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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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("grace".) The favorite wife of Elkanah, a Levite of Ramathaim Zophim. His other wife Peninnah, who had sons and daughters, acted as "her adversary provoking her sore for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb"; and this "year by year when she went up to the house of Jehovah," and when her husband gave her a double portion of the flesh at the sacrificial meal (Hebrew: one portion for two persons; to show her he loved her as dearly as if she had sons), which aggravated Peninnah's enmity; "therefore (instead of joy such as a festive season usually produces) she wept and did not eat" (1 Samuel 1). Elkanah comforted her saying, "Am not I better to thee than ten sons?" Polygamy begets jealousies, and is its own punishment (Genesis 16:4-6).

Her sorrow drove her the more closely to God; "in bitterness of soul" she "prayed unto Jehovah and wept sore, and vowed, O Lord of hosts (who hast therefore all powers at Thy command), if Thou wilt, indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid and wilt give a man child, then I will give him unto Jehovah all his life, and no razor shall come upon his head." Her desire for a son was subordinate and subsidiary to her higher desire that he should be the instrument of a religious revival, then so much needed in Israel. As Samson, the last divinely sent deliverer, was a Nazarite from the womb so Hannah desired that her son should have Samsoh's consecration but without Samson's declension. Her vow implies how much she felt the need of some extraordinary instrument being raised to stem the tide of evil; hence instead of leaving it optional how long the Nazarite vow should last she destined her son to a vow for life.

"Only her lips moved but her voice was not heard (a proof how real prayer may be, though unspoken, for the still water is often deepest while the shallow stream babbles loudest), therefore Eli the high priest thought her drunken." Hasty judgments are often uncharitable, love thinketh no evil. It had been better if he had been as faultfinding where it was really needed, namely, with his own dissolute sons. To his reproach, which one already overweighted should have been spared, she meekly replied: "No, my lord; I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit, I have drunk no strong drink, but have poured out (emptying of all its contents, the definition of true prayer, Psalms 62:8) my soul before Jehovah." Eli's reproof was turned into blessing, "the God of Israel grant thee thy petition." So she went her way and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad, for prayer dispels care (Philippians 4:6).

In due time "Jehovah remembered her," and gave her a son whom she named SAMUEL , i.e. heard of God, "because I have asked him of the Lord." She did not go up again to the sanctuary until she had weaned him (the Hebrew weaning was not until three years of age) and could present him to the Lord for ever. The mention of Elkanah's offering "his vow" shows that he too had vowed for the birth of a son by his beloved Hannah His prayer, "only the Lord establish His word," refers to their joint hopes that their son might be an instrument of spiritual blessing to Israel. The three bullocks offered were, one a burnt offering whereby Samuel was consecrated to Jehovah, the other two the festal offering, i.e. the burnt offering and the thank offering which Elkanah presented yearly.

Hannah in presenting the child to Eli made herself known as the woman who had prayed for him in that place years before; "Jehovah hath granted what I asked, therefore I also make him one asked of Jehovah, as long as he liveth he shall be as one asked of Jehorah." The translation "lent" is unsuitable. Jehovah had given, not "lent," Samuel to her; still less could she "lend" him to Jehovah. Elkanah then "worshipped Jehovah." Hannah followed with her song of praise, the prototype of the Virgin Mary's song and Zacharias' song (Luke 1:46 ff, and Luke 1:68 ff), as Samuel typifies Jesus (compare Psalm 113). Hannah regards her case as an illustration of the eternal principle of God's moral government which was to find its highest realization in God's "Anointed," King Messiah. Joy in the Lord's salvation is the final portion of the now afflicted righteous, founded on the holiness of God (Luke 2:2).

Proud speech escapes not God's cognizance (Luke 2:3); Peninnah's case is a sample of the universal law, "by God actions are weighed" (Daniel 5:27). Keil translated "to Him actions are weighed," i.e. His (God's) actions are just; alleging that it is men's hearts not their actions that are weighed (Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 24:12). Israel's now insulting foes shall yet be brought to account; "the bows of the mighty shall be broken," and stumbling Israel shall be "girded with strength." "The barren bears seven," i.e. many children, seven being the sacred number indicating divinely covenanted fullness and perfection. "And she that hath many children is waxed feeble;" "Jehovah bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up": soon to be illustrated in Israel's history under Samuel (1 Samuel 4-7).

"He will keep the feet of His saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness": the humble saints will be "kept" finally (1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 5:5-7), whereas the now loud boasting wicked shall be silenced (Judges 1:15; Matthew 22:12-13) in perpetual darkness. Her prophetic anticipations have been and are being fulfilled. The Philistine oppressors have long passed into oblivion, but trodden down Israel survives, awaiting the day when "the adversaries of Jehovah shall be broken to pieces," when "He shall judge the ends of the earth, and give strength unto His King, and exalt His Anointed," in whom alone the divine kingdom finds its culmination (Psalm 2).

Hannah made and brought Samuel yearly a coat (meeiyl ), the term for the coat of the high priest, which it resembled, though of simpler material and less ornament; it marked his close spiritual relation to Jehovah and His high priest) when she accompanied Elkanah to the yearly sacrifice. Her devoting him to Jehovah was, in accordance with Eli's prayer, followed by God giving her three more sons and two daughters, for He rewards superabundantly any sacrifice we make for Him (2 Chronicles 25:9; 2 Corinthians 9:10-11).

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Hannah'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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