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THERE was a man of Ramathaimsophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elcana, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliu, the son of Thohu, the son of Suph, an Ephraimite:

THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL;

otherwise called,

THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

This and the following Book are called by the Hebrews, the Books of Samuel, because they contain the history of Samuel, and of the two kings, Saul and David, whom he anointed.  They are more commonly named by the Fathers, the First and Second Book of Kings.  As to the writer of them, it is the common opinion that Samuel composed the first book, as far as the twenty-fifth chapter; and that the prophets Nathan and Gad finished the first and wrote the second book.  See 1 Par. alias 1 Chronicles, xxix. 19.  Ch.

 

--- The authors of the Third and Fourth Books of Kings were also prophets, but we know not exactly their names.  These works have nevertheless been always esteemed authentic (H.) and canonical.  W.

 

--- V. Bede takes occasion to observe, from the Books of Kings (or as the Sept. read, "of kingdoms;" H.) being placed after that of Judges, that the everlasting kingdom of Christ will succeed the general judgment.  The translation of the priesthood and of the regal dignity, recorded in these books, denote also that Christ would united both in his own person; as the two wives of Eleana intimated, that both Jews and Gentiles would acknowledge the same Lord.  S. Jerom, S. Aug. &c.

 

--- The transactions of Heli, Samuel and Saul, and the persecutions which David sustained from the latter, form the subject of the first book, (H.) during the space of 100 years.  All the four books carry down the sacred history near 600 years, from A. 2849 till the transmigration of Juda, A. 3420.  C.  Usher.


Ver. 1.  There.  Heb. Sept. &c. "And there," &c.  The books of Scripture are thus frequently connected.  The authors present us with a series of events, without prefixing any title, or their own names, that our attention may be wholly fixed on what we read.  The birth of Samuel being so miraculous, deserves to be recorded, as he was the last judge of Israel, and had so much to do under the first of their kings, whose election and misconduct brought a great change into the state of the commonwealth.  C.

 

--- Ramathaimsophim.  Rama, or Ramatha, "a height," and the environs were occupied by the family of Suph, a descendant of Core; (1 Par. vi. 29.) though the place did not properly belong to the Levites.  It lay probably between Gabaa and Bethel, where Samuel spent much of his time, while he was judge, and obliged to be frequently absent from the tabernacle.  C.

 

--- Ragusinus and Prince Radzivil think it was afterwards called Arimathea, the birth-place of Joseph, and now Ramula.  T.  C. ii. 11.

 

--- Ephraimite.  He was of the tribe of Levi, (1 Par. vi. 34.) but is called an Ephraimites from dwelling in Mount Ephraim.  Ch.

 

--- So we read of Cretan Jews.  Acts ii. 11.  T.




2 And he had two wives, the name of one was Anna, and the name of the other Phenenna. Phenenna had children: but Anna had no children.

Ver. 2.  Phenenna.  She was only of inferior dignity.  At that time polygamy was lawful, (M.) as Moses insinuates, if he do not expressly allow it.


3 And this man went up out of his city upon the appointed days, to adore and to offer sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Silo. And the two sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees, were there priests of the Lord.

Ver. 3.  Days, the three great festivals.  His family accompanied him, though the law only lays an express injunction upon the males to attend.  We find, however, that females did not neglect to come.  C.

 

--- Hosts.  Heb. (Tsebaoth) of "armies," both of angels and of Israel.  God is attended by myriads of angels, and decides the fate of armies.  H.

 

--- This title has not appeared in the former books.  The pagans took occasion from it to form their Jupiter Sabazius.  C.

 

--- Elcana might go up from the height of Ramatha to Silo, which was the highest mountain round Jerusalem of all in the holy land.  Adrichom.  T.




4 Now the day came, and Elcana offered sacrifice, and gave to Phenenna his wife, and to all her sons and daughters, portions:

Ver. 4.  Sacrificed, by the hand of the priests, (M.) who had the breast and right shoulder; the rest was given back to the person who had presented the fattened victim, that he might feast with his friends.  C.


5 But to Anna he gave one portion with sorrow, because he loved Anna. And the Lord had shut up her womb.

Ver. 5.  With sorrow.  Hebrew apayim, "of faces, indignation, (C.) sorrow;" (M.) or that was presented before him.  Chal. and many others translate, "a chosen:" (C.) Prot. "a worthy portion."  H.

 

--- The shew-bread is called, "the bread of the face," because it stood before the Lord.  Joseph sent to each of his brethren, "a portion of his faces," as the Heb. expresses it; (Gen. xliii. 33.) or of such meat as was placed upon his table.  In the East, the master of a family has all set before him, and he sends to each his portion, to the place where he is sitting.  Chardin, Perse.

 

--- Thus Elcana sent some more excellent, or "double," part to his beloved Anna, (C.) grieving inwardly that she had no children, to whom he might also send.  H.

 

--- By this distinction, he wished to alleviate the sorrow of his wife.  M.

 

--- Womb. Sterility was deemed a curse, and a mark of God's displeasure, with which women were often reproached.  Hence Anna prays so earnestly that God would be mindful of her.  v. 11---19.  The power of the Almighty, in giving children to the barren, is frequently mentioned.  Gen. xxviii. 13.  Ps. cxii. 9.  C.

 

--- Luke i. 25. &c.  H.


6 Her rival also afflicted her, and troubled her exceedingly, insomuch that she upbraided her, that the Lord had shut up her womb:

Ver. 6.  Insomuch.  Heb. "to make her fret, or rage; because the Lord," &c.  C.


7 And thus she did every year, when the time returned that they went up to the temple of the Lord: and thus she provoked her: but Anna wept, and did not eat.

Ver. 7.  Lord.  Then they could hardly avoid being together on the road, and Anna was accustomed to pray earnestly (M.) to be delivered from her reproach.  H.


8 Then Elcana her husband said to her: Anna, why weepest thou? and why dost thou not eat? And why dost thou afflict thy heart? Am not I better to thee than ten children? 9 So Anna arose after she had eaten and drunk in Silo: And Heli the priest sitting upon a stool, before the door of the temple of the Lord:

Ver. 9.  Silo; either in some private house, or in the porch before the tabernacle.  She complied with the entreaty of her husband.  M.

 

--- Stool.  Heb. "Heli was sitting upon a throne, near the steps, leading to the palace of the Lord."  It is also called the temple, or the house of God, though it was only a tent.  Mat. xii. 4. &c.  Perhaps women were not allowed to go beyond the porch.




10 As Anna had her heart full of grief, she prayed to the Lord, shedding many tears, 11 And she made a vow, saying: O Lord, of hosts, if thou wilt look down on the affliction of thy servant, and wilt be mindful of me, and not forget thy handmaid, and wilt give to thy servant a man child: I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.

Ver. 11.  A vow; rightly trusting that her husband would give his consent.  Num. xxx. 7.

 

--- Razor.  Heb. mora, "scissors."  Sept. "iron."  Some copies add, "he shall not drink wine, nor any intoxicating drink."  In quality of Levite, Samuel was bound to serve the tabernacle from 25 or 30 years of age till he was 50.  Num. iv. 2.  Anna consecrates him to the Lord for life, and promises that he shall be a Nazarite, like Samson, and S. John Baptist.  The law prescribes no rules for these perpetual Nazarites.  Num. vi. 3.  Many of the ancients believe that Samuel always observed the prescriptions of Moses, and abstained from intoxicating liquors; though the Heb. and Vulg. are silent on this head.  We find that during his administration as Judge, he was not able to continue always near the tabernacle.  C.

 

--- When he came to years of discretion, he might depart if he thought proper, like other Levites.  Had he been of another tribe, he must have been redeemed.  W.

 

--- Esther, Elcana, or Samuel, might have annulled this vow.  Salien, A. 2900.



Anna Prays

Anna Prays

And she made a vow, saying: O Lord, of hosts, if thou wilt look down on the affliction of thy servant, and wilt be mindful of me, and not forget thy handmaid, and wilt give to thy servant a man child: I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.

12 And it came to pass, as she multiplied prayers before the Lord, that Heli observed her mouth.

Ver. 12.  Prayers, out of fervour; not through vain superstition and ostentation, as the Pharisees and pagans did.  Mat. xxiii. 14.  Christ does not condemn many, or long prayers, since he prayed whole nights for our instruction.  Luc. xxi. 43. and vi. 12.  1 Thes. v. 17.

 

--- Mouth.  He tried, but could not hear what she said.  C.


13 Now Anna spoke in her heart, and only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard at all. Heli therefore thought her to be drunk, 14 And said to her: How long wilt thou, be drunk? digest a little the wine, of which thou hast taken too much.

Ver. 14.  Much.  Heli's "son or servant," (paidarion, according to the Sept.) addressed these words to Anna.  Her going to pray immediately after a feast, instead of taking recreation, increased the suspicion.  S. Chrys. hom. 1.

 

--- Salien (A.C. 1153) observes the many instances of patience which Anna exhibits on this occasion.  H.

 

--- She teaches us not to answer the unjust reproaches of our superiors with haughtiness.  D.


15 Anna answering, said: Not so, my lord: for I am an exceeding unhappy woman, and have drunk neither wine nor any strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.

Ver. 15.  My lord.  She gives him this title, though he had called her a drunken woman.  H.

 

--- Unhappy.  Heb. "of a hard (or afflicted) spirit."  See Cant. viii. 6.  C.


16 Count not thy handmaid for one of the daughters of Belial: for out of the abundance of my sorrow and grief have I spoken till now.

Ver. 16.  Belial; "without restraint;" abandoned.  H.

 

--- Sept. "pestiferous."

 

--- Sorrow.  Heb. "meditation;" (C.) what preys upon my spirits.  H.


17 Then Heli said to her: Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition, which thou hast asked of him.

Ver. 17.  Peace, with all blessings.  M.


18 And she said: Would to God thy handmaid may find grace in thy eyes. So the woman went on her way, and ate, and her countenance was no more changed.

Ver. 18.  Eyes: that thou wouldst lay aside thy suspicions against my character, and pray (C.) that I may obtain so great a happiness.

 

--- Changed.  Heb. "no more," as it had been sad, and defaced with tears.  H.

 

--- She was now full of hope and  joy.  M.

 

--- Sept. "her countenance fell not."  She was not moved with anger or with jealousy.  Gen. iv. 6.  C.


19 And they rose in the morning, and worshipped before the Lord: and they returned, and came into their house at Ramatha. And Elcana knew Anna his wife: and the Lord remembered her. 20 And it came to pass when the time was come about, Anna conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel: because she had asked him of the Lord.

Ver. 20.  About, at the expiration of the year, which term the ancients frequently allowed between the conception and the nativity.  Gen. xviii. 10.

 

--- Samuel.  This name imports, asked of God.  Ch.

 

--- Some letters are omitted for the easier pronunciation, as the Hebrews would now write it, Saul-meel; (C.) or it may signigy, "God placed him," sum-hal.  T.

 

--- Shaal means, "to ask."  But Vatable thinks that Anna retained only the first letter.  M.



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21 And Elcana her husband went up, and all his house, to offer to the Lord the solemn sacrifice, and his vow.

Ver. 21.  Vow, in consequence of his son's nativity.  The sacrifice might be of precept, such as the paschal lamb, or for his wife's purification and the redemption of his first-born, as they could not attend in person.  C.

 

--- Heb. "the victim of days and his vow," which he had probably made in conjunction with Anna.  M.


22 But Anna went not up: for she said to her husband: I will not go till the child be weaned, and till I may carry him, that he may appear before the Lord, and may abide always there.

Ver. 22.  Weaned.  The mother of the Machabees weaned her children when they were three years old; (2 Mac. vii. 27.) which Gallien asserts as the proper time, though Avicenna fixes upon two years.  See Gen. xxi. 8.  Iremellius translates, "till the child be grown up."  But we must not allow any long term, since he was very young when he was presented to the Lord.  v. 24.


23 And Elcana her husband said to her: Do what seemeth good to thee, and stay till thou wean him: and I pray that the Lord may fulfill his word. So the woman stayed at home, and gave her son suck, till she weaned him.

Ver. 23.  Word, by preserving the life of the child, (C.) and enabling him to serve according to our engagement.  H.

 

--- Word is often put for "a thing,"  in Heb.  May God perfect his own work.  M.


24 And after she had weaned him, she carried him with her, with three calves, and three bushels of flour, and a bottle of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord in Silo. Now the child was as yet very young:

Ver. 24.  Three calves.  Sept. "a calf three years old," such as Abraham sacrificed, Gen. xv. 9.  We only find one offered up, v. 25.

 

--- Bushels.  Heb. epha, (C.) each of which contained three bushes or measures.  Ruth ii. 17.  H.

 

--- Bottle.  Heb. nebel, a large measure containing above 87 pints.  C.

 

--- The sacrifices seem to have been for thanksgiving, accompanied with an ephi for each calf, and with wine.  Num. xv.  Ezec. xlvi. 7.




25 And they immolated a calf, and offered the child to Heli. 26 And Anna said: I beseech thee, my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord: I am that woman who stood before thee here praying to the Lord.

Ver. 26.  Liveth: a strong attestation.  M.

 

--- As sure as you live; or, may you enjoy a long and happy life.  See C. xvii. 55. and xx. 3.  Dan. iii. 9.  2 Esd. ii. 3.


27 For this child did I pray, and the Lord hath granted me my petition, which I asked of him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord all the days of his life, he shall be lent to the Lord. And they adored the Lord there. And Anna prayed, and said:

Ver. 28.  Lent.  This is equivalent to giving entirely.  Anna presents her son to the Lord, to serve in his tabernacle as long as God shall think proper.  He dispensed with his personal attendance, when he appointed him judge.  C. vii. 15.  C.

 

--- As much as depended on Samuel's mother, he was consecrated for ever.  But he was at liberty to ratify the vow if he pleased.  M.

 

--- The expression, lent, seems to reserve the dominion of the thing, which Anna had entirely given up, so that we might translate the Heb. "Therefore I have him simply as one lent...he is a thing lent, which belongs to the Lord."  C.

 

--- They.  Heb. "he worshipped the Lord there."  Grabe found not these words in the Alex. copy, which by comparison of this chapter with the the Vatican edition, appears, to be more accurate.  Both omit this sentence: but it is found in the Aldine edition of the Sept.  Proleg. C. iv.  The Targum adds, "and she prayed in the spirit of prophecy, and said."  H.


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