1 Now there was a certain man of [Ramatayim Tzophim], of [the hill country of Ephrayim], and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham [ben Yerocham], [ ben Elihu, ben Tochu, ben Tzuph] an Ephrathite [from Ephrat]:

Elkanah was descended from Kohath, but he was not of the Aaronic priesthood. He was from a different son. Zuph appears to be the ancestor who came into the land under Joshua and gave the area its name; therefore, Ramathaimzophim, or of the sons of Zuph. He, Zuph, was the seventh from Levi, who corresponds with the entering in of the land.

It is interesting that Elkanah, and therefore also Samuel was descended from Korah, who rebelled against Moses and died in the wilderness, but his sons did not rebel and did not die with him. It is interesting, too, that Samuel's grandson was Heman, the principle of David's three leaders of song for the worship. Heman of the Kohathites and Asaph of the Gershonites on his right hand and Ethan, or Jeduthun, of the Merarites on his left hand for the service of song (I Chronicles 6). *

2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was [ Channah], and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah [ Channah] had no children.

It is possible that this was a case like Abraham-a second wife taken, because the first one, the preferred one, was barren. And, as in Abraham's case, the less preferred wife, who was not barren, constantly provoked and humiliated the one that was (v6). *

5 But unto [Channah] he gave a worthy [double] portion; for he loved [Channah]: but Yahweh had shut up her womb.

It was not just an accident of nature. It was a deliberate act by God for His own wise purpose. And that was that Samuel should be a very special God-given child, not just an ordinary normal birth. So what seemed like a liability was an asset. It often is. *

6 And her adversary [tzarah] also provoked her sore [greatly], for to make her fret, because Yahweh had shut up her womb.

The barren wife of a Levite is taunted by a fruitful sister beyond the point of endurance.

7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house [Bais] of Yahweh, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.

Peninnah's provocation

... she did this year by year, and especially at the time when it was most distressing and harmful, when they were assembled at the Tabernacle to worship God - a time when peace and joy and harmony were the most important and most needed.

Should Hannah have been peacefully content to accept whatever condition God determined? Doubtless she would have been, except for the constant tormenting and agitation by Peninnah, who would give her no peace.

But we see how it all turned out to be of God for Hannah's ultimate glory and thanksgiving. *

9 So [Channah] rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest [HaKohen] sat upon a seat by a post of the temple [mezuzat Heikhal] of Yahweh.

This word seat should be translated throne. It is the basic and only word for throne all through the Old Testament. It is translated throne 130 times and seat only seven. For Eli was the head of the nation. He was both judge and high priest, and this seat was his position of rulership, where people would come to him for judgment. It would be raised up so as to be prominent and impressive. This makes it clearer how he could fall from it and be killed, as we learn in chapter 4, when he had the news of the Ark being taken. *

10 And she was in bitterness of soul [nefesh], and prayed [davened] unto Yahweh, and wept sore [greatly].

There is no hint that Hannah either complained to Elkanah or railed back at Peninnah, rather she took her grief in prayer to God...Peninnah's tormenting and Hannah's consequent misery drove her to God (verse 10). And so both were blessings, and would have been blessings even if God had not taken the action that He did, for to be driven to seek God is always a blessing in itself. But in this case blessing was added upon blessing, and her prayer was answered, as she desired. *

11 And she vowed a vow [ neder], and said, O Yahweh hosts [Tzva'os], if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction [misery] of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child [zera anashim], then I will give him unto Yahweh all the days [kol yamei] of his life [chayyah], and there shall no razor come upon his head.

In the bitterness of her spirit, she makes the matter a subject of petition, and vowed a vow.

What is there in this but the natural result of a grieved and desiring spirit? Apparently nothing: but what led to it? Want of fecundity and a sister's taunts. Who shall say that the first was not divinely caused and the second divinely stimulated with a view to that powerful exercise of Hannah's mind which would result in Samuel being first asked from and then lent to the Lord?

Ways of Providence Ch 14.


Did Hannah desire a son for herself or for God? That is, for her own gratification and justification, or for God's work? There is reason to think that the latter was a major aspect. That is why she becomes so prominent.

Israel was in very deep trouble-oppressed and leaderless. Her song in chapter 2, which was obviously Spirit-inspired, shows a vastly wider range of thought than mere personal interest. It ranks with the sublimest prophecy and introduces new factors of the Divine purpose not previously mentioned.

Not long before this time, a barren mother had given birth to a special child who was dedicated to God as a life-long Nazarite, and who mightily delivered Israel, though only temporarily, because of their apathy and his weakness. That was Samson. This would be fresh in Hannah's memory. She saw the need for total dedication. If God would give her a son (verse 11), he should be given totally to the LORD, and he should be a life-long Nazarite, like Samson was.

There were three life-long Nazarites in the Scriptures-Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. But only Samuel was voluntarily so dedicated. The other two were so-commanded by God, before they were born. *

Bro Growcott - Samuel a special child