Poole on 1 Samuel 2:13, 14: The Sacrilege of Eli's Sons, Part 1

Verse 13:[1] And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand…



[Nor the duty of the priests to the people] The Vulgate conjoins this with what precedes, in this sense, they knew not the Lord, nor the duty of the Priests (Mendoza). [Thus also Tigurinus, nor the right/regulation that the Priests had toward the people.] They repeat the negation from what precedes (Drusius). So also the Septuagint is able to be taken, which thus reads, οὐκ εἰδότες τὸν Κύριον, καὶ τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ ἱερέως, etc., that is, and not knowing the Lord, nor the duty of the priests, etc. For δικαίωμα/duty is able to be of the accusative case (Mendoza). [To others δικαίωμα/duty is nominative, and thus they translate the Greek, and the justification, or right/regulation, of the Priest, etc., absolutely and elliptically. Something is to be supplied, as the rest of the interpreters do.]


[וּמִשְׁפַּ֥ט הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים אֶת־הָעָ֑ם] They render it variously, and the judgment of the Priests with the people (Montanus, Drusius, Munster), understanding, was. And the statute of the Priests of the people (Jonathan). And they were taking the right of the Priests from the people (Syriac). And, when they were exacting from the people, that is, from all men that were sacrificing a victim, the right of the Priests, it happened, etc. (Arabic). And a right the Priests made for themselves toward the people (Munster). Here, מִשְׁפָּט/judgment/custom is taken for חוֹק, a right, whether a statute, or a law (Hebrews in Munster, Septuagint and Jonathan and Kimchi in Drusius). A license to sin they were drawing into custom; and the custom they were confirming into law. They were not only violating the laws of the sacrifices; but they were confirming those violations with new laws. Thus, as Cyprian[2] says, Laws were brought into conformity with the sins, and what is common begins to be allowed[3] (Mendoza). Judgment is put in the place of unjust and tyrannical law and custom, as in 1 Samuel 8:9,[4] 11[5] (Malvenda). The Priests had presumed to make a statute for themselves (Munster, Kimchi in Drusius). The High Priests had this right upon the people (Castalio). For this was the manner of those Priests with the people (Junius and Tremellius). That is, the form that they were observing, not by law, but by a nefarious usurpation and overweening confident in their authority. Thus in 1 Samuel 8:9, 11; 1 Kings 18:22. Now, two things are here reprehended: inhuman robbery, and impious sacrilege, in two verses apiece (Piscator out of Junius). For the custom of the Priests with the people, understanding, was such (Pagnine, Dutch, English, Vatablus, Drusius); which is to say, the sons of Eli and other Priests, changing the Law of God, had introduced this new custom to the people. For, according to the law of the Lord, the Priests from the peace offerings ought to receive only the shoulder and the breast: those were taking a greater portion; Leviticus 7:31, 32 (Vatablus).


[Whoever had offered a sacrifice, כָּל־אִ֞ישׁ זֹבֵ֣חַ זֶ֗בַח וגו״] To whomever sacrificing a sacrifice a boy was coming (Pagnine, similarly Castalio, Montanus, Drusius, Jonathan, Munster, Tigurinus). [Others thus connect it with what precedes:] And they were taking the right of the Priests from the people, that is, from whomever sacrificing a victim (Syriac). And, when they exacted from the people, that is, from all the men that were offering a victim, the right of the Priests; it happened that the servant came, etc. (Arabic). When anyone was sacrificing a sacrifice, understanding, pacific (Vatablus, thus Drusius out of Kimchi, Serarius, Mendoza). Verbatim: every man sacrificing…a boy was coming, etc. Barbarously indeed to Latin ears, but elegantly as a Hebraim; for what the Greeks are wont to express by genitive absolutes, and the Latins by ablative, that the Hebrews, Syrians, and Arabs are wont to express by nominative absolutes (Dieu’s Upon the Gospels[6] 55). The Priest was able to take nothing from the burnt-offering, because the whole was consumed on the altar; neither was it boiled, but roasted. Concerning the sacrifice for sin, the Priest would not be reprehended, if thence he should take whatever he please; since, with the fat and rump removed, they yielded the rest to the tables of the Priests, Leviticus 7:3. Therefore, this is said of the peace offering, of which one part was pertaining to God, another to the Priest, another to the owner of the vicitim, Leviticus 3:9. Perhaps there is another account of the things that follow (Sanchez).


Offered, that is, presented it to the Lord, to be offered by the priest.



[The boy of the Priest came] Who? Either, 1. a Son of Eli, Hophni or Phinehas (Toletus[7] in Mendoza). Or, 2. an impious Servant sent by a Priest (Serarius). Neither satisfies me. Because not all the rights from the peace offerings were coming to the High Priest or his sons, but to those Priests that were sacrificing those victims, as it is evident from Leviticus 7:33. 3. Perhaps it was not any one lad, but some and others, whether the sons or the servants of the Priests that were sacrificing (certain interpreters in Mendoza). This does not satisfy: For the Scripture attributes all these injuries to the sons of Eli. It is to be said then, that, in the case of the victims that the High Priest was offering, this was one of his, either his son or servant; in the case of other victims of other Priests, either their son or servant. Not without good reason is this attributed to the sons of Eli; both because this was done by their example, and because perhaps this boy was some public minister of the High Priest, or instituted by the authority of his sons, in order to please the other Priests, from whom they were hoping for, or agreeing upon, a reward (Mendoza).


[While the flesh was cooking, כְּבַשֵּׁ֣ל הַבָּשָׂ֔ר] Verbatim: about to cook the flesh (Montanus). When the flesh was cooking (Pagnine) [similarly all]. While the flesh was cooking, namely, that was belonging to the common people (Osiander). While it was boiling. For those offering were cooking the flesh of the sacrifices that was due to them, and to the Priests (Menochius out of Tostatus)


While the flesh was in seething; for as the Lord’s part of the peace-offerings was burnt upon the altar, so the priest’s and offerer’s parts were to be sodden.


[And he had trident hook in his hand, וְהַמַּזְלֵ֛ג שְׁלֹ֥שׁ־הַשִּׁנַּ֖יִם בְּיָדֽוֹ׃] And a hook of three teeth, or a trident, in his hand (Montanus) [similarly all]. Properly, triplicated with teeth; so that שָׁלשׁ/three might be an adjectival term of the form of גָּדוֹל/great. Thus גְּדוֹל הַכְּנָפַיִם, great of wings,[8] whose wings are great. Thus שְׁלֹשׁ־הַשִּׁנַּיִם, that is, מְשׁוּלָּשׁ בַשִּׁנִּים, threefold of teeth, or tripled with teeth; like שִׁלֺשׁ פָּנִים, triple in persons. Hence שִׁלּוּשׁ/τρίας/Trinity. Moreover, although there were naturally more teeth than two, the Hebrews say שִּׁנִּים in the dual number,[9] because of the two rows of teeth, and lack this noun in the plural number, like עֵינַיִם/eyes, יָדַיִם/hands, רַגְלַיִם/feet, which are all construed in the plural; also like שָׁמַיִם/heavens and מַיִם/waters (Drusius). Certain duals are used, which in themselves denote duality; but, by the addition of an adjective, are manifestly reduced to a plurality. Thus in Leviticus 11:23, and every flying creeping thing, to which are אַרְבַּ֣ע רַגְלָ֑יִם, four feet. In Ezekiel 1:6, וְאַרְבַּ֥ע כְּנָפַ֖יִם, and four wings. In Zechariah 3:9, שִׁבְעָ֣ה עֵינָ֑יִם, seven eyes (Glassius’ “Grammar” 87.

Verse 14:[10] And he struck it into (see 1 Esd. 1:12[11]) the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.


[And he was casting it into the kettle, or into the cauldron, or into the pot, or into the cooking-pot, וְהִכָּ֙ה בַכִּיּ֜וֹר א֣וֹ בַדּ֗וּד א֤וֹ בַקַּלַּ֙חַת֙ א֣וֹ בַפָּר֔וּר] And he was striking into the basin, or into the brazen vessel, or into the kettle, or into the pot (Montanus). And striking into the vat (kettle [Syriac]), or into the kettle (cooking-pot [Syriac]), or into the brazen vessel, or into the cooking-pot (Junis and Tremellius) (or the pot [Syriac]). And he was striking into the basin, etc. (Pagnine). And he was striking (understanding, the flesh that was) in the basin, or pot, etc., that is, he was attempting to catch or seize the flesh (Vatablus, similarly Drusius). Basins, cauldrons, pots, and cooking-pots, do not appear to be synonyms for the same vessel, but diverse names for diverse things; differing in, 1. Material, that is to say, bronze, or earthen, 2. Figure, 3. Capacity, 4. and Use. For some were made to wash the flesh, 2 Chronicles 4:6;[12] others for cooking. But all sorts of vessels are mentioned here, so that the injustice of the sons of Eli might be understood by all the things most diffusively presented. For there was no sacrifice, no bronze vessels for cooking flesh, upon which they did not fly (Mendoza).


[All that the fleshhook was bringing up] With its triple bite, which certainly was not a little; especially since it was extracted from every kettle, and was exacted from every offerer. But the law was granting only the shoulder and breast to the priest (Mendoza). Not content with these, he was seizing from the offerers their portion (Drusius).


[The priest was removing for himself, יִקַּ֥ח הַכֹּהֵ֖ן בּ֑וֹ] The priest was taking in it (Montanus, Piscator), or that (Munster), or of that (Junius and Tremellius), that is, from that flesh (Tigurinus Notes), or for his soul (Jonathan), or to himself (Septuagint, Syriac, Pagnine, Tigurinus, English, Dutch).


All that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself; not contented with the breast and shoulder which were allotted them by God, Exodus 29:27, 28; Leviticus 7:31, they took also part of the offerer’s share; and besides, they snatched their part before it was heaved and waved, contrary to Leviticus 7:34.



[Thus they were doing to all Israel of those coming unto Shiloh,כָּ֚כָה יַעֲשׂ֣וּ לְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֥ים שָׁ֖ם בְּשִׁלֹֽה׃]Thus they were doing to all the Israelites (or all Israel [Pagnine, Montanus]) coming there in Shiloh (Syriac, Munster, similarly the Septuagint), Jonathan, Arabic, Tigurinus), understanding, to sacrifice (Septuagint, Jonathan, Arabic).Thus they were doing in Shiloh, to all the Israelites coming there (Junius and Tremellius).I prefer, thus they were doing to all the Israelites coming there, namely, to Shiloh (Piscator).

[1] Hebrew: וּמִשְׁפַּ֥ט הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים אֶת־הָעָ֑ם כָּל־אִ֞ישׁ זֹבֵ֣חַ זֶ֗בַח וּבָ֙א נַ֤עַר הַכֹּהֵן֙ כְּבַשֵּׁ֣ל הַבָּשָׂ֔ר וְהַמַּזְלֵ֛ג שְׁלֹ֥שׁ־הַשִּׁנַּ֖יִם בְּיָדֽוֹ׃ [2] Cyprian (died 258) served as Bishop of Carthage. He is noted for his strict standard of readmittance into the Church for those who had “lapsed” under persecution. [3] Ad Donatum. [4] 1 Samuel 8:9: “Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner (מִשְׁפַּט/judgment) of the king that shall reign over them.” [5] 1 Samuel 8:11: “And he said, This will be the manner (מִשְׁפַּט/judgment) of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.” [6] Animaduersiones sive Commentarius in Quatuor Euangelia. [7] Franciscus Toletus (1532-1596) was a Spanish Jesuit theologian and exegete. He was the first Jesuit Cardinal. He supervised the production of the Clementine Vulgate, and wrote commentaries on the Gospels of Luke and John, as well as In Epistolam Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos. [8] For example, Ezekiel 17:3: “And say, Thus saith the Lord God; A great eagle with great wings (הַנֶּ֤שֶׁר הַגָּדוֹל֙ גְּד֤וֹל הַכְּנָפַ֙יִם֙), longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar…” [9] Note the dual (ַיִם-) ending. [10] Hebrew: וְהִכָּ֙ה בַכִּיּ֜וֹר א֣וֹ בַדּ֗וּד א֤וֹ בַקַּלַּ֙חַת֙ א֣וֹ בַפָּר֔וּר כֹּ֚ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַעֲלֶ֣ה הַמַּזְלֵ֔ג יִקַּ֥ח הַכֹּהֵ֖ן בּ֑וֹ כָּ֚כָה יַעֲשׂ֣וּ לְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֥ים שָׁ֖ם בְּשִׁלֹֽה׃ [11] 1 Esdras 1:12, 13: “And they roasted the passover with fire, as appertaineth: as for the sacrifices, they sod them in brass pots and pans with a good savour, and set them before all the people: and afterward they prepared for themselves, and for the priests their brethren, the sons of Aaron.” [12] 2 Chronicles 4:6: “He made also ten lavers (כִּיּוֹרִים), and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in.”

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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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