The second chapter begins with Hannah’s song of praise to the Lord – a hymn; and many passages in the Old Testament are similar, particularly Psalm 113 – especially verse 9 of that Psalm’s reference to a barren woman. Verse 12 then moves to the despicable behavior of Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons. Eli was a priest in the line of Ithamar, a son of Aaron; and the sacrifices brought to the temple were to be handled according to the commands of God. Their lack of regard for God as demonstrated in verses 12-17 was certainly known to be wrong not only to themselves, but to those bringing their offerings, as the law stated in Exodus 29:13 and Leviticus 3:3-5.
In verses 22-25, Eli does rebuke his sons, but clearly he not forceful, and they have no more regard for what he says than they have for the Lord. Samuel, on the other hand, is growing “in stature and in favor with the Lord” (verse 26), and his mother made him a robe and brought it to him each year when they came to sacrifice (verse 19).
Beginning in verse 27, the “man of God” who came and told Eli of God’s rejection of him and his house may be a prophet. We just do not know, but this seems likely because if he was a manifestation of the Lord, usually the scripture would refer to an angel of the Lord instead. The prophecy of the end of Eli’s priestly line is told and verse 34 serves as the sign that he will know it is true – the day is coming when both Hophni and Phinehas will die on the same day.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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