Now the boy Samuel was attending to the service of the Lord under the supervision of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread.
Samuel served the Lord by helping Eli the priest, who was by that time almost blind. In those days, the Lord hardly ever spoke directly to people, and he did not appear to them in dreams very often. But one night, Eli was asleep in his room,
1 There was no manifest vision in the time of Eli. 4 The Lord calleth Samuel three times, 11 And showeth what shall come upon Eli and his house. 18 The same declareth Samuel to Eli. Now the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli: and the word of the Lord was precious in those days: for there was no manifest vision.
The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli’s direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.
And the na’ar Shmuel ministered unto Hashem before Eli. And the Devar Hashem was yakar (precious, dear, rare) in those days; there was no chazon nifratz ([prophetic] vision open, spread out, common, i.e., prophetic vision was uncommon).
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