What does 1 Samuel 1:3 mean?The tent of meeting with the Lord and the ark of the covenant had been established at Shiloh after Joshua and the Israelites conquered the Promised Land (Joshua 18:1). Shiloh was located about twenty miles, or thirty-two kilometers, from Jerusalem to the north. This was Israel's main center of worship during the time of the judges (Judges 2:16–19), before Samuel helped to usher in the era of Israel's kings (Judges 21:25).
Every year, Elkanah's family, perhaps the entire clan, met at Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:21). Though none of the three annual feasts required by the law of Moses is specifically mentioned, some commentators believe this to be the Passover (Luke 2:41). Judges 21:19 mentions a yearly feast at Shiloh. Later, David refers to an annual feast and sacrifice to the Lord for his clan (1 Samuel 20:6).
This is the first time the exact phrase "LORD of hosts" is used in the Bible. It is found frequently in the Psalms and prophets. The word "hosts" can describe both heavenly bodies (Isaiah 40:26) and vast armies of warriors (Numbers 32:27; 1 Samuel 17:45). The name is often used to describe Yahweh's fearful power and might as the commander of vast armies of unstoppable angelic warriors (Psalm 89:5–8; Isaiah 2:12–19; 6:1–7).
Eli was the chief priest of Israel at Shiloh at this time. His sons Hophni and Phinehas served alongside him, though they abused their positions and didn't know the Lord (1 Samuel 2:12).