1 Samuel: A Narrative Commentary by Keith Bodner

By Keith Bodner

This large remark provides I Samuel as a worldly paintings of literature, the place the reader is challenged with a story that's fraught with interpretative probabilities. In his precise literary examining Bodner lays precise emphasis at the interesting array of characters that populate the narrative, and at the plot, in its layout and its configurations. therefore, a number of interesting episodes and personalities are handed in evaluation: from the symbolically charged closed womb of Hannah to the backwards fall and the damaged neck of Eli, to the unusual journey of the Ark of God in the course of the menacing Philistine pentapolis, wreaking havoc. Then there's the advanced portrayal of Samuel the prophet, the emergence of the fugitive David as a pacesetter, and the eventual decline, insanity, and necromancy of King Saul. basically via a literary research of its many ironies and ambiguities, Bodner amply exhibits, can the richness of this vintage royal drama be totally favored.

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3, by contrast, he does respond to Samuel’s message, albeit brief and not altogether lucid: ‘He is the LORD’, Eli says, ‘what is good in his eyes, let him do’. The mention of God’s ‘eyes’ is interesting, in light of Eli’s incremental blindness. Furthermore, there is an echo of the last line of Judges here: ‘In those days there was no king in Israel, and each did what was upright in his own eyes’. The one who will anoint Israel’s first king has just delivered the bad news to the last of the line of old judges.

Furthermore, a number of terms (reveal, know, hear) are recycled from the oracle of chap. 2, and reinvested in the present context: a second pronouncement of doom on the house of Eli. The next sentence signals a point of temporal transition: from ‘in those days’ in v. 1 to ‘on that day’ in v. 2 suggests that the times are about to change in Shiloh. The bulk of 1 Samuel 3 narrates the events of one long night and its morning sequel. At this time Eli is ‘lying down in his place’. Eli’s posture is oft-noted in the narrative, and rarely does he seems to do anything that involves movement; recall that he is introduced as ‘sitting’ on his throne in chap.

Despite using only four words, there are two components to her parting words to Eli. First, her use of ‘favor’ ([H) forms a nice wordplay with her own name (K1[), anticipating the favor that barren Hannah is about to receive from God. Second, her last word to Eli—‘…in your eyes’—is notable. Hannah’s speech is an affirming one that reflects Eli’s finest hour in the story. From this point on, however, Eli’s eyesight will gradually grow dim, until extinguished in 1 Samuel 4. 18 may be straightforward enough, but her subsequent departure takes different routes in the RSV and NRSV.

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