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Hannah Is Childless

There was a man from Ramathaim Zophim,[a] from the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah. He was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives;[b] the name of the first was Hannah and the name of the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man would go up from his city year after year[c] to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at Shiloh.[d] (It was there that the two sons of Eli,[e] Hophni and Phinehas, served as the Lord’s priests.) The day came, and Elkanah sacrificed.

(Now[f] he used to give meat portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double[g] portion because he loved Hannah,[h] although[i] the Lord had not enabled her to have children. Her rival used to aggravate her to the point of exasperation,[j] just to irritate her,[k] since the Lord had not enabled her to have children. This is how it would go[l] year after year. As often as she went up to the Lord’s house, Peninnah[m] would offend her in that way.)[n]

So she cried and refused to eat. Then her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why are you crying and why won’t you eat? Why are you so upset?[o] Am I not better to you than ten[p] sons?” So Hannah got up after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh.[q]

At the time[r] Eli the priest was sitting in his chair[s] by the doorpost of the Lord’s sanctuary.[t] 10 As for Hannah, she was very distressed.[u] She prayed to the Lord and was, in fact, weeping.[v] 11 She made a vow saying, “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you would truly look[w] on the suffering of your servant,[x] and would keep me in mind and not neglect[y] your servant, and give your servant a male child,[z] then I will dedicate him to the Lord all the days of his life. His hair will never be cut.”[aa]

12 It turned out[ab] that she did a great deal[ac] of praying before the Lord. Meanwhile[ad] Eli was watching her mouth. 13 As for Hannah, she was speaking in her mind.[ae] Only her lips were moving; her voice could not be heard. So Eli thought she was a drunkard.[af]

14 Then he[ag] said to her, “How much longer do you intend to get drunk? Put away your wine!”[ah] 15 But Hannah replied, “Not so, my lord! I am a woman under a great deal of stress.[ai] I haven’t drunk wine or beer. But I have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Don’t consider your servant a wicked woman.[aj] It’s just that,[ak] to this point, I have spoken from my deep pain[al] and anguish.”[am]

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

19 They got up early the next morning. Then they worshiped[aq] the Lord and returned to their home at Ramathaim.[ar] Elkanah was intimate with[as] his wife Hannah, and the Lord called her to mind.[at] 20 Then Hannah became pregnant.

Hannah Dedicates Samuel to the Lord

In the course of time she gave birth to a son.[au] And she named him Samuel, thinking, “I asked the Lord for him.”[av] 21 Then the man Elkanah and all his family went up to make the yearly sacrifice[aw] to the Lord and to keep his vow.[ax] 22 But Hannah did not go up with them,[ay] because she had told[az] her husband, “Not[ba] until the boy is weaned. Then I will bring him so that he may appear before the Lord. And he will remain there from then on.”[bb]

23 Then her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what you think best.[bc] Stay until you have weaned him. Only may the Lord fulfill his promise.”[bd]

So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 24 Then she took him up with her[be] as soon as she had weaned him, along with three bulls,[bf] an ephah[bg] of flour, and a container[bh] of wine. She came to the Lord’s house at Shiloh, and the boy was with them.[bi] 25 They slaughtered the bull, then brought the boy to Eli.[bj] 26 She said, “My lord. 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. 27 For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me the request that I asked of him. 28 So I also dedicate[bk] him to the Lord. For all the days of his life[bl] he is dedicated to the Lord.” Then he[bm] bowed down there in worship[bn] to the Lord.

Hannah Exalts the Lord in Prayer

Hannah prayed,[bo]

“My heart has rejoiced[bp] in the Lord;
my horn[bq] has been raised high because of the Lord.
I have loudly denounced[br] my enemies.
Indeed I rejoice in your deliverance.
No one is holy[bs] like the Lord!
There is no one other than you!
There is no rock[bt] like our God!
Don’t keep speaking[bu] so arrogantly.[bv]
Proud talk should not[bw] come out of your mouth,
for the Lord is a God who knows;
he[bx] evaluates what people do.
The bows of warriors are shattered,
but those who stumbled have taken on strength.[by]
The well fed hire themselves out to earn food,
but the hungry no longer lack.[bz]
Even[ca] the barren woman has given birth to seven,[cb]
but the one with many children has declined.[cc]
The Lord both kills and gives life;
he brings down to the grave[cd] and raises up.[ce]
The Lord impoverishes and makes wealthy;
he humbles and he exalts.
He lifts the weak[cf] from the dust;
he raises[cg] the poor from the ash heap
to seat them with princes—
he bestows on them an honored position.[ch]
The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord
he placed the world on them.
He watches over[ci] his holy ones,[cj]
but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness,[ck]
for it is not by one’s own[cl] strength that one prevails.
10 The Lord shatters[cm] his adversaries;[cn]
he thunders against them from[co] the heavens.
The Lord executes judgment to the ends of the earth.
He will strengthen[cp] his king
and exalt the power[cq] of his anointed one.”[cr]

11 Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah.

Eli’s Sons Misuse Their Sacred Office

The boy[cs] Samuel[ct] was serving the Lord with the favor of[cu] Eli the priest.[cv]


  1. 1 Samuel 1:1 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 מ (mem) at the beginning of the following word.
  2. 1 Samuel 1:2 sn We do not know how Elkanah came to have two wives. A man whose brother had died without leaving children had, by custom, to marry his sister-in-law to raise up a son in his brother’s name (Deut 25:5). Childlessness, more than one wife, and rivalry are recurrent themes in the stories of Genesis. Sarai gave her servant Hagar to Abraham in an arrangement that would consider the child to be Sarai’s (Gen 16:2). Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah, but then also married Rachel, who initially could not have children (Gen 29:23-25; 30:1). This situation recalls the stories from Genesis and the dysfunction of the Patriarchs’ families.
  3. 1 Samuel 1:3 tn Heb “from days to days.” In this phrase “days” idiomatically means a year, as a set of days.
  4. 1 Samuel 1:3 sn From the book of Judges we know that Israel often struggled with idolatry during this time period. This introduction to Elkanah portrays him as a faithful worshiper of the Lord (whatever his faults may have been) at a time when “each man did what he considered to be right” (Judg 17:6; 21:25).
  5. 1 Samuel 1:3 tc LXX “Eli and his two sons.”
  6. 1 Samuel 1:4 tn The word “now” does not appear in the Hebrew. It is used here to signal that the narrator makes an aside. This begins an extended parenthetic remark which extends to the end of verse 7. sn The narrator supplies background information about the behavior patterns in this family which would routinely occur when they went to the tabernacle to worship on holy days.
  7. 1 Samuel 1:5 tn The exact sense of the Hebrew word אַפָּיִם (ʾappayim, “two nostrils” or “face”) is not certain here. The form is dual and 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 (ʾefes) 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.
  8. 1 Samuel 1:5 tn Heb “because Hannah he loved.” The Hebrew places the direct object, “Hannah,” first as a means of emphasis (topicalization). The emphasis on Hannah shows she was his favorite and may leave the audience wondering whether or how much he loves Peninnah. In turn this may typologically recall the ancestral story of Jacob loving Rachel more than Leah (Gen 29:30, 32), whom he was tricked into marrying.
  9. 1 Samuel 1:5 tn Or “and [because] the Lord had closed her womb.” So also in v. 6.” The conjunction, commonly “and,” could represent a second reason for giving her a double portion. Or because it is a noun first clause, it simply provides background information to be read in light of the statement that he loved The act of giving Hannah a double portion portrays Elkanah as having compassion on Hannah but also demonstrating favoritism. Exod 21:10 forbids diminishing the food of a second wife. This act is not the same as diminishing Peninnah’s food, but surely contributes to the tension between the women. While the extra food for Hannah may seem insignificant for the pain of childlessness, it was probably significant to Peninnah.
  10. 1 Samuel 1:6 tn The Hebrew construction is infrequent, employing גַּם (gam; “also”) and the noun כַּעַס (kaʿas; “grief, vexation, provocation”), which is a cognate to the verb (Hifil of כָּעַס; kaʿas, “to give grief, to provoke, to offend”). Both גַּם (gam; “also”) and use of the cognate noun strengthen the idea of aggravating her. A similar but negated construction appears in Jer 8:12. It suggests that this syntax speaks of attaining the notion in the verb to a significant level, in this case to the point of provocation or exasperation.
  11. 1 Samuel 1:6 tn Heb “for the purpose of troubling her.” The word “just” has been added for English idiom. The Hiphil form of the verb רָעַם (raʿam) may mean to disturb, humiliate, or provoke to anger. The picture seems to be that Peninnah would deliberately choose ways to irritate Hannah, for no other purpose except to see her provoked, humiliated, or depressed.
  12. 1 Samuel 1:7 tc The MT has a Qal masculine imperfect form of the verb here (יַעֲשֶׂה; yaʿaseh) “thus he used to do.” The imperfect form gives past habitual meaning and is modified by כֵּן (ken, “thus, so”). The subject would presumably be Elkanah, but this is an abrupt change of subject during a description of how Peninnah would aggravate Hannah. One approach is emend the first consonant and read the feminine form (תַּעֲשֶׂה; taʿaseh) “she used to do so.” The approach taken here is to retain the consonants and revocalize as a Niphal (i.e., יֵעָשֶׂה, yeʿaseh) “thus it would be done.” Cf. Gen 29:26.
  13. 1 Samuel 1:7 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Peninnah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  14. 1 Samuel 1:7 tn This concludes the background material of what used to happen. The next two verbs are preterites, which resume the main action line of the story from verse 4. Preterite verbs (also called vayyiqtol, or waw consecutive with imperfect) move the main line of actions forward in a story. The verbs in the main clauses from “he used to give” in vs. 4 to this point are perfect consecutives (also called veqatal or waw consecutive plus perfect) and second position imperfects used for past habitual actions. This is confirmed by the modifiers “year after year” and “as often as.” The story must at some point switch from telling what would happen on many occasions to what did happen on one occasion. Though the background statement is lengthy, it seems best to divide the habitual pattern from the particular occasion based on the known values of the verb forms.
  15. 1 Samuel 1:8 tn Heb “why is your heart displeased?” Here the heart (לֵבָב; levav) represents the emotions. The verb (רָעַע; raʿaʿ) can refer broadly to something bad or harmful and in this context may mean to be displeased, sad, or resentful. Presumably Hannah’s behavior was in opposition to the behavior expected at the worship festival.
  16. 1 Samuel 1:8 sn Like the number seven (cf. Ruth 4:15), the number ten is sometimes used in the OT as an ideal number (see, for example, Dan 1:20, Zech 8:23).
  17. 1 Samuel 1:9 tn Heb “after eating in Shiloh, and after drinking.” Since Hannah had refused to eat, it must refer to the others. The Hebrew also sets off the phrase “and after drinking” probably to prepare the reader for Eli’s mistaken assumption that Hannah had had too much too The LXX adds “and stood before the Lord.” This is probably a textual expansion due to the terseness of the statement in the Hebrew text, but we do know from context that she went up to the tabernacle.
  18. 1 Samuel 1:9 tn The words “at the time” come from the syntax. As a noun clause (instead of having a preterite verb) it does not advance the time line of the story. It provides background information which is true at the same time as another event or, as in this case, is part of the setting for a new scene.
  19. 1 Samuel 1:9 tn Or perhaps, “on his throne.” See Joüon 2:506-7 §137.f.
  20. 1 Samuel 1:9 tn The term הֵיכָל (hekhal) often refers to the temple (so ASV, KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV), however, this story happens well before Solomon built the temple. The Sumerian word “E.GAL” means “big house” and came into Akkadian as “ekallu” referring to a “palace,” “temple” (the god’s palace), or the main room of a private house (CAD E, 52). The term later came into Hebrew as “palace” or “temple.” Considering it’s origin, it is appropriate for the tabernacle which is pictured as God’s dwelling. “Sanctuary” is preferred over “temple” to avoid confusion with Solomon’s temple.
  21. 1 Samuel 1:10 tn Heb “she was bitter [in] soul.” Here “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ; nefesh) represents “the center and transmitter of feelings and perceptions” (HALOT, s.v. נֶפֶשׁ). Elsewhere (Isa 38:15; Ezek 27:31) the phrase refers to heartache. The noun first clause is making a contrast between her and Eli as part of the new setting before starting the main line of action in the following preterite verbs.
  22. 1 Samuel 1:10 tn Heb “and weeping, she was weeping.” A paronomastic infinitive absolute (from the same root as the verb it precedes) highlights the modality of the main verb. In this case the indicative mood is emphasized because this weeping was unexpected at the religious festival (see Brian L. Webster, The Cambridge Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, 288). Another view is that for indicative verbs the infinitive absolute emphasizes the lexical meaning of the verb, such as “weeping greatly.” The imperfect verbal form emphasizes the continuation of the action in past time.
  23. 1 Samuel 1:11 tn Heb “looking you look.” The expression can refer, as here, to looking favorably upon another, in this case with compassion. The paronomastic infinitive absolute, emphasizing the modality of the verb is rendered here as “truly.”
  24. 1 Samuel 1:11 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.
  25. 1 Samuel 1:11 tn The verbs זָכַר (zakar) and שָׁכַח (shakhakh) are often translated “remember” and “forget.” But their meaning is not as narrow as the English terms. Hannah is not concerned with God’s memory capacity but about keeping her in mind to grant her request. tc The LXX omits “and not neglect your servant.”
  26. 1 Samuel 1:11 tn Heb “seed of men.”
  27. 1 Samuel 1:11 tc The LXX adds “wine and strong drink he will not drink.”tn Heb “a razor will not go up upon his head.”sn This alludes to the vow of the נָזִיר (nazir) in Num 6:5. A Nazirite, or consecrated person, would make a vow for a time or for a lifetime. Among the outer signs of consecration were abstinence from alcohol and not cutting the hair for the duration of the vow. Sampson was also dedicated as a Nazirite from birth (Judg 13:7).
  28. 1 Samuel 1:12 tn This verb form, waw plus Qal perfect of הָיָה (hayah; “to be”), is rare in narrative. Most often this appears in direct speech indicating a future event or a purpose (as types of propositional or event modality respectively). However, the form can also convey other modal meanings and here probably indicates result (a type of event modality). For other cases of this syntax see Judg 19:30; 1 Sam 10:9; 13:22.
  29. 1 Samuel 1:12 tn Heb “she made numerous to pray.” The Hiphil from of the verb רָבָה (ravah; “to be many”) means to “make numerous, plentiful, or continuous” (HALOT s.v. 1 רָבָה)
  30. 1 Samuel 1:12 tn The noun first syntax of this clause means that it indicates circumstances that are simultaneous to other actions in the story. The adverb “meanwhile” was chosen to represent this syntax. It shows that Eli was watching her, apparently mumbling, for some time during her praying before he approached her.
  31. 1 Samuel 1:13 tn The Hebrew word לֵב (lev) can refer to the seat of the emotions, will, and intellect and may be translated as “heart” or “mind.”
  32. 1 Samuel 1:13 tn The Hebrew term שִׁכּוֹר (shikkor) can refer to being drunk or being a drunkard. Slurred speech is a symptom of drunkenness, but because there is no audible speech Eli may be inferring confusion associated with alcoholic dementia, a result of long term drinking.
  33. 1 Samuel 1:14 tn Heb “Eli.” The pronoun (“he”) has been used in the translation in keeping with contemporary English LXX “Eli’s servant.”
  34. 1 Samuel 1:14 tc The LXX adds “And go away from the Lord’s face (i.e., presence).”
  35. 1 Samuel 1:15 tn The idiom קְשַׁת רוּחַ (qeshat ruakh) is unique to this passage. The adjective קְשַׁת (qeshat) may mean “hard, difficult, or distressed” and the noun רוּחַ (ruakh) may mean “spirit, or breath.” It could possibly refer to a “distressed spirit” (NIV, ESV “troubled;” NASB “oppressed;” KJV “sorrowful”) or “difficult of breath.” An appeal to some sort of shortness of breath could fit the context. The LXX has “for whom the day is difficult,” either mistaking the Hebrew word “day” יוֹם (yom) for “spirit” or choosing a way to communicate stress. The phrase has also been compared to “hard of face,” “hard of heart,” and “hard of neck” and understood to mean “obstinate” (Graeme Auld, I & II Samuel [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011] 31). Claiming to be obstinate seems an unlikely defense to present the high priest, but if this latter suggestion is on the right track, perhaps the idiom could be bland enough to mean “determined.”
  36. 1 Samuel 1:16 tn Heb “daughter of worthlessness.”
  37. 1 Samuel 1:16 tn Heb “for” or “indeed.” The English “It’s just that” is a colloquial expression that can express a reason.
  38. 1 Samuel 1:16 tn The term שִׂיחַ (siakh) can also refer to a lament or complaint.
  39. 1 Samuel 1:16 tn It is also possible for the term כַּעַס (kaʿas) to refer to provocation or anger.
  40. 1 Samuel 1:18 tc The LXX reads as an affirmation: “Your servant [has] found favor in your sight.”
  41. 1 Samuel 1:18 tc Several medieval Hebrew mss and the Syriac Peshitta lack the words “and got something to eat.” The LXX reads: “went her way. She entered her guest room. She ate with her husband, and drank.”
  42. 1 Samuel 1:18 tc NET follows the LXX: “her face was no longer fallen.” The MT reads: “her face, it did not belong to her any more.” The Hebrew is difficult to interpret; we may wonder if it is idiomatic for her expression having changed.
  43. 1 Samuel 1:19 tn Or “bowed before the Lord.” The posture of bowing often represents the act of worshiping.
  44. 1 Samuel 1:19 tc Heb “to Ramah;” LXX “Ramathaim.” Ramathaim, used in verse 1, is the dual form of Ramah.
  45. 1 Samuel 1:19 tn Heb “Elkanah knew his wife.” The Hebrew expression is a euphemism for sexual relations.
  46. 1 Samuel 1:19 tn The verbs זָכַר (zakar) is often translated “remember.” It does not simply mean the ability to recall (as “forgetting” does not simply mean the inability to recall). It means the decision to recall or to bear in mind, here with regard to her previous request. The Hebrew verb is often used in the OT for considering the needs or desires of people with favor and kindness.
  47. 1 Samuel 1:20 tc The translation follows the sequence of the LXX. The MT says: “It happened at the turning of the days. Hannah conceived. And she gave birth to a son.” The phrase “at the turning of the days” might refer to the new year or to end of the term of pregnancy.
  48. 1 Samuel 1:20 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 שָׁאַל (shaʾal, “to ask”), but the consonants do not support this. Nor is it likely that the name comes from the root שָׁמַע (shamaʿ, “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.
  49. 1 Samuel 1:21 tn Heb “sacrifice of days.” The plural “days” often refers to a set of days, commonly a year, thus an annual sacrifice (cf. 1 Sam 2:29; 20:6).
  50. 1 Samuel 1:21 tn The Hebrew suffix could be “his vow” or “its vow,” referring to his household’s vow. sn The only vow that has been mentioned so far is Hannah’s. This either implies an additional vow not made known to us, or implies Elkanah’s affirmation of her vow. According to Num 30:6-8 a husband could nullify his wife’s vow, or allow it to stand. tc The LXX adds “and all the tithes of his land.”
  51. 1 Samuel 1:22 tn The disjunctive clause is contrastive here. The words “with them” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  52. 1 Samuel 1:22 tn The perfect conjugation, used with a dynamic root, may be be past or past perfect. In a כִּי (ki) clause in narrative, it typically refers to a reason that occurred prior to the event in the main timeline. Most translations, however, render it as simple past (KJV, NRSV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman). sn According to this understanding, she and Elkanah have already discussed the issue. Her concern to not give the baby up while Samuel is nursing is most sensible; at the same time she affirms her long term commitment to her vow.
  53. 1 Samuel 1:22 tn Heb “until the boy is weaned.” The word “not” is implied and provided for clarity.
  54. 1 Samuel 1:22 tn Heb “until forever.”
  55. 1 Samuel 1:23 tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.”sn A similar phrase is a negative characterization in Judges, that “each would do what was right in his [own] eyes” (Judg 17:6; 21:25, cf. Prov 12:15; 21:2). However the phrase “in one’s own eyes” does not have to have a negative connotation (1 Chron 13:4; 30:4). As Hannah had done, Elkanah affirms the long term commitment to the vow.
  56. 1 Samuel 1:23 tc LXX and Qumran “establish what is coming out of your mouth.” MT “establish his word.”sn By reading “his word” (i.e., his promise) the MT is consistent with other passages that deal with establishing God’s word. But what it refers to is unclear. If Eli’s earlier response (v. 17) implies a promise, it has already been fulfilled in the birth. Other have suggested a connection to Deut 18:15, 18 and the promise to raise up a prophet like Moses. The reading preserved in the Greek text and at Qumran may well be the original. In this case Elkanah is affirming the conclusion of Hannah’s vow. Perhaps there is even an underlying admonition in the affirmation. Auld suggests it is possible that readers should discern in Elkanah an affirmation of the prophetic word through Hannah (Graeme Auld, I & II Samuel [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011] 33).
  57. 1 Samuel 1:24 tc LXX “she went up with him to Shiloh.”
  58. 1 Samuel 1:24 tc LXX “with a three year old bull and loaves.”
  59. 1 Samuel 1:24 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.
  60. 1 Samuel 1:24 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”).
  61. 1 Samuel 1:24 tc The translation follows the LXX. Although “with her” can be conjectured instead of “with them,” the context of the LXX assumes the presence of Elkanah as well as Hannah. The MT has the unusual structure “and the boy was a boy,” possibly the result of dittography. If the MT is correct, perhaps we are to understand two different meanings of the same noun, e.g. “the boy was a servant.” The noun נַעַר (naʿar) is commonly understood to refer to a young man or a servant (HALOT s.v. נַעַר), however, it refers to the infant Moses (Exod 2:6) and to Benjamin when he may be well past adolescence (Gen 43:8). Further those called נַעַר (naʿar) may not simply be servants, but someone in line to receive a position of rank. Samuel does become a servant, or apprentice, and turns out to be in line to replace Eli. Yet since he has not yet been given to Eli, this seems like an odd place to remark on his being an apprentice.
  62. 1 Samuel 1:25 tc The LXX is longer, reading: “They brought [him] before the Lord and his father slaughtered the sacrifice which he would bring to the Lord from time to time. And he brought the child and slaughtered the calf. And Hannah, the child’s mother, brought him to Eli.”
  63. 1 Samuel 1:28 tn The Hiphil of שָׁאַל (shaʾal) might mean “to loan,” or “to treat as requested” (see HALOT s.v. שָׁאַל).
  64. 1 Samuel 1:28 tn Heb “all the days which he lives.”
  65. 1 Samuel 1:28 tc The MT is singular, apparently referring to Samuel (but cf. CEV “Elkanah”). A few medieval manuscripts and some ancient versions take the verb as plural (cf. TEV, NLT).
  66. 1 Samuel 1:28 sn This Hebrew verb, the Hishtaphel of חָוָה (havah), means “to bow down” or “to prostrate oneself.” When bowing to the Lord it is a gesture of worship. In this context, if Samuel is the subject (see the previous tc note), he demonstrates reverence to the Lord regarding his mother’s vow.
  67. 1 Samuel 2:1 tn Heb “prayed and said.” This is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified in the translation.
  68. 1 Samuel 2:1 tn The verb עָלַץ (ʿalats) is a fientive verb. (Some emotion verbs in Hebrew are stative and some are fientive.) The Qal perfect form of a fientive verb is past or perfective (past action with a result that continues into the present). The LXX renders “my heart was strengthened.”
  69. 1 Samuel 2:1 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.
  70. 1 Samuel 2:1 tn Heb “my mouth has opened wide against.”
  71. 1 Samuel 2:2 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.
  72. 1 Samuel 2:2 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.”
  73. 1 Samuel 2:3 tn Heb “Do not do a lot; do [not] speak.” The two verbs are understood together to refer to abundant speaking.
  74. 1 Samuel 2:3 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.
  75. 1 Samuel 2:3 tn The negative element, “not,” is understood to reapply from the first sentence through the poetic technique of ellipsis and double duty.
  76. 1 Samuel 2:3 tc The translation assumes the reading of the Qere וְלוֹ (velo, “and by him”), which is supported by many medieval Hebrew mss, is correct, rather than the reading of the Kethib וְלוֹא (veloʾ, “and not”).tn HALOT cites three possibilities for the phrase. Reading the Niphal verb as passive to the Qal meaning (“to examine, check”) and reading the Qere וְלוֹ (velo, “and by him”): “actions [are] tested by him.” Taking the Niphal verb to mean “to measure up, be in order, be correct” (cf. Ezek 18:25, 29; 33:17, 20) and reading the Qere וְלוֹ (velo): “his [God’s] actions are in order.” Taking the verb as in the previous case but reading the Kethiv וְלֹא (veloʾ) and taking the noun עֲלִלוֹת (ʿalilot) as a pejorative: “[disgraceful] actions have no place.” (HALOT s.v. תכן). The translation agrees with the first option and translates the verb with active instead of passive voice.
  77. 1 Samuel 2:4 tn Heb “stumblers have put on strength.” Because of the contrast between the prior and current condition, the participle has been translated with past tense. The Hebrew metaphor is a picture of getting dressed with (“putting on”) strength like clothing.
  78. 1 Samuel 2:5 tn By implication these lines refer to those formerly well-fed and those formerly hungry.
  79. 1 Samuel 2:5 tc Against BHS but with the MT, the preposition (עַד, ʿad) should be taken with what follows rather than with what precedes. For this sense of the preposition see Job 25:5.
  80. 1 Samuel 2:5 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.
  81. 1 Samuel 2:5 tn Or “languished.”
  82. 1 Samuel 2:6 tn Heb “Sheol”; NAB “the nether world”; CEV “the world of the dead.”
  83. 1 Samuel 2:6 tn The first three verbs are participles; the last is a preterite which is normally past consecutive. It is rare, even in poetry, for a preterite verb to follow a participle. The English translations all render the last verb as a participle. They either reason that the preterite continues the force of the participle or assume that it should be repointed as a simple vav plus imperfect (which can be habitual present). If the participles are understood as substantival, then the latter half might mean “the Lord…is one who brings down to [the point of] the grave and then raised up.”
  84. 1 Samuel 2:8 tn Or “lowly”; Heb “insignificant.”
  85. 1 Samuel 2:8 tn The imperfect verbal form, which is parallel to the participle in the preceding line, is best understood here as indicating what typically happens.
  86. 1 Samuel 2:8 tn Heb “he makes them inherit a seat of honor.”
  87. 1 Samuel 2:9 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.
  88. 1 Samuel 2:9 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.
  89. 1 Samuel 2:9 tc The LXX begins the verse differently, “granting the prayer to the one who prays; he blessed the years of the righteous.”
  90. 1 Samuel 2:9 tn Heb “For not by strength a person prevails.” Since the Lord’s strength is apparent in the context, the translation adds “one’s own” for clarity.
  91. 1 Samuel 2:10 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.
  92. 1 Samuel 2:10 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. The LXX adds material very similar to Jer 9:23-24. “the Lord is holy. Let not the wise boast in his wisdom, and let not let the strong boast in his strength, and let not let the rich boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this: to understand and know the Lord, and to practice justice and righteousness in the midst of the land.” The Greek text of Jeremiah uses different words for “wise” and “strong” and closes by referring to the Lord as one who performs justice, etc. and whose will is in these things.
  93. 1 Samuel 2:10 tn The Hebrew preposition here has the sense of “from within.”
  94. 1 Samuel 2:10 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.
  95. 1 Samuel 2:10 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.”
  96. 1 Samuel 2:10 tc The LXX greatly expands v. 10 with an addition that seems to be taken from Jer The anointed one is the anticipated king of Israel, as the preceding line makes clear.
  97. 1 Samuel 2:11 tn The term נַעַר (naʿar), here translated “boy,” often refers to a servant or apprentice in line for a position of authority.
  98. 1 Samuel 2:11 tn The name “Samuel” has been supplied here for clarity.
  99. 1 Samuel 2:11 tn Heb “with [or “before”] the face of.” Possibly “under the supervision of.” Cf. 1 Sam 2:18 and 1 Kgs 13:6 where the face represents favor.
  100. 1 Samuel 2:11 tc The transition between the end of the song and the next portion of the narrative varies in the ancient witnesses. At Qumran, vs 11 is entirely omitted from 4QSama. The MT refers to Elkanah returning to Ramah, then Samuel serving the Lord “with the face” of Eli. The LXX focuses initially on Hannah. According to Graeme Auld (I & II Samuel [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011] 40 and 43) the first scribe of Codex B wrote “And she left him there facing Yahweh. And she went to Ramathaim. And the lad was serving in face of Yahweh, facing Eli the priest.” The Lucianic Greek text differs as to the beginning, “And they left him before Yahweh there, and did homage to Yahweh, and departed for Ramah for their home.” Thus the MT and the early Greek text focus on the different spouses, while the Lucianic tradition blends them together with a plural verb. The omission from Qumran and variation among the other texts suggests that this verse was either damaged in a very early copy or added to smooth out the transition between topics. If the MT is accepted, the principal question remaining is where to divide the paragraphs. Does Samuel’s service to the Lord function primarily as contrast to his parent’s return trip or as contrast to Eli’s dishonorable sons? The syntactic structure for both options is the same, vav plus noun first, and therefore not decisive. That the next section starts at 2:18 with nearly identical phrasing argues to begin a paragraph here with the statement about Samuel.