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1Sa 1:1 Now there was a man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite-
We note that this continues on from Judges-Ruth, where people from Ephraim are generally apostate. So here we have an example of a family holding on to the covenant amidst general apostacy from it. Elkanah means "God obtains" and his father "Tohu" means "depression", and he was to be taught the meaning of his name through obtaining Samuel after the years of Hannah's depression. We too are set up by God with challenges and things we need to perceive, and are led by Him to that understanding- including through the experiences of our partners.

1Sa 1:2 He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children but Hannah had no children-
Issues related to barrenness are so common in the lives of the Old Testament faithful. To not have children was seen as the ultimate poverty and sign of God's lack of blessing. The equivalent in modern society may be a sense that God has not come through for us in life as we think He ought or might have done; whether or not the issue is fertility. "Hannah" means Yah's gift or grace; and like Elkanah (see on :1), she had to be brought to understand God's intention for her, and to realize that children like all blessings don't come automatically but are God's gift by grace. "Peninnah" means rubies, and perhaps Prov. 31:10 has her in view when saying that the virtuous woman (cp. Hannah) is worth more than rubies / Peninnah.  


1Sa 1:3 This man went up out of his city from year to year to worship and to sacrifice to Yahweh of Armies in Shiloh-
Elkanah is presented as faithful to the covenant. And yet the Mosaic commandment was that every male should appear before Yahweh three times / year (Ex. 23:17). But he went up only once / year, and yet is presented as a righteous man. Clearly most of God's people didn't keep the law of Moses perfectly, and yet legitimate relationship with God was still possible.  And yet the fact that was true, was therefore by His grace alone.

The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, priests to Yahweh, were there-
Phinehas means "mouth of a serpent", Hophni is less clear, possibly "one who punches / slaps with his hands". Strange names for men who were supposed to be priests, and a reflection on Eli. "Eli" could be a variation on El, but it seems more likely to mean high / proud one. And for all his apparent humility, that was indeed his problem in the end.


1Sa 1:4 When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he gave to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters portions-
The idea may be that they ate a peace offering together, presided over by Elkanah, and he shared out the portions of the sacrifice to the whole family to eat, including little children. They ate of the symbol of the covenant relationship which their parents had, and this may or may not be helpful in formulating an understanding of whether children should partake of the bread and wine in our dispensation.  


1Sa 1:5 but to Hannah he gave a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but Yahweh had shut up her womb-
"But Yahweh had shut up..." may hint that Elkanah's high view of Hannah was not at that point shared by God. He gave her, literally, "the nose portion". This could be a metaphor for "double", or it could be read literally, as if the gift of this part of the animal was a symbolic sign of favouritism. We will note on 1 Sam. 2 that she says many things which seem to betray a very unspiritual and bitter heart, even though she was of a woman of faith. We note again the usage of contemporary medical understandings ["phenomenological language"], a point to bear in mind when we come to the language of demon possession used to describe mental illness in the New Testament. For infertility is not due to a literally closed womb.


1Sa 1:6 Her rival provoked her severely, to make her fret because Yahweh had shut up her womb-
We have the situation of Rachel and Leah repeated again, whereby the barren wife was loved more by the husband and was provoked by the other partner. It is commendable however that she didn't resort to trying to get her husband to sleep with another woman and bear a child symbolically for her. The way circumstances repeat in life and between persons, both contemporary with each other and historically, is typical of how God works; we are intended to see the similarities with others and take lessons and encouragement. This is what makes the Bible a living word, because the characters selected for us to meet are all designed to speak directly to us in our lives, and to confirm our deep sense that man is not alone, and nothing we pass through is in fact totally unique to us. Peninnah made Hannah "fret" (1 Sam. 1:6), and yet when she has Samuel she asks God to "thunder", s.w. "fret", against her enemies, clearly having Peninnah in view (1 Sam. 2:10). Hannah imagines He will do this when His "anointed king" is reigning, and clearly she understood Samuel to be that. He didn't become that; and the fact he anointed David to be king rather than himself being anointed is pointed poof of the fact that her bitter expectations and hopes didn't come true as she intended. There seems no forgiveness, just a desire for judgment and to make Peninnah feel the same way as she had been made to feel; and a desire for the manifestation of the anointed King in order for her to see her enemy made to feel how she had felt, and worse.


1Sa 1:7 This went on year after year when she went up-
It is again emphasized that they made once yearly pilgrimages to the tabernacle. And yet the Mosaic commandment was that every male should appear before Yahweh three times / year (Ex. 23:17). But Elkanah went up only once / year, and yet is presented as a righteous man. See on :3. This is another indication that Hannah was not the peerlessly spiritual woman which she is sometimes made out to be.

To the house of Yahweh-
The temple of Yahweh wasn't then built, so this anachronism may reflect how these historical books were rewritten under Divine inspiration, after the exile. Or it could simply be that a more permanent structure had been built for the tabernacle.

She provoked her, therefore she wept and didn’t eat-
The idea may be that she didn't eat of the peace offerings, because she didn't feel at peace neither with God nor with the rest of the family because of Peninnah being so horrible to her.


1Sa 1:8 Elkanah her husband said to her, Hannah, why do you weep? Why don’t you eat? Why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?-
Perhaps he alludes to the happy Naomi, for whom her daughter in law's love was better than seven sons. And he wonders why Hannah can't be like her. Weeping and not eating could be associated with fasting; but also it could be the psychological outcome of cruel teasing and provocation. Or perhaps there was a little of both. The loss of appetite associated with her depression turned into fasting before Yahweh for a child. Or as suggested on :8, it may mean she declined to partake in the eating of the peace offering.


1Sa 1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of Yahweh’s temple-
We have just read that she didn't eat (:7,8), which I suggested may mean she declined the meat and wine of the peace offering. But now she did, because her mood had changed because she had decided to make a vow (:11) and pray for a child with a prayer believed in so strongly that she believed and felt as if she had received the answer; for that is the true nature of faith in prayer (Mt. 21:22).


1Sa 1:10 She was in bitterness of soul and prayed to Yahweh and wept bitterly-
I suggested on :9 that what we now read may be explaining how it came about that she was not eating and drinking the peace offering again, when previously she had not been. When we read in :18 that after her vow she ate, this would be linking back to :9. Who we are as persons is effectively our prayer and plea to God. This conception of prayer explains why often weeping, crying, waiting, meditating etc. are spoken of as "prayer" , although there was no specific verbalizing of requests (Ps. 5:1,2; 6:8; 18:1,2,3,6; 40:1; 42:8; 64:1 Heb.; 65:1,2; 66:17-20; Zech. 8:22). The association between prayer and weeping is especially common: 1 Sam. 1:10; Ps. 39:12; 55:1,2; Jn. 11:41,42; Heb. 5:7, especially in the Lord's life and the Messianic Psalms. "The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer" (Ps. 6:8,9) crystallizes the point.


1Sa 1:11 She vowed a vow and said, Yahweh of Armies-
Poor Hannah was driven through the sorrow of her life to coin the phrase "Yahweh of hosts" for the first time in Scripture, so strong became her sense of the strength and manifestation of Yahweh in His Angels. The close association between Angels [Yahweh's hosts] and answered prayer resulted in many of the early believers conceiving of God in terms of an Angel, as Jacob in particular did. Hannah is another example; she prayed to the Lord of Hosts (Angels) to "look on the affliction of Your handmaid"; and the Angels are God's eyes through which He looks on us. She came to pray "before the Lord" (:15)- i.e. before the Angel dwelling over the ark. Angels are associated with conception- the cases of Samson, John and Jesus quickly spring to mind.

If You will indeed look on the affliction-
She was thinking of Leah, who considered the end of her barrenness to have been Yahweh looking on her affliction (Gen. 29:32 s.w.). She formed her faith from considering this Biblical precedent. But the same phrase is also used of Yahweh's deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Ex. 3:7; 4:31; Dt. 26:7 etc.). She reasoned that the God who had done that for His people could just as easily give her conception. 

Of Your handmaid and remember me and not forget Your handmaid, but will give to Your handmaid a boy, then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life, and no razor shall come on his head-
She wanted not merely a child to remove her reproach amongst men, but specifically a male so she could present him as a Nazirite to God. Although they were not Levites, by promising him as a Nazirite she was effectively asking for him to be counted as a Levite. Hannah's request in 1 Sam. 1:11 that God look upon her affliction and answer it was heard, and she became an inspiration to her descendant David; who often makes the same request, unashamed to be inspired by the example of a woman (s.w. 2 Sam. 16:12; Ps. 9:13; 25:18 and so often in the Psalms). See on :15.

It seems from :21 that they were in the habit of making a vow every year, hence Hannah decides to vow that if she has a son, she will give him to Yahweh's service.


1Sa 1:12 As she continued praying before Yahweh, Eli saw her mouth-
Col. 4:2 alludes to the LXX of this verse, bidding us all be like Hannah and continue in prayer; I noted on :11 that her example served as a template for David, as it should for us.


1Sa 1:13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart, only her lips moved but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk-
The tacit implication is that Eli had seen drunk people in the tabernacle before. The low level of spirituality in Israel is a continued theme of the Old Testament. We also have a reflection of how unspiritual and solely "religious" was Eli; the concept of praying silently rather than out loud was totally foreign to him. There is also the implication that Eli didn't hear her voice, but God did.


1Sa 1:14 Eli said to her, How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you-
It's possible that most of the then existent Old Testament was rewritten under inspiration in the exile. Hannah becomes the template for the exiles; for they too were "afflicted" as she was (:11), and are described as drunk but not with wine who would be justified and their tormentors punished, surely an allusion to Hannah (Is. 51:21,23). See on :15.


1Sa 1:15 Hannah answered, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit-
Israel in affliction in Egypt were of sorrowful spirit (s.w. Ex. 6:9). As noted on :11, she clearly had God's past salvation of His people from Egypt in mind. She felt that her domestic situation was as theirs, and likewise believed that God could miraculously save her from it. We note that this is the extent of depression and desperation that is inflicted by those who goad others over their supposed spiritual inferiority and God's supposed displeasure with them. We think of those disfellowshipped or tormented by others over their marital status, to the point  they feel driven to suicide.

I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I poured out my soul before Yahweh-
It was Judah in captivity whose soul was poured out (s.w. Lam. 2:12,19); see on :14. And David again took inspiration from his ancestor Hannah in speaking of himself likewise in Ps. 42:4; see on :11.   


1Sa 1:16 Don’t count your handmaid a wicked woman, for I have been speaking out of the abundance of my complaint and my provocation-
She meant, she had been speaking to God in her heart. "Wicked woman" is AV "daughter of Belial", the term used of Eli's sons. She may be implying that she was not in fact drunk as Eli's sons often were. In this case, Eli criticized her for doing what his sons did. It's a psychological classic, taking out on someone else what should be directed to ones own family.


1Sa 1:17 Then Eli answered, Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him-
Eli's unspirituality is again revealed, for he thinks that prayer is simply asking God for petitions. But in fact she had been pouring out her soul to God, telling Him all her feelings about the provocation of Peninnah (:16). Let us also not think that prayer is simply requests; read David's prayers in his Psalms, and see how few of his words are actually requests.

1Sa 1:18 She said, Let your handmaid find grace in your sight-
Corrupt and unspiritual as Eli was, she still saw him as Yahweh's representative. His acceptance of her therefore encouraged her that God likewise had accepted her.

So the woman went her way and ate, and her face wasn’t sad any more-
She ate, of the peace offerings. I suggested on :9 that the mention of the fact that she again "ate" is then explained by :10-17. Her newfound joy was because she had the faith that feels and acts as if what we asked for has been granted, even though we don't yet have it (Mt. 21:22).

The LXX adds that they stayed in an inn. Hannah’s song was clearly a major influence in the mind of Mary. But there are some background similarities as well as the verbal ones. The LXX of 1 Sam. 1:18 [not the Hebrew text] speaks of Elkanah and Hannah staying in a katalyma on their journey to Shiloh- the very word used of the “inn” in whose stable Mary had to stay. If we ask why Mary based her song so heavily on that of Hannah, we find a clue in considering how she was greeted by the Angel as “favoured” (Lk. 1:28). The Greek kecharitomene virtually translates the Hebrew name ‘Hannah’. The record is written in Greek, but Mary was a Jewess and spoke Aramaic and Hebrew; and probably the Angel spoke to her in those languages. So the link would have been all the stronger- ‘Hail, Hannah-like one’. And this set the mind of Mary thinking about Hannah, and in the days between hearing these words and meeting Elisabeth, Mary had perceived the similarities between her position and that of Hannah. She allowed the spirit of Hannah to genuinely become hers, in perceptive obedience to the Angel’s bidding. She came to share God’s perception of her as a woman like Hannah. ‘Hannah’ comes from the Hebrew root hnn – favour. Mary is told that she has been favoured / ‘Hannah-ed’ by God (Lk. 1:30)- as if to lead her to see the similarities between her and Hannah. And she responds magnificently, by alluding to Hannah’s song so closely. Tragically as we shall see, she later came to be more influenced by the world’s perception of both herself and her Son. The theme of joy is very great in her song- again, because she was obedient to the greeting “Hail!”, literally, ‘rejoice!’.

The points of connection between the songs of Hannah and Mary's Magnificat are really quite detailed:
1 Sam. 1:3 = Lk. 1:7; 1 Sam. 1:18 = Lk. 1:38, 30; 1 Sam. 2:1 = Lk. 1:46; 1 Sam. 1:11 = Lk. 1:48; 1 Sam. 2:2 = Lk. 1:49; 1 Sam. 2:4 = Lk. 1:51; 1 Sam. 2:3 = Lk. 1:51; 1 Sam. 2:4 = Lk. 1:52; 1 Sam. 2:8 = Lk. 1:52; 1 Sam. 2:5 = Lk. 1:53; 1 Sam. 2:10 = Lk. 1:69; 1 Sam. 2:26 = Lk. 2:52.

1Sa 1:19 They rose up in the morning early and worshipped before Yahweh and returned home to Ramah, and Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and Yahweh remembered her-
The worship may imply thankfulness. As noted on :18, Hannah really believed the prayer would be heard, even though she had not yet tried to conceive again. "Remembered" doesn't mean God had forgotten. The word is often used of what man does to God, and is translated "burn [incense]" and other terms appropriate to prayer to God. There is a mutuality between God and man, which especially functions through prayer. We 'make mention' of things to God in prayer, and He respects that and in turn, in His own council of Heaven, mentions or makes a mark for us in response. This is why the Hebrew for "ask" is the same for "heard" regarding prayer and the answers to prayer. See on :20.


1Sa 1:20 When the time had come, Hannah conceived and bore a son-
The time coming is applied to both the conception and the birth of the child. With respect to the conception, the idea would be that God indeed had specified a time for this in His plan for Hannah from the beginning of the world. But all the same, without Hannah's intense prayer, this would not have been actualized. And it follows therefore that there are so many potentials which aren't actualized by intense prayer.

And she named him Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of Yahweh-
"Samuel" means both 'asked of God' and 'heard of God'. This exemplifies what was discussed on :19; that God and man are in mutual relationship. What we ask, He hears in the sense of answering. Samuel's name memorialized how she had asked and had such faith in the answer coming. 


1Sa 1:21 The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to Yahweh the yearly sacrifice and his vow-
It seems they were in the habit of making a vow every year, hence Hannah decides to vow that if she has a son, she will give him to Yahweh's service. LXX adds "and his tithes". It was surely clear that the tithes were being abused by Eli's family, but Elkanah still brought them. Their abuses led to men sinning against Yahweh by not bringing tithes and offerings (1 Sam. 2:23,24). But Elkanah is commended for not being amongst those made to stumble in this way. See on :25. 


1Sa 1:22 But Hannah didn’t go up, for she said to her husband, Not until the child is weaned, then I will bring him that he may appear before Yahweh and stay there forever-
The idea may be that she didn't go up because she had no vow to bring, whereas Elkanah did (:21); because her fulfilment of her vow would be when Samuel was old enough to be brought to the temple and left there, as a living sacrifice. We see here Hannah's individual, personal relationship with Yahweh; her vow was different to that of her husband's. This was at a time when religion was largely a male preserve, and the woman just followed along with the husband's religion. Elkanah encouraged her to do what was right to her.


1Sa 1:23 Elkanah her husband said to her, Do what seems good to you.
Wait until you have weaned him, only may Yahweh establish His word. So the woman waited and nursed her son until she weaned him-
I noted on :22 that Elkanah encouraged her to do what was right to her. And this reflects how within a good, spiritual marriage, the devotions of the wife and husband may be quite different. Hence the significance of LXX "but may the Lord establish that which comes out of thy mouth". He saw Samuel as her project whilst he had his own projects for Yahweh, his vows he brought yearly; but Samuel was his wife's project.

1Sa 1:24 When she had weaned him she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of meal and a bottle of wine, and brought him to Yahweh’s sanctuary in Shiloh-
The age of the bull was perhaps to represent Samuel, who would have been weaned by three years old (see on 1 Sam. 2:11). If Samuel was only three years old when given to Eli, his later spiritual maturity and devotion is the more remarkable; for he grew up surrounded by bad examples, and only the annual visit of his parents to impart true spiritual guidance. The bread ["meal"] and wine were associated with the voluntary peace offerings. This formed the basis for the later institution of bread and wine in the breaking of bread. If we ask "And where is the animal that is devoted and eaten?" the answer would be that it represents the Lord Jesus and also ourselves, as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1) because we are "in Him".

The child was young-
Evidence enough that a child can still serve God.


1Sa 1:25 They killed the bull and brought the child to Eli-
The "they" is presumably Eli's sons, whom we learn usually abused the offering and took it all for themselves. But just as Elkanah still offered tithes despite the abuse of them by these men (see on :21), so Hannah offered the bull. She knew it was done to Yahweh despite the abuse of His representatives. She separated church from God, in a way which many fail to do today.


1Sa 1:26 She said, Oh my lord, as your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to Yahweh-
We note that she doesn't swear as Yahweh lives, as is commonly found in the Bible, but by Eli's own life. Perhaps she felt that Yahweh was no authority to Eli to make an oath by. We note that this way of swearing by the life of the person being spoken to [rather than by Yahweh] is used of men to Saul (1 Sam. 17:55), by Uriah to David when he knew David had slept with his wife (2 Sam. 11:11) and by Hannah to Eli (1 Sam. 1:26). In every case the implication is that the speaker didn't think that the person being addressed really feared Yahweh.


1Sa 1:27 For this child I prayed, and Yahweh has given me my petition which I asked of Him-
As Yahweh gave her, so she wanted to give to Yahweh (:28). This is the irresistible motivating power of grace, once it is perceived.


1Sa 1:28 Therefore I have given him to Yahweh-
AV "lent". It is rendered by many versions as "given" because she seems to have totally and absolutely given Samuel to Yahweh for all his life, with no intention of getting him back. However, we can still read "lent" if she had a Kingdom perspective; she looked forward to receiving back the sacrificed relationships in the Kingdom, just as we can.


As long as he lives he is given to Yahweh. Eli worshipped Yahweh there-
This is an attempt to interpret "he worshipped Yahweh there". But I think the "he" refers to Elkanah, unless we apply it to Samuel, who was still so young. And then his worship becomes parallel with Hannah pouring out her heart to Yahweh in the next chapter, making this a repeat of the situation earlier, and continuing the theme of this lovely couple each independently pursuing their devotion to Yahweh in unique ways.