Verse 64. Their priests fell by the sword. Hophni and Phineas were slain; they were among the chief in sin, and, therefore, they perished with the rest. Priesthood is no shelter for transgressors; the jewelled breastplate cannot turn aside the arrows of judgment.
And their widows made no lamentation. Their private griefs were swallowed up in the greater national agony, because the ark of God was taken. As the maidens had no heart for the marriage song, so the widows had no spirit, even to utter the funeral wail. The dead were buried too often and too hurriedly to allow of the usual rites of lamentation. This was the lowest depth; from this point things will take a gracious turn.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 64. Their widows made no lamentation. This implies the extent of the destruction, and is full of meaning to one who has been in an Oriental city, during a plague or other devastating calamity. At first the cry of wailing, which always follows a death in ordinary circumstances, is loud and frequent: but such cries do not increase, but subside, with the increase of the calamity and desolation. Death becomes a familiar object in every house; and every one, absorbed in his own losses, has little sympathy to spare for others. Hence the loudest lamentations cease to be noticed, or to draw consoling friends to the house of mourning; and therefore, as well as from the stupefaction of feeling which scenes of continual horror never fail to produce, a new death is received in silence, or only with sighs and tears. In fact, all the usual observances are suspended. The dead are carried out and buried without mourning ceremonies, and without the presence of surviving friends, by men who make it an employment to take away the dead on the backs of mules or asses, from the homes they leave desolate. We have seen this. Kitto's "Pictorial Bible." 1856.
Verse 64. Their widows made no lamentation. The meaning is, either
- That being overwhelmed with sorrow they could not weep; or,
- That being in captivity amongst the Philistines they were not suffered to lament the death of their husbands; or,
- That dying with grief they lived not to make any lamentations for them at their funerals; or,
- That they were so taken up and oppressed with their own miseries, and especially with the miseries of the church and people of God in general, that they had not leisure to bewail their husbands; of both which last we have a clear instance in the wife of Phinehas in particular, 1 Samuel 4:19-20 , who dying, made no mention of her husband. Arthus Jackson.
Verse 64. The daughter-in-law of Eli, when she was at once travailing, and in that travail dying, to make up the full sum of God's judgment upon that wicked house, as one insensible of the death of her father, of her husband, of herself, in comparison of this loss, calls her (then unseasonable) son Ichabod, and with her last breath says, "The glory is departed from Israel, the ark is taken." Joseph Hall.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS