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Hannah's Prayer

Samuel, in Hebrew pronounced shem-oo-ale, meaning heard by God (see El), was the son of Hannah and Elkanah, a Levite (see Levites). In Samuel's case, his name was given to him by his mother because she was heard by God:

"1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul [see Where Is Your Soul?], and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head." (1 Samuel 1:10-11 KJV)

"1:20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD." (1 Samuel 1:20 KJV)

"Because I have asked him of the LORD"

Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah. The other wife, Peninnah, had the children that she wanted, while Hannah had none.

Hannah and Peninnah

"1:1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 1:2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children." (1 Samuel 1:1-2 KJV)

Hannah's childlessness was "because the LORD had shut up her womb." As happened in a few other families, the LORD limited the birth of children to those who would be given to serve Him. John the Baptist is a well-known example of that (see The Other Miraculous Birth). Hannah's child would also be dedicated to serve the LORD.

1:3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. 1:4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:

1:5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] had shut up her womb. 1:6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. 1:7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. 1:8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?" (1 Samuel 1:3-8 KJV)

Hannah's prayer was not merely for a child; it was also for a child of God i.e. "I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life" (1 Samuel 1:11 KJV).

1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head [see the Fact Finder question below].

1:12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. 1:13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. 1:14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.

1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 1:16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.

1:18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

1:19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.

1:20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD." (1 Samuel 1:9-20 KJV)

Fact Finder: What does "there shall no razor come upon his head" refer to?
See Nazirites


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