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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Channah', חָגָּה , graciousness: Sept. ῎Αννα; (See ANNA), a name known to the Phoenicians [Gesen. Mon. Phoen. p. 400], and attributed by Virgil to Dido's sister), wife of a Levite named Elkanah, and mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1, 2). She was very dear to her husband, but, being childless, was much aggrieved by the insults of Elkanah's other wife, Peninnah, who was blessed with children. The family lived at Ramathaim- zophim, and, as the law required, there was a yearly journey to offer sacrifices at the sole altar of Jehovah, which was then at Shiloh. Women were not bound to attend; but pious females free from the cares of a family often did so, especially when the husband was a Levite. Every time that Hannah went there childless she declined to take part in the festivities which followed the sacrifices, being then, as it seems, peculiarly exposed to the taunts of her rival. At length, on one of these visits to Shiloh, while she prayed before returning home, she vowed to devote to the Almighty the son which she so earnestly desired (Numbers 30:1 sq.). It seems to have been the custom to pronounce all vows at the holy place in a loud voice, under the immediate notice of the priest (Deuteronomy 22:23; Psalms 66:14); but Hannah prayed in a low tone, so that her lips only were seen to move. This attracted the attention of the high priest, Eli, who suspected that she had taken too much wine at the recent feast. From this suspicion Hannah easily vindicated herself, and returned home with a lightened heart. Before the end of that year Hannah became the rejoicing mother of a son, to whom the name of Samuel was given, and who was from his birth placed under the obligations of that condition of Nazariteship to which his mother had devoted him. B.C. 1142. Hannah went no more to Shiloh till her child was old enough to dispense with her maternal services, when she took him up with her to leave him there, as it appears was the custom when one already a Levite was placed under the additional obligations of Nazariteship. When he was presented in Sue form to the high priest, the mother took occasion to remind him of the former transaction: "For this child," she said, "I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him"(1 Samuel 1:27). Hannah's gladness afterwards found vent in an exulting chant, which furnishes a remarkable specimen of the early lyric poetry of the Hebrews (see Schlosser, Canticum Hannae, Erlangen, 1801), and of which many of the ideas and images were in after times repeated by the Virgin Mary on a somewhat similar occasion (Luke 1:46 sq.; comp. also Psalms 113). It is especially remarkable as containing the first designation of the Messiah under that name. In the Targum it has been subjected to a process of magniloquent dilution, for which it would be difficult to find a parallel even in the pompous vagaries of that paraphrase (Eichhorn, Einl. 2, 68). After this Hannah failed not to visit Shiloh every year, bringing a new dress for her son, who remained under the eye and near the person of the high priest. (See SAMUEL). That great personage took kind notice of Hannah on these occasions, and bestowed his blessing upon her and her husband. The Lord repaid her abundantly for that which she had, to use her own expression, "lent to him;" for she had three sons and two daughters after Samuel (see Kitto's Daily Bible Illust.).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hannah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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