ascent, the high priest when the ark was at Shiloh ( 1 Samuel 1:3 1 Samuel 1:9 ). He was the first of the line of Ithamar, Aaron's fourth son ( 1 Chronicles 24:3 ; Compare 2 Samuel 8:17 ), who held that office. The office remained in his family till the time of Abiathar ( 1 Kings 2:26 1 Kings 2:27 ), whom Solomon deposed, and appointed Zadok, of the family of Eleazar, in his stead (35). He acted also as a civil judge in Israel after the death of Samson ( 1 Samuel 4:18 ), and judged Israel for forty years.
His sons Hophni and Phinehas grossly misconducted themselves, to the great disgust of the people ( 1 Samuel 2:27-36 ). They were licentious reprobates. He failed to reprove them so sternly as he ought to have done, and so brought upon his house the judgment of God ( 2:22-33 ; 3:18 ). The Israelites proclaimed war against the Philistines, whose army was encamped at Aphek. The battle, fought a short way beyond Mizpeh, ended in the total defeat of Israel. Four thousand of them fell in "battle array". They now sought safety in having the "ark of the covenant of the Lord" among them. They fetched it from Shiloh, and Hophni and Phinehas accompanied it. This was the first time since the settlement of Israel in Canaan that the ark had been removed from the sanctuary. The Philistines put themselves again in array against Israel, and in the battle which ensued "Israel was smitten, and there was a very great slaughter." The tidings of this great disaster were speedily conveyed to Shiloh, about 20 miles distant, by a messenger, a Benjamite from the army. There Eli sat outside the gate of the sanctuary by the wayside, anxiously waiting for tidings from the battle-field. The full extent of the national calamity was speedily made known to him: "Israel is fled before the Philistines, there has also been a great slaughter among the people, thy two sons Hophni and Phinehas are dead, and the ark of God is taken" ( 1 Samuel 4:12-18 ). When the old man, whose eyes were "stiffened" (i.e., fixed, as of a blind eye unaffected by the light) with age, heard this sad story of woe, he fell backward from off his seat and died, being ninety and eight years old. (See ITHAMAR .)
the offering or lifting up
(ascension ), a descendant of Aaron through Ithamar, the youngest of his two surviving sons. ( Leviticus 10:1 Leviticus 10:2 Leviticus 10:12 ) comp. 1Kin 2:27 with 2Sam 8:17; 1Chr 24:3 (B.C. 1214-1116.) he was the first of the line of Ithamar who held the office of high priest. The office remained in his family till Abiathar was thrust out by Solomon, ( 1 Kings 1:7 ; 1 Kings 2:26 1 Kings 2:27 ) when it passed back again to the family of Eleazar int he person of Zadok. ( 1 Kings 2:35 ) Its return to the elder branch was one part of the punishment which had been denounced against Eli during his lifetime, for his culpable negligence. ( 1 Samuel 2:22-25 ) when his sons profaned the priesthood; comp. ( 1 Samuel 2:27-36 ) with 1Kin 2:27 Notwithstanding this one great blemish, the character of Eli is marked by eminent piety, as shown by his meek submission to the divine judgment, ( 1 Samuel 3:18 ) and his supreme regard for the ark of God. ( 1 Samuel 4:18 ) In addition to the office of high priest he held that of judge. He died at the advanced age of 98 years, ( 1 Samuel 4:18 ) In addition to the office of high priest he held that of judge. He died at the advanced age of 98 years, ( 1 Samuel 4:18 ) overcome by the disastrous intelligence that the ark of God had been taken in battle by the Philistines, who had also slain his sons Hophni and Phinehas.
A descendant of Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron, who exercised the office of high priest in Shiloh at the time of the birth of Samuel. For the first time in Israel, Eli combined in his own person the functions of high priest and judge, judging Israel for 40 years (1 Samuel 4:18). The incidents in Eli's life are few; indeed, the main interest of the narrative is in the other characters who are associated with him. The chief interest centers in Samuel. In Eli's first interview with Hannah (1 Samuel 1:12), she is the central figure; in the second interview (1 Samuel 1:24), it is the child Samuel. When Eli next appears, it is as the father of Hophni and Phinehas, whose worthless and licentious lives had profaned their priestly office, and earned for them the title "men of Belial" (or "worthlessness").
Eli administered no stern rebuke to his sons, but only a gentle chiding of their greed and immorality. Thereafter he was warned by a nameless prophet of the downfall of his house, and of the death of his two sons in one day (1 Samuel 2:27-36), a message later confirmed by Samuel, who had received this word directly from Yahweh Himself (1 Samuel 3:11). The prophecy was not long in fulfillment. During the next invasion by the Philistines, the Israelites were utterly routed, the ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas were both slain. When the news reached Eli, he was so overcome that he "fell from off his seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck brake, and he died" (1 Samuel 4:18). The character of Eli, while sincere and devout, seems to have been entirely lacking in firmness. He appears from the history to have been a good man, full of humility and gentleness, but weak and indulgent. His is not a strong personality; he is always overshadowed by some more commanding or interesting figure.
A. C. Grant
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