Poole on 1 Samuel 2:5: Hannah's Song, Part 5

Verse 5:[1] (Ps. 34:10; Luke 1:53) They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that (Ps. 113:9) the barren hath born seven; and (Is. 54:1; Jer. 15:9) she that hath many children is waxed feeble.


[Those formerly full have hired out themselves for loaves, שְׂבֵעִ֤ים בַּלֶּ֙חֶם֙ נִשְׂכָּ֔רוּ] The well-fed have hired out themselves for bread (Pagnine, similarly Montanus, Junius and Tremellius); they have been contracted for hire (Munster, similarly Tigurinus, Piscator); συνετρίβησαν, they have worn themselves out (Aquila[2]), namely, with hard service (Mendoza). Those that were previously feeding to satiety, have been distressed with such poverty that in order to have provisions they have hired out their labor (Vatablus). Which the Jews did, Lamentations 5:6, we have given the hand to Egypt, and to the Assyrians, so that we might be satisfied with bread (Sanchez).


Have hired themselves out for bread, through extreme necessity, into which they are fallen from their greatest plenty. It is the same thing which is expressed both in divers metaphors in the foregoing and following verses, and properly in the latter branch of this verse.


[And the hungry are filled, וּרְעֵבִ֖ים חָדֵ֑לּוּ] And the hungry have stopped, or ceased (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius). Understand, either to hunger (Munster), to be hungry (Drusius, Piscator), or to hire out their labor, that is, those that were nearly consumed with hunger had something to eat (Vatablus). Ταπείνωσις/tapeinosis, that is, expressing more in sense than in word. Not to be hungry signifies to abound in all good things, as in Isaiah 49:10; Revelation 7:16 (Menodza). And those that were obscure have been made rich, and they have forgotten their poverty (Jonathan in Mendoza).


Ceased, that is, ceased to be such, to wit, hungry; the hungry failed; there was none of them hungry or indigent.



[Until the barren begot many, עַד־עֲקָרָה֙ יָלְדָ֣ה שִׁבְעָ֔ה] That עַד appears to render the sense more obscure (Mendoza). They translate it, until (or to what time [Malvenda]) the barren begot seven (Munster, Tigurinus, Montanus); since the barren, etc. (Septuagint); to such an extent that the barren, etc. (Pagnine, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius). But, because the particles until, and to such an extent that, are referred to what precedes, but the birth of children does not cohere with satiety; I wish a new sense to be added here, which I translate all the way to the barren she begat seven, that is, even the barren woman herself begat, etc. Thus עַד, all the way to, is set down in the place of even, when it signifies the amplification of a thing, as in 1 Samuel 18:4, he gave to him his garments, וְעַד־חַרְבּוֹ, and all the way to his sword, etc., that is, even his very sword (Dieu). עַד sometimes means yet, Job 1:18;[3] Jonah 4:2.[4] And I observe that after the enumeration of other things yet has a certain growing intensity, and signifies some increment added to the things going before, as in Matthew 15:16; Luke 14:26.[5] So I take it here, that is to say, He satisfies the hungry…. What more? Even/yet what appears more difficult to do, He fills the barren with a numerous offspring, etc. (Sanchez): or the sense is, yet barren, that is, she, who has been barren to this point for a long time, has borne many (Mendoza). But how has Hannah borne seven? for she bore one now, even Samuel (Mendoza), and in verse 21, only five are enumerated (Lapide). Responses: 1. Seven is put for many (Drusius, Grotius, Malvenda, Mendoza), as in Ruth 4:15 (Malvenda); Leviticus 26:18; Psalm 119:164; Proverbs 24:16 (Grotius); Isaiah 4:1, seven women. The number seven, which is the number of fullness and perfection, Cicero calls the measure of all things; and the Poet Livy, the origin of all things (Drusius). 2. Hannah knew prophetically that she was going to bear many (Mendoza). 3. [Others translate it otherwise:] the barren has given birth and has been filled (Syriac, Arabic).


Seven, that is, many, as seven is oft used. She speaks in the prophetic style, the past time for the future; for though she had actually born but one, yet she had a confident persuasion that she should have more, which was grounded either upon some particular assurance from God, or rather upon the prayer or prediction of Eli; which, though it be mentioned after this song, verse 20, yet in all probability was spoken before it, even upon the parents’ presentation of the child to Eli, 1 Samuel 1:25, it not being likely that she would sing this song in Eli’s presence, or before he had given his answer to her speech delivered 1 Samuel 1:26-28, there being nothing more frequent than such transpositions in Scripture. And the experience she had of the strange and speedy accomplishment of his former prophecy made her confidently expect the same issue from the latter.


[And she that had many children has become infirm, וְרַבַּ֥ת בָּנִ֖ים אֻמְלָֽלָה׃] And she, much (increased [Munster, Tigurinus], abounding [Junius and Tremellius, Syriac, Arabic]) with children, has become infirm (Montanus, similarly Munster, Tigurinus, Piscator, Pagnine); she loses vigor (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator); she has been made unfruitful, or barren (Syriac, Arabic). The אֻמְלָלָה signifies something weak and drooping; and what is able to bring forth no fruit from itself, as in Joel 1:12[6] (Sanchez). And those full of children ended (Jonathan), that is, they ceased to bear. Thus a great many. But others maintain that, not only did the former fruitfulness of Peninnah lose vigor, but also her offspring died. To whom I give my assent. This position is favored by Lyra, Tostatus, Rabanus,[7] Jerome, and the tradition of the Hebrews (Mendoza). The Hebrews say that, when Hannah gave birth to one son, Peninnah bured two (Lyra). They translate it, and she was severed, or divided, or cut, namely, Peninnah from her children. אָמַל signifies both to be weakened, and to be cut (Mendoza). אֻמְלָלָה they think to signify from מוֹלֵל, to cut off, the cutting off of a thing, or the virtue of that thing, so that she might for the future be empty and barren (Malvenda).


She that hath many children, that is, Peninnah. Is waxed feeble; either because she was now past childbearing, and impotent for procreation; or because divers of her children, which were her strength and her glory, were dead, as the Hebrew doctors relate.

[1] Hebrew: שְׂבֵעִ֤ים בַּלֶּ֙חֶם֙ נִשְׂכָּ֔רוּ וּרְעֵבִ֖ים חָדֵ֑לּוּ עַד־עֲקָרָה֙ יָלְדָ֣ה שִׁבְעָ֔ה וְרַבַּ֥ת בָּנִ֖ים אֻמְלָֽלָה׃ [2] Aquila of Sinope produced his Greek version of the Old Testament in the second century of the Christian era. Aquila’s translation champions the cause of Judaism against Christianity in matters of translation and interpretation. The product is woodenly literalistic. [3] Job 1:18: “While he was yet speaking (עַ֚ד זֶ֣ה מְדַבֵּ֔ר), there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house…” [4] Jonah 4:2a: “And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country (עַד־הֱיוֹתִי֙ עַל־אַדְמָתִ֔י)?…” [5] Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, even (ἔτι/yet) his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” [6] Joel 1:12: “The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth (וְהַתְּאֵנָ֖ה אֻמְלָ֑לָה); the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.” [7] Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856) was a Benedictine monk and Archbishop of Mainz in Germany. He wrote theological treatises, an encyclopedia, a martyrology, and commentaries on most of the Old Testament, Matthew, and the Pauline Epistles, which were based chiefly on the exegetical writings of the Church Fathers and Bede.

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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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