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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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a high priest of the Hebrews, of the race of Ithamar, who succeeded Abdon, and governed the Hebrews, both as priest and judge, during forty years. How Eli came to the high priesthood, and how this dignity was transferred from Eleazar's family to that of Ithamar, who was Aaron's youngest son, we know not. This much, however, is certain, that it was not done without an express declaration of God's will, 1 Samuel 2:27 , &c. In the reign of Solomon, the predictions in relation to Eli's family were fulfilled; for the high priesthood was taken from Abiathar, a descendant of Eli, and given to Zadok, who was of the race of Eleazar, 1 Kings 2:26 .

Eli appears to have been a pious, but indolent man, blinded by paternal affection, who suffered his sons to gain the ascendancy over him; and for want either of personal courage, or zeal for the glory of God sufficient to restrain their licentious conduct, he permitted them to go on to their own and his ruin. Thus he carried his indulgence to cruelty; while a more dignified and austere conduct on his part might have rendered them wise and virtuous, and thereby have preserved himself and family. A striking lesson for parents! God admonished him by Samuel, then a child; and Eli received those awful admonitions with a mind fully resigned to the divine will. "It is the Lord," said he, "let him do what seemeth him good." God deferred the execution of his vengeance many years. At length, however, Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli, were slain by the Philistines, the ark of the Lord was taken, and Eli himself, hearing this melancholy news, fell backward from his chair and broke his neck, in the ninety-eighth year of his age, 1 Samuel 4:12 ; 1 Samuel 4:18 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Eli'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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