1 Samuel 1:3: The Piety of the House of Elkanah

Verse 3:[1] And this man went up out of his city (Ex. 23:14; Deut. 16:16; Luke 2:41) yearly (Heb. from year to year[2]) (Deut. 12:5-7) to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in (Josh. 18:1) Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.



[And he went up] Unto Shiloh. Question: How is this said, since Ramah was situated in a high place? Response: But Shiloh was higher. Thus Adrichomius:[3] Shiloh is the highest mountain of all in the circuit of Jerusalem (Sanchez, Tirinus). Moreover, he went up, is put in the place of, he was wont to go up, as in Judges 4:5 (Mendoza).


[On the stated days, מִיָּמִ֣ים׀ יָמִ֔ימָה] From days unto days (Montanus, Septuagint); yearly, or from year to year (Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Drusius, Grotius[4]); from time to time (Syriac); from the time of a solemnity to a solemnity (Jonathan), that is, three time in a year, according to Deuteronomy 16:16 (Vatablus, Drusius, Sanchez), on the stated days, of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Lapide). On certain days through each year (Mendoza).


Yearly, to wit, at one of the solemn feasts, which probably was the passover, when he not only went up himself, but carried his wife and children with him. Compare verse 7. Or, at the appointed days or times; Hebrew, from days to days; or, from time to time, that is, at the three solemn feasts, when he, together with all other males, were obliged to go to worship God in the place appointed; and at other times, when he as a Levite was to go thither in his course.


[So that he might bow down and sacrifice[5]] Adorare, to bow down, here is to pray, and to petition God (Drusius out of the Hebrews). And thus it is read in Virgil,[6] Propertius,[7] and Ovid.[8] For those praying were adoring God with their bodies prostrate upon the earth (Drusius). He made mention of adoration before sacrifice; because adoration includes prayers, which are much better than sacrifices (Martyr out of the Hebrews). He adored first, so that it might be signified with what great reverence sacrifices were to be made (Mendoza).



[In Shiloh] This is governed, not by the more remote, he went up, but by the immediately preceding, to sacrifice (Piscator).


[So that he might sacrifice] Not in his own person (for he was a simple Levite, not a priest), but by the priests. As David, 1 Chronicles 21:26, Solomon, 1 Kings 8:63, and Absolom, 2 Samuel 15:8, are said to have sacrificed (Mendoza).


[To the Lord of hosts] Namely, of the heavenly and earthly hosts; that is to say, to whom all things are subject, both heavenly and earthly (Vatablus).


To sacrifice; not in his own person, which the Levites could not do, but by the priests; in which sense David, and Solomon, and Absalom are said to offer sacrifices, 2 Samuel 15:8; 1 Kings 8:63; 1 Chronicles 21:26. In Shiloh; where the tabernacle had long been, and now was. See Joshua 18:1; Judges 18:31; 21:19.


[The two sons of Eli were there, etc.] Question: Why are these men mentioned before their time (Sanchez)? And why these alone, since multiple Priests were there (Mendoza)? Responses: 1. Because concerning these, because of their iniquity, it could be doubted whether they were present at the tabernacle. Thus in Mark 16:7, tell His disciples and Peter, lest he appear to be excluded because of his denial. 2. So that from these the beginning of the following history might be taken (Mendoza). 3. So that the virtue of Elkanah might be shown to be all the greater, who was unwilling with others to be deterred from entering the house of God, 1 Samuel 2:17; but he exposed himself to whatever injuries, lest he be absent from the divine sacrifices; and thus by his example he was stirring up others, etc. (Mendoza, similarly Sanchez). These are called Priests of the Lord, so that, with this commendation of them prefixed, their fault might appear all the greater (Mendoza).


The priests of the Lord were there, or, were the priests of the Lord there, to wit, under their father Eli, who is generally conceived to have been the high priest, but being very old and infirm, 1 Samuel 4:15, and unfit for service, his sons ministered in his stead, being as it were second priests. See 2 Kings 25:18. And this clause seems to be added, to show that this good man did not run into that vulgar error, of neglecting his duty of offering to God for the wickedness of the priests; of which see 1 Samuel 2:17, 24.

[1] Hebrew: וְעָלָה֩ הָאִ֙ישׁ הַה֤וּא מֵֽעִירוֹ֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים׀ יָמִ֔ימָה לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֧ת וְלִזְבֹּ֛חַ לַיהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת בְּשִׁלֹ֑ה וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י חָפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣נְחָ֔ס כֹּהֲנִ֖ים לַיהוָֽה׃


[2] Hebrew: מִיָּמִ֣ים׀ יָמִ֔ימָה.


[3] Christian Adrichomius (1533-1585), a Roman priest, wrote an important geography of Palestine (Theatrum Terræ Sanctæ et Biblicarum Historiarum).


[4] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis. He was a strict practitioner of the historical-contextual method of exegesis, and both his methods and conclusions are on display in his influential Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. He is also remembered for his role in the Arminian controversy, siding with the Remonstrants, and for his governmental theory of atonement.


[5] Hebrew: לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֧ת וְלִזְבֹּ֛חַ.


[6] Æneid 10:677.


[7] Elegies 1:4:27. Sextus Propertius (50 BC-16 AD) was a Roman elegiac poet.


[8] Fasti 5:449; 6:559. Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17 AD) was a Roman poet.

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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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