Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.THIRD SECTION
Hannah’s Song of Praise
1 SAMUEL 2:1–10
1 AND Hannah prayed, and said:
My heart rejoiceth in the Lord [Jehovah1],
My horn is exalted in the Lord [ Jehovah];
My mouth is enlarged [opened wide] over mine enemies,
Because2 I rejoice in thy salvation.
2 There is none holy as the Lord [Jehovah],
‘For there is none beside thee,
Neither is there any [And there is no] rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so exceeding3 proudly;
Let not arrogancy come out of your mouth;
For the Lord [Jehovah] is a God of knowledge,4
And by him5 actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty men are broken,
And they that stumbled are girded with strength.
5 They that were full have hired themselves out for bread,
And they that were hungry ceased [ins. to hunger6];
So that [Even6] the barren hath borne seven,
And she that hath many children hath waxed feeble.
6 The Lord [Jehovah] killeth and maketh alive,
He [om. He] bringeth down to the grave (underworld7) and bringeth up.
7 The Lord [Jehovah] maketh poor and maketh rich,
He (om. He) bringeth low and lifteth up.
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust,
And [om. And] lifteth up the beggar [needy] from the dunghill,
To set them8 among princes,
And to make [And he makes] them to inherit the [a] throne of glory:
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s [Jehovah’s],
And he hath set the world upon them.
9 He will keep the feet of his saints,9
And the wicked shall be silent9 in darkness;
For by strength shall no man [not by strength shall a man] prevail.
10 The adversaries10 of the Lord [Jehovah] shall be broken to pieces;
Out of heaven shall [will] he thunder upon them.
The Lord [Jehovah] shall [will] judge the ends of the earth,
And he shall [will] give strength unto his king,
And exalt the horn of his anointed.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Samuel 2:1. The superscription, “and Hannah prayed,” does not suit precisely the contents of the following Song, which is not exactly a prayer (תְּפִלָּה) but a thanksgiving-testimony to the Lord and the revelation of His glory. Clericus: “Hannah rather sings praises to God than asks anything of Him.” So the word “prayers” (תְּפִלִּוֹת) in Ps. 72:20, includes all the Pss. from 1 to 72, in the broad sense of thinking and speaking of God and in God’s presence, when the heart is most thoroughly concentrated and deeply immersed in Him, though the form of thinking and speaking to God may be lacking. The “thou,” however, referring to God, appears in two places (1 Samuel 2:1, 2). [Chald.: “H. prayed in the spirit of prophecy.”—TR.].
The content of the Song is: 1) The manifestation of deep joy in the Lord at the deliverance vouchsafed by Him over against enemies (1 Samuel 2:1). With lofty flight the four-membered strophe rises from the depth of the heart’s joyful emotion on high, where the source of salvation and help in the living God is seen and praised. The heart (as elsewhere the soul) is the central organ of all painful and joyful feelings. The “horn” is the symbol—derived from horned beasts, which carry the head high in consciousness of power—of vigorous courage and consciousness of power, of which the Lord is the source, (comp. Deut. 33:17; Ps. 75:5; 89:18, 25).11 The repetition of the “in the Lord” emphasizes the fact that the joyous frame of mind and lofty consciousness of power has its root in the Lord, and presupposes the most intimate communion with the living God. The “mouth opened wide over my enemies,” intimates that the joy and courage that filled her soul had found utterance, partly in exulting over adversaries, as contrasted with the silence of subjection to them, partly in proclaiming the glory of the Lord in thanks and praise for the help received from Him in the attacks of foes. The ground of her joy in the Lord is His salvation, His help against enemies. 2) The praise of the majesty of God in His holiness and His faithfulness, which is as firm as a rock (1 Samuel 2:2). The “holy” indicates here in the broad sense the infinite superiority of God to everything earthly and human, His isolation from the world, but at the same time His absolute completeness of life in contrast with the nothingness and perishableness of everything in the sphere of the creaturely, as in Ps. 99:2–5; comp. 1 Kings 8:27. This is evident from the double negation: “none is holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee.” The ground of this exclusive holiness is the aloneness and absoluteness of God; there is no God beside Him, He shares the divine being [Germ. Sein und Wesen] with none; therefore He is apart from everything human and earthly, and lifted up above it.12—The words “there is no rock like our God,” express the aloneness and exclusiveness of God’s character as set forth by the name rock. This superiority of God to all earthly and worldly being, this absolute glory beyond everything finite and human does not exclude, but is the ground of His self-revelation as the Fixed, Unchangeable, Immovable amid everything earthly and human. The “our God” presupposes the revelation of God by which He, as the Holy One, has chosen His people to be His possession, announced Himself to this people as their God, and made a covenant with them. The symbolical designation of this covenant-God by Rock, which occurs frequently, was suggested naturally by the configuration of the ground in Palestine, where masses of rock surrounded by steep precipices offered an image of solid and sure protection. God is a rock in His firm unshakable faithfulness; and it is the more necessary to suppose this attribute to be here set forth, because His relation to His people as covenant-God is assumed in the words “our God.” This term has the signification of faithfulness and indestructible trustworthiness in Deut. 32: 4, also; where it is clearly the same as אֱמוּנָה “faithfulness,” Ps. 18:3, (2) sq.; 92:16.13—The presupposition is the declaration “there is none beside Thee.” Jehovah, as the Holy One who has revealed Himself to His people as their God in His lofty elevation above the earthly and human, and is alone the truly existing living God, is for this very reason the Rock also in the absolute sense, the unchangeable, unshakably faithful, trustworthy God, and therefore claims from men, to whom He has revealed Himself as their God, and is known as such, unconditioned complete confidence, as it is expressed in this brief sentence, “none is a rock like our God.”14
3) The manifestations of the holy and faithful God in His conduct, as it is determined by His omniscience and omnipotence, partly towards the ungodly, partly towards the godly, 1 Samuel 2:3, 8).
1 Samuel 2:3. The negative particle is omitted before “come out” (יֵצֵא) as before “speak”15 (תְּדַבְּרוּ), and the sense requires that it be supplied (Gesenius, §152, 3). Partly by the “more,” [Heb. literally, “do not increase to speak.”—TR.], partly by the doubling of the noun [גְּבֹהָה “pride;” in Eng. A. V. the intensive doubling is rendered by “exceeding,”—TR.], the boastful vaunting character, the haughty soul of the ungodly is characterized, showing itself, as it often does, in arrogant words, and becoming, as it were, a second nature. The warning, “talk not so proudly, proudly,” stands in contrast with the praise of God’s grandeur in His holiness, and brings out the more sharply the contrast between human pride and the humility which is appropriate towards the holy God. Herder’s reference of the word (Geist d. ebräisch. Poesie 2, 282) to the “heights, which were used for defence, and in which pride was felt” is untenable, the Heb. not permitting it. The talking with so many proud and arrogant words stands in contrast with the expression of humility and gratitude in 1 Samuel 2:2: “My mouth is opened wide, etc., there is none holy.”.......” עָתָק “arrogance” specially marks the haughty talk as the expression of a bold defiant soul, which will not bend, and manifests itself particularly towards the pious and God fearing by bold words, comp. Ps. 75:6; 94: 4; 31:19. Sins of word, corresponding to the proud nature, are here emphasized, because what the heart is full of the mouth will speak.
His warning is supported by pointing to God’s omniscience and omnipotence, in which the relation of His holiness to earthly and human things is shown. “For Jehovah is a God of omniscience.” The plu. “knowledges” (דֵּעוֹת) indicates that God knows and is acquainted with every individual thing, that, as He is raised above every created thing, and thus present with all things and creatures, so they are present and known to Him; and thus it expresses the thought that the concrete content of God’s omniscience is everything finite and created.16 The proud and bold men, who speak so haughtily, must recollect that God knows all their deeds and hears their words, that therefore they cannot withdraw from His rule.—Secondly, reference is made to God’s power, which controls all things according to a fixed unchangeable plan. We must first inquire whether the “actions” (עֲלִלוֹת) is to be understood of human or divine deeds, and then whether we are to read “not” (לֹא) or the Qeri “by him” (לוֹ). The first question can be decided only by the connection. The preceding context speaks not of the deeds, but of the words of ungodly men. In what follows it is similarly not works and deeds of men that are treated of, but the conditions and relations of human life, with which divine agency has to do; in 1 Samuel 2:4, sq., the thought expressly confines itself to divine deeds. We cannot therefore with Böttcher (Aehrenlese, in loco) suppose a question, and, retaining the Kethib, render, “and are not deeds measured?” that is, “ is not care taken that human deeds shall not become immoderate, insolent?” nor, with Thenius, adopting the Qeri, “and by Him actions are measured,” that is, “He determines how far human doing may go;” nor, with Luther, paraphrase “the Lord does not suffer such conduct to prosper.” But, if we have to suppose only divine deeds, then the translation “to him or by him actions are weighed or measured” is certainly to be preferred to the other—“are not actions weighed or measured, that is, determined?”—because of the vagueness of the thought in the latter. The thought, then, is this: God’s actions are weighed, measured, fixed; He proceeds, in His working, by unchangeable paths established by Himself, so that none can free himself from His omnipotence, as none can withdraw from His all-pervading omniscience. Against the explanation “by Him the actions of men are weighed” (Bunsen: according to their essential worth), Keil properly urges: “God weighs the spirits, the hearts of men indeed (Prov. 16:2; 21:2; 24:12), but not their deeds. This expression is never found.” It is without ground, however, that he introduces the idea of righteousness, since we have here to do with nothing but the free, unrestricted activity of the divine omnipotence, to which, as to His omniscience, men are absolutely subject. [The correctness of this interpretation is open to doubt. The conception of God weighing His own actions, acting with prudence and forecast, is not, I believe, found elsewhere in the Bible; the higher conception of immutable wisdom is every where presented. On the other hand, that God weighs the actions of men, if not (as Keil says) explicitly stated, is yet involved in many passages, in all, for example, which set forth His righteous retribution; as, “Thou renderest to every man according to his work” (Ps. 62:12); “God shall bring every work into judgment” (Eccl. 12:14); and comp. Ps. 10:18; 11:5; 14:2; Prov. 15:3; Job 34: 21, 23; Jer. 9:23, 24; Joel 3:12. And this interpretation agrees very well with the context. The word “actions” may well include all exhibitions of human character, and the antithesis throughout the Song is between the wicked and the righteous. The thought, therefore, may be: Jehovah is holy and immutable. Give ho exhibition of pride, for He knows and weighs your actions. He reverses human conditions, bringing down (i. e. the wicked), and setting up (i. e. the righteous). Expositors are about equally divided between these interpretations. With Erdmann are Targum, Sept., Theodoret, Patrick, Keil; in favor of the other, Syr., Clarke, Henry, Ewald; doubtful, Vulg., Synop. Crit., Gill, “Wordsworth. Deut. 32:4 does not seem to bear on the decision, for it is Jehovah’s righteousness that is there emphasized.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:4–8 further carry out the thought of God’s almighty working in human life by a series of sharply contrasted changes of fortune. In this it is assumed that God’s omnipotent working is just, but it is not explicitly declared till afterwards. “The preceding thought is carried further: Every power which will be something in itself is destroyed by the Lord; every weakness, which despairs of itself, is transformed into power” (O. v. Gerlach).
1 Samuel 2:4. As in Isa. 21:17 we have bows of heroes instead of heroes of the bow, so here the symbol of human power and might is poetically put first instead of the personal subject. [Dr. Erdmann translates: “the heroes of the bow are cast down,” which is, however, giving up the poetical form. Better: “the bows of heroes are broken.” So in Isa. 21:17: “the residue of the bows of the heroes shall become small.”—TR.] The “broken” (חַתִּים) refers, according to the sense, to the latter (since “heroes” is the logical subject) instead of to “bows,” the breaking of which indicates the broken power of those who, like heroes of the bow, trust to their might. The strong are overcome by God, as a hero loses his power when his bow is broken. The antithesis: “And they that stumbled [or, stumble] are girded with strength.” As stumbling, tottering indicates weakness and powerlessness, so “being girded” with strength denotes fitness for battle, power prepared for battle. The strong He deprives of strength, the powerless He makes strong—according to the free working of His power.
1 Samuel 2:5. The “full,” who in the abundance of their wealth had no need, have hired themselves out for bread, that is, must earn their bread in order to appease their hunger. On the other hand, the hungry “cease” (חָדֵלוּ) either “to be hungry,” or, “to work for bread.” The latter is preferable on account of the contrast with “hire themselves out for bread” in the first clause; so Herder (“they now have holiday”) and Bunsen (“they no longer need work for bread”). Clericus: “Hannah here rightly attributes to divine providence what the heathen wrongly attribute to fortune, of whose instabilitv they speak ad nauseam.” See J. Stobæi, florileg. tit. 10517 The עַד [“till,” rendered in Eng. A.V. “so that”] is taken by some expositors in the sense “even” [Germ. sogar]. Clericus explains it as a sort of ellipsis “as if she said that all experienced the vicissitudes of human affairs, even to the barren woman, who,” etc. Similarly Keil explains it as a brachylogy: “it goes so far that”..… This adverbial construction, with the presupposed logical zeugma, would have as much in its favor as the view of Thenius, who asks: “Might not עַד be an adverb: the long barren?” But there are passages in which עַד, from its sense of continuance, must be taken simply as a conjunction, meaning “in that or while” (Jon. 4:2; Job 1:18; 1 Sam. 14:19); in the two last passages it is followed as here by וְ [“and”], and introduces an occurrence contemporaneously with which, or following on which, something else occurred. Here then: “while the barren bears seven.” “Seven children” is, according to Ruth 4:15, the “complete number of the divine blessing in children” (Keil). Comp. Ps. 113:9: “he makes the barren woman dwell in the house, the joyful mother of children.” [Erdmann translates: “he makes the barren woman of the house dwell as a joyful mother of children.”—TR.] [Ps. 113:7–9 resembles 1 Sam. 2:5, 7, 8 so closely as to suggest an imitation. It would be very natural in a later writer, in composing a Psalm celebrating Jehovah’s majesty and power, to take such general expressions from a well-known song, which we may suppose was committed to writing by Hannah herself, and through Samuel transmitted to the prophetic students, among whom, no doubt, were many psalmists. The Book of “Samuel” itself was probably in circulation soon after Rehoboam’s time.—TR.] “And she who had many children languishes away.” Clericus remarks: “being exhausted before the end of the, usual bearing-time of women, and perhaps left solitary by the death of her children.” As to this last point comp. Jer. 15:9.18 [The view held by some that in Hannah’s barrenness and subsequent fruitfulness there is a mystical or typical meaning, deserves consideration. It is advocated by Jerome, Augustine, Patrick, Gill, Wordsworth, and the Bib. Comm. Hannah is said to be the type of the Christian Church, at first barren and reviled, afterwards fruitful and rejoicing. As to such a typical character we must be guided, not by outward resemblances, but by fixed principles of biblical interpretation. If Hannah’s late fruitfulness is typical, it must be because it sets forth a spiritual element of the spiritual kingdom of God. These facts may guide us to a decision: 1) God’s relation to His people is set forth under the figure of marriage; He is the husband, His people the wife (Isa. 54; Jer. 3; Hos. 1–3); 2) Isaiah (54:1) describes God’s spiritual people as barren, yet with the promise of many children; 3) Paul (Gal. 4:27) quotes this passage of Isaiah, refers it to the Church of Christ as distinguished from the Jewish dispensation, and declares that this antithesis is given in Sarah and Hagar. The barren Sarah is the new dispensation, the fruitful Hagar the old. Besides Sarah, other barren women in the Bible become the mothers of remarkable sons: Rebecca, Rachel, Samson’s mother, Hannah, Elizabeth. Are these all typical of the new dispensation or the Church of Christ? The answer is to be found in Paul’s treatment of Sarah’s history. What he declares is, that Sarah is the mother of the child of promise, while Hagar’s child was the product of natural fruitfulness. Thus Sarah sets forth the dispensation which is based on promise or free grace and faith; Hagar represents the dispensation of works. Paul quotes Isa. 54:1, to show simply that the spiritual Jerusalem, the Church of Christ, is our mother. Throughout his argument it is the spiritual element of promise and faith on which Sarah’s typical position is based. Only, therefore, where we can show such spiritual element are we justified in supposing a typical character. There must be involved the truth that the origination and maintenance of God’s people depend on His promise and not on human strength. This is not necessarily involved in the history of every barren woman who becomes fruitful—certainly not in that of Rachel, probably in that of Rebecca, probably not in the others. These histories teach indeed that fruitfulness is the gift of God; and, as an encouragement to faith, He has in some instances granted to the barren to be the mothers of sons to whom He has assigned important positions in the development of His kingdom. But this fact does not in itself show that these mothers sustained to the kingdom of God the relation which Sarah sustained. Hannah seems to be simply a pious mother whose prayer for a son, contrary to human probabilities, is granted.—TR.].
1 Samuel 2:6. This Keil connects with the preceding, explaining: This comes from the Lord, who kills, etc. But here, as in the remaining members of the Song, we must suppose a logical asyndeton. The contrast of death and life, killing and making alive demands even a wider extension of these conceptions than is indicated in the last clause of 1 Samuel 2:5. Killing denotes (with a departure from the ordinary sense) bringing into the extremest misfortune and suffering, which oppresses the soul like the gloom of death, or brings it near to death—making alive is extricating from deadly sorrow and introducing into safety and joy. This is confirmed by the second member: “He brings down to Sheol and brings up.” The same contrast is found in Deut. 32:39, “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal;” Ps. 30:4 (3), “Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol, Thou hast made me alive,” etc.; Ps. 71:20, “Thou, who hast showed us great and sore trouble, wilt quicken us again, and wilt bring us up again from the depths of the earth,” [Eng. A. V. reads, with Qeri, me; Kethib, us.—TR.]. Ps. 86:13: “Great is Thy mercy towards me, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Sheol,” (comp. Job 5:18, and Ps. 88:4–6). So also in Ps. 66:9, misfortune is conceived of as death, salvation as revival. Calvin: “in the word ‘death’ Hannah properly embraces everything injurious, and whatever leads step by step to death, as, on the other hand, the word ‘life’ includes everything happy and prosperous, and whatever can make a fortunate man contented with his lot.” [As is apparent from the above exposition, there is no reference in this verse to the doctrine of the resurrection. The word שְּׁאוֹל “Sheol,” improperly rendered in Eng. A. V. “hell” and “the grave,” means “the underworld,” (Erdmann, the same, “unterwelt”), the gloomy abode of all the dead, conceived of by the Hebrews as the negation of all earthly activity. It thus became an image of darkness and suffering, only here and there illumined and soothed (as in Ps. 16) by the conviction that God’s love would maintain and develop into fulness of joy the life which He had bestowed on His servants.—The word is usually supposed to mean a “hole,” “cleft” like, Eng. hell (=“hole,” “hollow,” German hölle.—TR.].
1 Samuel 2:7. By His power the Lord determines the contrast of rich and poor, high and low; comp. Ps. 75:8 (7). The thought of the second clause is developed in 1 Samuel 2:8, with the first half of which Ps. 113:7, 8 agrees almost Word for word. Being low is here regarded as being despised, for “dust and dunghill” indicate a condition of deepest dishonor and disgrace, in which one is, as it were, trodden under foot; comp. Ps. 44:26 (25). The “raising and lifting” denotes the divine government, by which shame and contempt are changed into honor and glory. The contrast to the dust and the dunghill is the sitting in the company of nobles and princes, on the throne of honor. Calvin: “Hannah goes on to say the same thing of honors and dignities as of fortunes, namely, that, when we behold in this world so many and so great vicissitudes, we should lift up our gaze to the providence of God, who rules all things in heaven and earth by His will, not imagining that there is anything fortuitous in our lives, (… but knowing that God’s providence controls everything).”—The two last clauses point to the foundation of the Lord’s determination and arrangement of the contrasted relations of life and fates of men: “for the pillars of the earth are Jehovah’s, and He hath set the earth upon them.”19 The control and government of God here portrayed is founded on the fact that He is the creator and sustainer of the earth, and therefore by His omnipotence exercises unrestricted rule over the earth-world. Here we have clear and plain the highest point of view, from which all that is said from 1 Samuel 2:4 on is to be looked at: the all-embracing power of the Lord. Clericus: “Hannah, therefore, means to say that God easily effects any change in human affairs, since He is creator and lord of the earth itself.”
4. The Song culminates (1 Samuel 2:9, 10) in the prophetic testimony to the omnipotent rule of the holy God in the manifestation of His justice towards the godly and the ungodly, and in conducting His kingdom to glorious victory over the world, a) To the godly the Lord will grant His protection and salvation, and will guard them from misfortune, comp. Ps. 56:13 (14): “Wilt Thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life [Germ, as Eng. A. V.: ‘the living’]?” So Ps. 116:8; 121:3; “he suffers not thy foot to fall.” The tottering [or falling] of the feet is not to be taken here in an ethical sense; the preservation of the feet from slipping, tottering, stumbling, often denotes deliverance from long-continued misfortune and suffering, so Ps. 15:5; 55:23; 66:9. “His saints” points to the intimate association between God and His people, and its correlative is “my God,” “our God.” b) The godless will be the objects of His punitive justice. They will perish in darkness. The darkness is the symbol of misfortune and misery, as light of safety and life, Job 15:22; Ps. 107:14. Godlessness is voluntary remoteness from the light of salvation, which God sheds abroad; and so its walking in darkness must end in destruction. For, not by strength, that is, by his own strength, shall a man prevail; “shall a man be strong” (יִגְבַּר־אִישׁ) is an allusion perhaps to the “mighty men” (גִבֹּרִים) in 1 Samuel 2:4. The godless rely on their own strength with which to help themselves in the darkness. But it is universally true that “we do nothing by our own strength.” Ps. 33:16, 17. He who leans on his own strength (which cannot be without turning away from the Lord, who alone can help) will receive his just reward, he will perish in darkness. Clericus: “No one can avoid calamity by his own strength, unhelped by divine providence.”—Human weakness is here specially brought out by the order of the words; on man [Heb. אִישׁ last word in 1 Samuel 2:9] follows immediately Jehovah [in the Heb., first word in 1 Samuel 2:10], which further stands as absolute subject (comp. Ps. 11:4) and thus in sharper contrast. As “prevail” in 1 Samuel 2:9 alludes to 1 Samuel 2:4, so here the “broken” to the “broken” in that verse.—The thought, that God’s justice is shown in the punishment of the godless, is first very strongly and sharply expressed by the immediate collocation of the two verbs after Jehovah: “broken are his opposers,”20 and then illustrated by the allusion to a judicial process which ends with the carrying out of the sentence. The ungodly strive with God as in a judicial contest (מְרִיבָיו [Qeri]), but they are confounded in the presence of the process of law to which the Lord comes. The thunder, the sign of His fear-inspiring and destructive power, is the announcement of His proximity lo the tribunal. The “judge” (יָדִין) denotes the holding of the court. The judicial work of God is the outflow of His holiness, justice and almightiness, which three attributes of God have been celebrated up to this point. The object of the judicial interposition of God is not only the members of the chosen people, but the ends of the earth, that is, all peoples, the whole world. As before the whole earthly creation, founded and maintained by God’s power, was brought before us in order to establish God’s almighty control over the earth, so here our view is extended from punitive justice as it shows itself in the sphere of God’s people to God’s judgment as it stretches over the whole earth, to the all-embracing world-judgment. The prophetic view often rises to this universality of God’s judicial control as the judge of the whole world (Gen. 18:25), which corresponds to the idea of the universal salvation embracing all the nations of the earth; so, for example, Mich. 1:2 sq.; Isa. 2:9 sq.; 3:13; Ps. 7:8 sq.; 9:8. The conception of this general judgment over all the peoples of the earth, and that of the special judgment over Israel and every individual member of Israel are closely connected. The aim of both is to lead God’s kingdom to victory and glory. The broad glance at the ends of the earth filled with the judicial glory of King Jehovah fixes itself in the concluding words on the highest aim and end to be reached by the exercise of God’s judicial justice, namely, the unfolding of God’s power and dominion in the kingdom in Israel and in the person of His anointed. “And He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.”
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
After the explanation of the content of this Song of praise of Hannah, we must in the first place consider the question of its origin. The answer to this question is inseparable from our historical conception and estimate of the content of the Song, and is therefore connected with the historical and theological remarks. The question is: whether, as the author obviously assumes, Hannah herself sang it from her heart, or, whether it owed its origin to a totally different occasion, and was put into Hannah’s mouth by the author.
According to Ewald, this Song is an interpolation by a later hand, because 1 Samuel 2:1 is the immediate continuation of the concluding words of the first chapter, and is therefore a proper ending like 1 Samuel 1:19, (“ they worshipped and returned”); but we reply that the words, 1 Samuel 1:28, “they worshipped the Lord there,” form an appropriate introduction to the following prayer, and that the latter contains nothing out of keeping with the continuity of the narrative—rather its content quite suits the situation, and therefore from this point of view there is no necessity for regarding it (from its content) as a later insertion which breaks the connection.—But particularly two things in the content have been adduced against the ascription of the Song to Hannah or to Hannah’s time: the celebration of a glorious victory over foreign enemies, and the assumption of the existence of the theocratic kingdom in the conclusion.—But, as to the first, where in the Song is there the mention of a victory gained in war with foreign enemies? The only passage in which warriors are spoken of contrasts the “mighty bowmen” with the stumbling who are girded with the strength, not to portray heroes of war, but to show how this contrast also (which is parallel with others, none of which have anything to do with war) is brought about by the Lord’s omnipotent rule. The description of these contrasts and of the power of God which reveals itself in them is so general that it is impossible to discover here the character of a Song of victory which presupposes a war. The “enemies ” against whom the Song is directed are not the national enemies of the people of Israel, the heathen nations with whom they had to fight, but the ungodly within the chosen people as opposed to the truly pious and God-fearing. The contrasts which are introduced have their root in the fundamental view of the religious-moral opposition of pride and humility in reference to the holy God (1 Samuel 2:3, a), culminate in the testimony to God’s righteous judgment on godly and ungodly, and in their movement between these poles exhibit only the religious-moral condition of the people of Israel as the historical background. Nothing is said of opposition to external national enemies. Hence it is just as unfounded to regard David as the author of the Song (Bertholdt, Einl. III. 915), especially to suppose it a Song of praise for his victory over Goliath and the resulting defeat of the Philistines, (Thenius 1 ed., Böttcher), as it is arbitrary to suppose one of the oldest Kings of Judah its author.21 Neither one nor the other can be demonstrated, or even shown to be probable.—The second argument against the ascription of the Song to Hannah, and for referring it to the period of the Kings seems weightier; for the words of 1 Samuel 2:10, “He will give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of His anointed,” seem to assume the existence of a king. But nothing obliges us so to understand it. If we put ourselves in the period of Samuel’s early life, the fact is incontestable that in the consciousness of the people, and the noblest part of them too, the idea of a monarchy had then become a power, which quickened more and more the hope of a realization of the old promises that there should be a royal dominion in Israel, till it took shape in the express demand which the people made of Samuel. The divine promise that the people should be a kingdom is given as early as the patriarchal period, comp. Gen. 17:6, 16. The idea of the kingdom as bringing prosperity to the whole people connects itself with the Tribe of Judah, Gen. 49:10. Judah will come forth victorious from the battle which awaits him, will remain in possession of everlasting imperishable dominion, and will never lose the sceptre. The period of the Law further develops the idea of this kingdom. The whole people is to be a priestly kingdom (Ex. 20:6). In Balaam’s prophecy the royal power and dominion to which Israel would attain is celebrated under the figure of the Star which rises on Jacob, and in their victory over their enemies, Num. 24:17, 19. This old prophecy is altogether unintelligible if the consciousness of the people did not attach the hope of future development and prosperity to the idea of the kingdom. That the law of the king in Deut. 17 belongs to the legal period has been improperly doubted, (comp. Oehler in Herzog’s R.-E. s. v. Königthum). The proposition made to Gideon to be king (Judg. 8:23), though rejected by him, shows how in the period of the Judges the felt national disintegration brought out more strongly the desire for a single government which should embrace the whole people and protect them against external enemies. The phrase of refusal “Jehovah shall rule over you,” is based on the external non-theocratic conception of the kingdom which underlay that application, and at the same time expresses in the clearest manner the consciousness of the divine rule of which the kingly rule was to be the organ. At the close of the period of the Judges the need of such a theocratic kingdom was felt the more strongly, because the office which was entrusted with the duty of forming and guiding the theocratic life of the nation, namely, the high-priestly office, was itself with the people involved in the deepest degradation. The hope thereon based, that the Lord would set up a kingdom as the instrument of saving the people from their deep corruption, is expressed in our Song in the concluding mention of the anointed of the Lord, who would receive his power from Him, whose horn would be exalted by the hand of the Lord. The same thought is expressed by that man of God (1 Samuel 2:35), who announces to the High-priest Eli the judgment of his house and the raising up of a faithful priest who will walk before the anointed of the Lord; that is, he indicates a direct interposition by God in the fortunes of His people, by which a new order of things will be brought about under the guidance of a true theocratic priesthood in connection with a divinely established kingdom.
This was a testimony of the prophetical spirit which animated that man of God, that spirit of the prophecy and announcement of divine truth and promise, which had by no means completely died out in the time of the Judges. When God introduced the new era of Israel’s fortunes, the elevation of the theocratic development of His people’s life to a new plane by the prophet Samuel as instrument of His revelation, and first of the continuous theocratic line of prophets, He selected persons in the border-time between the old and the new in whom theocratic hopes dwelt in living power, informed them by direct influence of His Spirit of the approaching fulfillment of this hope, and prepared and impelled them to announce and to celebrate by prophetic testimony God’s new revelations of salvation. The “man of God” made such an announcement to Eli, who, according to the divine counsel, was to fall together with his house, that a new true priesthood might arise, which should be closely connected with the “anointed of the Lord,” the theocratic kingdom, in its effort to attain its end and aim, namely, God’s dominion over His people. Hannah made such an announcement respecting her child Samuel, she knowing by divine revelation that he was to be God’s instrument for great things, the renewer and restorer of the theocratic life under the God-given kingdom. She, like that man of God, is filled with the spirit of prophecy, whose representative and instrument she was the more fitted to be, as she belonged to the pious class of the people, and walked before God. Her song is a product of this prophetic spirit, which lifts her far above the joy (felt in her heart, and uttered at the outset) of her heard prayer and God’s acceptance of her child to be His possession, and above her personal experience of the might of the living God, and makes her see and celebrate His manifestations of might in his kingdom, which he has established in his people, and will develop in new glory by the revelation of His power and justice. From the depths of humble piety she looks up away from her poor self to the height of the holiness and faithfulness of the living God. The foundations on which rests all God’s revelation to His people, as well as His dominion over them, are His holiness and rock-firm faithfulness. On them is built God’s government in His kingdom and people, to which Hannah is led by the divine providence in her own life to look up. As she looks, her experience of her “adversaries” and of their pride and presumption is broadened and generalized into a view of God’s absolute government and dominion which brings to shame all the pride and insolence of the ungodly, and which is revealed, partly in the unlimited, unconditioned rule of His might, which accomplishes the life-changes of godly and ungodly in the extremest contrasts, contradicting all human calculation (1 Samuel 2:4–8), partly in the government of His justice, in which He shows Himself as the unchangeable rock of the godly, and gives the ungodly over to destruction (1 Samuel 2:9, 10). From the idea of this government of justice the song rises finally with rapid flight to the conception of a judgment which the living, just God stretches with His dominion over the ends of the earth, and to the idea of a kingdom, which, in this divine domain, and by this ruling and governing of God, develops its power beyond the limits of Israel, and in the possession of this God-given power is the instrument of the divine dominion—a wide extension of the prophetic view, under the guidance of the divine Spirit, beyond the present which is the foundation of the word of the prophetic testimony. Thus the prophetic-historical description of the establishment of the kingdom in Israel is introduced by this lyric-prophetic witness of the God-ordained and God-serving power of the theocratic kingdom; and on this follows soon the prophetic announcement of the intimate relation in which the renovated priesthood is to stand to the “anointed of the Lord.” Hannah “beholds in her individual experience the general laws of the divine economy, and divines its significance for the whole history of the kingdom of God” (Auberlen, Stud. u. Krit., 1860, p. 564).
In this song—uttered, in the spirit of prophecy, in the beginning of the development of the theocratic life, in so far as that development was determined by the kingdom which the people hoped for and God gave—Hannah passes unconsciously, impelled by the divine Spirit, over all the intermediate steps of the development of the kingdom of God, and points to the final goal, at which the divinely established, divinely equipped, royal dominion extends itself over the ends of the earth. To this answers, on the one hand, the idea of a universal revelation of salvation, which appears in that tribe-promise of the Shiloh, to whom the obedience of the nations belongs, and farther back in the patriarchal promises; and, on the other hand, there is connected with it the prophetic content of the songs of praise of Mary and Zachariah (Luke 1:46 sq. and 68 sq.), where there is express reference to the words of Hannah in view of the approaching final fulfillment of the idea, contained in her prophetic announcement, of the dominion of the anointed of the Lord which in divine power is to extend over the ends of the earth.
[Wordsworth: “The Magnificat of Hannah is an evangelical song, chanted by the spirit of Prophecy under the Levitical Law. It is a prelude and overture to the Gospel. It is a connecting link of sweet and sacred melody between the Magnificat of Miriam after the passage of the Red Sea—symbolizing the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ—and the Magnificat of Mary, after the Annunciation of His Birth..… Let this Song of Hannah be read in the Septuagint, and then the Magnificat in St. Luke’s original, and the connection of the two will be more clearly recognized.… The true characteristic of Sacred Poetry is, that it is not egotistical. It merges the individual in the nation, and in the Church Universal. It looks forward from the special occasion which prompts the utterance of thanksgiving, and extends and expands itself, with a loving power and holy energy, into a large and sympathetic outburst of praise to God for His love to all mankind in Christ.…… The Magnificat of Hannah is conceived in this spirit. It is not only a song of thanksgiving; it is also a prophecy. It is an utterance of the HOLY GHOST moving within her, and making her maternal joy on the birth of Samuel to overflow in outpourings of thankfulness to God for those greater blessings in CHRIST, of which that birth was an earnest and a pledge. In this respect it may be compared with the Song of Moses (Deut. 32) and the Song of David (2 Sam. 22).”—Augustine, in his comment on this Song (De Civ. Dei, 17, 4), follows the translation of the Sept. (which is often incorrect), and, along with some good thoughts, has much wrong exegesis and unfounded spiritualizing.—TR.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 2:1. The joy in the Lord, to which faith attains amid sore conflicts: 1) Its source—not our own heart with its frowardness and its despondency, not help and consolation from men, but only the Lord’s grace and compassion, which make the heart joyous again, lifting up with mighty power the mind that has been stricken down; 2) Its object: the fulness of the salvation which the Lord dispenses, and faith ever more richly appropriates: 3) Its expression: an open testimony to the salvation experienced—before God in praise, (“I rejoice in thy salvation”), before men—in confessing and celebrating our experience of salvation, to our companions in the faith that they may unite with us in joy and praise, so that their faith may be strengthened, to the adversaries of the faith that they may be ashamed, may be warned, may repent.—[Hannah’s song of praise compared with her former prayer. 1) She was then “in bitterness of soul” (1:10); now her “ heart rejoiceth.” 2) Then she was humiliated (1:5, 8, 11); now she is “exalted.” 3) Then her adversary provoked her (1:6); now her “mouth is opened wide over her enemies.” 4) Then she “poured out her soul before the Lord” (1:15); now she “rejoices in His salvation.” Often we remember to pray, and then forget to praise.—TR.].
1 Samuel 2:2. The two characteristics of the life of God’s children in their relation to the living God: 1) The humble reverence before Him, in view of His holiness; 2) The heartiest confidence in Him, in view of His unchangeable faithfulness.
1 Samuel 2:3. The humbling of the natural man’s pride through the testimony concerning the living God: 1) Concerning his universal knowledge; 2) His universal wisdom which determines and regulates all the details of His action (1 Samuel 2:3); 3) His universal power which determines every change in the fortunes of human life, (1 Samuel 2:4–8). [The division 2) must be modified if the view of Tr. be adopted as to the reference of the term “actions.” See Exegetical on 1 Samuel 2:3.—TR.]
[1 Samuel 2:3. “ By Him actions are weighed.” I. The manner of His weighing—with perfect knowledge (1 Samuel 2:3), with absolute rectitude (1 Samuel 2:2), with immutable justice (1 Samuel 2:2).—II. The result of His weighing is often a total reversal of men’s fortunes (1 Samuel 2:4–8). Application: Be not proud of present prosperity, but look well to the way in which you enjoy and use it (1 Samuel 2:3).—TR.].
[HENRY: 1 Samuel 2:1–3. Hannah’s triumph in God’s perfections, and in His blessings to her. I. She celebrates His glorious attributes: (1) His purity. (2) His power. (3) His wisdom. (4) His justice. II. She solaces herself in these things. III. She silences those who are enemies to her and to God.
1 Samuel 2:4–8. Providence in the changes of human life: 1) The strong are weakened and the weak strengthened, when God pleases (1 Samuel 2:4). 2) The rich are impoverished and the poor enriched (1 Samuel 2:5). 3) God is the Lord of life and death (1 Samuel 2:6). 4) He advances and He abases (1 Samuel 2:7, 8). 5) And in all this we must acquiesce, for God is sovereign. “The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s.”—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:4–8. The unity amid change of the opposite ways which the pious and the ungodly must go: 1) One starting-point, the Lord’s inscrutable will, which determines them; 2) One hand, the almighty hand of the Lord, which leads them; 3) One goal at which they end, humble submission under that hand.—The wonderful guidance of the children of men upon quite opposite ways: 1) The opposite direction in which they go, (a) from the height to the depth, (b) from the depth to the height; 2) The opposite design which the Lord has therein with men, (a) to lead them from the heights of pride and haughty self-complacency to humble submission under His unlimited power,(b) to exalt them from the depths of humble self-renunciation to a blessed life in the enjoyment of His free grace; 3) The opposite end, according as men cause the divine design to be fulfilled or defeated in them: (a) everlasting destruction without God, (b) everlasting salvation and life in and with God.
1 Samuel 2:3–10. The contrasts which the change in the relations of human life presents to us in the light of divine truth: 1) God’s holiness and man’s sin; 2) God’s almightiness and man’s powerlessness; 3) God’s gracious design and man’s destruction.
1 Samuel 2:4. Weakness and strength come from the Lord: 1) He makes the strong weak; 2) He makes the weak strong.
1 Samuel 2:5. The Lord alone gives full satisfaction: 1) He leads from false contentment in carnal fulness to wholesome destitution; 2) He changes hunger into blessed fulness with true contentment. [Fanciful and strained.—TR.]—Blessed are they that hunger: 1) Because the Lord brings them from full to hungry, 2) From hungry to full.
1 Samuel 2:6. How the living God shows Himself as the Lord of life and of death: 1) In that He leads from life into death, 2) From death into life.
1 Samuel 2:7, 8. The sovereign rule of the grace of God: 1) It makes poor, in order to make rich; 2) It humbles, in order to exalt.
1 Samuel 2:9, 10. The Lord our God is a just God: 1) Upon the pious He bestows salvation in His light; 2) The ungodly he causes to perish in darkness.—As man with his whole life places himself towards God, so will God in the judgment place Himself towards him as a just Judge: 1) Either in the severity of His punitive justice; 2) Or in the kindness of His saving grace.—The great Either—Or—which God’s word writes over every human life: 1) Either with the pious for the Lord, or with the ungodly against Him; 2) Either trusting alone in the saving might of divine grace, or wishing to be strong by one’s own power; 3) Either preserved by the Lord with the pious to everlasting life, or banished with the ungodly to everlasting condemnation.
1 Samuel 2:10. The judgment of God’s punitive justice (“The Lord will judge”): 1) Whom it threatens—the ungodly, “adversaries.” 2) How God makes it approach with warning signs (“out of heaven shall be thunder”). 3) How it discharges itself against all the world that is opposed to God (“ The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth”). 4) How it promotes the perfecting of His Kingdom.
[Providence in the national government of Israel. Not only was the secular spirit in the nation beginning to desire a king (8:5), but the inspired Hannah here predicts it with devout hope. Theocracy, Monarchy and Hierarchy each contributed in turn to the welfare of Israel, and each helped to prepare the way for the great Anointed, at once Prophet, King, and Priest, who should reign over the spiritual Israel.—Interesting lectures might be made on “Psalms outside of the Book of Psalms.” (See above, additions to Historical and Theological.)—TR.]
1[Instead of “Jehovah,” 28 MSS., 3 printed copies, LXX. and Vulg., read “my God,” which some prefer as a variation; Syr. and Ar. omit the word. It is better to keep the Heb. text.—TR.]
2[“Because” is omitted in Vat. LXX. (probably by clerical error), retained in Chald. and Syr.—TR.]
3[The Heb. here repeats the subst. נְּבֹהָה נְּבֹהָה, “pride, pride,” in a superl. sense. Wellhausen takes these words as a quotation, and the ה as He local, “do not say, high up! high up!” but this rendering has little in its favor.—TR.]
4[Lit. “knowledges.” Ewald and Erdmann render “an omniscient God.”
5[Kethib is לא, “not,” and so Syr. and Ar.; the Qeri לוֹ, “by him,” is found in many MSS., and LXX., Chald. and Vulg. See Dr. Erdmann’s note.—TR.]
6[On these interpretations of חדלו and עד see exegetical note.—TR.]
7[Heb. שְׁאוֹל, Sheol. See exeget. note.—TR.]
8[The Heb. has no pronoun here. Some MSS. have a Yod paragog. which may represent an original Waw in the text. The sense is not affected.—TR.]
9[Heb. has the sing. in Kethib, but the plur. of Qeri suits the connection better. (So Vulg.) The Kethib may be only a scriptio defectiva. (In Ps. 16:10 Kethib is plur.; Qeri, not so well, sing.)—חָםִיד is literally “a favored one,” “beloved,” rendered by Erdmann “fromm” (pious).—Erdmann renders “shall perish.” The word means first “ be silent,” and then “perish,”—silence being a sign of destruction.—TR.]
10[Here again Kethib is sing., and Qeri plur., and the verb is plur. Lit. “Jehovah—his adversaries shall be broken.” LXX.: “the Lord will make his adversary weak;” Vulg.: “dominum formidabunt adversarii ejus;” Chald.: “Jehovah will destroy the enemies who rise up to hurt his people.” This simpler construction (reading the verb as sing.) is adopted by Wellhausen and the Bible Commentary—but there is not sufficient ground for changing the existing Hebrew text.*—TR.]
11[There is no reason for supposing here a reference to the eastern custom among Oriental women, (Druses and others), of wearing silver-horns on the head to which the vail is attached, and which by their position indicate the woman’s position as maiden, wife, or mother. There is no trace of such a custom among the ancient Hebrews. The word qeren “horn,” is used of the horns of beasts, of horns for blowing and drinking, or for any horn-shaped vessel, (so, the name of Job’s daughter Qeren-happuk “paint-horn,” “eyepigment-horn”), and of a mountain-peak. It signifies also “ray of light,” and the derived verb “to emit rays of light,” as of Moses, Ex. 34:29. From the incorrect translation of the Vulg., “horned” probably came (as Gesenius suggests) the custom of the early painters of representing Moses with horns.—TR.].
12[These ideas are not properly indicated by the word “holy,” but may be said to be connected with and suggested by the lofty Heb. conception of the holiness of God.—TR.]
13[Bible-Commentary: “That the name was commonly applied to God so early as the time of Moses, we may conclude from the names Zurishaddai, “my Rock is the Almighty,” (Num. 1:6: 2:12), and Zuriel, “my Rock is God,” (Num. 3:35).—TR.].
14[More literally “there is not a rock like our God.”—TR.].
15[This is not correct. The neg. is not omitted before תּדברוּ which is, according to the Heb. syntax, merely an appendage of תּרבוּ, forming with it a compound notion.—This paragraph is improperly assigned in the Germ. to 1 Samuel 2:4.—TR.].
16[The Heb. plu. means not more than “great knowledge;” our author’s exposition cannot be gotten from the simple Heb. word, but is an interpretation into the word (here probably warranted) of ideas gotten from the Scriptures in general.—TR.].
17[The word חדלִ is used in the Bible either absolutely =“cease to exist” (Judges 5:6, 7; Ps. 49:8 (9); Deut.15:11), or with an explanatory word (Job 3:17; Pr. 10:9), or its complement is suggested by the immediate action or context (Am. 7:5; Zech. 11:12). Here the statement is “the hungry ceased to exist as such.” as in Judg. 5:6; Deut. 15:11–TR.]
18[Dr. Erdmann’s translation of this clause (1 Sam. 2:5) is hardly satisfactory. The word עַד (lit.“continuance) is used in the senses “while,” “until,” “so that,” and the question is, which is the appropriate sense here. Erdmann renders: “while the barren bears, the fruitful waxes feeble,”—that is, the clause, according to him, affirms the contemporaneousness of the two things. This would be appropriate in a narration, but is inappropriate and feeble here. To judge from the passages cited, he supposes the sense to be: “and while the barren is still bearing (that is, in the midst of her bearing), the fruitful languishes,” which is plainly out of keeping with the context. Rather we are to take עַד—in its well-sustained sense of “till”—as marking the limit of the action involved in the preceding context. The mutations in human life, brought about by God, reach to this astonishing point, namely, that the barren becomes fruitful and the fruitful barren. So Vulg. (donec) and Sept. (ὄτι). The other versions do not translate the עד. Gesenius and Fürst take the word as a preposition: “even the barren, she bears.” But it may also be a conjunction. It sometimes by suggestion (though not properly) includes the fact which it introduces.—TR.]
19[It is not necessary to find a geographical theory in this poetical statement. And, even if it expresses the author’s geographical views, it is not the thought of the passage, but only the framework of the thought; the real thought here is solely religious, and has nothing to do with physical science.—TR.].
20[Heb. literally: “Jehovah, broken are His opposers.” Some render, “Jehovah will break His opposers.”—TR.].
21[Equally arbitrary is the procedure of Geiger (Urschrift u. Ueberselzungen der Bibel, page 27), who makes Hannah’s Song an imitation of Ps. 113, and refers the latter to the postexilian period, explaining נְדִיבִים as foreign princes reigning over Israel!—TR.].
And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.FOURTH SECTION
Samuel’s Service before the Lord in Contrast with the Abominations of the Degenerate Priesthood in the House of Eli
1 SAMUEL 2:11–26
I. The conduct of the sons of Eli In contrast with Samuel, the “servant of the Lord.” Vers.‚ 11–17.
11AND Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister [ministered12] unto the Lord [Jehovah] before Eli the priest. Now [And] the sons of Eli 13were sons of Belial [wicked men]; they knew not the Lord [Jehovah]. And22 the priest’s custom [the custom of the priests] with the people was that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with 14a23 flesh-hook of three teeth in his hand; [,] And he (om. he) struck it into the pan, or kettle, or cauldron or pot; all that the flesh-hook brought up the priest took for himself.24 So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. 15Also [Even] before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden 16flesh of thee, but raw. And if any [the] man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn25 the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; [,] then he would answer [say] him. [om. him26], Nay, but thou shalt give it me [om. me] now; and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore [And] the sin of the young men 17was very great before the Lord [Jehovah]; for men abhorred the offering of the Lord [Jehovah].
II. Samuel as minister before the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:18–21
18But [And] Samuel ministered before the Lord [Jehovah], being [om. being] a 19child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover [And] his mother made him a little coat [tunic], and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her 20husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord [Jehovah] give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord [in place of the gift which was asked for Jehovah27]. And they went unto their own home [to his28 place]. And the Lord [Jehovah] visited Hannah, so that [and] she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord [Jehovah].
III. Eli’s conduct towards his worthless sons. 1 Samuel 2:22–26
22Now [And] Eli was very old, and [ins. he] heard all that his sons did unto all Israel, and how [that] they lay with the women that assembled [served29] at the 23door of the tabernacle of the congregation [meeting (or assembly)]. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings [deeds] by 24[from] all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear; ye 25make the Lord’s people [Jehovah’s people are made] to transgress. If one man sin against another [If a man sin against a man], the judge [God30] shall judge31 him; but if a man sin against the Lord [Jehovah], who shall intreat10 for him ? Notwithstanding [And] they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because 26the Lord would slay them [for it was Jehovah’s will to slay them]. And the child Samuel grew on and was in favour [grew in stature and favour32] both with the Lord [Jehovah] and also [om. also] with men.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. 1 Samuel 2:11–16. In 1 Samuel 2:11 the Sept. again clearly shows the effort to combine explanations with the translation of the Heb. text, rendering: “ and they left him there, and they went away.” [The Vat. MS. reads in both instances “she” instead of “they.”—TR.]. There is the less need to change the Heb. text to accord with this, because, as Böttcher (ubi sup. p. 69) rightly remarks, “the Elkanah” of the former is quite sufficient, since this name would suggest to every reader Elkanah and his household, and the only one that remained behind is mentioned immediately afterwards. From 1 Samuel 1:21 Elkanah can be thought of only together “with his whole house.”—The child “was ministering to the Lord,” or “serving the Lord.” These words express the whole work which the growing boy Samuel, conformably to his consecration, had to perform, certain duties connected with the service of God being laid upon him. “Before Eli,” that is, under his supervision, and according to his appointment. 1 Samuel 2:12. The sons of Eli were sons of worthlessness;33 their character and conduct forms the sharpest contrast with what they ought to have been before the whole people as highest in position, as children of the High-priestly House. Observe the sharp asyndeton in this short sentence: they knew not the Lord, that is, they did not live in the fear of the Lord, they did not trouble themselves about Him; comp. Job 18:21. This godlessness and irreligiousness is the source of their moral worthlessness, which is afterwards described. The two together give the religious-moral characteristics of Eli’s sons.
1 Samuel 2:13. This is not to be rendered: “And the custom of the priests with the people was this”—this would certainly require simply מִשְׁפַּט34 וְזֶח without הַכֹּהֲנִים [“this is the custom” without “ the priests”], comp. Gen. 11:6 (Böttcher); nor is it: “the right (that is, the assumed right) of the priests in respect to the people was as follows” (Keil), for מִשְׁפַּט [“right”] alone cannot be so understood; but the words are to be connected with the preceding: they troubled themselves not about God, nor about the real, true right of the priests in respect to the people, that is, “about what was the legal due of the priests from the people” (Thenius).
[The construction of this difficult clause adopted by Erdmann (with Vulg., Cahen, Wellhausen, Thenius, and perhaps Sept.) is open to grave objections. The reply to Keil is correct; מִשְׁפָּט cannot well mean “assumed right.” The objection to Böttcher’s translation (where read זֶה מִשְׁפָּטָם instead of Erdmann’s זֶה מִשְׁפַּט) is forcible in so far as we should expect זְה to introduce the clause (comp. Deut. 18:3); but the possibility of the omission of the pronoun, and of an apposition of the two clauses must be admitted. To the translation of מ׳ by “legal right” Wellhausen properly objects that the גַּם (even) in 1 Samuel 2:15 introduces a graver outrage, and therefore the proceeding described in 1 Samuel 2:13 must be illegal.—But against Erdmann’s rendering it is to be said that the meaning assigned to ידע (know) “trouble one’s-self about” is rare and difficult; it is found only in poetical passages. The phrase “to know the Lord” occurs, and always in the sense of intimate sympathetic apprehension; but this sense will not suit the מ׳. Moreover, if מ׳ here means “right” we should expect the prep. מֵאֵת“from” (as Deut. 18:3) instead of אֵת “ with ” the latter must be retained here, though the former is read in 9 MSS. and in LXX., Syr., Chald. Further, the narrative is, in this construction, introduced very abruptly (“when any man, etc.”). מִשְׁפָּט means not only “right,” but also “ custom, manner;” see 2 Kings 11:14; Judg. 13:12. The “custom” here described was not the legal right, but was in force under, apparently introduced by, the sons of Eli, the priests (הכ׳); 1 Samuel 2:13 details one imposition of the priests, and a more serious imposition is properly introduced (1 Samuel 2:15) by “even” (גַּם).—We retain, therefore, the rendering of Eng. A. V. (with Philippson, Bib. Comm, and others).—TR.].
Then follows the statement of the priests’ legal right.—The connection required that the people’s part in the offering should now be distinctly set forth, in order to put the unseemly conduct of Eli’s sons in its true light. Therefore the participle “sacrificing” in connection with the indefinite subject “every man,” stands first in absolute construction, like the Lat. Abl. absolute (comp. Gesen. § 145, 2, Rem.), = “when any man offered, then came, etc.” Ewald, § 341 e.: “ If the subject of the circumstantial sentence is wholly undefined, then the mere combination of the participle with the subject suffices to express a possible case (Gen. 4:15).” Here is vividly portrayed the grasping selfish conduct of the priests in the preparation of the sacrificial meal after the offering was presented, which had already become the rule (“so they did to all the Israelites”).—But still further. 1 Samuel 2:15. Even before the offering, before (in accordance with the law, Lev. 3:3–5) the fat was burned that it might be offered to the Lord as the best portion, they committed a robbery on the meat, which they wanted only הַי, that is, raw, fresh, full of juice and strength, in order to roast it. [Bib. Comm. points out that 1 Samuel 2:13–15 repeat the Language of the Law, and thus give evidence to its existence. See Lev. 7:31–35, 23–25, 31; 17:5; also Ex. 29:28; Deut. 18:3. Philippson: “Roast was common in heathen sacrifices, and even now the Orientals do not like to eat boiled meat.”—TR.]. 1 Samuel 2:16. The remonstrance of the offerer based on the legal regulation, of which they should be the guardians, is set aside. כַּיּוֹם = “at this time, now,” as in Gen. 25:31; 1 Kings 22:5. The Qeri “not” is preferable to the Kethib “to him:” “no, but now thou shalt give it;” threats were combined with violent seizure. Rude force was added to lawlessness.
1 Samuel 2:17. The “young men ” are not the servants of the priests (Keil) but the priests themselves, the sons of Eli. Their arbitrary conduct was “a very great sin before the Lord,” because the fat burned on the altar pertained to the Lord, and their legal portion of the sacrifice-meat fell to them only after the burning of the fat. What made their sin so great was the fact that they brought the offerings into contempt with the people, in so far as the wicked conduct of the priests took away in the eyes of the people their true significance as offerings to the Lord. Minchah (מִנְחָה) “means here not the meat-offering as the adjunct to the bloody offerings, but the sacrificial gift in general as an offering to the Lord” (Keil). In the succeeding narrative Samuel’s “service before the Lord” is contrasted with this wicked conduct of Eli’s sons in relation to the offering.
II. 1 Samuel 2:18–21.
1 Samuel 2:18. The “Ephod” can mean nothing but a garment resembling in form the High-priest’s ephod, consisting of two pieces which rested on the shoulders in front and behind, were joined at the top and held about the body by a girdle. Therefore it is said also: Samuel was girded with the ephod, comp. Ex. 28:7, 8. In distinction from the material of the High-priest’s ephod, it was made of the same material as the other priestly garments, white linen (בַּד). That the priests then all wore this ephod appears from 1 Samuel 22:18. It was the sign of the priestly calling, and was worn during the performance of the priestly functions. David was thus clothed, according to 2 Sam. 6:14, when he brought back the Ark, and in connection with this ceremony performed quasi-priestly functions. As the mention of this priestly dress of Samuel is connected expressly and directly with the reference to his calling as minister in the Sanctuary before the Lord, it is thus intimated that he, called to this life-long service, received therewith an essentially priestly calling. [Bib. Comm.: The word minister is used in three senses in Scripture: 1) Of the service of both Priests and Levites rendered unto the Lord, Ex. 28:35, etc.; 2) of the ministrations of the Levites as rendered to the Priests, Numb. 3:6; 3) of any service, as that of Joshua to Moses, that of Elisha to Elijah, that of the angels in heaven, 2 Sam. 13:17; Ps. 103:21, etc. The application of it to Samuel accords most exactly with his condition as a Levite.—TR.]. 1 Samuel 2:19. While the ephod was the High-priestly dress, which the boy received on the part of the Sanctuary (Thenius), the little meïl35(מְעִיל) was his every-day dress, which his mother renewed for him once a year, when she came with her husband to the Sanctuary to present the annual offering. The unbroken connection which the household thus maintained with the Sanctuary prevented any estrangement between the child Samuel and the house of his parents.—The Impf. “made” (תּעשה) indicates a continued customary action, and thus answers to the Latin tense which is so called in a stricter sense.
1 Samuel 2:20. Eli’s blessing36 refers to two things: to the act of consecrating the son to the service of the Lord, and to the compensation which Eli wished the Lord to make for the son who was offered to the Lord. Keil explains the שָׁאַל (asked [Eng. A. V. “lent”]) as 3 pers. singular instead of 2 pers. singular or plural “from the indefinite form of speech (comp. Ewald, § 249 b with § 319 a) which the narrator chose because, though it was Hannah who in Eli’s presence had obtained Samuel from the Lord by prayer, yet Eli might assume that the father, Elkanah, had shared the wish of his pious wife.” But the circumstance which alone permits such change of person, or rather of gender, in the subject, namely, the indefiniteness of the subject as indicated by the context, does not exist here, since such indefiniteness is undoubtedly excluded by 1 Samuel 1:27, 28. Böttcher properly takes the verb form with altered points as 3 sing. fem. “she asked.”37—The sing. pronoun in “his place” (for which we should expect “their place”) does not require the change of “they went” into “the man went,” as Böttcher and Thenius prefer, following the Sept. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ὁ ἄνθρωπος; the singular suffix (after the plural verb) is explained “by the fact that the place of residence is determined by the husband or owner of the house.”
1 Samuel 2:21. כִּי is neither with Bunsen to be translated: “When now Jehovah visited Hannah she conceived,” nor with Thenius to be complemented by “it came to pass,” nor to be referred to “ and Eli blessed” (1 Samuel 2:20), according to the view of Keil, who inserts a sentence (“Eli’s word was fulfilled,” or “they went home blessed”) in order to retain the causal meaning, but it is to be considered as strengthening the following assertion, with reference to the blessing in 1 Samuel 2:20, and = “indeed,” “in fact,” immo [German, ja, in der that]. See Ewald, § 310 c and § 330 b. Comp. Isa. 7:9; 32:13; Job 8:6.38—Samuel’s growth “before the Lord” indicates not only that he remained in the Sanctuary, but also that (as the condition of his calling) he grew in fellowship of heart and life with God.
III. 1 Samuel 2:22–26. The chief thing in the content of this section is the description of Eli’s conduct towards his sons. But at the same time their worthlessness in relation to the Sanctuary in yet another direction is brought to view. They desecrated the latter not only by the wickedness described in 1 Samuel 2:12–17, but also by their unchaste dealing with the women who served at the Sanctuary. Wherein consisted their service at the door of the Tent of Assembly is not said in Ex. 38:8, where they are mentioned. They formed a body, which was regularly and formally drawn up (צֹבְאוֹת) at the door of the Tent for the performance of its duty, which consisted “probably in the cleansing of the vessels used in offerings.” Since, therefore, they were persons dedicated to the holy God, the wickedness of Eli’s sons, who seduced to the service of fleshly lust these persons destined for the service of the Lord, appears in so much the stronger light.—The wickedness of Eli’s sons in what pertained to the sanctuary attached itself to the whole people, who were to hold themselves a holy people to the Lord through this Sanctuary and through the offering and persons connected with it.—Eli’s conduct in connection with their misdeeds is in the beginning by the words “and Eli was very old” represented as the weakness of old age, not thereby to excuse or justify his slackness, but to explain it.
1 Samuel 2:23. The question: Why do ye such things? is but a feeble rebuke of their gross misdoings. It cannot be translated: “Why do ye according to the words which I hear” (Keil)? for the Heb. word (דִּבְרֵיכֶם) cannot mean “reports about you,” nor could these reports be termed “evil,” since they would be true reports of evil deeds; but the proper rendering is: “Why do ye as these things?” that is, such things.39 “For I hear of your evil dealings from all this people,” that is, those who came to the Sanctuary, and there saw the wickedness.
1 Samuel 2:24. “Do not so (אַל) my sons.” Not good is the “report,” or objectively “the thing heard;” this answers to the “evil dealings (or things).” The “I hear” (שֹׁמֵעַ) corresponds to the “report,” “thing heard” (שְׁמֻעָה) and [being a particip.—TR.] shows that it constantly came to his ears. What follows is the explanation of the words: “it is no good report.”
The words: “Jehovah’s people are made to transgress” (מַעֲבִרִים etc.), express the guilt which the sons of Eli incurred by their misdoing towards “the Lord’s people.” The difficulties in the explanation of the particip. (מ׳ “are causing to transgress”) have give occasion to attempts at alteration, which, however, are unsatisfactory. “Michaelis’ alteration (into מֵעֹבְרִים): ‘the report which I hear incidentally (from people passing by) from God’s people.’ is against grammar;” so says Thenius. “But,” says Böttcher rightly, “Thenius’ own reading (made from Sept. and Arab., and therefore insecure): ‘you plague, oppress the people of Israel’ (מַעֲבִדִים אַתֶּם עַם י׳) is wholly without ground. For הֶעֱבִיד means only ‘make to serve,’ ‘enslave,’ or ‘make to work,’ plague with work (Ex. 1:13; 6:5). From the last in the later prophetic style (Isai. 43:23) has developed the meaning ‘weary,’ ‘burden,’ just as German: schaffen machen [‘to give trouble,’ lit. ‘to make to do’], πράγματα παρέχειν [‘to cause trouble’], and so always with the idea of ‘work’ as fundamental. Eli’s sons, it is true, robbed and dishonored the people (1 Samuel 2:13 sqq., 22); but they did not burden them in such a way that our term ‘give trouble’ would suit. The expression does not come up to the reality, for it is too narrow for the rebuke. And the addition of ‘ye’ (אַתֶּם) here is both violent, and cannot be inferred from the Arab. text, where it was a necessity of Shemitic construction.” The view thus opposed by Böttcher is maintained by Thenius (in his 2d ed. also) to suit the connection perfectly, though, on the other hand, he declares that Ewald’s explanation, in which there is no change of text, must be accepted; this latter is held by Böttcher to be the only one permitted by the language and matter, and he gives it thus: “to send forth a cry (ה׳ קוֹל), thence to cause to be called out, and to cause to trumpet forth (ה׳ שׁוֹפָר) are common expressions, appropriate to the simplest style, Ex. 36:6; Lev. 25:9; Ezra 1:1; 10:7. Why then should not “send forth a report” (ה׳ שְׁמוּע) be said as well as ‘send forth a voice’ (ה׳ קוֹל)? ‘The report which (as) I hear, God’s people are circulating,’ is quite proper; the plu. partcp. is joined to the collective ‘people’ as in 1 Sam. 13:15.” To this Thenius properly objects that it is a superfluous statement after 1 Samuel 2:23 (“which I hear from all the people”), and that we should here expect a more significant word. The train of thought requires after the declaration “not good,” etc., a statement of the ground of Eli’s judgment. The usual rendering: “ye make the Lord’s people to transgress,” satisfies the demands of the connection of thought. Only, as the pers. pron. (אתם “ye”) is wanting, the partcp. must be rendered impersonally: “people make … to transgress” (comp. מְשַׁלְּחִים, 1 Samuel 6:3, and אֹמְרִים Ex. 5:16). The objection that the object of the transgression, which is elsewhere always fouud with this verb as exacter determination, is not here expressed (comp. 1 Samuel 15:24; Isa. 24:5; 2 Chron. 24:20; Num. 14:41), cannot set aside the meaning: “cause to sin or transgress,” “because the exact definition is contained in the context” (Keil). The sin of the sons was, according to the context, very great before the Lord (1 Samuel 2:12–17), but was at the same time committed against the people of the Lord (1 Samuel 2:13, 22) in reference to their holy calling, and had the destructive effect of bringing the Lord’s offering into contempt (1 Samuel 2:17). The “people of the Lord” not only knew and spoke of the wickedness of Eli’s sons, but were made by the latter partakers of their guilt, were seduced into transgression of the Law by those who ought to have watched over its fulfillment.
1 Samuel 2:25. Pillel (פִּלֵּל) is used, in connection with wicked actions, in the sense “to give a decisive judgment,” and so between two contending parties, “to compose a strife by judgment;” comp. Ezek. 16:52; Ps. 106:30. The elohim, however, cannot here mean the judge, or the authority that judges, but God is described as He who composes by judging. The sense of Eli’s discourse is: “When men sin against men, it is God (of course through the appointed human organs), who restores the disturbed relations by composing the strife; but when we have to do with the relation, not between man and man, but between man and God, when a man sins against God, offends against God’s honor, who will interpose to arrange the matter?” Eli sets two things therefore before his sons: 1) that their sin is a sin immediately against God, from which point of view it has been regarded in the whole preceding narration (1 Samuel 2:12, 17); 2) that the consequent guilt is so great, that divine punishment therefor is certain. [Wordsworth: A man may intercede with God for remission of a penalty due for injury to himself; but who shall venture to entreat for one who has outraged the majesty of God?—TR.]—Eli’s weakly mild words were too indefinite and general to check the bold wickedness of his sons. It was too late. They sinned against the Lord “with a high hand” (בְּיָד רָמָה), as it were, with hardened hearts.—And they hearkened not to the voice of their father.—As reason of this (כִּי, “because”) is stated, “that it pleased God, was God’s will, to slay them;” that is, they were in a state of inner hardening, which excluded the subjective condition of salvation from destruction, and so they had already incurred God’s unchangeable condemnation. As hardened offenders, they were already appointed by God to death; therefore the word of instruction had no moral effect on them.
1 Samuel 2:26. In contrast with them, Samuel is now again presented, as he developed in his childhood as well physically as morally; while the sons of Eli were a horror to God and men, he was well-pleasing to God and men. On הָלַךְ comp. Ges., § 131, 3, Rem. 3. It is used frequently to express continuance in the sense “advance,” “continue,” and then also expresses advancing increase, the participial construction being not seldom employed in such cases, as here: “The child Samuel grew constantly in stature and goodness.” [See Luke 2:52.—TR.]
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. Since Eli’s judgeship rested on his high-priestly dignity, the High priestship, thus connected with the judicial office, had so much the higher calling to establish the theocratic unity of the people with their centre, the national sanctuary at Shiloh. But, in the person of the weak Eli, it showed itself incapable of fulfilling this calling. The godless priesthood, represented by the sons of Eli, corrupted the inner religious-moral life of the people, whose external centre and theocratic unity were in the Sanctuary. The priesthood could no longer fulfil its calling of mediating between God and His people, because its representatives, lacking the religious-moral conditions of the calling, were unworthy of it; they were not servants of God, but servants of sin.
2. The sins of Eli’s sons were a symptom of their spiritual heart-hardening and ruin in alienation from God and in immorality. They sinned with “a high hand,” boldly, presumptuously (comp. Num. 15:22–31). To this internal judgment of hardening answered as necessary consequence the judgment of their rejection by God, which was a thing determined on in God’s will, because they knew nothing of God and His law (1 Samuel 2:12). Their crime against the divinely established holy ordinances and the sanctuary, the visible sign of God’s abode with His people, was at the same time a crime against the people of the Lord, and culminated in the crime against God Himself, in which indeed was its root.
3. Samuel, though not a priest, but only a Levite, is (by his repeated designation as “servant of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:11, 18), and by the reference to his priestly clothing) contrasted with the representation of the official priesthood as God’s chosen instrument for truly fulfilling, in and by the prophetic calling which was to take the place of the priesthood that mediated between God and His people, the priestly mission40 to fulfil which the existing priestly race had shown itself both powerless and unworthy. The condition of this theocratic calling of Samuel, the earnest, personal fellowship of life with the Lord, is pointed out in 1 Samuel 2:21, 26. The life of the youth, who was chosen and called by the Lord to restore the theocracy, develops itself in the service of the sanctuary before the Lord in conformity to his divine mission, in order that some day he may become in place of the desecrated sanctuary the living personal centre of the theocratic national life, and in place of the corrupted priesthood the consecrated organ of God’s new revelations for His people.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 2:12. STARKE: Where the true fear of God is lacking in the heart, there ungodliness prevails in the life, and thereby the heart reveals itself. S. SCHMID: It is a bad state of things, when those who teach others the fear of God, do not fear God themselves.—J. LANGE: Preachers should most carefully guard against scandal, and earnestly strive to pursue a course of life which shall be not merely without offence, but also edifying, 1 Tim. 4:11.—STARKE: He who in the office of teacher seeks only his own—namely, how he may become rich and have a good time—but not that which belongs to God and Jesus Christ, is a false prophet, a thief, and a hireling. Mark that, you who bear the vessels of the Lord, Phil. 2:20, 21; 4:17; 2 Cor. 12:14; 1 Pet. 5:2 sqq. [The misconduct of these leaders of worship may well suggest lessons for Christian ministers; but it should never be forgotten that the Christian minister corresponds much more nearly to the Old Testament prophet than to the priest, and that all Christians are priests, 1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:16. STARKE: When hearers see something bad in him who has the care of their souls, they should duly remind him of it, and should not approve and commend his bad deeds, much less imitate him therein.
1 Samuel 2:17. STARKE: Nobody makes more Atheists than godless teachers, and even if the people still remember so much as to do according to their words and not their works, yet they retain a powerful influence upon the furtherance of godlessness. That wicked teachers with their godless life make great their damnation, is beyond dispute; but it is irrational to infer from this that there is no such thing as religion. [“The sin of the young men was very great” is the text of a sermon by WESLEY (Sermon CIX., Vol. II. p. 368) on the question “whether God ever did bless the ministry of ungodly men.”—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:18. STARKE: And so he (Samuel) was a right pious lad; for such piety is more acceptable to God than when one leads a good life among only pious people, since there is a greater victory and greater fidelity in living piously among the wicked. Comp. Enoch’s example, Gen. 5:24; 6:9.
1 Samuel 2:19. DAECHSEL: Petty little histories, cries unbelief. What matters it whether one knows that Samuel had a little coat or not! Holy Scripture is not written for the wise, but for child-souls, and a child-like soul does not doubt that even the little coat which Hannah prepared for her Samuel has its history. If I think of Hannah as every year sewing this coat at her home in Ramah, I know that at every stitch a prayer for her Samuel rose up to the throne of the Lord.—The coat which she was sewing would remind her that she had given her Samuel to the Lord; and when the coat was ready, and she brought it to Shiloh, then every time with the coat she anew gave Samuel to her God, and said: I give him to the Lord again for his whole life, because he was obtained from the Lord by prayer.
1 Samuel 2:21. STARKE: Whoever gives to God what is God’s, to him God also gives what his heart desires.—OSIANDER: Nothing is better invested than what is given to God the Lord and to His service; for He richly repays it all.—DAECHSEL: When our faithful God accepts from us poor creatures an offering of love, He takes it only to give it back five-fold, a hundred fold, and a thousandfold; from His fulness we receive grace for grace. Look at our Hannah! It was grace, that the Lord taught her to pray for Samuel; grace, that He gave her the promise; grace, that He made her willing to dedicate Samuel to him; but what shall we say of the fact that in place of the one child whom He had caused to be given to Himself, the Lord gave her five children, three sons and two daughters? When we in His service do for Him the least thing out of love, it is not enough that He gives to the act itself such blessedness, but, consciously or unconsciously to us, He crowns such an act with a rich blessing of grace, and this grace is completed when He blesses us with the greatest of all blessings, eternal life.—[1 Samuel 2:22–25.] STARKE: O, how often do pious parents, by indulging their wicked children, plait a scourge for their old backs! [HALL: I heard Eli sharp enough to Hannah, upon but a suspicion of sin, and now how mild I find him to the notorious crimes of his own. The case is altered with the persons. With all the authority of an Oriental father, a high-priest, and a judge, he was solemnly bound to do more than mildly censure his sons, 1 Samuel 3:13.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:25. CRAMER: The sins of the first table are much weightier and more perilous than the sins of the second table.—OSIANDER: Let no one sin purposely or wilfully and heap sins upon sins; for if he does, the door of grace is at last closed to him, and he finds no more place for repentance.—STARKE: The purpose of God was not the cause of their disobedience, but their disobedience was a sign that they were now ripe for destruction, and that the righteous purpose of God in their case should now soon be executed.
1 Samuel 2:26. STARKE: The best way to make ourselves agreeable and beloved among men is to seek to please God in Christ, act according to our conscience, and lead an exemplary life.—S. SCHMID: Whoever uses the grace of God aright, to him God gives more and more grace.—DAECHSEL: Our history is throughout a strong, firm consolation for parental hearts—for those who have to give back to the Lord in death a dear child which He has given to them in birth, for He can otherwise rejoice and bless them (1 Samuel 2:20 sq.); and also for those who have to let their sons and daughters go out into the wicked world, full of evil examples and corrupting influences, for He can even then shield and preserve their children, and carry them on in faith and godliness (1 Samuel 2:21–26).
1 Samuel 2:18–26. Young Samuel the pattern of a pious life in youth in the service of the Lord: 1) Planted and rooted in the soil of the early habit during childhood of consecrating himself to the Lord, 1 Samuel 2:18, 19; 2) Growing and increasing in the fear of the Lord under the care of godly parents and teachers, 1 Samuel 2:19–21; 3) Preserved and proved amid the temptations and influences of an evil world, 1 Samuel 2:22–25; 4) Blessed with favor in the sight of God and man.
1 Samuel 2:23–25. The judgment against obduracy in sin against the Lord: 1) Wherein is it founded? (a) In persistent, conscious sinning on against the Lord in spite of divine and human warning. (b) In the holy, unchangeable will of God, who does not suffer Himself to be mocked. 2) How is it executed? (a) In that God gives up the sinner to the service of sin from one degree to another. (b) In that the punitive divine justice gives over the sinner to the destruction to which he has condemned himself.
[1 Samuel 2:12–25. On wicked children of pious parents. 1) The number of such cases is often greatly exaggerated, because men are surprised at them, and notice, and remember; but it is in fact sadly great—in the Scripture histories—in our own observation. 2) The probable causes of this. (a) Piety is not properly hereditary—in what sense it is, and in what sense it is not. (b) Pious parents may, out of mistaken kindness, improperly indulge, and but feebly restrain—as Eli. (c) In other cases, they are too strict and severe. Application—to parents—to the children of the pious.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:26. The fruit of a godly life: 1) The gracious approval of the Lord; 2) Recognition by God-fearing men.
22[1 Samuel 2:13. Erdmann attaches this clause to the preceding, putting a full stop after “people.” See Exegetical Notes in loco.—TR.]
23[1 Samuel 2:13. The Heb. has the Def. Art.; but, as the word is more naturally in st. const., the Art. is better omitted with Sept.—TR.]
24[1 Samuel 2:14. The Eng. A. V. here follows the Sept.; Heb. reads בּוֹ “in it;” Erdmann, damit, “therewith.—TR.]
25[1 Samuel 2:16. The Heb. Inf. Abs.: “let them (or, they will) verily burn.”—TR.]
26[1 Samuel 2:16. Kethib is “ to him,” Qeri “no” (and so 18 MSS., some printed Eds.,LXX., Syr., Vulg., Arab., and one MS. of Targ. cited by De Rossi); the latter better suits the following כִּי, which, however, yields a good sense as it stands in the text. It may be translated “but,” supposing a preceding “nay,” as in Eng. A. V.; or regarded as introducing the substantive clause, and rendered “that.”—TR.]
27[1 Samuel 2:20. Lit.: “in place of the petition which one asked for Jehovah.” Erdmann changes the form of the verb to the fem., and renders “ instead of the begged one (des Erbetenen) whom she begged from the Lord.” Others point as part. pas. שָׁאֻל. The 3 sing. fem. is found in one MSS.; 2 sing. “ thou askedest” in one MS., LXX., Syr., Vulg.; and Arab. has “thou gavest.” It is better to retain the Heb. text and render it as impersonal.—TR.]
28[1 Samuel 2:20. The plu. suffix “their” is found in 12 MSS., Syr., Chald., Ar.; Vulg. “in locum suum”; some MSS. of Targ. have the sing. Wellhausen, combining LXX. and Heb., gives as the true reading “he went to his place;” but the more difficult reading seems preferable. See Exeg. Notes in loco. Erdmann’s translation omits, by typographical error, the last sentence of 1 Samuel 2:20.—TR.]
29[1 Samuel 2:22. The verb means “to perform service, military or other.” So in Ex. 38:8.—TR.]
30[1 Samuel 2:25. See Exeg. Notes in loco.—TR.]
31[1 Samuel 2:25. Erdmann: “will adjust” and “who can use his interest (or interpose) to adjust.”—TR.]
32[1 Samuel 2:26. See Exeget. Notes in loco.—TR.]
33[For meaning of Heb. belial, “ worthlessness,” see on 1 Samuel 1:16.—TR.].
35[The meïl was the outer garment worn by kings, nobles and others, probably a loose robe. The High-priest’s meïl was peculiar in shape and color (Ex. 28:31 ff.). Bib.Comm.: “The pointed mention of the ephod and robe, taken in connection with his after acts, seems to point to an extraordinary and irregular priesthood to which he was called by God in an age when the provisions of the Levitical law were not yet in full operation.”—TR.]
36 וְאָמַר, not וָיֹּאמֶר because the saying as well as the blessing itself (hence also וּבֵרַך) was repeated every year; and this is expressed by the Perf. consec. (Böttcher). [The two Perfects indicate a distinction between the blessing and the saying, but do not necessarily express repeated action; rather they sum up as complete Eli’s action in pronouncing the blessing and uttering the wish.”—TR.]
37Böttcher: “Historically for שׁאל must have stood שאלה (so 1 Cod. of Kennicott), this alone being correct and connecting itself immediately with the context. But, because שְׁאֵלָה stood immediately before with the same ה, or because the feminine signification was obvious from the connection, the exceptional form shaala (which appears elsewhere also), without the final ה, was written.” [The 3 sing. masc. שאל may be retained here without great difficulty. See “Textual and Grammatical Notes” in loco. 1 Samuel 1:27, 28 (cited by Erdmann above) excludes indefiniteness as to the fact, but not in the expression.—TR.]
38[Eng. A. V. here follows Sept., reading וַיִּפְקדֹ instead of כִּי פָקַר, and this seems the simplest way of taking it: “and Jehovah visited Hannah.”—TR.]
39 כְּ has a comparative force, Ges. § 154, 3 sq.—The following אֲשֶׁר is a conjunction, and=not so much ὅτι [“because”] as ὡς [“as”], but, like the latter, goes over into the causative sense; it refers to “such things,” and points out the occasion and cause of the rebuke (comp. Ew. § 333, 2 a with § 331 e 3; Ges. § 155, 2 d).
40[This statement is liable to misconception. This prophet could never take the place of the priest. The priest represented the idea fo atonement by blood, a universal, fundamental religious fact; the prophet expounded the spirituality of God’s law and service. These complementary offices were equally necessary, and existed till they both culminated in Jesus Christ.—TR.]
And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?FIFTH SECTION
The prophecy of a Man of God of the divine judgment on Eli’s house and of the calling of a faithful priest
27AND there came a man of God41 unto [to] Eli and said unto [to] him, Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah], Did I plainly appear [reveal myself] unto [to] the house of thy father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house [in servitude42 to the house 28of Pharaoh]? And did I choose [I chose43] him [it] out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest [to do priestly service to me], to offer44 upon my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? [om.?], and did I give [I gave] unto [to] the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire [the fire-offerings] of the children 29of Israel? [om.?]. Wherefore kick ye at [trample ye under foot] my sacrifice and at [om. at] mine [my] offering which I have commanded in my habitation,45 and honorest thy sons above me to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the 30offerings [the best of every offering] of Israel my people?46 Wherefore [Therefore] the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel saith, I said indeed47 that thy house and the house of thy father should walk before me for ever; but now the Lord saith [saith Jehovah], Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that 31despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, [ins. so] that there shall not be an 32old man in thine house. And48 thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation in all the wealth which God shall give Israel [thou shalt see distress of house in all that does 33good to Israel]; and there shall not be an old man in thy house for ever. And the man of thine whom I shall not cut off [And I will not cut off every man of thine49] from my altar shall be [om. shall be], to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine [thy] heart; and all the increase of thine [thy] house shall die in the flower 34of their age.50 And this shall be a [the] sign unto [to] thee, that [ins. which] shall come upon thy two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die both of 35them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that [who] shall do according to that which is in my heart and in my mind [soul], and I will build him a sure51 36house, and he shall walk before my anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass that every one that is left in thy house shall come and crouch to him for a piece52 of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Samuel 2:27. The “man of God” (for the expression comp. Deut. 33:1; Judg. 13:6) who appears here is undoubtedly to be regarded as a prophet, both from this title, which marks him as standing in a specific relation to God, and from the introduction of his address: “Thus saith the Lord.” This is, however, not the first mention of a prophet after Moses (Thenius); against this are Judg. 4:14; 6:8.—[Bib. Comm.: “The term (man of God) is applied to Moses in Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6; and to different prophets upwards of forty times in Judg., Sam. and Kings, most-frequently in the latter. In the Prophets it occurs only once (Jer. 35:4). It occurs six or seven times in Chron., Ezra and Neh., and in the inscription of Ps 90, and nowhere else in the Old Testament. The sudden appearance of a man of God, the only prophet of whom mention is made since Ju. 6:8, without name, or any notice of his country, is remarkable.”—TR.]—Thus saith the Lord.—Called and commissioned hereto by the Lord, he is nothing but His instrument; what he says is the very word of the Lord.—Did I reveal myself?—The interrog. particle (הֲ) stands here to strengthen the reality of the fact treated of, a question being introduced to which an affirmative reply is a matter of course, where in German [and in English] a not must be inserted. Comp. Jer. 31:20; Job 20:4; Ges. § 153, 2. The Inf. Abs. (נִגְלֹה) shows the feeling of the question, and strengthens the assurance or assertion contained in it. By Eli’s father’s house we cannot understand Ithamar and his family, since a divine revelation to them in Egypt is out of the question; it is rather the family of Aaron (from whom Eli descended through Ithamar), as the high-priestly house. Aaron and his four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, when they were in Egypt, “belonged to Pharaoh’s house,” were its subjects, property (לְבֵית פּ׳); the suffix ־ָם (when they were) refers not to the children of Israel, but to “the house of thy father.”
During the Egyptian bondage Aaron received the divine revelations by which he was called along with Moses to be God’s instrument for the redemption of His people; and with Moses he received the command to institute the feast of the Passover (Ex. 4:14 sqq., 27; 12:1, 43). These revelations were the preparation and foundation for the calling of Aaron and his house to the high-priesthood.—[So far as the calling was concerned, the house of Aaron and the house of Eli were identical. Hence Eli is in this discourse identified with Aaron as to his privileges, but distinguished from the whole house as to his sin and its Punishment.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:28. [Erdmann renders: “I chose it (the house of thy father) to perform priestly service.”—TR.]53
How that house (Aaron and his sons) were formally called and appointed to the priestly office is circumstantially related in Ex. 28, 29. Comp. especially Ex. 28:1; 29:9, 30, 44, with Lev. 8:1 sq. and Num. 18—The priestly service is described in three grades, corresponding to the three divisions of the Sanctuary: 1) “to offer54 on my altar,” where the altar of burnt-offering with its service is meant; 2) “to burn incense.” Incense had to be burned daily. The incense-offering alone is named, and represents the other offerings as the indication of the priestly service in the Holy Place, Ex. 30:8; 3) “to wear the ephod before me.” The high-priest wore the ephod55 when he went officially into the Most Holy place to represent the people before God, Ex. 28:12, 29, 30.—And I gave to the house of thy father, etc.—The divine wages for these priestly services is the maintenance which the priests derived from the offerings. The “firings” (fire-offerings, אִשֵּׁי ב׳) are the same as “the firing and the firings of the Lord” (Lev. 1:9; 2:10; Deut. 18:1) in the offerings, and so are the things offered. According to Num. 18:20; Deut. 10:9; 18:1, the Levites, and therefore the whole priesthood, received no inheritance in land; their support was provided for by the portions of the offerings appointed them by law, that is, all sacrificial gifts, so far as they were not burnt in offering the sacrifice, Lev. 6:7; Num. 18.
1 Samuel 2:29. In the preceding verses (27, 28) reference is made to the favor which had been shown the family of Eli in their selection and calling to the service of priests in the Sanctuary, and their maintenance with the offerings is mentioned as proof of the Lord’s care for His servants; there the question (1 Samuel 2:27) was introduced by the simple interrog. sign (הֲ); here the more sharply toned question with “why” (לָמָּה) portrays in distinct contrast the wicked conduct of the priests: Why do ye trample under foot? etc.—“Sacrifice and offering” (זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה) is a “general designation for all altar-offerings” (Keil). בָּעַט “is in Aram. first tread (Heb. דרך), and might thence (as בום ,דרך, Judg. 5:23; Prov. 27:7) like ‘tread’ in many languages figuratively mean to treat with contempt” (Böttcher). מָעוֹן, the “dwelling,” in pregnant sense is the Tabernacle, as the Lord’s dwelling-place in the midst of His people. Though the word has not elsewhere in itself this meaning, yet it follows here and in 1 Samuel 2:32 from the connection, which without difficulty permits the same addition that we find in Ps. 26:8, “of thy house.” There is no need therefore here to suppose (with Thenius) either a wrong reading or in general anything superfluous, particularly not the latter, because the Lord’s abode with His people was in fact the scene of the priests’ enormities, and their guilt thus appeared so much the greater. מָעוֹן is Accus. of place “in the dwelling” (= בַּיִת “in the house”). Böttcher proposes as a “faultless text” א׳ צִוִּיתִים עָוֹן, “why do ye trample under foot,… what I commanded them, sinfully,” where the suffix “them” refers to the Israelites (1 Samuel 2:28), and עָוֹן “sin,” is taken in the sense of בְּעָוֹן, “in sin,” which is found in Ps. 51:7. But according to the preceding explanation there is no need for such a change, apart from the fact “that the ‘sinfully’ precisely speaking is already contained in the ‘trample under foot’ ” (Thenius). He says: “why do ye trample,” etc., because Eli was partaker in the guilt of his sons; because he, not only as father towards sons, but also as high-priest towards them as priests, was weakly lacking in the proper chastisement and in the enjoined holy strictness. Eli ought to have opposed his sons as a zealous contender for the Lord’s honor; since he did not do this, he not only made himself partaker of their guilt, but honored his sons before the Lord, more than the Lord, because he spared them, and showed unseasonable paternal gentleness. In the plu. pron. “make yourselves fat,” Eli’s guilt is again referred to; what they did, namely, that they took (1 Samuel 2:15) the first (רֵאשִׁית) of the offering before the best of the offering (מִנְחָה) was presented to the Lord by burning it in the fire of the altar, that he did along with them; they made themselves fat. The wickedness of Eli and his sons in connection with the offering is also put here in two-fold form, namely, against God (“my offering”), and against the people as the people of the Lord (all the offerings of Israel, my people).56 After the reference to the guilt follows now the judgment, the announcement of punishment, which applies to Eli as well as to his sons and his whole house.
1 Samuel 2:30. אָמַרַתִּי=I had said.—The house of thy father in connection with “thy house,” indicates the whole priestly connection in all its branches from Aaron down, to whom with his sons the same expression in 1 Samuel 2:27 refers. For this reason, if for no other, because “the house of thy father” must mean the same here as in 1 Samuel 2:27, we must set aside the view that here only Ithamar’s family is meant, to which the high-priesthood passed from Eleazar’s family, and to which Eli belonged. But also the expression: should walk before me for ever, is in conflict with this view. The “walking before the Lord” would be understood in too narrow a sense, on the one hand, if it were restricted to the entrance of the high-priest into the Holy of Holies, and in too wide a sense, on the other hand, if it were regarded as a general description of a pious walk before God, as in Gen. 17:1. Rather it points to the life in priestly service before the Lord promised to the house of Aaron for ever (Ex. 29:9). The promise of the “covenant of an everlasting priesthood” was renewed to Phinehas, the son of Eleazar (Num. 25:13) for his zeal for the Lord’s honor. This fact and its motive contribute essentially to the explanation of what here follows. The “and now” introduces a declaration opposed to that promise, not in the sense that the latter is annulled, but in reference to its non-fulfilment for those in whom the condition of its fulfilment was lacking.— Far be it from me, that is, this promise shall not be fulfilled unless the condition be fulfilled which is expressed in the words: Those that honor me I will honor.—According to the priests’ attitude towards God the Lord in their whole walk will be His attitude towards them in respect to the fulfilment of His promise.
1 Samuel 2:31, 32. The general truth of the last words in 1 Samuel 2:30, which emphasize in the distinctest manner the ethical condition of the exercise of the holy sacerdotal office in the priest’s bearing towards God, is applied to Eli and his house in 1 Samuel 2:31, and contains the standard by which he with his sons is judged. I will cut off thy arm.—The “arm” signifies might, power, Ps. 10:15; Job 12:9. “There shall not be an old man in thy house.” Thus will be shown that the strength of the family and the house is broken; for strength is shown in reaching a great age. No one in Eli’s house shall attain a great age. This supposes that sickliness will early consume its members. “On the aged rested the consideration and power of families” (Böttcher). As the house of Eli will perish, so will also the house of God suffer affliction (1 Samuel 2:32). הִבִּיט always means to look with astonishment or attention (Böttcher, Num. 12:8; Isa. 38:11; Ps. 10:14); צָר is only “oppressor” or “enemy,” and is not to be rendered “rival” or “adversary,” as Aquila (ἀντίζηλος) and Jerome (œmulus), and also Luther and De Wette give it; מַעוֹן “dwelling” is here to be understood of the dwelling-place of God, not of Eli. From these meanings it follows that Samuel cannot be here referred to, since he was not an enemy of Eli, nor the installation of Zadok in Abiathar’s place (1 Ki. 2:27), for Zadok was not Abiathar’s enemy. Something must be meant which Eli lived to see with astonishment or consternation in the house of the Lord, and it can therefore only be the oppression of the house by the oppressor or enemy who met Israel in the person of the Philistines, carried away the ark, and thus robbed the Lord’s house of its heart. We do not need therefore to alter the text to “rock of refuge” (צֻר סָעוֹז), as Böttcher proposes. “In all which” (בּכֹל אֲשֶׁר) is not to be rendered with De Wette “during the whole time which.” In יִיִלטִיב “shall do good” we must not supply a י as name of Jehovah (Kennicott), nor, as is commonly done, make Jehovah the subject (De Wette, Keil, etc.). “There is no reason why we should not take “all which” itself as unpersonal subject; precisely where י׳ has an unpersonal subject, it has, as here, a simple Acc. after it, Pr. 15:13, 20; 17:22; Ecc. 20:9, while, with a personal subject, a preposition follows, Ex. 1:20; Num. 10:32; Judg. 17:13” (Böttcher). The affliction of God’s house from the loss of the Ark remained, while under the lead of Samuel there came blessing to the people. This is the fulfilment of this prophecy in reference to the affliction of God’s dwelling. “Not an old man” is repetition of the threat in 1 Samuel 2:31, and return of the discourse to the judgment on Eli’s house. “All the days” [Eng. A. V. for ever], for ever, that is, as long as his family existed. [Both text and translation of 1 Samuel 2:32 offer great difficulties. Vat. Sept. omits it. Al. Sept. and Theod.: “Thou shalt see strength” (κραταίωμα), etc. The Syr. and Arab.: “and (not) one who holds a sceptre in thy dwelling,” which involves a totally different text. Targ. has “thou shalt see the affliction which will come on a man of thy house in the sins which ye have committed in the house of my sanctuary.” The omission in Vat. Sept. was probably occasioned by the similar endings of 1 Samuel 2:31 and 32; the other versions and all the MSS. contain the verse, one MS. only of De Rossi giving מָעוֹז, “strength,” instead of מָעוֹן, “dwelling.” We must therefore retain the Heb. text, and explain the repetition of the last clause as intended to give emphasis to the statement in question. But, as צָר frequently means “distress,” and as the course of thought here suggests affliction for Eli’s house rather than for God’s, it is better to render: “thou shalt see distress of dwelling in all that brings prosperity to Israel,” the contrast being between the national prosperity and his personal affliction, which would thus exclude him from the national rejoicing, and so from the evidence of the divine favor. And we may regard the latter clause of the verse: “there shall not be an old man,” etc., as defining the “affliction” which is here brought out as a punishment additional to the “weakness” of 1 Samuel 2:31.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:33. Böttcher declares De Wette’s explanation: “and I will not let thee lack a ingle man,” to be incorrect, and Thenius’ reference to the definite one “Ahitub” (14:3; 22:20) to be without ground, and then remarks (on וְאִישׁ לֹא): “There remains no other course but to regard it as an infrequent, but not unexampled exceptional case. In Heb., as is well known, a negative in a sentence with אִישׁ (“man”) and בל (“all”), whether it stand before or after, negatives these words not alone, but in connection with the whole sentence, and thus אַל אִישׁ ,לֹא אִישׁ mean not “not every one,” but “no one,” and so too אִישׁ אַל ,אִישׁ לֹא, Ex. 16:19; 34:3; Lev. 18:6. But when the accent falls on the word expressive of universality by an adversative particle, as here (וְאִישׁ), the following negation may affect this word alone, as in Num. 23:13. Accordingly we render here: “Yet I will not cut off every one from thee.” The following words: to consume thine eyes and to grieve thy heart, or “that I may consume,” etc., mark the highest degree of punishment which would befal Eli but for the limitation contained in the words “not every man.” Thenius refers this limitation specially to Ahitub, son of Phinehas, and brother of Ichabod, against which Keil justly remarks that it cannot be proved from 14:3 and 22:20 that he was the only one who survived of Eli’s house.57—The following words: the great majority or mass shall die as men, not only answer to the repeated threat in 1 Samuel 2:31, 32, that there should be no old man in the house, but at the same time explain the declaration of 1 Samuel 2:31: “I will break thine arm;” for “men” (אֲנָשִׁים) indicates the power and strength of the house, and is contrasted with “old man” (Luther: “when they have become men;” Van Ess: “in mature age”).—On מ׳ ב׳, “multitude,” “majority,” not “offspring,” comp. 1 Chron. 12:29; 2 Chron. 30:18.—[Sept.: “And every survivor of thy house shall fall by the sword of men.” Vulg.: “and the great part of thy house shall die when they attain the age of men.” Targ.: “and all the multitude of thy house shall be slain young.” Syr.: “and all the pupils (so Castle renders marbith) of thy house shall die men.” Philippson: “and all the increase of thy house shall die as men.” The Eng. A. V. probably gives the sense. The adj. “all” does not suit the rendering “multitude,” which Targ. and Erdmann adopt. In regard to the first clause of the verse, the rendering of Eng. A. V. seems to be possible, that is, the taking לֹא א׳ as indef. rel. clause. Erdmann regards the reservation of the “man” as a limitation of the punishment (“consume, grieve”); Eng. A. V. better, with most expositors, as an element of the punishment. Mendoza (in Poole’s Synopsis): “I will take from thee the high-priesthood, which thou hast by privilege; I will give thee or thy descendants the priesthood of the second order, which thou hadst by hereditary right.” Grotius: “They shall live that they may be the greatest grief to thee.”—Long afterwards this curse was held to cling to the family of Eli. Gill cites a saying of the Talmud that there was a family in Jerusalem the men of which did not live to be more than eighteen years old, and Johanan ben Zacchai being asked the reason of this, replied that they were perhaps of the family of Eli.—Sept. has “his eyes” and “his soul,” instead of thy; but there is no good ground for altering the Heb. text.—TR.]
1 Samuel 2:34. The fact announced, the death of his two sons in one day (4:11), was to be a sign to Eli, who lived to see it, that this threat affecting his whole house should be fulfilled. The realization of this threat began with that event. Not all of Eli’s descendants indeed perished in this judgment, and among his immediate posterity were some who filled the office of priest, namely, Phinehas’ son, Ahitub; Ahitub’s sons, Ahiah (14:3, 18) and Ahimelech (22:9, 11, 20); Ahimelech’s son, Abiathar (22:20). Ahiah and Abiathar filled the high-priestly office. But Ahimelech and “all his father’s house, the priests, who were at Nob,” were hewn off from Eli’s family-tree. And Abiathar, Ahimelech’s son, who escaped that butchery (22:19), and as a faithful adherent of David enjoyed the dignity of high-priest, was deposed from his office by Solomon. The office of high-priest passed now forever from Ithamar’s family, and went over to Eleazar’s, to which Zadok belonged; the latter from now on was sole high-priest, while hitherto Abiathar had exercised this office along with him.—Thus was to be fulfilled the negative part of the prophetic announcement (1 Samuel 2:31–34): gradually Eli’s house went down in respect to the majority of its members [better, in all its increase.—TR.]; the office of high-priest, which the surviving members for some time filled, was at last taken away from it altogether.
1 Samuel 2:35 sqq. Now follows the positive part of the prophecy.—But I will raise me up a faithful priest.—The priestly office, as a divine institution, remains, though those that fill it perish because they are unworthy, and because their life contradicts its theocratic meaning, and therefore falls under the divine punishment. The “faithful priest” is, in the first place, to be understood in contrast with Eli and his sons, to whom the above declaration of punishment was directed. We may distinguish the following facts in the announcement of this priest of the future, who is to assume the theocratic-priestly position between God and His people in place of Eli and his house: 1) he is to be raised up by God directly, that is, not merely called and chosen, but (according to the exact meaning of the word) set up; his priestly position is to be historically fixed and assigned by God directly and in an extraordinary manner; 2) he will be a faithful priest, that is, will not merely be in keeping with the end and meaning of his calling, but, in order to this, will be and remain personally the Lord’s own in true piety and in firm, living faith, constantly and persistently devoted to the Lord his God, and seeking only His honor; 3) he will do, act, according to the norm of the divine will; as faithful priest of God, he knows what is in God’s heart and soul, he knows His thoughts and counsels; these will be the rule by which (כַּאֲשֶר) he will act as a man of God, as a servant after his heart; 4) and I will build him a sure house, his family will continue as one well-pleasing to me and blessed, and will not perish like thine—this shall be the reward as well as the result of his faithfulness; 5) he shall walk before my anointed for ever. The “anointed” is the theocratic king, whom the Lord will call. Walking before Him denotes the most cordial life-fellowship with Him. In this reference of the prophetic announcement to the “anointed of the Lord” is expressed the same expectation of a theocratic kingdom as in the close of Hannah’s song.
In 1 Samuel 2:36 is added another feature in the portraiture of the faithful priest: in this close connection with the kingdom, he will occupy so exalted, honorable and mighty a position over against the fallen house of Eli, that the needy and wretched survivors of that house will be dependent on him for existence and support.—On the כּל before הַנּוֹתָר, where, on account of the following Article, it signifies all, whole, comp. Ges., § III., 1 Rem., Ew., § 290 c. “All the rest, all that remains.” The אֲגוֹרַת בֶּסֶף is “a small silver coin collected by begging” (Keil). The lower the remains of Eli’s house sink even to beggary, the higher will the “faithful, approved priest,” of whom the prophet here speaks, stand. In the immediate future of the theocratic kingdom he will see far beneath him those of Eli’s house who are still priests in humble dependence on him.
This prophecy found its fulfillment from the stand-point of historical exposition in Samuel. That the author of our Books had him in view in his account of the man of God’s announcement is clear from the narration immediately following in 1 Samuel 3; here the voice of the divine call comes to the child Samuel at the same time with the revelation imparted to him of the judgment against the house of Eli. He is indeed expressly called by the divine voice to be prophet; his first prophetic duty, which he performs as God’s organ, is the announcement of the judgment on Eli in the name of the Lord; it is true, it is said of him in 1 Samuel 2:20, that he was known in all Israel to be faithful and confirmed (נֶאֱמָן) as a prophet. But the summary statement of his prophetical vigor and work in 1 Samuel 2:19–21, in which the epithet “faithful, confirmed,” points back to the same expression in 2:35, is connected with the reference to Shiloh and the constant revelations there, which had begun with the one made to Samuel; by the express reference to Shiloh Samuel’s prophetic character and work are at the same time presented under the sacerdotal point of view. An essential element of the calling of priest was instruction in the Law, the announcement of the divine will (Lev. 10:11; Deut. 33:10), and Mal. 2:7, expressly declares the duty of the priest in these words: “the priest’s lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law from his mouth, for he is a messenger of heaven;” and so that prophecy of a faithful priest is all the more fulfilled in Samuel (whose words to the people, 3:19–21, had the pure and the practical word of God in the Law for their content), because the priesthood of his time had proved itself unworthy and unable to fulfil this calling. The further sacred priestly acts which Samuel performed (3:19–21), and the mediating position between God and the people as advocate and intercessor expressly ascribed to him in 7:5 characterize him as the faithful, approved priest who is announced here in 1 Samuel 2:35, 36. The other single traits in the picture suit Samuel. In the list of theocratic instruments of the succeeding period there is none that surpasses him; he surpasses them all so far, that our gaze fixes itself on him in seeking for a realization of this announcement in connection with the fulfilment of the threat against Eli and his house. Samuel’s bearing and conduct is everywhere such that the declaration “ he shall do according to what is in my heart and soul,” is verified in no other theocratic-prophetic and priestly person so eminently as in him. A sure house the Lord built him according to 1 Chron. 6:33; 25:4, 5. His grandson was Heman “the singer, the king’s seer in the words of God,” father of fourteen sons and three daughters. The intimate relation of Samuel to the theocratic kingdom under Saul and David, the Lord’s anointed kings, is an obvious fulfilment of the prophecy “he shall walk before my anointed for ever.” The raising up of the fore-announced priest was to follow immediately on the punishment of Eli and his house. In point of fact Samuel steps into the gap in the priesthood which that judgment made as priestly and high-priestly mediator between God and the people, as is shown by the passages cited and by the whole character of his work. By the corruption of its traditional representatives the hereditary priesthood had come to be so at variance with its theocratic significance and mission, that the fulfilment of this mission could be attained, in this great crisis in the development of Israel’s history into the theocratic kingdom, only in an extraordinary way, through direct divine calling, by such an instrument as Samuel. The statement, in the concluding words, of the walking of the faithful priest before the Lord’s anointed is fulfilled exactly (according to the above explanation) in Samuel’s relation to this kingdom.—It is held by some that the prophecy in 1 Samuel 2:30–36, (compared with 1 Kings 2:27, and Joseph. V. 11, 5; VIII. 1, 3), refers to the transition of the priestly dignity from the house of Ithamar to the house of Eleazar, and therefore that this prophecy, in whole or in some parts, was composed in or after the time of Solomon, (De Wette, Einl. § 178 b.; Bertholdt, Einl. III. 916, and Ewald, Gesch. I. 190); against which Thenius (p. 15) properly points out that even after this change the high-priesthood remained still in the family of Aaron, while the words “and the house of thy father,” (1 Samuel 2:30, 31), clearly shows that the prophecy does not speak of a change in the family, and that in 1 Samuel 2:27–36 we have a genuine ancient prediction of a prophet. Against the view that the prophecy of the “faithful priest” was, according to 1 Kings 2:27 fulfilled in the complete transference of the high-priesthood, by the deposition of Abiathar, to the family of Eleazar, to which Zadok belonged, we remark: 1) that (if the advocates of this view mean this family and its succeeding line of high-priests) the words of the prophecy speak of a single person, not of several, or collectively of a body; and 2) that, if Zadok is held to be the “faithful priest” in whom the prophetic word was fulfilled, his person and work have no such epoch-making theocratic significance in the history as we should expect from the prophecy; the expectation is satisfied only in Samuel’s priestly-prophetical eminence. For the rest, the words of 1 Kings 2:27 give no ground for the opinion that the prophecy in 1 Samuel 2:35 is in them referred to Zadok (Thenius), since the passage, having in view Abiathar’s deposition, is speaking merely of the fulfilment of the threatened punishment of Eli’s house, and not at all of the fulfilment of the positive part of the prophecy; there is, therefore, no occasion to speak (with Thenius) of a false conception of this prophecy as early as Solomon’s time. The lofty priestly position, which Samuel took in his calling as Judge and Prophet before the Lord and His people, the priestly work, by which (the regular priesthood completely retiring) he stood as mediator between Jehovah and His people in sacrifice, prayer, intercession and advocacy, and the high theocratic-reformatory calling, in which his “important, sacred duty was to walk before the anointed, the king, whom Israel was to receive through him, while the Aaronic priesthood fell for a good time into such contempt, that, in the universal neglect of divine worship, it had to beg honor and support from him, and became dependent on the new order of things begun by Samuel,” (O. v. Gerlach),—these things prove that, from the theocratic-historical point of view, in him is fulfilled the prophecy of the faithful priest.
[Four different interpretations explain the “faithful priest” to be Samuel, Zadok, Christ, or a line of priests, including Samuel and Zadok, and culminating in Christ; the last seems to be the only tenable one. I. We cannot restrict the prophecy to Samuel, for 1) the “established house” promised the faithful priest is clearly a priestly house, as is evident from a comparison of 1 Samuel 2:35 with 1 Samuel 2:30, 31, where the everlasting official sacerdotal character of this house is contrasted with the fall of Eli’s priestly house; and Samuel founded no such house. 2) Eli’s house was not immediately deprived of the high-priesthood, nor was it at all excluded from the priesthood. Up to Solomon’s time descendants of Eli were high-priests, and the Jews held that his family continued to exist. Nor did Samuel succeed Eli immediately as Priest and Judge. 3) It is an important fact that Samuel is nowhere called a priest, and it is an exaggeration of his position to ascribe to him a complete sacerdotal character. His mediatorial work belonged to him largely as a man of God, and similar work was performed by Moses, David, Solomon, none of whom acted as priests. It is doubtful whether Samuel sacrificed at all, still more whether he usually performed this service. The people are said to have sacrificed (1 Sam. 11:15), where is probably meant that they did it through the priests, and one passage (1 Sam. 9:13), seems to exclude Samuel from the act of sacrifice. At any rate his performance of sacrificial service may be regarded as extraordinary and unofficial like that of Gideon (Judg. 6:26, 27) and Solomon (1 Kings 3:4). But it is true that Samuel’s life developed the conception of the theocratically pure and faithful priest in contrast with the self-seeking and immorality of Eli’s sons. He was the first protest against their profane perversion of the holy office, the first exemplification after Eli’s time of pure-hearted service of God. II. Rashi, Abarbanel and the majority of modern commentators suppose the reference to be to Zadok, Christian writers usually adopting also the Messianic interpretation. And, though 1 Kings 2:27 mentions only the deposition of Abiathar as the fulfilment of the judgment on Eli’s house, yet this, taken with 1 Samuel 2:35, can hardly be dissevered from the installation of Zadok as sole high-priest; the final exclusion of Eli’s representative is followed immediately by the elevation of the Zadokite family, which continues in an unbroken line to Christ. That the Zadokites were the true divinely-appointed priests, is assumed throughout the following books of the Old Testament, and especially in such passages as Ezek. 44:15, (quoted by Keil). Erdmann’s objections to this view do not seem conclusive. He urges: 1) that the prophecy (1 Samuel 2:27–37) speaks not of a change within the Aaronic family, but of a setting aside of that family in favor of a non-Aaronic priest.—But this is not the declaration of the prophecy, (1 Samuel 2:30 speaks of the exclusion of unworthy members, and the reference is plainly to Eli’s immediate family), and is contradicted by the facts of history; for the Aaronic priesthood did continue to the end, while the change announced (1 Samuel 2:36) was to take place in the history of Israel. Samuel founded no priestly family, and the restriction of the prophecy to him alone is not in keeping with the broadness of its declarations. 2) That Zadok was not specially prominent, and does not exhibit a commanding character cannot be urged against this view, since the prophecy promises not intellectual vigor in the “faithful priest” but theocratic official purity and personal godliness, which Zadok and his descendants in the main exhibited. III. Augustine (De Civ. Dei 17, 5) explains the priest here announced to be Christ alone, basing his view on the breadth and fulness of the statements made about Him. The text does not allow this exclusive reference to Christ, looking plainly, as it does, to the then existing order of things (as in 1 Samuel 2:36, which Augustine interprets of Jewish priests coming to worship Christ), but it may include Him, or rather point to Him as the consummation of the blessedness which it promises; and the remarkable fulness of the terms in 1 Samuel 2:35 naturally leads us to this explanation. IV. If the prophecy finds a partial fulfilment in Samuel and Zadok, and also points to Christ, then it would seem best to regard it as announcing a line of faithful men who would do God’s will in full official and personal sympathy with His law. First comes Samuel, not indeed an official priest, but a true representative of the spirituality of the divine service (see 1 Sam. 15:22). He is followed by Zadok, the father of a long line of priests, who (with many defects) in the main preserve among the people and in the presence of the king the fundamental ideas of the sacrificial service, and are a type (Ez. 44:15) of the perfect priesthood into which they are finally merged. To this Erdmann objects that the reference is plainly (1 Samuel 2:35) to one person, and not to a body of men; but he himself understands the “anointed,” in which the expression of singleness is not less distinct, of Saul and David. If the anointed is to be understood of a line of kings, why not the priest of a line of priests?—This last view then seems best to meet the demands of this confessedly difficult passage. See Keil and Wordsworth in loco.—TR.].
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. The “man of God” who, by divine commission, predicts the punishment of Eli and his house is a proof that the prophetic gift, which appears sporadically in the Period of the Judges, had in this its gloomy close not yet disappeared. After it had been said: “ there arose not henceforth a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10), nevertheless in the time of the Judges, by whose word as spoken according to the divine calling and commission, the people had to govern themselves, we see prophecy reappearing in the following individuals: Judg. 2, the messenger of the Lord,58 who comes up from Gilgal to Bochim, and exhorts the Israelites to repentance in the name of the Lord; chap. 4, the Judge Deborah, who, expressly described as “prophetess,” combines the offices of Judge and Prophet, being the organ of Jehovah’s communications; chap. 6, the Prophet who was sent by the Lord as His messenger, to rebuke Israel for their idolatry, and to call Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianitish bondage. The content of the prophetic declarations, in keeping with the history of the times, is: announcement of divine punishment for the people’s idolatry through the oppression of enemies, exhortation to repentance, promise of help.
2. The internal decline of the theocratic life of God’s people showed itself in the close of the Period of the Judges principally in the corruption of the sacerdotal office as cause and effect. In regard, therefore, to the priestly mediation between God and the people, there was needed a thorough reformation and a re-establishment of the proper inner relation between them by a true priestly mediation. For this reason the prophetic announcement of the “faithful, true priest” stands at the beginning of the new period, and, at the commencement of the new theocratic development, has an epoch-making fulfilment in Samuel’s person and work, in which the priestly side is chiefly prominent.
3. Samuel is in this respect a type of Christ; the idea of the priesthood, as here in 1 Samuel 2:35 expressed, found in all respects its completest and most universal fulfilment in Christ’s high-priestly office of mediator between God and man.
4. The conception of the honor of God and of knowing Him is impossible, without the idea of the personal living God, and without the existence of a relation, established by Him, between Him, the living God, and man, in which the consciousness of absolute dependence on Him is connected with that of the obligation to be heartily consecrated to Him and in fellowship with Him. The declaration “he who knows Me,” etc. [1 Samuel 2:30] expresses God’s righteous procedure in regard to the recognition or non-recognition of His honor by men.
5. When the guilt of the corruption and decline of the religious-moral life of the people rests on “the house of the Lord,” “it is time that judgment should begin at the house of God,” 1 Pet. 4:17.
6. [The walking of the priest before Jehovah’s anointed indicates a definite separation between the sacerdotal and judicial or governing offices, and a certain subordination of the first to the second. This was a condition of the developed Israelitish state, and appears in proper form first under David. Saul seems to have exercised authority over the priesthood, but in David’s time the relation of political subordination was first united with sincere religious unity of heart and purpose, and thus one step taken towards the perfect and complete form (king, prophet, priest), which was to shadow forth the office and work of Christ.—And, as of Hannah’s anticipation of the king, so we may say of the prediction by this man of God of the united king and priest, that it had its root in the felt need of the times, which, as it existed in its distinctest and intensest form in the most spiritual minds of the nation, was guided and elevated and intensified by the Spirit of God into prevision and prophecy.—TR.].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
[1 Samuel 2:27. A man of God. 1) His office is to come to the people with “Thus saith the Lord.” Though inspiration cannot now be expected, he may be “thoroughly furnished” from the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:17). 2) When called to give rebukes and warnings, he should do it with faithfulness, solemnity, and tenderness.—TR.].
1 Samuel 2:27–36. The prophet’s sermon of censure, [German Strafpredigt] against Levi and his house. 1) Looking back to the past, it recalls the manifold exhibition of the benefits of God’s grace, 1 Samuel 2:27, 28; 2) Looking around upon the present, it holds before Eli his sins and those of his house, 1 Samuel 2:29, 30; 3) Looking out upon the future, it proclaims the divine judgment, 1 Samuel 2:30–36.
1 Samuel 2:27–30. To what are we bound by the experience of overflowing manifestations of God’s grace? 1) To be always thankfully mindful of them; 2) To proclaim everywhere the praises of God; 3) By a sober and holy walk to promote the honor of His name.
1 Samuel 2:27–36. God’s righteousness and grace in union with each other. 1) Grace in union with righteousness, 1 Samuel 2:27–32; (a) The actual proofs and gifts of God’s grace (1 Samuel 2:27–29) contain serious demands by the holy and righteous God; (b) The promises of grace are in respect of their fulfilment conditioned by the conduct of man towards God, which is weighed by his righteousness, 1 Samuel 2:30; (c) In proportion as man in view of the revelation of divine grace gives God the honor or not, he is requited by God according to his righteousness, 1 Samuel 2:30. 2) The severity of God’s righteousness does not exclude grace, 1 Samuel 2:30. (a) It suffers itself to lean upon forbearing, softening grace, in order that justice may not execute complete destruction, 1 Samuel 2:33, 36; (b) It does not take away the arrangements which grace has established, but guards and preserves them against the sin of men, 1 Samuel 2:27–29; (c) It does not cause the promises of grace to fall away, but makes room for their fulfilment in another way, 1 Samuel 2:35.
1 Samuel 2:30. God the Lord, according to His righteousness, remains no man’s debtor: 1) Whoever honors Him, will He also honor; 2) He who despises Him shall be despised in return.—To honor God the loftiest task of human life: 1) Wherein it consists; 2) How it is performed; 3) What promise and threatening are here concerned.—[I. Some of the ways in which we may honor God. (1) By speaking His name with reverence. (2) By keeping the Lord’s day holy to Him. (3) By propriety of behaviour in public worship. (4) By practically recognizing our dependence on His Providence. (5) By performing all the duties of life as to the Lord (Col. 3:17). II. Some of the ways in which He will honor us. (1) In causing us to be respected by our fellow-men (Prov. 3:16). (2) In making us the means of converting others. (3) In receiving us to glory, honor and immortality in heaven (Rom. 3:7).—BAXTER: Never did man dishonor God, but it proved the greatest dishonor to himself. God will find out ways enough to wipe off any stain upon Him; but you will not so easily remove the shame and dishonor from yourselves.—TR,].
1 Samuel 2:35. The exercise of the priestly office, which is well-pleasing to God: 1) Its personal condition and pre-supposition, fidelity, firmness, steadfastness, “I will raise me up a faithful priest;” 2) Its rule and measure, “according to that which is in my heart and in my soul;” 3) Its blessing and reward, “and I will,” etc. [Upon the phrase, “he shall walk before my Anointed forever,” comp. above on 2:10, Hom, and Pract.—TR.].
1 Samuel 2:27–30. The heavy guilt of neglecting the office of household-priest in the rearing of children: 1) It wrongs the welfare and honor of the house, so far as in earlier times God has in grace and compassion crowned it with blessings, 1 Samuel 2:27–29; 2) In indulgent and weak love to the children it robs God of the honor which He demands, 1 Samuel 2:30; 3) It thereby prepares for the children a sure destruction, 1 Samuel 2:34; 4) It often thereby brings a curse and ruin upon succeeding generations, 1 Samuel 2:31–33, 36.
[HALL: Indulgent, parents are cruel to themselves and their posterity. Eli could not have devised which way to have plagued himself and his house so much, as by his kindness to his children’s sins.…… I do not read of any fault Eli had but indulgence; and which of the notorious offenders were plagued more!—TR.].
41[1 Samuel 2:27. Chald. “a prophet of Jehovah.”—TR.]
42[1 Samuel 2:27. לְ often expresses possession, and is here so rendered by Chald. and Sept.—TR.]
43[1 Samuel 2:28. The following וָאֶתְּנָה makes it better not to carry on the interrogation here. Erdmann: “I chose it (thy house) to perform priestly service.”—TR.]
44[1 Samuel 2:28. The Heb. form here may be Qal (“ascend”) or Hiphil (“offer”) but the sense it the same in both cases.—TR.]
45[1 Samuel 2:29. See Exeg. Notes.—TR.]
46[1 Samuel 2:29. The ל is probably repetition from the last letter of the preceding word; see Josh. 10:21 for similar case.—TR.]
47[1 Samuel 2:30. “Indeed” is merely intensive, Heb. Infin. Absol.—TR.]
48[1 Samuel 2:32. On the text of this verse see Exeg. Notes.—TR.]
49[1 Samuel 2:33. See Exeg. Notes.—TR.]
50[1 Samuel 2:33. Lit. “shall die men;”. Sept. “by the sword of men,” which Wellhausen prefers, but see Exeg. Notes.—TR.]
51[1 Samuel 2:35. The Heb. word is the same as that rendered “faithful” just before.—TR.]
52[1 Samuel 2:36. More exactly “a small piece;” Erdmann: eine Bettelmünze, “a beggar’s coin.”—TR.]
53Textual and Grammatical.—The Inf. Abs. בָּהֹר stands for the Verb, fin., as a Verb. fin. has preceded in the same sentence (Ges., § 131, 4 a). But the interrog. הֲ does not extend to this Inf. Abs., which stands for the Perf., and makes the discourse absolute.—אֹתוֹ is better referred to בַּיִת than to אָבִיךָ, on account of the following “tribes.” But then we must read with Böttcher and Thenius לְכַהֵן instead of לְכֹהֵן, “as agreeing better with the preceding בַּיִת and the succeeding Inf.” (Böttcher). So the Sept. ἱερατεύειν. Comp. Ex. 31:10.—לַעֲלוֹת is contracted from לְהַעֲלוֹת. See Deut. 1:33; 2 Sam. 18:3; Eccl. 5:5.
54[The Germ. has steigen, “ascend,” error for opfern, “offer.”—TR.]
55[Germ. achselkleid, “shoulder-dress,” “amice.”—TR.]
56 לְעַמִּי “is periphrasis for the Gen., and is chosen in order to make the ‘my people’ more prominent” (Keil). On this periphrasis of the Gen. see Ew. Gr. § 292, a. 3.—[But this does not apply here. See Textual Notes in loco.—Tr.].
57Böttcher: לַאֲדִיב is for לְהַדְאִיב=לַדְאִיב, one of the numerous clerical errors in these books.—[It is by no means clear that there is a clerical error here, since we may suppose a stem דאב=אדב as נאק=אנק.—TR.]
58[It is doubtful whether the malak can be considered other than an angel.—TR.].