Prolegomena to a Reconstruction of the Literary History of 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a: The Main Problems and Issues

[This is the beginning of a longer study about 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a that I’m still working on. Interested in comments, criticisms, or questions. I apologize about the formatting and other vagaries of the presentation resulting from copying and pasting from an original Word document.]

From the rise of critical study of the Hebrew Bible, the Samuel narrative has long been a focus of literary and historical investigation. Spurred on by its unforgettable prose stories and the widespread assumption that it may contain some of the oldest Hebrew narrative in the biblical canon, scholars have advanced various theories to explicate the tensions, contradictions, and repetitions in the text, resulting in the identification of distinct compositional layers ranging from early sources to later editorializing and redaction.

With the seminal publication of his Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien in 1943, Martin Noth introduced the idea of a Deuteronomistic History into the discussion, which quickly became widely accepted as a pivotal construct for explaining the formation of Samuel as well as the rest of the Former Prophets.[1] For Noth, the Samuel narrative reached its present form at the hand of a Deuteronomistic redactor/author, who as part of a much larger historiographical project constructed the text from various older traditions in order to serve his literary and theological agenda. Writing from a post-monarchic perspective, his undertaking was broad in scope, to trace the history of Israel from the post-settlement period to the end of the monarchy and to explain how the demise of Israel-Judah came about. The enduring contribution of Noth’s theory was that it was able to successfully integrate a wide body of material and to reveal structural, stylistic, and thematic continuity that pointed to unified redaction/authorship.

Yet in recent decades scholars have become increasingly skeptical of the notion of a coherent Deuteronomistic history stretching from Joshua to Kings along the lines suggested by Noth. The literary development of this collection of material has been shown to be considerably more complex than Noth assumed and the identification of Dtr editing or authorship even more controverted and problematic. As a result, the relationship of the Samuel narrative to a broader Deuteronomistic history has been called into question, just as has its own redactional and literary history.[2] What were the sources used in the creation of the Samuel narrative? How were they transformed and adapted in the process of being taken up into the larger historiographical narrative that until recently was subsumed under the Dtr label? Can a coherent Dtr layer in Samuel be identified? Can post-Dtr layers?

The following paper represents a preliminary investigation into the literary history of only a small and well-defined portion of the Samuel narrative, 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a, in order to clarify the main problems and issues at the level of individual passages and pericopes as a necessary first step to attempting a full reconstruction. The narrative is examined piecemeal with the aim of identifying compositional and redactional boundaries, distinguishing the narrative’s basic stages of development, and reconstructing the earliest recoverable forms of the text based on textual and literary-critical criteria. No particular theory for the development of Samuel is assumed a priori, but only that a Dtr history in the broadest sense existed, i.e. a historiographical narrative incorporating material from Joshua to Kings characterized by some distinctive language and ideology closely related to Deuteronomy, and that a Dtr author had a prominent hand in shaping Samuel, most easily identified in a number of well known texts that reflect Dtr language and ideology and create links with the broader Dtr narrative (e.g. 1 Sam 8; 12; 2 Sam 7).

The methodology I will follow will be to identify the various literary components of 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a, starting from larger structural units and then moving to smaller ones. The textual examination will not be comprehensive, but will only treat those textual elements that have a significant bearing on recovering the major literary stages of the prehistory of the present form of the Samuel narrative.

1 Sam 1:1-4:1a*

1 Sam 1:1-4:1a constitutes a somewhat discrete and identifiable block of the Samuel narrative complex, distinguished from the material that follows by its thematic focus on Samuel’s birth and rise to prophethood and the peculiar literary structure that envelopes 2:11b-4:1a: a number of closely related notices mentioning Samuel’s growth and service in the priesthood of Yahweh (2:11b; 2:18; 2:21b; 2:26; 3:1; 3:19). In 1 Sam 4:1b the narrative transitions abruptly into an account of the travels and vicissitudes of the ark of Yahweh in Philistine lands, where the figure of Samuel is completely absent.[3]

The material contained in the block nevertheless reflects a long history of compositional development and can be separated into a number of smaller units of divergent origins. As we will see below, most of the units can be related to one another as separate literary strands.

1 Sam 1:1


The first unit to be recognized in 1:1-4:1a is the opening formula or incipit, which begins with wyhy ʾys̆ “And there was a man” and then lists the region where this man lived, his name, ancestors, and tribal affiliation. As it stands, the incipit prepares the way for the narrative about the birth and dedication of Samuel in 1:2-2:11* and is integral to it, providing information necessary to the coherence of the story, namely the introduction of the figure of Elqanah. However, there are a number of reasons to think that the incipit stems from a compositional hand different from the material that follows.

First, the incipit’s placement and introductory function at the head of the Samuel story and the repetition of a very similar incipit at the beginning of the Saul story (cf. 9:1) suggest that it belongs to the macro-structure of the present form of the Samuel narrative, that is, the literary strand that shaped a variety of material into a story about the rise of Samuel to prophethood and the inauguration of monarchic rule via Saul and David, whereas the material contained in 1:2-2:11*, as we will soon see, is better explained as a primary source or compositional building block that was taken up and shaped by the author responsible for the macro-structure.

Second, the argument will be made below that the birth narrative of 1:2-2:11* originally belonged to Saul rather than Samuel, which means that the patrilineal formula of 1:1 is a kind of secondary doublet to 9:1. Because the birth narrative has been reassigned to Samuel, it follows that the construction of Samuel’s patrilineage and family origin in 1:1 must belong to a different level of the text than the birth narrative per se.

Third, the incipit has clear Dtr connections and is part of a broader literary structure straddling the books of Judges and Samuel consisting of a sequence of closely related incipits, each of which initiate a new narrative in the context of a chain of narratives (Jdgs 13:2; 17:1, 7; 19:1; 1 Sam 1:1; 9:1). The basic formula standing behind these incipits is the phrase, “And there was a (certain) man/youth”, which is then followed by some additional specifying information, such as place of residence, tribal affiliation, name, and/or ancestry. As noted by Frolov, each appearance of the formula “signifies a minor, but tangible, subject-matter shift, namely a change of the leading character.”[4] There are some obvious differences among the introductions, including that Jdgs 13:2, 1 Sam 1:1, and 9:1 begin with the fathers of Samson, Samuel, and Saul, whereas Jdgs 17:1, 17:7, and 19:1 refer directly to the main characters themselves. In addition, the incipits found in 1 Sam 1:1 and 9:1 are more expansive than their earlier counterparts, containing a multi-generational pedigree and extra identifying information, perhaps reflecting the increased significance of these figures for the narrator and/or intimating that the storyline is moving into something approaching a more historical timeframe and narrative world. Still, the overlap in form and language among the various introductions is so strong and distinctive within biblical literature as a whole that we can only conclude that they were developed together and reflect a unified origin in the context of the narrative construction of Israel’s premonarchic-history.[5]

Finally, in line with the previous, the incipit sits at the juncture between the Samuel narrative and the Judges narrative and provides the syntactical link that binds them together. As has been noted by others, the waw consecutive construction wyhy ʾys̆ marks the Samuel narrative as a continuation of the previous narrative, so that the historical setting and timeframe established in the latter part of Judges is continued in 1 Sam 1.[6] The account about the birth of the prophet Samuel presumes the premonarchic setting of Philistine oppression introduced during the judgeship of Samson, which explains why the opening verses of 1 Sam 1 provide no temporal indication for the period during which the story takes place.[7]

Textual Analysis

The reading of the incipit found in the MT and LXX differ in some respects, which has resulted in disagreement about which textual form is more primitive/original. Among these differences, potentially the most significant is that the LXX begins without an initial conjunction in Ἄνθρωπος ἦν, in contrast to the waw consecutive seen in the MT with wyhy ʾys̆, which based on LXX Samuel’s tendency to reproduce its vorlage rather faithfully can reasonably be assumed to derive from a Hebrew text that also began without a conjunction. As proposed by McCarter, the Greek formulation likely derives from Hebrew ʾys̆ hyh, indicating that for the LXX tradition the book of Samuel was understood to sit in a disjunctive relationship to previous biblical narrative.[8] But even though this reading may have originated at a fairly early date and correlates with the initiation of a new thematic trajectory focused on the rise of kingship in the Samuel narrative, several considerations argue in favor of the MT as the primitive/earlier form.

First, the involvement of the incipit in the broader literary structure of sequentially related narrative introductions in Judges-Samuel discussed above militates against the assumption that the waw was added secondarily to the formula as used in 1 Sam 1:1. Rather the waw would appear to be integral to the form and function of the incipit.[9]

Second, the disjunctive version of the incipit in the LXX is more easily explained as an intentional modification of the MT that arose in connection with the construction of a larger canonical sequence of books reflected in the LXX scriptural tradition. Several scholars have noted that the introduction of Ruth into the canon would have necessitated an adjustment in the narrative sequence leading from Judges to Samuel. For example, Hutzli: “Reading after Ruth makes beginning the narrative [of Samuel] with an Impf consecutive (or the corresponding expression in Greek) little sense, since the portrayal in 1 Sam 1 precedes the birth of David, and therefore stands not in its temporal sequence.”[10]

But perhaps even more importantly, the disjunctive incipit may have originated at an earlier point in the proto-LXX tradition in the process of reorganizing the canonical narrative structure of Genesis-Kings. We can see this structure by comparing the books in the LXX and MT that begin with an initial conjunction “and,” whose function in this context is to link books together and thus create larger narrative sequences.[11] In the MT every book in Exodus-2 Kings apart from Deuteronomy begins with a waw, suggesting that Genesis-Numbers and Deuteronomy-2 Kings were intended to be read as larger continuous units and that Deuteronomy marks an important break in the canonical narrative. However, in the LXX although the use of the conjunction closely follows the MT at the level of individual books (Deuteronomy lacks a conjunction, and Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 2 Kingdoms/2 Samuel, 3 Kingdoms/1 Kings, 4 Kingdoms/2 Kings have it), there are two additional books that lack a conjunction, namely Exodus and 1 Kingdoms/1 Samuel. Through this relatively small change, a significantly different organization of the material in Genesis-2 Kings is effected, resulting in the creation of four separate narrative sequences: Genesis, Exodus-Numbers, Deuteronomy-Judges, 1 Samuel-2 Kings. Because the use of the initial conjunction in the LXX matches the MT so closely and because the divisions between Genesis-Exodus and Judges-Samuel seem fairly artificial with regard to the narrative traditions as we have them, we can safely conclude that the variant book beginnings in the LXX were developed secondarily from the MT.[12] As suggested by Thomas Dozeman, the purpose of the changes appears to have been to organize Genesis-2 Kings along broad thematic lines: 1) the ancestors (Genesis); 2) the exodus from Egypt, covenant at Sinai, and journey to promised land (Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers); 3) the premonarchical period (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth); and 4) the monarchical period (1 Samuel-2 Kings).[13]

Third, there is abundant internal evidence that the present form of the Samuel narrative was constructed to be read in continuity with the previous Judges narrative. On the one hand, various elements of the core of Judges (minus the later appendix comprising chaps 16-21) look forward to and prepare for a narrative sequel along the lines of Samuel and Kings: 1) The chronological system of Judges claims that Yahweh gave Israel into the hands of the Philistines for forty years (13:1), but because Samson judges for only twenty (15:20), the temporal gap points to the need for further narrative development and an explanation for how this period of foreign oppression comes to an end. 2) Both Jephthah and Samson are described as judges who “begin” to deliver Israel from the Ammonites and Philistines respectively (10:18; 13:5), implying that this process of deliverance would be carried on by others. 3) One of the main themes of the Judges narrative is the problem of defective national leadership; each of the judges and leaders that appear after Othniel, Ehud, and Deborah are shown to be morally compromised in one respect or another (Barak, 4:8-9; Gideon 8:24-27; Abimelech 9:56-57; Jephthah, 11:34-40; Samson 14:3, 9). As suggested by Richard Nelson, “the storyline of Judges can hardly end with Samson’s hapless style of leadership, which leaves the reader frustrated and with unfulfilled expectations.”[14] 4) The problem of rampant worship of the Baals and Astartes, which is the cultic behavior that precipitates the cycle of foreign oppression and deliverance recounted in Judges, is never dealt with decisively in the context of the narrative; rather the repeated return of Israel to worshipping these gods and the report in 10:16 that they merely “put away their foreign gods” indicates that the issue of false worship is still present in the background and in need of narrative resolution.

On the other hand, in the Samuel narrative 1) the chronological system of Judges resumes (1 Sam 4:18),[15] which eventually transitions to the royal chronological notices of Samuel and Kings (1 Sam 13:1; 2 Sam 2:10; 5:4-5). 2) Samuel and Saul take up the battle against the Philistines and Ammonites begun in the days of Judges, only their exploits are recounted in chiastic reversal from Jephthah and Samson.[16] 3) Samuel and Saul are both depicted in the pattern and language of pre-monarchic judges, who judge, rule, and deliver their people according to the non-regularized inspiration of deity (1 Sam 7:6, 13, 15; 8:1; 10:1; 11:6, 13).[17] 4) Samuel’s speech in chap 12 contains a review of the history of the people in the land from the period of the judges up until their request for a king, indicating that the narrative horizon of the current form of Samuel is inclusive of the book of Judges. 5) The important theme of false worship of the Baals appears again (1 Sam 7:4; 12:10), as preparation for the reemergence of this theme later in Kings.


The LXX reading Ἄνθρωπος ἦν lacks the adjective ʾḥd “one” modifying “man” present in the MT. Although the use of the “specific indefinite” is unnecessary in context and may have originated as a harmonizing scribal addition to bring the birth story of Samuel into closer alignment with the Samson narrative (Cf. Jdgs 13:2; also 1 Sam 9:1),[18] the longer MT reading may also be original, since 1) the introduction of the initially unidentified “man” is separated somewhat from the designation of his name, making the descriptive modifier fairly suitable to the context; 2) we have already argued that the LXX version of the incipit was a product of intentional scribal modification, so it is understandable why ʾḥd would have been omitted in the process of placing ʾys̆ before the verb; and 3) the LXX translation of Samuel is rather inconsistent in its reproduction of adjectival ʾḥd.[19]


MT’s Ramathaim Zuphim is replaced in the LXX with Αρμαθαιμ Σιφα, reflecting hrmtym ṣypy. As has long been recognized, the MT reading is grammatically dubious. From all appearances, Zuphim seems to be a plural gentilic whose apposition to Ramathaim suggests that it functions as a genitive in a construct relationship, i.e. “Ramathaim of the Zuphites,” and yet the head noun Ramathaim is not marked for being in the construct state. Some have attempted to argue that the MT reading is nevertheless viable on the basis of a few examples in the Bible where absolute forms appear in a construct relationship.[20] But the evidence for this supposed syntactical construction is weak, e.g. the use of the absolute form of Ophrah in apposition to ʾby hʿzry “Abiezrite” in Judg 8:32 is not clear evidence of a place name in construct to the following gentilic, since Judg 6:24 shows the expected form ʿprt ʾby hʿzry “Ophrah of the Abiezrite” and ʾby hʿzry in 8:32 can be understood as modifying Gideon’s father Joash rather than Ophrah.[21] On top of the grammatical difficulty of the MT, several factors support the LXX as the more primitive reading, allowing us to reconstruct mn-hrmtym ṣypy mhr ʾprym, “from Ramathaim, a Ziphite from the hill country of Ephraim” as the original form: 1) The difficult reference to Zuphim in the MT can be plausibly explained as a corruption arising from dittography with the following mem on mhr ʾprym.[22] The MT shows evidence elsewhere of errors in transmission arising at the boundaries of words (cf. 1:24, 28). 2) A reference to an unknown group of Zuphites seems unsuitable at this point, since not only do Zuphites play no role in the subsequent narrative, only the land Zuph, but the reference to a plurality of individuals distracts from the linear focus of the genealogy (cf. Judg 13:2). 3) As a gentilic, the placement of ṣypy after Ramathaim reveals an intentional structure and parallelism that embraces the entire incipit, first with the parallel phrases “a certain man from Ramathaim”// “a Ziphite from the hill country of Ephraim” that specify Elqanah’s relation to various localities, moving from the specific to the general (person + מן + GN), then the reverse parallelism between the first and last individuals mentioned in the genealogy, “a Ziphite from the hill country of Ephraim” // “Ziph, an Ephraimite” (gentilic + GN // GN + gentilic).

A related issue concerns the confusion between the MT and LXX over how to spell the name of Samuel’s homeland and its eponymous ancestor. Whereas the MT has ṣwp in 1 Sam 1:1 and 9:5, and ṣyp in the Kethib of 1 Chron 6:20, the LXX has the reverse, with ṣyp > Σιφα in 1 Sam 1:1 and 9:5, and ṣwp > Σουφ in 1 Chron 6:20. Perhaps as Auld has suggested, the spelling ṣyp with a yod is the earlier form, with the waw arising either through accidental confusion of yod and waw or because of an intentional midrashic reading.[23] At least ṣyp consists of an unusual tri-lateral root and it is easier to think that confusion would have occurred in the direction of ṣyp > ṣwp rather than vice versa. But if this is the case, then it would mean that the spelling of Zophah in 1 Chron 7:35 has also suffered corruption. As Edelman has shown, the land of Ziph/Zuph in the hill country of Ephraim is likely equivalent to Asherite Zophah, because the lands that Saul traverses in 1 Sam 9:4-5—Shalishah, Shaalim, Ymyny, and Zuph—correspond to several figures mentioned in the Asherite genealogy of southern Ephraim—Shelesh, Shual, Ymny, Zophah (1 Chron 7:30-40).[24]


The MT phrase bn ṣwp ʾprty is replaced in the LXX with ἐν Νασιβ Εφραιμ. We have already mentioned that the MT formulation is part of the original structure of the genealogy, and other scholars have convincingly argued for understanding the LXX variant as an intentional modification so as to insure the Levite tribal identity of Samuel and his ancestry.[25]


The story about Hannah and the birth and dedication of Samuel in 1:2-2:11* is coherent as a discrete literary unit, distinguished from the material that follows by its sustained narrative focus, formal quality as a birth/origin narrative, simple familial themes, and skillful exposition of dramatic conflict, though the text clearly had a long history and shows many signs of redactional development.[26]


MT reads “she had no children” with yldym in the plural, in contrast to “she had no child [παιδίον]” in the LXX. The plural rendering is clearly preferable as the earlier form, since it provides balance to the similar statement about Peninnah, whereas the LXX reading is disruptive. The singular reference to Hannah’s child is also emphasized later in v. 5-6 of the LXX, which we will find to be secondary to the LXX tradition as well. The purpose of the change may have been to emphasize Hannah’s motherless state or foreshadow that she would give birth to a singularly exceptional child in Samuel.[27]



The renaming of Elqanah’s place of residence as Ramathaim in the LXX is unnecessarily redundant and likely secondary to the MT. The motivation for this addition may have been to clarify the location of Elqanah’s home after creating a second place name at the end of the genealogy, “in Nasib of Ephraim.”[28]


The MT has simple yhwh ṣbʾwt “Yahweh of Hosts” here and at 1:11, whereas the LXX has longer formulations at 1:3, 11, 20: “Lord God Sabaoth”; “Adonai, Lord Eloai, Sabaoth”; and “Lord God Sabaoth.” The latter are most likely expansive and interpretive, elaborating on the divine designation of Yahweh and portraying Hannah and Elqanah as especially pious (see below).

Literary Analysis

The use of the title “Yahweh of Hosts” in 1:3, 11 is literarily suspect as well. As we will see later, it appears rarely in Samuel and mostly in late Dtr texts and environments that bear signs of obvious redactional activity (1 Sam 4:4; 15:2; 17:45; 2 Sam 6:2; 7:8, 26-27).[29] The title is closely associated with the ark cult implement, which is described as the “ark of the covenant of Yahweh of Hosts enthroned on the cherubim” (1 Sam 4:4 MT; but cf. “ark of the Lord who is seated on the cherubim” in LXX) and the “ark of God, which is called by the name of Yahweh of Hosts enthroned on the cherubim” (2 Sam 6:2). These unusually expansive designations point to their late origin in the context of Samuel: 1) Nowhere else in biblical tradition do we find the well-attested cosmic epithet “Yahweh of Hosts” combined with the royal epithet “enthroned upon the cherubim”; the construction is rather unique to Samuel, where it clearly performs a function of clarifying and elaborating upon the nature of the deity associated with the ark (cf. Ps 80:2; 99:1). 2) The expression employed in 2 Sam 6:2, to call the name of the deity over something, has close parallels in other Dtr texts and reflects a concern to conceptualize the ark by way of Dtr name theology (Deut. 28:10; 1 Kgs 8:43).[30] 3) The description of the ark in terms of Yahweh’s enthronement on cherubim is difficult to disassociate from Priestly tradition in the Pentateuch, where the ark is envisioned as a kind of aniconic cherubim throne for Yahweh’s presence (cf. Ex 25:10-22; Num 7:89). Even if it is unlikely that the Dtr author wanted to imply that Yahweh was literally enthroned on the ark (cf. 2 Sam 22:11; 2 Kgs 19:15), his literary formulation may indicate knowledge of Pentateuchal tradition and a desire to connect the originally independent ark tradition of Samuel with the ark of the exodus and Sinai.[31] 4) Because comparative data and information from elsewhere in Samuel suggest that the ark was originally conceived and used as a receptacle for transporting divine images (1 Sam 4:7; 6:14; 2 Sam 5:21 LXX; 2 Sam 6:6-7 LXX; 2 Sam 15:8 LXXL),[32] the emphasis here on a cosmic Yahweh of Hosts enthroned above the heavenly cherubim looks tendentious and polemical. Its purpose seems to have been to clarify and underscore the transcendent and aniconic nature of Israel’s deity vis-à-vis a narrative setting that would lead us to expect something different. According to the Dtr author, this is not a conventional cult-image-carrying-ark, but the ark of the Yahweh of Hosts!

If this understanding of 2 Sam 6:2 is accepted, then it would also shed light on the rare appearance of Yahweh of Hosts at the beginning of Hannah’s birth narrative. Because the setting at a local sanctuary (bamah) and various details of the story would naturally lead a reader to assume that the deity worshiped there was manifested in iconic form, the Dtr editor has strategically inserted the cosmic title Yahweh of Hosts towards the beginning of the story to clarify that the deity associated with Shiloh is none other than the transcendent and singular Yahweh of the Heavens.[33]


The identification of the sanctuary to which Elqanah and his family travel for an annual sacrifice as Shiloh raises problems within the story context: 1) If they are envisioned as traveling from Ramathaim of Ziph in the hill country of Ephraim, as 1:1 suggests, then it is strange that they would go all the way to Shiloh, since 1 Sam 9 shows that Ziph had its own sanctuary where Samuel participated in festal sacrificial meals. 2) Alternatively, if Elqanah made his pilgrimages from Ramah in Benjaminite territory, in accordance with MT 1:19, then the destination of Shiloh is even more implausible, since Shiloh lies a considerable distance north of Ramah in Ephraimite territory. There were several substantial cult centers within Benjamin that would have more understandably functioned as a setting for such festivities.[34] 3) There is a strong emphasis on Shiloh as the location of the temple of Yahweh throughout the chapter, which raises questions about the originality of this identification; at least some of the references to Shiloh seem secondary or unnecessary/overdetermined (cf. MT 1:3, 9, 24; LXX 1:9, 21, 24). 4) Samuel is not otherwise associated with Shiloh in biblical tradition outside of 1 Sam 1-3, but rather is narratively connected to cultic centers near Benjamin (e.g. Mizpeh, Gilgal).[35] 5) We will argue below that the birth narrative of 1:2-2:11* originally belonged to Saul rather than Samuel, which makes regular pilgrimages to Shiloh on the part of his family highly doubtful. More likely is that they would have attended a sanctuary near their home in Zela of Benjamin, i.e. Gibeon/Gibeah.


The LXX introduces Eli and his sons as priests at Shiloh, whereas in the MT only the two sons of Eli are mentioned. Because Eli has the dominant role in the following chapter, the LXX reading seems to represent an attempt to smooth out the tension in the narrative.[36]

Literary Analysis

In addition, the MT statement about the sons of Eli as priests of Yahweh at Shiloh is likely secondary itself. At this point the information is extraneous and only serves to prepare for 2:12-17.[37] Furthermore, the attachment of a nominal clause to the previous habitual/iterative sentence and positioning of s̆m immediately after Shiloh feels awkward and rhetorically as if it were an afterthought.


This segment raises several difficulties, since not only is the MT Hebrew text obscure and clearly corrupt at several points, but its description of what precipitated Hannah’s weeping and distress at Shiloh differs significantly from the LXX. Whereas the MT focuses attention on the cruel provocations of a rival wife that occurred year after year, the LXX underscores Hannah’s emotional despondency as a result of not having a child. However, despite the difficult nature of the MT, several considerations argue in favor of it as a better reflection of the original form of the text, from which the LXX has diverged.

First, the LXX intersperses references to Hannah not having a child at various points in the account, almost as a refrain (v. 5, 6a, 6b). These references fit awkwardly in context and are closely related to the initial description in 1:2 LXX of Hannah having “no child” in the singular, which itself is likely secondary to MT’s “no children”.

Second, the simple adjectival clause in v. 5 featuring the attachment of ʾpym to mnhʾḥt has been broken up in the LXX, so that mnhʾḥt becomes the end of a clause and ʾpym/ʾpm and the following ky are reread as the disjunctive adverbial construction ʾps ky. But this reading fails to understand that the syntax of v. 5 (“but to Hannah…”) and the immediate context (“because he loved her”) point in the direction of some form of preferential treatment by Elqanah in the division of sacrificial portions, not that Hannah received merely “one portion” vis-à-vis Penninah’s several “portions.”[38] Furthermore, the usage of ʾps ky “save that” is syntactically unsuitable at this point, since the statement that Elqanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah does not actually qualify the preceding comment in an exceptive sense (cf. ʾps ky in Num 13:28; Deut 15:4; Judgs 4:9; 2 Sam 12:14; and Amos 9:8).

Third, the understanding of the LXX as secondary explains various other oddities, including the reintroduction of the name Elqanah in v. 5b and the claim that Elqanah loved Hannah “more than this one.” Because of the breakup of the clauses in v. 5 and the insertion of “because she did not have a child” at the end of the first clause, the scribe felt compelled to reintroduce the name Elqanah in the new clause and to elaborate on the meaning of Elqanah’s love for Hannah with respect to his other wife.

Finally, the divergent nature of the LXX reading seems to have been sparked by the difficult nature of the primary MT, including the obscure ʾpym/ʾpm, the challenging syntax in the description of the rival wife in v. 6, and the vague set of third person references in v. 7.[39]

Textual Analysis


If we take the MT as primary, then the unintelligible ʾpym is most likely a corruption of something else. Many have attempted to read ʾpym as it stands, so that the word is interpreted in light of the morphologically identical ʾpym, “nose/face.” But these efforts have as a rule yielded dubious readings built on a chain of associated ideas or obscure cultural parallels, all of which are unable to provide an account of ʾpym consistent with the plain and uncomplicated cadence of the narrative and that arises naturally out of the Israelite cultural setting. These readings include, “portion of the nose/face,”[40] which is hardly credible as the name of an especially honorable portion of the sacrifice used for human consumption; “portion for two people, i.e. double portion,”[41] which is controverted by the presence of ʾḥt on mnh; and the adverbial accusative “in anger,”[42] which is syntactically anomalous without a preposition, coming as it does in a position where the term would more naturally modify mnh, and in any case, poorly suited to the narrative context where Elqanah is said to love Hannah and upon seeing her weep immediately tries to comfort her.

On the other hand, most of the emendations that have been offered to date have failed to attract much support and have been plagued by similar problems. Aberbach’s “one portion worth a pim” is contextually implausible and undermined by the presence of the aleph on ʾpym, whereas McCarter’s alternative based on kpy “a single portion equal to theirs” is rhetorically awkward, requires excessive emendation, and dubious based on the late character of the construction kpy.[43]

As already argued by Ferdinand Diest, several factors recommend understanding ʾpm/ʾpym as a description of Hannah’s portion in the sense of “fat/select”: 1) Based on various syntactic parallels we would expect an adjective further describing the mnhʾḥt to appear in the position of ʾpym: ʾdrt s̆nʿr ʾḥt ṭwbh “a fine mantle from Shinar” (Josh. 7:21), nbyʾ ʾḥd zqn “an aged prophet” (1 Κ. 13:11), ṣʾn s̆s̆ brrwt “six prime sheep” (Neh 5:18), pr ʾhd bn bqr “a young bull” (Ex. 29:1). 2) This semantic and syntactic interpretation is reflected in the Targum, where mnhʾḥtʾpym is rendered as ḥwlq ḥd bḥyr, “a choice portion,” presumably based on the translator’s sense of how the passage should be read from the context and not from a variant textual reading. 3) Elqanah’s act of reserving a special portion for Hannah has a close parallel later in the Samuel narrative when the seer of Zuph orders the cook to set aside a select portion of the animal, i.e. the thigh, for Saul (9:23-24). 3) The sense of “fat” is favored by the cultural setting: in the world of ancient Israel the semantic field of fat was closely associated with choiceness (e.g. Deut 32:14; 1 Kgs 4:23; Ezek 24:4; Hab 1:16; Zech 11:16).[44]

In line with these considerations, Diest himself proposed that ʾpym/ʾpm was a corruption of ʾbs “fat”, because bet and samek were sometimes confused by Hebrew scribes for pe and mem respectively and the LXX reading of plen hoti implies that ʾps rather than ʾpym stood in its vorlage. But this reading remains unsatisfactory for several reasons: 1) We have already found that the variant of ʾps is inextricably connected to an LXX reading of v. 5 that is derivative of the MT tradition, which means that it provides dubious evidence for the assumption that the samek is original. 2) The reconstruction requires the corruption of two root consonants of a fairly well known passive form. 3) The term ʾbs generally seems to have been used to describe animals as a whole rather than a particular cut or portion of the animal (cf. 1 Kgs 5:3; Prov 15:17; also Isa 1:3; Prov 14:4).

One other possibility that often has been mentioned in discussions of the various proposals but inadequately explored is that ʾpym/ʾpm is related to pʾmh/pymh, “fat.” Even though this interpretation requires a rearrangement of two consonants and reconstructing an adjectival form with a final he, the term is an attractive candidate for emendation, since 1) among the Hebrew words that could possibly have been used to describe Hannah’s portion, the term pʾmh/pymh corresponds most closely to ʾpym, with an overlap of three consonants; 2) according to Job 15:27, the fat of pymh was associated with the area of the loins or thighs, which correlates well with the usage in 1 Sam 1:5 to describe a choice portion of meat offered to Hannah. To get from pʾmh to ʾpym the process would have occurred in several steps, first with an initial corruption that resulted in the loss of a final he and confusion of consonants pe and aleph, perhaps because of the rare nature/spelling of the word (with a medial aleph instead of a yod). At this stage the form of the word would have been simply ʾpm, since the LXX reading of plen hoti < ʾps ky suggests that the Hebrew vorlage contained a consonant cluster ם/א־פ־ס that lacked a yod. Then at a still later stage the yod was introduced when ʾpm was understood as a dual of ʾp, “nose”.[45]


The 3rd masc. singular imperfect Qal יעשה “he used to do” in v. 7a is problematic, since it 1) stands in tension with the continuation in the narrative “as often as she went up”; 2) we would rather expect an explicit naming of the subject if it had indeed changed to Elqanah; 3) the adverbial כן followed by the habitual imperfect lead the reader to expect the subject of the verb to remain that of the rival wife, as in the immediately preceding verse; and 4) as recognized by Driver, the second כן is most easily understood as a resumption of the first, indicating that the personal subjects of both clauses should agree.[46] Thus, working back from תכעסנה we should probably reconstruct an original feminine singular תעשה in the first part of the clause, as several scholars have suggested.[47] This solution is attractive, since the major proposed alternative to revocalize יעשה as Niphal is not how we would expect a Hebrew speaker to express habitual behavior.[48] The reason for the change to the masculine gender is admittedly difficult to understand, but it may have been facilitated by corruption elsewhere in the verse and the resulting multiplication of ambiguous pronominal subjects (see below). In addition, we will later find evidence of a redactional tendency in the MT to bring Elqanah into greater prominence vis-à-vis Hannah.


The move from Hannah being the object of the verb תכעסנה to immediately the subject of תאכלולאותבכה is unusually awkward and difficult to accept as original. It seems plausible that at some point the name Hannah was accidentally omitted after ותבכה through haplography. The idea that the questionable reading was created through the insertion [49] of תכעסנהכן is less convincing, since such an addition would have only heightened the ambiguity of the various pronominal references in v. 7 and the resumption of the verbal root כעס fits the broader thematic emphasis of the pericope.

Literary Analysis

Although the MT account of the events in vv. 4-7 that led to Hannah’s weeping and distress at Shiloh is on the whole more primitive than the LXX, a number of tensions in the passage suggest that it itself was a product of compositional development. The passage begins with punctual verb forms indicating that on a particular day at Shiloh Elqanah celebrated the annual sacrifice (v. 4a) and then offers a parenthetical comment in iterative/habitual form of how he would always divide the various portions: to Peninnah and her children he would give multiple portions (mnwt), but to Hannah he would give one “fat/choice” portion (mnh ʾḥt pʾmh) because of his love for her (v. 5a). However, in the rest of the passage the parenthetical detour expands and develops, starting with the statement, “And Yahweh had closed her womb” and then describing how Hannah’s rival wife would always greatly provoke her in order to enrage her, continuing with a confirmation that Yahweh had closed her womb, and finally a report that year after year the same thing would happen, that the rival wife would provoke her. Then suddenly we are back in punctual time at the end of v. 7, where it states that Hannah wept and would not eat, to which Elqanah responds by attempting to comfort her.[50]

The digression into the subject of a rival wife between v. 5 and v. 8 is suspect for several reasons[51]: 1) The report that Yahweh had closed Hannah’s womb fits awkwardly after the statement that Elqanah loved Hanah in v. 5; it has no organic connection to the immediately preceding content and introduces a specific divine agent as the controlling power behind her barrenness, whereas earlier in the story we were told simply that Hannah had no children (v. 2). 2) The report about Yahweh having closed Hannah’s womb is repeated in v. 6b, thus creating a frame around the introduction of the motif of a rival wife. 3) The description of the problem of the rival wife is overly brief and unprepared for; the ṣrh is introduced nameless and the reader is forced to infer her identity as Peninnah. 4) Vv. 6-7 present several stylistic and philological peculiarities, including the unexpectedly strong expression of scorn by the rival wife, the archaizing use of the preposition bʿbwr followed by what appears to be an infinitive construct, the Aramaic sounding usage of rʿm, “to enrage”, the repetitive use of kn, the unmarked change in subjects in v. 7. 5) The parallel iterative/habitual comments about Elqanah always giving different portions to Peninnah and Hannah and the rival wife provoking Hannah year after year are not really analogous in the context of the narrative. The former deals with a subject immediately relevant to the setting, i.e. according to v. 4a they are in the midst of eating and celebrating a sacrifice, so it makes sense to inform the reader about Elqanah’s habit of dividing up the food. Whereas the problem of a rival wife is not directly connected to the sacrificial setting; there is no statement in punctual form that Peninnah was tormenting Hannah at this particular time. 6) The conflict with Peninnah is not alluded to by Elqanah in his response to Hannah and plays no further role in the narrative. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the issue of a rival wife and Yahweh closing Hannah’s womb was introduced secondarily to the narrative as a means of heightening the tension (perhaps inspired by the prominence of the motif of rival wives in earlier biblical narrative) and providing further explanation for Hannah’s weeping and refusal to eat with the rest of the family. Presumably, in the original text Elqanah’s habit of dividing up the food was followed by a description in regular punctual form of his bringing a choice portion to her, which provided the occasion for her weeping and refusal to eat.


The LXX witnesses to several differences from the MT in this verse, including 1) an additional clause after the initial address to Hannah, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ᾿Ιδοὺ ἐγώ, κύριε. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ < wtʾmr lw hnny ʾdny wyʾmr lh “and she said to him, ‘Here am I, lord,’ and he said to her”; 2) the clause Τί ἐστίν σοι, ὅτι < mh lk ky instead of MT’s simple lmh; and 3) the interchange of τύπτει σε ἡ καρδία σου < ykk lbbk with yrʿ lbbk. From a literary-critical standpoint, each of the variants have a secondary character with respect to the MT,[52] since the initial response by Hannah unexpectedly breaks up Elqanah’s discourse and is followed by the resumptive “he said to her”; the syntax of mh lk ky is gratuitously elaborate in the context of the question put to Hannah, “What’s the matter with you that you are weeping”; and, as others have noted, the expression ykk lbbk in 1 Sam 24:6 “implies remorse and self reproach, which seem inappropriate here.”[53] Yet the conspicuous nature of these readings raises the question of why they were ever developed in the first place. Since they do not dramatically alter the general sense of the passage, what role do they play in the context of the LXX textual tradition?

If we consider the above readings in their broader canonical context as well as take a closer look at other places in 1 Sam 1-2 where the LXX varies from the MT, then a definite interpretive tendenz in the LXX with regard to the characterization of Hannah begins to come into view. First, the formulaic usage of hineh plus the first common singular suffix (“here am I”) portrays Hannah as especially submissive and ready to respond to and obey her husband. As has been pointed out by Donald Parry, the “here am I” formula is frequently found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible as part of a revelatory experience involving God or his angels (Gen 22:1, 11; 31:11; 46:2; Ex 3:4; Isa 6:8; 58:9), and indeed occurs three times in the nearby story about Samuel’s prophetic call in the temple (1 Sam 3:4, 6, 8). So the fact that it appears here with the mother of Samuel may suggest that the scribe responsible for the change was attempting to depict Hannah as similarly righteous and obedient, almost as if she were a prophet-like figure.[54] Second, the phrases mh lk ky and ykk lbbk both revolve around the issue of Hannah’s feelings about her childlessness and thus may have been intended to reinforce the theme of emotional despondency highlighted in the preceding verses of the LXX tradition (vv. 4-7). Instead of the MT’s concise and simple “why do you weep” and “why are you sad”, the LXX heightens the force of both questions, so that Hannah is portrayed as desperate to bear a son. In addition, the language of mh lk ky, in combination with Hannah’s weeping and the revelatory setting hinted at above, evokes another great matriarch in Israel’s past, namely Hagar, whose prayers were answered in relation to a child (Gen 21:7), whereas the expression ykk lbbk is otherwise found only with reference to David, that most pious and passionate of individuals (1 Sam 24:5; 2 Sam 24:10).

Finally, there are other indications from the immediate context of 1 Reigns 1-2 that the tradition has been redactionally shaped to elevate the status of Hannah as the mother of Samuel: 1) as was mentioned before, the repeated reference to her not having “a child” in the singular points forward to her role in giving birth to the prophet Samuel (1 Reigns 1:2, 5-6); 2) Hannah’s address to deity in v. 11 has been expanded with extra divine epithets to show her as especially pious (“Adonai, Lord, Eloai, Sabaoth”); 3) an additional line has been inserted into Hannah’s song that affirms explicitly that God has answered Hannah’s prayer and blessed her according to her righteousness (1 Reigns 2:9).



The clause in v. 9a presents several difficulties: 1) According to the formulaic patterns of Hebrew narrative, the punctual verb form of קום generally introduces a following action on the part of a personal subject, but as it stands, the formula lacks the necessary continuation. Hannah simply arises after eating in Shiloh with an immediate transition to “while Eli the priest was sitting at the seat….” 2) The attachment of the long adverbial clause “after eating in Shiloh…” after חנהותקם is syntactically awkward. We would rather expect the report about eating to have occurred as an antecedent to her arising, in line with conventional Hebrew usage, and not as a kind of parenthesis to the main action (cf. 1 Sam 20:41; 24:9; 28:25; 2 Sam 12:20). Not surprisingly, many translations shift the adverbial clause to the beginning of the sentence in order to smooth out the syntax (e.g. NRSV, JPS, NIV etc.). 3) The reference to her eating “in Shiloh” is superfluous in context, “as the entire incident takes place at Shiloh.”[55] There is no obvious justification for repeating this localizing information in the context of the narrative. However, proposals to emend בשלה to something else fail to inspire confidence.[56] 4) The implication from the adverbial clause that Hannah ate food after her weeping in the presence of Elqanah and before her remove to the temple is in tension with the later report that after praying in the temple and finding relief there she returned to her husband, ate and drank, and was sad no longer (v. 18). Because the motif of going without food functions as an outward manifestation of Hannah’s unhappiness and provides the necessary backdrop to understanding the intensity of her protracted prayers in the temple, we would rather expect that her fasting continued through to the end of the episode and that it was only after she found relief from the priest that she rejoined the festivities with everyone else.[57]

In order to resolve these difficulties, the LXX contains the necessary first clue with a significant plus after the adverbial clause, καὶ κατέστη ἐνώπιον κυρίου, “presented herself before the Lord,” reflecting ttyṣb lpny yhwh. This plus is likely original to the narrative, since 1) it provides the continuation to the formulaic expression …וותקם missing from the MT. 2) The motif of presenting oneself before deity fits the context perfectly: several hints in the narrative suggest that Hannah has moved to a place directly within the confines of the temple to be close to deity while she prays (v. 9, 12, 15, 18). 3) The language of the plus implies that Yahweh was localized in the temple in some kind of material form, before which Hannah could stand. As such, it is understandable why a scribe would have deleted the clause from the MT and thus left a noticeable gap in the narrative. On the other hand, as Juha Pakkala has argued, it is much more difficult to imagine a scribe of the late Second Temple period inserting this sentence in the Samuel story.[58] 4) The scribe responsible for the abbreviated MT seems to have tried to compensate for the deletion of Hannah’s presentation before Yahweh with further expansion of the adverbial clause. Following the pattern provided by 1:18, a reference to drinking was added, so that “Hannah arose after eating in Shiloh and presented herself before Yahweh” becomes “Hannah arose after eating in Shiloh and after drinking.” 5) The LXX contains another very similar plus in v. 14, καὶ πορεύου ἐκ προσώπου κυρίου, “and come away from before Yahweh,” reflecting wlky mlpny yhwh, which presupposes that Hannah had already come to stand before Yahweh. As in v. 9, the phraseology implies a localized manifestation of the deity in the temple.

If we examine the Hannah pericope as a whole, we find further evidence that the MT tradition has been systematically redacted to conform to late Second Temple religious sensibilities and to avoid explicit reference to the material presence of Yahweh. Taken all together, the LXX contains several references to Yahweh’s cultic “face” that are absent from the MT (9, 11, 14, 25; 2:11), while others are retained in the MT unmodified (vv. 12, 15, 19, 22).[59] When we compare the language used in each instance it becomes apparent that only the ones that defined Yahweh in specifically localized spatial terms were omitted: “stood before the Lord” (v. 9), “I will give him before you” (v. 11), “go out from before the presence of the Lord” (v. 14), “they brought him before the Lord” (v. 25), and “they left him there before the Lord” (2:11). All the rest consisted of formulas that could be understood more ambiguously and in line with traditional orthodoxy: “to pray before Yahweh” (v. 12; cf. 2 Sam 7:18; 1 Kgs 8:28), “to pour out the soul before Yahweh” (v. 15; cf. 1 Sam 7:6), “to worship before Yahweh” (v. 19; cf. Deut 26:10), “to appear to the presence of Yahweh” (v. 22; cf. 1 Sam 26:20; 2 Kgs 13:23).[60]

Literary Analysis

Once we restore ttyṣb lpny yhwh to its place after the adverbial clause and before wʿly hkhn…, it becomes clear that the phrase “after eating in Shiloh” is secondary to its context and breaks up the logical movement from “arising” to “standing before Yahweh.” We have already mentioned that the reference to Hannah having eaten at this point is out of place and there is similarly no need to explain that it occurred at Shiloh. The fact that such a difficult commentary has been placed where it is suggests that it may perform the function of revising the original text in some way, including omitting a reference to the bamahלשכה where the family was gathered and to which she later returns in LXX v. 18,[61] tendentiously clarifying the location of the sanctuary different from what it actually had been in the source document (i.e. Gibeon), and preemptively reinforcing the idea that when Hannah would go to stand before Yahweh she would be worshipping the singular and aniconic Yahweh of Hosts of Shiloh already introduced in v. 3.


The priest is introduced as ʿly hkhn “Eli the priest.” But as we will see later, this identification seems to be compositionally secondary. If the theory that the birth story of Samuel originally belonged to Saul is correct, and that the sanctuary of Shiloh, like Nob, is a literary stand-in for the sanctuary of Gibeon, then we can be confident that the priest’s name has been altered in the course of the construction of the narrative. As shown by 1 Sam 14:3; 21:1; 22:11, the priestly family attached to the sanctuary of Gibeon was the house of Ahitub, so the priest that Hannah encounters at the temple and receives a blessing from should therefore have belonged to that family. Among the priests explicitly named in the Samuel narrative, Ahitub or Ahijah/Ahimelech son of Ahitub are possible candidates. Because as an adult Saul is accompanied by Ahijah son of Ahitub in his wars against the Philistines (1 Sam 14:3), who we would also expect to be rather young, and because the child of the birth story seems to have had a special father-son relationship to the sanctuary priest (cf. 3:16), a relationship not in evidence in Saul’s interactions with Ahijah/Ahimelech, the elderly Ahitub may have been the original priest of the story whose early relationship to Saul began what would become an alliance between priestly and royal families. In addition, we will see later that the names of Eli’s sons are likely a pure invention of the Dtr author, which gives further support to understanding the character of Eli as a redactional construct.



The protasis of the conditional clause of Hannah’s vow contains a plus in the MT, “and not forget your maidservant,” compared to the shorter LXX, “and remember me and give your maidservant male seed.” Because 1) the MT version of the clause is repetitious, with three occurrences of Hannah describing herself as Yahweh’s maidservant, and 2) as a fixed word pair, the addition of “not forget” to “remember” could have occurred very easily (cf. Deut 8:18-19; 9:7; Isa 54:4), we should probably prefer the shorter LXX rendering.[62]


The LXX and 4QSama both contain an alternative longer reading in the apodosis of Hannah’s vow describing Samuel more specifically as a Nazirite. The LXX retroverts to wnttyw lpnyk nzyr ʿd ywm mwtw wyyn ws̆kr lʾ ys̆th wmwrh lʾ yʿlh ʿl rʾs̆h and 4QSama has been reconstructed to include many of the same elements, with the major difference being that yʿlh is replaced with yʿbr.[63] Scholars have long been divided over the originality of this reading, with many arguing strongly for understanding it as an interpretive amplification of the shorter MT.[64] The reasons generally cited in support of this assumption include: 1) the methodological principle that texts tend to expand over time, which would argue in favor of the MT as the earlier tradition; 2) the additional prohibition “to not drink wine or intoxicants” reflects dependence on Judg 13:4, 7 and Num 6, marking it as secondary; 3) Samuel is not otherwise represented as a Nazirite in the Samuel narrative, but is rather a child consecrated to sanctuary service; and 4) 4QSama provides evidence of a tendency among late Second Temple scribes to expand and develop upon the portrayal of Samuel as nazirite, with its substantial plus in 1:22: חייוימיכלעולםעדנזיר “a nazirite forever, all the days of his life.”

However, against these considerations we can mention, first, that because texts generally tend to expand over time is not a decisive argument for the MT against the longer LXX (and 4QSama). Another important scribal technique used in the construction and transmission of biblical narratives was the purposeful omission of text, as has been recently discussed and documented by Juha Pakkala.[65] We have already noted a few probable instances of textual omission in the MT tradition, and we will later have occasion to find several more examples in the Hannah pericope, indicating that the MT recension of Samuel may have an abbreviating character in certain respects. Second, it is doubtful whether the additional prohibition in the LXX “to not drink wine or intoxicants” is dependent on Num 6. There is nothing inherent about this phrase that would require such an interpretation; the language is rather stereotyped (cf. the fixed word pair ושכריין in 1 Sam 1:15; Deut 29:5; Lev 10:9; Isa 5:20; Prov 20:1). In view of the absence of other motifs and details from Numbers 6 in the LXX formulation of Hannah’s vow, we would better see its list of prohibitions as a unified whole reflecting the author’s particular conception of the institution of Nazirite service.[66] On the other hand, the intertextual link with the Samson narrative is much stronger and more obvious. The latter highlights the same prohibitions of “not drinking wine or intoxicants” and “no razor coming upon the head” and exhibits a precise correspondence in technical terminology (wmwrh lʾ yʿlh, “no razor will come upon” in Judg 13:5; 16:17 and 1 Sam 1:11 vs. wtʿr lʾ yʿbr, “and no razor will come over” in Num 6:5).

Third, the fact that the LXX version of the vow is literarily linked to the Samson narrative is not a compelling reason in itself to prefer the shorter MT, since as it stands the MT already manifests a close relationship with the description of Samson’s appointment to naziritehood in the book of Judges. As was mentioned above, the phrase wmwrh lʾ yʿlh, “no razor will come upon,” attested in both the MT and LXX of 1 Sam 1:11, is found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible only in Judg 13:5 and 16:17. This correspondence in usage is unlikely to be coincidental, seeing that 1) the Samuel story follows almost immediately upon the conclusion of the Samson narrative within a larger Dtr framework; 2) both narratives feature a barren woman that miraculously conceives, the motif of a mother not drinking wine (1 Sam 1:15), and a life-long dedication of the mother’s son; and 3) the figures of Samuel and Samson parallel in other respects, e.g. in their role as savior “judges” who deliver their people from the Philistines. Fourth, the literary-critical indications that the child of Hannah was not originally conceptualized as a nazirite and that this element is essentially secondary to his character is not directly relevant to deciding whether the MT or LXX reading of the vow is earlier/more primitive. Not only is a nazirite profile of Samuel still fairly evident in the MT as it stands, for the reasons mentioned above,[67] but it does not follow that because Samuel has been secondarily constructed as a nazirite that this portrayal could not have originated at a fairly early point in the development of the narrative. Finally, while 4QSama does reflect a so-called “midrashic” tendency in elaborating upon Samuel’s status as nazirite and in tying it more explicitly to the literary formulations of Pentateuchal Torah (most clearly in the substitution of yʿbr for yʿlh), we should not assume as a matter of course the same about the LXX in relation to the MT. Because text B expands upon text A does not mean that A is necessarily an expansion of shorter text C. Both the LXX and 4QSama have peculiar histories; each contain readings that at times are demonstrably earlier/more primitive than the MT. Thus the text-critical value of their variants needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

On closer examination, a number of factors suggest that the longer Nazirite reading is primitive and that the MT version of the vow is actually derivative of the rendering preserved in the LXX. First, the short MT formulation wnttyw lyhwh kl ymy ḥyyw wmwrh lʾ yʿlh ʿl rʾs̆h, “Then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life, and a razor will not touch his head” is literarily awkward and somewhat confusing. As recognized by McCarter, the sudden mention of the razor “is isolated and too abrupt.”[68] The reader is given no explicit information about the significance of this non-trimming of hair for the development of the narrative, even if the broader narrative context strongly suggests a connection with Samson’s nazirite status. Second, the 2nd person address to Yahweh in the LXX wnttyw lpnyk, “I will give him before you” is to be preferred over the 3rd person reference in the MT, wnttyw lyhwh, “I will give him to Yahweh.” This is not only because a direct address to deity fits the rhetorical situation better, but because the LXX formulation includes an allusion to Yahweh’s spatially localized “face,” which we found above to be conceptually earlier than the MT’s more conscientiously orthodox and aniconic portrayal of deity and which has been systematically omitted from the MT tradition of Samuel. MT’s lyhwh can thus be identified as a theological correction.[69]

Third, the LXX element ʿd ywm mwtw, “until the day of his death” is more likely to be the original definition of Samuel’s period of service than MT kl ymy ḥyyw, “all the days of his life.” The former is closely related to the description of Samson as “a nazirite of God from the womb” (Judg 13:5), since it chiastically reverses the temporal framework in which their lifelong service to deity is set, so that Samson is a nazirite from birth and Samuel a nazirite until death. In the wife of Monoah’s report to her husband in Judg 13:7 she adds the further clarification that he would be a nazirite “from the womb until the day of his death,” but this latter phrase is most likely a later addition, since the earlier form of Samson’s assignment to nazirite service is preserved in v. 5, and chap 16, which recounts Samson’s death among the Philistines, is a later appendix to the Samson narrative and was not originally the climax to the story.[70] Furthermore, the phrase “until the day of one’s death” as used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible has a somewhat ominous connotation (1 Sam 15:35; 2 Sam 6:23; 20:3; 2 Kgs 15:5; Jer 52:11), which would help explain why it was eventually removed from the Samuel narrative and inserted in the Samson narrative. Originally, its application to Samuel was simply to create a contrast between him and Samson, as similar savior figures (nazirites, lifelong servants of deity, judges who deliver Israel from the Philistines) but diametrically opposed in their loyalty to the standards of Yahweh.

On the other hand, MT’s kl ymy ḥyyw, “all the days of his life” is more plausible as an intentional revision of the LXX formulation than vice versa. The phrase has a more neutral or positive connotation, being used elsewhere in reference to Samuel himself (1 Sam 7:15) as well as Moses, David, and Solomon (Josh 4:14; 1 Kgs 4:21; 15:5). In addition, the emphasis on “all the days” instead of “the day” of Samuel’s death possibly ties the MT version of the vow more subtly to the priestly nazirite vow described in Num 6, where the unspecified period of a nazirite’s consecration of himself/herself to deity is referred to multiple times with the phrase “all the days” (Num 6:5, 6, 8).

Finally, the portrayal of Samuel explicitly as a nazirite fits with the substantial evidence that he was intentionally constructed as a literary counterpart to Samson, conforms with the general tendency of his character to attract a range of religious and political roles, including priest (1 Sam 7:9), prophet (1 Sam 3:20), man of God and seer (1 Sam 9:6-9), savior judge (1 Sam 7:13), and magistrate (1 Sam 7:15-17), and may have assisted the author in obscuring the actual religious practice underlying Hannah’s devotion of her son to Yahweh (see below).

Accepting the longer Nazirite reading of the LXX as more original, the question then arises, why did a scribe of the MT tradition remove those elements that more explicitly defined Samuel as nazirite, on top of those expressions identified above that were understandably objectionable for literary-ideological or religious reasons? What motivated him to omit a direct reference to Samuel as a nzyr and the prohibition against wine and intoxicants, when other elements indicative of a nazirite status were allowed to remain?

Presumably, the peculiar form of the MT version of the vow was a product of conflicting literary and ideological interests and reflects a concern to smooth out contradictions that had become increasingly conspicuous to the scribes responsible for preserving and transmitting the text during the late Second Temple period. One the one hand, subsequent narrative events complicate the representation of Samuel as a nazirite in various ways, including that Samuel is directly implicated in the death of Agag (1 Sam 15:33), and elsewhere participates in a celebratory meal with Saul (1 Sam 9:24), which surely involved the drinking of wine. Such episodes naturally raised questions about the accuracy of the characterization of Samuel as a full-fledged nazirite; and from a rigorous theological perspective, literary coherence and consistency required some kind of intervention in the text. But another imperative for the scribes responsible for transmitting the text during this period was to preserve as much of it as was possible and to scrupulously avoid wholesale rewriting and reorganization of the sacred tradition.[71] So in this instance a compromise was reached by removing only some elements of Samuel’s nazirite status in the MT so as to eliminate the more egregious tensions in the narrative. The explicit definition of Samuel as a nzyr was removed and so was the nazirite prohibition against drinking wine, but the promise that a razor would not come upon his head was allowed to remain. As a result, Samuel was shaped into something very similar to a nazirite as one dedicated to deity with untrimmed hair, but he was not a full nazirite and so was not under the same purity obligations.

Literary Analysis

Despite the value of the LXX for recovering an earlier stage of the textual tradition, the representation of Samuel as a full-fledged nazirite is likely secondary to the development of the earliest form of the Samuel narrative, as critical scholars have long recognized. This is evident from the fact that 1) Samuel’s Nazirite status plays no further role in the rest of the narrative, it is only mentioned here; 2) the language identifying Samuel as a nazirite could only have been applied in the process of constructing a trans-Judges-Samuel narrative, so as to create the literary parallel with Samson; 3) Samuel seems to have acted at times as though he were ignorant of nazirite purity requirements; 4) there is little evidence that life-long nazirism was ever practiced in Israel or later Judaism, it appears here rather as a literary motif;[72] 5) nazirism did not involve permanent dedication to a sanctuary;[73] and 6) as we will see below, Samuel was not the child originally dedicated in the narrative, but rather Saul, who most definitely was not a nazirite.

Once the secondary nazirite material is removed, several details in the narrative take on greater prominence and allow us to reconstruct the original meaning behind Hannah’s vow and dedication. These include: 1) the child born to Hannah is her firstborn; 2) her instinctive response to the promise of a son is to give him back to Yahweh as a permanent or at least long-term donation; and 3) the prominent use of the expression ntn l-. From these elements we can see that the vow to dedicate Samuel/Saul was likely a function of the longstanding cultural norm in ancient Israel that the firstborn male belonged to God, which required either that the child be handed over to deity or be redeemed. The norm has left abundant traces in the laws and narratives of the Hebrew Bible, where it was progressively regularized and reinterpreted/remythologized over time.[74] The relatively early Covenant Code, for example, states emphatically, “The firstborn of your sons you will give to me” (Ex 22:29), using the same formulation ntn l- found in the Hannah pericope.

Scholars have debated about how the donation of the firstborn was fulfilled in actual practice, with some proposing that child sacrifice may have had a much larger role. But while child sacrifice was definitely implicated as a possible outcome of the divine claim on the firstborn, as Moshe Weinfeld has argued, the act of donation does not require the performance of the sacrifice and in fact the language of ntn l- is better understood as denoting the transfer of the child into Yahweh’s possession, i.e. his sanctuary.[75] We have other evidence that closely connects firstborn sons to the Levites and priestly service (Num 3:11-13; 8:14-18) and one of the several origin stories for the tribe of Levi in the Pentateuch describes its members as those who “[did not regard their] father and mother” and “ignored their kin” (Deut 33:9). The Hannah pericope itself presupposes the custom that parents could donate their firstborn to live and serve among priests at a local sanctuary. Taking all this into account, we should probably assume that there were basically two ways to fulfill the obligation to deity with regard to the firstborn (aside from the very rare instance of child sacrifice). The first was that he could be donated to a deity’s temple, becoming servant and perhaps priest to the deity. This approach was for all intents and purposes a kind of sacrifice, relinquishing parental rights to the child, and was probably very unusual, considering that the Hannah pericope treats her vow and subsequent dedication as an exceptional event worthy of literary elaboration. The second was more the rule and required only that the firstborn be redeemed through a substitute payment offered to deity.[76]


In contrast to the MT, the LXX and 4QSama lack the name Hannah at the beginning of the clause. The MT plus is unnecessary (cf. the syntax of v. 10) and best explained as an “explicating expansion.”[77]



The LXX places the rebuke of Hannah in the mouth of a nameless “servant of Eli” instead of Eli himself. This plus is probably an interpretive addition that arose secondarily within the LXX tradition, because 1) the servant appears suddenly and is not involved in the continuation of the exchange between Hannah and Eli; 2) this identification of the speaker allows the redactor to tendentiously associate the rebuke with the servants of Eli criticized in the following chapter and thus soften its force with respect to Hannah.[78] This kind of adjustment correlates with the tendency described earlier of the LXX tradition to portray Hannah in a more positive light.


After Eli’s order to Hannah to put away the wine, the LXX has a plus in the form of an additional command, καὶ πορεύου ἐκ προσώπου κυρίου, “and come away from before Yahweh,” reflecting wlky mlpny yhwh. This plus is likely original to the narrative, since it 1) provides the rationale for why Eli is so concerned about Hannah’s supposed drunkenness in the first place and 2), as was discussed above, is one of several references to a spatially located “face” of Yahweh that have been removed from the MT tradition.[79]


As generally accepted, Hannah’s self-description in the LXX, γυνή, ᾗ σκληρὰ ἡμέρα, reflecting ʾs̆hqs̆t ywm, “hard of day woman,” is more primitive than the MT, ʾs̆hqs̆t rwḥ “a hard of spirit woman.” The MT expression fits the context poorly, since qs̆h as an adjective used to describe individuals (often in relation to a portion of the body) consistently carries a connotation of stubbornness or obstinacy (ʿrp, “neck” Deut 9:6, 13; lb, “heart” Ezk 3:7; pnm, “face” Ezk 2:4; see also Deut 2:30 for rwḥ, “spirit”).[80] By contrast, qs̆h in the LXX formulation modifies the day rather than the person and Job 30:25 shows that the idiom refers to individuals experiencing misfortune. Apparently, a scribe in the MT tradition found the expression ʾs̆hqs̆t ywm to be difficult or unfamiliar and so replaced ywm with rwḥ on analogy with mrt nps̆ in v. 10.



MT’s reading of the first clause is problematic: ʾl ttn ʾt ʾmtk lpny bt blyʿl, “do not set/give up your maidservant before the daughter of Belial.” As virtually all commentators have agreed, the context of the passage indicates that Hannah is requesting Eli to not regard her as a daughterof Belial. But the use of the preposition lpny in the expression ntn lpny actually muddles the expected sense, since it implies that the bt blyʿl is a separate identity from Hannah and not something to which she is being compared. As has been noted by Driver, there is no clear evidence that lpny can carry the force of a comparative.[81] On the other hand, the LXX reading μὴ δῷς τὴν δούλην σου εἰς θυγατέρα λοιμήν, reflecting ʾl ttn ʾt ʾmtk lbt blyʿl, “do not regard your maidservant as a daughter of Belial,” with a simple lamed marking the dative object, is a much better fit. Even though we have no precise Hebrew parallel for the use of ntn l- in the sense of “to regard,” the syntax of the construction is theoretically viable: NTN “to set” + “your maidservant” + l- “for” + “daughter of Belial.” As Hutzli has argued, the MT reading can be best explained as an attempt by a late scribe to soften the direct equation of Hannah with the daughter of Belial, which involved simply expanding l- into lpny.[82] In the late Second Temple period Belial is widely attested as another name for the Devil or Satan, whose mythology had developed into a powerful opponent of God and all that was good. At an earlier period, Belial was an epithet of Mot, the demonic ruler of the underworld and source of disease, chaos, and death, as shown by the interchange of the phrases bn-mwt “son of Mot” and ʾs̆-mwt “man of Mot” with bn- blyʿl “son of Belial” and ʾs̆-blyʿl “man of Belial” elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.[83]


The MT contains the plus wkʿsy in the phrase syḥy wkʿsy “my complaint and vexation” compared to the LXX. In this instance the longer reading is perhaps to be preferred, because 1) the second term functions to clarify the more ambiguous syḥy, which has a broader semantic range, and 2) the absence of wkʿsy from the LXX can be explained as a product of accidental haplography.[84]


The MT’s “I have spoken until now” is substituted in the LXX with ἐκτέτακα ἕως νῦν, “I have continued until now,” reflecting hʾrkty ʿd hnh. While the MT reading is conceivable, the LXX reading is to be preferred as the more difficult and rhetorically distinctive, as the only instance of ארך Hiphil used intransitively with a human subject.[85] As was aptly observed by Smith, the MT’s דברתי is “decidedly less forceful” than the LXX expression.[86] We have already noted a few examples in the MT where a scribe was unsatisfied or struggled with the terminology and syntax native to the older source document that stands behind 1:2-2:11* and therefore resorted to some minor updating.


The MT has s̆ʾltk “your request” and the LXX πᾶν αἴτημά σου, “your every request,” reflecting kl s̆ʾltk. The first is more appropriate to the specificity of the situation, while the broadening of the scope of the prayers that would be answered for Hannah is consistent with the LXX tendency to portray her as especially faithful and righteous (see 1:8).



Instead of MT’s wtʾkl “and she ate” the LXX contains a much longer variant, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ κατάλυμα αὐτῆς καὶ ἔφαγεν μετὰ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς αὐτῆς καὶ ἔπιεν, reflecting wtbʾ hls̆kth wtʾkl ʿm ʾys̆h wts̆t, “she entered the (bamah) hall and ate and drank with her husband.” Scholars have historically been divided over the variant’s text-critical value, with several older and more recent critics treating it as a secondary expansion. But if we assume as was argued earlier that the adverbial clause mentioning Hannah eating at Shiloh in v. 9 is secondary and disruptive to the narrative, then several considerations can be adduced in favor of understanding the longer reading as the more primitive/original and the MT as a product of redactional abbreviation.[87] First, the shorter MT reading “the woman went her way and ate” is entirely too abrupt, considering the emphasis placed on the sacrificial feast at the beginning of the narrative and the failure to fully resolve the issue of her fasting and disengagement from the festivities and from Elqanah (cf. vv. 3-8). By contrast the LXX provides the appropriate and even necessary denouement, with Hannah returning to eat with her beloved husband. Second, the LXX variant reflects a knowledge of the layout of a bamah complex, with sacrificial dining halls adjoining the area of the sanctuary that housed a deity or deities, which is more credibly regarded as an early element of the Samuel tradition than a later one. This understanding of a bamah occurs again in the Hebrew Bible only in 1 Sam 9, also belonging to an early strand of the Samuel narrative and which we have already discovered to share other motifs with the storyline of the Hannah pericope.

Third, the abbreviation of the line in the MT and the removal of the detail about Hannah entering the lis̆kah can be explained in line with the efforts of this textual tradition to eliminate elements that suggest Yahweh was materially housed at the sanctuary. As we have already discussed, the initial description of Hannah arising from the meal and moving to a place where she was in the immediate presence of deity has been progressively obscured in the textual tradition of the MT, first, by the removal perhaps of a reference to her leaving the lis̆kah and its replacement with a mention of the family’s eating at Shiloh, and then at a still later stage the omission of an explicit allusion to Hannah standing before Yahweh. Because information specifying Hannah’s location and movement among different areas of the bamah complex have been removed near the beginning of the episode of her praying in the sanctuary, it would only make sense that the same would have occurred at the end, when Hannah returns to the area where the sacrificial meal was being celebrated. We can only assume that the lis̆kah was inexplicably connected to the iconolatrous cultic practices that took place at the bamah and that the mention of it here carried unpleasant implications for a late Second Temple scribe.

Literary Analysis

With the restoration of the line from the LXX, it is possible to go one step further and suggest that the original version of the Hannah pericope lacked the clause “and the woman went on her way.” The expression fits awkwardly before the description of Hannah entering the lis̆kah, since it generally refers to travel of a longer distance, inappropriate for short walk next door (1 Sam 24:7; 26:25; 28:22; 30:2 etc.), and in the immediately following verse in the LXX we have another instance of this phrase: “and they did obeisance to Yahweh and went their way” (v. 19). This latter use of the expression, however, fits the context almost seamlessly. Because it is unlikely that two instances of this phrase would follow on so close to one another, the first is probably a secondary insertion inspired by v. 19, whose purpose was to imply distance between the sanctuary of Shiloh and the lis̆kah so that the two are seen as standing apart from one another, a reorganization that may have been further abetted by the addition of a locative he to lis̆kah, “she came toward the lis̆kah.” The role of the lis̆kah in the narrative and its connection to the bamah was thus a matter of great interest to the scribes who shaped and transmitted the text, its progressive obscuring being accomplished in several stages. For the MT a further stage in this process that may have been merely literary was rectifying the double occurrence of the expression “went on one’s way” by omitting the second and replacing it with wys̆bw “and they returned.”


MT has wpnyh lʾ hyw lh ʿwd, translated literally, “her face was to her no longer,” which is replaced in the LXX with καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτῆς οὐ συνέπεσεν ἔτι, reflecting wpnyh lʾ nplw ʿwd, “and her face was no longer fallen.” The MT version of the clause is semantically and syntactically anomalous, even if the general sense that Hannah’s face was no longer sad is clear from the context. As accepted by most scholars, the more difficult MT reading is to be preferred,[88] since 1) it is difficult to see how the fairly conventional LXX reading could have led to the more unusual MT; 2) the LXX formulation has an exact parallel in Gen 4:5, and as was seen earlier, the Hebrew tradition standing behind the LXX shows a stronger tendency to revise expressions with language borrowed from elsewhere in the biblical canon (cf. v. 8); and 3) pnym in the above MT expression may be understood as idiomatic for a particularly expressive (unhappy) face, as suggested by Job 9:27.



As was already mentioned above, the LXX clause καὶ πορεύονται τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτῶν, reflecting wylkw ldrkm, “and they went on their way,” is likely original to the narrative, as the inspiration behind the decision to describe Hannah “taking to the road” after praying in the temple in v. 18. The expression fits the context in v. 19 much better, where Hannah and Elqanah do in fact travel some distance to return home. In addition, the line is narratively more appropriate and elegant as a conclusion to the events that occurred at the sanctuary, whereas the MT alternative wys̆bw points the reader more abruptly toward the destination of the travelers.

In line with this, the continuation in the LXX wybʾ ʾlqnh ʾl bytw hrmtm wydʿ ʾt ḥnh, “and Elqanah entered his house at Ramathaim and knew Hannah,” which is replaced in the MT with wybʾw ʾl bytm hrmth wydʿ ʾlqnh ʾt ḥnh, can also be identified as the earlier form. In the MT there is entirely too much emphasis on the return journey, with two verbs describing how they “returned” and “came” toward the house at Ramah, and Ramah itself marked with the locative he. Then suddenly Elqanah has intercourse with his wife Hannah. By contrast, in the LXX the emphasis is not on the trip home but rather on what follows. Hannah and Elqanah leave the sanctuary and then immediately the plot moves forward with regard to the child that Hannah had asked from Yahweh. In language highly evocative of a sexual encounter, the narrative describes Elqanah entering his house at Ramathaim and enjoying his marital rights as master of the household: “entered”, a word with well-known sexual overtones; “his house,” the domestic sphere associated with the female that belongs to him; “and knew,” another word for sex; “his wife Hannah.” Appropriate for the literary setting, Elqanah is portrayed as the subjective actor and Hannah the receptive partner. Each word in the line is thus intentional and meaningful, contributing to a single integrated scene. Unlike the MT, the LXX report about Elqanah “entering the house” is entirely separate from the preceding report about Elqanah and Hannah departing from the sanctuary, treating the family as though they were already at home. Elqanah “enters” his house not as part of the conclusion of the preceding trip, but as a signal for the sexual encounter that soon occurs. Considering the larger thematic interests of the narrative, the LXX’s stronger sexual emphasis and gradual buildup toward a sexual encounter is far more plausible as the primitive reading than the non-sexualized and pedestrian MT, “they came to their house.”

The motive for the change in the MT is unclear, but it may have been merely literary, to smooth out the variation in personal subjects after the removal of “they went on their way” and to clarify that both Hannah and Elqanah returned to the house and not just Elqanah.


Beginning with v. 19, the MT and the LXX consistently diverge over the location of Elqanah and Samuel’s hometown. Whereas the MT places it in Ramah (1:19; 2:11; 7:16-17; 8:4: 15:34; 16:13; 19:18; 25:1; 28:3), the LXX identifies it as Ramathaim (1:19; 2:11; 7:17; 8:4; 15:34; 16:13; 19:18, 22; 25:1; 28:3). A further oddity is that in the MT Ramah is repeatedly suffixed with the locative -ah, such that Ramah in Hebrew looks suspiciously similar to Ramathaim: הרמתה/הרמתים (1:19; 2:11; 7:17; 8:4; 15:34; 16:13; 19:18; the only exceptions are 25:1 and 28:3).[89]

On closer inspection, MT Ramah is likely a secondary development to LXX Ramathaim: 1) 1 Sam 1:1 and 9:5 offer the only geographical indicators in the narrative for the location of Samuel’s home, and both place it in the hill country of Ephraim in the land of Zuph; 2) as the MT stands, Samuel’s home shifts abruptly from Ramathaim in the hill country of Ephraim in 1:1 to Ramah in Benjamin in 1:19; 2:11; 7:17; 8:4 and then back again to the hill country of Ephraim in 9:5; 3) Shiloh is more understandable as an object of family pilgrimage from the vicinity of southern Ephraim, whereas Ramah is further away and within the territory of Benjamin; 4) Samuel’s circuit among the northern locales of Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah described in 1 Sam 7:17 is more amenable to a homebase in the north than Benjamite Ramah. Given that the identification of Samuel’s hometown as Ramah in the MT is largely consistent throughout and yet results in clear tensions with significant points of narrative content, we can only assume that at some point a scribe systematically altered Ramathaim to Ramah, perhaps because of a desire to situate Samuel’s home within the boundaries of Judah instead of Ephraim. In doing so, the scribe left literary-critical traces of the older composition that he worked from: 1) Ramathaim was changed to the locative form of Ramah so as to facilitate minimal modification of the consonantal text; and 2) the first mention of Ramathaim in 1:1 was left unchanged, perhaps because of the constraining influence of the geographical information provided there.

For this particular reference to the hometown of Samuel’s parents in v. 19 it is possible to go back further into the compositional history of the text. As we will see below, the child born to Hannah is more likely to have been Saul in the original narrative, which means that his parents must have lived near Zela south of Gibeon. Because Ramathaim is a constituent element of the literary layer that identifies Hannah’s child as Samuel, we can be confident that Ramathaim represents a secondary development to the tradition of 1:2-2:11a*.



The MT and LXX preserve differing word orders for the clause reporting Hannah’s conception and birth. The MT reading wyhy ltqwpt hymym wthr ḥnh wtld bn, “and it was in the turn of days Hannah conceived and bore a son,” places the time complement wyhy ltqwpt hymym in initial position, after which is reported conception and birth in a single sequence, whereas the LXX reading καὶ συνέλαβεν. καὶ ἐγενήθη τῷ καιρῷ τῶν ἡμερῶν καὶ ἔτεκεν υἱόν, reflecting wthr wyhy ltqwpt hymym wtld bn, “she conceived and it was in the turn of days that she bore a son,” separates conception from birth by placing it before the same complement. As with other significant divergences between the MT and LXX, several factors lend support to the LXX as the more primitive reading. First, the MT word order is literarily awkward. As noted by Frolov, “Hannah has an intercourse with Elqanah, and Yahweh ‘remembers’ her, but the actual conception does not take place until somewhat later. In other words, the received MT appears to present Yahweh’s intervention as a result of the intercourse rather than a cause of conception.”[90] We would rather expect the report of conception to follow immediately upon the statement of Yahweh’s remembering Hannah, as in the LXX.

Second, the expression ltqwpt hymym is most naturally interpreted as the general passage of time required to complete the pregnancy, and as such would fit better as a narrative bridge between conception and birth. As noted by Hutzli, the substantive tqwph is likely derived from the hypothetical root QWP, “to go around, in cycle.” The basic meaning of the expression ltqwpt hymym would therefore have in view the cycle/circuit of the year in an inclusive sense, an assumption that finds further support in the use of the term tqwph in Ps 19:7 to refer to the circuit of the sun.[91] Some have argued based on analogy with the phrase tqwpt hs̆nh found in Ex 34:22 and 2 Chron 24:23 and the understanding of hymym similar to zbḥ hymym elsewhere in the Hannah pericope that the expression refers to a specific point in time, i.e., the coming round of the year identical to the time of sacrifice mentioned in the next verse (v. 21). But the formulation tqwpt hs̆nh is of questionable relevance to understanding the meaning of tqwpt hymym in the Samuel narrative, considering that it appears only in late texts and is exchanged with ṣ͕ʾt hs̆nh “close of the year” in the Covenant Code. While both tqwpt hymym and tqwpt hs̆nh refer to the circuit of the year and thus presuppose a time of return, at an earlier period tqwpt hymym need not have designated a specific point in the year (cf. Ps 19:7) and indeed tqwpt hs̆nh could be explained as a specification of the language for the yearly circuit to a particular day. Furthermore, not only would the mention of a specific time at which someone was born be highly unusual in biblical narrative, but the narrative context suggests that Hannah’s child was born sometime between the two annual pilgrimages. When Elqanah returns to Shiloh in v. 21, the child is already born and the possibility is considered that he could be brought up for dedication.[92]

Finally, the MT reading follows the widespread pattern in the Hebrew Bible of reporting conception and birth together in the formula ותלד פלוניותהר, so it would be much easier to understand the MT developing from the more unusual LXX in the interest of conforming to the general pattern than the LXX drastically modifying the MT.[93]


The child born to Hannah is named Samuel in the present form of the Samuel narrative, but as commonly recognized the etymology given for the name and extensive wordplay on the root שאל in the surrounding context is much more suitable as a name-etiology for Saul than Samuel. Eli’s response to Hannah’s fervent petitioning is, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition (s̆eʾelatek) you have made (s̆aʾalt) to him” (v. 17). After the boy is born Hannah names him Samuel and explains the derivation of the name on the basis of her earlier petition, “for she said, ‘I have asked him (s̆eʾltiw) of Yahweh” (v. 20). Finally, upon bringing him to the temple for dedication, Hannah explains, “for this child I prayed; and Yahweh has granted me the petition (s̆eʾelati) that I made to him (s̆aʾalti). Therefore I loan him (his̆ʾiltihu) to Yahweh; as long as he lives, he is lent (s̆aʾul) to Yahweh” (vv. 27-28). All of this wordplay arises naturally in the course of the story, involving nominal, verbal, and participle forms and different stem patterns, indicating that it belongs to the basic substratum of the narrative and plays a crucial role in tying its various episodes together.

Because Saul fits so well as the one “requested” by Hannah and because of the strong evocation of his name throughout the narrative, scholars have long suspected that the birth story was originally intended for Saul and that at some point it was secondarily applied to Samuel, possibly in order to give him greater prominence vis-à-vis the progressive downgrading and diminishment of Saul in the tradition.[94] First proposed around the turn of the 19th century, the theory was subsequently taken up and developed by others, eventually becoming widely accepted among biblical scholars as a viable explanation for the peculiar set of details and tensions encountered in the narrative.

Yet in recent years the adapted birth story theory has met with increasing skepticism among historical and literary critics,[95] with many arguing that 1) the inaccurate etymology given for Samuel’s name is not by itself a compelling reason to assume that the birth story originally belonged to Saul, since there are many other instances in biblical narrative of names not precisely corresponding to their stated derivation. 2) The emphasis on the root s̆ʾl can be understood to perform a literary function within the broader Samuel narrative, such as alluding to the later introduction of kingship and contrasting Hannah’s pious “asking” for a child here with the people’s “asking” for a king there. 3) There is nothing obvious in the narrative that would lead the reader to identify the child as a future military deliverer along the lines of Saul; rather the storyline emphasizes the child’s sacral status as one dedicated to a sanctuary. 4) The once prevalent assumption that nazirite service was closely connected with the institution of holy war is now seen as faulty; the child’s nazirite dedication does not tie him to the warrior Saul, who in any case is not a nazirite, but rather is more appropriate for the prophet-priest Samuel. 5) Later in the narrative about Saul there is no mention of any earlier upbringing in a sanctuary or a connection with Shiloh.

Some of these arguments are more convincing than others. First, with regard to 1 and 2, there can be little doubt that as the narrative stands the etymology of Samuel’s name and wordplay on the root שאל were intended to be understood in this manner, i.e. they do function in their present context adequately and meaningfully. Scribal wordplay was a central feature of biblical name giving, so the fact that Samuel’s name was phonetically close to the root שאל may have been seen as sufficient to make it work in the present context, especially if we follow McCarter and assume that Samuel is being explained as if it were s̆emeʾel, “he who is from God,” parallel to ky myhwh s̆ʾltyw, “for from Yahweh I have requested him.”[96] Furthermore, in the present form of the Samuel narrative the repetition of the language of “asking” in the Hannah pericope is surely to be connected with the similar repetition later in relation to the inauguration of kingship under Saul (1 Sam 8:10; 12:13, 17, 19). The first “asking” results in the birth of a prophet of Moses-like stature who leads Israel to repentance and promotes their security from foreign enemies, whereas the second results in the introduction of kingship that will later have disastrous consequences for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. However, because the name Samuel and the associated wordplay on שאל can be read as meaningful in their present context is not a sufficient basis to assume that the narrative originated in this way.

When we examine instances in the Hebrew Bible where names are given a scribal linguistic explanation, we find that while etymological accuracy is unusual and midrashic paranomasia more the norm, the criteria that would allow an explanation to function for a particular name was still fairly narrow, requiring that it make sense at a general orthographic and morphological level. Taken as a whole, the names of biblical persons and their associated etymologies fall into one of three categories: 1) The first is the largest and consists of names that phonetically and structurally correspond to their stated explanation, which is to say, the same basic consonants and morphological units present in the names are also found in the etymology, even if the interpretation is technically inaccurate on philological grounds. These names include Seth (Gen 4:25), Sarah (17:15), Ishmael (16:11, 15), Isaac (21:3-6), Jacob (27:36), Simeon (29:33), Levi (29:34), Judah (29:35), Dan (30:6), Naphtali (30:8), Gad (30:11), Asher (30:13), Issachar (30:18), Zebulon (30:20), Joseph (30:23-24), Manasseh (41:51), Moses (Ex 2:10), Eliezer (18:4), Jerubbaal (Judg 6:32), Nabal (1 Sam 25:25). 2) In the second category the correspondence between names and their etymological explanations is less exact or only partial, largely because of the difficult nature of the names themselves and the inability to explain them in terms of known Hebrew (Cain 4:1; Abraham 17:5; and Ephraim 41:52), because the meaning was apparent in context and unnecessary to explain in full (Reuben 29:32; Gershom 2:22; 18:3), or because of other literary concerns (Benjamin 35:18). 3) The last includes names that do not have any etymological link to their explanations, but rather are based on a semantic correspondence or are a product of other ideological/literary concerns (Eve 3:20; Noah, 5:29; Esau 25:25; and Jedidyah 2 Sam 12:24-25).

From this we can see that the relationship between names and their scribal etymologies actually tended to be quite close and that for a creative derivation to succeed it needed to account for the name and its constituent elements as fully as possible, unless circumstances intervened allowing for greater divergence or because the sense of a non-etymological explanation was preferable for the context.

Turning back to the name Samuel, it now becomes clear that the explanation of the name by means of the root שאל stands apart from known examples of biblical name etymologies, pointing toward its artificial nature. Unlike the majority of the examples mentioned above, the explanation shows no conscious effort to interpret the basic sequence of consonants contained in שמואל directly in the verbal etymology. שאל and שמואל do not correspond phonetically and structurally, and there is no obvious justification from the immediate context for choosing to explain Samuel from the root שאל. Furthermore, we saw above that partial etymologies tended to occur because of the difficult or non-Hebraic nature of the names themselves, as with Cain or Abraham.[97] But this situation does not obtain in the case of Samuel, which is straightforwardly identified as consisting of the elements s̆em and ʾel (either “the name of El” or “the Name is god”).

An additional aspect of the Samuel name etiology that differentiates it from other name etiologies is the dense and multifarious wordplay on the root שאל in the surrounding context. Although a few other scribal explanations feature supplementary wordplay beyond the etymology itself (cf. Zebulon 30:20; Joseph 30:23-24), none show the kind of elaborate and repeated allusion to a single root seen in the Hannah pericope. In the short space of 11 verses there are seven occurrences of the root שאל and in each case the wordplay is used in reference to the child of Hannah. This repetition is strong evidence for the original significance of the root שאל to the birth etiology contained in 1 Sam 1, whereas the wordplay on the same root that appears later in the Samuel narrative is concerned only with the introduction of kingship and therefore belongs to a different literary strand.

Second, with regard to objections 3 and 4, it is indeed the case that at first glance the child born to Hannah and dedicated to a sanctuary seems far removed from the Saul encountered later in the Samuel narrative, since here the emphasis falls on the miraculous and sacral character of the child and a nazirite dedication is not easily connected to Saul. However, as we saw earlier, the nazirite dedication is most likely a secondary element to the narrative; originally the child would have been only dedicated to sanctuary service. The nazirite motif therefore has little bearing on recovering the early tradition history of the text, contrary to the thinking of earlier scholarship. Furthermore, the sacral consecration of Hannah’s child for sanctuary service is not by itself incompatible with an interpretation of the figure as Saul, if we assume that the dedication was temporary (see below). As we will see later, a childhood spent in the service of deity agrees with other aspects of the earliest Saul tradition, which at various points presents Saul as a priestly-prophetic character. In addition, we have comparative evidence that sanctuary dedication was a relatively common practice in the ancient Near East[98] and even that the motif was used in narratives about royal and military figures. In the Apology of Hattus̆ili III from the 13th century Hattus̆ili describes how his father in response to a dream donated him to the Hittite Ishtar to serve as priest during childhood, after which he became an army commander and governor. The close relationship developed with the goddess as a child then became the basis for his various actions and eventual usurpation of the throne. Still later he reports that he dedicated his own son to Ishtar.[99]

Finally, the lack of any reference to Saul’s sanctuary upbringing and connection to Shiloh later in the Saul story is not to be unexpected. In the current form of the Samuel narrative, the traditions about Saul seem to have been an object of considerable literary interest; they show indications of having been redactionally shaped to accentuate and magnify his moral and religious failings as a foil to both Samuel and David. So it is understandable why a tradition that portrays Saul in such a positive light as a chosen child from birth would have been rejected and transposed to a figure like Samuel. It is important to keep in mind that the Samuel narrative as we have it arose as an intentional literary and ideological product; even though the scribes responsible for the narrative took up earlier sources and deployed them in various and sometimes problematic ways, their interest and objective was nevertheless to avoid tensions and contradictions as much as possible. If the scribal redactor was capable of transposing a birth story from Saul to Samuel, for which he constructed an entirely new genealogy, then he was surely sufficiently competent to ensure that no competing claims between Samuel and Saul to having been raised in a sanctuary persisted in the narrative.

With regard to Shiloh, we have already found reason to be skeptical that this identification of the sanctuary is original to the narrative, since it lies so far to the north outside of Benjamin, there is an overly strong emphasis on Shiloh in the narrative as the location of Yahweh’s acceptable cult, and it coheres with the late Hexateuchal/“Dtr” thematic specifying Shiloh as a central sanctuary for the twelve tribes from the time of Joshua (Josh 18:1; 19:51; 22:12; Judg 18:31; 21:12.).[100] In addition, Shiloh plays no further role in the narrative after Samuel comes of age, the Philistines capture the ark, and Eli dies. There is no report of it having been destroyed in the course of the war and when the ark is returned it is unexpectedly brought to the Gibeonite city Kiriath Jearim and a new priesthood inducted (1 Sam 7:1), with no explanation for why Shiloh is suddenly forgotten as the ark’s rightful home and venerated cultic center for the Israelite tribes. It is almost as if once Shiloh completes its role as the setting for Samuel’s upbringing and the location of the ark, it is no longer of any consequence to the narrator.

From a purely archaeological perspective, there is good reason to doubt that Shiloh ever served as a significant Israelite cult site. After surveying the material evidence, Finklestein states, “Archaeology has shown that Shiloh was abandoned after its destruction in the Iron I…. There is no significant settlement there in the Iron II and Persian periods. Remains dating to these periods are meager and of no special importance; they reveal no sign of a cult place or destruction by fire. It is impossible, therefore, to read the Shiloh sanctuary tradition against an Iron II or later background.”[101] From this Finkelstein concludes that the Hebrew Bible preserves vague memories or traditions of an early devastated cult place at Shiloh that were well known in the late Judahite monarchy. But such a preservation of vague memory over half a millennia from northern Israel is doubtful, especially considering that no destruction of Shiloh is ever actually reported in biblical narrative and the tradition/concept of Shiloh as an important cult place during the premonarchic period is confined exclusively to late textual layers (Joshua, Judges, Samuel) or texts (Jeremiah). A more plausible scenario is that these various references are closely related to one another and that Shiloh served a literary-symbolic function for the biblical authors, as a place deserted in their time but because of its remains could be constructed as an early instance of acceptable centralized cult and temporary home for the ark of Yahweh.

If we assume that the narrative originally dealt with Saul, then several factors combine to indicate that the positioning of the sanctuary in Shiloh may have occurred as part of the revalorization of the birth story and construction of the figure of Samuel, in order to obscure the earlier identity of the sanctuary. So just as Saul became Samuel, the sanctuary of Saul’s childhood dedication was transferred to somewhere else. The first clue pointing in this direction is that the only major sanctuary near Saul’s home in Benjamin capable of supporting multiple priests and auxiliary servants is Gibeon, which lay only a few kilometers from Zela, Saul’s ancestral estate (2 Samuel 21:13). Biblical narrative depicts Gibeon as having been a chief city of ancient Palestine and site of one of the largest sanctuaries of the central highlands. Josh 10:2 obliquely compares Gibeon to “one of the royal cities” and 1 Kgs 3:4 acknowledges that during Solomon’s time the principle bamah of the region was located there or nearby. Archaeological investigation lends further support to this picture, showing Gibeon to have been a political, agricultural, and economic hub of the region, controlling the major western route from the Philistian plain to the central highlands and thus providing an ideal location for a major sanctuary connected to the developing local political structure.[102]

Second, a variety of biblical and extra-biblical evidence suggests that Saul was closely linked to Gibeon. This evidence includes the fact that 1) the Chronicler explicitly presents Saul as having Gibeonite ancestry (1 Chron 8:29-33; 9:35-40); 2) both Saulide and Gibeonite names strongly overlap with Edom and the south, implying a common ethnic affiliation;[103] and 3) the clan name Ner, featured prominently in connection to Saul in both the Samuel narrative and Chronicles, has been recovered through archaeological investigation from the vicinity of Gibeon.[104]

Third, the importance of Gibeon and its relationship to Saul seems to have been intentionally obscured in the Samuel narrative.[105] 1) The place of Saul’s origin has been omitted from his genealogy in 9:1, in contrast to the comparable genealogy of Samuel in 1 Sam 1:1. 2) There are a variety of references to a gibeah or “hill” associated with Saul, including Gibeah of Elohim (10:5), Gibeah of Benjamin (13:2, 15; 14:16), Gibeah of Saul (11:4; 15:34), and simple Gibeah (10:10, 26; 14:2; 23:19; 26:1), but never is the relationship among these various “hills” clarified for the reader and throughout the narrative there is a conspicuous lack of any mention of Gibeon. 3) The Gibeah of Elohim (“Hill of God”) identified with the general region of Saul’s home in 1 Sam 10:5, 10 and also said to be the location of a Philistine garrison makes much better sense interpreted as Gibeon, not only because of the presence of a major sanctuary there (cf. 2 Sam 21:6; 1 Kgs 3:4), but because Gibeon is much closer to Philistine territory and would be an appropriate access point from which to assert control over the Benjamite plateau (cf. LXX 2 Sam 5:25). 4) The account of Saul’s journey to seek after his father’s donkeys strangely omits any specifying information about his point of origin and point of return. The itinerary of the return itself (10:2-5) coheres well with a destination west of the north south Jerusalem road toward Gibeon,[106] but the description of this leg of the journey has unfortunately been abbreviated from the narrative (cf. 1 Sam 10:9).

Fourth, the sanctuary at Nob appears to be another instance where the sanctuary of Gibeon has been transposed somewhere else and given an alternate name. Depicted in context as the central sanctuary of the Saulide kingdom, Nob is alleged to have housed a family of priests elsewhere known to have traveled in Saul’s royal entourage (1 Sam 14:3), was the sacred repository for cult items belonging to the national deity Yahweh, such as the Bread of the Presence and sword of Goliath (1 Sam 21:6, 9), and is implied to be the place where individuals living within Saul’s capital worshipped and sought for divine oracles (cf. 1 Sam 21:7; 22:10, 15). But as has long been recognized, the identification of the sanctuary as Nob is problematic, since the Nob near Jerusalem is far from the political and territorial center of Benjamin, was not a major city, and is not otherwise known to have had a sanctuary supporting a host of priests. Most likely, the reference to Nob is again an attempt to obscure the original location of Saul’s capital at Gibeon and its associated royal sanctuary, perhaps at Nebi Samwil.[107] This assumption fits the profile of the sanctuary perfectly, whose relocation to Nob can be explained by the fact that the priestly family of Ahitub had its roots in Anathoth (cf. 1 Kgs 2:26), thus allowing the author to portray Saul taking vengeance against this “city of priests” (1 Sam 22:19), and because Nob itself may mean “hill,” parallel to Gibeah/Gibeon.

In addition, this understanding of Nob would then shed light on the strange and detached episode of 2 Sam 21 that claims bloodguilt was on Saul and his house for attempting to exterminate the Gibeonites, the expiation of which required David to put seven of Saul’s sons to death “before Yahweh at Gibeon on the mountain of Yahweh” (2 Sam 21:6). Such a massacre of Gibeonites is not elsewhere reported in the main narrative concurrent with Saul’s life, only in a clear and belated redactional insertion found in the same chapter that attempts to read the event in light of Josh 9 (2 Sam 21:2). Because the massacre of the priests of Nob is the only massacre attributed to Saul during his lifetime, at an earlier stage of the tradition the bloodguilt assigned to Saul likely stemmed from his rash execution of priests at the sanctuary of Gibeon for their support of David.

Fifth, in the present form of the Samuel narrative the priesthood of Shiloh is redactionally linked to the priesthood of Nob, thus underscoring the close relationship between the two sanctuaries. Ahijah son of Ahitub has been indirectly inserted into the Shiloh priestly line by claiming that he is the “brother of Ichabod, son of Phinehas, son of Eli the priest of Yahweh in Shiloh” (1 Sam 14:3). This genealogical information is clearly secondary and plays no immediate function in the narrative context, while contradicting the claim made later that the ancestral estate of the family of Ahitub was in Anathoth (1 Kgs 2:26).

Finally, the ark of Yahweh has clear Gibeonite and Saulide associations: 1) After the Philistines return the ark, the people of Beth Shemesh request the people of Kirath-jearim to retrieve it, as though its natural home were in Benjamin in a Gibeonite city. 2) The ark is then brought to the house of Abinadab on the gibeah “hill,” thus evoking the language of Gibeon in the place where the ark is temporarily stored. 3) David’s retrieval of the ark occurs only after his defeat of the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer (LXX 2 Reigns 5:25). 4) Because David is afraid of the ark’s volatile character, for a time he leaves it in the care of one Obed Edom the Gittite. As Blenkinsopp has noted, this Obed Edom is unlikely to be a Philistine, but rather has a Gibeonite affiliation through 2 Sam 4:3 and the Edomite association.[108] 5) The ark is associated with the priestly family of Ahitub and thus indirectly with the sanctuary of Nob (1 Sam 14:18; 1 Kgs 2:26). 6) When the ark is brought into Jerusalem, David immediately has an exchange with Michal the daughter of Saul underscoring the decline and ruin of Saul’s dynasty (2 Sam 6:20-23). 7) The absence of reference to the ark during much of 1 Samuel correlates with the absence of reference to Gibeon.[109] 8) After returning from sacrificing at the high place in Gibeon Solomon’s first act is to stand before the ark of Yahweh (1 Kgs 3:15).

From these various factors we can conclude that the identification of the sanctuary in 1 Sam 1 as Shiloh was part of a large-scale redactional/compositional effort to obscure the important role that Gibeon had played in the early religious and literary history of Judah. In the early source underlying the present form of the Samuel narrative the ark likely had been stationed in the official Saulide sanctuary at Gibeon as the receptacle for Yahweh’s cult statue, where it was occasionally used in campaigns against the Philistines. Later in the narrative, it can be assumed, once David had cemented his sovereignty over the northern tribes he retrieved the ark from its former home and brought it to Jerusalem as a symbol of his rule over greater-Israel. Of course, this understanding of Gibeon as the predecessor for the Jerusalemite cult can only be read in between the lines, as the scribes responsible for the Samuel narrative have been careful to eliminate all direct references to Gibeon as the political and religious capital of the Saulide kingdom. But the reconstruction fits a wide array of indirect evidence and explains various silences and tensions. As one of the most significant political centers neighboring Jerusalem, Gibeon’s affairs had long been closely intertwined with those of the former, a condition reflected in the Hexateuchal story about a covenant relationship existing between Gibeon and Israel from the period of settlement (Josh 9-10). Furthermore, the memory of Gibeon as the origin of Yahweh’s cult in Judah was kept alive among some biblical tradents, as shown by the Chronicler’s portrayal of Gibeon as the place for God’s tent of meeting (to which David brought up the ark from Kiriath-jearim?), where Solomon is implied to have received the inaugural revelation for the building of the Jerusalem temple (2 Chron 1:2-2:1). Even the Dtr narrative, because of its very emphasis on the ark of Yahweh as a fixture of the Jerusalem temple apart from Gibeon (1 Kgs 3:15), reflects knowledge of the earlier understanding.

Returning to the question of the adapted birth story of 1:2-2:11*, if we accept that the objections that have generally lodged against the theory fail to convince, then a number of other considerations provide further contextual support for assuming that the story originally belonged to Saul. First, some parts of the present form of the Samuel narrative suggest that Saul would have fit well into the chosen child theme of Hannah’s miraculous birth: 1) At least initially Saul turns out to be a heroic figure who delivers his people from foreign oppression (1 Sam 11:5-11; 13:2-4).[110] 2) He is regarded in the tradition as something of a priestly-prophetic figure, who partakes of priestly offerings (1 Sam 9:24; 10:4) and experiences charismatic spirit possession (1 Sam 10:9-13), which accords well with a childhood dedication to serve in a local sanctuary and, if 3:2-18 was originally a continuation to the same story, a remarkable experience hearing deity speak to him there. 3) Saul’s rapid ascent to royal honor and then inexorable fall before David corresponds with Hannah’s song about reversals of fortune and fate (1 Sam 2:4-8).

By contrast, the prophet Samuel as depicted in the rest of 1 Samuel is poorly suited to the chosen-child theme. Contrary to other central figures of the core Samuel narrative, Samuel is not always the main character of his story; no sooner than we are introduced to him, the narrative moves into a discussion of the sins of the house of Eli and then an extended treatment of the vicissitudes and travels of the ark of Yahweh in Philistine lands. In fact, as the narrative progresses Samuel is increasingly displaced by a focus on Saul and David independent of any relation to Samuel. Furthermore, Samuel is not a heroic individual, as his miraculous birth and narrative setting in a time of foreign oppression would lead us to expect; rather he is a prophet, priest, and judge, who more than anything teaches Yahweh’s will to the people. In the only battle where he functions something like a savior judge, Samuel delivers Israel by offering sacrifice and interceding to Yahweh on their behalf (7:7-14).

Second, the literary construction of Samuel is closely implicated in the literary construction of Saul. As noted by McCarter, the genealogy of Saul in 1 Sam 9:1 is a kind of literary doublet to Samuel’s genealogy in 1 Sam 1:1, both introducing a chosen child who would become a leader/judge that would deliver Israel from the Philistines.[111] The major difference between the two introductions is that the Samuel genealogy segues into an authentic birth narrative and account of events from the early childhood of the boy (1:2-2:11; 3:2-18), which then transitions in summary form to adulthood and Samuel’s call to prophethood (1 Sam 3:19-21), whereas the Saul genealogy completely omits any reference to birth and early childhood and moves directly to his later youth (1 Sam 9:3-10:16), which is developed in narrative form and in far greater detail. Considering the stage of childhood focused on in each case, it is as if the early and later stages of a single continuous childhood have been broken up and separated into two distinct narratives.

Third, as we will see later, literary-critical considerations favor separating the story about Hannah’s miraculous birth in 1 Sam 1:2-2:11* as compositionally distinct from the material about Samuel the prophet-judge in 2:11, 18-21, 26; 3:1, 19-21; 4:1; 7:3-8:22, which casts further doubt on the originality of the Samuel identification of Hannah’s chosen child. In addition, the Samuel strand of material in chs. 2-8 is on the whole of a redactional character; it frames and bridges other text and adapts older material in order to construct a story about Samuel supplanting Eli as prophet-judge in Israel, e.g. the notes about Samuel that frame the house of Eli material in 1 Sam 2:11, 18-21, 26 and the revelation in the sanctuary story in 3:1, 19-20, and the reports that bridge to the ark narrative in 3:19-4:1 and the Saul narrative in 7:3-8:22. By its very nature the Samuel strand is secondary to the birth story, lending greater plausibility to a secondary identification of Hannah’s child as Samuel.

Finally, the figure of Samuel himself seems to have been a late addition to the Samuel narrative complex. As is well known, the consensus of scholarship is that the core narratives about Saul and David were originally independent of the Dtr material describing Israel’s conquest and early settlement in the land (Josh-Judges).[112] As a result, there is every reason to believe that Samuel, as the last judge and a transitional figure to the monarchy, was constructed in the process of linking these traditions together and creating a larger narrative arc stretching from premonarchic to monarchic times.[113]



The LXX has θῦσαι ἐν Σηλὼμ, reflecting lzbḥbs̆lh, “to sacrifice in Shiloh,” in contrast to MT’s lzbḥ lyhwh “to sacrifice to Yahweh.” As observed by Hutzli, the divine name is considerably more likely to replace a toponym than vice versa, so the LXX reading can be taken as the more primitive.[114]


Both the MT and the LXX have an additional object to the verb “to sacrifice” referring to Elqanah’s vow(s): wʾt ndrw, “and his vow” in the MT and καὶ τὰς εὐχὰς αὐτοῦ in the LXX, reflecting wʾt ndryw, “and his vows.” As has been frequently mentioned by commentators, this use of ndr as an object of zbḥ is unparalleled in the Hebrew Bible, where the fulfillment of vows is typically expressed by means of s̆lm in the piel. As a result, some have favored restoring the expected verb on the basis of later Greek manuscripts containing καὶ ἀποδοῦναι πάσας τὰς εὐχάς to produce נדריואתולשלם.[115] But the problems with this solution are that 1) the loss of the verb ולשלם would need to have occurred very early, since both the LXX and MT presuppose a text where ndr is the object of zbḥ; 2) it is difficult to think of any copying error that would explain the omission of the verb in context; and 3) the later Greek readings are better understood as attempts to resolve the literary anomaly and to produce a more satisfying and internally consistent text.

On the other hand, because the MT reference to a singular “his vow” is awkward in context, some have assumed the phrase itself to be a secondary gloss, to which the LXX and LXXL have added further interpretation.[116] But neither is this explanation satisfactory, since the substantive ndr is reflected in both the LXX and the MT, suggesting that a vow(s) belonging to Elqanah was original to the parent text upon which both traditions are based.

Clearly, the MT reading of Elqanah’s vow in the singular is unlikely to be original to the narrative. Up until now, there has been no reference to Elqanah having a vow; the only vow made in the context of the narrative has been Hannah’s. So the sudden introduction of the phrase “his vow,” as though it were a specific vow known to the reader, creates disjunction and unevenness in the narrative. In addition, as noted by Ruth Fidler and others, the assertion that Elqanah has a particular vow at this point in the narrative makes sense as an attempt to attribute to him responsibility for his wife’s vow, in order to bring the vow in line with late Second Temple legal thought.[117] We have other evidence from the general time period for an interest in the issue of husbands having control over their wife’s vows and oaths.[118] We can be confident therefore that the MT form stems from a redactional intervention in the text.

Perhaps the best solution is to assume that the LXX reading of a plural ndryw as the object of zbḥ is original. The reference to Elqanah fulfilling his vows fits the narrative context well, providing literary foreground to the question raised in the next verse of whether Hannah would fulfill her vow regarding the child she promised to Yahweh: Elqanah is going up to the sanctuary to fulfill his vows, will Hannah also? Furthermore, although the use of ndr as an object to the verb zbḥ is unprecedented based on known Hebrew usage, if the plural form of the substantive is understood in the sense of “votive offerings” instead of “vows,” the formulation may be accepted as comprehensible. Votive offerings were after all sacrificed and Lev 7:16’s description of a נדר as a sacrifice that was to be brought near to the altar provides a fairly close semantic parallel to the phraseology found in 1 Sam 1:21.


The LXX has a plus in the continuation of the line, καὶ πάσας τὰς δεκάτας τῆς γῆς αὐτοῦ, retroverting to wʾt ndryw wʾt kl mʿsrwt ʾdmtw, “and all the tithes of his land.” The plus has often been explained as a nomistic addition intended to portray Elqanah as obediently fulfilling his cultic obligations, in line with passages such as Deut 12:6, 11.[119] And admittedly, the phrase fits the profile of a scribal addition, since it 1) lengthens out the items that Elqanah offers at the temple, 2) shows an interest in the cult, and 3) is syntactically awkward as an object of the verb “to sacrifice.” But the possibility remains that it may be original. The phrase has no precise parallel anywhere in the Bible (cf. Lev 27:30; Neh 10:38), and the ordering of the sequence of sacrifice, votive offerings, and tithes in the LXX does not really evoke the language of Deuteronomic law. In addition, the act of sacrificing tithes is perhaps conceivable if the tithes are understood to have particular reference to animal offerings. On the other hand, the absence of the statement about tithes from the MT can be explained as having resulted from the same redactional process that changed the plural ndryw to the singular ndrw. For the new meaning that was being assigned to the text to remain intelligible, it required that the continuation about tithing be omitted, so that the singular “vow” belonging to Elqanah was understood with reference to Hannah’s vow.



The plus of μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ in the LXX is an explicating expansion and unnecessary.


The LXX has ῞Εως τοῦ ἀναβῆναι τὸ παιδάριον, ἐὰν ἀπογαλακτίσω αὐτό, reverting to ʿd ʿlwt hnʿr kʾs̆r gmltyhw, “until the boy goes up, when I have weaned him,” in contrast with the MT ʿd ygml hnʿr whbʾtyw “until the boy is weaned, and then I will bring him.” The difference between the two readings is fairly subtle, with the LXX stressing the subjective action of the boy as a figure of independent interest to the narrative and the MT focusing on Hannah’s role in bringing him to the sanctuary. However, several factors point to the MT as secondary to the LXX: 1) The MT shows a consistent pattern of hiphil verb forms used to structure the narrative in relation to the journey to the temple of Shiloh, with Hannah functioning as the sole actor: “I will bring him” (v. 22); “she caused him to go up with her” (v. 24); “she brought him into the house of the Lord at Shiloh” (v. 24). This pattern is suspiciously simple and uniform compared to the variety of verb forms and personal subjects encountered in the LXX: “until the boy goes up”; “she went up with him”; and “she entered in to the house of Yahweh at Shiloh, and the boy was with them.” 2) In the surrounding context it is the “going up” to the sanctuary that is the governing motif of the narrative, not the weaning. “Elqanah goes up”; “Hannah does not go up” “she brought him up when she had weaned him” Further, the reference to weaning is always preceded by a verb defining Hannah’s spatial location with respect to the sanctuary: “stay until you have weaned him”; so the woman stayed… until she had weaned him.” So it seems entirely appropriate for the boy’s going up to figure prominently in Hannah’s response to Elqanah, as in the LXX, instead of the weaning. 3) Almost the exact same phrase as LXX’s kʾs̆r gmltyhw “when I have weaned him” has been moved in the MT to v. 24, kʾs̆r gmltw “when she had weaned him,” where it is clearly out of place and disrupts the connection between Hannah’s going up and the offerings she brings with her.[120] This redactional anomaly supports the assumption that the MT developed from a text close to the LXX rather than vice versa. 4) A greater emphasis on the child of Hannah as an independent actor is consistent with an understanding of the birth story as the prologue to a larger narrative concerned with recounting his life and achievements. Even though Hannah figures prominently in the birth story, the boy is ultimately the central character of the narrative. 5) Despite the fact that the LXX formulation ʿd ʿlwt hnʿr kʾs̆r gmltyhw is fully comprehensible in Hebrew, it is idiomatically a rather peculiar way to say “until I have weaned the boy.”[121] Thus the unusual nature of the expression may have motivated an MT redactor to revise and simplify the expression.


As argued by various scholars, the construction of ראה Niphal followed by the accusative particle את in the clause wnrʾh ʾt pny yhwh “and he will appear to the face of Yahweh” is unlikely to be original. Though passive, the term is being used as though it were active. Based on examples of comparable phraseology elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible (Ex 23:15; 34:20) and comparative parallels, we can assume that the line originally had ראה in the Qal “and he will see the face of Yahweh” and that it was modified to comply with the religious norm of the late Second Temple that it was not appropriate for humankind to see the face of God.[122]


The verse ends with wys̆b s̆m ʿd ʿwlm “and he will live there forever,” which is reflected in the LXX as well. From a thematic perspective, the statement stands out and is somewhat startling in context. The bulk of the narrative so far has focused on Hannah’s desire to have a child and then recounting how her wish was miraculously fulfilled. Then suddenly Hannah declares in language evincing no compunction that the boy will go up to Yahweh and live there forever, forcibly underscoring the unqualified nature of their separation. And to make matters even more puzzling, Elqanah then affirms Hannah’s wish and displays no surprise or concern about the plan to give the boy to Yahweh for all time. He rather focuses on the simple matter of the timetable that Hannah has set to bring the boy up to the sanctuary, implying that his only concern was that she fulfill her vow.

On closer examination, the clause has a secondary literary character, falling at the end of Hannah’s speech so as to qualify and elaborate on the nature of the boy’s dedication, whereas the first part of the statement is concerned only with the question of when the dedication would occur. In addition, the only place earlier in the narrative that specified the lifelong duration of Samuel’s dedication was in the context of Hannah’s promise to consecrate him as a nazirite, which we already identified as a secondary literary construction inextricably connected to the Samson narrative.

Finally, a number of other considerations from the broader context indicate that Hannah’s dedication of her child to a sanctuary was in fact temporary and not for life, contrary to the statement of 1:22. First, even in the present form of the Samuel narrative, Samuel’s dedication lasts only until the capture of the ark and the demise of Eli. From that point on, Samuel has no relation to the Shiloh sanctuary and in fact is not bound to any sanctuary (cf. 7:16-17). Second, several details from the birth story imply a royal and chosen character for the child born to Hannah, including the miraculous birth, repeated wordplay on his name, and the reference in Hannah’s song to Yahweh raising the low to sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor, all of which lead the reader to expect the child to follow the pattern of Hattus̆ili III and to go on to function in a larger public role beyond his initial sacral upbringing. Third, as we will see later, Hannah’s relationship to the child does not actually end with his dedication. A narrative fragment in 2:19 describes how she made a little robe for the boy and brought it up to him year after year, which implies continuing parental interest and that the transfer to Yahweh was not absolute. The information coheres with the assumption that the plan was to eventually take the child back. Fourth, the use of the root s̆ʾl to describe the child’s dedication in 1:28 is evocative of a temporary lending, “Therefore I have loaned/granted him to Yahweh” (cf. Ex 12:36; 22:13; 2 Kgs 4:3; 6:5).

Lastly, the hypothesis of a temporary dedication would also help explain one further peculiarity about the account describing the dedication in 1:24, which claims that in addition to the boy himself Hannah also brought up a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. The mention of these additional offerings is strange and unexpected.[123] From the perspective of sacrificial thought, the real sacrifice or object of value being transferred to Yahweh was the boy himself; the other offerings are unnecessary, not to mention that people didn’t generally have the means to contribute so much at one time—not only a firstborn child, but a three-year-old bull. As the narrative stands, the additional animal and produce offerings feel redundant and indeed only serve to detract from understanding the correct significance of Hannah’s dedication, that Samuel was himself the sacrifice, that instead of redeeming him through a substitute gift, Hannah had opted to take the more unusual path of satisfying the deity’s claim on the boy directly. In addition, the list of offerings is literarily suspect as well, since the narrative reports that Hannah and her child went up to the sanctuary at Shiloh (LXX, or in the MT “when she had weaned him”) and then belatedly mentions the accompanying offerings by means of the connecting preposition bet. After this the story resumes to Hannah and her child entering the sanctuary.

So if the three-year-old bull and produce offerings are essentially secondary to their context, how did they come to stand in their present position and what function do they perform in the narrative? In view of the unusual specificity of their description and the fact that it is difficult to imagine a later redactor coming up with this particular list of items de novo and then inserting them in the narrative, and because the three-year-old bull represents an item of value more nearly comparable to a child’s life, a plausible solution is that the offerings were an original element of the early source underlying the Samuel narrative and were in in fact the offerings used to redeem Saul once his service at the sanctuary had come to an end. Although very little is known about how firstborns were redeemed in the distributed cult of the Late Iron Age in Israel, and even less about a child who had lawfully become the deity’s property for a significant period of time, a three-year-old bull would appear to be a suitable high-value contribution for the particular situation at hand. The list of offerings would thus have come from a later point in the narrative, so when the Saul story was abbreviated along with the account describing the termination of his service at the sanctuary and return to his family, the offerings made to redeem him from Yahweh were moved to the event of Samuel’s dedication in order to build it up and emphasize its special and unprecedented nature.


Both the LXX, with ἀλλὰ στήσαι κύριος τὸ ἐξελθὸν ἐκ τοῦ στόματός σου, and 4QSama reflect the reading ʾk yqm yhwh hywṣʾ mpyk, “Only may Yahweh establish your vow/that which comes out of your mouth,” against the MTs ʾk yqm yhwh ʾt dbrw “Only may Yahweh establish his word.” As has been long recognized, MT’s reference to a word of Yahweh here is problematic, since 1) there has been no divine word previously mentioned in the narrative; 2) it is difficult to understand how Yahweh’s word is relevant to the question of determining when Hannah should bring the child up to the sanctuary; and 3) Elqanah’s response to his wife shifts abruptly from an anthropocentric emphasis on the woman doing what is best in her eyes to a prayer requesting that Yahweh bring the planned dedication of Samuel to fulfillment.

On the other hand, the LXX/4QSama reading hywṣʾ mpyk is substantially more intelligible and suited to the literary context. The expression, though literally translated as “that which comes from the mouth,” is a standard way of referring to vows in Hebrew (Num 30:3; Judg 11:36; Jer 44:17), and the preceding verb קום in the hiphil is also commonly recognized to belong to the sphere of vow-making (Num 30:13-14; Jer 44:25). Because the exchange with Elqanah is clearly concerned with establishing when Hannah should bring the child up to the sanctuary, i.e. fulfill her vow, an explicit reference to the vow is entirely fitting at this point, considering that a mother’s making and keeping of a vow to dedicate her child to deity constitutes the backbone and driving force to the storyline and its individual episodes (the making of the vow, vv. 2-18; the divine response to the vow, vv. 19-20; the delay before making payment on the vow, vv. 21-23; the payment of the vow, vv. 24-28). Further, from a syntactical perspective the use of the restrictive adverb ʾk at the beginning of the clause leads the reader to expect it to qualify the preceding instruction that Hannah should do what she feels is best and wait until the child is weaned, i.e. she should not remain behind forever, her vow must eventually be paid.

Thus in the LXX/4QSama the clause seems to be expressing a wish on the part of Elqanah that Yahweh will accept or enable the fulfillment of Hannah’s vow to dedicate Samuel, perhaps because of the view that divine support was needed for such an unusual and, from the perspective of biblical law, unprecedented act. As we will see below, the LXX/4QSama rendering of the line is not without problems and literary unevenness, but the concern reflected in it for the issue of the fulfillment of Hannah’s vow is nevertheless preferable to the MT, whose introduction of a mysterious word of Yahweh is disruptive and shows greater conceptual distance from the central themes and literary structure of the birth narrative.

Furthermore, the MT can be plausibly explained as having originated as an intentional modification of the earlier LXX/4QSama reading. First, the formulation “to establish Yahweh’s word” with קום in the hiphil is frequently attested in biblical narrative (cf. 1 Sam 15:11; 1 Kgs 2:4; 6:12; 8:20; Jer 28:6; 2 Chron 6:10), and we have already noted evidence that the proto-MT Samuel tradition was sometimes changed to conform to stock literary expressions found elsewhere (cf. 1:20). Second, it is fairly easy to see why the LXX/4QSama reading may have been found unacceptable to a later Second Temple scribe, since 1) it implies that Yahweh intervened in Samuel’s dedication “not on the basis of his own counsel, but on the basis of human initiative.”[124] 2) There is no parallel to the idea of God establishing a person’s vow anywhere in the Bible. 3) The fact that this person was a woman may have made it even more problematic. We have already seen evidence of a tendency in the MT to diminish the role of Hannah in cultic situations, and this feature will continue in the MT account of the dedication of Samuel.

By contrast, a modification of ʾt dbrw to hywṣʾ mpyk is much more difficult to imagine having occurred. Yahweh establishing his word is a well-established and conventionally orthodox theological expression, and there is little reason to see why a scribe in the LXX tradition would feel a need to eliminate it. Furthermore, there is no parallel in the Bible to the difficult formulation yqm yhwh hywṣʾ mpy, so it is problematic to assume that hywṣʾ mpyk was inserted through a process of scribal redaction. Some scholars have argued that the phrase is a nomistic correction dependent on Num 30, because the two narratives share certain salient terminology (hywṣʾ mpy; yqm) and because Elqanah’s statement can be read as a confirmation of his wife’s vow in line with Num 30:13-15. But there is nothing particularly nomistic about the phrase hywṣʾ mpyk. This was simply a standard alternative Hebrew expression for vows, reflecting the auditory and public nature of vow-making.[125] The same applies to the use of the verb קום in the hiphil. Although Num 30 shows that קום could be used in a technical-legal setting to express confirmation by a husband or father for a dependent’s vow, we also have evidence that the verb was used in actual practice to refer to the fulfillment of the vow by the person responsible for making it (Jer 44:25). One cannot assume therefore that because language relating to vows appears in both 1 Sam 1:23 and Num 30 that they are necessarily intertextually related. Lastly, the general idea of Yahweh confirming a person’s vow has very little in common with legal-religious practice reflected in Num 30.

Literary Analysis

If we accept the hypothesis that the LXX/4QSama version of the vow is more primitive than the MT, it is nevertheless awkward, for reasons already identified. The abrupt introduction of Yahweh into Elqanah’s speech and the lack of any parallel for the idea of God establishing someone’s vow militate against the originality of the reading. In the broader narrative context it is Hannah who makes, plans, and fulfills her vow; at this point in the story an explicit authorization or confirmation from deity is unnecessary but rather is presupposed in the cultural practice of recognizing a divine claim on firstborn children that led her to make the vow to dedicate her child in the first place. Because Hannah is the one who ultimately brings the child to the deity after having weaned him, we can therefore assume that in the original narrative Elqanah encouraged Hannah directly, ʾk tqmy hywṣʾ mpyk, “only fulfill your vow!”[126] Formulated this way, it serves as the natural conclusion to Elqanah’s speech and coheres with the strong anthropocentric frame of reference that prevails in the older source behind the birth story.



The MT, LXX, and 4QSama all contain a slightly different formulation of Hannah going up to Shiloh with Samuel: the MT has wtʿlhw ʿmh “she brought him up with her”; the LXX καὶ ἀνέβη μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ, reflecting either wtʿl ʿmw “she went up with him,” wtʿl ʾtw “she went up with him,” or wtʿl ʾtw “she caused him to go up”; and 4QSama  ותו[ ] ותעל, which can be interpreted “she went up with him” or “she caused him to go up.” The basic problem with the variant readings is that it is not clear whether Hannah went up with Samuel or caused Samuel to go up with her.[127] Though the difference between the variants is rather slight, several factors point to the LXX version as the more primitive, allowing us to reconstruct wtʿl ʿmw as the original Hebrew form: 1) The collocation in the MT of עלה in the Hiphil with the preposition עם is rather unusual as a Hebrew narrative construction. Generally עלה is found in the Qal when followed by עם (cf. Gen 13:1; 19:30; 44:33; Judg 4:10; 1 Kgs 16:17). 2) In the immediate narrative context the usage of עלה is consistently in the Qal (vv. 21, 22), which would naturally lead the reader to expect the Qal in the description of Hannah’s journey to Shiloh. 3) We have already noted that a number of the verbs used in the MT to refer to Hannah’s bringing Samuel to Shiloh have been shaped or leveled into Hiphil forms, including והבאתיו, ותעלהו, and ותבאהו, in order to simplify the narrative action and structure it around Hannah’s bringing the child up to the sanctuary. From the perspective of narrative progression, this organization is schematic and probably secondary to the more complex and gradual narrative development that we see in the LXX. 4) The reference to Hannah’s child being “with” her implies a greater interest in the boy as an independent character, which would tally with an understanding of the narrative as a prologue to the larger Saul story. 5) We have other evidence from the immediate context that the MT clause in v. 24 has been redactionally modified from the LXX, with the transfer of the phrase kʾs̆r gmltyhw from v. 22. 6) All of the readings in the versions can be explained as organically related to one another if we assume that wtʿl ʿmw is primary. The MT preserves the preposition that we would expect to see if עלה had originally been in the Qal; to turn the formulation into a Hiphil construction all the scribe had to do was add a 3rd mas sing suffix to עלה and then change the suffix on עם from the masculine to the feminine. In the case of 4QSama, the formulation wtʿl ʾtw is best interpreted as “she caused him to go up,” with עלה in the Hiphil and את as the accusative particle (cf. the use of את in the immediately prior clause). This reproduces much the same sense as that found in the MT but simplifies the construction and at the same time avoids the possible confusion latent in the LXX that the 3rd mas singular suffix on עם may refer to Elqanah.[128]


The MT continues with a temporal clause, “when she had weaned him,” whereas both the LXX and 4QSama refer to Shiloh as the destination of Hannah and Samuel’s “going up” (εἰς Σηλωμ). As we have already argued, the MT phrase “when she had weaned him” is likely secondary, since it 1) is awkwardly redundant from the previous verse (v. 23 “until she had weaned him”), 2) interrupts the narrative focus on the journey to Shiloh, and 3) has been displaced from its original position in v. 22. On the other hand, the reference to Shiloh is rhetorically more suitable to the context, providing the natural continuation to a description of travel, parallel to the LXX account of Elqanah’s “going up” in v. 21. Evidently, the MT scribe omitted the reference to Shiloh because of a sense that it was redundant (later in the same verse Shiloh is again referenced as the location of the temple), but then felt a need to replace it with something else.


The MT reports that Hannah brought with her prym s̆ls̆h “three bulls”, the LXX μόσχῳ τριετίζοντι, reflecting pr ms̆ls̆, “three-year old bull-calf,” and 4QSama seems to contain the reading pr bn bqr ms̆ls̆ “bull of the herd.” As is commonly recognized, the construction prym s̆ls̆h in the MT is grammatically suspect and stands in tension with the immediately following verse where only one bull is spoken of as the object of sacrifice (v. 25). By contrast, the LXX formulation focusing on a singular young bull produces a better reading and is supported by 4QSama. The difficult MT can be explained as having originated through a corruption or intentional modification of the earlier pr ms̆ls̆, so that the mem on ms̆ls̆ was transposed to the end of pr.[129] If an intentional modification, it may have been intended to create a correspondence between the number of persons and bulls who make the journey (Hannah, Elqanah, and Samuel), similar to the three men met by Saul accompanied by three kids in 1 Sam 10:3. Finally, the reading of 4QSama with the addition of bn bqr represents a nomistic adaptation dependent on offering formula from Leviticus and Numbers, comparable to the replacement of yʿlh with yʿbr in 1:11.[130]


The list of offerings continues in the MT with wʾyph ʾḥt qmḥ “and one ephah of flour”; in the LXX with καὶ ἄρτοις καὶ οιφι σεμιδάλεως, reflecting wlḥm wslt, “and bread and fine flour”; and 4QSama preserves only wlḥm “and bread….” Here the shorter MT is to be preferred, since the introduction of bread to the list of offerings in the LXX (and 4QSama) seems to be an attempt to identify the yearly sacrifice (zbḥ hymym) of the narrative with Pentecost/Shavuot. As Hutzli has noted, “In priestly law only on the occasion of the Festival of Weeks is the bringing of bread required.”[131] This interpretation was then reinforced by replacing qmḥ with slt. In the priestly instruction for the Festival of Weeks we read, “You will bring from your settlements two loaves of bread (lḥm) as an elevation offering, each made of two-tenths of an ephah; they will be of fine flour (slt) baked with leaven, as first fruits to Yahweh” (Lev 23:17).

Literary Analysis

We have already argued above that the list of offerings brought by Hannah to the dedication is likely secondary to the narrative, since they are redundantly excessive and detract from the sacrificial significance of Hannah’s dedication of her child and literarily seem as though they were an afterthought to the narrative. Because the items represent an offering of great value and are unlikely to be a pure invention of the author/redactor, we also hypothesized that they belonged to a point later in the original source narrative when Saul was redeemed from his temple service and were moved to the present context in the course of the construction of the Samuel narrative.


With the account of the presentation of Samuel at the temple, the MT and LXX/4QSama diverge substantially. The MT has wtbʾhw byt yhwhs̆lw whnʿr nʿr wys̆ḥṭwʾt hpr wybʾw ʾt hnʿr ʾl ʿly, “she brought him to the house of Yahweh in Shiloh, and the boy was a nʿr. They slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli,” whereas the LXX has a much longer text: καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς οἶκον κυρίου ἐν Σηλωμ, καὶ τὸ παιδάριον μετ᾽ αὐτῶν. καὶ προσήγαγον ἐνώπιον κυρίου, καὶ ἔσφαξεν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ τὴν θυσίαν, ἣν ἐποίει ἐξ ἡμερῶν εἰς ἡμέρας τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ προσήγαγεν τὸ παιδάριον καὶ ἔσφαξεν τὸν μόσχον. καὶ προσήγαγεν Αννα ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ παιδαρίου πρὸς Ηλι, reflecting wtbʾ byt yhwhs̆lw whnʿr ʿmm wygs̆w lpny yhwh wys̆ḥṭ ʾbyw ʾt hzbḥ kʾs̆r yʿsh mymym ymymh lyhwh wygs̆ ʾt hnʿr wys̆ḥṭ ʾt hpr wtgs̆ ḥnh ʾm hnʿr ʾl ʿly “she entered the house of Yahweh and the boy was with them; they drew near before the face of Yahweh and his father slaughtered the sacrifice that he did year after year to Yahweh; he brought the boy near and slaughtered the bull; and Hannah the mother of the boy brought him near to Eli.” 4QSama preserves enough to show to that it had a longer reading similar to the LXX.[132]

Scholars have long disagreed about how to explain the origin of these variant readings. Before the discovery of the DSS, the tendency was to accept the shorter MT, often with some sort of emendation of the difficult expression whnʿr nʿr, and to see the LXX emphasis on Elqanah performing sacrifices in the context of the yearly sacrifice as an interpretive expansion, whereas after the discovery of 4QSama scholarly opinion has generally been divided between those who judge the LXX and 4QSama to be a more primitive form of the text and that the shorter MT resulted from accidental haplography and those who accept the MT as it stands and assume that LXX/4QSama developed through redactional elaboration.[133]

On closer examination, several factors build a case for taking elements of the LXX as primary to the MT. First, as has long been recognized, the MT reading whnʿr nʿr

MT is semantically and rhetorically anomalous. The same essential lexeme is repeated one after the other, with no contextual information aside from the article on the first nʿr to help clarify the meaning of the phrase. Because the word nʿr is also found repeated in the LXX and the intervening material is conspicuously missing from the MT, one theory has been to assume that the difficult MT formulation was a product of accidental haplography, so that a scribe skipped from the first to the second nʿr, mistakenly writing two instances of the same word. But as has been observed by Hutzli and others, the MT cannot be explained as a true haplography via homoioteleuton, since this would have resulted in the writing of only one of the words that caused the scribe’s eye to jump to the next, and further, the placement of the article on only the first nʿr suggests a meaningful differentiation between the two words.[134] As a result, the possibility of a scribal error can be excluded as a viable explanation; the predication of whnʿr with nʿr seems rather to have been an intentional literary formulation. In Hebrew the term nʿr could be used to denote both “boy/lad” and “apprentice/trainee,” and in the subsequent narrative of chap 2 the latter meaning takes on much greater prominence (2:13, 15, 17, 18), so it is reasonable to assume that the scribe responsible for whnʿr nʿr was playing on the multivalence of the term and understood the phrase to mean “the boy became an apprentice (to the priest Eli).”[135]

Yet despite the fact that the MT can be read as it stands, whnʿr nʿr is nevertheless unlikely to have been original: 1) Repeating the same word immediately one after the other lends itself to confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the reader. As was mentioned above, no additional information is provided to specify the type of nʿr Samuel had become, such as nʿr ʿly “the servant of Eli.” 2) The identification of Samuel as a nʿr to the temple comes too early in the narrative. At this point, the transfer of Samuel to Eli has not yet occurred: the bull has not been sacrificed, they have not brought the boy to Eli, and Hannah has not formally declared her dedication of the child to Yahweh. 3) This kind of spare and abstruse technocratic wordplay characterizes the later literary strand of material in 1 Sam 1-3 rather than the early source document (see below).

Second, there are further problems with the MT account of the dedication of Samuel. In v. 25 we have two verbal actions in the 3rd masculine plural that narrate the sacrifice of the bull and the presentation of Samuel to Eli with no defined subject (wys̆ḥṭw “they sacrificed” and wybʾw “they brought”). Of course, we would naturally suppose that Hannah was herself one of the individuals implied to have participated in the “bringing” of Samuel to Eli, since in the immediately following verses Hannah speaks directly to Eli as though she were standing in front of him and formally transfers the child to Yahweh (vv. 26-28). But then who else is included in the 3rd masculine plural form of the verb (“they brought”)? And if Hannah is at least one of the subjects of the second verb, who is the subject of the first when the bull is sacrificed (“they sacrificed”)? Furthermore, after Hannah’s speech to Eli in v. 28, the verbal subject changes suddenly to the masculine singular (“he worshipped there before Yahweh).” Finally, after Hannah finishes her song in 2:10, she disappears from the narrative and there is no report of her returning home. Instead, the brief note in 2:11a unexpectedly states, “Elqanah went home to Ramah.”

From this analysis it seems clear that the MT version of the account of the presentation of Samuel at Shiloh assumes that Elqanah was present all along, that he was the male figure who worshiped Yahweh after Hannah talks to Eli and formally dedicates her child (v. 28) and also that he was the other individual in addition to Hannah who was the subject of the 3rd masculine plural verb “they brought” in v. 25.[136] Considering the solitary prominence of Elqanah in 2:11, it is difficult to imagine the male figure of v. 28 and the implied partner of Hannah in v. 25 being anyone else. In addition, the failure to distinguish any change of subject between wys̆ḥṭw “they sacrificed” and wybʾw “the brought” would further suggest that Elqanah and Hannah were the subjects of the first verb as well. Taken altogether, Elqanah has a prominent, if indirect and implied at first, place in the MT version of the dedication. If this interpretation is correct, then it would seem that the MT presupposes a version of the dedication story very similar to the LXX: Elqanah is there to participate in the slaughtering of the bull and bringing the boy to Eli.

Third, comparing the two versions of the dedication of Samuel together, it is now fairly easy to see that the LXX version is primary to the MT: 1) In the LXX Hannah appears at the conclusion to the dedication episode, “she left him there before Yahweh,” providing the necessary continuation to a narrative that has until now revolved primarily around Hannah’s actions with regard to the child of her vow. 2) There is no disruptive change of subject between Hannah’s speech to Eli (v. 28) and her song (2:1). In contrast to the MT, in the LXX/4QSama the subject and focus of the narrative remains that of Hannah. 3) The formal introduction of Elqanah into the dedication story is found only in the LXX. There he is referred to as ʾbyw, “his father,” parallel to ḥnh ʾm hnʿr “Hannah, the mother of the boy.” Without the mention of ʾbyw, Elqanah appears in the MT in 2:11 suddenly and full-blown.

Fourth, the MT shows other indications that it is derivative of a text fairly similar to the LXX. 1) The reference to coming “before the face of Yahweh” is found only in the latter. As we have already argued above, this is one of the several instances in 1 Sam 1-2 where an implied material presence of Yahweh has been omitted from the MT. So there is an obvious ideological justification for abbreviating the narrative from the earlier LXX rendering. 2) The MT version of the account shows the same characteristic tendency to streamline and simplify that we already met earlier in v. 24. Instead of “she entered the house of Yahweh at Shiloh and the boy was with them,” the MT has “she caused him to enter the house of Yahweh at Shiloh”; instead of “his father slaughtered the bull, and Hannah the mother of the boy brought him near to Eli,” the MT has “they slaughtered the bull and brought the child to Eli.” 3) Another possible reason that the MT scribe may have adapted the LXX tradition is that the use of the term ngs̆ in relation to the dedication of Samuel may have carried sacrificial connotations that were deemed inappropriate. As Hutzli has suggested, ngs̆ very conceivably underlies the use of προσαγειν in the LXX. However, this verb does not appear in the MT, where instead we have another instance of the root בוא in wybʾw ʾt hnʿr ʾl ʿly “they brought the boy to Eli”.

Literary Analysis

If we accept that several of the elements preserved in the LXX belong to an earlier stage of the textual tradition of 1:24b-25, including wtbʾ byt yhwhs̆lw whnʿr ʿmm “she entered the house of Yahweh at Shiloh and the boy was with them”; wygs̆w lpny yhwh “they drew near before the face of Yahweh”; the mention of ʾbyw “his father”; and wys̆ḥṭ ʾt hpr wtgs̆ ḥnh ʾm hnʿr ʾl ʿly “he slaughtered the bull and Hannah the mother of the boy brought him to Eli,”there are nevertheless indications that the LXX version of the dedication is not literarily unified and that it experienced multiple stages of diachronic development. First, the reference to Elqanah slaughtering “the sacrifice that he did year after year to Yahweh” is probably a late addition to the LXX tradition after it had been separated from the proto-MT. This is because 1) the characterization of Hannah’s pilgrimage to Shiloh to dedicate Samuel as having occurred on the festal occasion of the zbḥ hymym “sacrifice of days” appears only in the LXX. The claim is clearly not original, since according to vv. 21-23 Hannah does not go up with the rest of the family to celebrate the feast but remains behind until the boy is weaned. Further, there is no hint prior to v. 25 that Hannah had timed her decision to dedicate Samuel with the yearly sacrifice. 2) As Hutzli has noted, the list of offerings that Hannah brings with her to Shiloh do not mention any additional animal that would be sacrificed in connection with the yearly sacrifice.[137] There is only the bull, flour, and wine, which have the appearance of a cohesive and meaningful group of offerings intended for a specific purpose. 3) The identification of the sacrifice that occurs at Shiloh in the narrative with the yearly sacrifice should probably be connected with the alternative list of offerings contained in the LXX, which mentions bread and fine flour. This version of the list, which we argued above is a secondary addition to the LXX vorlage, is also interested in depicting Hannah’s pilgrimage as taking place during the yearly sacrifice, namely the Feast of Weeks/Shavuot. 4) The statement about Elqanah slaughtering the yearly sacrifice is framed by two layers of resumptive repetition: “they drew near… he brought the boy near” and “his father slaughtered the sacrifice… he slaughtered the bull.” This resumption reinforces the supposition that some of the intervening material may be secondary.

Thus at an earlier stage of the LXX tradition it would have read, wtbʾ byt yhwhs̆lw whnʿr ʿmm wygs̆w lpny yhwh wys̆ḥṭ ʾbyw ʾt hpr wtgs̆ ḥnh ʾm hnʿr ʾl ʿly, “she entered the house of Yahweh and the boy was with them; they drew near before the face of Yahweh and his father slaughtered the bull; and Hannah the mother of the boy brought him near to Eli.” Based on our analysis of the MT above, this would have been the stage that was the common ancestor to both the MT and LXX traditions.

However, an even earlier stage of the LXX tradition can be detected. A number of scholars have noted that the figure of Elqanah himself seems to be a secondary element to the narrative: 1) The conversation with Elqanah in vv. 22-23 leaves the impression that the timing and circumstances in which Hannah would fulfill her vow was a matter between herself and deity. She could have chosen to go up with the rest of the family at the yearly sacrifice but instead decided to go at a time of her own convenience. 2) When Hannah journeys with Samuel up to the temple, the verbs are all in the 3rd feminine singular, “she went up with him… and she entered into the house of Yahweh.” There is no indication that Elqanah went with her. 3) Elqanah is first alluded to belatedly through the prepositional phrase עמם at the end of v. 24, and then is mentioned more directly through the reference to “his father” in v. 25, parallel to “the mother of the boy.” But both of the these formulations are suspect, the first breaking the pattern set in v. 24 of associating the mother and son through a singular suffix and the second because it introduces Elqanah by a familial epithet not previously used in the narrative. 4) When Hannah leaves to return home, the verbs are again in the 3rd feminine singular.

Furthermore, we already argued above that the list of offerings that Hannah brings with her in v. 24 is likely a secondary addition, so this helps confirm the assumption that Elqanah is secondary to the narrative. The main role that Elqanah performs is to sacrifice the bull that Hannah had brought with her, so once this element is removed there no longer is a need for Elqanah’s participation in the event of Samuel’s dedication. Finally, as was argued earlier, the references to Shiloh are likely secondary and belong to the Dtr compositional layer.

Following these various literary-critical indications we can tentatively reconstruct the earliest source underlying vv. 24-25 as something close to the following: “she went up with him to Gibeon (?) and entered the house of God (?). She drew near to the face of God and brought the boy near to Ahitub (?).”



The LXX reading kl hymym ʾs̆r ḥyh “all the days that he lives” is clearly preferable to MT’s kl hymym ʾs̆r hyh “all the days that he is (?).”[138]

Literary Analysis

As was discussed earlier, the characterization of Samuel’s dedication as lifelong belongs to a secondary layer of the narrative.


The next clause hwʾ s̆ʾwl lyhwh “he is a loan to Yahweh,” and reflected in the LXX under χρῆσιν τῷ κυρίῳ, has long figured in arguments in favor of understanding the birth story as having originally belonged to Saul. But several considerations suggest that it may be compositionally secondary: 1) The connotation of the term s̆ʾwl here seems noticeably distinct from the explanation of the name Saul (s̆ʾwl) provided in v. 20. The surrounding context of the clause naturally suggests that s̆ʾwl should be understood in the sense of “loan”, since it is preceded by שאל in the Hiphil and the passive form is followed by a possessive lamed (Ex 12:36; 22:13; 2 Kgs 4:3; 6:5). Yet the etymology given for Saul earlier was as the one “requested” by Hannah, not the one “loaned.” Although wordplay on the root שאל is a constituent feature of the birth narrative, it seems unlikely that the same author would have used two instances of the same passive form with such distinct meanings. 2) The emphasis on identifying Samuel as a “loan” to deity seems to be in tension with the basic theology of the divine claim on the firstborn underlying Hannah’s decision to give her child to the sanctuary, which is that the firstborn already belongs to God and not primarily to the parents. Referring to Samuel as a loan suggests that it is actually the parents who are the primary owners. The statement is thus not one we would expect to hear coming out of Hannah’s mouth. 3) The declaration of Samuel’s dedication lyhwh “to Yahweh” feels somewhat redundant from earlier in the verse, hs̆ʾlthw lyhwh. 4) The secondary nature of the preceding clause “all the days that he lives” provides further circumstantial support for the assumption of redactional supplementation at the end of the line.

So what was the reason for adding the clause specifying Samuel as a s̆ʾwl or “loan” to Yahweh, particularly since the word is so evocative of the name Saul? It is impossible to know for certain, but presumably the scribe was well aware of the wordplay on the root שאל in vv. 27-28 and wanted to expand upon it for the purpose of defining the life-long term of Samuel’s dedication. Further, the use of this root may have been thought to be especially attractive and ingenious, because the same word that had been used to designate the original figure of the birth story was now being used to describe Samuel, almost as if to compensate for the removal of Saul’s name from the narrative.


Each of the versions provides a unique rendering of the events that follow Hannah’s speech to Eli and precede the song of 2:1b-10. The MT has wys̆tḥw s̆m lyhwhwytpll ḥnh wtʾmr “he worshiped there to Yahweh and Hannah prayed and said,” whereas the LXX lacks any intervening material and moves directly to καὶ εἶπεν, reflecting wtʾmr, “and she said.” At odds with both the MT and LXX, 4QSama seems to have contained wtʿzbhw s̆m wts̆tḥw “she left him there and worshiped” prior to the song.

We have already mentioned that the switch in the MT from 3rd feminine singular subject in v. 28a (Hannah), to an unspecified masculine singular subject in v. 28b (implicit: Elqanah), and then back to feminine singular in 2:1a (Hannah) is narratively awkward and unlikely to have been original. The sudden reference to a male figure worshipping correlates with the MT’s desire to gradually bring Elqanah into the foreground of the dedication episode, so that by the end only Elqanah is reported returning home (2:11). However, this configuration of the narrative is fundamentally secondary to the general LXX rendering of the same events, where the storyline remains focused on Hannah’s actions and speech in the interval from v. 28a to 2:11a. Furthermore, the continuation in the MT “and Hannah prayed” is also identifiably secondary. As Tov has noted, the following song does not have the form of a prayer, while the LXX has the simpler wtʾmr. The reintroduction of Hannah’s name and the claim that she prayed are thus likely interpretive expansions that presuppose the insertion of Elqanah into the narrative by means of the verb ys̆tḥw.

Yet even though the LXX rendering of the interlude between dedication and song is essentially more primitive than the MT, because of the absence of Elqanah and the associated reintroduction of Hannah, its lack of any narrative transition from v. 28b feels overly brief and fails to prepare the reader for an additional speech in 2:1b. At first Hannah is emphatically declaring the dedication of her child to Eli, and then suddenly she intones in hymnic language a song of thanksgiving, with no hint that the essential discourse setting of her standing before the priest had changed. Hannah simply speaks and then she speaks again. While this abruptness could be explained on the assumption that the song was secondarily inserted into the Samuel narrative, we will argue below that the basic core of the song was original to the birth story, so an explanation for the unusually compressed and underdeveloped transition needs to be sought elsewhere. Furthermore, both the MT and 4QSama refer to someone worshiping before the song, against the LXX. In the MT this person is implied to be Elqanah, but in 4QSama it is Hannah, which is more likely to be the original reading. A description of Hannah worshiping deity after having dedicated her child provides a fitting conclusion to the cultic act that she performs in the temple and creates the needed narrative delay to reorient and segue to her spontaneous delivery of a song of thanksgiving. In addition, the verb “to worship” is found repeated elsewhere in the narrative in the context of activities that take place at the temple (cf. 1:3, 19). So it seems reasonable to assume that in the proto-MT the text had ts̆tḥw in the feminine singular but that this was changed to the masculine singular by an MT scribe in order to foreground Elqanah. The absence of wts̆tḥw s̆m lyhwh in the LXX could then be explained as having resulted from scribal error: parablepsis via homoioarkton, the scribe’s eye moving from wts̆tḥw to wtʾmr.


[1] For the history of scholarship, see Thomas Römer and Albert de Pury, “Deuteronomistic Historiography (DH): History of Research and Debated Issues,” in Israel Constructs its History: Deuteronomistic Historiography in Recent Research (ed. A. de Pury, T. Römer, and J.-D. Macchi; JSOTSSup 306; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 24-141.

[2] Cf. the contributions in Is Samuel Among the Deuteronomists: Current Views on the Place of Samuel in a Deuteronomistic History (ed. Cynthia Edenburg and Juha Pakkala; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013).

[3] For the identification of 1 Sam 1:1-4:1a as a literary unit, see P. Mommer, Samuel: Geschichte und Überlieferung (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1991), 6-7; H. J. Stoebe, Das Erste Buch Samuelis (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1973), 86; H. W. Hertzberg, I & II Samuel (OTL; London: SCM Press, 1964), 43-44; R. Klein, 1 Samuel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), xxx, 35.

[4] Serge Frolov, The Turn of the Cycle: 1 Samuel 1-8 in Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2004.), 50.

[5] Cf. Christoph Levin, “On the Cohesion and Separation of Books within the Enneateuch” in Pentateuch, Hexateuch, or Enneateuch: Identifying Literary Works in Genesis through Kings (ed. T. Dozeman, T. Römer, and K. Schmid; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011), 136; Reinhard Müller, “1 Samuel 1 as the Opening Chapter of the Deuteronomistic History?” in Is Samuel Among the Deuteronomists: Current Views on the Place of Samuel in a Deuteronomistic History (ed. Cynthia Edenburg and Juha Pakkala; Atlanta: SBL, 2013), 207-224; Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 50-51.

[6] Müller, “1 Samuel 1,” 212.

[7] Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 80-81.

[8] P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (ABD; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980), 51; cf. Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 50 n. 43.

[9] Cf. Walter Dietrich, “Doch ein Text hinter den Texten? in Archaeology of the Books of Samuel (ed. P. Hugo and A. Schenker; Boston: Brill, 2010), 134-135.

[10] Jürg Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna und Samuel: textkritische und literarische Analyse von 1. Samuel 1-2 unter Berücksichtigung des Kontextes (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 2007), 47. Cf. Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 50-51, n. 43.

[11] Cf. the table in Thomas Dozeman, Commentary on Exodus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 10-12.

[12] Cf. William C. Propp, Exodus 1-18 (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 119-120.

[13] Dozeman, Commentary on Exodus, 10-12.

[14] Richard Nelson, “The Deuteronomistic Historian in Samuel: ‘The Man Behind the Green Curtain,’” in Is Samuel Among the Deuteronomists: Current Views on the Place of Samuel in a Deuteronomistic History (ed. Cynthia Edenburg and Juha Pakkala; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013), 32-33.

[15] The chronological notice in 1 Sam 7:2 is likely a later gloss.

[16] Cf. Müller, “1 Samuel 1,” 217-218.

[17] Cf. Jacques Vermeylen, “The Book of Samuel Within the Deuteronomistic History,” in Is Samuel Among the Deuteronomists: Current Views on the Place of Samuel in a Deuteronomistic History (ed. Cynthia Edenburg and Juha Pakkala; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013), 75-81.

[18] Graeme Auld, I & II Samuel: A Commentary (OTL; Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 20-27.

[19] Cf. Samuel Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel (2nd ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 1; Julius Wellhausen, Der Text der Bücher Samuelis (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1871), 34; Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 47.

[20] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 48; Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 81.

[21] George F. Moore, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1918), 236-237.

[22] Driver, Notes, 1; McCarter, I Samuel, 51.

[23] Auld, I & II Samuel, 24.

[24] Diana Edelman, “Saul’s Journey through Mt. Ephraim and Samuel’s Ramah,” ZDPV 104 (1988): 44-58.

[25] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 49-50.

[26] Cf. Marc Brettler, “The Composition of 1 Samuel 1-2,” JBL 116 (1997): 603-604; Antony Campbell, 1 Samuel (Eerdmans, 2003), 36; J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel: Vow and Desire (Assen, The Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 1981-1993), 112-115; Mommer, Samuel, 7; Henry Preserved Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Samuel (New York: Scribner, 1899), 17. Most critics tend to distinguish the Song of Hannah from this unit, but the reasons for including it will become apparent later.

[27] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 129.

[28] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 50-51.

[29] See, e.g., Henry Preserved Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Samuel (New York: Scribner, 1899), 34, 129-130, 164, 292, 303.

[30] John Van Seters, The Biblical Saga of King David (Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns, 2009), 237.

[31] Cf. Menehem Haran, “The Ark and the Cherubim: Their Symbolic Significance in Biblical Ritual,” Israel Exploration Journal 9 (1959): 30-38.

[32] Karel van der Toorn, “The Iconic Book Analogies Between the Babylonian Cult of Images and the Veneration of the Torah” in The Image and the Book (ed. Karel van der Toorn; Leuven, Peters, 1997), 241-242; Juha Pakkala, God’s Word Omitted: Omissions in the Transmission of the Hebrew Bible (Bristol, CT: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013), 203.

[33] Here the unusual Yahweh Sebaot has a similar cosmic connotation as Yahweh Elohim, on which see Diana Edelman, “God Rhetoric: Reconceptualizing YHWH Sebaot as YHWH Elohim in the Hebrew Bible” in A Palimpsest: Rhetoric, Ideology, Stylistics and Language Relating to Persian Israel (ed. Ehud Ben Zvi, Diana Edelman, and Frank Polak; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009), 81-107.

[34] Karel van der Toorn, Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria, and Israel (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 50-52, 211-214; “Family Religion in Second Millennium West Asia (Mesopotamia, Emar, Nuzi)” in Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (ed. John Bodel and Saul M. Olyan; Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), 23; Albertz, “Family Religion in Ancient Israel and its Surroundings,” in Household and Family Religion in Antiquity, 100-101.

[35] Cf. Martin Noth, “Samuel und Silo,” VT 13 (1963): 390-391; Robert Gnuse, “A Reconsideration of the Form-Critical Structure in I Samuel 3: An Ancient Near Eastern Dream Theophany,” ZAW 94 (1982): 389.

[36] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 51-52.

[37] Cf. Mommer, Samuel, 8.

[38] J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel: Vow and Desire (Assen, The Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 1981-1993), 21-24; Robert Alter, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel (NY: Norton, 2000), 4.

[39] See Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible (Eerdmans, 1999), 67, n. 51; Auld, I & II Samuel, 25; Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 83-84; Walter Dietrich, “Doch ein Text hinter den Texten? in Archaeology of the Books of Samuel (ed. P. Hugo and A. Schenker; Boston: Brill, 2010), 139-140.

[40] Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 24; Walters, “Hannah and Anna: The Greek and Hebrew Texts of 1 Samuel 1,” JBL 107 (1988): 390.

[41] H. J. Stoebe, Das Erste Buch Samuelis, 90.

[42] Jürg Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna und Samuel: textkritische und literarische Analyse von 1. Samuel 1-2 unter Berücksichtigung des Kontextes (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 2007), 52-53; cf. Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 84.

[43] David Aberbach, “אפיםאחתמנה (1 Sam. I 5): A New Interpretation,” VT 24 (1974): 350-353; McCarter, I Samuel, 51-52.

[44] Diest, “ʾAppayim (1 Sam. I 5) < *PYM?” VT 27 (1977): 205-209.

[45] Diest, “ʾAppayim,” 207-208.

[46] Driver, Notes, 10-11.

[47] So Driver, Notes, 11; Klein, 1 Samuel, 2-3.

[48] Driver, Notes, 11. Cf. Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 57.

[49] Cf. Stoebe, Das Erste Buch Samuelis, 91.

[50] Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 7-8; McCarter, I Samuel, 59-60; Klein, 1 Samuel, 7.

[51] Cf. Stoebe, Das Erste Buch Samuelis, 96; Robert Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old Testament, 360.

[52] Cf. Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 59-60.

[53] McCarter, I Samuel, 53.

[54] Cf. Donald Parry, “Hannah in the Presence of the Lord,” in Archaeology of the Books of Samuel, 58-60.

[55] Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text, 12.

[56] Cf. Wellhausen, Der Text der Bücher Samuelis, 38; Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 9-10; Budde, Die Bücher Samuel erklärt, 7; McCarter, I Samuel, 53.

[57] Cf. J. Weingreen, “A Rabbinic-Type Gloss in the LXX Version of 1 Samuel i 18,” VT 14 (1964): 226-227.

[58] Juha Pakkala, God’s Word Omitted: Omissions in the Transmission of the Hebrew Bible (Bristol, CT: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013), 203.

[59] Cf. Parry, “Hannah in the Presence of the Lord,” 70-72.

[60] Pakkala, God’s Word Omitted, 200-206; Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 15, 61, 68.

[61] This conjectural emendation was first introduced by August Klostermann, Die Bücher Samuelis und der Könige (Nördlingen: C. H. Beck, 1887), 2-3.

[62] Auld, I & II Samuel, 26.

[63] For reconstruction of the LXX Hebrew vorlage, see Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 63-66. For 4QSama, cf. Eugene Ulrich, The Biblical Qumran Scrolls: Transcriptions and Textual Variants (VTSup, 134; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 259.

[64] E.g., Wellhausen, Der Text der Bücher Samuelis, 38; Karl Budde, Die Bücher Samuel erklärt (KHAT 8; Tübingen/Leipzig: Mohr Siebeck, 1902); Stephen Pisano, Additions or Omissions in the Books of Samuel: The Significant Pluses and Minuses in the Massoretic, LXX and Qumran texts (Göttingen : Vandenhoeck & Rupprecht, 1984.); M. Tsevat, “Was Samuel a Nazirite?” in “Shaʿarei Talmon”: Studies in the Bible, Qumran, and the Ancient Near East presented to Shemaryahu Talmon (ed. M. Fishbane and E. Tov; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1992), 199-204; Alexander Rofé, “Midrashic Traits in 4Q51 (So-Called 4QSama),” in Archaeology of the Books of Samuel, 82.

[65] Pakkala, God’s Word Omitted: Omissions in the Transmission of the Hebrew Bible (Bristol, CT: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013).

[66] Cf. Marc Brettler, The Book of Judges (New York: Routlege, 2002), 47.

[67] Cf. Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 88-89, n. 98; Rachelle Gilmour, Representing the Past: A Literary Analysis of Narrative Historiography in the Book of Samuel (VTSup, 143; Boston: Brill, 2011), 54-55; Eliezer Diamond, “An Israelite Self-Offering in the Priestly Code: A New Perspective on the Nazirite,” JQR 88 (1997): 1-18.

[68] McCarter, I Samuel, 53; cf. also Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 9.

[69] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 63-64.

[70] Cf. Brettler, The Book of Judges, 42.

[71] See Pakkala, God’s Word Omitted, 351-361.

[72] Cf. Yairah Amit, “The Nazirism Motif and the Editorial Work” in In Praise of Editing in the Hebrew Bible: Collected Essays in Retrospect (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2012), 131-146; Stuart Chepey, Nazirites in Late Second Temple Judaism: A Survey of Ancient Jewish Writings, The New Testament, Archaeological Evidence, and Other Writings from Late Antiquity (Boston: Brill, 2005), 6 n. 26, 190-191.

[73] See Eliezer Diamond, “An Israelite Self-Offering in the Priestly Code,” for an analysis of the basic purpose and meaning of the nazirite vow.

[74] Jon Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985); Francesca Stavrakopoulou, King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities (BZAW 338; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2004).

[75] Moshe Weinfeld, “The Worship of Molech and of the Queen of Heaven and its Background,” UF 4 (1972): 133-154.

[76] Cf. Levenson, Death and Resurrection, 46-48; Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 186; Jacob Milgrom, “Were the Firstborn Sacrificed to Yahweh? To Molek? Popular Practice or Divine Demand,” in Sacrifice in Religious Experience (ed. Albert I. Baumgarten; Boston: Brill, 2002), 54.

[77] McCarter, I Samuel, 54.

[78] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 68.

[79] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 68; Pakkala, God’s Word Omitted, 203; Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 10-11.

[80] Zipor, “קשה” TDOT 13:192-193; Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text, 14.

[81] Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text,14-15.

[82] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 69-70.

[83] P. Kyle McCarter, II Samuel (New York: Doubleday, 1984), 299.

[84] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 70; McCarter, I Samuel, 54.

[85] McCarter, I Samuel, 54-55.

[86] Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 11.

[87] Cf. Budde, Die Bücher Samuel, 9-10; Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 22; McCarter, I Samuel, 55; Klein, 1 Samuel, 2-3.

[88] Wellhausen, Der Text, 39; Budde, Die Bücher Samuel, 10; Driver, Notes, 15-16; McCarter, I Samuel, 55; Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 72.

[89] Cf. Driver, Notes, 1-4; Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 22-23.

[90] Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 91.

[91] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 74.

[92] Frolov, Turn of the Cycle, 91.

[93] Ibid.

[94] Major proponents include Jan Dus, “Die Geburtslegende Samuel 1: Eine traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung zu 1 Sam 1-3,” Rivista degli studi orientali 43 (1968) 163-94; Ivan Hylander, Der literarische Samuel-Saul Komplex (1 Sam 1-15) traditionsgeschichtlich untersucht (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1932); Adolphe Lods, Israel from Its Beginning to the Middle of the Eighth Century (London: Routlege & Kegan Paul, 1962); P. Kyle McCarter, I Samuel; Fritz Stolz, Das erste und zweite Buch Samuel (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 1981), 25; Joseph Blenkinsopp, A History of Prophecy in Israel (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 52-53; Donald G. Schley, Shiloh: A Biblical City in Tradition and History (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), 152-153; Marc Brettler, “The Composition of 1 Samuel 1-2,” JBL 116 (1997): 601-612; Simcha Shalom Brooks, Saul and the Monarchy: A New Look (Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2005), 83-84; James Maxwell Miller and John Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (London : SCM Press, 2006), 125-126; Thomas Römer, The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: A Sociological, Historical, and Literary Introduction (New York: T&T Clark, 2007), 94.

[95] Stoebe, Das Erste Buch Samuelis, 97-98; John Van Seters, In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of Biblical History (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1997), 347; Matitiahu Tsevat, “Die Namengebung Samuels und die Substitutionstheorie” ZAW 99 (1987): 250-254; Ralph Klein, 1 Samuel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 9; Robert Polzin, Samuel and the Deuteronomist: A Literary Study of the Deuteronomic History (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989), 25-26; Robert Gordon, “Who Made the Kingmaker? Reflections on Samuel and the Institution of the Monarchy,” in Faith, Tradition, and History: Old Testament Historiography in Its Near Eastern Context (ed. A. R. Millard, J. K. Hoffmeier, D. W. Baker; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1994), 255-269; Antony F. Campbell, 1 Samuel (FOTL 7; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 42; Marsha White, “Saul and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 1 and 14” in Saul in Story and Tradition (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 119-38; Gregory Mobley, Samson and the Liminal Hero in the Ancient Near East (New York: T&T Clark, 2006), 78-80; Auld, I & II Samuel, 33-34; M O’Connor, “The Human Characters’ Names in the Ugaritic Poems,” in Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting (ed. Steven Ellis Fassberg and Avi Hurvitz; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 271; Dietrich, The Early Monarchy in Israel: The Tenth Century BCE (Trans. Joachim Vette; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 255; Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 204-205.

[96] McCarter, I Samuel, 62.

[97] James Barr, “The Symbolism of Names in the Old Testament,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 52 (1969): 15-17.

[98] Cf. Moshe Weinfeld, “The Worship of Molech and of the Queen of Heaven and its Background,” UF 4 (1972): 133-154; Jennifer Larson, Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide (New York: Routlege, 2007), 34; Mohammed Maraqten and Yusuf Abdallah, “A Recently Discovered Inscribed Sabean Bronze Plaque from Mahram Bilqīs near Mārib, Yemen,” JNES 61 (2002): 49-53.

[99] “Apology of Hattus̆ili III,” translated by Th. van den Hout (COS 1:199-204).

[100] For the late character of the Shiloh material in Joshua, see Schley, Shiloh, 101-104.

[101] Israel Finkelstein, The Forgotten Kingdom: The Archaeology and History of the Northern Kingdom (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013), 49-50.

[102] Cf. Brooks, Saul and the Monarchy, 92-94; William Schniedewind, “Gibeon” in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (ed. David Noel Freedman; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 502; Joseph Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel: The Role of Gibeon and the Gibeonites in the Political and Religious History of Early Israel (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 6.

[103] Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel, 23-27; Karel van der Toorn, Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria and Israel: Continuity and Change in the Forms of Religious Life (New York: E.J. Brill, 1996), 267-270.

[104] Cf. A. Demsky, “The Genealogy of Gibeon (1 Chronicles 9:35-44): Biblical and Epigraphic Considerations,” BASOR 202 (1971): 16-23.

[105] Cf. Diana Edelman, “Gibeon and the Gibeonites Revisited,” in Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period (ed. Oded Lipschits and Joseph Blenkinsopp; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2003), 153-68; Joseph Blenkinsopp, “Did Saul Make Gibeon his Capital?” VT 24 (1974): 6.

[106] Edelman, “Saul’s Journey through Mt. Ephraim,” 57-58; van der Toorn, Family Religion in Babylonia, 269.

[107] Ibid., 267-270.

[108] Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel, 8-9.

[109] Ibid., 56.

[110] Cf. Philip R. Davies, “Saul, Hero and Villain” Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 131-140; Diana Edelman, “Saul as a Young Hero,” in Le jeune héros: Recherches sur la formation et la diffusion d’un thème littéraire au Proche-Orient ancien (ed. J. M. Durand, T. Römer, and M. Langlois; Orbis biblicus et orientalis, 250; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009), 161–183; Gregory Mobley, “Glimpses of the Heroic Saul,” in Saul in Story and Tradition, 80-87.

[111] McCarter, I Samuel, 65.

[112] Cf. Leonhard Rost, The Succession to the Throne of David (trans. Michael D. Rutter and David M. Gunn; Sheffield: Almond Press, 1982); McCarter, I Samuel, 12-30; Reinhard Kratz, The Composition of the Narrative Books of the Old Testament (New York: T&T Clark, 2000), 183-184; Thomas Römer, The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: A Sociological, Historical, and Literary Introduction (New York: T&T Clark, 2007), 91-97.

[113] Ernst Axel Knauf, “Samuel Among the Prophets: ‘Prophetical Redactions in Samuel,’” in Is Samuel Among the Deuteronomists?, 154-155; Schley, Shiloh, 152-157. Cf. Martin Noth, “Samuel und Silo,” 391-92; Mark A. O’Brien, The Deuteronomistic History Hypothesis: A Reassessment (OBO 92; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989), 98.

[114] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 74.

[115] McCarter, I Samuel, 55; Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 75.

[116] Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 13; Klein, 1 Samuel, 3.

[117] Ruth Fidler, “A Wife’s Vow – The Husband’s Woe? The Case of Hannah and Elkanah (I Samuel 1,21.23),” ZAW 118 (2006): 374–388.

[118] Matthew Goff, 4QInstruction (Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013), 131-132.

[119] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 75-76; Fidler, “A Wife’s Vow,” 376-377.

[120] McCarter, I Samuel, 55-56.

[121] Cf. other clauses beginning with ʿd in S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1892), 134-135.

[122] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 77; Mark Smith, The Pilgrimage Pattern in Exodus (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 101; Marc Zvi Brettler, God is King: Understanding an Israelite Metaphor (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), 94; Jack Sasson, “The Eyes of Eli: An Essay in Motif Accretion,” in In Inspired Speech: Prophecy in the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honour of Herbert B. Huffmon (ed. John Kaltner and Louis Stulman; London: T. & T. Clark, 2004), 171–90; Klaas Veenhof, “Seeing the Face of God: The Use of Akkadian Parallels” Akkadica 94-95 (1995): 33-37.

[123] Contra Stolz, Das erste und zweite Buch Samuel, 28, there is no indication from the narrative that the pilgrimage to the temple functions as a feast celebrating the boy’s weaning.

[124] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 80.

[125] Jacques Berlinerblau, The Vow and the ‘Popular Religious Groups’ of Ancient Israel: A Philological and Sociological Inquiry (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 83-89.

[126] This reconstruction was proposed already by Otto Thenius, Die Bücher Samuels (Leipzig: Weidmann’sche Buchhandlung, 1842), 6.

[127] Cf. Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 80-81.

[128] Cf. McCarter, I Samuel, 56.

[129] Driver, Notes, 20; Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 81-82; McCarter, I Samuel, 56-57.

[130] Hutzli, 82.

[131] Hutzli, 82.

[132] Cf. Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 83-84; McCarter, I Samuel, 57; Ulrich, The Biblical Qumran Scrolls, 260.

[133] For the history of interpretation of vv. 24-25, see Pisano, Additions, 152-163.

[134] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 85; Pisano, Additions, 163.

[135] Cf. Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 84; Stolz, Das erste und zweite Buch Samuel, 28.

[136] Cf. Emanuel Tov, Different Editions of the Song of Hannah and of its Narrative Framework” Tehillah le-Moshe: Biblical and Judaic Studies in Honor of Moshe Greenberg (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1997), 153-157.

[137] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 85.

[138] Hutzli, Die Erzählung von Hanna, 87.

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