And his daughter in law, Phinehas's wife, was with child,
near to be delivered
Was near her time, as it is commonly expressed. Ben Gersom derives the word from a root which signifies to complete and finish F11; denoting that her time to bring forth was completed and filled up; though Josephus F12 says that it was a seven months' birth, so that she came two months before her time; the margin of our Bibles is, "to cry out" F13; and so Moses Kimchi, as his brother relates, derives the word from a root which signifies to howl and lament, and so is expressive of a woman's crying out when her pains come upon her:
and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken:
which is mentioned first, as being the most distressing to her:
and that her father in law and her husband were dead;
her father-in-law Eli is put first, being the high priest of God, and so his death gave her the greatest concern, as the death of an high priest was always matter of grief to the Israelites; and next the death of her husband, who should have succeeded him in the priesthood; for though he was a bad man, yet not so bad as Hophni, as Ben Gersom observes; and therefore the priesthood was continued in his line unto the reign of Solomon; and no notice is taken by her of the death of her brother-in-law:
she bowed herself, and travailed;
put herself in a posture for travailing; perceiving she was coming to it, she fell upon her knees, as the word used signifies; and we are told F14, that the Ethiopian women, when they bring forth, fall upon their knees, and bear their young, rarely making use of a midwife, and so it seems it was the way of the Hebrew women:
for her pains came upon her;
sooner it is very probable than otherwise they would, which is sometimes the case, when frights seize a person in such circumstances: or were "turned upon her" F15; they ceased, so that she could not make the necessary evacuations after the birth, which issued in her death; some render it, "her doors were turned" F16, or changed; the doors of her womb, as in ( Job 3:10 ) , though these had been opened for the bringing forth of her child, yet were reversed, changed, and altered, so as to prevent the after birth coming away, which caused her death, as follows.
F11 (hlk) "absolvere, consummare, perficere", Buxtorf.
F12 Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 3.) sect. 4.
F13 (tll) "ad ululandum", Montanus; so some in Munster; "ad ejulandum", as some in Vatablus.
F14 Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop. l. 1. c. 14.
F15 (wkphn) "versae erant", Pagninus, Montanus.
F16 "Quoniam inversi sunt super eam eardines ejus", Munster; so Jarchi; Vid. T. Bab. Becorot, fol. 45. 1.