Monday, May 23, 2005

Random Reflections on I Samuel (part 1?)

Some time ago, I mentioned our church's endeavour to go through the entire Bible in a year. As part of that project, I started reading through I Samuel at about the time our church did (a month or so ago, now). I decided to just read it, attempting to allow questions to come to my mind as though I had not read through this story before, and knew nothing outside of the text as it stood in front of me. I may or may not have been entirely successful in that attempt, but continued to write responses and questions to the text without the aid of any commentaries or other translations. Here are my responses to the first two chapters (note: for those who care to follow along or want to know what translation I used, I was using the TNIV):
Reflections on I Samuel 1

V2: Elkanah had two wives. No comment that this was wrong. Many other OT figures had multiple wives. When did this change? Why? What does God think about this?

V8: Elkanah to Hannah: “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” Besides the implicit value placed on having children, one wonders how Hannah felt about Elkanah having multiple wives. Certainly the other wife didn’t make life easy on her (cf v. 6-7), but I’m sure I may be reading modern notions into this….

V14: Eli: What a jerk!

V22: One wonders why it was so important for Hannah to have a son if she apparently isn’t going to spend hardly any time with him.

V23: And the boy’s father certainly doesn’t seem to care!

V26-28: I can just see Eli trying to follow this conversation. “Uh, ma’am. Lots of people pray to the Lord here. Why do you think I’d remember you?” After all, the scene in v.9-18 would have been a couple of years earlier! And even more: “why do you think I’d want your kid?”

Reflections on I Samuel chapter 2

V3: If Hannah is praying, who is the object of the 2nd person here? Clearly she’s not telling God not to “keep talking so proudly” etc….

V5b: While an obvious parallel to Hannah’s own barren situation, this does not on its surface look to be autobiographical.

V6-10: Again, part of the “prayer” (according to TNIV), but God is consistently spoken of in the third person. In, fact, God hasn’t been addressed directly since v2!

V11: For the first time, it is explicitly stated that Eli’s stuck with the kid….

V19: So it would appear that the boy gets to see his parents once a year….

V20: Eli’s blessing. Yep, because kids are easy to replace…

V21: So Hannah has six kids overall eventually. Definitely doesn’t match v5. Not that I expected it to….

V23-25: Eli gets a bad rap for not keeping his sons under control. Perhaps this is deserved, but these verses would seem to indicate an attempt….

V25: In fact, this verse says that God wants to kill Eli’s sons! There’s a God of love and mercy for you!

V34: This seems to be the first time Eli’s sons are named. How odd…. In fact, as I look back, I shouldn’t even know we’re only talking about two sons apart from this….

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