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Poole on 1 Samuel 2:28, 29: The Judgment against Eli's House, Part

Verse 28:[1] And did I (Ex. 28:1, 4; Num. 16:5; 18:1, 7) choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and (Lev. 2:3, 10; 6:16; 7:7, 8, 34, 35; 10:14, 15; Num. 5:9, 10; 18:8-19) did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

[And I chose him, וּבָחֹ֣ר אֹ֠תוֹ] Even by choosing him (Montanus). That is, by choosing him (Munster, Tigurinus), namely, Aaron (Dutch, Vatablus). Then by choosing him (Junius and Tremellius). And I chose him (Pagnine, Syriac, Arabic, Vatablus). The Hebrew infinitive is in the place of the present (Vatablus). And did I not choose him? (English). In this place, two blessings are commemorated, 1. The revelation of secrets, verse 27; 2. The collation of the Priesthood, in this verse, which is here commended on account of its singularity, dignity, and utility (Mendoza).

Did I choose him, to wit, Aaron thy father? whereby he shows what he meant by his father’s house.

[That he might go up to mine Altar, etc.] The dignity of the Priesthood he here declares from three functions, which the Priest was exercising (Mendoza). These were, 1. To offer Sacrifices on the Altar; 2. To burn incense in the interior chamber; 3. To consult the Lord by the Ephod (Martyr). This Altar was of burnt-offerings, 1. Because Altar, set down by itself, signifies this. 2. Because the following member treats of the Altar of Incense. To the Altar of burnt-offerings the Priest is said to ascend, either properly; yet not by steps, Exodus 20:26. But by a gently rising slope: or metaphorically, because of the sublimity of the work; indeed, those very oblations are also called ascensions, or elevations[2] (Mendoza). לַעֲלוֹת, to go up, is here put in the place of לְהַעֲלוֹת, to offer (Drusius).

[And burn incense to me] This is able to be taken, either, 1. For the sacrifices burned on the Altar of burnt-offering; and thus no new duty of the Priest is here expressed, but the preceding duty is repeated: or rather (lest a tautology be admitted), 2. For frankincense, or sweet odors, which were burned on the Altar of incense (Mendoza).

[And bear the Ephod] Namely, that curiously wrought, of gold, etc. The two former administrations were common to him with the inferior Priests. But this one was proper to the High Priest (Mendoza). And by the Ephod alone the whole Pontifical adornment is understood by synecdoche (Tostatus).

An ephod; that golden ephod which was peculiar to the high priest.

[And I gave to the house of thy father all of the sacrifices of the children of Israel, אֶת־כָּל־אִשֵּׁ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃] All the oblations (ignitions [Montanus], fire offerings [Munster, similarly Tirinus, Piscator]) of the children of Israel (Pagnine, Vatablus, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). It is to be expounded by a synecdoche of member concerning the flesh conjoined together with fat: of which the fat was to be consumed by fire; the flesh was falling to the Priest for food. See Leviticus 6:17;[3] Deuteronomy 18:1[4] (Piscator). A part of all the sacrifices that I willed to pertain to the Priests (Vatablus, similarly Malvenda). The remainders of all to be consumed with fire, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). Something from all the sacrifices; for even from the burnt-offerings the skin was falling to the Priest, Leviticus 7:8 (Menochius).

All the offerings made by fire, that is, all the priest’s part of the offerings. He only had the office, and he had the whole benefit.

Verse 29:[5] Wherefore (Deut. 32:15) kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my (Deut. 12:5, 6) habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

[Wherefore have ye kicked aside my sacrifice, לָ֣מָּה תִבְעֲט֗וּ בְּזִבְחִי֙] Why have ye kicked (will ye kick [Montanus], the future in place of the past or present [Vatablus], or do ye kick back [Junius and Tremellius]) against my sacrifice? (Pagnine, thus the English, Dutch). Wherefore didst thou have regard (as if he were reproving the father alone [Mendoza]) against my sacrifice…with an impudent eye? (Septuagint). Of course, from the eyes is projected both pride, Psalm 101:5;[6] Proverbs 30:13, and disrespect, or contempt, Genesis 16:4; Esther 1:17; Psalm 35:19 (Mendoza). Wherefore have ye sinned against my sacrifice? (Syriac). Why then have ye acted deceitfully and wickedly against my sacrifices? (Arabic). Wherefore trample ye, etc.? (Munster, Tigurinus). Wherefore kick ye aside, as it were; that is, spurn, or despise, etc.? (certain interpreters in Vatablus). Ye despise and tread with the feet, as it were; it is a Metaphor taken from refractory cattle (Junius, Piscator). Or it is a metaphor taken from beasts, which, having fed well, sport, and trample with their feet; that is to say, ye, having been well fed and fattened with the plunder of sacrifices, sport with women, and rampage against God (Malvenda). Others: Wherefore drive ye away from my house those that were formerly offering sacrifices and offerings (Vatablus). To trample with the feet is a gesturing of vehement contempt (Drusius, similarly Mendoza). See Joshua 10:24; Psalm 56:2;[7] Jeremiah 12:10; Ezekiel 34:18 (Mendoza). Why do ye despise? Thou through thy sons (Lapide). These things are brought up as a reproach against the sons of Eli as done; against Eli himself as dissembled and unpunished (Mendoza).

[And mine offerings, which I have commanded that they be offered in the temple, וּבְמִנְחָתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּ֖יתִי מָע֑וֹן] And against my oblation, which I commanded in the tabernacle (Pagnine, similarly Montanus), or, habitation (Dutch, Drusius), or, in my habitation (Dutch), or, in that habitation (Junius and Tremellius). Which I commanded to be offered in the habitation (Tigurinus, Vatablus), or, to be done in my habitation (Munster). Which I appointed to offer in the house of my sanctuary (Jonathan). Others otherwise: and against the oblations that I had commanded in the desert (Arabic), or, thence from the desert (Syriac). The word מָעוֹן/habitation is used, both of the Tabernacle,[8] and of the Temple,[9] and of God Himself, Psalm 90:1:[10] and מָעוֹן/habitation is in the place of בְּמָעוֹן, in the habitation, likeבֵּית יְהוָה, the house of Jehovah, in the place of בְּבֵית יְהוָה, in the house of Jehovah[11] (Drusius).

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice; using them irreverently, contemptuously, and profanely; both by abusing them to your own luxury, and by causing the people to abhor and neglect them? He chargeth Eli with his sons’ faults.

[Honourest thou thy sons more than me] By conniving at their sins, or not admonishing, etc. (Drusius). This he did; 1. Because he gave better things to them, than to God; namely, those things that God had reserved for Himself from the sacrifices (Sanchez). They were eating the primitias, firstfruits, as it follows,[12] that is, the first parts of the sacrifices; both with respect to time, by snatching away parts before the fat is burned; and with respect to dignity, by rushing upon the best parts, as the fleshhook was lifting up, or their soul was desiring (Mendoza). 2. Because he willed that the will of his sons be satisfied, before the divine will; and, so that he might not grieve his sons, he did not hesitate to grieve God[13] (Sanchez). He was permitting unworthy priests, ministering unworthily, to dishonor God: dissembling their wickedness, and concealing their shame, so that he might keep them in good estimation before the people. He was not punishing them by putting them from Priestly services, so that he might not strip them of Priestly profits. He willed them to be honored, that is, to be enriched, although by them divine worship was blemished with the greatest dishonor (Mendoza).

Honourest thy sons above me; permitting them to dishonour and injure me, by taking my part to themselves; choosing rather to offend me by thy connivance at their sin, than to displease them by severe rebukes, and effectual restraints, and just punishments; and so prefer their will, and pleasure, and honour, before mine.

[That ye might eat the firstfruits of all the sacrifices of Israel, my people, לְהַבְרִֽיאֲכֶ֗ם מֵרֵאשִׁ֛ית כָּל־מִנְחַ֥ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְעַמִּֽי׃] That ye fatten, or stuff, yourselves (to fatten yourselves [Montanus]) from the firstfruits (from the beginning [Montanus], from the commencement [Septuagint], from the top [Jonathan], from the principal [Syriac, similarly the Arabic, Junius and Tremellius]) of all the oblations, or sacrifices, of Israel, my people (Pagnine, Munster, Tigurinus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Drusius). The ל in לְעַמִּי, for/of my people, παρέλκει, is superfluous, as in 2 Samuel 3:30, they slew לְאַבְנֵר/Abner; and, in 1 Chronicles 3:2, the third, לְאַבְשָׁלוֹם/Absalom[14] (Drusius). Or לְעַמִּי is to be translated, before, or in the presence of, my people; that is, with my people looking on (Vatablus). Rabbi Salomon: in the eyes of my people, or in the presence of my people; which he refers to thou hast honored, etc. Rabbi Levi: on behalf of my people (Drusius). These words contain a demonstration of that greater honor that Eli was bestowing upon his sons, and the that[15] does not signify final causality, but a result (Mendoza out of Tostatus); that is to say, thou didst wish rather to remove my honor from me, than profit from thy sons. Hence the twofold fault of Eli increased: 1. He not only permitted his sons to eat the best portion of every sacrifice; but he was also eating with them; that ye might eat, says he; and what things the sons were unjustly gaining, the father was even more unjustly converting to his own profit (Mendoza). He does not say themselves, but yourselves, because the father was also fattening himself from them (Drusius). 2. Indeed, they were enjoying these profits of the sacrifices, not for necessity, but for pleasure; not so much for food as for fat; that ye fatten yourselves, etc. (Mendoza). It signifies that of the sacred ministry they had regard to that only, or principally (not, that they might lawfully and perfectly serve God, to which all that abundance of the Temple ought to have had regard, but), that they might claim all the best of the firstfruits of the sacrifices for themselves. Gregory says, The Priest does not preach, so that he might eat; but he ought to eat, so that he might preach (Sanchez).

To make yourselves fat; to pamper yourselves. This you did not out of any necessity, but out of mere luxury. The chiefest of all the offerings; not contented with those parts which I had allotted you, you invaded those choice parts which I reserved for myself.

[1] Hebrew: וּבָחֹ֣ר אֹ֠תוֹ מִכָּל־שִׁבְטֵ֙י יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל לִי֙ לְכֹהֵ֔ן לַעֲל֣וֹת עַֽל־מִזְבְּחִ֗י לְהַקְטִ֥יר קְטֹ֛רֶת לָשֵׂ֥את אֵפ֖וֹד לְפָנָ֑י וָֽאֶתְּנָה֙ לְבֵ֣ית אָבִ֔יךָ אֶת־כָּל־אִשֵּׁ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ [2] עֹלָה/burnt-offering is related to the verb עָלָה, to go up. [3] Leviticus 6:17: “It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire (מֵאִשָּׁי); it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.” [4] Deuteronomy 18:1: “The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire (אִשֵּׁ֧י יְהוָ֛ה), and his inheritance.” [5] Hebrew: לָ֣מָּה תִבְעֲט֗וּ בְּזִבְחִי֙ וּבְמִנְחָתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּ֖יתִי מָע֑וֹן וַתְּכַבֵּ֤ד אֶת־בָּנֶ֙יךָ֙ מִמֶּ֔נִּי לְהַבְרִֽיאֲכֶ֗ם מֵרֵאשִׁ֛ית כָּל־מִנְחַ֥ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְעַמִּֽי׃ [6] Psalm 101:5: “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look (גְּֽבַהּ־עֵ֭ינַיִם, is high/haughty of eyes) and a proud heart will not I suffer.” [7] Psalm 56:2: “Mine enemies would swallow up (שָׁאֲפוּ, would trample) daily: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.” [8] For example, Psalm 26:8: “Lord, I have loved the habitation (מְעוֹן) of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” [9] For example, 2 Chronicles 36:15: “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place (וְעַל־מְעוֹנוֹ)…” [10] Psalm 90:1: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place (מָעוֹן) in all generations.” [11] For example, Exodus 23:19a: “The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring the house of the Lord (תָּבִ֕יא בֵּ֖ית יְהוָ֣ה) thy God….” [12] 1 Samuel 2:29b: “…and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest (מֵרֵאשִׁית; primitias, in the Vulgate) of all the offerings of Israel my people?” [13] See Ephesians 4:30. [14] Compare 2 Samuel 3:3: “And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom (וְהַשְּׁלִשִׁי֙ אַבְשָׁל֣וֹם) the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur…” [15] 1 Samuel 2:29b: “…and honourest thy sons above me, that ye make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?”

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