Poole on 1 Samuel 2:31: The Judgment against Eli's House, Part 4

Verse 31:[1] Behold, (1 Kings 2:27; Ezek. 44:10; see 1 Sam. 4:11, 18, 20; 14:3; 22:18; etc.) the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.



[Behold, the days come] They are going to come soon (Drusius).


[And I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house] Arm denotes strength, as in Job 22:9; Psalm 37:17 (Drusius). He that takes away strength, and the ability to act, is said to break someone’s arm, or to make him weak. For, the arm is an instrument of great things (Sanchez). Here, arm signifies, either, 1. the Ark, which was esteemed the strength of the people; the ark of thy strength, 2 Chronicles 6:41. Or, 2. the sons of Eli and the posterity of that family. Sons are called the strength of their father, Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17 (Mendoza). Thine arm, that is, I will destroy thine entire house (Junius, Piscator). The strength of a father consists in the strength of capable sons. Thine arm is to be understood of the slaying of Eli’s sons, 1 Samuel 4; and thy father’s house, of the slaying of his posterity, Ahimelech with his sons and kinsmen, 1 Samuel 22:16, etc. (Piscator). Moreover, inasmuch as arms are sometimes taken for the branches of trees, which are sprouted from one stalk: just as branches are able to be called sons of the stalk, so also kinsmen, and also sons, are able to be called , which arms, which sprout from the body as if from a stalk. See Job 5:25 (Sanchez). Or, 3. the Priestly Dignity (thus Vatablus, Drusius, Lyra, Menochius, Tigurinus, Mendoza, Martyr). The Priesthood was the strength and support of that family (Martyr). Inasmuch as from that they had power, whereby they might oppress others, and take for their own uses the best from the sacrifices (Sanchez). Arm, that is, strength, which the Priesthood obtain for you, as it is evident from those words, if not, I will take it by force[2] (Drusius). Since in peace-offerings the right shoulder, or right arm, of the sacrificial victim falls to the Priest, Leviticus 7:32, it happened that by the name of arm the Priestly dignity came to be understood (Mendoza).



[That there might not be an old man in thine house (thus Munster),מִֽהְי֥וֹת זָקֵ֖ן בְּבֵיתֶֽךָ׃] Verbatim: from being an old man in thine house (Montanus). That there be not (or, and there shall not be [Syriac, Arabic, Tigurinus]) an Old Man (Jonathan, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius). [Some explain this of an old man with respect to age.] So that there might be no one of thy family that comes to old age (Vatablus, Malvenda, Lyra, Sanchez, Lapide, Drusius, Junius). So that only some young men survive: which happened, 1 Samuel 4, when only Ahitub and Ichabod remained as survivors, concerning whom 1 Samuel 14:3 (Junius, similarly Piscator, Drusius). Thus he explains himself, 1 Samuel 2:33. Brevity of life is a suitable punishment for the wicked, especially for those rebelling against their parents (which sort were the sons of Eli), according to Job 15:32; 22:16; Psalm 55:23 (Lapide). I will break the strength of thy family, so that thy posterity, before by reason of age he is able to ascend to dignity and power (now, it was the thirtieth year), might be removed by untimely death (Osiander). [Others take this of an old man with respect to dignity.] Old Man, that is, furnished with dignity (Grotius). He is called an Old Man with respect to dignity, rather than age; as our Priests are called elders (Menochius). It is quite common for Old Age be taken for magistracy. Thence it is called the senate by the Romans, and the council of elders by the Jews. It is added that, although old age is immediately treated, it does not appear that this same thing was to be frequently repeated. Nevertheless, I do not change my opinion, since more weighty things are wont often to be repeated in Scripture (Sanchez). Certain interpreters: Old Man, that is, a wise man or senator; that is to say, No one of them will sit in the great Sanhedrin. Thus, thou shalt honor the face of the old man;[3] that is, of the Senator, or wise man. Moreover, there were old men in every city, that were governing it, seven in number, to whom were joined two Levites (Drusius).


I will cut off thine arm, that is, I will take away thy strength, which is oft signified by the arm, as Job 22:9; Psalm 37:17, or all that in which thou placest thy confidence and security; either, 1. The ark, which is called God’s strength, Psalm 78:61, and was Eli’s strength, who therefore was not able to bear the very tidings of the loss of it, 1 Samuel 4:18. Or, 2. His priestly dignity or employment, whence he had all his honour and substance. Or rather, 3. His children, to whom the words following here, and in the succeeding verses, seem to confine it, who are the strength of parents: see Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17; Psalm 127:4, 5. The arm of thy father’s house, that is, thy children’s children, and all thy family; which was in great measure accomplished, 1 Samuel 22:16, etc. There shall not be an old man in thine house; they shall generally be cut off by an untimely death before they be old.

[1] Hebrew: הִנֵּה֙ יָמִ֣ים בָּאִ֔ים וְגָֽדַעְתִּי֙ אֶת־זְרֹ֣עֲךָ֔ וְאֶת־זְרֹ֖עַ בֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ מִֽהְי֥וֹת זָקֵ֖ן בְּבֵיתֶֽךָ׃ [2] 1 Samuel 2:16. [3] Leviticus 19:32.

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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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