1 Samuel 3:1-21

1 Samuel 3:1-21
Ordinary B8


Now the boyA SamuelB was ministeringC to the LordD underE Eli.F

Notes on verse 1a

A “boy” = naar. May be from na’ar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a child or a servant. It is a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence.
B “Samuel” = Shemuel. From shem (name, fame, renown; indicating something essential about a person; honor, authority, or character); {may be from sum (to put, place, set)} + el (God, a god) OR from shama (hear, call, consent, or consider; implies listening intelligently, giving attention; obedience and action are often implied) + el (God, a god). This is Samuel meaning either the “name of God” or “heard of God.”
C “ministering” = sharath. This is ministering, serving, or waiting on. It can refer to one offering service as a worshipper or one serving as a servant.
D “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
E “under” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
F “Eli” = Eli. From alah (to go up, climb, approach, bring; to be high or actively climb; can be literal or figurative). This is Eli, meaning “lofty.”

The wordG of the Lord was rareH in those days; visionsI were not widespread.J

Notes on verse 1b

G “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
H “rare” = yaqar. From yaqar (to be precious, costly, rare, valued; properly, to be heavy; figuratively, valuable or inhibit). This is precious, splendid, noble, weighty, or rare. It is valuable in a subjective or objective sense.
I “visions” = chazon. From chazah (to gaze at – to see or behold; perceiving as a mental process or looking at something with pleasure; seeing a vision). This is a vision or a sight. It could be a dream, oracle, or revelation.
J “were…widespread” = parats. This is to make a breach, burst out, compel, disperse. It is to break out literally or figuratively.

At that timeK Eli, whose eyesightL had begunM to grow dimN

Notes on verse 2a

K “time” = yom. Literally “day.”
L “eyesight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
M “begun” = chalal. This is to pierce, which implies to wound. It is used figuratively for making someone or something profane or breaking your word. It can also mean to begin as though one opened a wedge. Also, to eat something as a common thing.
N “grow dim” = keheh. 9x in OT. From kahah (to darken, grow faint, fail, be weak, have one’s eye dim or become dull). This is dark, faded, feeble, dim, smoking, or obscure. It can also mean abated.

so that he couldO not see,P was lying downQ in his room;R 

Notes on verse 2b

O “could” = yakol. This is to be able, endure, overcome, prevail.
P “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
Q “lying down” = shakab. This is to lie down, lodge. It is lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons.
R “room” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.

the lampS of GodT had not yet gone out,U and Samuel was lying down in the templeV of the Lord, where the arkW of God was. 

Notes on verse 3

S “lamp” = ner. This is to glisten. It is used for a lamp, candle, or light in a literal or figurative sense.
T “God” = Elohim. Related to “Samuel” in v1. See note B above.
U “gone out” = kabah. This is to quench or extinguish. It could refer to a fire or to anger.
V “temple” = hekal. Perhaps related to “could” in v2. Perhaps from yakol (see note O above). This is a large building with public access such as a palace or temple.
W “ark” = aron. Perhaps from arah (to gather or pluck). This is a chest, box, or coffin. It is used for the Ark of the Covenant.

Then the Lord called,X “Samuel! Samuel!” 

and he said, “Here I am!”Y and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.”Z So he wentAA and lay down.

Notes on verses 4-5

X “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
Y “here I am” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
Z “again” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
AA “went” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.

6 The Lord called again,BB “Samuel!”

Samuel got upCC and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

But he said, “I did not call, my son;DD lie down again.” 

Notes on verse 6

BB “again” = yasaph. This is to add, increase, continue, exceed.
CC “got up” = qum. Related to “room” in v2. See note R above.
DD “son” = ben. This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

Now Samuel did not yet knowEE the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealedFF to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

Then Eli perceivedGG that the Lord was calling the boy. 

Notes on verses 7-8

EE “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
FF “revealed” = galah. This is to remove, bring, carry, lead, appear, advertise. It can mean to strip someone or something bare in a negative sense. Captives were typically stripped before they were sent into exile. Used figuratively, in a positive sense, this word means reveal, disclose, discover.
GG “perceived” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.

Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak,HH Lord, for your servantII is listening.’”JJ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.KK

10 Now the Lord came and stoodLL there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 

Notes on verses 9-10

HH “speak” = dabar. Related to “word” in v1. See note G above.
II “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
JJ “listening” = shama. Related to “Samuel” in v1. See note B above.
KK “place” = maqom. Same as “room” in v2. See note R above.
LL “stood” = yatsab. This is to set oneself, take a stand, remain, continue, to station or set something in place.

11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See,MM I am about to doNN somethingOO in IsraelPP that will make both earsQQ of anyone who hears of it tingle.RR 

Notes on verse 11

MM “see” = hinneh. Related to “here I am” in v4. From hen (see note Y above). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
NN “do” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
OO “something” = dabar. Same as “word” in v1. See note G above.
PP “Israel” = yisrael. Related to “Samuel” in v1 & “God” in v3. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note B above). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
QQ “ears” = ozen. This is ear, hearing, audience, show. Properly, it is broadness – applied to its ear in reference to its shape.
RR “tingle” = tsalal. 4x in OT – 3x on tingling ears in 1 Samuel 3, 2 Kings 2, and Jeremiah 19 & lips quivering in Habakkuk 3. This is to tingle or rattle. It can express shame or fear.

12 On that day I will fulfillSS against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house,TT from beginning to end.UU 

Notes on verse 12

SS “fulfill” = qum. Same as “got up” in v6. See note CC above.
TT “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
UU “end” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.

13 For I have toldVV him that I am about to punishWW his house forever,XX for the iniquityYY that he knew, because his sons were blasphemingZZ God, and he did not restrainAAA them. 

Notes on verse 13

VV “told” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
WW “punish” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
XX “forever” = ad + olam. Ad is from adah (to advance or continue; to take away or remove; adorning oneself with ornaments). This is old, perpetuity, eternity. It is a duration going back or forward. Olam is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
YY “iniquity” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
ZZ “blaspheming” = qalal. This is to be little, insignificant, swift. It can also mean to bring down in esteem, create contempt, curse.
AAA “restrain” = kahah. Related to “grow dim” in v2. 8x in OT. See note N above.

14 Therefore I swearBBB to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiatedCCC by sacrificeDDD or offeringEEE forever.”

Notes on verse 14

BBB “swear” = sheba. From sheba (seven, by sevenfold; it can also be used to imply a week or an indefinite number; symbolically, this is the number of fullness, sacredness, perfection). This verb, properly means to be complete – literally, to seven yourself. In terms of oath taking, this is to swear with the same seriousness as if you had declared the thing seven times.
CCC “expiated” = kaphar. This is to appease, cover, pacify, cancel, make atonement, placate. Specifically, it can mean to cover with bitumen.
DDD “sacrifice” = zebach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is a slaughter – literally of an animal. So, it implies the act or the animals used in sacrifice. Further, it can mean offering.
EEE “offering” = minchah. This is a gift or an offering, particularly a sacrificial one that is generally bloodless and given spontaneously (voluntarily).

15 Samuel lay there until morning;FFF then he openedGGG the doorsHHH of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraidIII to tell the visionJJJ to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.”

He said, “Here I am.” 

Notes on verses 15-16

FFF “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
GGG “opened” = pathach. This is to open wide in a literal or figurative sense. So, it is open, draw out, let something go free, break forth. It can also mean to plow, engrave, or carve.
HHH “doors” = delet. From dalah (to draw, lift up; properly, to dangle; draw water; figuratively, to deliver). This is something that swings like a door, gate, leaf, lid, or other opening.
III “was afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
JJJ “vision” = mar’ah. Related to “see” in v2. 11x in OT. From mar’eh (sight, appearance, or vision; a view, seeing itself, that which is seen, something real, or a vision one sees); from raah (see note P above). This is a vision or a mirror.

17 Eli said, “What was itKKK that he toldLLL you? MMMDo not hideNNN it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 

18 So Samuel told him everythingOOO and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems goodPPP to him.”

Notes on verses 17-18

KKK “it” = dabar. Same as “word” in v1. See note G above.
LLL “told” = dabar. Same as “speak” in v9. See note HH above.
MMM {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
NNN “hide” = kachad. This is to hide or conceal or destroy. It can also refer to doing secret actions or secret speech.
OOO “everything” = kol + dabar. Kol is all or every. Dabar is the same as “word” in v1. See note G above.
PPP “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.

19 As Samuel grew up,QQQ the Lord was with him and let none of his words fallRRR to the ground.SSS 

Notes on verse 19

QQQ “grew up” = gadal.  This is to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing.
RRR “fall” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
SSS “ground” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

20 And all Israel from DanTTT to Beer-shebaUUU knew that Samuel was a trustworthyVVV prophetWWW of the Lord. 

Notes on verse 20

TTT “Dan” = Dan. From din (to judge, straight course). This is Dan or a Danite. It means “judge” and can refer to Dan, his tribe, or the lands of the tribe.
UUU “Beer-sheba” = Beerah Shaba. Related to “swear” in v14. From beer (a well or pit); {from baar (to make plain,; to dig; can also mean to engrave or figuratively to explain)} + perhaps from shaba (to swear, curse, vow, make a covenant; properly, to be complete; this is to seven oneself – as in affirming something so strongly it is as though it were said seven times) {perhaps from sheba (see note BBB above)}. This is Beersheba – meaning either “well of seven” or “well of an oath.”
VVV “was…trustworthy” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
WWW “prophet” = nabi. This is prophet, prophecy, speaker, or someone inspired.

21 The Lord continuedXXX to appearYYY at Shiloh,ZZZ for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

Notes on verse 21

XXX “continued” = yasaph. Same as “again” in v6. See note BB above.
YYY “appear” = raah. Same as “see” in v2. See note P above.
ZZZ “Shiloh” = Shiloh. From shalah (to draw out, take away, require) OR from the same as Shiyloh (Shiloh; perhaps “he whose it is” or “tranquil”); perhaps from shalah (to be quiet, safe, tranquil; can imply success or happiness; could also mean to deceive or be negligent). This is Shiloh, perhaps “he whose it is” or “tranquil.”

Image credit: “Samuel Listens to God” by Amy & Carly of Fishnet Bible stories.

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