1 Samuel 1:4-20
On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb.
In this period of Israel’s history, there were two kinds of sacrifice: In one, the sacrificial animal was burned and totally consumed on the altar; in the other, the animal was offered in communion with other worshipers who would share its remains. Elkanah’s offering was the latter.
Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
For other incidences of rival-wives in the Old Testament, compare Sarah/Hagar (Gen. 16) and Rachel/Leah (Gen. 30:1-8).
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD.
The first and most far-reaching belief of the Jews was that God was actually present with his people. To underscore this to His people, who had been violently uprooted from their ancestral homes in Egypt, God directed Moses to build a tabernacle, a “tent of meeting.” This tent would accompany the Israelites through their 40-year trek to the Promised Land. The Lord dwelt in the tabernacle and Moses met him there.
Exodus 25:8 “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”
From that time forward, worship and sacrifice were exercised with the guidance of God and in the presence of God, who was to be found in the tent of meeting.
After the conquest of Canaan, when the Jews would no longer be traveling to or conquering new lands, the tent of meeting was replaced by a structure at Shiloh, about 25 miles north of Jerusalem and west of the Jordan River. In this scripture the structure is called the “temple of the Lord” and “the house of the Lord.” It was here that Elkanah had taken his family to worship.
Shiloh was the religious center of the Israelite tribes in the 12th century B.C. and was destroyed by the Philistines about 1050 B.C. The next sanctuary/temple of the Lord would be the one built by Solomon in Jerusalem (I Kings 5-6).
Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”
As a nazirite, Hannah’s son Samuel would be dedicated to special sacred service to God. We know now that at least part of Samuel’s sacred service was to anoint Israel’s first king, King Saul. (1 Samuel 10:1) Sampson, whose story is told in Judges 13-16, is the most famous nazirite.
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer. They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.”