Elkanah, a Zuphite of the hill country of Ephraim, lived at Ramah with his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
This man used to go up from his village each year to worship and offer a sacrifice to Jehovah of hosts at Shiloh. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to offer a sacrifice he gave portions to his wife Peninnah and to all his sons and daughters; but although he loved Hannah, he gave her only one portion, for Jehovah had given her no children. Peninnah made her angry by mocking her, for Jehovah had given her no children. Elkanah did this year after year; but whenever Hannah went up to the temple of Jehovah, Peninnah made her so angry that she wept and would not eat. So Elkanah her husband said to her, |Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat? Why are you so troubled? Am I not more to you than ten sons?|
After they had eaten in Shiloh, Hannah arose and stood before the temple of Jehovah, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat beside the door posts of the temple. With a sad heart she prayed earnestly to Jehovah and wept bitterly. She also made this sacred promise:
|O Jehovah of hosts!
If thou wilt look at my affliction,
And remember, not forgetting thy servant,
But wilt give thy servant a son,
Then I will give him to thee,
Throughout all the days of his life;
And no razor shall touch his head.|
While she continued praying before Jehovah, Eli watched her mouth. She spoke to herself; her lips moved, but her voice was not heard, so that Eli thought that she was drunk and said to her, |How long will you act like a drunken woman? Put away your wine and go from the presence of Jehovah.| But Hannah answered, |No, my lord, I am an unhappy woman; I have not drunk wine nor any strong drink, but I have been pouring out my heart before Jehovah. Do not think that your servant is a wicked woman, for I have gone on speaking until now because my grief and vexation are so great.| Eli answered, |Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.| She said, |May your servant have your approval!| So the woman went away and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
Early in the morning she and her husband rose; and after they had worshipped Jehovah, they returned to their home at Ramah. In the course of the year Hannah had a son and named him Samuel, saying, |I asked him of Jehovah.|
Elkanah and all his household again went to offer the yearly sacrifice to Jehovah, but Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, |When the child is weaned, then I will take him, and he shall go to Jehovah's temple and live there the rest of his life.| Elkanah said to her, |Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only may Jehovah help you to do what you have promised.|
So the woman waited and nursed her son until she weaned him. Then she took him with her, and a three-year-old ox, a bushel of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the temple of Jehovah at Shiloh. Then they killed the ox, and Hannah brought the child to Eli and said, |Oh, my lord, as surely as you live, I am the woman who stood near you here praying earnestly to Jehovah. This is the boy for whom I prayed. Jehovah has granted what I asked of him. Therefore I have given him to Jehovah; as long as he lives he belongs to Jehovah.|
Elkanah returned to his home in Ramah, but the boy stayed to serve Jehovah under the direction of Eli the priest. So Samuel -- a young boy dressed in a linen robe -- did the duties of a priest in the temple. His mother also made him a little robe and each year brought it to him when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
Eli blessed Elkanah and said, |Jehovah repay you with children from this woman for the gift which she has given to Jehovah.| Then they returned to their home; and Hannah had three more sons and two daughters. Meantime the boy Samuel grew up in the temple of Jehovah.
The sons of Eli were very wicked. They knew not Jehovah, and they despised the offerings which were brought to him. Eli was very old, and whenever he heard that his sons were doing wrong he said to them, |Why do you do such things, for I hear of your wicked deeds from all the people. No, my sons: it is not a good report that I hear from the people of Jehovah.| But they did not listen to the words of their father.
The boy Samuel grew and won the favor both of Jehovah and of men. He continued to serve Jehovah under the direction of Eli; but in those days not many messages came from Jehovah.
One day Eli was lying in his room. His eyes had begun to grow dim so that he could not see. While the lamp of God was still burning, and Samuel was lying in the temple of Jehovah where the ark of God was, Jehovah called, |Samuel! Samuel!| He answered, |Here am I.| Then he ran to Eli and said, |Here am I, for you called me.| But Eli said, |I did not call, lie down again.| So he went and lay down. Then Jehovah called again, |Samuel! Samuel!| Samuel rose and went to Eli and said, |Here am I, for you called me.| But Eli answered, |I did not call, my son; lie down again.|
Now Samuel did not yet know Jehovah nor had a message from Jehovah been given to him. So when Jehovah called Samuel again the third time, he rose and went to Eli and said, |Here am I, for you called me!| Then Eli knew that Jehovah was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, |Go, lie down, and if you are called, say, 'Speak, Jehovah, for thy servant is listening.'| So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Then Jehovah came and called as at other times, |Samuel! Samuel!| And Samuel answered, |Speak, for thy servant is listening.| Jehovah said to Samuel, |See, I am about to do a thing in Israel that will make the ears of every one who hears it tingle. On that day I will do to Eli all that I have said that I would do to his family from the first to the last. For I have told him that I will punish his family forever for the crime of which he knew his sons were guilty, for they did not do what God commanded and he did not stop them.|
Samuel lay until morning, and then he opened the doors of the temple of Jehovah. He was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But when Eli called him and said, |Samuel, my son,| he said, |Here am I.| Eli asked, |What is the thing that Jehovah said to you? Keep nothing from me; may God do to you whatever he will, if you keep from me a word of all that he said to you.| So Samuel told him everything, and kept nothing from him. And Eli said, |It is Jehovah; let him do what seems good to him.|