What does 1 Samuel 1:5 mean?
ESV: But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.
NIV: But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.
NASB: but to Hannah he would give a double portion, because he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb.
CSB: But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving.
NLT: And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children.
KJV: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb.
NKJV: But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb.
Verse Commentary:
Elkanah is handing out portions of the meat to his family members. These come from the peace offering to God (1 Samuel 1:1–4). He has given a portion each to his second wife Peninnah and her sons and daughters (1 Samuel 1:4). Now he turns to his first wife Hannah and—most likely—gives her twice as much as he gave to his other wife or any of her children.

Commentators are divided on how to translate this phrase. The Hebrew might be an idiom: a figure of speech whose meaning is something nonliteral. One crucial word can mean "anger," "nostrils," or "face," the other "portion" or "part." Scholars have offered a wide range of explanations. Some suggest Elkanah gave in anger, since his wife produced no children, but this doesn't make sense of the reference to his love. Others believe he is grieved that he can only give her a single portion. Still others think this means he gave her choice parts of the animal.

Ultimately, most interpreters settle on "a double portion" as presenting the best balance of meaning and intent. The exact nature of what Elkanah gives to Hannah is not important. What matters is why he gives, and the statement about her childless state.

Elkanah gave to Hannah because he loved her. Modern readers typically connect marriage to emotional love, but this was not necessarily the case in the ancient world. It certainly was not always true in cases of infertility. Some believed barrenness was a curse from God, though Scripture does not say so. Both Elkanah and Hannah recognized that, in some sense, the Lord had prevented her from conceiving. Elkanah did not see God's refusal to grant Hannah children as a reason not to love her. In fact, these references suggest he loved her more, either because of or despite her infertility.
Verse Context:
First Samuel 1:1–20 describes how Samuel the prophet came to be born. His mother Hannah was barren and mocked by her husband's other wife, who had many children. During a family feast at Shiloh, Hannah prayed out of her deep despair. She vowed to give her son back to God if He would allow her to conceive. Once Eli, the priest, understood that Hannah was not drunk, he told her the Lord would grant her request. Satisfied, she returned home and soon gave birth to a boy. She named him Samuel.
Chapter Summary:
Elkanah lives in Ephraim with two wives. Hannah is barren, while his other wife has many children. At the annual family sacrifice and feast in Shiloh, Hannah weeps and pours out her grief before the Lord. She vows to give a son to Him for lifelong service if the Lord gives her a boy. After confronting Hannah for drunkenness and then seeing that she was praying from her depth of emotion, Eli the priest blesses Hannah and affirms her prayer. Elkanah and Hannah conceive, and she gives birth to a son that she names Samuel. Once he is weaned, she presents him to Eli at the temple and gives him over to the Lord as long as he lives.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 1 begins the story of Samuel with the account of his unlikely-seeming birth. Samuel's mother Hannah is barren. During a family trip to temple of the Lord in Shiloh, she weeps bitterly before the Lord and pours out her grief. She vows to give a son back to the Lord if He will allow her to bear one. Eli the priest blesses her and affirms her prayer. Before long, Samuel is conceived and born. Once he is weaned, Hannah brings the boy and a large sacrifice to the temple. She gives Samuel over to the Lord.
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
Accessed 7/23/2024 7:18:35 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.