What does 1 Samuel 2:23 mean?
ESV: And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people.
NIV: So he said to them, 'Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours.
NASB: So he said to them, 'Why are you doing such things as these, the evil things that I hear from all these people?
CSB: He said to them, "Why are you doing these things? I have heard about your evil actions from all these people.
NLT: Eli said to them, 'I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning?
KJV: And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
Eli, now very old, rebukes his sons for their sinful behaviors as priests of the Lord—sins against God and the people of Israel. Scripture often condenses conversations into simple statements, so it's not clear if this was a one-time rebuke or an ongoing conversation. One wonders how long Eli knew about their crimes, or how passive he was to let such things happen. Whatever the discussion between the father and his sons, it was entirely ineffective (1 Samuel 2:25).
The aging priest asks his sons why they do such things. He tells them about reports from many people about their actions. Eli specifically calls what they have been doing evil. Their immorality included abusing their power to take extra meat from the sacrifices for themselves (1 Samuel 2:12–17). It also meant taking advantage of the women who served outside the tent of meeting (1 Samuel 2:22).
Many parents can empathize with Eli's first question: Why did you do that? God will hold Eli responsible for the sins of his household (1 Samuel 2:27–36), since he clearly failed to address them in a timely way. Yet, as many parents are when they see their children fall into sin, the old priest seems baffled his sons would so brazenly sin against God in their role as priests over Israel.
First Samuel 2:22–26 describes Eli's rebuke of his sons Hophni and Phinehas for their abuse of their power as priests over Israel. In addition to taking the best cuts of meat for themselves, the pair have been sleeping with the female servants at the sanctuary. The news of their corruption is spreading everywhere. Eli asks who will intercede for them when they sin directly against the Lord. Still, they refuse to repent because the Lord has already marked them for death. Samuel, meanwhile, continues to grow in favor with the Lord and with other people.
After delivering Samuel to the Lord, Hannah offers a poetic prayer of praise. The sons of Eli the priest are evil, depraved men who abuse their power as priests. They coerce worshippers to give them additional meat. They sleep with women who serve at the sanctuary. In contrast, Samuel grows in favor with God and others as he grows up physically. Hannah and Elkanah continue to go to Shiloh yearly; they also have more children. Eli rebukes his sons, but they don't repent. The Lord tells Eli that all his descendants will die young and his two rebellious sons will die on the same day. The Lord will raise up a faithful priest to do His will.
The prior chapter explained how Hannah cried out to God for a son, and that her request was granted. First Samuel 2 begins with Hannah's praise to the Lord in response. Samuel remains in Shiloh where he ministers and matures. By contrast, Eli's sons are wicked and abuse their power as priests. A prophet reveals that God will cause all Eli's descendants to die young and his two sons to die on the same day. The Lord will raise up a faithful priest from another part of the family line. This provides background for Samuel's call from God in chapter 3.
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 11/30/2023 6:44:58 AM
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.