- There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3. Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. 4. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. 6. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.
Comment: In this first chapter we meet two important families both of whom play an important role in the first part of this book.
- Firstly Elkanah, a man whose detailed history is given so that he could be traced as an historical figure. He had two wives Hannah, named first suggesting that she may have been his first wife who was childless, and Peninnah who had children. Maybe the second wife was taken because Hannah was childless but the second wife lorded herself over Hannah because she was childless.
- Secondly Eli the old priest and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas, also priests. We’ll meet them again later.
Yearly Elkanah and his family went to offer sacrifices to God. As was the custom a certain portion of the sacrificed animal was given back and Elkanah divided it between the family but not equally. He gave Hannah twice as much as Peninnah. No doubt this fuelled the second wives anger and made the situation worse for Hannah. But Elkanah loved Hannah, possibly more, and no doubt felt sorry for her childless state.
Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to act with love and grace when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances.