1 Samuel 2:29

ESV Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’
NIV Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?'
NASB Why are you showing contempt for My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded for My dwelling, and why are you honoring your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’
CSB Why, then, do all of you despise my sacrifices and offerings that I require at the place of worship? You have honored your sons more than me, by making yourselves fat with the best part of all of the offerings of my people Israel.'
NLT So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me — for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel!
KJV Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

What does 1 Samuel 2:29 mean?

Through an unnamed prophet, the Lord has asked Eli some pointed questions in the previous two verses (1 Samuel 2:27–28). These are really statements, or challenges, declaring a truth and almost daring Eli to disagree. Didn't the Lord show Himself to Eli's ancestors while Israel was in captivity in Egypt? Didn't the Lord choose Aaron out of all the tribes of Israel to carry out all the duties of the high priest? In fact, the Lord gave to the priests, including Eli, a portion of the offerings made by fire on the altar for their own food.

So why, the Lord now asks, did Eli disrespect the practices the Lord commanded for His dwelling in the sanctuary? The literal Hebrew phrasing is that Eli "kicked at" such things. The imagery implies disrespect, much as a modern English speaker might use the metaphor of someone "spitting on" something. Why, the Lord asks, did Eli honor his sons above the Lord? Why did the priest of Israel and his sons fatten themselves on the choicest parts of the offerings instead of offering those to the Lord as the Law commands?

Thus far, the text has revealed Eli's sons Hophni and Phinehas to be wicked, abusive men (1 Samuel 2:12). They leveraged their position as priests to demand the best cuts of the offerings before they were sacrificed (1 Samuel 2:15–17). They even slept with the women who came to serve at the sanctuary outside the tent of meeting (1 Samuel 2:22). The Lord already planned to put them to death (1 Samuel 2:25).

Now, though, the Lord holds Eli responsible for his enablement of his sons' actions. They were under his supervision (1 Samuel 3:13). Because Eli tolerated their sins, instead of holding them accountable, he was guilty of honoring his depraved sons above the Lord. Like many parents before and since, Eli could not bring himself to properly discipline his own children. Then, as now, such choices often result in the child's condemnation and ultimately the shame of the parent (Proverbs 17:25; 19:26).

Scripture is not clear about when, or how often, Eli confronted his sons about their sins. The Lord's questions to Eli resemble Eli's questions to his boys about why they did such things (1 Samuel 2:23). The difference is that Eli took no action when his boys refused to change direction. Now the Lord was going to step in and hold all three of them accountable.

Finally, the Lord includes Eli in the charge of fattening himself along with them on the choicest cuts of the sacrifices. Eli was not entirely separate from these events. He did not merely tolerate his sons' abuses. He also benefited from them.
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