The Wicked “Sons of Eli” and the Composition of 1 Samuel 1–4

In: Vetus Testamentum
Author: Jaime A. Myers1
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  • 1 Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York UniversityNew York, NYUSA
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Scholars have struggled to reach consensus about the literary relationship between the anti-Elide material in 1 Sam 2–3 and the so-called “Ark Narrative” in 1 Sam 4–6. I propose a new resolution to this problem. I argue that the two named characters, Hophni and Phinehas, have been introduced secondarily to and independently from the unnamed “sons of Eli” and represent a redactional layer that runs through chs. 1–2, and 4. Before the addition of these characters, the “sons of Eli” designated a generic priesthood associated with the character, Eli. The material about this priesthood is comprised of discrete passages that have been appended to Samuel’s birth story and its extension. The anti-Elide material was later connected to 1 Sam 4 through the addition of Hophni and Phinehas, who serve to recast the Elides’ iniquities as the reason for the Israelite defeat and loss of the ark.

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