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Morrish Bible Dictionary


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Descendant of Ithamar, and high priest in Israel. It is not recorded whom he succeeded; the book of 1Samuel opens with Eli as priest. Samuel was lent to the Lord by his pious mother, and he ministered unto the Lord before Eli. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were 'sons of Belial:' they assisted their father, but interfered with the due offering of the sacrifices, and sinned greatly before the people. Eli spoke to his sons of their evil doings, but he did not with energy prevent the dishonour to the Lord. It should be remembered that the responsibility of maintaining Israel, the people of the Lord, before Him, rested on the priestly house, hence the enormity of the young men's sin, and the solemnity of Eli's negligent conduct. A man of God came and told Eli plainly that he honoured his sons before the Lord, and detailed some judgements that should befall his house, and that his two sons should be slain in one day.

As Eli allowed his sons to continue in their evil ways, God sent a message to him by Samuel, reminding him of the judgements of which the man of God had warned him, and repeating that it was because "his sons made themselves vile and he restrained them not." Alas, poor Eli merely said, "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." A pious remark, but which did not correct the evil. This was Eli's great failing, though he otherwise apparently cared for God's honour. He trembled when the ark of God was carried to the war, which ended so disastrously. His two sons were killed and the ark was taken by the Philistines, and 'Ichabod' — 'the glory is departed' — marked the state of Israel through Eli's sin. When Eli heard these sad tidings he fell backward, and his neck brake. He had judged Israel forty years and was 98 years old. 1 Samuel 1 - 1 Samuel 4 . Abiathar his descendant was thrust from the priesthood by Solomon that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled which He spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh. 1 Kings 2:27 .

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Eli'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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