As I was doing my Wed. Bible study with will yesterday, we examined one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I had never noticed, before yesterday, the chocolate cookie stories betwixt which this one is smashed. My favorite story, of course, is the one of the Philistines and the ark. Basically, as a result of idolatry, the Israelites lose the ark (representing the presence of God). They end up making tumors and rats of gold, which is just plain awesome, and then send the ark on its way. The story has always captivated my bizarre, twisted sense of humor side . . . my biggest side.
Anyway, the story itself and the surrounding story all seek to contrast the evil high priest and his sons (Eli and Hophni and Phinehas). Here is a very basic chart demonstrating the parallels for what its worth.
Israel goes out to fight the Philistines, defeated (4.1-2)
Elders bring in the ark so "IT may save us" (4.3)
Eli and sons known for taking the best portion from the sacrifice (2.12-16)
Israel shouted when they saw the ark, scaring the Philistines (4.7)
In the second battle, Israel routed, losing 30,000 men (4.10)
Eli judged in comfort in his own town (4.12)
New name: Ichabod, "the glory has departed from Israel" (Phineas' son 4.21)
Gluttony (Eli and sons were fat and selfish)
Result: God favors the Philistines, shows mercy in how they handled the ark (ch. 5)
Philistines go out against Israel (7.7)
"Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that HE may rescue us (7.8)"
Samuel offered a whole lamb as a burnt offering, taking none (7.9)
God thundered against the Philistines, throwing them into a panic (7.10)
Samuel traveled and judged throughout Israel (7.16-17)
New name: Ebenezer, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
Result: God's hand against the Philistines
Samuel also fulfills the role of redemptive judge, which is the pattern for judges. Not a single negative comment is made about his life as a judge, and he is known for standing up to leaders whether Eli, Saul, or David. One question to ask ourselves is whether or not the text was distorted for the sake of demonstrating this contrast. What do you think? Do you see other parallels I may have missed?
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