Poole on 1 Samuel 1:15, 16: Hannah's Humble and Modest Defense

Verse 15:[1] And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit (Heb. hard of spirit[2]): I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have (Ps. 62:8; 142:2) poured out my soul before the LORD.



[Not so, my lord, etc.] She passed over the affronts of Peninnah, but responds to the affronts of Eli. She denies the fact, and gives a threefold assurance of her innocence, 1. From her patience; when she calls him Lord, by whom she had been called drunken (Mendoza). Chrysostom here notes her reverence, humility, and modesty; who patiently bore the reproach of drunkenness, which in a woman is grave and shameful; and so she deserved to have from the Priest a blessing, the answer to her prayer, and a son (Lapide). Such patience was not able to be joined with drunkenness. 2. By calling herself a woman, to which drunkenness appears to have been altogether alien; Ecclesiasticus 26:8.[3] Hence among the Romans the use of wine was forbidden to women; as testify Polybius in his Histories[4] 6, Athenæus in his Banquet of the Learned 10:13, Pliny in his Natural History[5] 14:13. Drunken women were liable to capital punishment, not less than adulterous women; Pliny’s Natural History 14:13. 3. From her wretched state. Indeed, those grieving abstain from their necessary food, much more from superfluous drinking (Mendoza).


[Not, my lord[6]] Understanding, is the matter as thou supposes; I am not drunk, etc. (Vatablus).


[An unhappy woman, אִשָּׁ֤ה קְשַׁת־ר֙וּחַ֙] A woman of a hard spirit (Pagnine, Montanus, Drusius). Hard is often taken actively, for difficult and morose, as in Genesis 49:7;[7] Exodus 32:9.[8] But sometimes passively for miserable, as in Job 30:25.[9] As if she became so hardened to her ills that she was not able to be healed (Mendoza). What things are adverse the Latins call dura/hardships (Sanchez). Septuagint: γυνή ἡ σκληρὰ ἡμέρα, etc., a woman, a hard day, etc. But in others and in Chrysostom, it is ἐν σκληρᾷ ἡμέρᾳ, in a hard day. A hard day, that is, a hard time, an adverse time. Ovid:


O thou, indeed ever dear to me, but in a hard time

Really known[10]


It appears to mean this: I am not drunk with wine, but with ills; which is called ἄοινος μέθη, drunkenness without wine[11] (Drusius). Others translate it, sorrowful of soul (Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, Vatablus); of a troubled soul (Munster), of a grieving soul (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); straitened or oppressed in spirit (Jonathan in Drusius). Of an Afflicted Soul, which things I with difficulty bear as my lot (Malvenda).


I am a women; in whom drunkenness is most abominable; so that the Romans punished it with death; therefore judge me not so severely. Of a sorrowful spirit; and therefore not likely to give up myself to drink and jollity, and far from that merry temper which drunkards have: I am drunk with affliction, not with wine, as is said, Isaiah 51:21.



[And wine I have not drunk] Either on that day, or at any other time, except rarely (Malvenda).


I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, to wit, this day: see above, 1 Samuel 1:7, 8.


[But I have poured out my soul, etc.] That is, the desire of my heart (Junius, Piscator, Lapide, Sanchez, Lyra). My straits, sorrows, and afflictions (Lapide). My sorrow over the present injury, and my hope of future offspring (Mendoza). I uttered whatever I had in my heart (Vatablus). In prayer she was representing her whole soul, as it were, to God; reserving nothing to herself, but spreading out all things, and pouring them into the bosom of God (Mendoza). Moreover, she melted in grief and groaning, and her soul was almost poured out, and dissolved into tears, as it were. Or, that is to say, I faint, and expire because of sorrow. Thus Lucretius,[12] On the Nature of Things 3, said, I believe that the spirit is also poured out. Similar expressions in Job 30:16;[13] Psalm 42:4;[14] 62:8[15] (Malvenda).


Have poured out my soul; have been breathing forth the griefs, and perplexities, and desires of my soul. The like phrase is Job 30:16; Psalm 62:8; 142:2.[16]


Verse 16:[17] Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of (Deut. 13:13) Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint (or, meditation[18]) and grief have I spoken hitherto.



[Regard not thine handmaid, etc., אַל־תִּתֵּן֙ אֶת־אֲמָ֣תְךָ֔ לִפְנֵ֖י בַּת־בְּלִיָּ֑עַל] [The passage is obscure. They render it variously:] Reproach not thine handmaide before a daughter of wickedness (Jonathan). Namely, Peninnah, her rival (Kimchi in Drusius). Who will be all the more cruel, when she will have perceived me to be treated with contempt by thee. But it is not probable that this pious woman so petulantly cursed her adversary (Martyr). Give not thy servant for a pestilential daughter (Septuagint). Or, as one of the undisciplined (Theodotion[19]). Give not thine handmaid to the faces of a daughter without success (Montanus). Do not give (or, place [Pagnine]) thine handmaid before a daughter of Belial (Piscator), or, an impious daughter (Pagnine). Count me not among the daughters of Belial (Tigurinus, similarly the Syriac, Arabic). Compare me not with any wicked woman (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Vatablus). Place not thine handmaid before (understanding, the Lord [Munster]), as if a daughter of Belial. That is, לִפְנֵי הַשֵּׁם כְּבַת־בְּלִיָּעַל, before the Name, as a daughter of Belial (Munster). Do not regard, or put, thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial (English, Dutch, similarly Mariana[20]). Do not put (that is, in estimation) thine handmaid near a daughter of Belial, so that she might be similar to a daughter of Belial (Forster[21] in Malvenda). They are called men of בְּלִיָּעַל/Belial, without yoke,[22] who have no law for living. And so the Greeks sometimes translate it παράνομοι/lawless, sometimes λοιμοὶ/pestilential, sometimes ἀσεβεῖς/wicked, sometimes ἄφρονες/foolish (Grotius). Who are not able to suffer the yoke of law and discipline. See Jeremiah 2:25 (Menochius). That yoke is taken for law or government, is very well known (Sanchez).


[Out of the multitude of my sorrow and grief, כִּֽי־מֵרֹ֥ב שִׂיחִ֛י וְכַעְסִ֖י] For out of the multitude (or magnitude [Junius and Tremellius, Piscator]) of my meditation (of my speech[23] [Pagnine, Mendoza]) and my indignation (Montanus, Junius and Tremellius), or of my disturbance (Tigurinus), of my sorrow and anger[24] (Syriac, similarly the Arabic); from the multitude of my jealousy, and of my irritation (Jonathan); from my much grief and trouble. שִׂיחַ properly signifies עִנְיָן/ preoccupation, a preoccupation of soul that is not able to be concealed, but bursts forth words and gestures (Munster). Because of the multitude of my complaints and of the affliction of my soul, that is to say, asking many things, and resenting, I have prayed for so long (Vatablus). Or, I have long prayed, either giving way to sorrow, or so that I might mollify the grief of my soul (Malvenda). Nothing is sweeter to one grieving than frequently to disclose his sorrow (Mendoza).


For a daughter of Belial; for such a wicked monster, as a drunken woman is. The oppression of my spirits hath forced me to speak, and that so liberally at this time, for the case of my sinking heart.

[1] Hebrew: וַתַּ֙עַן חַנָּ֤ה וַתֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אֲדֹנִ֔י אִשָּׁ֤ה קְשַׁת־ר֙וּחַ֙ אָנֹ֔כִי וְיַ֥יִן וְשֵׁכָ֖ר לֹ֣א שָׁתִ֑יתִי וָאֶשְׁפֹּ֥ךְ אֶת־נַפְשִׁ֖י לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃


[2] Hebrew: קְשַׁת־רוּחַ.


[3] Ecclesiasticus 26:8: “A drunken woman and a gadder abroad causeth great anger, and she will not cover her own shame.”


[4] Polybius (c. 203-120 BC) was a Greek historian, remembered for his The Rise of the Roman Empire, or The Histories.


[5] Gaius Plinius Secundus, or Pliny the Elder (23-79), distinguished himself as a learned author, a celebrated Roman Procurator, and a courageous soldier. In his Natural History, Pliny in encyclopedic fashion attempts to cover the entire field of human knowledge as it stood in his day. It remains an invaluable resource in the fields of history, geography, literature, and Biblical studies.


[6] Hebrew: לֹ֣א אֲדֹנִ֔י.


[7] Genesis 49:7: “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel (קָשָׁתָה): I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”


[8] Exodus 32:9: “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people (עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹרֶף, a people hard of neck)…”


[9] Job 30:25: “Did not I weep for him that was in trouble (לִקְשֵׁה־יוֹם)? was not my soul grieved for the poor?”


[10] Tristia 3:4.


[11] Plutarch’s Moralia 2:716a.


[12] Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99-c. 55 BC) was a Roman poet and Epicurean philosopher. He was a proponent of a materialistic atomism, and thus a critic of religions.


[13] Job 30:16: “And now my soul is poured out upon me (עָ֭לַי תִּשְׁתַּפֵּ֣ךְ נַפְשִׁ֑י); the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.”


[14] Psalm 42:4: “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in meוְאֶשְׁפְּכָ֬ה עָלַ֙י׀) נַפְשִׁ֗י): for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.”


[15] Psalm 62:8: “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him (שִׁפְכֽוּ־לְפָנָ֥יו לְבַבְכֶ֑ם): God is a refuge for us. Selah.”


[16] Psalm 142:2: “I poured out my complaint before him (אֶשְׁפֹּ֣ךְ לְפָנָ֣יו שִׂיחִ֑י); I shewed before him my trouble.”


[17] Hebrew: אַל־תִּתֵּן֙ אֶת־אֲמָ֣תְךָ֔ לִפְנֵ֖י בַּת־בְּלִיָּ֑עַל כִּֽי־מֵרֹ֥ב שִׂיחִ֛י וְכַעְסִ֖י דִּבַּ֥רְתִּי עַד־הֵֽנָּה׃


[18] Hebrew: שִׂיחִי.


[19] Theodotion was a linguist and convert to Judaism, who translated the Hebrew Scripture into Greek in the middle of the second century AD. His translation appears to be an attempt to bring the Septuagint into conformity with the Hebrew text.


[20] John Mariana (c. 1536-1624) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and scholar. While teaching theology in Rome, Robert Bellarmine was among his pupils. His magnum opus was the thirty-book history of Spain, Historiæ de Rebus Hispaniæ.


[21] Johannes Forster (1495-1556) was a German Hebraist, author of Dictionarium Hebraicum.


[22] Here, בְּלִיָּעַל/Belial is treated as a compound of בְּלִי/not and עוֹל/yoke.


[23] שִׂיחַ can signify musing, complaint, or talk.


[24] כָּעַס signifies to be vexed, angry, or indignant.

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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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