1 Samuel 1:4, 5: Portions of the Peace Offering

Verse 4:[1] And when the time was that Elkanah (Deut. 12:17, 18; 16:11) offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions…



[Now, a day came] Hebrew: and it was the day[2] (Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan), namely, of the solemnity, or a solemn day (Jonathan, Munster, Kimchi in Drusius), or, a feast day (Tigurinus). Now, when the day had come, that is, on which Elkanah was wont to sacrifice (Vatablus).


[And he sacrificed] Namely, by the Priests (Malvenda, Mendoza). [See on verse 3.] He was unwilling to appear before the Lord empty, in accordance with Deuteronomy 16:16, 17 (Malvenda).


[And he gave to Peninnah, etc.] Therefore, this sacrifice was not a burnt-offering (because the burnt-offering was consecrated entirely to God), but a peace-offering, or a Thank-offering, a good part of which was falling back to the offerers. See Leviticus 3; 7; Deuteronomy 12; 16 (Sanchez, Menochius, Tirinus, similarly Mendoza, Lapide, Piscator, Drusius, Lyra). Hence we are informed that his entire family was present. His family is an illustrious example of piety. And so it is fitting that everyone instruct his own in the fear and law of God (Martyr, similarly Lapide). But why did he give first to Peninnah, etc.? Responses: 1. Perhaps so that he might conceal his love toward Hannah, and take away an occasion for dispute. 2. It is thus arranged, not because Elkanah gave first to Peninnah, but because the Writer is going to say more things concerning Hannah. See on Matthew 1:1; Revelation 1:4, 5 (Mendoza). But he was giving these portions for the sake of friendship and honor; thus the ancients were wont γεραίρειν, to honor, certain ones: Athenæus’[3] Banquet of the Learned 1. And κρεωδαισία or κρεωνομία, distribution of meats) was also used in other feasts, as it is evident out of Homer and Plutarch[4] (Serarius). Those that were offering שְׁלָמִים/peace-offerings, their Priest, with his parts removed, was removing the rest, from which a feast was prepared: but the master of the feast was giving to his guests the portions that he would, as in Genesis 43:34 (Grotius).


Portions: To wit, out of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings, the greatest part whereof fell to the offerer, and was eaten by him and his friends or guests before the Lord, Leviticus 3; 7; Deuteronomy 12:12; 16:11; and out of this he gave them all parts or portions, as the master of the feast used to do to guests.


Verse 5:[5] But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion (or, a double-portion[6]); for he loved Hannah: (Gen. 30:2) but the LORD had shut up her womb.



[But to Hannah he, sorrowing, gave one portion, מָנָ֥ה אַחַ֖ת אַפָּ֑יִם][7]] One portion (or distribution [Montanus]) of faces (Junius, Piscator), or of the countenance (Vatablus); one twofold portion (Junius and Tremellius, English, Syriac, similarly the Arabic, Lyra, Sanchez), that is to say, a portion of double faces (Sanchez, Dutch), or two faces of a portion. For אַפָּיִם/faces is of the dual number[8] (Sanchez). A portion worthy or honorable (English, Dutch, Pagnine, Vatablus), respectable (Piscator), select (Jonathan, Vatablus). He means to say, a portion that is worthy to be received with a cheerful countenance (Rabbi Salomon[9] in Drusius). That is to say, from all the rest selected with the greatest diligence, that is, upon which he had cast his eyes; or which could also be served at an elegant banquet before illustrious guests; that is, that he might cheer them (Vatablus). He gave a portion that was attractive and had a beautiful face/ appearance (Lapide); which could cheer the faces of those looking on, no matter how sad: in which sense the shewbread, Exodus 25:30, is called in Hebrew the bread of faces,[10] because it drew the eyes of God to itself (Mendoza). Others: he gave a portion, being sorrowful (Vulgate), namely, because in the distribution of portions, only one portion was due to Hannah, because she had no children, to whom portions would also have been due (Osiander[11]). He gave a portion of angers/resentments; that is, with sadness and sorrow (certain interpreters in Vatablus). One portion with the face fallen (Munster), or with a sad countenance (Castalio[12]). They take אַפָּיִם for בְּאַפַּיִם, that is, with angers/resentments (Piscator). Feeling her suffering (Munster). Upset, because she did not have children to whom he might give portions (Dras in Drusius). Others: a portion of anger; that is, which would be given to her alleviate anger (certain interpreters in Vatablus, similarly Kimchi in Drusius). What if we understand the other cheek? For the Priest had the first (Grotius).


A worthy portion, or, an honourable or select part, such as the master of the feast usually gave to the person most respected or beloved. See Genesis 43:34; 1 Samuel 9:23, 24.


[He loved Hannah] That is, exceedingly. More than Peninnah. A Synecdoche of genus. Thus Genesis 29:30 (The Ultimate Bible[13]). He so loved her, 1. Because she was prior and older. 2. Because she was of the meekest temperament (Mendoza). 3. The unfortunate are wont to be love with greater tenderness (Grotius).


He loved Hannah, with a singular and eminent love. Compare Genesis 29:30.


[But the Lord had shut up] I translate it, although Jehovah had shut up; which is to say, he did not allow her barrenness to hinder his love (Piscator). Both barrenness and fruitfulness are ascribed to God. See what things were said on Genesis 30:2 (Grotius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י הַיּ֔וֹם וַיִּזְבַּ֖ח אֶלְקָנָ֑ה וְנָתַ֞ן לִפְנִנָּ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֗וֹ וּֽלְכָל־בָּנֶ֛יהָ וּבְנוֹתֶ֖יהָ מָנֽוֹת׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י הַיּ֔וֹם.


[3] Athenæus of Naucratis (late first, early second century AD) wrote Deipnosophistæ (or Banquet of the Learned), a dialogue in which the characters discuss a wide range of topics including food.


[4] Moralia 2:643a. Mestrius Plutarchus (c. 46-127) was a Greek historian.


[5] Hebrew: וּלְחַנָּ֕ה יִתֵּ֛ן מָנָ֥ה אַחַ֖ת אַפָּ֑יִם כִּ֤י אֶת־חַנָּה֙ אָהֵ֔ב וַֽיהוָ֖ה סָגַ֥ר רַחְמָֽהּ׃


[6] Hebrew: מָנָ֥ה אַחַ֖ת אַפָּ֑יִם.


[7] אַף can signify face, nose, or anger/resentment.


[8] Note the ַיִם- ending.


[9] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time. It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century. He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation. He also authored the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud.


[10] Exodus 25:30: “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread (לֶ֥חֶם פָּנִ֖ים, bread of faces) before me alway.”


[11] Lucas Osiander (1534-1604) was a Lutheran theologian. He produced an edition of the Vulgate with supplemental annotations and corrections, inserting Luther’s translation in the places in which the Vulgate departs from the Hebrew. He was also an accomplished composer of music.


[12] Sebastian Castalio (1515-1563) distinguished himself as a scholar by means of his linguistic talents, evident in his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. After a period of working closely with Calvin, the two fell into controversy. Castalio was inclined towards Pelagianism, and his views were influential in the development of Socinianism. As a translator of the Bible, he takes great liberty with the text, molding the speech of the prophets to conform to the standards of classical Latin.


[13] Biblia Maxima.

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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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