What does 1 Samuel 4:15 mean?
ESV: Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see.
NIV: who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see.
NASB: Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were fixed and he could not see.
CSB: At that time Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes didn't move because he couldn't see.
NLT: who was ninety-eight years old and blind.
KJV: Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
NKJV: Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see.
Verse Commentary:
This verse provides details which explain the dramatic nature of this moment. At ninety-eight, Eli is old and completely blind. This means some time has passed since young Samuel delivered his first prophecy from the Lord to the priest. Back then, Eli's eyesight had only begun to grow dim (1 Samuel 3:2).

Why did the Lord allow Eli to live so long when He told Samuel that He was about to punish Eli's house forever (1 Samuel 3:13)? This fits with the Lord's words to Eli through the unnamed prophet (1 Samuel 2:34) even earlier when He declared that all of Eli's descendants would die young: "The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart" (1 Samuel 2:33). The Lord allowed Eli to live long enough to experience the grief of losing his sons in confirmation that his household would continue to experience grief and loss long after he was dead.
Verse Context:
First Samuel 4:12–22 describes the reaction of the people of Shiloh, to news from the battle with the Philistines. A runner arrives and finds Eli, now ninety-eight and blind, sitting by the road at the gate. When Eli hears the news that the battle is lost, his sons are dead, and the ark is captured, he falls over backwards and dies. His daughter-in-law also reacts badly, going into premature labor and then dying herself after giving birth. She names the baby Ichabod, indicating the glory has departed from Israel because the ark has been captured.
Chapter Summary:
Israel amasses an to fight against the Philistines. After losing badly in the first battle, the elders send for the ark of God to be brought from Shiloh. They seem to assume the mere presence of the ark will act like a lucky charm or talisman. The Philistines are terrified at the idea of fighting Israel's deity, but they still defeat the Israelites, slaughtering many soldiers and capturing the ark. A runner delivers the news to Eli that his sons are dead and the ark is captured. He dies, and his daughter-in-law goes into premature labor. Before she dies, she names the baby Ichabod, saying that the glory has departed from Israel.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 4 begins a new section of 1 Samuel. The young prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1—3) disappears from the story for several chapters. Israel brings the ark of the covenant to a battle with the Philistines, but they are wiped out anyway. The Philistines rout the army and capture the ark. A runner delivers the news to Eli that his sons are dead and the ark is taken. Eli dies, as does his daughter-in-law after giving birth to a son she names Ichabod. She declares that the glory has departed from Israel because the ark has been captured. Despite this, the Philistines will soon learn the ark is not a mere trophy (1 Samuel 5).
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.
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