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This is the story of Elkanah, a man of the tribe of Ephraim who lived in Ramathaim-zophim, in the hills of Ephraim.

His father’s name was Jeroham,

His grandfather was Elihu,

His great-grandfather was Tohu,

His great-great-grandfather was Zuph.

He had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had some children, but Hannah didn’t.

Each year Elkanah and his families journeyed to the Tabernacle at Shiloh to worship the Lord of the heavens and to sacrifice to him. (The priests on duty at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas.) On the day he presented his sacrifice, Elkanah would celebrate the happy occasion by giving presents to Peninnah and her children; but although he loved Hannah very much, he could give her only one present, for the Lord had sealed her womb; so she had no children to give presents to. Peninnah made matters worse by taunting Hannah because of her barrenness. Every year it was the same—Peninnah scoffing and laughing at her as they went to Shiloh, making her cry so much she couldn’t eat.

“What’s the matter, Hannah?” Elkanah would exclaim. “Why aren’t you eating? Why make such a fuss over having no children? Isn’t having me better than having ten sons?”

One evening after supper, when they were at Shiloh, Hannah went over to the Tabernacle. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance. 10 She was in deep anguish and was crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.

11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of heaven, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you, and he’ll be yours for his entire lifetime, and his hair shall never be cut.”[a]

12-13 Eli noticed her mouth moving as she was praying silently and, hearing no sound, thought she had been drinking.

14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your bottle.”

15-16 “Oh no, sir!” she replied, “I’m not drunk! But I am very sad and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Please don’t think that I am just some drunken bum!”

17 “In that case,” Eli said, “cheer up! May the Lord of Israel grant you your petition, whatever it is!”

18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed, and went happily back, and began to take her meals again.

19-20 The entire family was up early the next morning and went to the Tabernacle to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah, and when Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her petition; in the process of time, a baby boy was born to her. She named him Samuel (meaning “asked of God”)[b] because, as she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”

21-22 The next year Elkanah and Peninnah and her children went on the annual trip to the Tabernacle without Hannah, for she told her husband, “Wait until the baby is weaned, and then I will take him to the Tabernacle and leave him there.”

23 “Well, whatever you think best,” Elkanah agreed. “May the Lord’s will be done.”

So she stayed home until the baby was weaned. 24 Then, though he was still so small, they took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh, along with a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice, and a bushel of flour and some wine. 25 After the sacrifice they took the child to Eli.

26 “Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked him. “I am the woman who stood here that time praying to the Lord! 27 I asked him to give me this child, and he has given me my request; 28 and now I am giving him to the Lord for as long as he lives.” So she left him there at the Tabernacle for the Lord to use.


  1. 1 Samuel 1:11 and his hair shall never be cut. This was an approved custom for those who were wholly dedicated to God.
  2. 1 Samuel 1:19 named him Samuel (meaning “asked of God”). This was a play on words. The word Samuel in Hebrew sounds like the word “to ask.”

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