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Poole on 1 Samuel 2:12: The Wicked Sons of Eli

Verse 12:[1] Now the sons of Eli were (Deut. 13:13) sons of Belial; (Judg. 2:10; Jer. 22:16; Rom. 1:28) they knew not the LORD.



[On the other hand, the sons of Eli, etc., וּבְנֵ֥י עֵלִ֖י] And the sons of Eli (Montanus). Although the sons of Eli were wicked, etc., that is, although many grave occasions were offered to Samuel to become disaffected to the worship of God and the ministry of Eli through the offenses of his sons (Junius). I would prefer, but the sons of Eli, etc. (Piscator). A certain comparison between them and Samuel appears to be made (Martyr).


[Sons of Belial] See above, 1 Samuel 1:16 (Piscator).


[Not knowing the Lord] That is, in their deeds, as in Titus 1:16 (Malvenda out of Junius, Drusius). They were not acknowledging, that is, they were not attending to, nor honoring. A synecdochical Metonomy of the efficient (Piscator). The one that worships God knows God; and, on the other hand, the one that does not know Him does not worship Him (Drusius). Hence David, in 1 Chronicles 28:9, being about to instruct (his son) to worship, instructed him to know God (Mendoza). They knew not practically (Lapide); they were not obeying His Law; indeed, they had changed the ordinance of God (Vatablus). The sons of the most excellent men have often proven to be the worst. The reasons, besides the physical, are these: that those eminent men are completely carried away to public affairs, so that they neglect the sustenance worthy of a great soul and their private affairs; then that from their father’s honor pride and indolence come to the children, from the hope of honors without difficulty. Goodness is sometimes added, as in the case of Eli, which, when it is excessive, loses its name, and deserves rather to be called the dissolution of discipline (Grotius).


They knew not the LORD:To wit, practically, that is, they did not acknowledge honour, regard, love, or serve God; for so words of knowledge are commonly used in Scripture: see Romans 1:28; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Titus 1:16.

[1] Hebrew: וּבְנֵ֥י עֵלִ֖י בְּנֵ֣י בְלִיָּ֑עַל לֹ֥א יָדְע֖וּ אֶת־יְהוָֽה׃

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Dr. Dilday
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Westminster Larger Catechism 114: 'What reasons are annexed to the third commandment?


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Dr. Dilday
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Matthew Henry: 'Let us now see how ill things went in Eli's family, though seated at the very door of the tabernacle. The nearer the church the further from God....


The abominable wickedness of Eli's sons (1 Samuel 2:12): The sons of Eli were sons of Belial. It is emphatically expressed. Nothing appears to the contrary but that Eli himself was a very good man, and no doubt had educated his sons well, giving them good instructions, setting them good examples, and putting up many a good prayer for them; and yet, when they grew up, they proved sons of Belial, profane wicked men, and arrant rakes: They knew not the Lord. They could not but have a notional knowledge…

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