Hannah Exalts the Lord in Prayer
1 Hannah prayed,tn Heb “prayed and said.” This is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified in the translation.
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my hornsn 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. is exalted high because of the Lord.
I loudly denouncetn Heb “my mouth opens wide against.” my enemies,
for I am happy that you delivered me.tn Heb “for I rejoice in your deliverance.”
2 No one is holysn In this context God’s holiness refers primarily to his sovereignty and incomparability. He is unique and distinct from all other so-called gods. like the Lord!
There is no one other than you!
There is no rocktn 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.” like our God!
3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly,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.
letting proud talk come out of your mouth!
For the Lord is a God who knows;
hetc 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”). evaluates what people do.
4 The bows of warriors are shattered,
but those who stumble find their strength reinforced.
5 Those who are well-fed hire themselves out to earn food,
but the hungry no longer lack.
Eventc 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. the barren woman gives birth to seven,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.
but the one with many children withers away.tn Or “languishes.”
6 The Lord both kills and gives life;
he brings down to the gravetn Heb “Sheol”; NAB “the nether world”; CEV “the world of the dead.” and raises up.
7 The Lord impoverishes and makes wealthy;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He lifts the weaktn Or “lowly”; Heb “insignificant.” from the dust;
he raisestn The imperfect verbal form, which is parallel to the participle in the preceding line, is best understood here as indicating what typically happens. the poor from the ash heap
to seat them with princes
and to bestow on them an honored position.tn Heb “a seat of honor.”
The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord,
and he has placed the world on them.
9 He watches overtn 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. his holy ones,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.
but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness,
for it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.
10 The Lord shatterstn 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. his adversaries;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.
he thunders against them fromtn The Hebrew preposition here has the sense of “from within.” the heavens.
The Lord executes judgment to the ends of the earth.
He will strengthentn 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. his king
and exalt the powertn 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.” of his anointed one.”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.
11 Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah. But the boy was serving the Lord under the supervision oftn Heb “with [or “before”] the face of.” Eli the priest.
Eli’s Sons Misuse Their Sacred Office
12 The sons of Eli were wicked men.tn Heb “sons of worthlessness.” They did not recognize the Lord’s authority.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.
13 Now the priests would always treat the people in the following way:tn Heb “the habit of the priests with the people [was this].” Whenever anyone was making a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s attendant would come with a three-pronged forksn 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. in his hand.
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 Israelitestn Heb “to all Israel.” when they came there to Shiloh.
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.”tn Heb “living.”
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!tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss (“no”) rather than the Kethib and MT, which read “to him.” Hand it over right now! If you don’t, I will take it forcibly!”
17 The sin of these young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for theytc Heb “the men,” which is absent from one medieval Hebrew ms, a Qumran ms, and the LXX. treated the Lord’s offering with contempt.
18 Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord. The boy was dressed in a linen ephod.
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.
20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife saying, “May the Lord raise up for you descendantstn Heb “seed.” from this woman to replace the one that shetn 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. dedicated to the Lord.” Then they would go to theirtn Heb “his.” home.
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.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.”
22 Now Eli was very old when he heard about everything that his sons used to do to all the people of Israeltn Heb “to all Israel.” and how they used to have sex withtn Heb “lie with.” the women who were stationed at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
23 He said to them, “Why do you behave in this way? For I hear about these evil things from all thesetc 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. people.
24 This ought not to be,tn Heb “no.” my sons! For the report that I hear circulating among the Lord’s people is not good.
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 sonstn Heb “they”; the referent (Eli’s sons) has been specified in the translation for clarity. would not listen to their father, for the Lord had decidedtn Heb “desired.” to kill them.
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
27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not plainlytn The infinitive absolute appears before the finite verb for emphasis. reveal myself to your ancestor’stn Heb “to your father’s” (also in vv. 28, 30). house when they were in Egypt in the house of Pharaoh?
28 I chose your ancestortn Heb “him”; the referent (Eli’s ancestor, i.e., Aaron) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 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.
29 Why are youtc 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”). scorning my sacrifice and my offering that I commanded for my dwelling place?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. 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.’
30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I really did saytn The infinitive absolute appears before the finite verb for emphasis. that your house and your ancestor’s house would servetn Heb “walk about before.” me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘May it never be!tn Heb “may it be far removed from me.” For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed!
31 In fact, days are coming when I will remove your strengthtn Heb “chop off your arm.” The arm here symbolizes strength and activity. and the strengthtn Heb “arm.” of your father’s house. There will not be an old man in your house!
32 You will see trouble in my dwelling place!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). Israel will experience blessings,tn Heb “in all which he does good with Israel.” but there will not be an old man in yourtc The LXX and a Qumran manuscript have the first person pronoun “my” here. house for all time.tn Heb “all the days.”
33 Any one of you that I do not cut off from my altar, I will cause yourtc The LXX, a Qumran ms, and a few old Latin mss have the third person pronominal suffix “his” here. eyes to failtn 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). and will cause you grief.tn Heb “and to cause your soul grief.” All of those born to your familytn Heb “and all the increase of your house.” will die in the prime of life.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.
34 This will be a confirming sign for you that will be fulfilled through your two sons,tn Heb “and this to you [is] the sign which will come to both of your sons.” Hophni and Phinehas: in a single day they both will die!
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 dynastytn Heb “house.” and he will serve my chosen one for all time.tn Heb “and he will walk about before my anointed one all the days.”
36 Everyone who remains in your house will come to bow before him for a little moneytn Heb “a piece of silver” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). and for a scrap of bread. Each will say, ‘Assign me to a priestly task so I can eat a scrap of bread.’”