Poole on 1 Samuel 4:21, 22: Ichabod, or, The Glory Has Departed

Verse 21:[1] And she named the child (1 Sam. 14:3) Ichabod (that is, Where is the glory? or, there is no glory[2]), saying, (Ps. 26:8; 78:61) The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

[She called the child Ichabod, אִי־כָבוֹד] There is no glory. Or, where is the glory? (Munster, Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator). Either אִי is in the place of אַיִן/ not, with the last letter cut off; or אִי is in the place of אַיֵּה/where (Drusius, Piscator, Munster, Vatablus). Or, woe to the glory (Mendoza, Malvenda). Thus אִי is taken in Ecclesiastes 10:16[3] (Mendoza).

[Saying, The glory is passed from Israel] What does she understand by glory? Response 1: Some understand this of those three, the Ark, her father-in-law, and her husband. Thus the Chaldean and the Septuagint (Mendoza). Response 2: Others understand this only of the Ark (thus Mendoza, Munster, Drusius, Grotius, Lapide, Sanchez, Piscator, Malvenda), over which God was wont to appear[4] (Grotius). For, 1. The Ark alone was able to be said to have passed from Israel. For Eli and Phinehas had rather perished in Israel. 2. Wicked Priests were not the glory, but rather the shame, of Israel. 3. The Ark is frequently called the glory of God, Psalm 26:8; 63:2; 78:61; Isaiah 64:11. 4. The repetition of Ark in the following verse teaches this (Mendoza). He calls the Ark the glory of Israel, because in that God chose a dwelling for Himself in the midst of His believing people (Munster). And because from that the Lord was speaking; wherefore also the cloud from which oracles were given, is called the glory of the Lord, Numbers 20:6 (Mendoza). Because it was bringing glory to the people of Israel, and was a sign of the gracious presence of God (Piscator). And because, with that present, they were fearing no adversary (Sanchez). Or she call God Himself the glory (Martyr, Piscator); who is so called, Psalm 106:20; Jeremiah 2:11 (Piscator). Now, God is called our glory, 1. Actively; because we celebrate and glorify Him: 2. Passively; because we are adorned and illuminated by Him (Martyr). This was formerly the persuasion of the Genitles, that no city was able to be safe, if it happened that the Gods, which it were held as tutelary, either willingly departed, or were taken away by an enemy; as it is noted of the Palladium.[5] Wherefore, when it was near that a city would be captured, by a certain song the tutulary gods were called out by the enemies, as Macrobius testifies in his Saturnalia[6] 3:9. From the Jerusalem Temple God went forth, when that was destroyed and overturned, both by the Chaldeans, Ezekiel 3:12, and by the Romans, as Josephus testifies in Jewish Wars 7:12. A movement and a noise was first heard; but afterwards a voice, Let us depart from here. Which also other related out of profane authors, like Apollonius,[7] Destruction of Jerusalem 1, and Cornelius Tacitus, Annals 2. Therefore, with the Ark, the daughter-in-law of Eli was able suppose that good fortune and the hope of liberty was transferred to their enemies (Sanchez). As far as it is elicted from her words, that woman attributed too much to the sacraments. For, with the Ark taken, she thought that all was lost concerning the republic and religion; although God redeemed His people out of Egypt, and kept them in the desert, before the Ark was constructed. And after the Babylonian captivity, the people were in a most flourishing state of affairs; yet the Ark was not present. There were also most certain promises concerning that kingdom, that it would endure unto the times of Messiah. Therefore, it was not fitting for that woman thus to despair (Martyr).

The glory, that is, the glorious type and assurance of God’s presence, the ark, which is oft called God’s glory, as Psalm 26:8; 78:61; Isaiah 64:11, and which was the great safeguard and ornament of Israel, which they could glory in above all other nations.

[Because the Ark of God was captured, etc., and for her father-in-law, etc., אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וְאֶל־חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָֽׁהּ׃] To to be captured the Ark, and to her father-in-law[8] (Montanus). On account of the captured Ark, and on account of her father-in-law, etc. (Dutch, English, Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus, Glassius). Because the Ark was captured, and because her father-in-law was dead, etc. (Pagnine, Jonathan). Or, and because of her father-in-law, etc., that is, because of the death of those (Piscator). אֶל is taken for בַּעֲבוּר, on account of (Vatablus, Malvenda), or for עַל, because of (Drusius, Glassius); as here and in verses 19[9] and 22.[10] Thus in 1 Samuel 1:27, because of this child I prayed:[11] Thus in Ezekiel 6:9, where a prefixed ל is subjoined with the same significance.[12] See also 5:11 (Glassius’ “Sacred Grammar” 529). Others: hearing of the Ark taken, and of her father-in-law dead (Junius and Tremellius). I would prefer, having regard to the captivity of the Ark of Gid, and to her father-in-law, etc. (Piscator). The speech is defective here; therefore, the Septuagint and Chaldean rightly supply, because they died (Mariana, similarly Vatablus). These words, enclosed in parentheses in this way, (because the Ark was taken, and because her father-in-law was dead, and her husband), indicate that they are the words of the author of the book, not of the woman laboring (Malvenda generally out of Vatablus).

Verse 22:[13] And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

[Because the Ark of God has been captured] That is to say, That was especially grieving her; for she considered her domestic calamity as secondary to the public calamity (Malvenda). Let us draw from this an example of lamenting spiritual losses, rather than temporal losses (Mendoza).

For the ark of God is taken: This is repeated to show her piety, and that the public and spiritual loss lay heavier upon her spirit than her personal or domestic calamity.

[1] Hebrew: וַתִּקְרָ֣א לַנַּ֗עַר אִֽי־כָבוֹד֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר גָּלָ֥ה כָב֖וֹד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וְאֶל־חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָֽׁהּ׃ [2] Hebrew: אִי־כָבוֹד. [3] Ecclesiastes 10:16: “Woe to thee (אִי־לָךְ), O land, when thy king isa child, and thy princes eat in the morning!” [4] See, for example, Exodus 25:22; Leviticus 16:2; Numbers 7:89. [5] The Palladium, a wooden statue of Pallas Athena, was said to protect Troy. In Virgil’s Æneid, Æneas takes the statue to the future site of Rome. [6] Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius’ (395-423) wrote Saturnalia, an account of a discussion held at the house of Vettius Agorius Prætextatus during the festival of Saturnalia about Roman festivals and worship, etc. [7] Petrus Apollonius Collatius was a fifteenth century Italian poet. [8] A woodenly literalistic rendering. [9] 1 Samuel 4:19: “And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, nearto be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead (וַתִּשְׁמַ֣ע אֶת־הַשְּׁמֻעָ֔ה אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וּמֵ֥ת חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָׁ֑הּ), she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.” [10] 1 Samuel 4:22: “And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken (כִּ֥י נִלְקַ֖ח אֲר֥וֹן הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃).” [11] Hebrew: אֶל־הַנַּ֥עַר הַזֶּ֖ה הִתְפַּלָּ֑לְתִּי. [12] Ezekiel 6:9: “And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations (וְנָקֹ֙טּוּ֙ בִּפְנֵיהֶ֔ם אֶל־הָֽרָעוֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשׂ֔וּ לְכֹ֖ל תּוֹעֲבֹתֵיהֶֽם׃).” [13] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֕אמֶר גָּלָ֥ה כָב֖וֹד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּ֥י נִלְקַ֖ח אֲר֥וֹן הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃


Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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