There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.
This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of Hosts at Shiloh, where Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the LORD's priests.
Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters.
But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the LORD had kept her from conceiving.
Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the LORD had kept Hannah from conceiving.
Whenever she went up to the LORD's house, her rival taunted her in this way every year. Hannah wept and would not eat.
"Hannah, why are you crying?" her husband Elkanah asked. "Why won't you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?"
Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD's tabernacle.
Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears.
Making a vow, she pleaded, "LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant's affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut."
While she was praying in the LORD's presence, Eli watched her lips.
Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk
and scolded her, "How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!"
"No, my lord," Hannah replied. "I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven't had any wine or beer; I've been pouring out my heart before the LORD.
Don't think of me as a wicked woman; I've been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment."
Eli responded, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you've requested from Him."
"May your servant find favor with you," she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer appeared downcast.
The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to bow and to worship the LORD. Afterwards, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her.
After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because [she said], "I requested him from the LORD."
When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and his vow offering to the LORD,
Hannah did not go and explained to her husband, "After the child is weaned, I'll take him to appear in the LORD's presence and to stay there permanently."
Her husband Elkanah replied, "Do what you think is best, and stay here until you've weaned him. May the LORD confirm your word." So Hannah stayed there and nursed her son until she weaned him.
When she had weaned him, she took him with her to Shiloh, as well as a three-year-old bull, two and one-half gallons of flour, and a jar of wine. Though the boy was [still] young, she took him to the LORD's house at Shiloh.
Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli.
"Please, my lord," she said, "as sure as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this boy, and since the LORD gave me what I asked Him for,
I now give the boy to the LORD. For as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD." Then he bowed and worshiped the LORD there.
Hannah prayed: My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is lifted up by the LORD. My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.
There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God.
Do not boast so proudly, or let arrogant [words] come out of your mouth, for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and actions are weighed by Him.
The bows of the warriors are broken, but the feeble are clothed with strength.
Those who are full hire themselves out for food, but those who are starving [hunger] no more. The barren woman gives birth to seven, but the woman with many sons pines away.
The LORD brings death and gives life; He sends [some] to Sheol, and He raises [others] up.
The LORD brings poverty and gives wealth; He humbles and He exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile. He seats them with noblemen and gives them a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; He has set the world on them.
He guards the steps of His faithful ones, but the wicked are silenced in darkness, for a man does not prevail by [his own] strength.
Those who oppose the LORD will be shattered; He will thunder in the heavens against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. He will give power to His king; He will lift up the horn of His anointed.
Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest.
Eli's sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD
or for the priests' share [of the sacrifices] from the people. When any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged meat fork while the meat was boiling
and plunge it into the container or kettle or caldron or cooking pot. The priest would claim for himself whatever the meat fork brought up. This is the way they treated all the Israelites who came there to Shiloh.
Even before the fat was burned, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, "Give the priest [some] meat to roast, because he won't accept boiled meat from you-- only raw."
If that man said to him, "The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself," the servant would reply, "No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don't, I'll take it by force!"
So the servants' sin was very severe in the presence of the LORD, because they treated the LORD's offering with contempt.
The boy Samuel served in the LORD's presence and wore a linen ephod.
Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.
Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: "May the LORD give you children by this woman in place of the one she has given to the LORD." Then they would go home.
The LORD paid attention to Hannah's [need], and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD.
Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
He said to them, "Why are you doing these things? I have heard about your evil actions from all these people.
No, my sons, the report I hear from the LORD's people is not good.
If a man sins against another man, God can intercede for him, but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to their father, since the LORD intended to kill them.
By contrast, the boy Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.
A man of God came to Eli and said to him, "This is what the LORD says: 'Didn't I reveal Myself to your ancestral house when it was in Egypt and belonged to Pharaoh's palace?
I selected your house from the tribes of Israel to be priests, to offer sacrifices on My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in My presence. I also gave your house all the Israelite fire offerings.
Why, then, do all of you despise My sacrifices and offerings that I require at the place of worship? You have honored your sons more than Me, by making yourselves fat with the best part of all of the offerings of My people Israel.'
"Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Although I said your family and your ancestral house would walk before Me forever, the LORD now says, "No longer!" I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disgraced.
" 'Look, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestral family, so that none in your family will reach old age.
You will see distress [in the] place of worship, in spite of all that is good in Israel, and no one in your family will ever again reach old age.
Any man from your [family] I do not cut off from My altar will bring grief and sadness to you. All your descendents will die violently.
This will be the sign that will come to you concerning your two sons Hophni and Phinehas: both of them will die on the same day.
" 'Then I will raise up a faithful priest for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind. I will establish a lasting dynasty for him, and he will walk before My anointed one for all time.
Anyone who is left in your family will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread. He will say: Please appoint me to some priestly office so I can have a piece of bread to eat.'"
The boy Samuel served the LORD in Eli's presence. In those days the word of the LORD was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.
One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his room.
Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was located.
Then the LORD called Samuel, and he answered, "Here I am."
He ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "I didn't call," Eli replied. "Go and lie down." So he went and lay down.
Once again the LORD called, "Samuel!" Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, "Here I am; you called me." "I didn't call, my son," he replied. "Go and lie down."
Now Samuel had not yet experienced the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
Once again, for the third time, the LORD called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the boy.
He told Samuel, "Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The LORD came, stood there, and called as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel responded, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
The LORD said to Samuel, "I am about to do something in Israel that everyone who hears about it will shudder.
On that day I will carry out against Eli everything I said about his family, from beginning to end.
I told him that I am going to judge his family forever because of the iniquity he knows about: his sons are defiling the sanctuary, and he has not stopped them.
Therefore, I have sworn to Eli's family: The iniquity of Eli's family will never be wiped out by either sacrifice or offering."
Samuel lay down until the morning; then he opened the doors of the LORD's house. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
but Eli called him and said, "Samuel, my son." "Here I am," answered Samuel.
"What was the message He gave you?" Eli asked. "Don't hide it from me. May God punish you and do so severely if you hide anything from me that He told you."
So Samuel told him everything and did not hide anything from him. Eli responded, "He is the LORD. He will do what He thinks is good."
Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let nothing he said prove false.
All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the LORD.
The LORD continued to appear in Shiloh, because there He revealed Himself to Samuel by His word.