There was a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who lived in the town of Ramah in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham and grandson of Elihu, and belonged to the family of Tohu, a part of the clan of Zuph.
Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.
Every year Elkanah went from Ramah to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord.
Each time Elkanah offered his sacrifice, he would give one share of the meat to Peninnah and one share to each of her children.
And even though he loved Hannah very much he would give her only one share, because the Lord had kept her from having children.
Peninnah, her rival, would torment and humiliate her, because the Lord had kept her childless.
This went on year after year; whenever they went to the house of the Lord, Peninnah would upset Hannah so much that she would cry and refuse to eat anything.
Her husband Elkanah would ask her, "Hannah, why are you crying? Why won't you eat? Why are you always so sad? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"
One time, after they had finished their meal in the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door.
Hannah made a solemn promise: "Lord Almighty, look at me, your servant! See my trouble and remember me! Don't forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will dedicate him to you for his whole life and that he will never have his hair cut."
Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time, and Eli watched her lips.
She was praying silently; her lips were moving, but she made no sound. So Eli thought that she was drunk,
and he said to her, "Stop making a drunken show of yourself! Stop your drinking and sober up!"
"No, I'm not drunk, sir," she answered. "I haven't been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the Lord.
Don't think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I'm so miserable."
"Go in peace," Eli said, "and may the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for."
"May you always think kindly of me," she replied. Then she went away, ate some food, and was no longer sad.
The next morning Elkanah and his family got up early, and after worshiping the Lord, they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with his wife Hannah, and the Lord answered her prayer.
So it was that she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, and explained, "I asked the Lord for him."
The time came again for Elkanah and his family to go to Shiloh and offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and the special sacrifice he had promised.
But this time Hannah did not go. She told her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will take him to the house of the Lord, where he will stay all his life."
Elkanah answered, "All right, do whatever you think best; stay at home until you have weaned him. And may the Lord make your promise come true." So Hannah stayed at home and nursed her child.
After she had weaned him, she took him to Shiloh, taking along a three-year-old bull, a bushel of flour, and a leather bag full of wine. She took Samuel, young as he was, to the house of the Lord at Shiloh.
After they had killed the bull, they took the child to Eli.
Hannah said to him, "Excuse me, sir. Do you remember me? I am the woman you saw standing here, praying to the Lord.
I asked him for this child, and he gave me what I asked for.
So I am dedicating him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he will belong to the Lord." Then they worshiped the Lord there.
Hannah prayed: "The Lord has filled my heart with joy; how happy I am because of what he has done! I laugh at my enemies; how joyful I am because God has helped me!
"No one is holy like the Lord; there is none like him, no protector like our God.
Stop your loud boasting; silence your proud words. For the Lord is a God who knows, and he judges all that people do.
The bows of strong soldiers are broken, but the weak grow strong.
The people who once were well fed now hire themselves out to get food, but the hungry are hungry no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the mother of many is left with none.
The Lord kills and restores to life; he sends people to the world of the dead and brings them back again.
He makes some people poor and others rich; he humbles some and makes others great.
He lifts the poor from the dust and raises the needy from their misery. He makes them companions of princes and puts them in places of honor. The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord; on them he has built the world.
"He protects the lives of his faithful people, but the wicked disappear in darkness; a man does not triumph by his own strength.
The Lord's enemies will be destroyed; he will thunder against them from heaven. The Lord will judge the whole world; he will give power to his king, he will make his chosen king victorious."
Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah, but the boy Samuel stayed in Shiloh and served the Lord under the priest Eli.
The sons of Eli were scoundrels. They paid no attention to the Lord
or to the regulations concerning what the priests could demand from the people. Instead, when someone was offering a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fork. While the meat was still cooking,
he would stick the fork into the cooking pot, and whatever the fork brought out belonged to the priest. All the Israelites who came to Shiloh to offer sacrifices were treated like this.
In addition, even before the fat was taken off and burned, the priest's servant would come and say to the one offering the sacrifice, "Give me some meat for the priest to roast; he won't accept boiled meat from you, only raw meat."
If the person answered, "Let us do what is right and burn the fat first; then take what you want," the priest's servant would say, "No! Give it to me now! If you don't, I will have to take it by force!"
This sin of the sons of Eli was extremely serious in the Lord's sight, because they treated the offerings to the Lord with such disrespect.
In the meantime the boy Samuel continued to serve the Lord, wearing a sacred linen apron.
Each year his mother would make a little robe and take it to him when she accompanied her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say to Elkanah, "May the Lord give you other children by this woman to take the place of the one you dedicated to him." After that they would go back home.
The Lord did bless Hannah, and she had three more sons and two daughters. The boy Samuel grew up in the service of the Lord.
Eli was now very old. He kept hearing about everything his sons were doing to the Israelites and that they were even sleeping with the women who worked at the entrance to the Tent of the Lord's presence.
So he said to them, "Why are you doing these things? Everybody tells me about the evil you are doing.
Stop it, my sons! This is an awful thing the people of the Lord are talking about!
If anyone sins against someone else, God can defend the one who is wrong; but who can defend someone who sins against the Lord?" But they would not listen to their father, for the Lord had decided to kill them.
The boy Samuel continued to grow and to gain favor both with the Lord and with people.
A prophet came to Eli with this message from the Lord: "When your ancestor Aaron and his family were slaves of the king of Egypt, I revealed myself to Aaron.
From all the tribes of Israel I chose his family to be my priests, to serve at the altar, to burn the incense, and to wear the ephod to consult me. And I gave them the right to keep a share of the sacrifices burned on the altar.
Why, then, do you look with greed at the sacrifices and offerings which I require from my people? Why, Eli, do you honor your sons more than me by letting them fatten themselves on the best parts of all the sacrifices my people offer to me?
I, the Lord God of Israel, promised in the past that your family and your clan would serve me as priests for all time. But now I say that I won't have it any longer! Instead, I will honor those who honor me, and I will treat with contempt those who despise me.
Listen, the time is coming when I will kill all the young men in your family and your clan, so that no man in your family will live to be old.
You will be troubled and look with envy on all the blessings I will give to the other people of Israel, but no one in your family will ever again live to old age.
Yet I will keep one of your descendants alive, and he will serve me as priest. But he will become blind and lose all hope, and all your other descendants will die a violent death.
When your two sons Hophni and Phinehas both die on the same day, this will show you that everything I have said will come true.
I will choose a priest who will be faithful to me and do everything I want him to. I will give him descendants, who will always serve in the presence of my chosen king.
Any of your descendants who survive will have to go to that priest and ask him for money and food, and beg to be allowed to help the priests, in order to have something to eat."
In those days, when the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under the direction of Eli, there were very few messages from the Lord, and visions from him were quite rare.
One night Eli, who was now almost blind, was sleeping in his own room;
Samuel was sleeping in the sanctuary, where the sacred Covenant Box was. Before dawn, while the lamp was still burning,
the Lord called Samuel. He answered, "Yes, sir!"
and ran to Eli and said, "You called me, and here I am." But Eli answered, "I didn't call you; go back to bed." So Samuel went back to bed.
The Lord called Samuel again. The boy did not know that it was the Lord, because the Lord had never spoken to him before. So he got up, went to Eli, and said, "You called me, and here I am." But Eli answered, "My son, I didn't call you; go back to bed."
The Lord called Samuel a third time; he got up, went to Eli, and said, "You called me, and here I am." Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy,
so he said to him, "Go back to bed; and if he calls you again, say, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went back to bed.
The Lord came and stood there, and called as he had before, "Samuel! Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak; your servant is listening."
The Lord said to him, "Some day I am going to do something to the people of Israel that is so terrible that everyone who hears about it will be stunned.
On that day I will carry out all my threats against Eli's family, from beginning to end.
I have already told him that I am going to punish his family forever because his sons have spoken evil things against me. Eli knew they were doing this, but he did not stop them.
So I solemnly declare to the family of Eli that no sacrifice or offering will ever be able to remove the consequences of this terrible sin."
Samuel stayed in bed until morning; then he got up and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli about the vision.
Eli called him, "Samuel, my boy!" "Yes, sir," answered Samuel.
"What did the Lord tell you?" Eli asked. "Don't keep anything from me. God will punish you severely if you don't tell me everything he said."
So Samuel told him everything; he did not keep anything back. Eli said, "He is the Lord; he will do whatever seems best to him."
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and made come true everything that Samuel said.
So all the people of Israel, from one end of the country to the other, knew that Samuel was indeed a prophet of the Lord.
The Lord continued to reveal himself at Shiloh, where he had appeared to Samuel and had spoken to him. And when Samuel spoke, all Israel listened.
Jesus and his disciples sailed on over to the territory of Gerasa, which is across the lake from Galilee.
As Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a man from the town who had demons in him. For a long time this man had gone without clothes and would not stay at home, but spent his time in the burial caves.
When he saw Jesus, he gave a loud cry, threw himself down at his feet, and shouted, "Jesus, Son of the Most High God! What do you want with me? I beg you, don't punish me!"
He said this because Jesus had ordered the evil spirit to go out of him. Many times it had seized him, and even though he was kept a prisoner, his hands and feet tied with chains, he would break the chains and be driven by the demon out into the desert.
Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is "Mob,' " he answered - because many demons had gone into him.
The demons begged Jesus not to send them into the abyss.
There was a large herd of pigs near by, feeding on a hillside. So the demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he let them.
They went out of the man and into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake and was drowned.
The men who had been taking care of the pigs saw what happened, so they ran off and spread the news in the town and among the farms.
People went out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were all afraid.
Those who had seen it told the people how the man had been cured.
Then all the people from that territory asked Jesus to go away, because they were terribly afraid. So Jesus got into the boat and left.
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged Jesus, "Let me go with you." But Jesus sent him away, saying,
"Go back home and tell what God has done for you." The man went through the town, telling what Jesus had done for him.
When Jesus returned to the other side of the lake, the people welcomed him, because they had all been waiting for him.
Then a man named Jairus arrived; he was an official in the local synagogue. He threw himself down at Jesus' feet and begged him to go to his home,
because his only daughter, who was twelve years old, was dying. As Jesus went along, the people were crowding him from every side.
Among them was a woman who had suffered from severe bleeding for twelve years; she had spent all she had on doctors, but no one had been able to cure her.
She came up in the crowd behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, and her bleeding stopped at once.
Jesus asked, "Who touched me?" Everyone denied it, and Peter said, "Master, the people are all around you and crowding in on you."
But Jesus said, "Someone touched me, for I knew it when power went out of me."
The woman saw that she had been found out, so she came trembling and threw herself at Jesus' feet. There in front of everybody, she told him why she had touched him and how she had been healed at once.
Jesus said to her, "My daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace."
While Jesus was saying this, a messenger came from the official's house. "Your daughter has died," he told Jairus; "don't bother the Teacher any longer."
But Jesus heard it and said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; only believe, and she will be well."
When he arrived at the house, he would not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child's father and mother.
Everyone there was crying and mourning for the child. Jesus said, "Don't cry; the child is not dead - she is only sleeping!"
They all made fun of him, because they knew that she was dead.
But Jesus took her by the hand and called out, "Get up, child!"
Her life returned, and she got up at once, and Jesus ordered them to give her something to eat.
Her parents were astounded, but Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what had happened.