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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 1

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Ramathaim-zophim may signify “the two hills 1 Samuel 9:11-13 of the watchmen,” so called from its being a post from which the watchmen looked out. But since Zuph is the name of the head of the family, it is more probable that Zophin means the Zuphites, the sons of Zuph (see Zophai, 1 Chronicles 6:26), from whom the land about Ramah was called “the land of Zuph,” 1 Samuel 9:5.

There is reason to believe that Elkanah - an Ephrathite, or inhabitant of Bethlehem 1 Samuel 17:12; Ruth 1:2 and of the territory of the tribe of Ephraim 1 Kings 11:26 - the father of Samuel, represents the fifth generation of settlers in Canaan, and therefore that Samuel was born about 130 years after the entrance into Canaan - four complete generations, or 132 years - and about 40 years before David.

Verse 2

He had two wives - Compare Genesis 4:19. This was permitted by the law Deuteronomy 21:15, and sanctioned by the practice of Jacob Genesis 29:0, Ashur 1 Chronicles 4:5, Shaharaim 1 Chronicles 8:8, David 1 Samuel 25:43, Joash 2 Chronicles 24:3, and others.

Hannah - i. e. “Beauty or charm,” is the same as “Anna” Luke 2:36.

Peninnah - i. e. “a Pearl,” is the same name in signification as “Marqaret.”

The frequent recurrence of the mention of barrenness in those women who were afterward famous through their progeny (as Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel) coupled with the prophetic language of Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:0, justifies us in seeking a mystical sense. Besides the apparent purpose of marking the children so born as raised up for special purposes by divine Providence, the weakness and comparative barrenness of the Church of God, to be followed at the set time by her glorious triumph and immense increase, is probably intended to be foreshadowed.

Verse 3

It is likely that during the unsettled times of the Judges Judges 21:25 the attendance of Israelites at the three Festivals Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16 fell into desuetude or great irregularity, and this one feast (see the marginal reference), which may have coincided with the Feast of Pentecost or tabernacles, may have been substituted for them.

The Lord of Hosts - This title of Yahweh which, with some variations, is found upward of 260 times in the Old Testament, occurs here for the first time. The meaning of the word “hosts” is doubtless the same as that of “army” Daniel 4:35 and includes all the myriads of holy Angels who people the celestial spheres 1 Kings 22:19. It is probably with reference to the idolatrous worship of the Host of heaven that the title the “Lord of Hosts” was given to the true God, as asserting His universal supremacy (see Nehemiah 9:6). In the New Testament the phrase only occurs once James 5:4.

And the two sons ... - It should be, “and there the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord,” i. e. performed the functions of priests, in the old age of Eli 1 Samuel 4:18, who is represented 1 Samuel 1:9 as sitting on a seat in the temple. The reading of the Greek Version “Eli was there, and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, priests of the Lord,” is quite unnecessary, and indeed destroys the sense. The information here given concerning the sons of Eli is followed up in 1 Samuel 2:12 ff.

Verse 5

A worthy portion - Probably as in the margin. Naturally she would have had a single portion of the sacrifice (compare 1 Samuel 9:23), but because of his love to her he gave her a double portion, enough for two people (compare Genesis 43:34).

Verse 7

And as he did so ... - It should rather be “And so she did year by year, as often as she went up to the House of the Lord, so she provoked her.” Though the verb is masculine, Peninnah must be the subject, because as often as SHE went up follows. The Vulgate has “they went up.”

Verse 9

After they had eaten ... - Rather, “after she had eaten and after she had drunk,” which is obviously right. Hannah, in the bitterness of her spirit, could not enjoy her feast, and so, after eating and drinking a little, she arose and went to the temple, leaving her husband and Peninnah and her children at table, where she still found them on her return 1 Samuel 1:18.

Upon a seat ... - Rather, “upon the throne,” the pontifical chair of state 1 Samuel 4:13, which was probably set at the gate leading into the inner court of the tabernacle.

The temple of the Lord - The application of the word temple to the tabernacle is found only here, 1 Samuel 3:3; and Psalms 5:7; and the use of this word here is thought by some an indication of the late date of the composition of this passage.

Verse 11

vows are characteristic of this particular age of the Judges. (Compare Judges 11:30; Jdg 21:5; 1 Samuel 14:24.) For the law of vows in the case of married women, see Numbers 30:6-16; and for the nature of the vow, see the marginal references.

Verse 15

See 1 Samuel 1:2 and note. She means that wine was not the cause of her present discomposure, but grief of heart.

Verse 18

A beautiful example of the composing influence of prayer. Hannah had cast her burden upon the Lord, and so her own spirit was relieved of its load. She now returned to the family feast, and ate her portion with a cheerful heart. Acts 2:46-47.

The word “sad” is not in the Hebrew text, but it fairly supplies the meaning intended.

Verse 20

Samuel - i. e. heard of God, because given in answer to prayer. The names “Ishmael” and “Elishama” have the same etymology.

Verse 22

Until the child be weaned - Hebrew mothers, as elsewhere in the East, usually suckled their children until the age of two complete years, sometimes until the age of three.

Verse 26

As thy soul liveth - This oath is unique to the Books of Samuel, in which it occurs six times, and to the Books of Kings, in which however, it is found only once. See the note to 1 Samuel 1:11.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/1-samuel-1.html. 1870.
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