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1 Samuel 1:1--2:36

Context
Hannah Gives Birth to Samuel

1:1 There was a man from Ramathaim Zophim, 1  from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah. He was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 1:2 He had two wives; the name of the first was Hannah and the name of the second was Peninnah. Now Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.

1:3 Year after year 2  this man would go up from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh. It was there that the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, served as the Lord’s priests. 1:4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he used to give meat portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 1:5 But he would give a double 3  portion to Hannah, because he especially loved her. 4  Now the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 5  1:6 Her rival wife used to upset her and make her worry, 6  for the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 1:7 Peninnah 7  would behave this way year after year. Whenever Hannah 8  went up to the Lord’s house, Peninnah 9  would upset her so that she would weep and refuse to eat. 1:8 Finally her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and not eat? Why are you so sad? 10  Am I not better to you than ten 11  sons?”

1:9 On one occasion in Shiloh, after they had finished eating and drinking, Hannah got up. 12  (Now at the time Eli the priest was sitting in his chair 13  by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 1:10 She was very upset 14  as she prayed to the Lord, and she was weeping uncontrollably. 15  1:11 She made a vow saying, “O Lord of hosts, if you will look with compassion 16  on the suffering of your female servant, 17  remembering me and not forgetting your servant, and give a male child 18  to your servant, then I will dedicate him to the Lord all the days of his life. His hair will never be cut.” 19 

1:12 As she continued praying to 20  the Lord, Eli was watching her mouth. 1:13 Now Hannah was speaking from her heart. Although her lips were moving, her voice was inaudible. Eli therefore thought she was drunk. 1:14 So he 21  said to her, “How often do you intend to get drunk? Put away your wine!”

1:15 But Hannah replied, “That’s not the way it is, 22  my lord! I am under a great deal of stress. 23  I have drunk neither wine nor beer. Rather, I have poured out my soul to 24  the Lord. 1:16 Don’t consider your servant a wicked woman, 25  for until now I have spoken from my deep pain and anguish.”

1:17 Eli replied, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request that you have asked of him.” 1:18 She said, “May I, your servant, find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and got something to eat. 26  Her face no longer looked sad.

1:19 They got up early the next morning and after worshiping the Lord, they returned to their home at Ramah. Elkanah had marital relations with 27  his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered 28  her. 1:20 After some time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, thinking, “I asked the Lord for him. 29 

Hannah Dedicates Samuel to the Lord

1:21 This man Elkanah went up with all his family to make the yearly sacrifice to the Lord and to keep his vow, 1:22 but Hannah did not go up with them. 30  Instead she told her husband, “Once the boy is weaned, I will bring him and appear before the Lord, and he will remain there from then on.”

1:23 So her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what you think best. 31  Stay until you have weaned him. May the Lord fulfill his promise.” 32 

So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 1:24 Once she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with three bulls, an ephah 33  of flour, and a container 34  of wine. She brought him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh, even though he was young. 35  1:25 Once the bull had been slaughtered, they brought the boy to Eli. 1:26 She said, “Just as surely as you are alive, my lord, I am the woman who previously stood here with you in order to pray to the Lord. 1:27 I prayed for this boy, and the Lord has given me the request that I asked of him. 1:28 Now I dedicate him to the Lord. From this time on he is dedicated to the Lord.” Then they 36  worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah Exalts the Lord in Prayer

2:1 Hannah prayed, 37 

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;

my horn 38  is exalted high because of the Lord.

I loudly denounce 39  my enemies,

for I am happy that you delivered me. 40 

2:2 No one is holy 41  like the Lord!

There is no one other than you!

There is no rock 42  like our God!

2:3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, 43 

letting proud talk come out of your mouth!

For the Lord is a God who knows;

he 44  evaluates what people do.

2:4 The bows of warriors are shattered,

but those who stumble find their strength reinforced.

2:5 Those who are well-fed hire themselves out to earn food,

but the hungry no longer lack.

Even 45  the barren woman gives birth to seven, 46 

but the one with many children withers away. 47 

2:6 The Lord both kills and gives life;

he brings down to the grave 48  and raises up.

2:7 The Lord impoverishes and makes wealthy;

he humbles and he exalts.

2:8 He lifts the weak 49  from the dust;

he raises 50  the poor from the ash heap

to seat them with princes

and to bestow on them an honored position. 51 

The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord,

and he has placed the world on them.

2:9 He watches over 52  his holy ones, 53 

but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness,

for it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.

2:10 The Lord shatters 54  his adversaries; 55 

he thunders against them from 56  the heavens.

The Lord executes judgment to the ends of the earth.

He will strengthen 57  his king

and exalt the power 58  of his anointed one.” 59 

2:11 Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah. But the boy was serving the Lord under the supervision of 60  Eli the priest.

Eli’s Sons Misuse Their Sacred Office

2:12 The sons of Eli were wicked men. 61  They did not recognize the Lord’s authority. 62  2:13 Now the priests would always treat the people in the following way: 63  Whenever anyone was making a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s attendant would come with a three-pronged fork 64  in his hand. 2:14 He would jab it into the basin, kettle, caldron, or pot, and everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they used to do to all the Israelites 65  when they came there to Shiloh.

2:15 Even before they burned the fat, the priest’s attendant would come and say to the person who was making the sacrifice, “Hand over some meat for the priest to roast! He won’t take boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 66  2:16 If the individual said to him, “First let the fat be burned away, and then take for yourself whatever you wish,” he would say, “No! 67  Hand it over right now! If you don’t, I will take it forcibly!”

2:17 The sin of these young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they 68  treated the Lord’s offering with contempt.

2:18 Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord. The boy was dressed in a linen ephod. 2:19 His mother used to make him a small robe and bring it up to him at regular intervals when she would go up with her husband to make the annual sacrifice. 2:20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife saying, “May the Lord raise up for you descendants 69  from this woman to replace the one that she 70  dedicated to the Lord.” Then they would go to their 71  home. 2:21 So the Lord graciously attended to Hannah, and she was able to conceive and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. The boy Samuel grew up at the Lord’s sanctuary. 72 

2:22 Now Eli was very old when he heard about everything that his sons used to do to all the people of Israel 73  and how they used to have sex with 74  the women who were stationed at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 2:23 He said to them, “Why do you behave in this way? For I hear about these evil things from all these 75  people. 2:24 This ought not to be, 76  my sons! For the report that I hear circulating among the Lord’s people is not good. 2:25 If a man sins against a man, one may appeal to God on his behalf. But if a man sins against the Lord, who then will intercede for him?” But Eli’s sons 77  would not listen to their father, for the Lord had decided 78  to kill them.

2:26 Now the boy Samuel was growing up and finding favor both with the Lord and with people.

The Lord Judges the House of Eli

2:27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not plainly 79  reveal myself to your ancestor’s 80  house when they were in Egypt in the house of Pharaoh? 2:28 I chose your ancestor 81  from all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifice on my altar, to burn incense, and to bear the ephod before me. I gave to your ancestor’s house all the fire offerings made by the Israelites. 2:29 Why are you 82  scorning my sacrifice and my offering that I commanded for my dwelling place? 83  You have honored your sons more than you have me by having made yourselves fat from the best parts of all the offerings of my people Israel.’

2:30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I really did say 84  that your house and your ancestor’s house would serve 85  me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘May it never be! 86  For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed! 2:31 In fact, days are coming when I will remove your strength 87  and the strength 88  of your father’s house. There will not be an old man in your house! 2:32 You will see trouble in my dwelling place! 89  Israel will experience blessings, 90  but there will not be an old man in your 91  house for all time. 92  2:33 Any one of you that I do not cut off from my altar, I will cause your 93  eyes to fail 94  and will cause you grief. 95  All of those born to your family 96  will die in the prime of life. 97  2:34 This will be a confirming sign for you that will be fulfilled through your two sons, 98  Hophni and Phinehas: in a single day they both will die! 2:35 Then I will raise up for myself a faithful priest. He will do what is in my heart and soul. I will build for him a secure dynasty 99  and he will serve my chosen one for all time. 100  2:36 Everyone who remains in your house will come to bow before him for a little money 101  and for a scrap of bread. Each will say, ‘Assign me to a priestly task so I can eat a scrap of bread.’”

1 tc The translation follows the MT. The LXX reads “a man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite”; this is followed by a number of recent English translations. It is possible the MT reading צוֹפִים (tsofim) arose from dittography of the mem (מ) at the beginning of the following word.

2 tn Heb “from days to days.”

3 tn The exact sense of the Hebrew word אַפָּיִם (’appayim, “two faces”) is not certain here. It is most likely used with the preceding expression (“one portion of two faces”) to mean a portion double than normally received. Although evidence for this use of the word derives primarily from Aramaic rather than from Hebrew usage, it provides an understanding that fits the context here better than other suggestions for the word do. The meaning “double” is therefore adopted in the present translation. Other possibilities for the meaning of the word include the following: “heavily” (cf. Vulg., tristis) and “worthy” or “choice” (cf. KJV and Targum). Some scholars have followed the LXX here, emending the word to אֶפֶס (’efes) and translating it as “but” or “however.” This seems unnecessary. The translators of the LXX may simply have been struggling to make sense of the word rather than following a Hebrew text that was different from the MT here.

4 tn Heb “for Hannah he loved.” Repetition of the proper name would seem redundant in contemporary English, so the pronoun (“her”) has been used here for clarity. The translation also adds the adverb “especially” to clarify the meaning of the text. Without this addition one might get the impression that only Hannah, not Peninnah, was loved by her husband. But the point of the text is that Hannah was his favorite.

5 tn Heb “and the Lord had closed her womb.” So also in v. 6. The disjunctive clause provides supplemental information that is pertinent to the story.

6 tn Heb “and her rival wife grieved her, even [with] grief so as to worry her.”

7 tn The MT has a masculine form of the verb here יַעֲשֶׂה (yaaseh, “he used to do”); the subject in that case would presumably be Elkanah. But this leads to an abrupt change of subject in the following part of the verse, where the subject is the rival wife who caused Hannah anxiety. In light of v. 6 one expects the statement of v. 7 to refer to the ongoing actions of the rival wife: “she used to behave in this way year after year.” Some scholars have proposed retaining the masculine form but changing the vocalization of the verb so as to read a Niphal rather than a Qal (i.e., יֵעֲשֶׂה, yeaseh, “so it used to be done”). But the problem here is lack of precedent for such a use of the Niphal of this verb. It seems best in light of the context to understand the reference to be to Hannah’s rival Peninnah and to read here, with the Syriac Peshitta, a feminine form of the verb (“she used to do”). In the translation the referent (Peninnah) has been specified for clarity.

8 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Hannah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Peninnah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn Heb “why is your heart displeased?”

11 sn Like the number seven, the number ten is sometimes used in the OT as an ideal number (see, for example, Dan 1:20, Zech 8:23).

12 tc The LXX adds “and stood before the Lord,” but this is probably a textual expansion due to the terseness of the statement in the Hebrew text.

13 tn Or perhaps, “on his throne.” See Joüon 2:506-7 §137.f.

14 tn Heb “she [was in] bitterness of soul.”

15 tn Heb “and weeping, she was weeping.” The infinitive absolute emphasizes the extent of her sorrow. The imperfect verbal form emphasizes the continuation of the action in past time.

16 tn Heb “if looking you look.” The expression can refer, as here, to looking favorably upon another, in this case with compassion.

17 tn Heb “handmaid.” The use of this term (translated two more times in this verse and once each in vv. 16, 17 simply as “servant” for stylistic reasons) is an expression of humility.

18 tn Heb “seed of men.”

19 tn Heb “a razor will not go up upon his head.”

20 tc Heb “before.” Many medieval Hebrew manuscripts read “to.”

21 tn Heb “Eli.” The pronoun (“he”) has been used in the translation in keeping with contemporary English style.

22 tn Heb “No.”

23 tn Heb “I am a woman difficult of spirit.” The LXX has “for whom the day is difficult,” apparently mistaking the Hebrew word for “spirit” רוּחַ (ruakh) to be the word for “day” יוֹם (yom).

24 tn Heb “before.”

25 tn Heb “daughter of worthlessness.”

26 tc Several medieval Hebrew mss and the Syriac Peshitta lack the words “and got something to eat.”

27 tn Heb “Elkanah knew his wife.” The Hebrew expression is a euphemism for sexual relations.

28 sn The Lord “remembered” her in the sense of granting her earlier request for a child. The Hebrew verb is often used in the OT for considering the needs or desires of people with favor and kindness.

29 tn Heb “because from the Lord I asked him.” The name “Samuel” sounds like the Hebrew verb translated “asked.” The explanation of the meaning of the name “Samuel” that is provided in v. 20 is not a strict etymology. It seems to suggest that the first part of the name is derived from the Hebrew root שׁאל (shl, “to ask”), but the consonants do not support this. Nor is it likely that the name comes from the root שׁמא (shm’, “to hear”), for the same reason. It more probably derives from שֶׁם (shem, “name”), so that “Samuel” means “name of God.” Verse 20 therefore does not set forth a linguistic explanation of the meaning of the name, but rather draws a parallel between similar sounds. This figure of speech is known as paronomasia.

30 tn The disjunctive clause is contrastive here. The words “with them” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

31 tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.”

32 tn Heb “establish his word.” This apparently refers to the promise inherent in Eli’s priestly blessing (see v. 17).

33 sn The ephah was a standard dry measure in OT times; it was the equivalent of one-tenth of the OT measure known as a homer. The ephah was equal to approximately one-half to two-thirds of a bushel.

34 tn The Hebrew term translated “container” may denote either a clay storage jar (cf. CEV “a clay jar full of wine”) or a leather container (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV “a skin of wine”; NCV “a leather bag filled with (full of TEV) wine.”

35 tc Heb “and the boy was a boy.” If the MT is correct the meaning apparently is that the boy was quite young at the time of these events. On the other hand, some scholars have suspected a textual problem, emending the text to read either “and the boy was with them” (so LXX) or “and the boy was with her” (a conjectural emendation). In spite of the difficulty it seems best to stay with the MT here.

36 tn Heb “he,” apparently referring to Samuel (but cf. CEV “Elkanah”). A few medieval manuscripts and some ancient versions take the verb as plural (cf. TEV, NLT).

37 tn Heb “prayed and said.” This is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified in the translation.

38 sn Horns of animals have always functioned as both offensive and defensive weapons for them. As a figure of speech the horn is therefore often used in the Bible as a symbol of human strength (see also in v. 10). The allusion in v. 1 to the horn being lifted high suggests a picture of an animal elevating its head in a display of strength or virility.

39 tn Heb “my mouth opens wide against.”

40 tn Heb “for I rejoice in your deliverance.”

41 sn In this context God’s holiness refers primarily to his sovereignty and incomparability. He is unique and distinct from all other so-called gods.

42 tn The LXX has “and there is none righteous like our God.” The Hebrew term translated “rock” refers to a rocky cliff where one can seek refuge from enemies. Here the metaphor depicts God as a protector of his people. Cf. TEV “no protector like our God”; CEV “We’re safer with you than on a high mountain.”

43 tn Heb “proudly, proudly.” If MT is original, the repetition of the word is for emphasis, stressing the arrogance of those addressed. However, a few medieval Hebrew manuscripts and some other textual witnesses do not reflect the repetition, suggesting that the Hebrew text may be dittographic.

44 tc The MT (Qere) reads “and by him actions are weighed.” The translation assumes that reading of the Qere וְלוֹ (vÿlo, “and by him”), which is supported by many medieval Hebrew mss, is correct, rather than the reading of the Kethib וְלוֹא (vÿlo’, “and not”).

45 tc Against BHS but with the MT, the preposition (עַד, ’ad) should be taken with what follows rather than with what precedes. For this sense of the preposition see Job 25:5.

46 sn The number seven is used here in an ideal sense. Elsewhere in the OT having seven children is evidence of fertility as a result of God’s blessing on the family. See, for example, Jer 15:9, Ruth 4:15.

47 tn Or “languishes.”

48 tn Heb “Sheol”; NAB “the nether world”; CEV “the world of the dead.”

49 tn Or “lowly”; Heb “insignificant.”

50 tn The imperfect verbal form, which is parallel to the participle in the preceding line, is best understood here as indicating what typically happens.

51 tn Heb “a seat of honor.”

52 tn Heb “guards the feet of.” The expression means that God watches over and protects the godly in all of their activities and movements. The imperfect verbal forms in v. 9 are understood as indicating what is typically true. Another option is to translate them with the future tense. See v. 10b.

53 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading the plural (“his holy ones”) rather than the singular (“his holy one”) of the Kethib.

54 tn The imperfect verbal forms in this line and in the next two lines are understood as indicating what is typically true. Another option is to translate them with the future tense. See v. 10b.

55 tc The present translation follows the Qere, many medieval Hebrew manuscripts, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Vulgate in reading the plural (“his adversaries,” similarly many other English versions) rather than the singular (“his adversary”) of the Kethib.

56 tn The Hebrew preposition here has the sense of “from within.”

57 tn The imperfect verbal forms in this and the next line are understood as indicating what is anticipated and translated with the future tense, because at the time of Hannah’s prayer Israel did not yet have a king.

58 tn Heb “the horn,” here a metaphor for power or strength. Cf. NCV “make his appointed king strong”; NLT “increases the might of his anointed one.”

59 tc The LXX greatly expands v. 10 with an addition that seems to be taken from Jer 9:23-24.

sn The anointed one is the anticipated king of Israel, as the preceding line makes clear.

60 tn Heb “with [or “before”] the face of.”

61 tn Heb “sons of worthlessness.”

62 tn Heb “they did not know the Lord.” The verb here has the semantic nuance “recognize the authority of.” Eli’s sons obviously knew who the Lord was; they served in his sanctuary. But they did not recognize his moral authority.

63 tn Heb “the habit of the priests with the people [was this].”

64 sn The Hebrew word occurs only twice in the OT, here and again in v. 14. Its exact meaning is not entirely clear, although from the context it appears to be a sacrificial tool used for retrieving things from boiling water.

65 tn Heb “to all Israel.”

66 tn Heb “living.”

67 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss (“no”) rather than the Kethib and MT, which read “to him.”

68 tc Heb “the men,” which is absent from one medieval Hebrew ms, a Qumran ms, and the LXX.

69 tn Heb “seed.”

70 tn The MT has a masculine verb here, but in light of the context the reference must be to Hannah. It is possible that the text of the MT is incorrect here (cf. the ancient versions), in which case the text should be changed to read either a passive participle or better, the third feminine singular of the verb. If the MT is correct here, perhaps the masculine is to be understood in a nonspecific and impersonal way, allowing for a feminine antecedent. In any case, the syntax of the MT is unusual here.

71 tn Heb “his.”

72 tn Heb “with the Lord.” Cf. NAB, TEV “in the service of the Lord”; NIV, NRSV, NLT “in the presence of the Lord”; CEV “at the Lord’s house in Shiloh.”

73 tn Heb “to all Israel.”

74 tn Heb “lie with.”

75 tc For “these” the LXX has “of the Lord” (κυρίου, kuriou), perhaps through the influence of the final phrase of v. 24 (“the people of the Lord”). Somewhat less likely is the view that the MT reading is due to a distorted dittography of the first word of v. 24. The Vulgate lacks the word.

76 tn Heb “no.”

77 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Eli’s sons) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

78 tn Heb “desired.”

79 tn The infinitive absolute appears before the finite verb for emphasis.

80 tn Heb “to your father’s” (also in vv. 28, 30).

81 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Eli’s ancestor, i.e., Aaron) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

82 tc The MT has a plural “you” here, but the LXX and a Qumran ms have the singular. The singular may be the correct reading; the verb “you have honored” later in the verse is singular even in the MT. However, it is more probable that the Lord here refers to Eli and his sons. Note the plural in the second half of the verse (“you have made yourselves fat”).

83 tn Heb “which I commanded, dwelling place.” The noun is functioning as an adverbial accusative in relation to the verb. Since God’s dwelling place/sanctuary is in view, the pronoun “my” is supplied in the translation.

84 tn The infinitive absolute appears before the finite verb for emphasis.

85 tn Heb “walk about before.”

86 tn Heb “may it be far removed from me.”

87 tn Heb “chop off your arm.” The arm here symbolizes strength and activity.

88 tn Heb “arm.”

89 tn Heb “you will see [the] trouble of [the] dwelling place.” Since God’s dwelling place/sanctuary is in view, the pronoun is supplied in the translation (see v. 29).

90 tn Heb “in all which he does good with Israel.”

91 tc The LXX and a Qumran manuscript have the first person pronoun “my” here.

92 tn Heb “all the days.”

93 tc The LXX, a Qumran ms, and a few old Latin mss have the third person pronominal suffix “his” here.

94 tn Heb “to cause your eyes to fail.” Elsewhere this verb, when used of eyes, refers to bloodshot eyes resulting from weeping, prolonged staring, or illness (see Lev 26:16; Pss 69:3; 119:82; Lam 2:11; 4:17).

95 tn Heb “and to cause your soul grief.”

96 tn Heb “and all the increase of your house.”

97 tc The text is difficult. The MT literally says “they will die [as] men.” Apparently the meaning is that they will be cut off in the prime of their life without reaching old age. The LXX and a Qumran ms, however, have the additional word “sword” (“they will die by the sword of men”). This is an easier reading (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT), but that fact is not in favor of its originality.

98 tn Heb “and this to you [is] the sign which will come to both of your sons.”

99 tn Heb “house.”

100 tn Heb “and he will walk about before my anointed one all the days.”

101 tn Heb “a piece of silver” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).



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