Poole on 1 Samuel 3:14: Samuel's First Oracle...Against the House of Eli! (Part 3)

Verse 14:[1] And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house (Num. 15:30, 31; Isa. 22:14) shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.


[Therefore I have sworn] Question: When did He swear? Response: This is not found in that prediction in chapter 2. Nevertheless, it was done. It is no new thing in Scripture, that what things are omitted in earlier passages are supplemented in latter passages (Mendoza).


I have sworn; which might be done before, though it be mentioned here only. Or, I do swear; the past tense being commonly put for the present in the Hebrew tongue. Unto the house, or, concerning, as the prefix ל/lamed is oft used, as Exodus 14:3;[2] 18:7;[3] 2 Samuel 11:7;[4] Psalm 91:11,[5] compared with Matthew 4:6.[6]



[That the iniquity of his house shall not be expiated with sacrifices, etc., אִם־יִתְכַּפֵּר וגו״] If it shall be expiated (Montanus, Pagnine). Let me not live, if it shall be expiated (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). It shall not be forgiven (Jonathan in Vatablus). That it is not to be expiated (Tigurinus, Munster, similarly the Syriac). But how is this true; since the sacrifices with respect to external ceremonies were able to expiate no sin; but with respect to internal and due affections all things they were able to expiate all things? Response 1: God did not swear that that was not able to be expiated in this way; but only that it was not to be expiated (Mendoza). 2. He does not speak here of the guilt; but of the temporal punishment (Mendoza, similarly Osiander, Dutch, Estius). If any one of them had truly repented, I do not at all doubt that the forgiveness of sins was to be granted to him; although he was able by no means to remove this cross from himself (Martyr). It is no new thing for iniquity/sin to be put in the place of punishments; as it is evident in Genesis 15:16; Leviticus 24:15; Psalm 7:14; Zechariah 14:19;[7] Malachi 2:6. Moreover, many, with their guilt expiated, nevertheless undergo punishment in this life; as it is evident in Moses, David, and Josiah (Mendoza). Therefore, not all the posterity of Eli were excluded from the pardon of sins, and bound to eternal punishments; but this punishment was deprivation of the Priesthood; now, He makes use of the language of expiation, because that deprivation of dignity was a certain moral dishonor, which had stuck fast to the family of Eli; which was not able to be expiated by any means, except by the restoration of the Priesthood (Sanchez). 3. Others say that is sin was able to be expiated, indeed not by sacrifices; but by prayers and alms; to which things God ascribed much more than to sacrifices (Hebrews in Martyr). 4. The simplest sense: God here declares that no sham is able to be imposed upon Him by any external appearance; lest Eli or his sons should impose upon Him; as if they might reconcile the people to God, much more that they were going to reconcile Him to themselves. But God pronounces that this would be futile (Calvin). The sons of Eli, think that God is to be placated through sacrifices, might offer many sacrifices; but, because those would be in vain, and not accepted by God, He turns them from these; just as it was done in Isaiah 1, offer no more sacrifice, etc. (Tostatus). From this it is understood how grave a sin it is to omit a deserved rebuke; for he had reproved them indeed, but slowly and remissly (Fagius).



[With sacrifices and gifts] Sacrifices were bloody; gifts were not (Drusius): Sacrifices were of living things; gifts were not (Tostatus).


Shall not be purged withsacrifice, that is, the punishment threatened against Eli and his family shall not be prevented or hindered by all their sacrifices, as they fondly imagine, but shall infallibly be executed.

[1] Hebrew: וְלָכֵ֥ן נִשְׁבַּ֖עְתִּי לְבֵ֣ית עֵלִ֑י אִֽם־יִתְכַּפֵּ֞ר עֲוֹ֧ן בֵּית־עֵלִ֛י בְּזֶ֥בַח וּבְמִנְחָ֖ה עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ [2] Exodus 14:3: “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel (לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל), They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” [3] Exodus 18:7: “And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare (לְשָׁלוֹם); and they came into the tent.” [4] 2 Samuel 11:7: “And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of the welfare of Joab, and of the welfare of the people, and of the welfare of the war (לִשְׁל֤וֹם יוֹאָב֙ וְלִשְׁל֣וֹם הָעָ֔ם וְלִשְׁל֖וֹם הַמִּלְחָמָֽה׃).” [5] Psalm 91:11: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee (לָּךְ; περὶ σοῦ, in the Septuagint), to keep thee in all thy ways.” [6] Matthew 4:6: “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee (περὶ σοῦ): and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” [7] Zechariah 14:19: “This shall be the punishment (חַטַּאת, the sin) of Egypt, and the punishment (וְחַטַּאת, and the sin) of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”

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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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