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I. History of the People of Israel Under the Prophet Samuel - 1 Samuel 1-7
The call of Samuel to be the prophet and judge of Israel formed a turning-point in the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God. As the prophet of Jehovah, Samuel was to lead the people of Israel out of the times of the judges into those of the kings, and lay the foundation for a prosperous development of the monarchy. Consecrated like Samson as a Nazarite from his mother's womb, Samuel accomplished the deliverance of Israel out of the power of the Philistines, which had been only commenced by Samson; and that not by the physical might of his arm, but by the spiritual power of his word and prayer, with which he led Israel back from the worship of dead idols to the Lord its God. And whilst as one of the judges, among whom he classes himself in 1 Samuel 12:11, he brought the office of judge to a close, and introduced the monarchy; as a prophet, he laid the foundation of the prophetic office, inasmuch as he was the fist to naturalize it, so to speak, in Israel, and develope it into a power that continued henceforth to exert the strongest influence, side by side with the priesthood and monarchy, upon the development of the covenant nation and kingdom of God. For even if there were prophets before the time of Samuel, who revealed the will of the Lord at times to the nation, they only appeared sporadically, without exerting any lasting influence upon the national life; whereas, from the time of Samuel onwards, the prophets sustained and fostered the spiritual life of the congregation, and were the instruments through whom the Lord made known His purposes to the nation and its rulers. To exhibit in its origin and growth the new order of things which Samuel introduced, or rather the deliverance which the Lord sent to His people through this servant of His, the prophetic historian goes back to the time of Samuel's birth, and makes us acquainted not only with the religious condition of the nation, but also with the political oppression under which it was suffering at the close of the period of the judges, and during the high-priesthood of Eli. At the time when the pious parents of Samuel were going year by year to the house of God at Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifice before the Lord, the house of God was being profaned by the abominable conduct of Eli's sons (1 Samuel 1-2). When Samuel was called to be the prophet of Jehovah, Israel lost the ark of the covenant, the soul of its sanctuary, in the war with the Philistines (1 Samuel 3-4). And it was not till after the nation had been rendered willing to put away its strange gods and worship Jehovah alone, through the influence of Samuel's exertions as prophet, that the faithful covenant God gave it, in answer to Samuel's intercession, a complete victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7). In accordance with these three prominent features, the history of the judicial life of Samuel may be divided into three sections, viz.: 1 Samuel 1-2; 3-6; 7.
Samuel's pedigree. - 1 Samuel 1:1. His father was a man of Ramathaim-Zophim, on the mountains of Ephraim, and named Elkanah. Ramathaim-Zophim, which is only mentioned here, is the same place, according to 1 Samuel 1:3 (comp. with 1 Samuel 1:19 and 1 Samuel 2:11), which is afterwards called briefly ha-Ramah, i.e., the height. For since Elkanah of Ramathaim-Zophim went year by year out of his city to Shiloh, to worship and sacrifice there, and after he had done this, returned to his house to Ramah (1 Samuel 1:19; 1 Samuel 2:11), there can be no doubt that he was not only a native of Ramathaim-Zophim, but still had his home there; so that Ramah, where his house was situated, is only an abbreviated name for Ramathaim-Zophim.
(Note: The argument lately adduced by Valentiner in favour of the difference between these two names, viz., that “examples are not wanting of a person being described according to his original descent, although his dwelling-place had been already changed,” and the instance which he cites, viz., Judges 19:16, show that he has overlooked the fact, that in the very passage which he quotes the temporary dwelling-place is actually mentioned along with the native town. In the case before us, on the contrary Ramathaim-Zophim is designated, by the use of the expression “from his city,” in 1 Samuel 1:3, as the place where Elkanah lived, and where “his house” (1 Samuel 1:19) was still standing.)
This Ramah (which is invariably written with the article, ha-Ramah), where Samuel was not only born (1 Samuel 1:19.), but lived, laboured, died ( 1 Samuel 7:17; 1 Samuel 15:34; 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Samuel 19:18-19, 1 Samuel 19:22-23), and was buried (1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Samuel 28:3), is not a different place, as has been frequently assumed,
(Note: For the different views which have been held upon this point, see the article “Ramah,” by Pressel, in Herzog's Cyclopaedia.)
from the Ramah in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), and is not to be sought for in Ramleh near Joppa ( v. Schubert, etc.), nor in Soba on the north-west of Jerusalem ( Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 329), nor three-quarters of an hour to the north of Hebron (Wolcott, v. de Velde), nor anywhere else in the tribe of Ephraim, but is identical with Ramah of Benjamin, and was situated upon the site of the present village of er-Râm, two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem, upon a conical mountain to the east of the Nablus road (see at Joshua 18:25). This supposition is neither at variance with the account in 1 Samuel 9-10 (see the commentary upon these chapters), nor with the statement that Ramathaim-Zophim was upon the mountains of Ephraim, since the mountains of Ephraim extended into the tribe-territory of Benjamin, as is indisputably evident from Judges 4:5, where Deborah the prophetess is said to have dwelt between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. The name Ramathaim-Zophim, i.e., “the two heights (of the) Zophites” appear to have been given to the town to distinguish it from other Ramah's, and to have been derived from the Levitical family of Zuph or Zophai (see 1 Chronicles 6:26, 1 Chronicles 6:35), which emigrated thither from the tribe of Ephraim, and from which Elkanah was descended. The full name, therefore, is given here, in the account of the descent of Samuel's father; whereas in the further history of Samuel, where there was no longer the same reason for giving it, the simple name Ramah is invariably used.
(Note: The fuller and more exact name, however, appears to have been still retained, and the use of it to have been revived after the captivity, in the Ῥαμαθέμ of 1 Macc. 11:34, for which the Codd. have Ῥαθαμεΐ́ν and Ῥαμαθαΐ́μ , and Josephus Ῥαμαθά , and in the Arimathaea of the gospel history (Matthew 27:57). “For the opinion that this Ramathaim is a different place from the city of Samuel, and is to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Lydda, which Robinson advocates ( Pal. iii. p. 41ff.), is a hasty conclusion, drawn from the association of Ramathaim with Lydda in 1 Macc. 11:34, - the very same conclusion which led the author of the Onomasticon to transfer the city of Samuel to the neighbourhood of Lydda” (Grimm on 1 Macc. 11:34).
The connection between Zophim and Zuph is confirmed by the fact that Elkanah's ancestor, Zuph, is called Zophai in 1 Chronicles 6:26, and Zuph or Ziph in 1 Chronicles 6:35. Zophim therefore signifies the descendants of Zuph or Zophai, from which the name “land of Zuph,” in 1 Samuel 9:5, was also derived (see the commentary on this passage). The tracing back of Elkanah's family through four generations to Zuph agrees with the family registers in 1 Chron 6, where the ancestors of Elkanah are mentioned twice, - first of all in the genealogy of the Kohathites (1 Chronicles 6:26), and then in that of Heman, the leader of the singers, a grandson of Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:33), - except that the name Elihu, Tohu, and Zuph, are given as Eliab, Nahath, and Zophai in the first instance, and Eliel, Toah, and Ziph (according to the Chethibh) in the second, - various readings, such as often occur in the different genealogies, and are to be explained partly from the use of different forms for the same name, and partly from their synonymous meanings. Tohu and Toah, which occur in Arabic, with the meaning to press or sink in, are related in meaning to nachath or nuach , to sink or settle down.
From these genealogies in the Chronicles, we learn that Samuel was descended from Kohath, the son of Levi, and therefore was a Levite. It is no valid objection to the correctness of this view, that his Levitical descent is never mentioned, or that Elkanah is called an Ephrathite. The former of these can very easily be explained from the fact, that Samuel's work as a reformer, which is described in this book, did not rest upon his Levitical descent, but simply upon the call which he had received from God, as the prophetic office was not confined to any particular class, like that of priest, but was founded exclusively upon the divine calling and endowment with the Spirit of God. And the difficulty which Nägelsbach expresses in Herzog's Cycl., viz., that “as it was stated of those two Levites (Judges 17:7; Judges 19:1), that they lived in Bethlehem and Ephraim, but only after they had been expressly described as Levites, we should have expected to find the same in the case of Samuel's father,” is removed by the simple fact, that in the case of both those Levites it was of great importance, so far as the accounts which are given of them are concerned, that their Levitical standing should be distinctly mentioned, as is clearly shown by Judges 17:10, Judges 17:13, and Judges 19:18; whereas in the case of Samuel, as we have already observed, his Levitical descent had no bearing upon the call which he received from the Lord. The word Ephrathite does not belong, so far as the grammatical construction is concerned, either to Zuph or Elkanah, but to “ a certain man,” the subject of the principal clause, and signifies an Ephraimite, as in Judges 12:5 and 1 Kings 11:26, and not an inhabitant of Ephratah, i.e., a Bethlehemite, as in 1 Samuel 17:12 and Ruth 1:2; for in both these passages the word is more precisely defined by the addition of the expression “of Bethlehem-Judah,” whereas in this verse the explanation is to be found in the expression “of Mount Ephraim.” Elkanah the Levite is called an Ephraimite, because, so far as his civil standing was concerned, he belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, just as the Levite in Judges 17:7 is described as belonging to the family of Judah. The Levites were reckoned as belonging to those tribes in the midst of which they lived, so that there were Judaean Levites, Ephraimitish Levites, and so on (see Hengstenberg, Diss. vol. ii. p. 50). It by no means follows, however, from the application of this term to Elkanah, that Ramathaim-Zophim formed part of the tribe-territory of Ephraim, but simply that Elkanah's family was incorporated in this tribe, and did not remove till afterwards to Ramah in the tribe of Benjamin. On the division of the land, dwelling-places were allotted to the Levites of the family of Kohath, in the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and Manasseh ( Joshua 21:5, Joshua 21:21.). Still less is there anything at variance with the Levitical descent of Samuel, as Thenius maintains, in the fact that he was dedicated to the Lord by his mother's vow, for he was not dedicated to the service of Jehovah generally through this view, but was set apart to a lifelong service at the house of God as a Nazarite (1 Samuel 1:11, 1 Samuel 1:22); whereas other Levites were not required to serve till their twenty-fifth year, and even then had not to perform an uninterrupted service at the sanctuary. On the other hand, the Levitical descent of Samuel receives a very strong confirmation from his father's name. All the Elkanahs that we meet with in the Old Testament, with the exception of the one mentioned in 2 Chronicles 28:7, whose genealogy is unknown, can be proved to have been Levites; and most of them belong to the family of Korah, from which Samuel was also descended (see Simonis, Onomast. p. 493). This is no doubt connected in some way with the meaning of the name Elkanah, the man whom God has bought or acquired; since such a name was peculiarly suitable to the Levites, whom the Lord had set apart for service at the sanctuary, in the place of the first-born of Israel, whom He had sanctified to himself when He smote the first-born of Egypt (Numbers 3:13., Numbers 3:44.; see Hengstenberg, ut sup.).
1 Samuel 1:2-3
Elkanah had two wives, Hannah (grace or gracefulness) and Peninnah (coral), the latter of whom was blessed with children, whereas the first was childless. He went with his wives year by year ( ימימה מיּמים , as in Exodus 13:10; Judges 11:40), according to the instructions of the law (Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16), to the tabernacle at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts. “ Jehovah Zebaoth ” is an abbreviation of “ Jehovah Elohe Zebaoth,” or הצּבאות אלהי יהוה ; and the connection of Zebaoth with Jehovah is not to be regarded as the construct state, nor is Zebaoth to be taken as a genitive dependent upon Jehovah. This is not only confirmed by the occurrence of such expressions as “ Elohim Zebaoth ” (Psalms 59:6; Psalms 80:5, Psalms 80:8, Psalms 80:15, 20; Psalms 84:9) and “ Adonai Zebaoth ” (Isaiah 10:16), but also by the circumstance that Jehovah, as a proper name, cannot be construed with a genitive. The combination “Jehovah Zebaoth” is rather to be taken as an ellipsis, where the general term Elohe (God of), which is implied in the word Jehovah, is to be supplied in thought (see Hengstenberg, Christol. i. p. 375, English translation); for frequently as this expression occurs, especially in the case of the prophets, Zebaoth is never used alone in the Old Testament as one of the names of God. It is in the Septuagint that the word is first met with occasionally as a proper name ( Σαβαώθ ), viz., throughout the whole of the first book of Samuel, very frequently in Isaiah, and also in Zechariah 13:2. In other passages, the word is translated either κύριος , or θεὸς τῶν δυνάμεων , or παντοκράτωρ ; whilst the other Greek versions use the more definite phrase κύριος στρατιῶν instead.
This expression, which was not used as a divine name until the age of Samuel, had its roots in Genesis 2:1, although the title itself was unknown in the Mosaic period, and during the times of the judges. It represented Jehovah as ruler over the heavenly hosts (i.e., the angels, according to Genesis 32:2, and the stars, according to Isaiah 40:26), who are called the “armies” of Jehovah in Psalms 103:21; Psalms 148:2; but we are not to understand it as implying that the stars were supposed to be inhabited by angels, as Gesenius ( Thes. s. v.) maintains, since there is not the slightest trace of any such notion in the whole of the Old Testament. It is simply applied to Jehovah as the God of the universe, who governs all the powers of heaven, both visible and invisible, as He rules in heaven and on earth. It cannot even be proved that the epithet Lord, or God of Zebaoth, refers chiefly and generally to the sun, moon, and stars, on account of their being so peculiarly adapted, through their visible splendour, to keep alive the consciousness of the omnipotence and glory of God ( Hengstenberg on Psalms 24:10). For even though the expression צבאם (their host), in Genesis 2:1, refers to the heavens only, since it is only to the heavens (vid., Isaiah 40:26), and never to the earth, that a “host” is ascribed, and in this particular passage it is probably only the stars that are to be thought of, the creation of which had already been mentioned in Genesis 1:14.; yet we find the idea of an army of angels introduced in the history of Jacob (Genesis 32:2-3), where Jacob calls the angels of God who appeared to him the “camp of God,” and also in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:2), where the “ten thousands of saints” ( Kodesh ) are not stars, but angels, or heavenly spirits; whereas the fighting of the stars against Sisera in the song of Deborah probably refers to a natural phenomenon, by which God had thrown the enemy into confusion, and smitten them before the Israelites (see at Judges 5:20). We must also bear in mind, that whilst on the one hand the tribes of Israel, as they came out of Egypt, are called Zebaoth Jehovah, “the hosts of Jehovah” (Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:41), on the other hand the angel of the Lord, when appearing in front of Jericho in the form of a warrior, made himself known to Joshua as “the prince of the army of Jehovah,” i.e., of the angelic hosts. And it is in this appearance of the heavenly leader of the people of God to the earthly leader of the hosts of Israel, as the prince of the angelic hosts, not only promising him the conquest of Jericho, but through the miraculous overthrow of the walls of this strong bulwark of the Canaanitish power, actually giving him at the same time a practical proof that the prince of the angelic hosts was fighting for Israel, that we have the material basis upon which the divine epithet “Jehovah God of hosts” was founded, even though it was not introduced immediately, but only at a later period, when the Lord began to form His people Israel into a kingdom, by which all the kingdoms of the heathen were to be overcome. It is certainly not without significance that this title is given to God for the first time in these books, which contain an account of the founding of the kingdom, and (as Auberlen has observed) that it was by Samuel's mother, the pious Hannah, when dedicating her son to the Lord, and prophesying of the king and anointed of the Lord in her song of praise (1 Samuel 2:10), that this name was employed for the first time, and that God was addressed in prayer as “Jehovah of hosts” (1 Samuel 1:11). Consequently, if this name of God goes hand in hand with the prophetic announcement and the actual establishment of the monarchy in Israel, its origin cannot be attributed to any antagonism to Sabaeism, or to the hostility of pious Israelites to the worship of the stars, which was gaining increasing ground in the age of David, as Hengstenberg (on Psalms 24:10) and Strauss (on Zephaniah 2:9) maintain; to say nothing of the fact, that there is no historical foundation for such an assumption at all. It is a much more natural supposition, that when the invisible sovereignty of Jehovah received a visible manifestation in the establishment of the earthly monarchy, the sovereignty of Jehovah, if it did possess and was to possess any reality at all, necessarily claimed to be recognised in its all-embracing power and glory, and that in the title “God of (the heavenly hosts” the fitting expression was formed for the universal government of the God-king of Israel, - a title which not only serves as a bulwark against any eclipsing of the invisible sovereignty of God by the earthly monarchy in Israel, but overthrew the vain delusion of the heathen, that the God of Israel was simply the national deity of that particular nation.
(Note: This name of God was therefore held up before the people of the Lord even in their war-songs and paeans of victory, but still more by the prophets, as a banner under which Israel was to fight and to conquer the world. Ezekiel is the only prophet who does not use it, simply because he follows the Pentateuch so strictly in his style. And it is not met with in the book of Job, just because the theocratic constitution of the Israelitish nation is never referred to in the problem of that book.)
The remark introduced in 1 Samuel 1:3, “ and there were the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, priests of the Lord,” i.e., performing the duties of the priesthood, serves as a preparation for what follows. This reason for the remark sufficiently explains why the sons of Eli only are mentioned here, and not Eli himself, since, although the latter still presided over the sanctuary as high priest, he was too old to perform the duties connected with the offering of sacrifice. The addition made by the lxx, Ἡλὶ καὶ , is an arbitrary interpolation, occasioned by a misapprehension of the reason for mentioning the sons of Eli.
1 Samuel 1:4-5
“ And it came to pass, the day, and he offered sacrifice ” (for, “on which he offered sacrifice”), that he gave to Peninnah and her children portions of the flesh of the sacrifice at the sacrificial meal; but to Hannah he gave אפּים אחת מגה , “ one portion for two persons,” i.e., a double portion, because he loved her, but Jehovah had shut up her womb: i.e., he gave it as an expression of his love to her, to indicate by a sign, “thou art as dear to me as if thou hadst born me a child” ( O. v. Gerlach). This explanation of the difficult word אפּים , of which very different interpretations have been given, is the one adopted by Tanchum Hieros., and is the only one which can be grammatically sustained, or yields an appropriate sense. The meaning face ( facies) is placed beyond all doubt by Genesis 3:19 and other passages; and the use of לאפּי as a synonym for לפני in 1 Samuel 25:23, also establishes the meaning “person,” since פּנים is used in this sense in 2 Samuel 17:11. It is true that there are no other passages that can be adduced to prove that the singular אף was also used in this sense; but as the word was employed promiscuously in both singular and plural in the derivative sense of anger, there is no reason for denying that the singular may also have been employed in the sense of face ( πρόσωπον ). The combination of אפּים with אחת מגה in the absolute state is supported by many other examples of the same kind (see Ewald, §287, h). The meaning double has been correctly adopted in the Syriac, whereas Luther follows the tristis of the Vulgate, and renders the word traurig , or sad. But this meaning, which Fr. Böttcher has lately taken under his protection, cannot be philologically sustained either by the expression פניך נפלוּ (Genesis 4:6), or by Daniel 11:20, or in any other way. אף and אפּים do indeed signify anger, but anger and sadness are two very different ideas. But when Böttcher substitutes “angrily or unwillingly” for sadly, the incongruity strikes you at once: “he gave her a portion unwillingly, because he loved her!” For the custom of singling out a person by giving double or even large portions, see the remarks on Genesis 43:34.
1 Samuel 1:6
“ And her adversary (Peninnah) also provoked her with provocation, to irritate her.” The גּם is placed before the noun belonging to the verb, to add force to the meaning. רעם ( Hiphil), to excite, put into (inward) commotion, not exactly to make angry.
1 Samuel 1:7
“ So did he (Elkanah) from year to year (namely give to Hannah a double portion at the sacrificial meal), as often as she went up to the house of the Lord. So did she (Peninnah) provoke her (Hannah), so that she wept, and did not eat.” The two כּן correspond to one another. Just as Elkanah showed his love to Hannah at every sacrificial festival, so did Peninnah repeat her provocation, the effect of which was that Hannah gave vent to her grief in tears, and did not eat.
1 Samuel 1:8
Elkanah sought to comfort her in her grief by the affectionate appeal: “ Am I not better to thee ( טּוב , i.e., dearer) than ten children?” Ten is a found number for a large number.
Hannah's prayer for a son. - 1 Samuel 1:9-11. “ After the eating at Shiloh, and after the drinking,” i.e., after the sacrificial meal was over, Hannah rose up with a troubled heart, to pour out her grief in prayer before God, whilst Eli was sitting before the door-posts of the palace of Jehovah, and vowed this vow: “ Lord of Zebaoth, if Thou regardest the distress of Thy maiden, and givest men's seed to Thy maiden, I will give him to the Lord all his life long, and no razor shall come upon his head.” The choice of the infinitive absolute שׁתה instead of the infinitive construct is analogous to the combination of two nouns, the first of which is defined by a suffix, and the second written absolutely (see e.g., וזמרת עזּי , Exodus 15:2; cf. 2 Samuel 23:5, and Ewald, §339, b). The words from ועלי onwards to נפשׁ מרת form two circumstantial clauses inserted in the main sentence, to throw light upon the situation and the further progress of the affair. The tabernacle is called “ the palace of Jehovah ” (cf. 1 Samuel 2:22), not on account of the magnificence and splendour of the building, but as the dwelling-place of Jehovah of hosts, the God-king of Israel, as in Psalms 5:8, etc. מזוּזה is probably a porch, which had been placed before the curtain that formed the entranced into the holy place, when the tabernacle was erected permanently at Shiloh. נפשׁ מרת , troubled in soul (cf. 2 Kings 4:27). תבכּה וּבכה is really subordinate to תּתפּלּל , in the sense of “weeping much during her prayer.” The depth of her trouble was also manifest in the crowding together of the words in which she poured out the desire of her heart before God: “ If Thou wilt look upon the distress of Thine handmaid, and remember and not forget,” etc. “ Men's seed ” ( semen virorum ), i.e., a male child. אנשׁים is the plural of אישׁ , a man (see Ewald, §186-7), from the root אשׁ , which combines the two ideas of fire, regarded as life, and giving life and firmness. The vow contained two points: (1) she would give the son she had prayed for to be the Lord's all the days of his life, i.e., would dedicate him to the Lord for a lifelong service, which, as we have already observed at 1 Samuel 1:1, the Levites as such were not bound to perform; and (2) no razor should come upon his head, by which he was set apart as a Nazarite for his whole life (see at Numbers 6:2., and Judges 13:5). The Nazarite, again, was neither bound to perform a lifelong service nor to remain constantly at the sanctuary, but was simply consecrated for a certain time, whilst the sacrifice offered at his release from the vow shadowed forth a complete surrender to the Lord. The second point, therefore, added a new condition to the first, and one which was not necessarily connected with it, but which first gave the true consecration to the service of the Lord at the sanctuary. At the same time, the qualification of Samuel for priestly functions, such as the offering of sacrifice, can neither be deduced from the first point in the vow, nor yet from the second. If, therefore, at a later period, when the Lord had called him to be a prophet, and had thereby placed him at the head of the nation, Samuel officiated at the presentation of sacrifice, he was not qualified to perform this service either as a Levite or as a lifelong Nazarite, but performed it solely by virtue of his prophetic calling.
But when Hannah prayed much (i.e., a long time) before the Lord, and Eli noticed her mouth, and, as she was praying inwardly, only saw her lips move, but did not hear her voice, he thought she was drunken, and called out to her: “ How long dost thou show thyself drunken? put away thy wine from thee,” i.e., go away and sleep off thine intoxication (cf. 1 Samuel 25:37). לבּהּ על מדבּרת , lit. speaking to her heart. על is not to be confounded with אל (Genesis 24:45), but has the subordinate idea of a comforting address, as in Genesis 34:3, etc.
Hannah answered: “ No, my lord, I am a woman of an oppressed spirit. I have not drunk wine and strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord (see Psalms 42:5). Do not count thine handmaid for a worthless woman, for I have spoken hitherto out of great sighing and grief.” לפני נתן , to set or lay before a person, i.e., generally to give a person up to another; here to place him in thought in the position of another, i.e., to take him for another. שׂיה , meditation, inward movement of the heart, sighing.
Eli then replied: “ Go in peace, and the God of Israel give (grant) thy request ( שׁלתך for שׁאלתך ), which thou hast asked of Him.” This word of the high priest was not a prediction, but a pious wish, which God in His grace most gloriously fulfilled.
Hannah then went her way, saying, “ Let thine handmaid find grace in thine eyes,” i.e., let me be honoured with thy favour and thine intercession, and was strengthened and comforted by the word of the high priest, which assured her that her prayer would be heard by God; and she did eat, “ and her countenance was no more,” sc., troubled and sad, as it had been before. This may be readily supplied from the context, through which the word countenance ( פּנים ) acquires the sense of a troubled countenance, as in Job 9:27.
Samuel's birth, and dedication to the Lord. - 1 Samuel 1:19, 1 Samuel 1:20. The next morning Elkanah returned home to Ramah (see at 1 Samuel 1:1) with his two wives, having first of all worshipped before the Lord; after which he knew his wife Hannah, and Jehovah remembered her, i.e., heard her prayer. “ In the revolution of the days,” i.e., of the period of her conception and pregnancy, Hannah conceived and bare a son, whom she called Samuel; “ for (she said) I have asked him of the Lord.” The name שׁמוּאל ( Σαμουήλ , lxx) is not formed from שׁמוּ = שׁם and אל , name of God ( Ges. Thes. p. 1434), but from אל שׁמוּע , heard of God, a Deo exauditus , with an elision of the ע (see Ewald, §275, a., Not. 3); and the words “ because I have asked him of the Lord ” are not an etymological explanation of the name, but an exposition founded upon the facts. Because Hannah had asked him of Jehovah, she gave him the name, “ the God-heard,” as a memorial of the hearing of her prayer.
When Elkanah went up again with his family to Shiloh, to present his yearly sacrifice and his vow to the Lord, Hannah said to her husband that she would not go up till she had weaned the boy, and could present him to the Lord, that he might remain there for ever. הימים זבח , the sacrifice of the days, i.e., which he was accustomed to offer on the days when he went up to the sanctuary; really, therefore, the annual sacrifice. It follows from the expression “ and his vow,” that Elkanah had also vowed a vow to the Lord, in case the beloved Hannah should have a son. The vow referred to the presentation of a sacrifice. And this explains the combination of את־נדרו with לזבּח .
(Note: The lxx add to τὰς εὐχὰς αὐτοῦ the clause καὶ πάσας τὰς δεκάτας τῆς γῆς αὐτοῦ (“and all the tithes of his land”). This addition is just as arbitrary as the alteration of the singular נדרו into the plural τὰς εὐχὰς αὐτοῦ . The translator overlooked the special reference of the word נדרו to the child desired by Elkanah, and imagined - probably with Deuteronomy 12:26-27 in his mind, where vows are ordered to be paid at the sanctuary in connection with slain offerings and sacrificial meals - that when Elkanah made his annual journey to the tabernacle he would discharge all his obligations to God, and consequently would pay his tithes. The genuineness of this additional clause cannot be sustained by an appeal to Josephus ( Ant. v. 10, 3), who also has δεκάτας τε ἔφερον , for Josephus wrote his work upon the basis of the Alexandrian version. This statement of Josephus is only worthy of notice, inasmuch as it proves the incorrectness of the conjecture of Thenius, that the allusion to the tithes was intentionally dropped out of the Hebrew text by copyists, who regarded Samuel's Levitical descent as clearly established by 1 Chronicles 6:7-13 and 1 Chronicles 6:19-21. For Josephus ( l. c. §2) expressly describes Elkanah as a Levite, and takes no offence at the offering of tithes attributed to him in the Septuagint, simply because he was well acquainted with the law, and knew that the Levites had to pay to the priests a tenth of the tithes that they received from the other tribes, as a heave-offering of Jehovah (Numbers 18:26.; cf. Nehemiah 10:38). Consequently the presentation of tithe on the part of Elkanah, if it were really well founded in the biblical text, would not furnish any argument against his Levitical descent.)
Weaning took place very late among the Israelites. According to 2 Macc. 7:28, the Hebrew mothers were in the habit of suckling their children for three years. When the weaning had taken place, Hannah would bring her son up to the sanctuary, to appear before the face of the Lord, and remain there for ever, i.e., his whole life long. The Levites generally were only required to perform service at the sanctuary from their twenty-fifth to their fiftieth year (Numbers 8:24-25); but Samuel was to be presented to the Lord immediately after his weaning had taken place, and to remain at the sanctuary for ever, i.e., to belong entirely to the Lord. To this end he was to receive his training at the sanctuary, that at the very earliest waking up of his spiritual susceptibilities he might receive the impressions of the sacred presence of God. There is no necessity, therefore, to understand the word גּמל (wean) as including what followed the weaning, namely, the training of the child up to his thirteenth year (Seb. Schmidt), on the ground that a child of three years old could only have been a burden to Eli: for the word never has this meaning, not even in 1 Kings 11:20; and, as O. v. Gerlach has observed, his earliest training might have been superintended by one of the women who worshipped at the door of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:22).
Elkanah expressed his approval of Hannah's decision, and added, “ only the Lord establish His word,” i.e., fulfil it. By “His word” we are not to understand some direct revelation from God respecting the birth and destination of Samuel, as the Rabbins suppose, but in all probability the word of Eli the high priest to Hannah, “The God of Israel grant thy petition” (1 Samuel 1:17), which might be regarded by the parents of Samuel after his birth as a promise from Jehovah himself, and therefore might naturally excite the wish and suggest the prayer that the Lord would graciously fulfil the further hopes, which the parents cherished in relation to the son whom they had dedicated to the Lord by a vow. The paraphrase of דּברו in the rendering given by the lxx, τὸ ἐξελθὸν ὲκ τοῦ στόματός σου , is the subjective view of the translator himself, and does not warrant an emendation of the original text.
As soon as the boy was weaned, Hannah brought him, although still a נער , i.e., a tender boy, to Shiloh, with a sacrifice of three oxen, an ephah of meal, and a pitcher of wine, and gave him up to Eli when the ox (bullock) had been slain, i.e., offered in sacrifice as a burnt-offering. The striking circumstance that, according to 1 Samuel 1:24, Samuel's parents brought three oxen with them to Shiloh, and yet in 1 Samuel 1:25 the ox ( הפּר ) alone is spoken of as being slain (or sacrificed), may be explained very simply on the supposition that in 1 Samuel 1:25 that particular sacrifice is referred to, which was associated with the presentation of the boy, that is to say, the burnt-offering by virtue of which the boy was consecrated to the Lord as a spiritual sacrifice for a lifelong service at His sanctuary, whereas the other two oxen served as the yearly festal offering, i.e., the burnt-offerings and thank-offerings which Elkanah presented year by year, and the presentation of which the writer did not think it needful to mention, simply because it followed partly from 1 Samuel 1:3 and partly from the Mosaic law.
(Note: The interpretation of שׁלשׁה בּפרים by ἐν μόσχῳ τριετίζοντι (lxx), upon which Thenius would found an alteration of the text, is proved to be both arbitrary and wrong by the fact that the translators themselves afterwards mention the θυσία , which Elkanah brought year by year, and the μόσχος , and consequently represent him as offering at least two animals, in direct opposition to the μόσχῳ τριετίζοντι . This discrepancy cannot be removed by the assertion that in 1 Samuel 1:24 the sacrificial animal intended for the dedication of the boy is the only one mentioned; and the presentation of the regular festal sacrifice is taken for granted, for an ephah of meal would not be the proper quantity to be offered in connection with a single ox, since, according to the law in Numbers 15:8-9, only three-tenths of an ephah of meal were required when an ox was presented as a burnt-offering or slain offering. The presentation of an ephah of meal presupposes the offering of three oxen, and therefore shows that in 1 Samuel 1:24 the materials are mentioned for all the sacrifices that Elkanah was about to offer.)
When the boy was presented, his mother made herself known to the high priest as the woman who had previously prayed to the Lord at that place (see 1 Samuel 1:11.), and said, “ For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath granted me my request which I asked of Him: therefore I also make him one asked of the Lord all the days that he liveth; he is asked of the Lord. ” וגם אנכי : I also; et ego vicissim (Cler.). השׁאיל , to let a person ask, to grant his request, to give him what he asks (Exodus 12:36), signifies here to make a person “asked” ( שׁאוּל ). The meaning to lend, which the lexicons give to the word both here and Exodus 12:36, has no other support than the false rendering of the lxx, and is altogether unsuitable both in the one and the other. Jehovah had not lent the son to Hannah, but had given him (see 1 Samuel 1:11); still less could a man lend his son to the Lord. The last clause of 1 Samuel 1:28, “ and he worshipped the Lord there,” refers to Elkanah, qui in votum Hannae consenserat , and not to Samuel. On a superficial glance, the plural ישׁתּחווּ , which is found in some Codd., and in the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, appears the more suitable; but when we look more closely at the connection in which the clause stands, we see at once that it does not wind up the foregoing account, but simply introduces the closing act of the transference of Samuel. Consequently the singular is perfectly appropriate; and notwithstanding the fact that the subject is not mentioned, the allusion to Samuel is placed beyond all doubt. When Hannah had given up her son to the high priest, his father Elkanah first of all worshipped before the Lord in the sanctuary, and then Hannah worshipped in the song of praise, which follows in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany