And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord,
&c.] The tabernacle so called; lamp is put for the lamps in the candlestick in the tabernacle, which were lighted every evening, and burnt till morning; by which time some of them at least usually went out, only it is said the western lamp never went out. Now the reason why this is observed is to show that it was in the night, before morning, that the following transaction was: some by this lamp understand the lamp of prophecy, that before that was quite extinct in Eli, only began to depart, as his eyes are said to begin to wax dim, the spirit of prophecy came to Samuel; so that, as the Jews express it, before one sun was set another arose; thus before the sun of Moses set, the sun of Joshua arose; and before the sun of Eli set, the sun of Samuel arose:
where the ark of God was;
that is, in the temple or tabernacle; not in that part of it where the lamps were burning in the candlestick, that was in the holy place; but the ark was in the holy of holies, where the Lord dwelt, and was the symbol of his presence; and which is observed to point out the place from whence the voice came, after mentioned; and which the Targum expresses here,
``and a voice was heard out of the temple of the Lord, where the ark of the Lord was:''and Samuel was laid down to sleep; after Eli was in bed, and Samuel had done all his business, he laid himself down to sleep in his place; in the court of the Levites, as the Targum, with which the Jewish commentators in general agree: it must be somewhere near to Eli, so that he could quickly come at him, when he needed his assistance; though, according to the Misnah F16, the priests shut the doors of the court within, and the Levites slept without. It is highly probable that Samuel's apartment was near to Eli, or he could not have so readily come to him, as it is plain he did. This circumstance is also observed, to show that it was in the night, and before morning, that the following vision was; and, as Kimchi thinks, about cock crowing; and it may be from hence Strabo F17 had the notion, that Moses ordered such to sleep (in the temple) for themselves, and others, who were fit to receive good dreams, and who might expect from God a good gift, who lived soberly and righteously; and because the tabernacle was covered with skins, hence might spring the notion of others to sleep in temples, for the above reason, under the skins of the sacrifices, (See Gill on 2:8), though they seem rather to have slept upon them, for the above purposes, namely, to converse with their deities, and get knowledge from them F18.
F16 Middot, c. 1. sect. 8.
F17 Geograph. l. 16. p. 523.
F18 Vid. Virgil. Aeneid. 7. "huc dona Sacerdos" ver. 86-95.