Poole on 1 Samuel 1:20: The Birth of Samuel

[circa 1171 BC] Verse 20:[1] Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about (Heb. in the revolution of days[2]) after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel (that is, Asked of God[3]), saying, Because I have asked him[4] of the LORD.

[And it happened after the cycle of days, וַיְהִי֙ לִתְקֻפ֣וֹת הַיָּמִ֔ים] And it was in the revolutions (or after the revolutions [Piscator, Munster, English], after the expiration [Dutch]) of days (Montanus, Pagnine, Septuagint); with some days having revolved (Tigurinus); after the revolutions of time (Junius and Tremellius), that is, with the ordinary time of pregnancy accomplished (Junius, similarly Mendoza). The revolution of days is taken for the days of pregnancy (Munster). A learned exposition indeed, but which the order of words in the Hebrew does not appear to admit: in which it is signified that Hannah conceived after the revolutions of days; but not that, after she had conceived, the days revolved. And so after the revolutions of days appears to signify here nothing other than after a number of days had passed, from the time when Elkanah had begun again to lie with Hannah: so that it might be signified that she did not immediately conceive in that first lying together (Piscator). Others: in the time (or after the time [Syriac]) of days (Septuagint), or, of the perfection of days (Jonathan). And while she continued some days (Arabic); conceived in the changing of the times, she gave birth to a son (Castalio). With almost a year having passed, that is, with ten months having elapsed, she conceived (more rightly, had conceived) and gave birth to a son (Osiander). Days in the plural denote a year (Drusius). After a cycle of days signifies that some legitimate time passed, within which neither law nor custom allowed attention to be given to wifely interest. Which sort perhaps it was, when in Shiloh they were free for prayer. See 1 Corinthians 7:5, or, from the departure from their home unto their return (Sanchez). And this was a custom of the Jews; and so, when they were going to Jerusalem, the men were going in one group, and the women in another. See Luke 2:44 (Lyra, Drusius). While they were free from sacred rites, it appears that he did not know her; not because intercourse with his wife was a sin, but because he was diverting his soul by more weighty matters. See 1 Corinthians 7; Exodus 19 (Martyr). Or, she is said to have conceived, when a sign of conception was discovered; just as Bathsheba speaks, 2 Samuel 11:5, and she says, I have conceived. Often in Scripture something is said to happen, when it is known to have happened. Thus that is the cycle of days, which nature requires for the formation of a fetus; namely, forty days (Sanchez). In (understanding, a number) of circuits of days. Jerome: now, with a number of months having passed (Vatablus).

[Hannah conceived and gave birth (thus Jonathan, Montanus, Arabic),וַתַּ֥הַר חַנָּ֖ה וַתֵּ֣לֶד] That she conceived and gave birth (Piscator, Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus). After which Hannah conceived so that she might give birth (Junius and Tremellius). Or, after Hannah had conceived (Pagnine, Drusius). Similarly, thou wast angry, and we had sinned, that is, after we had sinned[5] (Drusius). A ὕστερον πρότερον, hysteron proteron,[6] is to be noted here. Indeed, it ought to have been said, she conceived, and after revolutions of days she gave birth. But formulæ of this sort occur elsewhere, as in Exodus 14:21, He made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided; seeing that the waters were divided before they were dried. And in Isaiah 64:5, thou art wroth, and we sinned; seeing that the Jews sinned before God was angry (Martyr).

When the time was come about after Hannah had conceived: So the sense is, When the usual time from the conception to the birth was past, she brought forth her son. Hebrew: in or after the revolution, or expiration of some days, Hannah conceived, and in due time bare a son. So the meaning is, That although her husband knew her conjugally at his return, and God was minded of her, and intended in his time to give her his blessing, yet she did not conceive at first, but after some days or time afterwards.

[And she called] Namely, Hannah (Drusius). Question: Whether it belonged to the father or to the mother to place names upon their children? Responses: 1. To the mother (Montanus’ Commentary in Mendoza), as it is evident from Genesis 4:1; 19:37, 38; 25:26; 29:30-35; 38:29, 30, and elsewhere (Mendoza). 2. To the father (Pineda[7] in Mendoza). Examples are not wanting, Genesis 4:26; 5:29; 21:3; 41:51; Exodus 2:22. The function of imposing names pertains to the master (Mendoza). 3. I do not think that there was any law concerning this among the Hebrews; but that this function pertained to either parent without any discrimination. For, almost equal testimonies of Scripture are related for each position. There is no natural right, neither is there any apparent positive right (Mendoza).

And called, that is, she called, not doubting of her husband’s consent to the name. The names of children were given to them sometimes by their fathers, and sometime by the mothers. See Genesis 4:1, 26; 5:29; 21:3; 19:37, 38, etc.

[Samuel, שְׁמוּאֵל] Etymologies are not always to be weighed according to Grammatical rules. But they are composed in one way by the Hebrews, another way by the Latins. For, sometimes in Hebrew compounds are discerned only the first letters of the words, from which the word is compounded; as it is evident from this name Samuel, which was imposed by his mother, not by a learned man; and it retains only the first letter of the word שָׁאַל, which means to ask. He is called שְׁמוּאֵל/Samuel, שָׁאַלְתִּי אוֹתוֹ מֵאֵל (that is, I have asked him from God), as it were (Vatablus). It is translated one asked or requested from God by Jonathan, Theodotion, Procopius and Suidas[8] in Malvenda, Munster, Mendoza. This name is compounded from two corrupted words and one whole (Junius). Two words are corrupted,