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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Eli (ç'li), summit, the highest, according to some, adopted of the Lord. A noted high priest and judge of Israel. He was of the family of Ithamar, Aaron's youngest son; for his descendant Ahimelech or Abiathar, 1 Samuel 14:3; 1 Samuel 22:20; 2 Samuel 8:17, is expressly said to be of that house. 1 Chronicles 24:3. We do not know how or when the high priesthood passed from Eleazar's family to that of Ithamar; but because of Eli's sin in not restraining his ungodly sons, it reverted again to the elder line. 1 Samuel 2:22-25; 1 Kings 2:35. With the exception of this great fault, of which he was repeatedly warned, Eli appears to have been a holy man. To him was committed the charge of Samuel the prophet when a child. And his anxiety for the ark of God, carried with the Israelitish army to battle, is graphically depicted in the sacred history. He sat watching for news in the open road; and when he heard the disastrous intelligence, the death of his two sons, and, worst of all the capture of the ark by the Philistines, he who could have borne the desolation of his own house sank down in grief, and his neck brake, and he died. He was 98 years old, and had judged Israel 40 years: some of these years probably including the time of Samuel. 1 Samuel 1:1-28; 1 Samuel 2:1-36; 1 Samuel 3:1-21; 1 Samuel 4:1-22. Part of the fulfillment of the threatening against Eli's house is noted in 1 Kings 2:27.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Eli'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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