Eli's sons were wicked men;a they had no regard for the Lord
or for the priests' share [of the sacrifices] from the people.b When any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged meat fork while the meat was boiling
and plunge it into the container or kettle or caldron or cooking pot. The priest would claim for himself whatever the meat fork brought up. This is the way they treated all the Israelites who came there to Shiloh.
Even before the fat was burned, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, "Give the priest [some] meat to roast, because he won't accept boiled meat from you-only raw."
If that man said to him, "The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself,"c the servant would reply, "No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don't, I'll take it by force!"
So the servants' sin was very severe in the presence of the Lord, because they treated the Lord's offering with contempt.
The boy Samuel served in the Lord's presence and wore a linen ephod.d19
Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.
Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: "May the Lord give you children by this woman in place of the one shee has given to the Lord."f Then they would go home.
The Lord paid attention to Hannah's [need], and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.g23
He said to them, "Why are you doing these things? I have heard about your evil actions from all these people.
No, my sons, the report I hear from the Lord's people is not good.
If a man sins against another man, God can intercede for him, but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?"h But they would not listen to their father, since the Lord intended to kill them.i26
By contrast, the boy Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.j27
A man of God came to Eli and said to him, "This is what the Lord says: 'Didn't I reveal Myself to your ancestral house when it was in Egypt and belonged to Pharaoh's palace?
I selected your housek from the tribes of Israel to be priests, to offer sacrifices on My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in My presence.l I also gave your house all the Israelite fire offerings.
Why, then, do all of you despise My sacrifices and offerings that I require at the place of worship?m You have honored your sons more than Me, by making yourselves fat with the best part of all of the offerings of My people Israel.'
"Therefore, the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Although I said your family and your ancestral house would walk before Me forever,n the Lord now says, "No longer!" I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disgraced.o31
" 'Look, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestral family, so that none in your family will reach old age.
You will see distress [in the] place of worship, in spite of all that is good in Israel, and no one in your family will ever again reach old age.
Any man from your [family] I do not cut off from My altar will bring griefp and sadness to you. All your descendants will die violently.qr34
This will be the sign that will come to you concerning your two sons Hophni and Phinehas: both of them will die on the same day.s35
" 'Then I will raise up a faithful priestt for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind. I will establish a lasting dynasty for him, and he will walk before My anointed one for all time.
Anyone who is left in your family will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread. He will say: Please appoint me to some priestly office so I can have a piece of bread to eat.' "