Poole on 1 Samuel 3:13: Samuel's First Oracle...Against the House of Eli! (Part 2)

Verse 13:[1] (1 Sam. 2:29-31, etc.) For I have told him that (or, and I will tell him,[2] etc.) I will (Ezek. 7:3; 18:30) judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because (1 Sam. 2:12, 17, 22) his sons made themselves vile (or, accursed[3]), and he (1 Sam. 2:23, 25) restrained them not (Heb. frowned not upon them[4]).


[For I have told him beforehand] By an absolute prediction, which is not able to be revoked (Mendoza).


[וְהִגַּ֣דְתִּי ל֔וֹ] And I will indicate to him (Montanus, Vatablus). I will show to him (Jonathan, Syriac, similarly the Arabic). That is, when the sign that the Prophet declared to him will have come to pass (Vatablus): I have announced to him (Septuagint); I indicate to him (Junius and Tremellius).



[That I am going to judge his house, כִּֽי־שֹׁפֵ֥ט אֲנִ֛י וגו״] That I myself am judging (Montanus). The present in the place of the future; I am going to judge: that is, that I am justly going to exact punishments from his family (Vatablus). That I am going to avenge (Junius and Tremellius). I prefer, I am going to punish (Piscator). To judge, just like to visit, etc., is an ambiguous verb;[5] but here it signifies punishment (Sanchez). It is Metonomy of the efficient, and a Synecdoche of genus (Piscator). To judge is frequently set down for to condemn, or to punish; as in John 3:18;[6] 16:11; Hebrews 13:4. Hence judgment is set down for punishment; 1 Corinthians 11:29[7] (Mendoza).


I will judge, that is, condemn and punish or destroy, as the word judge is oft used, as Genesis 15:14; John 3:18; 16:11. His house; his children and posterity, as is manifest by the story; as the word house is frequently taken, as 2 Samuel 7:11; 1 Kings 21:29. So the house of Judah, of Aaron, of David, are oft taken for their posterity. And to build a house, in Scripture use, is to increase their posterity, as Exodus 1:21; Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11. Compare Genesis 16:2; 30:3.


[Forever, עַד־עוֹלָם] All the way to the age (Pagnine, Montanus); unto perpetuity (Syriac) [similarly all interpreters]. This punishment is called eternal, not with respect to the other life (for it is not plausible that either Eli, or all his posterity, were thus punished), but of this life: because his posterity, having once been expelled from the High Priesthood, never again returned to that (Mendoza).


For ever; till they be utterly rooted out; or for a long time, as that phrase is oft used.



[Because of the iniquity, because he knew that his sons acted unworthily,בַּעֲוֹ֣ן אֲשֶׁר־יָדַ֗ע כִּֽי־מְקַֽלְלִ֤ים לָהֶם֙ בָּנָ֔יו] עֲוֹן is here set down in the construct state; therefore, דָּבָר/word/matter, or another of this sort, is to be understood; that is to say, because of the iniquity of the word, or matter, which he knew, etc., because the Israelites cursed his sons, etc. (Munster). [They variously render the passage.] On account of the iniquity, which he knew, because they conducted themselves disgracefully (Pagnine, the Geneva Bible and others in Dieu). Because of the iniquity, which he knew (or, of which he was not ignorant [Tigurinus]), because his sons were treating themselves with little regard (Pagnine) (or, because his sons made themselves cursed or vile [English, similarly the Dutch]; or, because his sons were cursing God [Septuagint]; or, because, although his sons were bringing a curse upon themselves, he did not restrain them [Junius and Tremellius]). But then it should have been stated in this way, בְּעָוֹן אֲשֶׁר יָדַע, in the absolute state. But בַּעֲוֹן in the construct state indicates that it is to be translated, on account of the iniquity, that he knew that his sons were acting disgracefully, etc. (Dieu). I translate it, because of this iniquity, that he knew that his sons were creating contempt for themselves (Piscator). Nevertheless, it is also able to be translated, on account of the iniquity of the matter, which he knew, that his sons acted disgracefully. And this better agrees with the Rebia (֗) over יָדַ֗ע;[8] and with אֲשֶׁר, which then retains the proper signification of a pronoun (Dieu). In the sins that he knew; because his sons were provoking him (Jonathan). Because of the crime that his sons committed; who disgraced the people (Arabic, similarly the Syriac). Among the Hebrews it was formerly written, כִּי מְקַלְלִים לִי, for they were despising me: that is, they were preferring their own honor and advantage to my honor. But, because this was harsh, and detracting too much from the honor of God, the Hebrew scribes corrected that, and wrote לָהֶם/themselves in the place of לִי/me, as our interpreter[9] translates it (Vatablus). The Septuagint translators read לִי/me (for they translate it, ὅτι κακολογοῦντες τὸν θεὸν, for they were speaking evil of God [Grotius]). This passage is one of those eighteen in which there is a תִּקּוּן סוֹפְּרִים, Tiqqun Soferim, correction of the scribes. Perhaps the themselves (in cursing themselves) is superfluous; as when we say, vade tibi, go for thyself, faciamus nobis, let us do for ourselves, etc. Rabbi Levi thus: Because the Israelites were despising them, namely, his sons, because of those things that were mentioned above. Perhaps, because his sons were despising them (the Israelites). For they were despising beoth God, and also the people in their offering; since they were compelling them to give the victim uncooked (Drusius). Others refer לָהֶם, to them, to the ceremonies, which the sons of Levi were making contemptible before the people. And some expound מְקַלְלִים in neither gender; for the despisers of these things (Munster). Others: because they were cursing because of those (that is, their iniquities) his sons; that is, because all were cursing his sons because of their iniquities. Others: because his sons were blaspheming them: that is, because his sons were blaspheming; that is, they were inflicting great dishonor, blasphemy, as it were, upon all priests; in the sacrileges that they were admitting concerning the sacrifices. By their sacrileges they were traducing the Priestly name and office (Malvenda). These are said to have cursed themselves, so that it might signify that by their sins they harmed, not so much God, as themselves, in cursing and despising God (Mendoza).


[And he did not censure them, וְלֹ֥א כִהָ֖ה בָּֽם׃] And he did not prohibit unto them (Montanus). He was not admonishing them (Septuagint). He did not reprove (Syriac). He did not prohibit them (Pagnine, Munster), or, on them (Jonathan). He did not afflict them with grief (Tigurinus). He never suppressed them with a severe face and countenance (Strigelius[10]). He did not contract his wrinkles (or forehead [Osiander]) at them (Dutch, Dieu), that is, he was not particular enough with them; he did not sufficiently reprove them (Dieu). But I confess that I do not see what might be wanting from that exceedingly grave reproof in that speech, 1 Samuel 2:23-25. So I think, that the word כִהָה does not denote the furrowing of the brow of Eli, but that constriction, whereby he was obliged to check and restrain them in deed; and to avenge their so atrocious faults with more grievous punishments; and not to spare even their lives, that they might be altogether excluded from sacred functions (Cloppenburg’s[11] Collections through Letters, with Louis de Dieu[12] 3993 in Critici Sacri). He did not restrain them (Arabic, English). He did not repress them (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). With that severity and by those means to which he was obliged, according to his authority as a father, priest, and judge, and according to the magnitude of their sin (Piscator out of Junius). [See what things were formerly said on 1 Samuel 2:23, etc.]


Which he knoweth; either by the information of the prophet, 1 Samuel 2:27, etc., or by his own guilty and self-accusing conscience. But these and the foregoing and following words may well be and are rendered thus; for this iniquity, because he knew (both by common fame, and by his own observation) that his sons, etc. He cannot pretend ignorance, or want of proof of their wickedness, which aggravates his sin. Vile; not only hateful to God, but contemptible to all the people, whereby they also brought their sacred office and God’s holy ordinances into contempt. Hebrew: cursed themselves, or made themselves execrable or accursed, both to God and men: by their lewd and cursed practices they put themselves under the curse of God, by such a gross violation of God’s commands: compare Joshua 6:18; 7:12, 13. This expression may be used by way of reflection upon their father, because he did not denounce the curse of God against them, nor put them out of the priesthood, as accursed persons, although they were so vile, that they had prevented their father’s censure, and meritoriously cast themselves out, and cut themselves off from the priesthood and congregation of the Lord, which their father should have done judicially. He restrained them not; he contented himself with a cold and gentle reproof, and did not severely rebuke, and punish, and effectually restrain them from their abominable courses, nor use that authority which God had given him, as a father, as a high priest, and as a judge, or chief magistrate, against them, as by the law of God he was obliged to do.

[1] Hebrew: וְהִגַּ֣דְתִּי ל֔וֹ כִּֽי־שֹׁפֵ֥ט אֲנִ֛י אֶת־בֵּית֖וֹ עַד־עוֹלָ֑ם בַּעֲוֹ֣ן אֲשֶׁר־יָדַ֗ע כִּֽי־מְקַֽלְלִ֤ים לָהֶם֙ בָּנָ֔יו וְלֹ֥א כִהָ֖ה בָּֽם׃ [2] Hebrew: וְהִגַּ֣דְתִּי ל֔וֹ. [3] Hebrew: מְקַלְלִים. [4] Hebrew: וְלֹ֥א כִהָ֖ה בָּֽם׃. [5] With respect to to judge, see, for example, Ezekiel 7:3 and Psalm 10:18; with respect to to visit, Genesis 50:24 and Jeremiah 6:15. [6] John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned (οὐ κρίνεται, is not judged): but he that believeth not is condemned (κέκριται, is judged) already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [7] 1 Corinthians 11:29: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (κρίμα) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” [8] The Rebia is a relatively strong disjunctive accent, which would seem to join the clause, which he knoweth, more closely with what precedes, and disjoin it from what follows. [9] Namely, Jerome. [10] Victorinus Strigelius (1524-1569) was a Melanchthonian Lutheran scholar and Professor of Philosophy at Jena, and then at Leipzig. He wrote Libri Samuelis, Regum, et Paralipomenon, ad Veritatem Hebraicam Recogniti et Breviis Commentarii Explicati. [11] Johann Cloppenburg (1592-1652) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and controversialist. He studied at the University of Leiden, and held various ministerial posts until his appointment as professor at the University of Harderwijk (1641), and then at Franeker (1643). He was a lifelong friend of Voetius, and colleague of Cocceius at Franeker. [12] Collationes Criticæ Sacræ per Epistolas, cum Ludovico de Dieu.

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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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