Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL;
THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS.
This and the following Book are called by the Hebrews, the Books of Samuel, because they contain the history of Samuel, and of the two kings, Saul and David, whom he anointed. They are more commonly named by the Fathers, the First and Second Book of Kings. As to the writer of them, it is the common opinion that Samuel composed the first book, as far as the twenty-fifth chapter; and that the prophets Nathan and Gad finished the first and wrote the second book. See 1 Paralipomenon, alias 1 Chronicles, xxix. 19. (Challoner) --- The authors of the Third and Fourth Books of Kings were also prophets, but we know not exactly their names. These works have nevertheless been always esteemed authentic (Haydock) and canonical. (Worthington) --- Ven. Bede takes occasion to observe, from the Books of Kings (or as the Septuagint read, "of kingdoms;" Haydock) being placed after that of Judges, that the everlasting kingdom of Christ will succeed the general judgment. The translation of the priesthood and of the regal dignity, recorded in these books, denote also that Christ would united both in his own person; as the two wives of Eleana intimated, that both Jews and Gentiles would acknowledge the same Lord. (St. Jerome; St. Augustine; &c.) --- The transactions of Heli, Samuel and Saul, and the persecutions which David sustained from the latter, form the subject of the first book, (Haydock) during the space of 100 years. All the four books carry down the sacred history near 600 years, from the year of the world 2849 till the transmigration of Juda, in the year 3420. (Calmet) (Usher)
There. Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., "And there," &c. The books of Scripture are thus frequently connected. The authors present us with a series of events, without prefixing any title, or their own names, that our attention may be wholly fixed on what we read. The birth of Samuel being so miraculous, deserves to be recorded, as he was the last judge of Israel, and had so much to do under the first of their kings, whose election and misconduct brought a great change into the state of the commonwealth. (Calmet) --- Ramathaimsophim. Rama, or Ramatha, "a height," and the environs were occupied by the family of Suph, a descendant of Core; (1 Paralipomenon vi. 29.) though the place did not properly belong to the Levites. It lay probably between Gabaa and Bethel, where Samuel spent much of his time, while he was judge, and obliged to be frequently absent from the tabernacle. (Calmet) --- Ragusinus and Prince Radzivil think it was afterwards called Arimathea, the birth-place of Joseph, and now Ramula. (Tirinus) (Chap. ii. 11.) --- Ephraimite. He was of the tribe of Levi, (1 Paraliponmenon vi. 34.) but is called an Ephraimites from dwelling in Mount Ephraim. (Challoner) --- So we read of Cretan Jews, Acts ii. 11. (Tirinus)
Phenenna. She was only of inferior dignity. At that time polygamy was lawful, (Menochius) as Moses insinuates, if he do not expressly allow it.
Days, the three great festivals. His family accompanied him, though the law only lays an express injunction upon the males to attend. We find, however, that females did not neglect to come. (Calmet) --- Hosts. Hebrew (Tsebaoth) of "armies," both of angels and of Israel. God is attended by myriads of angels, and decides the fate of armies. (Haydock) --- This title has not appeared in the former books. The pagans took occasion from it to form their Jupiter Sabazius. (Calmet) --- Elcana might go up from the height of Ramatha to Silo, which was the highest mountain round Jerusalem of all in the holy land. (Adrichomius) (Tirinus)
Sacrificed, by the hand of the priests, (Menochius) who had the breast and right shoulder; the rest was given back to the person who had presented the fattened victim, that he might feast with his friends. (Calmet)
With sorrow. Hebrew apayim, "of faces, indignation, (Calmet) sorrow;" (Menochius) or that was presented before him. Chaldean and many others translate, "a chosen:" (Calmet) Protestants, "a worthy portion." (Haydock) --- The shew-bread is called, "the bread of the face," because it stood before the Lord. Joseph sent to each of his brethren, "a portion of his faces," as the Hebrew expresses it; (Genesis xliii. 33.) or of such meat as was placed upon his table. In the East, the master of a family has all set before him, and he sends to each his portion, to the place where he is sitting. (Chardin, Perse.) --- Thus Elcana sent some more excellent, or "double," part to his beloved Anna, (Calmet) grieving inwardly that she had no children, to whom he might also send. (Haydock) --- By this distinction, he wished to alleviate the sorrow of his wife. (Menochius) --- Womb. Sterility was deemed a curse, and a mark of God's displeasure, with which women were often reproached. Hence Anna prays so earnestly that God would be mindful of her, ver. 11-19. The power of the Almighty, in giving children to the barren, is frequently mentioned, Genesis xxviii. 13., and Psalm cxii. 9. (Calmet) --- Luke i. 25., &c. (Haydock)
Insomuch. Hebrew, "to make her fret, or rage; because the Lord," &c. (Calmet)
Lord. Then they could hardly avoid being together on the road, and Anna was accustomed to pray earnestly (Menochius) to be delivered from her reproach. (Haydock)
Silo; either in some private house, or in the porch before the tabernacle. She complied with the entreaty of her husband. (Menochius) --- Stool. Hebrew, "Heli was sitting upon a throne, near the steps, leading to the palace of the Lord." It is also called the temple, or the house of God, though it was only a tent, Matthew xii. 4., &c. Perhaps women were not allowed to go beyond the porch.
A vow; rightly trusting that her husband would give his consent, Numbers xxx. 7. --- Razor. Hebrew mora, "scissors." Septuagint, "iron." Some copies add, "he shall not drink wine, nor any intoxicating drink." In quality of Levite, Samuel was bound to serve the tabernacle from 25 or 30 years of age till he was 50, Numbers iv. 2. Anna consecrates him to the Lord for life, and promises that he shall be a Nazarite, like Samson, and St. John the Baptist. The law prescribes no rules for these perpetual Nazarites, Numbers vi. 3. Many of the ancients believe that Samuel always observed the prescriptions of Moses, and abstained from intoxicating liquors; though the Hebrew and Vulgate are silent on this head. We find that during his administration as Judge, he was not able to continue always near the tabernacle. (Calmet) --- When he came to years of discretion, he might depart if he thought proper, like other Levites. Had he been of another tribe, he must have been redeemed. (Worthington) --- Esther, Elcana, or Samuel, might have annulled this vow. (Salien, the year of the world 2900.)
Prayers, out of fervour; not through vain superstition and ostentation, as the Pharisees and pagans did, Matthew xxiii. 14. Christ does not condemn many, or long prayers, since he prayed whole nights for our instruction, Luke xxi. 43., and vi. 12., and 1 Thessalonians v. 17. --- Mouth. He tried, but could not hear what she said. (Calmet)
Much. Heli's "son or servant," (Greek: paidarion, according to the Septuagint) addressed these words to Anna. Her going to pray immediately after a feast, instead of taking recreation, increased the suspicion. (St. Chrysostom, hom. 1.) --- Salien (the year before Christ 1153) observes the many instances of patience which Anna exhibits on this occasion. (Haydock) --- She teaches us not to answer the unjust reproaches of our superiors with haughtiness. (Du Hamel)
My lord. She gives him this title, though he had called her a drunken woman. (Haydock) --- Unhappy. Hebrew, "of a hard (or afflicted) spirit." See Canticle of Canticles viii. 6. (Calmet)
Belial; "without restraint;" abandoned. (Haydock) --- Septuagint, "pestiferous." --- Sorrow. Hebrew, "meditation;" (Calmet) what preys upon my spirits. (Haydock)
Peace, with all blessings. (Menochius)
Eyes: that thou wouldst lay aside thy suspicions against my character, and pray (Calmet) that I may obtain so great a happiness. --- Changed. Hebrew, "no more," as it had been sad, and defaced with tears. (Haydock) --- She was now full of hope and joy. (Menochius) --- Septuagint, "her countenance fell not." She was not moved with anger or with jealousy, Genesis iv. 6. (Calmet)
About, at the expiration of the year, which term the ancients frequently allowed between the conception and the nativity, Genesis xviii. 10. --- Samuel. This name imports, asked of God. (Challoner) --- Some letters are omitted for the easier pronunciation, as the Hebrews would now write it, Saul-meel; (Calmet) or it may signigy, "God placed him," sum-hal. (Tirinus) --- Shaal means, "to ask." But Vatable thinks that Anna retained only the first letter. (Menochius)
Vow, in consequence of his son's nativity. The sacrifice might be of precept, such as the paschal lamb, or for his wife's purification and the redemption of his first-born, as they could not attend in person. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "the victim of days and his vow," which he had probably made in conjunction with Anna. (Menochius)
Weaned. The mother of the Machabees weaned her children when they were three years old; (2 Machabees vii. 27.) which Gallien asserts as the proper time, though Avicenna fixes upon two years. See Genesis xxi. 8. Iremellius translates, "till the child be grown up." But we must not allow any long term, since he was very young when he was presented to the Lord, ver. 24.
Word, by preserving the life of the child, (Calmet) and enabling him to serve according to our engagement. (Haydock) --- Word is often put for "a thing," in Hebrew. May God perfect his own work. (Menochius)
Three calves. Septuagint, "a calf three years old," such as Abraham sacrificed, Genesis xv. 9. We only find one offered up, ver. 25. --- Bushels. Hebrew epha, (Calmet) each of which contained three bushes or measures, Ruth ii. 17. (Haydock) --- Bottle. Hebrew nebel, a large measure containing above 87 pints. (Calmet) --- The sacrifices seem to have been for thanksgiving, accompanied with an ephi for each calf, and with wine, Numbers xv., and Ezechiel xlvi. 7.
Liveth: a strong attestation. (Menochius) --- As sure as you live; or, may you enjoy a long and happy life. See chap. xvii. 55., and xx. 3., Daniel iii. 9., and 2 Esdras ii. 3.
Lent. This is equivalent to giving entirely. Anna presents her son to the Lord, to serve in his tabernacle as long as God shall think proper. He dispensed with his personal attendance, when he appointed him judge, chap. vii. 15. (Calmet) --- As much as depended on Samuel's mother, he was consecrated for ever. But he was at liberty to ratify the vow if he pleased. (Menochius) --- The expression, lent, seems to reserve the dominion of the thing, which Anna had entirely given up, so that we might translate the Hebrew, "Therefore I have him simply as one lent....he is a thing lent, which belongs to the Lord." (Calmet) --- They. Hebrew, "he worshipped the Lord there." Grabe found not these words in the Alexandrian copy, which by comparison of this chapter with the the Vatican edition, appears, to be more accurate. Both omit this sentence: but it is found in the Aldine edition of the Septuagint Proleg., chap. iv. The Targum adds, "and she prayed in the spirit of prophecy, and said." (Haydock)