Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 1.
Elkanah goeth yearly up to the feast at Shiloh with his two wives: Hannah is barren; Peninnah upbraideth her, 1Sa 1:1-6. Hannah prayeth fervently to the Lord for a son; promising to separate him a Nazarite unto God, 1Sa 1:7-12. Eli thinking her drunk rebuketh her; upon her answer, blesseth her, 1Sa 1:13-18. She returneth home with Elkanah, and conceiveth; beareth Samuel; offereth her sacrifice; performs her promise concerning him, 1Sa 1:19-28.
Ramathaim-zophirn, called Ramah, 1Sa 1:19, and here is the dual number Ramathaim, i.e. double Ramah, probably because it consisted of two parts, whereof the one might be called the old city, the other the new, both being united into one; and the additional title of Zophim, which signifies watch-towers, or watchmen, may note either the height of its situation, which made it fit for that use; or that the prophets, who are called watchmen, as Eze 3:17, had a school or college there.
An Ephrathite, i.e. one of Bethlehem-judah, Rth 1:2, to wit, by his birth and habitation, though by his original a Levite. Thus divers Jews by nation are called Medes, Elamites, Cretians, &c., Act 2:9-11, because they were born and bred there.
And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.He had two wives; as divers other good men had in those ages. And it is probable that he took a second wife, to wit, Peninnah, because Hannah, who being first named seems to have been his first wife, was barren.
And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.Yearly, to wit, at one of the solemn feasts, which probably was the passover, when he not only went up himself, but carried his wife and children with him. Compare 1 Samuel 1:7. Or, at the appointed days or times; Heb. from days to days; or, from time to time, i.e. at the three solemn feasts, when he, together with all other males, were obliged to go to worship God in the place appointed; and at other times, when he as a Levite was to go thither in his course.
To sacrifice; not in his own person, which the Levites could not do, but by the priests; in which sense David, and Solomon, and Absalom are said to offer sacrifices, 2 Samuel 15:8 1 Kings 8:63 1 Chronicles 21:26. In Shiloh; where the tabernacle had long been, and now was. See Joshua 18:1 Judges 18:31 21:19.
The priests of the Lord were there, or, were the priests of the Lord there, to wit, under their father Eli, who is generally conceived to have been the high priest, but being very old and infirm, 1 Samuel 4:15, and unfit for service, his sons ministered in his stead, being as it were second priests. See 2 Kings 25:18. And this clause seems to be added, to show that this good man did not run into that vulgar error, of neglecting his duty of offering to God for the wickedness of the priests; of which see 1 Samuel 2:17,24.
And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:Ver. 4. To wit, out of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings, the greatest part whereof fell to the offerer, and was eaten by him and his friends or guests before the Lord, Le 3 Le 7 Deu 12:12 16:11; and out of this he gave them all parts or portions, as the master of the feast used to do to guests.
But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.A worthy portion, or, an honourable or select part, such as the master of the feast usually gave to the person most respected or beloved. See Genesis 43:34 1 Samuel 9:23,24.
He loved Hannah, with a singular and eminent love. Compare Genesis 29:30.
And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.Her adversary, or, her troubler, or vexer, or enemy; for so her envy or jealousy made her, though so nearly related. Compare Genesis 29:30 Leviticus 18:18.
To make her fret, against her husband, or against God, or within herself.
And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.As he did so, i.e. either as oft as he went and carried them with him to worship; or as Elkanah expressed peculiar kindness to Hannah, as was said, 1 Samuel 1:5.
Year by year, i.e. every year, at the days or times mentioned, 1 Samuel 1:3.
When she went up to the house of the Lord. This circumstance is noted, first, As the occasion of the contention, because at such times they were forced to more society with one another by the way, and in their lodgings; whereas at home they had distinct apartments, where they might be asunder; and then her husband’s extraordinary love and kindness was showed to Hannah, whereby Peninnah was the more exasperated; then also Hannah prayed earnestly for a child, which hitherto she had done in vain; and this possibly she reproached her with. Secondly, As the aggravation of her sin, that when she came to worship God, and to offer sacrifices, when she should have been reconciled even to her enemies, Matthew 5:23,24, she did quarrel with so near a relation.
Did not eat; either little, or rather nothing at all, as being overwhelmed with grief, and therefore unfit to eat of that sacred food, according to Deu 12:7.
Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?Oughtest thou not to value my hearty love to thee, more than the having of as many sons as Peninnah hath? She would willingly change conditions with thee.
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.After they had eaten, i.e. Elkanah and his company, except Hannah. Or, she; for though at first she eat nothing, yet upon her husband’s invitation and encouragement she might eat afterwards; though the former may seem more probable.
Upon a seat, or throne; for it is manifest it was raised higher than ordinary, 1 Samuel 4:18. Here he might sit, either as the judge, or rather as high priest, to hear and answer such as came to him for advice, and to inspect and direct the worship of God as need was.
By a post of the temple, i.e. of the tabernacle, which is called the temple here, and 1 Samuel 3:3 2 Samuel 22:7 Psalm 27:6; as, on the contrary, the temple is called the tabernacle, Jeremiah 10:20 Lamentations 2:6. And although this tabernacle was but a tent, yet it was supported by boards and posts, and especially at the entrance, by which Eli sat, even by the entrance into the outward court, otherwise he could not have seen Hannah. See Poole on "1 Samuel 3:15".
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.She was in bitterness of soul, i.e. oppressed with grief, as that phrase is used, Job 7:11 10:1 Ruth 1:20.
And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.She vowed a vow; knowing that her husband would willingly consent to it, otherwise she had not power to do it.
If thou wilt indeed look on, to wit, favourably, so as to remove it.
The affliction, i.e. the barrenness and reproach which attends it.
Give him unto the Lord, i.e. consecrate him to God’s service in his temple, as far as in me lies; for if he had any blemish, she might not do it.
All the days of his life; not only from his twenty-fifth to his fiftieth year, as all the Levites, and so he himself, were obliged by God, Numbers 4:3 8:24, but for his whole time; which is still to be understood with a reservation of God’s right, which her now must give place to, as indeed it did; for God called him to be a prophet, and a general of the army, and a judge.
There shall no razor come upon his head, i.e. he shall be a perpetual Nazarite; for under this one rule, as the chief, all the rest are contained; as elsewhere the whole Mosaical law is understood, under the title of circumcision.
And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.As she continued praying, Heb. multiplied to pray. By which it appears that she said much more than is here expressed. And the like you are to judge of the prayers and sermons of other holy persons recorded in Scripture, which gives us only the sum and substance of them; which consideration may help us much in the understanding of some passages of the Bible.
Her mouth, i.e. the motion of her lips, as it follows.
Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.Her voice was not heard; partly, to avoid the suspicion of vain-glory; partly, because she would not have others acquainted with her barrenness, which was matter of reproach; and partly, because she would not disturb others, who at this solemn feast were probably employed there in the same work.
Eli thought she had been drunken, because of the multitude of her words, and those uncouth gestures and motions of her face and body, which the vehemency of her passion and her fervency in prayer, caused in her, as it doth frequently in others; and because she was but newly come from a feast, wherein the manner was to eat and drink liberally, (though not to excess.) which he knew very well, both from the general custom of that season, and from the time of the day.
And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.Come not before the Lord in thy drunkenness, but go and sleep it out, and repent of this thy sin.
And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.I am a women; in whom drunkenness is most abominable; so that the Romans punished it with death; therefore judge me not so severely.
Of a sorrowful spirit; and therefore not likely to give up myself to drink and jollity, and far from that merry temper which drunkards have: I am drunk with affliction, not with wine, as is said, Isaiah 51:21.
I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, to wit, this day: see above, 1 Samuel 1:7,8.
Have poured out my soul; have been breathing forth the griefs, and perplexities, and desires of my soul. The like phrase is Job 30:16 Psalm 62:8 142:2.
Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.For a daughter of Belial; for such a wicked monster, as a drunken woman is. The oppression of my spirits hath forced me to speak, and that so liberally at this time, for the case of my sinking heart.
Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.Go in peace; I recall my censure, and give thee my blessing, and wish thee peace, i.e. a quiet and composed mind, free from whatsoever it is that grieves and oppresses thee; and withal, good success and prosperity in what thou desirest; for peace is a very comprehensive word among the Hebrews.
Grant, or will grant; for it may be either a prayer or a prediction, which he might deliver, either from the consideration of God’s known goodness and readiness to hear prayers; or he might be directed to say so by a special instinct of God’s Spirit, which sometimes was given to the high priests, even when they were wicked, as John 11:51, and much more when they were holy men, as Eli was. And some add, that he was a prophet.
And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.Grace in thy sight; that favourable opinion, and good will, and gracious prayer, which thou hast expressed on my behalf, be pleased to continue toward me.
Her countenance was no more sad; her heart being cheered by the priest’s comfortable words, and especially by God’s Spirit setting them home upon her, and assuring her that both his and her prayers should be heard, it quickly appeared in her countenance. Heb. her indignation, or vexation, (as the word face is sometimes understood, as Genesis 32:20 Psalm 21:9 34:16) was no more, i.e. it vanished away.
And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.They rose up in the morning early; partly for their journey, and partly for prayer, as it follows, for which this was a very fit and usual time, Psalm 5:3 119:147.
Remembered her, i.e. manifested his remembrance of her by the effect.
Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.So the sense is, When the usual time from the conception to the birth was past, she brought forth her son. Heb. in or after the revolution, or expiration of some days, Hannah conceived, and in due time
bare a son. So the meaning is, That although her husband knew her conjugally at his return, and God was minded of her, and intended in his time to give her his blessing, yet she did not conceive at first, but after some days or time afterwards.
And called, i.e. she called, not doubting of her husband’s consent to the name. The names of children were given to them sometimes by their fathers, and sometime by the mothers. See Genesis 4:1,26 5:29 21:3 19:37,38, &c.
And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.All his house, i.e. his wife Peninnah, and his children, which are ofttimes called a man’s house in Scripture, Hannah only and her child excepted, as it here follows.
The yearly sacrifice; that solemn sacrifice which was offered up once every year; probably the paschal lamb, which is oft called a sacrifice, as Exodus 12:27 34:25.
And his vow; by which it appears, though it was not expressed before, that he heard and consented to her vow, which was necessary to make it obligatory, Num 30, and that he added a vow of his own, of some singular sacrifice to be offered, if God answered his prayers.
But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.Hannah went not up, to wit, at that sacred anniversary feast, to which she went up before but now did not, because she could not with satisfaction to her mind and conscience appear before the Lord empty, or without paying her vow; nor bring her child thither to God, and then carry him away from God to her own house. Nor did she sin by not going up; for the women were not obliged go up at the solemn feasts, but the men only, Exodus 23:17.
Until the child be weaned; not only from the breast and the milk, which was done within two or three years at most, but also from the mother’s knee and care, and from childish food; till the child be something grown up, and fit to do some service in the tabernacle for it seems, that as soon as he was brought up, he worshipped God, 1 Samuel 1:28, and presently after ministered to Eli, 1 Samuel 2:11. And this may further appear from the very nature of the vow, which must needs design a service and an advantage to the tabernacle, and not a burden and encumbrance, as it would have been if a young child had been brought up to it, and left upon it.
That he may appear before the Lord, and there abide forever; that when once he is presented to the Lord, he may continue in his service as long as he liveth, as is said 1 Samuel 1:28.
And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.The Lord establish his word; either, first, The word of God made known to them by Eli, above, 1 Samuel 4:17, which being delivered by God’s high priest, and that in answer to his and his wife’s prayers, he took to be a kind of oracle sent from God. But that word was already fulfilled in the birth of a son. Or, secondly, Some other word or message from God to Elkanah or his wife concerning Samuel; for such revelations were frequent in those ages of the church, and were oft vouchsafed by God, concerning such children as were extraordinary persons, or in a special manner devoted to God; as concerning Isaac, Ge 18, and Samson, Judges 13:3,4, and John Baptist, Luke 1:13,14, &c., and others. And so it might be here, though it were not mentioned before, there being many such things in Scripture omitted in their proper places, which afterwards are expressed or implied upon other occasions. Or rather, thirdly, It may be rendered his matter, or thing, i.e. the business concerning the child, that which thou hast promised or vowed concerning him, that he may grow up, and be accepted and employed by God in his service; and that he, when he is fully grown, may not break thy vow, but confirm it.
And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.Three bullocks; either, first, One to be offered at that time; the other two presented to the priest, whether for his own use, or to be offered afterwards, as he saw fit. Or, secondly, One for a burnt-offering the second for a sin-offering, the third for a peace-offering, of which they might all feast together; for all these sorts seem expedient for this work and time.
One ephah of flour, for the meat-offerings belonging to the principal sacrifices, which to each bullock were three tenth deals, or three tenth parts of an ephah, as appears from Numbers 15:9 28:12; and so nine homers, or nine parts of the ephah, were spent, and the tenth part was either a separate meat-offering, or given to the priest.
A bottle of wine, for drink-offerings, according to the manner.
And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.A bullock; either, first, One of the three at the present, reserving the rest for the future. Or, secondly, The three bullocks mentioned 1 Samuel 1:24, to which the article here added, in the Hebrew, seems manifestly to relate; there being no one bullock there, singled out, to which it can belong. And so it is only an enallage of the singular number for the plural, which is frequent.
And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.Oh my lord; a form of speech to engage favourable attention.
As thy soul liveth; the usual form of an oath, as Genesis 42:15 1 Samuel 17:55 20:3; as surely as thou livest: which asseverations seem necessary, because this was some years after it, and was quite forgotten by him.
For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:No text from Poole on this verse.
Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.I have lent him to the Lord, or, given him, &c., i.e. do now give or offer him; for she did not lend him for a time, with a purpose or right to require him again. The words may be rendered thus, And I also asked him, or made myself to ask him. (a usual Hebraism,) for the Lord, i.e. I prayed for this child, not only for myself, and to take away my reproach, but especially that I might have a child to serve and devote to the Lord. And so the following words,
as long as he liveth, are not to be joined with this foregoing clause, but with those which come next after them; and that whole clause may be thus rendered, as a consequent upon the former: And, or therefore all the days in which he is, or shall be, he is or shall be lent or given to the Lord; or, as one begged for the Lord, and for his service, and therefore justly given to him.
He shall be lent, or rendered, or used as one given in my prayer; for this was the condition of my prayer, that he should be the Lord’s.
He worshipped; not Eli, who is not mentioned but 1 Samuel 1:25, and then only passively, not as speaking or doing any thing; nor Elkanah, of whom here is no mention; but young Samuel, who is the subject spoken of in this and the foregoing verse, and who was capable of worshipping God in some sort, at least with external adoration; of which see See Poole on "1 Samuel 1:22". And so the particle
there is emphatical, signifying that hereby he entered himself into the worship and service of God in that place, to which he was devoted by his parents, and now did devote himself.