This man went up out of his city yearly
From year to year; or, as the Targum, from the time of the solemn appointed feast to the solemn appointed feast, from one to another; there were three of them in the year, at which all the males in Israel were to appear at the tabernacle; and being a Levite, this man was the more careful to observe this rule. He is said to "go up" out of his city, which was Ramathaim or Ramah; for though it was built on an eminence, from whence it had its name, yet Shiloh, whither he went, was higher; that being, as Adrichomius says F1, on the highest mountain of all round about Jerusalem, and the highest of all the mountains of the holy land. So that as he first went down the hill from Ramah, he went up an high ascent to Shiloh, which is the place he went up to as follows:
to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh;
where the tabernacle was, the place of worship, and the altar of burnt offerings, on which sacrifices were offered. This place, according to Bunting F2, was twelve miles from Ramah, though others say it was not more than seven miles from it; hither he went to worship, or bow before the Lord; to pray unto him, as it is commonly interpreted; and being put before sacrifice, is said to be preferable to that, and more acceptable to God, and more eligible to be done in the tabernacle or temple than at home; see ( Luke 18:10 ) and though he is said to go up to sacrifice, it is not to be understood of his performing it himself, but by others, by the priest; for he himself was a Levite and could not offer sacrifices. This is the first time that mention is made of this title of Jehovah, Lord of hosts, of all the hosts and armies in heaven and in earth, the Lord of Sabaoth, as in ( James 5:4 ) from (abu) , an "host", or army; and from hence the Heathens called some of their deities by the name of Sabazius, as Jupiter Sabazius F3; and the Phrygians and Thracians used to call Bacchus Sabazius, and other Grecians following them did the same F4:
and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas the priests of the Lord,
were there; Eli was the next judge of Israel after Samson, and who also was the high priest, as is generally supposed; but when and how the high priesthood came into his family is nowhere said, who was a descendant of Ithamar, the younger son of Aaron, in whose line it continued to the time of Solomon; and Josephus F5 places three between Phinehas and Eli, who were all of the line of Eleazar, whom he calls Abiezer, Bouci, and Ozis; but their Scripture names are Abishua, Bukki, and Uzzi, ( 1 Chronicles 6:50 1 Chronicles 6:51 ) . And according to him, after Uzzi came Eli to be high priest, and therefore must be the first of the line of Ithamar that was in that office. His two sons are mentioned as officiating as priests in Shiloh, at the time Elkanah used to go yearly thither to worship and sacrifice; who were very wicked men, as appears by an after account of them; and it is generally thought that this is observed here, to show that the wickedness of these priests did not hinder this good man from doing his duty; nor did he make use of it as an excuse for not attending the worship of the sanctuary.
F1 Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 30. So Sandys's Travels, l. 3. p. 157.
F2 Travels of the Patriarchs p. 122.
F3 Valer. Maxim. l. 1. c. 3. Vid. D. Herbert de Cherbury de Relig. Gent. c. 3. p. 22.
F4 Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 212. Harpocration in voce (saboi) , Lucian. Concil. deor. sect. 4. Cicero de legibus. l. 2. Aristophan vespae, v. 9, 10. Aves, 582. & Scholia in ib. Lysistrate, p. 860. & Scholia in ib.
F5 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 11. sect. 5.