Poole on 1 Samuel 2:36: The Judgment against Eli's House, Part 8

Verse 36:[1] (1 Kings 2:27) And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me (Heb. join me[2]), I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices (or, somewhat about the priesthood[3]), that I may eat a piece of bread.



[He shall come so that he might pray for him, לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֣ת ל֔וֹ] So that he might prostrate himself to him, that is, he is going humbly to beseech him as one superior (Vatablus). He shall bring himself bent down. He shall be the least among the Priests, to whom nothing is allowed except to pray to God; he is not allowed to perform anything greater (Mendoza). This was fulfilled in Abiathar, 1 Kings 2:26, who, himself with his family, was not able to live without the provision/allowance of God from his own little field. But at length by public judgment it was settled by Josiah, 2 Kings 23:9, and divinely confirmed forever, Ezekiel 44:10, 11 (Junius, Piscator).



[And offer silver coins, and roll of bread, לַאֲג֥וֹרַת כֶּ֖סֶף וְכִכַּר־לָ֑חֶם[4]] So that he might bow himself to him, for money (a little [Montanus], an obol[5] [Septuagint, Munster, Tigurinus], or a coin [Munster]) silver (Pagnine, Syriac). And a morsel (cake [Syriac], roll [Montanus], fragment [Junius and Tremellius], lump [Tigurinus]) of bread (Pagnine). Thy posterity, says He, shall be suppliants to their adversaries, so that they might obtain a living; and they shall not seek luxuries arrangements, but an obol, or a crust of bread (Martyr). Those that were formerly disdaining the cooked flesh of the sacrifices, and were extorting raw flesh, so that they might more artfully season it; now humbly beg for a simple morsel of bread (Mendoza). The sense of this passage is twofold: 1. With their need compelling, they shall flee to the High Priest, and they shall farm out their labors to him for obtaining a slender maintenance (thus Sà[6] and Mariana and Cajetan in Mendoza). 2. Thy survivor, when he wishes to make atonement for himself for his sin, he as a suppliant shall approach the High Priest, offering to him a coin or obol, etc., that he might sacrifice for him; also, so that he might permit to him to engage in the Priestly office according to the order of the courses, etc. (Mendoza out of Lyra and Tostatus). That is, he offers a little silver for the treasurey, that is, on account of his poverty. And a roll of bread, for sin; not an ox, nor a sheep, not even a bird, that is, on account of that same poverty, Leviticus 5:11, 12 (Grotius). Moreover, אֲגוֹרָה is the same as גֵּרָה/gerah (concerning which Leviticus 27:25 [Drusius] and Numbers 18:16, and it is the twentieth part of a shekel [Martyr]), with the א being superfluous, as it happens in other words, like אֶזְרוֹעַ/arm from זְרוֹעַ/arm (Drusius out of the Hebrews).


[Send me, I pray, to one Priestly part, etc., סְפָחֵ֥נִי נָ֛א אֶל־אַחַ֥ת הַכְּהֻנּ֖וֹת וגו״] Join me, I beseech, to one (or, to one part [Pagnine, similarly the Syriac, Arabic]) of the Priestly Benefices (Grotius, Pagnine). Put me in charge of one of the Priestly Offices (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius), that is, so that I might discharge, by thy benignity, one of the offices of the lesser Priests (Vatablus). Or, to one of the courses, or of the Priestly courses. Now, there were twenty-four courses of Priests, which they were calling ἐφημερίας, a service limited to a number of days. See Luke 1:5,[7] 8[8] (Drusius). Make me an assistant of even the least service, so that I might earn a living. That I may eat a morsel of bread. A meager maintenance, which sort was wont to be given to Priests prohibited from performing their function, 2 Kings 23:9; Ezekiel 44:13. Now, it appears that these things are to be understood of the posterity of Abiathar, deposed from the High Priesthood for treason (Grotius). Question: How was this able to happen, when by the law of God both the tithes and parts of the oblations were falling to all the Aaronites (even those blemished in body) (Martyr)? Response 1: Mendoza concludes with this argument, that they approached the High Priest, not so that they might serve, but so that their sins might be atoned for [as it has already been noted out of his comments]. Response 2: If it is permitted to bestow my permission (Martyr), why may not God permit, by the law of retaliation, that their dues and their own might be denied to them by succeeding Priests, who were wont unjustly to extort from others those things that were not their own? It was their greatest misery. Those that were, with lifted head, previously insulting over all, are now adoring the High Priest on bended knee: those that were previously glorying in their own government, are now compelled to serve: those that were previously practicing robbery, are now begging the smallest offering (Mendoza).


Crouch to him, in way of humble supplication. See 1 Kings 2:26. A morsel of bread; whereas before they were so nice and delicate, that my liberal allowance could not satisfy them, but they must have their meat raw and fat, etc., above, 1 Samuel 2:13-16; so the punishment is suited to the nature of their sin. Into one of the priests’ offices; into the meanest office belonging to it. See Ezekiel 44:10, 11, etc. Question: How could they be reduced to so great straits, seeing, though they lost the high priesthood, they still were inferior priests, and had a right to those plentiful provisions which belonged to that order? Answer: First, They might be degraded, not only from the office of the high priest, but also from that of the inferior priests, and consequently might forfeit and lose all the privileges belonging to their office. Secondly, This might be from the tyranny and violence of some of the succeeding priests of Eleazar’s line towards that other line, which had long stood in competition with them, and had for a season got away the priesthood from them; for this text only relates the matter of fact, but doth not express an approbation of it.

[1] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֗ה כָּל־הַנּוֹתָר֙ בְּבֵ֣יתְךָ֔ יָבוֹא֙ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֣ת ל֔וֹ לַאֲג֥וֹרַת כֶּ֖סֶף וְכִכַּר־לָ֑חֶם וְאָמַ֗ר סְפָחֵ֥נִי נָ֛א אֶל־אַחַ֥ת הַכְּהֻנּ֖וֹת לֶאֱכֹ֥ל פַּת־לָֽחֶם׃ [2] Hebrew: סְפָחֵנִי. [3] Hebrew: אֶל־אַחַ֥ת הַכְּהֻנּ֖וֹת. [4] אגר can signify to pay, or to gather; כִּכָּר, a round, or a loaf. [5] An obol was about three quarters of a gram. [6] Emanuel Sa (1530-1596) was a Portuguese Jesuit. He distinguished himself as a teacher of Philosophy at Coimbra, and was called to Rome as Professor of Divinity. Pope Paul V assigned him the responsibility of supervising the production of a new edition of the Vulgate. His Notationes in Totam Scripturam Sacram are brief, but learned and judicious. [7] Luke 1:5a: “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia (ἐφημερίας Ἀβιά)…” [8] Luke 1:8: “And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course (ἐν τῇ τάξει τῆς ἐφημερίας αὐτοῦ)…”

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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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