Poole on 1 Samuel 3:11, 12: Samuel's First Oracle...Against the House of Eli! (Part 1)

Verse 11:[1] And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, (2 Kings 21:12; Jer. 19:3) at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.



[Behold, I do a word[2]] Word in the place of deed; and I do in the place of I will do: these things are common and well-known (Mendoza). דָּבָר, a thing, a deed, a work: namely, the capture of the Ark, and the slaying of the posterity of Eli (Drusius).


I will do a thing: those things which are related in the next chapter, which though done by the Philistines, God here ascribes to himself, because he was the first and chief cause of it, by withdrawing his helping hand from Israel, and by delivering the ark, and Eli’s two sons, and the rest of people, into his and their enemies’ hands.


[In Israel] That is, among the Israelite people (Piscator), or, unto Israel; even unto a people despising the worship of God, 1 Samuel 2:17 (Malvenda).


[Both his ears shall ring[3] (thus all interpreters)] Understanding, exceedingly (Vatablus); that is, the one hearing shall be so striken that his senses shall be blunted on account of dread (Junius, Piscator); that he might be wholly striken and shudder. A metaphor taken from one that unexpectedly hears a cymbal clanging, or the roaring of a great bombardment, or of might thunder; the powerful sound of which overwhelms, and excites a long enduring ringing in the ears of those that hear (Lapide, similarly Sanchez, Mendoza). אָזְנַיִם/ears is a dual noun; but, because it is spoken of many, He adds the number שְׁתֵּי/ two/both (Drusius).


Both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle; which will be so terrible, that not only those that feel it shall groan under it, but those that only hear the report of it shall be struck with such amazement and horror, which will make their heads and hearts ache. A metaphor from him, who being surprised with some great and hideous noise, such as thunder or great guns, his head is much affected with it, and the sound or tingling of it abides in his ears a good while after it. This phrase is used also 2 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 19:3.

Verse 12:[4] In that day I will perform against Eli (1 Sam. 2:30-36) all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end (Heb. beginning and ending[5]).



[In that Day] It is called that day in Scripture, both the day of great felicity, Isaiah 4:2; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 3:10; and the day of great calamity, Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:9; Hosea 1:5. Understand here, not one day, but that entire time (which was long), in which all these things were to be fulfilled. Now, this punishment began either the eighteenth year, or the twenty-eighth year, after this denunciation (Mendoza). For it is probably that Samuel lived with Eli thirty or forty years. And that he was twelve, when these things were revealed to him. Therefore, Eli was only sixty-eight, or seventy-eight; and thus to fulfill those ninety-eight years that he lived, twenty or thirty years were wanting to him (Mendoza on 1 Samuel 2:22). So much time God places between His threats and punishments, and awaits the repentance of men. Moreover, He did not foretell a certain time period for this prediction, so that they might be afflicted with continual fear (Mendoza).


In that day; in that time which I have appointed for this work, which was about twenty or thirty years after this threatening. So long space of repentance God allows to this wicked generation to make their peace with God, and prevent the execution, as others did in like cases.


[I will raise up against Eli, אֶל־עֵלִי] To Eli (thus Montanus); contrary to, or against, Eli (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Drusius, Piscator). אֶל/to is twice read in this verse,[6] in the place of עַל/against (Drusius); over Eli (Septuagint, Jonathan).


[Which I have spoken] Through that man of God, 1 Samuel 2:27 (Piscator, Drusius).


All things which I have spoken, by that prophet, 1 Samuel 2:27.


[Over his house, אֶל־בֵּיתוֹ] To (unto [Septuagint], against [Pagnine]) his house (Montanus); against his family (Junius and Tremellius); over his house (Tigurinus); concerning his house (Syriac).

[I will begin and make an end (thus Pagnine), הָחֵ֖ל וְכַלֵּֽה׃] Beginning and ending, or perfecting (Pagnine, Vatablus, Drusius, Junius and Tremellius, similarly Munster). From the beginning I will begin and make an end (Tigurinus); from the beginning to the end (Syriac, Munster). I will lead the matter on to the end (Chaldean in Vatablus). It is a similar expression, when the former and latter things are mentioned; in the place of that which is, from the head to the foot: which is found here and there in the historical books (Malvenda out of Junius). And I will destroy and consume them (Arabic). I will perform and bring to completion (Jonathan). The Hebrew חוּל, or חָלַל, signifies, not only to begin, but also to endure, and to rest; and so not only an action begun, but also completed; as it is evident from Job 20:21;[7] Jeremiah 30:23.[8] Therefore, here (if the Hebrew and Chaldean be consulted), set forth in this place is not so much the swiftness of the punishments, as perseverance in executing vengeance. Nevertheless, the sense of the Vulgate is suitable enough; I will begin and make an end, that is, I will be not only diligent in beginning, but also constant in perfecting. I, moved by mercy (as often elsewhere), will nevertheless not desist from vengeance; but I will bring it to complete perfection (Mendoza).


When I begin, I will also make an end; though this vengeance may and shall be delayed for a season, to manifest my patience, and incite them to repentance; yet when once I begin to inflict, I shall certainly go on with it, and not desist till I have made a full end.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־שְׁמוּאֵ֔ל הִנֵּ֧ה אָנֹכִ֛י עֹשֶׂ֥ה דָבָ֖ר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֲשֶׁר֙ כָּל־שֹׁ֣מְע֔וֹ תְּצִלֶּ֖ינָה שְׁתֵּ֥י אָזְנָֽיו׃ [2] Hebrew: הִנֵּ֧ה אָנֹכִ֛י עֹשֶׂ֥ה דָבָ֖ר. [3] Hebrew: תְּצִלֶּ֖ינָה שְׁתֵּ֥י אָזְנָֽיו׃. [4] Hebrew: בַּיּ֤וֹם הַהוּא֙ אָקִ֣ים אֶל־עֵלִ֔י אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי אֶל־בֵּית֑וֹ הָחֵ֖ל וְכַלֵּֽה׃ [5] Hebrew: הָחֵ֖ל וְכַלֵּֽה׃. [6] 1 Samuel 3:12a: “In that day I will perform against Eli (אֶל־עֵלִי) all things which I have spoken concerning his house (אֶל־בֵּיתוֹ)…” [7] Job 20:21: “There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods (לֹא־יָחִ֥יל טוּבֽוֹ׃, his goods shall not endure).” [8] Jeremiah 30:23: “Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wickedעַ֛ל רֹ֥אשׁ) רְשָׁעִ֖ים יָחֽוּל׃).”

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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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