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Why Did Hannah Ask for "Seed of Men"?(Essay)

Journal of Biblical Literature 2010, Fall, 129, 3

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What was Hannah praying for? More specifically, how are we to explain the phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in 1 Sam 1:11? In plain terms, we of course understand that Hannah was praying to have a child. Our text has set this up as the basic point on which the plot of the story turns. As soon as the main characters--Elkanah and his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah--are identified, we are informed (v. 2), "Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not." The setting of the story is the family's annual visit to Shiloh for worship and sacrifice. There is no reason to assume that the trip was made on the occasion of a yearly pilgrimage festival. The phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], "annual sacrifice" (v. 21), simply refers to the sacrifice made annually by Elkanah and his family, which provided the setting of the events of vv. 3-19. Indeed, the course of the story would seem to argue against a public festival. There is no one on the scene but Elkanah's family and the high priest, Eli, and the latter seems to have plenty of time on his hands. All we are told about him is that he is sitting on his priestly throne at the entrance to the shrine watching Hannah mutter to herself. This is not what we would expect the chief priest to be doing on the busiest weekend of the year. If the festival was indeed a public occasion, our chapter's narrow focus is all the more evident. For our story is about one thing and one thing only: Hannah wants a child.

Why Did Hannah Ask for "Seed of Men"?(Essay)
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  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: 22 September 2010
  • Publisher: Society of Biblical Literature
  • Print Length: 9 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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