Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Hannah prayed, and said--Praise and prayer are inseparably
conjoined in Scripture
This beautiful song was her tribute of thanks for the divine goodness
in answering her petition.
mine horn is exalted in the Lord--Allusion is here made to a
peculiarity in the dress of Eastern women about Lebanon, which seems to
have obtained anciently among the Israelite women, that of wearing a
tin or silver horn on the forehead, on which their veil is suspended.
Wives, who have no children, wear it projecting in an oblique
direction, while those who become mothers forthwith raise it a few
inches higher, inclining towards the perpendicular, and by this slight
but observable change in their headdress, make known, wherever they go,
the maternal character which they now bear.
5. they that were hungry ceased--that is, to hunger.
the barren hath born seven--that is, many children.
6. he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up--that is, He
reduces to the lowest state of degradation and misery, and restores to
prosperity and happiness.
8. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar
from the dunghill--The dunghill, a pile of horse, cow, or camel offal,
heaped up to dry in the sun, and used as fuel, was, and is, one of the
common haunts of the poorest mendicants; and the change that had been
made in the social position of Hannah, appeared to her grateful heart
as auspicious and as great as the elevation of a poor despised beggar
to the highest and most dignified rank.
inherit the throne of glory--that is, possesses seats of honor.
10. the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth . . . exalt the horn of
his anointed--This is the first place in Scripture where the word
"anointed," or Messiah, occurs; and as there was no king in Israel at
the time, it seems the best interpretation to refer it to Christ. There
is, indeed, a remarkable resemblance between the song of Hannah and
that of Mary
11. the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest--He
must have been engaged in some occupation suited to his tender age, as
in playing upon the cymbals, or other instruments of music; in lighting
the lamps, or similar easy and interesting services.
12. Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial--not only careless and
irreligious, but men loose in their actions, and vicious and scandalous
in their habits. Though professionally engaged in sacred duties, they
were not only strangers to the power of religion in the heart, but they
had thrown off its restraints, and even ran, as is sometimes done in
similar cases by the sons of eminent ministers, to the opposite extreme
of reckless and open profligacy.
13-17. the priests' custom with the people--When persons wished to
present a sacrifice of peace offering on the altar, the offering was
brought in the first instance to the priest, and as the Lord's part was
burnt, the parts appropriated respectively to the priests and offerers
were to be sodden. But Eli's sons, unsatisfied with the breast and
shoulder, which were the perquisites appointed to them by the divine
Le 7:31, 32),
not only claimed part of the offerer's share, but rapaciously seized
them previous to the sacred ceremony of heaving or waving (see on
and moreover they committed the additional injustice of taking up with
their fork those portions which they preferred, while still raw. Pious
people revolted at such rapacious and profane encroachments on the dues
of the altar, as well as what should have gone to constitute the family
and social feast of the offerer. The truth is, the priests having
become haughty and unwilling in many instances to accept invitations to
those feasts, presents of meat were sent to them; and this, though done
in courtesy at first, being, in course of time, established into a
right, gave rise to all the rapacious keenness of Eli's sons.
18. But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child--This
notice of his early services in the outer courts of the tabernacle was
made to pave the way for the remarkable prophecy regarding the high
girded with a linen ephod--A small shoulder-garment or apron, used in
the sacred service by the inferior priests and Levites; sometimes also
by judges or eminent persons, and hence allowed to Samuel, who, though
not a Levite, was devoted to God from his birth.
19. his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year
to year--Aware that he could not yet render any useful service to the
tabernacle, she undertook the expense of supplying him with wearing
apparel. All weaving stuffs, manufacture of cloth, and making of suits
were anciently the employment of women.
20. Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife--This blessing, like that which
he had formerly pronounced, had a prophetic virtue; which, before long,
appeared in the increase of Hannah's family
and the growing qualifications of Samuel for the service of the
22-24. the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle--This
was an institution of holy women of a strictly ascetic order, who had
relinquished worldly cares and devoted themselves to the Lord; an
institution which continued down to the time of Christ
Eli was, on the whole, a good man, but lacking in the moral and
religious training of his family. He erred on the side of parental
indulgence; and though he reprimanded them (see on
yet, from fear or indolence, he shrank from laying on them the
restraints, or subjecting them to the discipline, their gross
delinquencies called for. In his judicial capacity, he winked at their
flagrant acts of maladministration and suffered them to make reckless
encroachments on the constitution, by which the most serious injuries
were inflicted both on the rights of the people and the laws of
25. they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because--it
should be therefore.
the Lord would slay them--It was not God's preordination, but their
own wilful and impenitent disobedience which was the cause of their
27. there came a man of God unto Eli, and said . . . that there shall not
be an old man in thine house--So much importance has always, in the
East, been attached to old age, that it would be felt to be a great
calamity, and sensibly to lower the respectability of any family which
could boast of few or no old men. The prediction of this prophet was
fully confirmed by the afflictions, degradation, poverty, and many
untimely deaths with which the house of Eli was visited after its
31. I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house--By
the withdrawal of the high priesthood from Eleazar, the elder of
Aaron's two sons (after Nadab and Abihu were destroyed,
that dignity had been conferred on the family of Ithamar, to which Eli
belonged, and now that his descendants had forfeited the honor, it was
to be taken from them and restored to the elder branch.
32. thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation--A successful rival for
the office of high priest shall rise out of another family
1Ch 24:3; 29:22).
But the marginal reading, "thou shalt see the affliction of the
tabernacle," seems to be a preferable translation.