"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

OT women: Hannah

I'm still reading the book I told you about in the last post, Out of the Garden: Women Writers of the Bible.   The latest discussions have been on Hannah. Remember the mother of Samuel?

There was something two or three writers mentioned about her prayer in the Temple.  What stands out to you about it? Do you remember anything you've been taught or deduced from it over the years?

I'm curious about your thoughts to see what stands out to you from this story - if anything.

From I Samuel 1,

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[b] saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”


Unknown said...

I don't think we ever spent much time on her when I was a kid in Sunday school. Not long ago, though, when I was still leading my mom's Sunday school class for adult women, we were doing a "Women of the Bible" study and spent a morning talking about her. We all liked the line "Don't I mean more to you than 10 sons?" :D Because clearly all any woman needs to be happy is a husband to share with one or more other women. Well, that and a second helping of food. All the problems solved!

But then she doesn't actually want to spend any time with her son (after he is old enough to take to the Temple), so maybe her husband actually is enough for her and it's the status she's missing. If she has at least one kid, Peninnah can't pick on her anymore, and then she will be happy. I also like that this isn't a Rachel and Leah situation where Elkanah loves Hannah more than his other wife, or at least there's nothing in this section to suggest that's the case. He gives her a double portion because he loves her and she's barren. Once that's no longer the case, maybe the unequal treatment would no longer be an issue either and Peninnah would have no reason to feel jealous, so there wouldn't be that strife there.

I'm not sure what you might be talking about with the prayer specifically. I do think it's interesting, though, that she takes a vow for her son. It's for her benefit, but she's not really the one fulfilling the vow. Well, not the only one. I'm sure it's not easy to give up her son and that's something she's sacrificing, but the sort of "bargain" implied in the prayer doesn't seem to be that she is giving up something that matters to her but rather that she is giving God a servant, so it's his life that is the payback for the vow. Kinda reminds me of Abraham and Isaac. Like maybe the more humane, proper interpretation of giving your children to the Lord as an offering.

Susanne said...

As always I *adore* your comment! You always bring up such interesting things!

Yes,I love the bit about her husband being more to her than ten sons..haha.. The lady writers mention this, too, and it made me laugh.

I love what you picked up from the prayer. What specifically these (mostly I think) Jewish women writers noted was the public nature of Hannah's prayer as an individual. Apparently at that time the area she prayed in wasn't use for prayer or maybe not individual prayers. I would never have noticed this because, um, praying in a church (grin) is normal for me. But for these Jewish women this was worth noting!

This is one reason I enjoy reading other people's thoughts on the Bible stories. They an often get something from it that I'd never notice because it is so familiar or usual to me.

Thanks much for your thoughts, and I apologize for the lateness of my reply. :(