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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 2

Verses 1-11


1:1-7:17 ISRAEL UNDER ELI AND UNDER SAMUEL

Birth of Samuel (1:1-2:11)

Elkanah was a Levite who lived in the tribal territory of Ephraim (1:1; 1 Chronicles 6:33-38). Each year he took his family to the town of Shiloh to offer sacrifices to the Lord. (Since the time of Joshua, Shiloh had been the central place of worship in Israel; Joshua 18:1,Joshua 18:10; Judges 18:31.) According to the regulations for certain sacrifices, the offerer, after offering his sacrifice, received back some of the sacrificial food, which he then shared with the members of his household in a joyous fellowship meal (see Leviticus 7:11-16,Leviticus 7:20). For Elkanah’s household the happiness of the occasion was always spoiled when one of Elkanah’s wives, Peninnah, mocked the other wife, Hannah, because Hannah was unable to have children (2-8).

In deep distress, Hannah cried to God, asking him to give her a son. She promised that, if God answered her prayer, she would give her son back to God to serve him as a Nazirite for life (9-11; concerning Nazirites see notes on Numbers 6:1-21). The priest Eli encouraged Hannah to believe that God would answer her prayer (12-18). In due course she gave birth to a son, whom she named Samuel (19-20). When the child was two or three years old, Hannah took him to Shiloh, where she dedicated him to God for life (21-28).

Overjoyed at all that God had done for her, Hannah could now laugh at those who had mocked her (2:1). She praised God for his just action in helping the downtrodden and reversing the wrongs she had suffered. God had humbled the proud and exalted the humble (2-8). And what God had done for Hannah, he could do for others. Neither the people of Israel nor their rulers needed to fear their enemies if they trusted faithfully in the saving power of God (9-10).
Having offered her praise to God, Hannah returned home with her husband. But Samuel stayed behind at Shiloh, where he was brought up by Eli in the house of God (11). (Since the Israelites were no longer shifting the tabernacle from place to place, they had apparently carried out alterations and additions that made it a more permanent structure; see 1:9.)


Verses 12-36


Judgment on the family of Eli (2:12-3:18)

Eli the priest had become the judge, or chief administrator, in Israel. He sat at the door of the house of God where people could freely meet him to seek his advice or ask for directions in disputes (see 1:9; 4:18). His sons, it seems, carried out the routine work in connection with the sacrifices and ceremonies.

According to the Levitical law, the portion of the sacrifice that was for God had to be burnt on the altar first, after which the priest and the offerer took their portions. Eli’s sons were not satisfied with this. First, they took more of the boiled meat than they should have, thus robbing the offerer of what rightly belonged to his own sacrificial meal. Second, and much worse, they took the best part of the meat before it was boiled, so that they could roast and eat it at their leisure. This showed their disrespect for God, because it meant that they took their portions before God received his (12-17; cf. Leviticus 3:1-5; Leviticus 7:15; Leviticus 7:29-33).

While Samuel’s parents experienced increasing divine blessing because of their unselfish devotion to God (18-21), Eli’s sons were warned of the coming punishment because of their greed and immorality (22-25). The corruption of Eli’s sons contrasted sharply with the godly development in the life of the young Samuel. God was preparing Samuel to be Eli’s successor (26).

God then sent a prophet to Eli to announce a divine judgment upon the ungodly family (27-29). Eli’s descendants, instead of enjoying lasting service in the priesthood, would be punished with shame, poverty and early death. Even though God might allow a descendant of Eli to continue functioning for a time as a priest, he would eventually remove the person from office. He would take the priesthood away from the family of Eli, and give it to a man more worthy of it (30-36; cf. 4:11; 14:3; 22:11-20; 1 Kings 2:26-27).

Some time later, when Samuel was probably twelve or thirteen years of age, God revealed to Samuel what previously he had made known to Eli through the prophet (3:1-14). In spite of his many weaknesses, Eli was humble enough to accept God’s announced judgment as a just punishment (15-18).


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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 2". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/1-samuel-2.html. 2005.