Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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.

Hannah prayed, and said. Praise and prayer are inseparably conjoined in Scripture (Colossians 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1). This beautiful song was her tribute of thanks for the divine goodness in answering her petition. Mine horn is exalted in the Lord, [ qarniy (H7161); Septuagint, keras (G2768) mou (G3450)]. Allusion is commonly supposed to be here made to a peculiarity in the dress of Eastern females, still to be found in the districts about Lebanon, which seems to have obtained anciently among the Israelite women, that of wearing a tin or silver horn on the forehead, on which their veil is suspended. Wives who have no children wear it projecting in an oblique direction; while those who become mothers forthwith raise it a few inches higher, inclining toward the perpendicular; and by this slight but observable change in their head-dress make known wherever they go the maternal character which they now bear. This view of the origin of the custom; however, has been called in question; and strong proofs are adduced to show that, as anciently used, it was totally different from that worn by the Druses and the Maronites in modern Syria. It was the recognized symbol of power and strength before the Israelites entered into the promised land (Deuteronomy 33:17); it was used by men as well as women; and there is a beauty and dignity in all the Scripture allusions to it which are totally inapplicable to the unnatural and ungraceful head-dress of the Druse females.

Moreover, the term by which the Druse horn is designated is 'tantur,' the head-covering; whereas the Hebrew 'keren' has no reference to the head (see Osborn's 'Palestine, Past and Present,' pp. 86, 87).

Verses 2-4

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.

They that were full have hired out themselves for bread [ sªbee`iym (H7649)] - satisfied, having abundance.

They that were hungry ceased - i:e., to hunger.

The barren hath born seven - i:e., many children.

Verse 6

The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up - i:e., he reduces to the lowest state of degradation and misery, and restores to prosperity and happiness.

Verse 7

The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them.

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill. This alludes to a form of wretchedness known in the East, and indicating the lowest degree of poverty and humiliation. The dunghill-a pile of horse, cow, or camel offal, heaped up to dry in the sun, and serve as fuel-was and is piled up in the huts of the poor; and sometimes, from necessity, is the haunt of wandering mendicants, who, finding it in some outhouse out of the city, lodge there for want of better accommodation: so that the change that had been made in the social position of Hannah appeared to her grateful heart as auspicious and as great as the elevation of a poor despised beggar to the highest and most dignified rank (see Harmer, 1:, p. 515).

Inherit the throne of glory - i:e., possess seats of honour.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's - i:e., the princes or governors (cf. 14:38; Judges 20:2; Zephaniah 3:6, where they are called corner-stones: also Jeremiah 1:18; Revelation 3:12).

And he hath set the world upon them, [ teebeel (H8398)]. This is a poetic word, used to denote the habitable world, or, as some think, the globe. "He hath set the world upon them" would thus mean that the visible world, in its globular form, was built upon or over the earth. We are inclined to take "the world" as used here synonymously with "the earth" in the preceding parallelism, and the import of the whole verse to be this: "The pillars of the earth are the Lord's" - the rulers of the earth are the Lord's, because He not only created and preserves them, but in His providence raised them to their places of dignity and influence; "and He hath set the world upon them" - i:e., He laid the government of the world-kingdoms upon their shoulders.

Verse 9

He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

He will keep the feet of his saints - a poetical figure, meaning, 'He will preserve them from error or sin.'

And the wicked shall be silent in darkness - i:e., when reduced to misery, they will see in their degradation a punishment of their misdeeds, and in silent submission own the justice of the divine dispensation. [The Septuagint substitutes for this clause the following:-didous eucheen too euchomenoo, kai eulogeesen etee dikaiou, giving the object of his petition to him that prayeth, He also blessed the years of a righteous man.]

Verse 10

The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth ... exalt the horn of his anointed. This is the first place in Scripture where the word "anointed," or Messiah, occurs; and as there was no king in Israel at the time, it seems the best interpretation to refer it as pointing prophetically to Christ. There is, indeed, a remarkable resemblance between the song of Hannah and that of Mary (Luke 1:46); and the language of Hannah, pointing evidently to the same great and ardently-expected event, was as if she had said, 'God shall make the Messiah great and honourable, and cause Him to triumph over all His enemies.' This Song, independently of, and apart from, its highly poetical character, contains expressions which, it has been justly remarked, 'savour richly of spiritual religion. Though much earlier than the Psalms, it betokens an advance in such exercises beyond what we should have looked for at such an ancient stage of a dispensation confessedly ruder and grosser than that under which we now live. Joy in the Lord; joy in His salvation; the ascription to Him of unrivaled holiness, of creative power and greatness, of His guardianship over those who fear Him, of such strength as will bear down all opposition, and of a judgment that reaches over the whole earth;-these are the conceptions, couched, too, in adequate language, of a pure and high theology, and might be adopted in the loftiest strains of the most enlightened devotion' (Chalmers, 'Daily Scripture Readings').

Verse 11

And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.

The child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest. He must have been engaged in some occupation suited to his tender age, as in playing upon the cymbals, or other instruments of music; in lighting the lamps, or similar easy and interesting services.

Verse 12

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial, [ bªneey (H1121) bªliyaa`al (H1100), sons of worthlessness (cf. Deuteronomy 14:13; Judges 19:22; Judges 20:13, where the phrase occurs in a slightly altered form)] - not only careless and irreligious, but men loose in their actions, and vicious and scandalous in their habits. Though professionally engaged in sacred duties, they were not only strangers to the power of religion in the heart, but they had thrown off its restraints, and even ran, as is often done in similar cases by the sons of eminent ministers, to the opposite extreme of reckless and open profligacy.

Verse 13

And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;

The priest's custom with the people. When persons wished to present a sacrifice of peace offering on the altar (see the note at 1 Samuel 1:24), the offering was brought in the first instance to the priest; and as the Lord's part was burnt, the parts appropriated respectively to the priests and offerers were to be sodden. But Eli's sons, unsatisfied with the breast and shoulder, which were the perquisites appointed to them by the divine law (Exodus 29:27; Leviticus 7:31-32), not only claimed part of the offerer's share, but rapaciously seized them previous to the sacred ceremony of heaving or waving (see the note at Leviticus 7:34); and, moreover, committed the additional injustice of taking up with their fork those portions which they preferred, whilst raw, in order to their being roasted.

Verse 14

And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Struck it into the ... caldron. The antiquity and use of the caldron are proved by Job 41:10, and references in Ezekiel 11:3 (cf. Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:, p. 380). The most common way, however, of cooking flesh was by roasting or broiling ('Iliad,' 1:, 560; 2:, 480; 'Odyssey,' 2:, 383). Pious people were revolted by such rapacious and profane encroachments on the dues of the altar, as well as what should have gone to constitute the family and social feast of the offerer. The truth is, the priests having become haughty, and unwilling in many instances to accept invitations to those feasts, presents of meat were sent to them; and this, though done in courtesy at first, being in course of time established into a right, gave rise to all the rapacious keenness of Eli's sons.

Verses 15-17

Also 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 flesh of thee, but raw.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 18

But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.

But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child. This break in the historical notice of Eli's sons was made, not for the purpose of exhibiting a contrast advantageous to the character of Samuel, but of noticing his early services in the outer courts of the tabernacle, and thereby to pave the way for the remarkable prophecy regarding the high priest's family.

Girded with a linen ephod - a small shoulder-garment or apron, used in the sacred service by the inferior priests and Levites, sometimes also by judges or eminent persons, and hence, allowed to Samuel, who, though not a Levite, was devoted to God from his birth.

Verse 19

Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. His mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year. Aware that he could not yet render any useful service to the tabernacle, she undertook the expense of supplying him with wearing apparel. All weaving stuffs, manufacture of cloth, and making of suits were anciently the employment of women.

Verse 20

And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home.

Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife. This blessing like that which he had formerly pronounced, had a prophetic virtue, which ere long appeared in the increase of Hannah's family (1 Samuel 2:21: the word "visited" is generally significant of a blessing, Genesis 21:1-34; Exodus 13:19; Jeremiah 15:15) and the growing qualifications of Samuel for the service of the sanctuary.

Verse 21

And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 22

Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

The women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle [ hatsobª'owt (H6633) petach (H6607) 'ohel (H168) mow`eed (H4150), that assembled at the door of the congregation as a regularly-organized band of attendants]. This was an institution of holy women of a strictly ascetic order, who had relinquished worldly cares and devoted themselves to the Lord-an institution which continued from the age of Moses (see the note at Exodus 38:8) down to the time of Christ (Luke 2:37) (Hengstenberg, 'Genuineness of the Pentateuch,' 2:, pp. 110, 111). Eli was on the whole a good man, but unhappy in the moral and religious training of his family. He erred on the side of parental indulgence; and though he reprimanded them (see the note at Deuteronomy 21:18-21), yet, from fear or indolence, shrunk from laying on them the restraints, or subjecting them to the discipline, their gross delinquencies called for. In his judicial capacity he winked at their flagrant acts of mal-administration, and suffered them to make reckless encroachments on the constitution, by which the most serious injuries were inflicted both on the rights of the people and the laws of God.

Verses 23-24

And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 25

If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

They hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because (it should be therefore) the Lord would slay them. It was not God's pre-ordination, but their own willful and impenitent disobedience, which was the cause of their destruction.

Verse 26

And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 27

And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto 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?

And there came a man of God unto Eli (see the note at Judges 6:8 ), and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear ... [ Hanigloh (H1540) nigleeytiy (H1540)]. The interrogative particle he is need here in the same sense as halo. 'Did I not plainly appear unto the house of thy father?'-namely, Aaron, his ancestor, the founder of his father's house (cf. 2 Samuel 23:17, where our translators give it this negative signification).

Verse 28

And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest - (see the note at Exodus 28:1-43.)

Verse 29

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering? - namely, by tolerating the irreverent and profane behaviour of your sons, both on common occasions and in the discharge of the priestly functions, so that the sacred rites were exposed to public contempt, and the cherished feelings of devout worshippers outraged.

Verse 30

Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

I said indeed, that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever - (see the note at Exodus 28:43; Exodus 29:9.) It is true that this promise was made to Aaron and his house generally, and was verified by the permanent possession of the priestly dignity by his descendants during the subsistence of the Jewish dispensation. The bestowment of that honour upon Phinehas and his descendants (Numbers 25:12) was in token of the divine approval of his holy zeal on a memorable occasion, and the continuance of the privilege in that older branch of the Aaronic family depended on the condition, plainly understood, of their unbroken fidelity in their office. That they had been guilty of some heinous offence, which involved a forfeiture of their sacerdotal status, is evident, though no mention of it occurs in Scripture, from the fact that the priesthood was transferred to the younger branch of Aaron's house; and how it was declared that, in consequence of the flagrant dereliction of duty on the part of Eli, it should be withdrawn from the line of Ithamar (Leviticus 10:1-2; Leviticus 10:12), and reverted to that of Eleazar.

Verse 31

Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.

Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, [ zªroa`

(H2220), the arm; also strength, power; and hence, the phrase, 'to cut off,' or 'break' ones arm, is equivalent to destroy his power (cf. Job 22:9; Job 38:15; Psalms 10:15; Psalms 37:17)]. The "arm" of Eli was either his priestly pre-eminence or his children, to whom the tenor of the subsequent context evidently points (cf. Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17; Psalms 127:4-5). [The Septuagint takes it in this latter sense: for, having apparently read zªra` (H2234), seed, they render the clause, exolothreusoo to sperma sou kai to sperma oikou; and so also the Chaldee version, 'I will cut off the strength of thy seed.'] Eli was the first in his branch of the family who was made high priest (Josephus, b. 8:, ch. 1:, sec. 3). This judgment did not fall upon Eli's house immediately, but after the lapse of a considerable time; because his grandson, Ahitub (1 Samuel 14:3), and Abiathar (1 Kings 1:25; 1 Kings 2:26), Ahitub's grandson, successively held the office of high priest.

That there shall not be an old man in thine house. So much importance has always in the East been attached to old age, that it would be felt to be a great calamity, and sensibly lower the respectability of any family which could boast of few or no old men. Or, perhaps, as the people are taught universally to connect age with respectability and honour, the meaning of the words may be only this, not only that all the family should die comparatively young, but that they should die without public respect. The prediction of this prophet was fully confirmed by the afflictions, degradation, poverty, and many untimely deaths with which the house of Eli was visited after this announcement (1 Samuel 4:2; 1 Samuel 14:3; 1 Samuel 22:18-23; 1 Kings 2:27; 1 Chronicles 24:4: cf. Proverbs 15:10: see Pye Smith's 'Scripture Testimony,' vol. 2:, pt. 1:, 76).

Verse 32

And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.

And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel. Eli's family were not thrust out from the priesthood until the accession of Solomon, which he did not live to see. The margin of the English Bible has, 'And thou shalt see the affliction of the tabernacle, for all the wealth which God would give Israel.' Agreeably to which announcement Eli did see the tabernacle bereft of the ark, which was its glory, and captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Samuel 4:11; 1 Samuel 4:22). [Gesenius takes maa`own (H4583) in the accusative; and the translation would then be, 'thou shalt see straitness (calamity) at home (i:e., in the land) in every respect in which God hath prospered Israel.'] The Septuagint omits this verse entirely.

Verse 33

And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.

And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar ... - i:e., those of your descendants who shall be permitted to perform official duties in the sanctuary will be so degraded and miserable that you would be overwhelmed with grief were you to be a living witness of their distress (cf. Jeremiah 31:13).

And all the increase of thine house (i:e., all thy children) shall die in the flower of their age, [ 'ªnaashiym (H376), men] - say about thirty, the legal age for admission into the full discharge of the priestly functions (Numbers 4:3).

Verse 34

And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.

And this shall be a sign unto thee. It was not unusual for the prophets to foretell the occurrence of some remarkable event which was soon to happen, that its being an accomplished fact might be a "sign" or pledge of the certainty of their predictions as to the remote future (cf. 1 Samuel 10:7; 1 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 7:2; Jer. 14:29; Matthew 21:1-3; Luke 19:20-34).

Hophni, [ Chaapªniy (H2652), fighter; Septuagint, Ofni]

And Phinehas, [ uw-Piynchaac (H6372), mouth of brass; Septuagint, Finees];

In one day they shall die both of them - (see the note at 1 Samuel 4:2.)

Verse 35

And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

I will raise me up a faithful priest. Although not expressed, it is plainly implied that this priest should be in another line, which was fulfilled the person of Zadok, who was eminent for his fidelity both to God and to the king (1 Kings 2:27; 1 Kings 2:35; 1 Chronicles 29:22).

And I will build him a sure house - i:e., give him a numerous posterity (cf. Exodus 1:21; 2 Samuel 7:2) [the Septuagint renders as: oikodomeesoo autoo oikon piston], and ratify the covenant of a perpetual priesthood formerly made with the house of Aaron (Numbers 25:13: cf. Ezekiel 44:15).

And he shall walk before mine Anointed forever, [ lipneey (H6440) mªshiychiy (H4899); Septuagint, enoopion (G1799) christou (G5547) mou (G3450)]. The kings of Israel were, from the mode of their consecration, called 'the Lord's anointed.' In this view the permanent elevation to the supreme power, to be conferred by the prophets' unction above that of the high priesthood, must be considered as announced to Eli by the man of God, though it was reserved for David to be informed that this awful dignity should attain an indefinite duration in his family, and should be connected with the final establishment of Israel in a state of peace and happiness. But as the high priest is never said to walk before the kings of Judah or Israel, the phrase must be considered here as = to walking before the Lord-namely, the Messiah (cf. Acts 7:35; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 3:3-6, with Malachi 3:1).

Verse 36

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece 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.

Every one that is left ... shall ... crouch to him for a piece of silver, and morsel of bread. What a striking contrast to the superabundance enjoyed by Eli's two sons! The punishment was suited to the nature of the sin.

Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices - namely, some inferior or menial situation (cf. Ezekiel 44:10-11). It has been objected that there is an inconsistency in these statement; because if the posterity of Eli, though deprived of the high priesthood, should still be employed in the common offices of the priests, they would have a legal right to the abundant provision with which the tribe of Levi was endowed. But the answer is, that a deep-seated feeling of jealousy and rancour, as appears both from the sacred history and that of Josephus, long existed between the rival houses of Eleazar and Ithamar; so that, when the older branch was restored to the ascendency, some of the high priests of that line might exercise such tyranny and violence toward those who had been so long their competitors as to deprive them of the offices they held; or they might exhibit such a spirit of insubordination and enmity to the occupiers of the high priesthood that they forfeited their privileges. In either case they might be compelled by the pressure of poverty to "crouch for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread."

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.