Poole on 1 Samuel 2:32: The Judgment against Eli's House, Part 5

Verse 32:[1] And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel (or, the affliction of the tabernacle, for all the wealth which God would have given Israel[2]): and there shall not be (see Zech 8:4) an old man in thine house for ever.



[And thou shalt see thy rival in temple, וְהִבַּטְתָּ֙ צַ֣ר מָע֔וֹן] They render it variously: And thou shalt look upon an enemy in the habitation (Pagnine). And thou shalt look upon (understanding, thy [Vatablus]) rival in the habitation (Tigurinus, Drusius). Either, in the habitation of the Lord (Munster). So that a ב/in is understood. Or, a foe of the habitation (Aquila, Drusius). Thou shalt see another engage in the Priesthood in my Tabernacle (Vatablus). צָר is a rival, as צָרָה is a female rival. For, as two wives vie with one another for one man, so two Priests in the house of the sanctuary. For each one takes his part, and his eye is narrow upon that which is his associate’s (Kimchi in Drusius). Human nature, or rather perverse custom, suggests that we be moved with greater severity against those that have occupied that place from which we ourselves have been ignominiously dismissed. Hence both the descendants of Eliazar and the descendents of Ithamar, although most nearly conjoined together, were burning with mutual hatred (Mendoza). But how is Eli said to see this, which happened many years after him? Response: thou shalt see, not in his own person (Mendoza, Lyra); but in thy posterity, that is, thy posterity will see (Vatablus, Mendoza, Menochius, Lyra). It is no new thing in Scripture, that that which is said of one is fulfilled in another; see on Genesis 27:29. Thus what things were promised to Abraham, were fulfilled in his posterity many ages later (Sanchez). A father is said to live, and to see, in his children, Ecclesiasticus 30:4, Though his father die, yet he is as though he were not dead: for he hath left one behind him that is like himself (Mendoza). [Others translate it otherwise:] and thou shalt see the straits of the habitation of God; that is, the captivity of the ark (Dutch, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), or, an oppressor in the Sanctuary. See this fulfilled, 1 Samuel 4:11 (Grotius). Or, an enemy in my habitation (English). [But how this agrees with the following words is a difficulty; therefore, let us now consider the following words.]


[In all the prosperities of Israel, בְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־יֵיטִ֖יב אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל] In all things wherein He might bless Israel (Montanus, Pagnine). [Some thus connect it with what precedes:] Thou shalt see the straits of the habitation, or, an enemy in the Tabernacle (or, for after thou wilt have regarded, namely, with torment [Piscator], the straits of the habitation [Junius and Tremellius, Piscator]) in, or, in the place of, all the goods with which He had blessed Israel (Dutch). Or, in all the wealth that God is going to give Israel (English), or, in the place of all the goods, with which God would have blessed Israel (English in the margin, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), that is, if thou and thine had preserved the worship of God (Junius, Piscator). Thou shalt see an oppressor in the sanctuary in all the prosperities of Israel; that is, in the other advantageous things; so that this evil appears to happen on account of the profanation of the sacred things (Grotius). [Others take it otherwise, and refer it to the preceding words, but taken in another sense:] And thou shalt behold a rival in the habitation in all things wherewith He would have blessed Israel (Tigurinus). Or, and in all that wherewith God would have blessed Israel (Munster), that is, when He shall treat the Israelite people with many blessings (Vatablus). The calamity is now increased in this, that it is going to happen at a time when the Priestly dignity will be at its fullest, and sacrifices will be at their most opulent (Martyr). In all the prosperities of Israel, that were accompanying the highest pontifical dignity and authority (Menochius, similarly Sanchez). And thou shalt regard in the sanctuary a rival in all the goods bestowed upon the Israelites. Thy posterity shall see, not without their sorrow, a High Priest not born of thee, who shall enjoy the sacrifices that the Israelites make of the goods divinely bestowed upon them (Castalio). But who is this rival? Response: Abiathar, the great-grandson of Eli, saw Zadok the Eleazarite in all the prosperities of Israel, that is, as a sharer with him of all honors and goods; for, with David reigning, these two, Abiathar and Zakok, were obtaining the High Priesthood, as it is gathered out of 2 Samuel 15:35 and 1 Chronicles 24:3. But Solomon excluded Abiathar from the Priesthood, and kept only Zadok in it[3] (Mendoza, similarly Malvenda, Munster, Lapide, Tostatus). The Chaldean renders it in this way, thou shalt see the affliction that shall come upon the men of thine house, because of the sins that thou hast done in the sanctuary of my house. מָעוֹן he takes of the habitation, not of God, but of Eli, in this sense, and thou shalt see the straits of the habitation, that is, of thine habitation, in the place of which he says, upon the men of thine house. What things follow in the Chaldean are a paraphrastic and free explanation, not of the words, but of the substance, fetched from verse 29, where מָעוּן/habitation signifies tabernacle, that is to say, thou shalt see an enemy, or rival, in thy tabernacle, in the men of thy house, because of the sins that thou hast committed in my tabernacle (Buxtorf’s[4] Vindication[5] 2:10:715). Moreover, צָר is able to be either an adjective, adversarial, oppressing, rival; or, a substantive, oppressor, a strait; it is likewise able to be in construct, an oppressor, a strait of the habitation, and absolute, an oppressor, a strait in the habitation (Malvenda).


So the sense is, Thou shalt see, not in thy person, but in thy posterity, (it being most frequent in Scripture to attribute that to parents which properly belongs to their posterity only; as Genesis 17:8; 27:29, 40) an enemy, that is, thy competitor, or him who shall possess that place of high trust and honour which now thou enjoyest, (such persons being through man’s corrupt nature esteemed as a man’s worst enemy,) in my habitation, that is, in the sanctuary. And then he adds by way of aggravation, that this sad accident should happen in all the wealth which God shall give Israel, that is, in a time when God should eminently bless Israel, and make good all his promises to them, which was in Solomon’s days, when Abiathar of Eli’s race was put out of the high priesthood, and Zadok was put in his place, 1 Kings 2:27, 35, when the priesthood was most glorious, and most profitable, and comfortable, and therefore the loss of it more deplorable. But the words may be otherwise rendered, as is noted in the margin of our English Bibles: Thou shalt see, to wit, in thy own person, the affliction, or oppression, or calamity of my habitation, that is, either of the land of Israel, wherein I dwell; or of the sanctuary, called the habitation by way of eminency, whose greatest glory the ark was, 1 Samuel 4:21, 22, and consequently, whose greatest calamity the loss of the ark was; for, or instead of all that good wherewith God would have blessed Israel, or was about to bless Israel; having raised up a young prophet, Samuel, and thereby given good grounds of hope that he intended to bless Israel, if thou and thy sons had not hindered it by your sins, which God was resolved severely to punish. So this clause of the threatening concerns Eli’s person, as the following concerns his posterity. And this best agrees with the most proper and usual signification of that phrase, Thou shalt see.



[And there shall not be an old man in thine house in all days] Some take this of an old man with respect to age (thus Sanchez). [See what things are on the prior verse.] Objection: But it is not plausible that an old man with respect to age was always wanting in the family of Eli (Mendoza). Responses: 1. The Hebrews deliver by tradition that even in their own time as many as were propagated by the family of Eli never made it to old age and hoary heads. But it is not necessary to have recourse to this. 2. By those words, in all days, a long time is understood; perhaps that time in which the Priesthood remained in the family of Eli. Moreover, this severe threat is not to be extended to all the Ithamarites (for that clause, thine house, and the house of thy father, is not added here, as in verse 30, where the removal of the Priesthood is treated), but only to the house of Eli (Sanchez). Others take old man here, as previously, of the Priestly dignity (Mendoza, thus Lapide, Menochius). Which the family of Eli resigned forever; but it is not plausible that in that family an old man with respect to age was always wanting (Mendoza).


For ever, that is, as long as the priesthood continues in thy family, or as long as the Levitical priesthood lasts.

[1] Hebrew: וְהִבַּטְתָּ֙ צַ֣ר מָע֔וֹן בְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־יֵיטִ֖יב אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה זָקֵ֛ן בְּבֵיתְךָ֖ כָּל־הַיָּמִֽים׃ [2] Hebrew: צַר מָע֔וֹן בְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־יֵיטִ֖יב אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל. [3] See 1 Kings 2:26, 27, 35. [4] John Buxtorf, Jr. (1599-1664) succeeded his father as Professor of Hebrew at Basel (1629-1664), and was perhaps the equal of his father in learning. [5] Anticritica: seu Vindiciæ Veritatis Hebraicæ Adversus Ludovici Cappelli Criticam quam Vocat Sacram.

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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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