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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 1

 

 

Verses 1-28


The Birth of Samuel

Hannah, the childless wife of Elkanah, is. grieved by her childlessness, and prays for a son. Her prayer is heard, and in gratitude she consecrates her child to the service of Jehovah.

1. Ramathaim-zophim] Ramathaim ('double height') probably denotes the district in which Ramah ('height') was the chief town. It was at Ramah that Samuel was born, lived, laboured, died, and was buried. As Ramah was a common name in a hilly country like Palestine, Zophim is here added to denote that this Ramah was in the land of Zuph (1 Samuel 9:5). But even so, the exact position of Ramah has not been determined with certainty. Mount Ephraim] RV 'the hill country of Ephraim.' Ephrathite] RV 'Ephraimite.'

2. Two wives] The reason was probably the barrenness of Hannah, which Elkanah would consider a disgrace. Thomson states that at the present day in the East it is considered sufficient reason for a divorce. But here, as elsewhere in OT., we find evidence of the unhappiness which polygamy often produced.

3. Yearly] lit. 'from time to time.' The Law commanded every male to appear before God three times in the year, and there are strong reasons for assigning a very early date to the practice. Of course, the phrase 'from time to time' can mean 'from year to year,' when the context so defines it (as in Exodus 13:10); but otherwise there is no justification for so limiting it. lord of hosts] This title of God occurs here for the first time, and its use was probably occasioned by the warlike character of the book. As used in the books of Samuel, 'the hosts' are the armies of Israel (1 Samuel 17:45), but afterwards the idea was extended to the hosts of angels (Psalms 103:20-21). Shiloh] Joshua set up the Tabernacle there (Joshua 18:1), as being central and in the territory of his own tribe. For its position, see Judges 21:19. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there] rather, 'and there the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord.'

5. A worthy portion] LXX reads 'But unto Hannah he gave a single portion.' Elkanah gave portions to Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But in spite of his love for Hannah, he only gave her a single portion, because she had neither son nor daughter. The Heb. text, as it stands, cannot be translated. The portion was the part of the sacrifice consumed by the offerer and his family: see Leviticus 7.

6. Her adversary] i.e. Peninnah. The word is a common one in Arabic to denote a rival, or fellow-wife.

7. As he did so] Probably the true text is 'So it happened.' Did not eat] refused to take any part in the festival, of which the sacrificial meal was a principal feature (cp. 1 Samuel 9).

9. Eli the priest] i.e. the chief priest. How Eli had attained this rank we do not know, for he was descended from Ithamar the younger son of Aaron, and not from Eleazar the elder son. It has been supposed that in those troublous times the office was bestowed upon him on account of his ability and piety. Upon a seat by a post] RV 'upon his seat by the door post,' where he could see all who went in or out: cp. 1 Samuel 4:13.

11. See Numbers 6 respecting the Nazirite vow.

16. A daughter of Belial] lit. 'a daughter of worthlessness,' i.e. a worthless woman. 'Belial' came to be used as a name for Satan (2 Corinthians 6:15). Grief] RV 'provocation.'

20. Samuel] The name Samuel is here connected with the verb saal, 'to ask'; but this seems only to have been a popular etymology. Most probably Samuel means 'name of God': cp. 1 Samuel 1:28.

21. His vow] Perhaps Elkanah had vowed an offering to God if Hannah had a son, which he now fulfilled: cp. Leviticus 7:16.

22. Until the child be weaned] After this the ordinary attendants at the Tabernacle would be able to take charge of him. In the Koran the usual time for weaning is stated to be the age of two years.

23. His word] LXX 'thy word.' No mention has been made in the preceding account of any promise of God.

24. Three bullocks] Probably one bullock was for the burnt-offering, which accompanied the dedication of Samuel, another was for Elkanah's usual sacrifice, while the third was the thank-offering he had vowed (1 Samuel 1:21).

28. Lent] RV 'granted,' as in Exodus 12:36. And he worshipped the Lord there] These words interrupt the connexion and are rightly omitted by LXX.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/1-samuel-1.html. 1909.

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