָּךְ בִּי) instead of “why” (לָמֶה), for, comparing it with ἱνατί [why] for the second and third “why” of the Heb., it is easily explained as a freedom of the translator. Elkanah, by the reference to himself, “am I not better to thee than ten children?” will comfort his wife for her lack of children. This supposes that she feels herself united to him by the most cordial love. We here have a picture of deepest and tenderest conjugal love. The number ten is merely a round number to express many.
IΙ. Hannah’s Prayer For A Son. 1 Samuel 1:9–18 a
1. First in 1 Samuel 1:9–11 an account is given of her prayer and vow before the Lord. The “eating and drinking” is the sacrificial meal of the whole family, at which Hannah was present, though out of sorrow she ate nothing, and at the conclusion of which she rose up in order to pray to the Lord. As it is expressly said, “she ate nothing,” and Elkanah asks “why eatest thou not?” we must not, with Luther, translate “after she had eaten,” on the groundless assumption that she had done so on Elkanah’s consoling address (Von Gerlach). The Sept. renders rightly according to the sense μετὰ τὸ φαγεῖν αὐτούς [after they had eaten], though this does not justify us (Then.) in so reading the Heb. (אָכְלָם). The passage from rose up (וַתָּקָם) to drunk (שָׁתֹה on this Inf. Abs. for Inf. Con., see Ewald, § 339 b) is to be connected with prayed, 1 Samuel 1:10 (וַתִּתְפַּלַּל) the latter expressing the act which followed her rising from the meal; the rest, from “Eli” to “soul” is parenthesis, which, in two circumstantial sentences, gives the ground and explanation of the following narrative. Eli’s sitting at the entrance of the Sanctuary is specially mentioned because of his after conduct to the praying Hannah; Hannah’s bitterness of soul is mentioned because it was the reason of her praying to the Lord. [The Heb. favors the translation, 1 Samuel 1:9, “after she had eaten … and drunk;” it may be a mere general expression, or she may have yielded to her husband’s request. There is no contradiction in this case between 1 Samuel 1:7 and 1 Samuel 1:9. See Bib. Comm. in loco.—Tr.].
In distinction from his sons, who are called “priests of the (to the) Lord” (כֹּהֲנִים לַיהֹוָה), Eli is called the priest (הַכֹּהֵן). Though called simply “the priest,” he yet filled the office of High-Priest (Aaron and Eleazar, his son, are so called Num. 26:1; 27:2). In the beginning of the period of the Judges Phinehas, son of Eleazar, was High-Priest, Judg. 20:28. This office was bestowed not only on him, but also on his posterity, Num. 25:13. At the end of the period of the Judges it is in the possession of Eli, who, however, was a descendant, not of Eleazar and Phinehas, but of Ithamar, Aaron’s fourth son. In 1 Sam. 2:28 the continued existence of the High-priesthood from its institution to Eli is taken for granted, and is confirmed by Jewish tradition (Josephus, Ant. 5, 11, § 5). According to this the High-priesthood continued to exist indeed in the period of the Judges, but did not remain, in accordance with the promise in Num. 25, with “the seed of Phinehas,” but passed over to the family of Ithamar. It is not our author’s purpose to tell anything of the history of the High-priests and Judges. What he relates in the beginning of his Book of Eli and his sons serves only to illustrate the history and importance of Samuel’s call, and to show that it was a historical necessity that the reformation of religious-moral life should be undertaken by the Prophetic Order which entered with Samuel as a new and mighty factor into the development of the Theocracy over against the corrupted priesthood.—The door-post (מְזוּזָה), at which Eli sat, hardly accords with the curtain which formed the entrance to the Holy Place, except on the supposition that, after the Sanctuary was permanently fixed in Shiloh, a solid entrance-way, perhaps of stone, with doors, was built; this is favored by 3:15, where the “doors” are presupposed by the door-post here. הֵיכַל יְהֹוָה is the Tabernacle in relation to God as King of Israel; it is his “palace” where, in His royal majesty as “King of glory” (Ps. 24), He dwells in the midst of His people, meets with them, and holds with them covenant-communion (Ex. 25:8; 29:45, 46).—Hannah was “in bitterness of soul” (מָרַת נֶפֶשׁ) at the continuance of her hopelessness, and the vexations which she suffered from her adversary (comp. 2 Kings 4:27).—Her supplication was the outpouring of her troubled soul before the Lord, and the words of the prayer (that her request for a son might be heard) were accompanied with many tears (וּבָכֹה תִבְכֶּה); that was the expression of her grief because her petitions had been hitherto unheard.
1 Samuel 1:11. And she vowed a vow is, as it were, the superscription and theme of the following words, which form a vow-prayer. The word here used (נֶדֶר) usually means the positive vow (Num. 6:2–5 is an exception), the promise to return fitting thanks to the Lord, in case the petition is granted, by something performed for His honor or by an offering (the first ex. is in Gen. 28:20–22); the negative vow, the promise to refrain from something, is אִסָּר or אֱסָר=obligatio (Num. 30:3). The former is connected with the Shelamim, as here Hannah’s vow with Elkanah’s peace-offering. [For the law of vows in the case of married women, see Num. 30:6–16.—Bib. Comm. in loco.—TR.]—Hannah addresses Jehovah Sabaoth in view of His all-controlling power, by virtue of which He can put an end to her disgrace. The “if” (אִם) denotes not doubt, but the certainty of the fact, that, etc. The three-fold expression: “if thou wilt look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget,” betokens in the clearest manner her confidence that God cares for her, has fixed His eyes on her person and her troubles, and characterizes the fervor and energy of her believing prayers. The thrice-repeated “thy handmaid” expresses the deep humility and resignation with which she brings her petition to the Lord. The object of her petition is male seed, a son. (אֲנָשִׁים, plural of אִישׁ comp. Ewald, § 186 f.)—[The Sept. has ἐπιβλέψῃς ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης σου, which are the identical words of the Magnificat. He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden (Luke 1:48). Bib. Comm. in loco.—TR.]—The vow (then I will give him, etc.) has two parts: 1) the consecration of the son all the days of his life to the Lord; she will give him to the Lord for His own, that he may serve the Lord all his life in the Sanctuary.18 The emphasis is on the words “all the days” (כָּל־יְמֵי ח׳): the son was already called and pledged as Levite to service in the sanctuary, but not till his thirtieth or twenty-fifth year, and then to periodical service; Hannah consecrates him to the Lord all the days of his life, that is, to a life-long and constant service in the sanctuary. But this is entirely independent of the second part of the vow. 2) “No razor shall come upon his head,” that is, he shall be a Nazir (נָזִירְ), one set apart to the Lord. The nazirate (nazariteship), as we see it in its representatives in the time of the Judges, Samson and Samuel, belonged to the holy institutions with which special consecration to God was connected. The Nazarite-vow belonged to the negative or abstinence-vows. According to the legal prescriptions in Num. 6:1 sq. (which indeed presuppose the nazirate as a custom, and only regulate it, and affirm its importance), the characteristic marks of the Nazarite were the refraining from wine and all intoxicating drinks, letting the hair grow, and avoiding defilement by corpses even of the nearest kin. The one controlling ethical principle in these three negative prescriptions is expressed in 1 Samuel 1:2, 5, 8: the separation or abstinence is for the Lord; the Nazir is holy to Jehovah (קָדשׁ ליהוה). To the negative element answers the positive—the special devotion and consecration of person and life to the Lord. This shows itself 1) in the abstinence from intoxicating drinks, which betokens the maintenance of complete clearness of mind for the Lord in the avoidance of sensual indulgences which destroy or hinder communion with God; 2) in avoiding contact with the dead, which sets forth the preservation of purity of life against all moral defilement, and its complete devotion to the living God, and 3) in keeping the razor from the free-growing hair, which indicates the refraining from intercourse with the world, and the consecration of the whole strength and the fulness of life, whose symbol is the free growth of hair as the ornament19 (נֵזֶר of the Lord, 1 Samuel 1:7) of the head. It is in keeping with the great importance which is attached (in 1 Samuel 1:7) to the hair of the Nazarite as “consecration (נֵזֶר) of his God upon his head,” that here this mark alone is mentioned, and Hannah thereby distinguishes her desired son as one vowed to God, see Num. 6:11. Comp. Oehler in Herzog’s R.-E. s. v. Nasiräat. [A similar omission occurs in the case of Samson, Judg. 13:5, who is, however, called a Nazarite. It may, perhaps, be doubtful whether all the conditions of the Nazirate were observed in these cases. Comp. the fuller statement concerning John the Baptist, Luke 1:15. The Sept. inserts “And he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink,” plainly an addition to bring it into exacter accordance with the law in Num. 6. It is possible that some freedom was used in making the vow, as the time was left at the option of the consecrator. Samuel was what the Talmud calls נזיר עולם, “a perpetual Nazarite.”—The preservation of the hair does not seem to symbolize withdrawal from the world; and in fact the Nazarite did not lead a secluded life. The view of Oehler, adopted above by Erdmann, that the hair represents vigor and life, is perhaps supported by the connection between the hair and strength in Samson’s case. Another view, that it symbolizes the subjection of man to God, is adopted by Baumgarten and Fairbairn; the latter refers to Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 11:10. On the general subject see Smith’s Bib. Dict., Fairbairn’s Typology II. 346.—Tr.]—The nazirate is in its essential elements related to the priesthood, and represents the idea of a truly priestly life withdrawn from earthly-worldly things and devoted to God. But it has nothing in common with the priestly order as such; it was, along with that, a special temporary form of consecration to the Lord in opposition to the unholy, impure life of the world. The Nazarites were not bound to service in the sanctuary, and not all who were called to this service were Nazarites. The son whom Hannah had consecrated by her first vow to life-long service in the sanctuary she consecrated by her second to be a Nazarite for life. The latter was the condition and foundation of an all the more hearty and faithful devotion to the Lord in His sanctuary-service. The life-long nazirate, to which children could be devoted before birth, as was true here and with Samson (comp. John the Baptist), was the highest and most comprehensive presentation of that idea. This double vow of Hannah and its fulfillment gave to Samuel from childhood on the disposition of heart and direction of life towards the Lord, in which all the powers of his mind, all the striving and struggling of his inner and outer life were consecrated for the performance of the holy mission which he had received from the Lord.
2. 1 Samuel 1:12, 13. Eli’s profane view of the condition of the praying Hannah. Her manner of praying is very distinctly described: 1) she prayed much and long, before the Lord—this marks the energy of thorough devotion and ardent piety towards God; 2) she spake to her heart (עַל is not “in,” nor is it=אֵל, Gen. 24:25, where there is a similar phrase); in her prayer Hannah looked altogether into her heart, that she might obtain consolation and rest for it, and thus it was certainly in fact speaking in her heart. This marks the deep sincerity of heart, the profound concentration and emotion of soul with which she prayed; it was so intense that only her lips moved as the involuntary expression of her emotion, and her voice was not heard, which was the necessary result of the fact that her heart was turned in on itself and thoroughly immersed in God.—In contrast with this picture of the believing suppliant, Eli’s conduct is portrayed as really profane; his view of Hannah’s condition is precisely the opposite of the truth. He appears here as a very bad Judge. He judges merely from the outward appearance; he looks only at the movement of her lips (פִּיהָ), which from the Heb. expression (נָעוֹת) must have been lively; he remains fixed at the surface, while, considering the source of Hannah’s emotion, he ought to have seen the prayerful energy of her heart through the outward appearance; he passes rash judgment on her, holding her from the signs of her emotion to be a drunken woman; instead of “making the best” of what seemed to him strange, he suspiciously takes it in the worst sense, for he must have seen that Hannah came to pray, and was really praying, and need not have thought of drunkenness to explain her demeanor. There is a noteworthy irony in the fact that, while the High-priest takes her to be drunk, she has made a vow for her son which looks to the very opposite. This conduct is characteristic of Eli. With all his piety and good nature, he was lacking religiously and morally in proper earnestness and true depth and thoroughness. To the same source, his natural-fleshly disposition of heart, whence came his conduct towards his unworthy sons, we must refer his profane conduct and his so false judgment on the praying Hannah. Yet there was some ground for his hasty suspicion of Hannah in the frequent occurrence of such cases in connection with the sacrificial meals; and this points to a certain externalized and brutalized condition of the religious-moral life in the very precincts of the sanctuary under a brutalized priesthood. “Such heartfelt prayer seems not to have been usual at that time” (Bunsen).
3. 1 Samuel 1:14–18 a. Hannah’s conversation with Eli concerning her prayer shows again the striking contrast between Eli’s pre-judgment of her condition and her real frame of heart (1 Samuel 1:14, 15), and Hannah’s deep heart-felt piety as the source of her supplication (1 Samuel 1:15, 16), but brings out also Eli’s better nature, the expression of which is the wish for a blessing (1 Samuel 1:17, 18).
1 Samuel 1:14. Eli sat at the door-post of the sanctuary no doubt to keep watch and prevent all things improper; but his address to Hannah shows how unworthily he did it. The question “How long wilt thou be drunken?” must have wounded her heart all the more in the sorrowful mood of her prayer, and grieved her no less deeply than Peninnah’s speech. (On the form תִּשְׁתַּכָּרִין see Ewald, § 191, and Gesen., § 47, 3). The order: “put away thy wine from thee,” that is, “take steps to get sober again,” or “go and sleep off thy debauch” (comp. 25:37), is as rude and profane as the question—least of all becoming to, and to be expected from, a priest. Here, looking at Eli’s sons, we cannot but think of the German proverb: “The apple falls close to the tree.”20 It is the same unworthy littleness that we see in Acts 2:13 (“they are full of new wine”). The Sept. has here in Eli’s interests inserted “youth, servant” (נַעַר) before “Eli,” and put the rudeness off on him; but then his dismissal must have been mentioned here, and Hannah could not have answered the servant: “no, my lord,” which words are addressed to Eli (comp. Böttch. against Thenius). To Thenius’ remark that the masoretic recension has here for unknown reasons abridged, we reply that such abridgement, which sets Eli in so bad a light, certainly cannot be regarded as probable. In reference to the “servant” of the Septuagint, the canon of criticism holds that the harder, more offensive reading is to be preferred.
1 Samuel 1:15 sq. Hannah’s answer is an energetic denial of Eli’s charge; in the spirited fulness of her reply, we may see something of the indignation which Eli’s unworthy speech had called forth in her heart. Her language is in part a denial of his assumption, in part an explanation of her condition of mind as the reason of her conduct in prayer; each of these parts has a three-fold expression, so that each denial answers to an explanation. First, she denies simply and sharply with “no, my lord” (לֹא אֲדֹנִי) the drunkenness imputed to her, and explains that her condition of soul is one of deep sorrow. According to the masoretic text Hannah says: “I am hard of spirit” (קְשַׁת רוּחַ). Though in Ezek. 3:7 the similar phrase “hard of heart” (קְשֵׁה לֵב) means “obstinate,” “stiff-necked,” yet the combination of this Adj. (קשׁה) in the signification “heavy” (Judg. 4:24 [the hand … was heavy against Jabin]; Ex. 18:26) with the subst. (רוּחַ= disposition, mind, Gen. 41:8; Ps. 34:19 ) may give the signification “heavy-hearted.” It is not clear why it should sound strange (as Thenius thinks) that Hannah, in her condition, should speak of herself as heavy-hearted; the expression is so natural in reply to Eli’s outspoken suspicion, that she had dulled her mind with intoxicating drink. Hence, also, follows immediately the express denial of this suspicion. The Sept., on the other hand, has the strange expression: γυνὴ̣ ἐν σκλήρᾷ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγώ εἰμι (I am a woman in a hard day). This is based on the reading “hard of day” (קְשַׁת יוֹם), an expression which in Job 30:25 [“in trouble”] describes one who has a hard day, a hard life, is unhappy. So the Vulg.: infelix nimis ego sum, “I am very unfortunate.” Perhaps this is the original reading, as Thenius supposes. Clericus: “This reading is not to be wholly despised.”—The negation advances from the simple “no, my lord,” to the denial that there is anything in her case to produce drunkenness, that is, that she has drunk wine or any intoxicating drink (שֵׁכָר); with this denial she connects, so as to bring out a sharp contrast, the explanation and assurance that she has “poured out her soul before the Lord.” Comp. Ps. 42:5 : I pour out my soul in me; Ps. 42:9 : Pour out your heart before him; and Ps. 142:3 : “I pour out my complaint before him.” This expression, common in German [and English] also and Latin (fundere preces), indicates the lightening of the deeply moved, sorrowful heart by complaints, petitions, etc., before God the Lord, based on humble submission to His will and trust in His help, that is, on the opposite of the feeling which Peninnah wished to excite in Hannah (1 Samuel 1:6). Comp. Calvin on Ps. 142:3: “He sets the pouring out one’s thoughts and telling one’s trouble over against the confused anxieties which unhappy men nurse in their hearts, preferring to gnaw the bit rather than flee to God.” Such pouring out of the heart before the Lord witnesses for Hannah of itself against Eli’s charge of intemperance and drunkenness.—A third and still stronger denial she makes (1 Samuel 1:16); and this time it refers to the bad, worthless character which he had imputed to her. “Daughter of worthlessness” (on the etymology of בְּלִיַּעַל, comp. Gesen. s. v.)=bad woman. The words “count not,” etc. (אַל־תִּתֵּן etc.).cannot be explained: “Do not make me the scorn of bad women” (Clericus), but must be rendered: “Do not in thought set thy handmaiden before (לִפְנֵי) a worthless woman,” that is, let not thy handmaid be taken for a worthless woman, do not liken her to such a one. She grounds her denial of this bad opinion of her on the assurance, which answers to the two positive explanations, and forms their conclusion, that out of the abundance (רֹב) of her complaint and grief she had spoken “hitherto” (עַד־הֵנָּה), that is, as long as Eli had observed her.—Comp. Calvin ad h. I.: “Consider the modesty of Hannah, who, though she suffered injury from the High-priest, yet answers with reverence and humility.”
1 Samuel 1:17. Eli’s reply. Eli, as Calvin remarks, “not only insulted a feeble woman, but blasphemed against God Himself, though unintentionally.” Now he retracts his accusation; indeed, he really, though silently, accuses himself of injustice to Hannah, in that 1) he replies with the usual parting-formula “Go in peace !” and 2) he adds the wish that her request may be granted. (שֵׁלָתֵךְ is for שְׁאֵלָתֵךְ). There is no prophecy in this; it was a wish which God fulfilled.
1 Samuel 1:18. Hannah’s answer does not ask for his mediation (Keil), but is a respectful request that the High-priest would further grant her his favor, as he had already done (comp. 1 Samuel 1:26).—[There seems to be no advantage in closing this section in the middle of 1 Samuel 1:18. The latter part of the verse forms a fitting conclusion to the interview of Eli and Hannah, since it describes the result to Hannah of her prayer and conversation, and 1 Samuel 1:19 begins a new narrative, as in Eng. A. V.—TR.]
III. The Answer to the Prayer. 1 Samuel 1:18–20
Hannah went her “way,” namely, back to her husband. The words of the Sept.: “and she went to her inn,” and (after “she did eat”) “with her husband and drank,” are explanatory and descriptive additions to the original text: it is inconceivable why these words, if they stood in the text originally, should have been left out. [The words “and did eat” are wanting in the Syriac and Arabic versions and in five MSS. of Kennicott, and were omitted perhaps because supposed to be inappropriate; but they fitly describe Hannah’s more cheerful mood.—TR.] “And her countenance was no more to her”—that is, her countenance was no longer disturbed as before. There are similar expressions in German. Comp. Job 9:27, where, from the context, the word “countenance” (פָּנִים) is likewise to be taken in the sense “sad countenance” [“heaviness” in Eng. A. V.—TR.].21
1 Samuel 1:19 describes circumstantially and vividly, almost solemnly, the return to Ramah after early worship together before the Lord. Elkanah knew his wife (יָדַע, “know,” as in Gen. 4:7). “The Lord remembered her,” indicates the fulfilment of her request; the divine control, under which (1 Samuel 1:11) she had placed herself, is quite appropriately here again expressly mentioned. At the end of the verse the Sept. (Alex.) adds “and she conceived,” explaining and filling out the “remembered.” There is no necessity for supposing (with Thenius, following the Sept.) that this expression has fallen out of the original text, where it was a needful explanation of the “remembered,” since in the following 1 Samuel 1:20 the significance of the latter is expressed, though it cannot be considered a mere addition. [The change in the text of the Sept. (in the Vat., not Al.) is easily explained. The Heb. (1 Samuel 1:20) reads “and in the course of time Hannah conceived and bare a son.” The Greek translator stumbled at the place assigned the conceiving, and therefore changed the word from after to before the “course of time.” The difficulty is removed when we remember that “conceived and bare” as the common phrase to express the birth of a child. The other versions sustain the Heb. order of words.—Some Heb. MSS. read “in the course of a year” (so De Wette), or, as some translate, “at the beginning of the new year” (in the autumn, Feast of Tabernacles), but there is no authority for this.—Abarbanel: “At the end of a month.”—Tr.].
1 Samuel 1:20. “Up to the circuit or conclusion of the days or of the regular time”—that is, not “in the space of a year,” but “at the conclusion of the period of pregnancy” (Thenius), at the end of the time necessary for what is afterwards said.—“She bare a son, whom she called Samuel.” Hannah her-self gives the explanation of this name, not etymological but factual, “I asked him from the Lord.” (On the form שְׁאִלְתִּיו see Gesen. 44, 2, Rem. 2.) According to this explanation the name שְׁמוּאֵל (which belongs to two other persons only, Numb. 34:21; 1 Chr. 7:2) is formed by contraction from שְׁמוּע אֵל, the ע falling out (Ewald, Gr. § 275, A. 3). The Rabbinical derivation from שָׁאוּלמֵאֵל, whence שָׁאוּמֵאֵל and שְׁמוּאֵל is far-fetched and improbable. [That is, “ asked of God”]. The name signifies literally “heard of God,” auditus Dei. For Samuel was for his mother the sign of a special answer to prayer. Similar names of children, suggested by their mothers’ experiences at their birth, are found elsewhere, for example, in Jacob’s children (Gen. 29:32 sq.; 30:5 sq.).—The omission of “and she said” is original; the Sept. has clearly again here filled out and explained (against Thenius). Hannah’s saying, introduced without this addition, is thereby characterized as an explanation, historically handed down, of this name in reference to what preceded Samuel’s birth. [This whole incident is discussed in the Talmudical Tract “Berakoth,” fol. 31 b, but the discussion offers nothing of special value.—Tr.].
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL22
[This is the appropriate place to introduce a brief statement of the chronological relation between the latter part of “Judges” (end of chap. 16) and the beginning of “Samuel.” We shall not attempt to discuss the various schemes of the chronology which have been presented by different writers, but merely give the biblical data for determining the chronological relations of Samson, Eli, and Samuel. The first datum is given in 1 Kings 6:1, and, putting the fourth year of Solomon B. C. 1012, fixes the Exodus in B. C. 1492, the entrance into Canaan B. C. 1452, while David’s accession falls B. C. 1056. The second datum is found in Jephthah’s statement, Judg. 11:26, according to which the beginning of his judgeship falls 300 years after the entrance into Canaan, that is, B. C. 1152. From this time to the death of Abdon (Judg. 12:7–15) is thirty-one years, and Abdon’s death is to be put B. C. 1121. We have thus between the death of Abdon and the accession of David a space of sixty-five years in which to put Samson, Eli, Samuel, and Saul. It is clear that their histories must be in part contemporaneous. Eli dies an old man, while Samuel is yet a youth, and Samuel is an old man when Saul is anointed king. The following table may give approximately the periods of these men:
B. C. 1120–1100
Eli’s Life (98 years)
B. C. 1208–1110
Eli’s Judgeship (40 years)
B. C. 1150–1110
B. C. 1120 (or 1130)–1060
B. C. 1076–1056
According to this view the judgeships of Samson and Eli were in part contemporaneous, and Samuel was twenty (or thirty) years old when Samson died, the work of the latter being confined to the west and south-west, while Samuel lived chiefly in the centre of the land. The forty years of Philistine oppression (Judg. 13:1) would then be reckoned B. C.1120–1080, reaching nearly up to Saul’s accession, and the third battle of Ebenezer would fall in B. C. 1080 when Samuel was forty years old. Hannah’s visit to Shiloh occurred about (or, a little before) the time that Samson began to vex the Philistines, but it is probable that the hostilities were confined to the territories of Judah and Dan. Partly for this reason, and partly because the history has been given already in the Book of Judges, our author does not mention Samson, whose life had no point of contact with that of Samuel, who is the theocratic-prophetical centre of the Books of Samuel. On the general subject see Herzog, Art. “Zeitrechnung (biblische”), Smith’s Dict. of Bible, Art. “Chronology,” Comm. on Judges in Lange’s Bible-work, and Smith’s Old Testament Hist., chap. 17, Note (A) and 1 Samuel 19, Note (A). But it is doubtful whether we have sufficient data at present for settling the question.—Tr.].
1. The beginning of the Book of Samuel coincides with a principal turning-point in the history of the kingdom of God in Israel, introducing us into the end of the Period of the Judges, which is to be included with the Mosaic under one point of view, namely, that of the establishment of the Theocracy on its objective foundations. The Mosaic Period of the development of the Israelitish religion—which is based on God’s revelation in the Patriarchal Period in order to the choice of the one people as the bearer of the Theocracy, first in germinal form in the family, and then in its first national development in Egypt—shows us the firm establishment of the Divine Rule, which embraced and shaped the whole life of the people, on the theocratic law-covenant, and on the word of the divine promise. The establishment of the Rule of God in His people, in their outer and inner life, in all things great and small, by means of the institution of the Law, in which His holy will is the norm for the people’s life, is the aim of the whole revelation of God in the Mosaic Period, as it appears in commandments, statutes, holy institutions, and legal principles. The land in which this God-rule in the chosen people was to reach historical form and development, was the object of the promises in the Patriarchal Period, and the period of Joshua and the Judges shows how this promise was fulfilled in the acquisition and division of the land. What sudden changes, from complete defeats to glorious victories in battle against the heathen peoples in and out of the land of promise, from divine deliverances to apparently complete abandonment by God, as a consequence of the vacillation of the people between idolatrous apostasy from the living God, and return to His help forced on them by need and misery, are exhibited in the history of the post-Mosaic times! But through all the gloom shines out continually the goal, the fulfilment of the promise of the complete possession of the land; and in the midst of the people’s sin and misery the Theocracy stands fast unshaken, with its Mosaic law controlling the popular life, and all its great objective institutions which, even in times of most wretched disorder, marked Israel as the chosen people of the living God. The Mosaic period of development of the Theocracy in Israel up to the end of the period of the Judges is therefore the time of its establishment in the chosen people by the institution of the covenant of the law and the geographical-historical realization of the idea of the Theocracy in the permanently acquired land of promise.
But now came the task of bringing the people, they being at rest and permanently fixed in Canaan, face to face with their theocratic destination and their calling (Ex. 19:6) in their whole inner and outer life. The content of the revelations, which had produced the covenant of the law and the fulfilling of the promise in the Mosaic Period, was to be inwardly appropriated and become the life of the people in knowledge, heart and will. For this there was needed on God’s side the progressive realization and announcement of His counsel of revelation; and on man’s side there was the unceasing obligation to penetrate with the whole inner life, with understanding and feeling, with mind and will, into God’s revelation in law and promise, and appropriate inwardly its content. This task—the deep, inward implanting of the revelation of God in law and promise in the heart and feeling of individuals and in the life of the whole nation—could be fulfilled neither by the judges, the lives of some of whom corresponded poorly to their theocratic calling, nor by the priesthood, which showed its fall from its original theocratic elevation in the transition from the family of Eleazar to that of Ithamar and in the house of Eli, nor by the mere existence and use of the objective theocratic-historical institutions, national sanctuary, feasts, offerings. This impossibility is vividly set before us in the beginning of the Books of Samuel. But we are there at the same time pointed to the new element in the development of the Theocracy, the prophetic office, which was to be the instrument of fulfilling this task, and of realizing the idea of mediation between God and His people through their living permeation by23 His objective revelation of word and promise; so Moses, as type of prophecy, represented it. The turning-point from the Mosaic to the prophetic period of development of the Theocracy falls in the beginning of the Books of Samuel; that is, in the first years of Samuel’s life. (Comp. Oehler, Prolegom. zur Theol. des A. T., 1845, pp. 87, 88; and W. Hoffmann, Die göttliche Stufenordnung im A. T. in Schneider’s Deutsche Zeitschrift, 1854, Nr. 7, 8.) From Samuel’s time Peter (Acts 3:24) dates the prophetic office; from then on the prophets, devoted to the service of the Theocracy, form a separate Order, and, as organs of God’s revelations to His people, a continuous chain. (See Tholuck, Die Propheten und ihre Weissagungen, 2 ed. 1861, p. 26.)
2. The end of the Period of the Judges, like its previous history, reveals a deep disorder of the theocratic life, which neither judges nor priests could help, because they were themselves affected by its corrupting influences, as is shown by the histories of Samson and Eli. The unimportance and weakness to which the Judgeship was fallen may be inferred from its connection with the High-priesthood in the person of Eli, the latter office having evidently passed from Phinehas’ family to Ithamar’s, contrary to the promise in Num. 25:11–13, because the condition of “zeal for the Lord” was not fulfilled. And the conduct of Eli and his sons, and especially God’s judgment against his house, show how badly the High-priesthood was represented in him. The political life of the nation was crushed under the constant oppression of external enemies, the heathen nations on the east, and especially the Philistines on the west, and under internal national distraction; the tribes were at enmity with one another, did not unite against foreign foes, and could gather together “as one man” only against one of themselves (Benjamin), and that was the last time (Judg. 19–21).24 And though individual men, called of the Lord to be deliverers, exerted a mighty influence on the distracted national life, yet their influence was restricted to particular tribes, and was not permanent—was always followed by a sinking back into the old wretched condition. The cause of this was the deterioration of religious life, which was wide-spread among the people; the worship of the living Covenant-God was mingled with the nature-worship of the Canaanitish nations, not all of whom were completely conquered, and especially with the Baal-worship of the Philistines; or it was suppressed by these heathen worships. Gideon’s ephod-worship (Judg. 8:27) and Micah’s image-worship (Judg. 17, 18.) belonged also to this corruption of the religion of Jehovah. With this moral decline and distraction of theocratic life was connected corruption of moral life, such as we see in some parts of Samson’s history (he succumbs morally, as well as physically, to the Philistines), in the crime of the Benjamites (Judg. 19), which calls forth all the rest of the nation against them in stubborn, bloody war, and in the unworthy character of the sons of Eli, who disgrace the sanctuary itself with their wickedness. The whole popular life had fallen into an anarchy in which “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25).
3. The necessity for a reformation of the whole national life from within outward, that is, a renewal of the whole Theocracy on a religious-moral basis meets us at the beginning of the Books of Samuel. The holy institutions, the ordinances of divine worship, and the theocratic legislation of the Mosaic Period are present indeed in the time of the Judges (comp. the exegetical explanations). The people had their national central sanctuary in Shiloh as sign of God’s abode among His people, celebrated their festivals, and brought their offerings there. The priestly service in the sanctuary was arranged; the nazirate and the institution of holy women25 in connection with the sanctuary were the special forms of consecration of life to Jehovah’s service. It is a false view to regard the time of the Judges as a period of fermentation, out of which first arose fixed legal institutions and appointments. Rather the whole Mosaic legislation and the history of the establishment of the Theocracy on the basis of the covenant of law is in many places presupposed in the Book of Judges and in the beginning of the Books of Samuel themselves (comp. Hengst., Beitr. III. 40 sq. [Eng. transl., “Contributions to an Introd. to the Pentateuch,” Clark, Edinb.]). But it is true (as is expressly stated in Judg. 2:10 sq.), that in the religious-moral life of the people there was a general defection from the living God to strange gods. Though in particular circles and families (as Samuel’s, for ex.) there was true service of God and piety, yet the national and political life of the distracted and shattered people was on the whole not in the least in keeping with its priestly calling. The gap between the people’s religious-moral condition on the one hand, and the theocratic institutions and the demands of the divine law on the other was become so wide and deep, that a great reformer was needed, who, by special divine call and in the might of the Spirit of God, should turn the whole national life to the living God again, and make Him its unifying centre. To this need of a reformation of the Theocracy by new revelations of the covenant-God, and by the return of the covenant-people to communion with their God answered the special divine working by which the prophetic office, instead of the priesthood, was united with the true theocratic Judgeship in the mighty God-filled personality of Samuel.
4. The special divine working shows itself in the providential plan by which God chose and prepared the great instrument for leading His people into the path, in which they were to find their holy calling and merge their whole life in the divine rule and communion. The reformer of the Theocracy, the second Moses, sprang from a thoroughly pious family, faithful and obedient to the law of the Lord. In its very commencement his life is specially consecrated by the hearing which God vouchsafed to the prayer of his pious mother for a son. In the same Tribe, whence came the saviour of the people from the bondage of Egypt and the founder of the Theocracy through God’s wonderful working, and which by divine appointment represented the whole people in the Sanctuary-service, was born the man of God, who in the highest sense as Prophet of the Lord, was all his life to do priestly service in renewing the theocratic life, and restore it from its alienation from the living God to communion with Him. Specially also it was the energy and earnestness of his mother’s piety which from the first gave to this great man’s life the direction and determination by which he became God’s instrument for the regeneration of His people. Hannah, in devoting her child to the perpetual service of the Lord (thus giving Him back what her prayer had obtained from Him), did unconsciously and silently, under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, a holy deed, which, taken into the plan of the divine wisdom, was the beginning of that series of great God-deeds by which, through this chosen instrument, a new turn of world-historical importance was given to the history of Israel. The name which she gives her son marks him out for the people as an immediate gift of God, through which, as Calvin says, “God in His mercy ordained a reformation of His worship in the people.”
5. In Samuel’s early life we see again the importance (even for the Kingdom of God) of the theocracy of a truly pious family-life in the Old Dispensation. There were still in Israel houses and families in which the children (who, according to the Law, were not usually carried to the great feasts celebrated at the Sanctuary), were introduced to the public religious life, and accustomed to the religious service of the people; and this is a sign that, in spite of the desolation of the theocratic life and the degradation of the religious-moral life, there still lay hidden in domestic life a sound germ of true piety and fear of God. From this uncorrupted vigorous germ which appears religiously in the earnest life of prayer of the parents, and ethically in their tender, considerate conjugal love, Samuel’s life sprouts forth as a plant consecrated from its root directly to the Lord’s special service.
6. Thus the religious-moral life was not so far gone that it could not, by God’s power, produce from the narrow circle of the house and family such a person as Samuel; nor, in spite of the general depravation and disruption of the theocratic-national life, was it impossible for Samuel, as God’s instrument sprung from this soil, to find positive points of connection and a responsive receptivity for his work of reform as Judge and Prophet. The spirit which gave shape to his childhood and youth from the first moments of his life, had shown itself, sporadically it is true, yet living and powerful in individual facts in the time of the Judges (comp. Deborah’s Song, Judg. 5; Gideon’s word “Jehovah shall rule over you,” Judg. 8:23; and especially the energetic reaction of the theocratic zeal of the whole people against the Tribe of Benjamin, who, contrary to the command “be ye holy,” had refused to deliver up the offenders, by whose execution evil was to be put away out of the midst of Israel, Judg. 20) The prophetic reformer, called by God out of the domain of a deeply pious family-life, found in that theocratical spirit, which was concealed under the general corruption, the receptive ground on which he could plant himself in order to gather the whole people about the living God and His word, and press His revelations into their very heart and soul.
7. The divine name Jehovah Sabaoth (יהוה צְבָאוֹת), which does not occur in the Pentateuch or in the Books of Joshua and Judges, is found here for the first time, and seems to have come into general use particularly in the time of Samuel and David (comp. 1 Sam. 15:2, 17:45; 2 Sam. 7:8, 26 sq.; Ps. 24:10). It seldom occurs in the Books of Kings, is found most frequently in the Prophets, except Ezekiel and Daniel, and never in Job, Proverbs, the later Psalms and the post-exilian historical books, except in Chronicles in the history of David, where it is to be referred to the original documents.—The word ‘Sabaoth’ is never found in the Old Test, alone. The Sept. sometimes gives it as a proper name, Σαβαώφ, as here, where it has also the full form κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ (Lord God), which answers to the proper complete expression of this divine name, Jehovah God of Sabaoth (יהוה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת comp. Am.3:13; 4:13; 5:14; or י׳א׳ חַצְּבָאוֹת), of which Jehovah Sabaoth is an abbreviation.26
The signification “God of war”? (see Ex. 7:4; 12:41, where Israel is called “the hosts of Jehovah,” צְבָאוֹת יְהוָֹה) cannot be regarded as the original sense of this expression, though the latter includes the glory of God manifested in His victorious power over His enemies. If this were the proper and original signification, it would be inexplicable why the name is wanting precisely in the histories of those wars and battles, which were Jehovah’s own (Num. 21:14), though Israel is expressly called His “hosts.” Appeal is made in support of this signification to passages like 1 Sam. 17:45 (God of the armies of Israel), and Ps. 24:8–10, (Jehovah strong and mighty, mighty in battle); but as these phrases are attached to the name “Jehovah of Hosts,” they show (as Hengstenberg, on Ps. 24, and Oehler, ubi sup. point out) that the latter means something different, that “Jehovah of Hosts” means something higher than “Israel’s God of war.” Its meaning must be derived from Gen. 2:1, where צְבָאָם “the host of them” refers properly only to “heavens”—and only by zeugma to “earth” (Oehler). Comp. Ps. 33:6; Deut. 4:19; Neh. 9:6, where כָּל־צְבָאָם “all the host of them” refers exclusively to the heavens. “The hosts are always the heavenly hosts, not created things in general” (Hengstenberg). They are of two classes, however, the material, the stars, and the spiritual, the angels. In reference to the stars as the “host of heaven” (Ps. 33:6) and the “host of God,” praise is rendered to God’s power and government of the world, by which He controls these glorious objects (Isa. 40:26; 45:13), against the Sabian worship of the stars as divine powers, and against the danger to which Israel was exposed of perversion to such star-worship. This danger became great enough in the Period of the Judges and in the beginning of the Kingly Period to make the supposition allowable that the expression, with the sense of opposition to idolatry, came into use at this time. In Isa. 24:23 this meaning of Jehovah Sabaoth comes out unmistakably in the reference to God’s creative power which is loftier than the splendor of the stars, and in the contrast between His worship and that of the stars. The reference of the name “God of hosts” in Ps. 89:8 sq. to the angels is equally certain. The angels are marshalled around Jehovah in heaven, awaiting His commands, ready to perform His will on earth, especially as His instruments for the execution of His will in grace and judgment, for the protection of His people, for the overthrow of His enemies (1 Kings 22:19 sq.; Job 1:2); they go along with God in the revelation of His judicial-kingly power and glory (Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:18); they form the Lord’s heavenly battle-host (Gen. 32:1, 2; Josh. 5:l4sq.; 2 Kings 6:17). By the reference to the two hosts, of stars and angels, which represent the creation in its loftiest and most glorious aspect, this expression sets forth the living God in His majesty and omnipotence over the highest created powers, who are subject to His control and instruments of the exercise of His royal might and power in the world; But God’s glory, in His majesty and power over the star-world, and in His lordship over the spirit-world which stands ready to do His bidding in the world, exhibits Him of necessity in His royal omnipotent control of the whole world; and so “Jehovah Sabaoth” means in several passages the almighty controlling world-God, who has His throne in heaven, of whose glory the whole world is full, who “is called the God of the whole earth,” who “buildeth His upper-chamber in heaven, and foundeth His arch on the earth.” So Ps. 24:8–10; Isa. 6:3; 54:5; Am. 9:5, 6. In connection with the name “Jehovah” the expression indicates, with special reference to Israel, the almighty and victorious God, who overcomes the enemies of His people and His kingdom, who is the protection and help of His people against all the powers of the world.—The name occurs frequently in connection with wars and victories, in which God helps and protects His people against hostile powers; 1 Sam. 15:2; 17:45; 2 Sam. 7: 8, 26 sq.; Ps. 24:10; 46:8,12; 80:8, 15; Isa. 24:21–23; 25:4–6; 31:4, 5. This name of God, Lord of Hosts, first appears in the beginning of the Books of Samuel, near the end of the Judges, and just before the kingdom was established, and occurs most frequently in the time of the Kings; and this fact has its deepest ground herein, that during this time God’s royal power as almighty lord and ruler of the world and heavenly king of Israel first unfolded itself in all its fulness and glory—in victories over the enemies of His kingdom in Israel, in the almighty protection which He vouchsafed His people in the land of promise, and in the powerful aid which He gave them in establishing, fixing and extending the theocratic kingly power.27
8. A characteristic mark of Hannah’s sincere piety is the vow (v. 11) which she makes to the Lord. The vow, from the Old Testament-point of view, is the solemn promise by which the pious man binds and pledges himself, in case his prayer is heard or his wish fulfilled, to show his thankfulness for the Lord’s goodness by the performance of some special outward thing. Hence vows are almost always connected with petitions, though never as if they were the ground for God’s fulfilment of the request. The positive vow (נֶדֶר), the promise of a special offering as a sign of gratitude, includes also the negative element of self-denial, so far as it is a relinquishment of one’s own possessions, which are given to the Lord. This custom—namely, by a special promise making a particular act or mode of conduct a moral duty, and basing the obligation of performance not on the divine will, but on a vow made without divine direction—answers to the legal standpoint of the Old Testament and the moral minority founded on it. Forbearing to vow, was however, by no means regarded as sinful (Deut. 22:22); thus not only was the moral principle of voluntariness brought out, but the idea that the vow was in itself meritorious, was excluded. The vow, as a custom corresponding to moral weakness and consciousness of untrustworthiness in obedience to the Lord, is never legally commanded, nor even advised (comp. Prov. 20:25; Ecc. 5:4, with Deut. 23:22); but it is required that a vow made freely shall be fulfilled (Num. 30:3; Deut. 23:21, 23; Ps. 50:14; Ecc. 5:3). But, as the hearing of a prayer is conditioned strictly on true piety, so, that a vow should be well-pleasing to the Lord, presupposes an humble, thankful soul which feels itself pledged and bound to the Lord, to devote everything to Him. The ethical idea of the vow finds its realization and fulfilment, as well as its clear and true apprehension, from the New Testament stand-point also in the vowing and dedicating to the Lord for life in baptism the personality renewed by the Holy Ghost, (who in the Old Testament also is recognized and prayed for as the source of sanctification, Ps. 51). Hannah’s vow is an analogue of Christian baptism in so far as it (the vow) consecrates the life of the child obtained by prayer wholly to the Lord for His property and for permanent service according to the stand-point of Old Testament piety, but this from the New Testament point of view comes to full truth only in the free spiritual devotion of the heart and the whole life to the Lord. [There is no warrant for introducing the lower Old Testament conception into an ordinance of the New Testament. Christian baptism, into the name of the Trinity, sets forth the free and full consecration of the believer to God, as Dr. Erdmann points out, and is no otherwise a vow, is never so spoken of in the New Testament.—TR.].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL28
1 Samuel 1:2. Holy Scripture lets us see how not merely single sins in disposition, word and deed, but also general conditions and customs which spring from sin—such as polygamy—are the object of God’s patience and long-suffering, and how there is in this no hindrance to the purposes of God’s love and wisdom, but rather all such things are overruled by Him for good. [HALL: Ill customs, where they are once entertained, are not easily discharged: polygamy, besides carnal delight, might now plead age and example; so as even Elkanah, though a Levite, is tainted with the sin of Lamech, like as fashions of attire, which at the first were disliked as uncomely, yet, when they are once grown common, are taken up of the gravest. Yet this sin, as then current with the time, could not make Elkanah not religious.—TR.]. CRAMER: God distributes His gifts in a wonderful manner, to one He gives, the other He suffers to want, Gen. 29:31. Temporal gifts God gives not only to the worthy, but also to the unworthy, Matt. 5:45.
1 Samuel 1:3. STARKE: Worship stands first, to show with what devoutness and reverence he makes his offering, and at the same time that praying is better than offering. [Comp. CORNELIUS: “Thy prayers and thine alms,” Acts 10:4.—TR.].—The offering was the deed which established the truthfulness of the praying word. CALVIN: This subject-matter of adoration is to be referred to the three following heads: first, that when about to adore God we recognize that we owe all things to Him, and in giving thanks for past blessings we implore a still further increase of His gifts, and help in difficulties and perplexities; secondly, that confessing our sins as suppliant and guilty, we pray Him to grant us true knowledge of our sins and repentance, and to have mercy on us who pray for pardon; thirdly and finally, that denying ourselves and taking His yoke upon our shoulders, we profess ourselves ready to render Him due obedience, and to conform our affections to the rule of His law and to His will alone. [1 Samuel 1:4. The whole family take part in the feast of the peace-offerings. So as to the idol-worship in Jer. 7:18, “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven.” Both this passage and that, as to true religion and false, may impress upon us the importance of family worship and family religion.—TR.].
1 Samuel 1:4–8. Elkanah’s love to Hannah is a model of the true inner love with which husbands should not merely love their wives in general, but as regards their special troubles and sorrows, instead of being worried and vexed at them should rather feel these as their own, and with them bear in patience and gentleness whatever lies heavy upon their heart and weighs them down (1 Samuel 1:5), and also protect them against provocations and vexations, which in an unrighteous and ill-disposed way are inflicted upon them (1 Samuel 1:6, 7), and refresh them with consolation and encouragement (1 Samuel 1:8).—[1 Samuel 1:5. Children were regarded as a blessing, by Hannah and the women of Israel in general (comp. Gen. 30:23; Luke 1:25), and the lack of them as a sad deprivation; and the correctness of this view is distinctly confirmed by the inspired writers, Ps. 113:9; 127:3–5; 128:3. The contrary feeling which is now so rapidly growing in America is evil, both in its causes and in its consequences. The subject would require delicate handling in public discourse, but is exceedingly important.—TR.]. When the Lord refuses us a gift which we are begging Him to grant, and the heart is full of mourning at the deprivation, then the temptation lies near to grumble about it against the Lord and quarrel with Him. This temptation comes partly from our own heart, which is a perverse and desponding thing, and will not reconcile itself to the dispensation of the Lord; partly it comes in upon us from without, through men who by their unloving conduct excite and embitter our hearts, and infuse into them the poison of discontent with those leadings of the Lord which contradict our desire and hope (1 Samuel 1:6, 7).—In a devout marriage the love of the one party should not merely be to the other a fountain of consolation and of quieting as to painful dispensations of the Lord, but for whatever by the Lord’s will is lacking in good fortune and joy it should seek to offer all the richer compensation (1 Samuel 1:8).—Every violation of the holy ordering of God upon which marriage and the family life should rest, has as a necessary consequence—as is true of bigamy here—its punishment in the grievous disorder of conjugal and domestic life, in the destruction of peace in heart and home by all manner of sins, such as envy and jealousy.—Hannah makes no reply to the bad words of her adversary, and bears her hostility with patience.—STARKE (1 Samuel 1:7): A Christian must not requite evil with evil, railing with railing, but bear all patiently and hope in God; for His hand can change every thing (Ps. 77:11 [Eng. A.V. 1 Samuel 1:10. LUTHER translates it: “But I said, I must suffer that; the right hand of the most High can change everything,” but this rendering is not authorized by the Hebrew.—TR.]).
1 Samuel 1:8. SEB. SCHMID: For the lack of one good, God knows how to compensate the pious by a greater and more manifest good.—J. LANGE: As the marriage-bond is much closer than that between parents and children, it follows that husband and wife must hold each other nearer and dearer than all children. Each must help to bear the other’s burdens, and seek to lighten them, Gal. 6:2.
1 Samuel 1:1–8. The priestly calling of the man in his house: 1) in the close connection of his whole house with the service in the house of the Lord (prayer and offering); 2) in the nurture and admonition of the children for the Lord; 3) in expelling and keeping at a distance the evil spirit of unlovingness and dissension amid the members of the family; 4) in the constant exhibition of faithful, comforting, helping love towards his wife.—A truly pious house is that which 1) is at home in God’s house, 2) diligently performs divine service in prayer and offering, in which 3) tender and true conjugal love dwells, and 4) the sufferings and deprivations imposed by the Lord are borne with patience and resignation.—The preservation of genuine piety amid domestic troubles: 1) in persevering prayer, when the Lord proves faith by not fulfilling particular wishes and hopes; 2) in enduring patience towards vexatious members of the family; 3) in consoling and supporting love towards members of the family who are easily assailed.
1 Samuel 1:9–14. Amid vexations and assaults, what should impel us to prayer? 1) The certainty that if men do us hurt, it does not occur without Divine permission. 2) The feeling that even the best human consolation cannot satisfy the heart which thirsts to be consoled. 3) Firm confidence in the help of the Lord, who in His faithfulness will help and in His power can help, when men will not help or cannot.—[CHRYSOSTOM: When standing to pray she did not remember her adversary, did not speak of her revilings, did not say, “Avenge me of this vile and wicked woman,” as many women do; but not often remembering those reproaches, she prayed only for things profitable to herself. This do thou also do, O man—do not pray against thy enemy, but beseech God to put an end to thy despondency, to quench thy grief. By so doing this woman derived the greatest benefits from her enemy. For her enemy contributed to the bearing of the child. And how, I will tell. When she reproached her and made her distress greater, from the distress her prayer became more intense, the prayer drew God’s favor and made Him consent, and so Samuel was born. So then if we be watchful, not only will our enemies be unable to do us hurt, but they will even bring us the greatest benefits, making us more zealous towards every thing.—TR.].—The prayer of faith in heart-grief and trouble: 1) Its nature is that the heart (a) weeps itself out before the Lord, to whom tears wept before Him are well-pleasing, (b) pours out all its sorrow before the Lord, who wishes us to cast all outward cares upon Him; 2) Its reliance is (a) on the power of the “Lord of Sabaoth” to help, (b) upon His faithfulness, wherein He knows the special grief and woe of His children, and does not forget them; 3) It leads (a) to a firm hope that the request will be heard and granted, (b) to a joyful vow, that what the Lord graciously gives shall be thankfully given back to Him.—What parents, especially mothers, so rear their children as to honor and please the Lord? Those who 1) bear them, from the beginning of their life, prayerfully on the heart, 2) devote them, for their whole life, as an offering to the Lord.—The highest appreciation of children’s souls consists in 1) regarding them as a gracious gift from the Lord, and 2) designing them as a grateful gift to the Lord.—[HALL: The way to obtain any benefit is to devote it, in our hearts, to the glory of that God of whom we ask it: by this means shall God both pleasure His servant, and honor Himself.—TR.].
1 Samuel 1:12. STARKE: A devout prayer must proceed from the very bottom of the heart, and may be offered without outward words as with them, Psalm 19:15 ; 27:8; 62:9 , Isa. 29:13, 14.
1 Samuel 1:13, 14. A Christian should not be too swift in judging, Luke 6:37; 1 Cor. 4:5; Prov. 17:27. Even upon pious or innocent people there are often many unjust judgments passed. J. LANGE: We must be very careful in deciding from appearances, lest we sin against our neighbor, Acts 2:13. Even pious teachers may err and mistake in judging their hearers, and regard some as ungodly who are truly pious.
1 Samuel 1:15. CRAMER: He who is reviled, let him revile not again, but save his innocence with mild words, Rom. 12:17. [CHRYSOSTOM speaks eloquently of the fact that Hannah did not scornfully neglect, and did not bitterly resent, the unjust accusation.—TR.].—Prayer serves to lighten the heart; well for thee, O soul, if thou often seekest thus to lighten it, Ps. 42:5 ; 62:9 .
1 Samuel 1:17. OSIANDER: God is certain to hear our prayer, proceeding from true faith, and if He does not help us at all according to our will and as seems good to us, yet this is done for our best good, as He knows that it is most profitable for us.—When one has erred he should confess it, and also recall his error.—[HALL: Even the best may err, but not persist in it. When good natures have offended, they are unquiet till they have hastened satisfaction.—TR.].
1 Samuel 1:18. J. LANGE: It is a property of faith that it makes the heart happy and joyous for everything.
1 Samuel 1:19. STARKE: A Christian must not only pray, but work; both bring blessings, Ps. 128:2.—CRAMER: Although God never forgets His own, yet He often acts as if a stranger, Ps. 13:2 ; Jer. 14:8; Song of Sol. 2:9.—STARKE: When pious parents receive their children with calling on God and in His fear, then is every child a Samuel.—OSIANDER: When we have received a benefit from God, we should not forget gratitude to Him.
1 Samuel 1:12–20. The fervent prayer of troubled souls: 1) measures itself not by time, but exalts the soul above time into eternity; 2) troubles itself not about human observation and judgment, but is a pouring out of the heart before the living God; 3) suffers not itself to sink into grief and sorrow, but has for its fruit a joy given by the Lord.—Defence against unjust accusations: 1) For what purpose? As a tribute to truth, for the honor of the Lord, for the maintenance of our own moral worth; 2) In what manner? In quietness and gentleness without sinful passion, in humility and modesty; 3) By God’s help, with what result? Convincing the accusers of their wrong, changing their bad words into blessings, lightening our own heart of a heavy load.—The naming of children no indifferent matter for pious parents: Thankfully regarding the grace of the Lord, who has given them; 2) Earnestly regarding the destination for the Lord, to whom they are to lead them.
1[1 Samuel 1:1. The ו, being a part of the introductory narrative-formula, and not a connective with some other narrative, is better rendered by the presentative “now” than by the connective “and;” and is best omitted entirely.—TR.].
2[1 Samuel 1:1. Vat. has Σιφά, which points to צוּפִי “a Zuphite;” Targ. renders “of the disciples of the prophets,” Pesh. “from the hill of the watchers,” both of which point to the present text, but are not probable translations.—TR.].
3[1 Samuel 1:3. It is not said that these were the only priests.—TR.].
4[1 Samuel 1:5. See Notes, in loco.—TR.].
5[1 Samuel 1:6. It was over this that the adversary designed to make Hannah fret.—TR.].
6[1 Samuel 1:7. The verb is probably to be pointed יֵעָשֶׂה.—TR.].
71 Samuel 1:9. The Infin. refers here rather to Hannah.—TR.].
8[1 Samuel 1:9. חֵיכָל is not necessarily “temple,” but any large structure.—TR.].
9[1 Samuel 1:13. The Heb. inserts the pron. הִיא “she,” but our Eng. does not well permit it.—TR.].
10[1 Samuel 1:16. בְּלִיַעַל “worthlessness” should not be rendered as a proper name in O. T.; Eng. A. V. frequently renders “sons of B.” by “ungodly” or “wicked.”—TR.].
11[1 Samuel 1:18. See Notes.—TR.].
12[In the German “exegetische erläuterungen,” “exegetical explanations.”—TR.].
13[So Josephus; but the text of Erdmann has Ramathaim.—TR.].
14[That is, it was not necessary to drive the animals thither beforehand, since, the distance being so small, they could be sent for when needed.—TR.].
15[The difficulties in the way of identifying Ramathaim (-Zophim) on the supposition that it is the same with “this city” (9:6) are almost insuperable. The conditions to be met are 1) the place is in Mt. Ephraim; 2) it is apparently south of Rachel’s tomb (1 Sam. 10:2); 3) it was Samuel’s residence Ramah. They decide the question against Er-Ram, which is north of Rachel’s tomb. The only solution is that which rejects the above supposition. If the city in which Saul was anointed was some other place, or Saul’s residence at that time was not Gibeah, then Er-Ram may be Ramah, and in other respects this answers better than any other place to the circumstances. But the question must be regarded as undecided. See Stanley’s “Sinai and Palestine,” Note to 1 Samuel 4, and Mr.Grove’s Articles (“Ramah,” “Ramathaim”) in Smith’s Dictionary, with Dr. Wolcott’s additional remarks.—TR.].
16The addition of the Sept. ἐξ ’Αρμαθαίμ does not warrant the supposition that the corresponding Heb. expression has fallen out after מִעִירוֹ, but seems to be an explanation of the translator.—מִיָּמים י׳ not “at his usual time” (Luther), nor “statutis diebus” but “from year to year,” yearly (Ex. 13:10), comp. 2:19; היּמים זֶבַח “the yearly offering.”
17[The phrase וַיְהִי הַיּוֹם means “once,” or “it happened once,” the Heb. using the Def. Art. (because the day is defined by what follows) where we use an indefinite phrase. See 2 Kings 4:8, 11, 18.—TR.].
18[This local service promised by the mother was afterwards interrupted, chiefly by the call of Samuel to higher duties as prophet. To the mother the Sanctuary-service seemed the best pursuit of life; but God had something better for the son. Yet Hannah’s devout spiritual purpose is maintained in her son’s life.—TR.]
19[This word נור in Num. 6:7 means “consecration,” not “crown,” or “ornament.” The root (Arab. nadhara) means to “set,” “impose,” and thus is applied to setting apart the Nazir, or to setting a crown on the bead of a priest or king.—TR.]
20[Equivalent to the Eng.: “ Like father, like son.”—TR.]
21[So the Vss.: Chald. “bad countenance;” Syriac “disturbed count.;” Vulg. “in diversa mutati;” Arab. “changed on account of the reproach of her rival;” Sept. “her countenance no longer fell.”—TR.]
22[The German is “Reichsgeschichtliche und biblisch-theologische Ausfilhrungen,” literally “theocratic-historical and biblical-theological developments (or comments”).—TR.].
23[Germ: durch das Flüssigwerden seines objectiven Offenbarungswortes, etc.—TR.]
24[This civil war occurred, however, soon after Joshua, since Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, was then High-priest (Judg. 20:28); whether there was afterwards a general national uprising, we do not know.—TR.]
25[See note on 1 Sam. 2:22.—TR.]
26And as the combination אֱלֹהִים צְבָאוֹת is not unfrequent (Ps. 59:6; 80:5, 8,15, 20; 84:9) and in the mas. text the יהוה, when אדני precedes, never has the points of אֲדנָי but always of אֱלֹהִים—and further as the word יהוה as a proper name cannot be construed with a Gen.—the combination יהוה צְבָאוֹת is not to be taken as stat. const., but as a breviloquence or ellipsis, the general notion “God” being supplied from the proper name Jehovah. So (against Gesenius and Ewald) Oehler in Herzog s. v., Hengstenberg, Christologie I. 436 sq. [Eng. tr. I. 375] and Keil, Comm. 16 [Eng. trans. p. 19]. See Smith’s Bib. Dict., Am. ed., Tsebaoth.—TR.].
27[For a good exposition of “Jehovah Sabaoth,” see Plumptre’s “Biblical Studies.”—TR.].
28[In the German literally “Homiletical Hints.”—TR.]
And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.SECOND SECTION
Samuel’s Consecration and Restoration to the Lord
1 SAMUEL 1:21–28
I. The child Samuel at home till he is weaned. 1 Samuel 1:21–23
21And the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer unto the Lord 22[Jehovah] the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. 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 [Jehovah], and there abide 23for ever. And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord [Jehovah] establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.
II. Samuel given back by his mother to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:24–28
24And 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 25the Lord [Jehovah] in Shiloh; and the child was young. And they slew a [the] 26bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, O my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying [to pray] unto the Lord 27[Jehovah]. For this child I prayed; and the Lord [Jehovah] hath given me my28petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent [given29] him to the Lord [Jehovah]; as long as he liveth he shall be lent [he is given] to the Lord [Jehovah]. And he worshipped the Lord [Jehovah] there.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Samuel 1:21. And the man Elkanah and all his house went up. This he did yearly, in order to present the offering of the days and the vow. The “offering of the days” is the annual offering, the offering which every Israelite was obliged and accustomed to present annually. “The offering of the days and the vow” is the brief statement of what is detailed at length in the Law. In going up with his whole house, Elkanah did as is commanded in Deut. 12:17, 18: “Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill-offerings, or offering of thine hand; but thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates; and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God.” The offering of the days “is, as it were, the yearly reckoning with the Lord, the presentation of those portions of the property which fall to him in the course of the year.” Hengstenberg, Beit. [Contributions to an Introd. to the Pent.] III., 89, 90.—The Sing, “his vow” refers to the vow which Elkanah also had made based on the hearing of Hannah’s prayer. The addition of the Sept., “and all the tithes of his land” is, like the plural “his vows,” to be referred to the translator’s having in mind the above-quoted passage. Thenius (ad locum) remarks that the corresponding words וְכָל־מַעְשְׂרוֹת אַרְצוֹ [and all the tithes of his land] were probably purposely omitted by transcribers who regarded Samuel’s Levitical descent as certain, according to 1 Chron. 6:7 sq. and 19 sq.; but Josephus, who expressly describes Elkanah as a Levite, and follows the Alexandrine translation, has the addition also. It belongs to the category of explanatory additions and changes of which the Sept. is so full.
1 Samuel 1:22. After the child is weaned from his mother’s breast, Hannah will bring him to the Sanctuary. That the Heb. verb (גָּמַל) means here “to wean,” and does not include the idea of education (Seb. Schmid) as in 1 Kings 11:20, is plain from the “gave suck,” (וַתֵּינֶק) in 1 Samuel 1:23. The ground adduced for this opinion, namely, that the child would otherwise be troublesome to Eli, is of no force; for, apart from the fact that a child three years old (this was the term of weaning, according to 2 Mac. 7:2730) is not troublesome in the East, his nurture and education could be committed to “the women that served at the door of the Tabernacle of meeting,” (1 Samuel 2:22).—The “appearing before the Lord,” for which Hannah will bring her son to Shiloh, supposes the existence there of the National Sanctuary instituted by Moses, and answers to the law (Ex. 23:17; 34:23): “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord Jehovah.” The “abide for ever,” all his life (עַד־עוֹלָם) indicates the life-long consecration to service in the Sanctuary from his weaning on, while otherwise this service was binding only from the 25th year to the 50th. By the education which the boy received in the Sanctuary he was even as a child to grow into the service; and moreover, as a child, he could perform little outward services (Then.), so that the objection, that, as a newly weaned child, he was unfit for the Temple-service, falls to the ground.
1 Samuel 1:23. Only the Lord establish His word, that is, maintain, fulfil it, bring it to completion. The “word” (דְּבָרוֹ) refers not merely to Eli’s word, 1 Samuel 1:17, but to God’s factual discourse, which consisted in hearing Hannah’s prayer, and in the real promise which he had given, by the birth of the child, in reference to his destination to the service of the Lord. Bunsen excellently says: “Word, that is, may He fulfil what He designs with him and has promised by his birth, comp. 1 Samuel 1:11, 20. The words refer, therefore, to the boy’s destination to the service of God, which the Eternal has in fact acknowledged by the partial fulfilment of the mother’s wish.” Similarly Calvin already: “Elkanah seeks from God, and suppliantly begs with prayers, that, since God has bestowed on him male offspring, He will consecrate him and make him fit for His service, and direct him by the power of His Holy Spirit, by which his service shall be grateful and acceptable to God.” Since there is no express word of the Lord to which the “word” may be referred, the Sept. avoids the difficulty by translating (groundlessly) τὸ ἐξελθὸν ἐκ τοῦ στόματός σου “that which came out of thy mouth.” The Heb. text is not therefore to be changed (with Then.), to accord with the Sept., into “only, let thy word stand” (אַךְ תָּקִימִי אֶת־דְּבָרֵךְ.) Clericus: “God had shown, not by words, but by very deed, that He approved Hannah’s vow, and had promised her a living son; and Elkanah prays that He will perform His promise. There is therefore no need to invent with the Rabbis an oracle31 uttered to the mother concerning the child about to be born.”
1 Samuel 1:24, sq. The case is the same here with the diverging translation of the Sept., “with a three-year-old bullock” [instead of “three bullocks”], which is occasioned by the singular “the bullock” of 1 Samuel 1:25. The contradiction between “three bullocks” and “one-bullock” cannot indeed be removed (with Bunsen) by regarding the sing as collective, Judg. 6:25 being cited in support of it; but it may properly be said with Keil that “the bullock” in 1 Samuel 1:25 denotes specially the offering with which the boy was returned to the Lord, “the burnt-offering by which the boy was dedicated to the Lord for life-long service in His Sanctuary, the two other bullocks serving for the yearly offering.” As it was understood that the two others were for the yearly festival-offering, that is, burnt-offering and thank-offering, it was not specially mentioned that they were sacrificed. Further, three bullocks are required by the quantity (one ephah) of flour which Elkanah takes with him, since, according to Num. 15:8–10, three-tenths of an ephah of flour was required for a burnt-offering of one bullock. The peace-offering, like the burnt-offering, was connected with a meat- and drink-offering.—A striking example of the arbitrary fashion in which the Alex. translators got over difficulties in the text is found in their translation μετ’ αὐτῶν “with them” at the end of 1 Samuel 1:24 [the Heb. reads “the child was a child”]; as if, instead of the difficult נַעַר [“child”], to which the sense requires the addition of the predicate “small,” the text had read עִמָּם “with them.” The addition of the Sept. to 1 Samuel 1:24, “and his father slew the offering which he made annually to the Lord, and he brought the boy near,” and the translation in 1 Samuel 1:25, “and he slew the bullock, and Hannah the mother of the child brought him to Eli” are to be explained as efforts at exegesis, and give us no ground to correct the Heb. text, as Thenius supposes. Not the mother alone, but both parents gave the boy over to Eli, and thus presented him as an offering to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:26 sq. Hannah makes herself known to Eli by reminding him of the circumstances under which she had prayed for the child (1 Samuel 1:11 sq.)32—On “stood” (הַנּצֶּבֶת) Clericus remarks: “they prayed to God standing.” For the custom of standing in prayer comp. Gen. 18:22; 19:27; Dan. 9:20. In time of deeper devotion and emotion a kneeling posture also was adopted, (1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chron. 6:13; Ezra 9:5).
1 Samuel 1:27. Three things move Hannah’s soul deeply and joyfully: 1) The recollection of the moment when she stood here and called on God for this son; 2) the contemplation of the answer to her prayer, and the granting of the thing asked, and 3) the determination now to restore to the Lord what He had given her in this answer to her prayer.
1 Samuel 1:28. “And also I” (וְגַם אָנֹכִי) refers back to the words “and the Lord hath given me,” and implies a requital, et ego vicissim, “and I in my turn,” (Cler.). “It cannot be shown that הִשְׁאִיל means “lend,” as is generally assumed; it occurs in 1 Sam. 1:28, in the sense of “grant,“ “give.“ Knobel on Ex. 12:36. Further, the signification “lend” is here inappropriate, because the “I also” expressly brings out the correspondence to the “gave,” of 1 Samuel 1:27. הִשְּׁאִיל means “cause to ask or demand,” “grant what is demanded,” “give.” The sense is: the Lord gave him to me, and so have I also given him to the Lord, as one asked or demanded. Calvin: “The sense is plain enough, namely, that she gave, dedicated to God the child obtained from Him by prayer.” The short concluding sentence “he is asked for the Lord,” expresses her determination to give him to the Lord for His service.—“They prayed,” not sing., referring to Elkanah, but plur., Elkanah and Hannah, (comp. 1 Samuel 1:19), Samuel not being included. [The plur. “they prayed” is easier, but the Heb. reads “he prayed,” (though some regard the form as plur.), and so Chald.; Syr. Ar. Vulg. have the plur.; Sept. omits the clause. If taken as sing. it no doubt refers to Elkanah, who, as head of the household, represented his wife and conducted the worship. (So Abarbanel הוֹדָה בְנֶדרֶ אִשְׁתּוֹ; he also mentions Samuel and Eli). This is the view of Keil and Wordsworth. The Bib. Comm. takes it as fem, sing., and makes Hannah the subject.—It is impossible to convey in an Eng. translation the fine play upon words of the Heb. in the principal sentence of this verse and the preceding. Literally it reads: The Lord has given me my asking which I asked of Him; and I also have caused the Lord to ask him; as long as he lives he is asked to the Lord. The contrast between the Qal and Hiph. of the verb “to ask” (שאל) is brought out in Ex. 12:35 (asked, not borrowed, as in Eng. A. V.) and 36 (gave, not lent). Keil and Erdmann make the Hiph. a denominative from שָׁאוּל “asked” == “to make one asked,” but there does not seem to be authority for this; the best rendering is “give.”—Erdmann puts a semicolon after “liveth;” but it is better, with Chald. Syr. and Eng. A. V., to put it after the first Jehovah.—The ancient vss. (except Vulg.) take the היה “is” here to be equivalent to היה “lives,” or perhaps, read היה, and it is better to adopt the latter reading. Otherwise we must translate “and I also have given him to Jehovah all the days for which he was asked for Jehovah.”—TR.].
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. The mother’s determination, that the child should not be presented to the Lord in the Sanctuary till after he was weaned, was in keeping with the divine ordination that the child must first, in the bosom of natural maternal love, pass through the elementary conditions of the sustenance and earliest development of his physical life, before he could, in accordance with the divine destination, receive in the service of the Sanctuary the proper education and culture for his theocratic calling.
2. That God gives in answer to prayer, and that man devotes to God what he obtains, so that God takes again what He has given, or lays claim to it for the ends of His kingdom, is the law of reciprocity in the intercourse between the living God and His saints; the latter contribute nothing for the realization of the special ends of His kingdom, which they have not received from him, and are not by Him enabled to contribute.
3. Among the heroes of God’s kingdom who have been brought to the Lord by the prayers of their mothers and consecrated as His instruments, Samuel is a shining example of the full, unselfish devotion of the whole life to the Lord’s service, which is the condition of great profound capacity to further the kingdom of God.
4. An important principle of education is herein contained: every child should be devoted to the Lord’s service, from the beginning of his life on, with self-denial and prayer; and, in accordance with this destination, should receive his life-direction by education, selfish parental love yielding to the counsel of the divine will. CALVIN: “Hannah, forgetting her own advantage, gives all the glory to God, thinking it would be well enough with her, if only God were glorified; and indeed it is right to yield to God all we have, whatever it may be.” In the education of children the using them to the divine and holy must begin with the weaning.33 From the beginning of his life the child must be “about his Father’s business.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 1:21–28. The presentation of Samuel for constant service in the sanctuary. 1) What preceded it, according to Hannah’s wish and Elkanah’s consent (1 Samuel 1:21, 22). 2) How it was performed, in bringing up Samuel to Shiloh and in delivering him to Eli and in prayer to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:24–28).
1 Samuel 1:21. OSIANDER: After receiving divine benefits we should not be more slothful in performing divine service, but rather be so much the more diligent and industrious.—Pious mothers are performing acceptable divine service when they are rearing their children faithfully and in the fear of God.—It is no reproach to a man when he prefers his wife’s better opinion to his own. [1 Samuel 1:23. MATT. HENRY: So far was he from delighting to cross her, that he referred it entirely to her. Behold, how good and pleasant a thing it is, when yoke-fellows thus draw even in the yoke, and accommodate themselves to one another; each thinking well of what the other does, especially in works of piety and charity.—TR.]
1 Samuel 1:24. CRAMER: The rearing of children gives to parents, it is true, great toil and trouble, but when it is done in faith, it constitutes better works than when monks and nuns perform all their fasting, praying, castigations and indulgence-ceremonies; for those, not these, are enjoined by God in His word. Accordingly they are true acts of divine service, and receive from God their reward.
1 Samuel 1:25. VON GERLACH: That a three-year old boy should be already given over to the temple, was done in order that from the first awakening of his higher spiritual powers he might already be living amid these holy surroundings.—SEB. SCHMIDT: Children must at times be carried to divine service.—STARKE (1 Samuel 1:26, 27): The wonders of God’s goodness we should openly celebrate, and not keep silent about them. 1 Samuel 1:28. Parents give their children back to God when they advance them to holy baptism, present them to God in prayer, and rear them in a Christian manner. [There are many who think this can be, and often is, quite as well performed without infant baptism as with it.—TR.]—CRAMER: We should devote to the ministry the best talents and dearest children.
[1 Samuel 1:28. Giving back to the Lord: 1) All we have was given by the Lord. 2) All we have should be really consecrated to Him, and regarded and treated as His. 3) The Lord will then make all promote both our good and His glory.
1 Samuel 1:10, 26–7. Agonizing supplication and joyful thanksgiving. Look on the two pictures and learn the lesson.—Chap. I. Hannah, her sorrows and her joys: I. Her sorrows. 1) She was childless. 2) She was derided and ridiculed. 3) She was unjustly accused by a good man. II. Her joys. 1) In the tender love of her husband. 2) In the answer to her agonizing prayer. 3) In being the mother of a prophet.—TR.] [CHRYSOSTOM has five sermons on Hannah, which are discursive as usual, but contain some passages in his best vein. Works, ed. Migne, Vol. IV., p. 631.—TR.]
29[1 Samuel 1:28. Erdmann renders: I have made him one prayed for (asked, erbeten) to the Lord as long as he lives; he is asked to the Lord (for the Lord). See Exegetical Notes in loco.—TR.]
30[Rashi says 22 months; Kimchi and others 24 months. For other opinions see “Synopsis Criticorum ” in loco.—TR.].
31[Rashi: “The Bath-qol (‘daughter of the voice’) went forth, saying: there shall arise a just one whose name shall be Samuel. Then every mother who bore a son called him Samuel; but when they saw his actions, they said, this is not Samuel. But when this one was born and they saw his manner of life, they said, this is that Samuel; and this is what the Scripture means, when it says, ‘the Lord confirm His word,’ that Samuel may be that just one.”—TR.].
32 בִּי in connection with אֲדנִי is an interjection, “hear,” or “I beg,” or “truly, my lord,” (Gen. 43:20; 44:18; Ex. 4:10,13; Num. 12:11; Josh. 7:8; 1 Kings 3:17, 26). Many explain it as = “per me obsecro,” citing the corresponding Arab oath “per me.” Another explanation (Ges.) supposes a contraction of בְּעִי “request,” since “in the Aramaic translations בְּבָעוּ stands for the Heb, בִּי, for which the Samaritans at least wrote בעוּ ‘obsecro’ without בְ, Gen. 42:30.” Ewald says: “Most probably בִּי is shortened from אָבִי (Job 34:36; 1 Sam. 14:12), a simple Interjection.”
33[The German is: mit der Entwöhnung schon hat die Gewöhnung … zu beginnen.—TR.]