1Samuel 1.1-2.21 (LXX)

Dec 21, 2017

1Samuel 1.1-2.21 LXX.pdf

The pericope extending to 2:21 as reflected in this post, is longer than commonly regarded. Most readers (for example David Dorsey, who supplies an number of appealing structural proposals) would at least stop before the story of Eli’s sons begins in 2:12. However, it seems clear that, on one hand, Eli and his sons are mentioned early in 1:3, while, on the other hand, two terms of the chiastic structure follow and add resolution to the overall story, not the least of which is exactly what one would expect and even wait for - the gift of multiple children to Hanna. This is especially appropriate when contrasted with her original status of having no children in close proximity to Penninah and her children. 

One reason this passage was studied was to investigate a textual question between the Hebrew MT and the (no longer existent) Hebrew text behind the LXX.  In this case, the two texts differ where the Nazarite vow is mentioned in 1:11. The end of the verse in the LXX reads, “He will not drink wine nor strong drink, and no razor shall come upon his head.” Yet, in the MT, not drinking wine nor strong drink is omitted. There is a long and detailed chiastic sub-structure at this point in the pericope and it is interesting that wine and strong drink is among the parallels. It is interesting that the referents are changed in the two parallels (one referent being the vow, and the other being the accusation of drunkenness). There are just too many parallels in the structure to be coincidence. Though not necessarily the last word on the subject, this parallel (of wine and strong drink) is evidence that the LXX may have preserved the original reading of the text - at least in this instance.

There are plenty of little tidbits that reader will appreciate, whether they are made clearer by the structure or not.  Orthodox Christian readers, who stand during worship, will be able to identify with Hanna who is twice mentioned as standing in prayer. Priests may appreciate the sacramental role of Eli in association with the role of the Lord in the granting of Hanna’s request in 17-20a. Hanna’s faith cannot be ignored since she spoke of this grace even before going home and “knowing” her husband. Her actions (no longer being sad) were all consistent with what Eli pronounced on earth and what God in heaven accomplished for this handmaiden of the Lord.  Men in general might appreciate Elkana’s sole, yet absolutely essential, role in the matter (which is having sexual relations with his wife ;>)

Note also that Hanna’s great act of faith with her prayer & vow occurred on an especially “hard day” 1:15. Suffering seems to nurture true faith, not hinder it.

Hanna was not only a women of faith, she was a humble and submissive wife and Israelite.  Notice that she, like Sarah of old, calls her husband Lord (which is at least like saying “Sir” in treating her husband with respect).  She refers to Eli also as Lord, giving him all due respect. She calls herself both the slave of the Lord in 1:11 (in our vernacular, servant or hand maiden) while she also places herself, as an Israelite, under the Lord’s high priest, Eli, as his slave in 1:18.  Humility still has a good connotation, but submissiveness is definitely on the PC hit list these days. So, if I can pick my battles, I will not enter into that fray.

In 1:4-8, Elkana regarded his loving marital relationship with Hanna as providing consolation for Hanna’s lack of children. Just as he implies, it should be quality over quantity when it comes to marriage & children. When the kids eventually leave home for college and then often start their own marriages/families, hopefully there is a quality loving relationship in place to comfort and console the mother who is often the most invested in her now missing children.

I should probably edit the center of Hanna’s vow to make it plain how she exemplifies the the subject of prayer. It is almost funny that the text, at the very center, says (using the imperfect) “her lips kept moving.” Most women seem to be pretty good at talking. They are just more social then men. That is a fact (as well as my own subjective generalization after ~60 years of observation). Statistically, women have more than twice as many posts on their Facebook walls.

I always see the phones come out at the very first opportunity after a meeting or leaving a building at work. (“Blah, blah, blah” - I always wonder what is so important to say and who is actually listening?)

To be fair, men aren’t as good at listening either. (Obviously, I am not - and that is probably one of many reasons hardly anyone is making a bee line to talk with me ;>) However, God is listening. Would to God we would all learn from Hanna to keep on speaking with the Lord in prayer.

Lastly don’t miss Hanna’s elation in the Lord’s blessing in 2:1-10 (as contrasted with the parallel section of her initial depression in 1:4-8). It is a beautiful song and, based on several similarities, very probably the inspiration for Mary’s Song of praise, in the Magnificat of Luke 1. Note especially Hanna’s beautiful central refrain in her song of praise:

"The Lord puts to death and brings to life;

he brings down to Hades and brings up." (1Sam. 2:6)

Maybe the reader will be able to mine more nuggets from this beginning section of 1 Samuel (and then be sure to let me know).