1 Samuel 2:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Samuel 2:16, NIV: If the person said to him, 'Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,' the servant would answer, 'No, hand it over now; if you don't, I'll take it by force.'

1 Samuel 2:16, ESV: And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.”

1 Samuel 2:16, KJV: And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.

1 Samuel 2:16, NASB: And if the man said to him, 'They must burn the fat first, then take as much as you desire,' then he would say, 'No, but you must give it to me now; and if not, I am taking it by force!'

1 Samuel 2:16, NLT: The man offering the sacrifice might reply, 'Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.' Then the servant would demand, 'No, give it to me now, or I'll take it by force.'

1 Samuel 2:16, CSB: If that person said to him, "The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself," the servant would reply, "No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don't, I'll take it by force! "

What does 1 Samuel 2:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse ends with the servants of the priests at the temple of the Lord at Shiloh threatening violence against worshipers. Clearly the system of religious practice in Israel was corrupt from the top down. This fits with the understated reference in the book of Judges, which reports that before Israel had a king everyone did whatever they wanted, instead of following the requirements of the Lord (Judges 21:25).

In this case, a faithful Israelite brings an offering to sacrifice to the Lord at the temple in Shiloh. Instead of following the Law or even the normal custom of the time, the priest's servant shows up as the animal is being prepared for the sacrifice and demands some of the meat for the priests to roast. The man bringing the sacrifice recognizes that the priests are skipping a step. They're supposed to offer the fat from the internal organs to the Lord first (Leviticus 3:3–5).

The man does not object to sharing the meat that would normally be his to eat with the priests, but he doesn't want to skip the most important part: the offering to the Lord. Instead of agreeing with the sincere worshiper of the Lord, the priest's servant threatens to take the raw meat by force if it is not handed over.

This goes beyond sly corruption. What's happening is outright and open abuse of power. The priests are acting like an organized crime ring, not servants of God. The people had no other option for bringing offerings to the Lord than to go through the priests designated as Israel's representatives. If those priests were unfaithful to God, what could the people do? No wonder the Lord describes this in the following verse as very great sin (1 Samuel 2:17).