Hannah Gives Birth to Samuel
1 There was a man from Ramathaim Zophim,#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 mem (מ) at the beginning of the following word. from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah. He was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; the name of the first was Hannah and the name of the second was Peninnah. Now Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.
3 Year after year#tn Heb “from days to days.” this man would go up from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh. It was there that the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, served as the Lord’s priests. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he used to give meat portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But he would give a double#tn The exact sense of the Hebrew word אַפָּיִם (’appayim, “two faces”) is not certain here. It 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 (’efes) 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. portion to Hannah, because he especially loved her.#tn Heb “for Hannah he loved.” Repetition of the proper name would seem redundant in contemporary English, so the pronoun (“her”) has been used here for clarity. The translation also adds the adverb “especially” to clarify the meaning of the text. Without this addition one might get the impression that only Hannah, not Peninnah, was loved by her husband. But the point of the text is that Hannah was his favorite. Now the Lord had not enabled her to have children.#tn Heb “and the Lord had closed her womb.” So also in v. 6. The disjunctive clause provides supplemental information that is pertinent to the story. 6 Her rival wife used to upset her and make her worry,#tn Heb “and her rival wife grieved her, even [with] grief so as to worry her.” for the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 7 Peninnah#tn The MT has a masculine form of the verb here יַעֲשֶׂה (ya’aseh, “he used to do”); the subject in that case would presumably be Elkanah. But this leads to an abrupt change of subject in the following part of the verse, where the subject is the rival wife who caused Hannah anxiety. In light of v. 6 one expects the statement of v. 7 to refer to the ongoing actions of the rival wife: “she used to behave in this way year after year.” Some scholars have proposed retaining the masculine form but changing the vocalization of the verb so as to read a Niphal rather than a Qal (i.e., יֵעֲשֶׂה, ye’aseh, “so it used to be done”). But the problem here is lack of precedent for such a use of the Niphal of this verb. It seems best in light of the context to understand the reference to be to Hannah’s rival Peninnah and to read here, with the Syriac Peshitta, a feminine form of the verb (“she used to do”). In the translation the referent (Peninnah) has been specified for clarity. would behave this way year after year. Whenever Hannah#tn Heb “she”; the referent (Hannah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. went up to the Lord’s house, Peninnah#tn Heb “she”; the referent (Peninnah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. would upset her so that she would weep and refuse to eat. 8 Finally her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and not eat? Why are you so sad?#tn Heb “why is your heart displeased?” Am I not better to you than ten#sn Like the number seven, the number ten is sometimes used in the OT as an ideal number (see, for example, Dan 1:20, Zech 8:23). sons?”
9 On one occasion in Shiloh, after they had finished eating and drinking, Hannah got up.#tc The LXX adds “and stood before the Lord,” but this is probably a textual expansion due to the terseness of the statement in the Hebrew text. (Now at the time Eli the priest was sitting in his chair#tn Or perhaps, “on his throne.” See Joüon 2:506-7 §137.f. by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 10 She was very upset#tn Heb “she [was in] bitterness of soul.” as she prayed to the Lord, and she was weeping uncontrollably.#tn Heb “and weeping, she was weeping.” The infinitive absolute emphasizes the extent of her sorrow. The imperfect verbal form emphasizes the continuation of the action in past time. 11 She made a vow saying, “O Lord of hosts, if you will look with compassion#tn Heb “if looking you look.” The expression can refer, as here, to looking favorably upon another, in this case with compassion. on the suffering of your female servant,#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. remembering me and not forgetting your servant, and give a male child#tn Heb “seed of men.” to your servant, then I will dedicate him to the Lord all the days of his life. His hair will never be cut.”#tn Heb “a razor will not go up upon his head.”
12 As she continued praying to#tc Heb “before.” Many medieval Hebrew manuscripts read “to.” the Lord, Eli was watching her mouth. 13 Now Hannah was speaking from her heart. Although her lips were moving, her voice was inaudible. Eli therefore thought she was drunk. 14 So he#tn Heb “Eli.” The pronoun (“he”) has been used in the translation in keeping with contemporary English style. said to her, “How often do you intend to get drunk? Put away your wine!”
15 But Hannah replied, “That’s not the way it is,#tn Heb “No.” my lord! I am under a great deal of stress.#tn Heb “I am a woman difficult of spirit.” The LXX has “for whom the day is difficult,” apparently mistaking the Hebrew word for “spirit” רוּחַ (ruakh) to be the word for “day” יוֹם (yom). I have drunk neither wine nor beer. Rather, I have poured out my soul to#tn Heb “before.” the Lord. 16 Don’t consider your servant a wicked woman,#tn Heb “daughter of worthlessness.” for until now I have spoken from my deep pain and anguish.”
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.” So the woman went her way and got something to eat.#tc Several medieval Hebrew mss and the Syriac Peshitta lack the words “and got something to eat.” Her face no longer looked sad.
19 They got up early the next morning and after worshiping the Lord, they returned to their home at Ramah. Elkanah had marital relations with#tn Heb “Elkanah knew his wife.” The Hebrew expression is a euphemism for sexual relations. his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered#sn The Lord “remembered” her in the sense of granting her earlier request for a child. The Hebrew verb is often used in the OT for considering the needs or desires of people with favor and kindness. her. 20 After some time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, thinking, “I asked the Lord for him.#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 שׁאל (sh’l, “to ask”), but the consonants do not support this. Nor is it likely that the name comes from the root שׁמא (shm’, “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.
Hannah Dedicates Samuel to the Lord
21 This man Elkanah went up with all his family to make the yearly sacrifice to the Lord and to keep his vow, 22 but Hannah did not go up with them.#tn The disjunctive clause is contrastive here. The words “with them” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. Instead she told her husband, “Once the boy is weaned, I will bring him and appear before the Lord, and he will remain there from then on.”
23 So her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what you think best.#tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.” Stay until you have weaned him. May the Lord fulfill his promise.”#tn Heb “establish his word.” This apparently refers to the promise inherent in Eli’s priestly blessing (see v. 17).
So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 24 Once she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with three bulls, an ephah#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. of flour, and a container#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.” of wine. She brought him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh, even though he was young.#tc Heb “and the boy was a boy.” If the MT is correct the meaning apparently is that the boy was quite young at the time of these events. On the other hand, some scholars have suspected a textual problem, emending the text to read either “and the boy was with them” (so LXX) or “and the boy was with her” (a conjectural emendation). In spite of the difficulty it seems best to stay with the MT here. 25 Once the bull had been slaughtered, they brought the boy to Eli. 26 She said, “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 I prayed for this boy, and the Lord has given me the request that I asked of him. 28 Now I dedicate him to the Lord. From this time on he is dedicated to the Lord.” Then they#tn Heb “he,” apparently referring to Samuel (but cf. CEV “Elkanah”). A few medieval manuscripts and some ancient versions take the verb as plural (cf. TEV, NLT). worshiped the Lord there.