Poole on 1 Samuel 3:3: The Calling of Samuel, Part 1

Verse 3:[1] And ere (Ex. 27:21; Lev. 24:3; 2 Chron. 13:11) the lamp of God went out (1 Sam. 1:9) in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep



[Before the lamp of God was extinguished (thus nearly all interpreters)] Or, when it was not yet extinguished (Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic), that is, at night, when the lamps of the candlestick were yet burning, which were extinguished at daybreak (Munster, similarly Junius, Piscator, Malvenda, Estius, Menochius, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Drusius). See Exodus 27:20, 21; 2 Chronicles 13:11 (Junius, Piscator); Leviticus 24:2, 3 (Malvenda). Objection: But the lamps were always burning. Response 1: Always, that is, on every occasion appointed by the law. Which is best expressed in 2 Chronicles 13:11, that they might be kindled always at evening. According to the custom of Scripture, universal signs are to be explained in a manner suited to the matter supposed. Moreover, the Priest is commanded in Exodus 30:7 to dress the lamps in the morning, that is, to clean them and carry away the waste; but in the evening to set in order, or to cause to burn (Sanchez). Response 2: At night all the lamps were burning, and in the morning most of them were extinguished (Tirinus, similarly Lyra). It signifies that Samuel was called before dawn, while he was alone in the Temple, and no one else had yet entered the Tabernacle (Sanchez).



Ere the lamp of God went out; before the lights of the golden candlestick were put out, that is, in the night season, or before the morning, when they were put out, as they were lighted in the evening, Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:3; 2 Chronicles 13:11.


[He was sleeping in the temple of the Lord] In the tabernacle, or in a place next to it (Menochius, Sanchez), of which he appeared to have been made the Curator and custodian by Eli (Sanchez). In the temple, that is, near the temple, as previously stated. For the temple ought to have been set apart from all prophane use. To others the order appears inverted. It ought rather to be construed in this way. And, while the lamps that were in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, were not yet put out, and Samuel was still sleeping, then God called, etc. Which is to say, at night, while Samuel was yet sleeping, He called, etc. It is a Periphrasis of night. For the lamps were burning all night (Vatablus). Moreover, the Masoretes note that אֲר֥וֹן אֱלֹהִֽים׃, ark of God, is found only here without the article, while in all the other passages it is אֲרוֹן הָאֱלֹהִים (Drusius).


In the temple, that is, in the tabernacle, which is sometimes called the temple, as being of the same use and significancy. Samuel was laid down to sleep; not that this happened when he first lay down, but whilst he was lying there.

[1] Hebrew: וְנֵ֤ר אֱלֹהִים֙ טֶ֣רֶם יִכְבֶּ֔ה וּשְׁמוּאֵ֖ל שֹׁכֵ֑ב בְּהֵיכַ֣ל יְהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־שָׁ֖ם אֲר֥וֹן אֱלֹהִֽים׃

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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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