Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Peninnah

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 



Peninnah means coral and her story is found in 1 Samuel 1:2-7

You have probably heard of the prophet Samuel. His father had two wives which was pretty common for priests and rulers. Hannah, Samuels mother was probably the wife that Elkaniah first loved and married in his youth. Peninniah may have been a cousin wife married later in life. For years I have read this passage and assumed that both wives lived together in the same area but had their own tents. I am finding that I am drawn to Alice Linsley's research that says that these ruler/ priests carried on a traceable pattern of having two wives one lived on the North side of his territory and the other on the South side. These wives that helped to secure Elkanah territory and did not live in the same location. In a closer reading of the story it is clear that they are together each year at Shiloh and portions of meat are given to Peninnah and her children but Hanna is given a double portion.  Take a look at verse 7 below. "So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord... It seems as if they were thrown together each year at this time and it is then that Peninnah tormented Hannah. I can't imagine any man in his right mind wanting to have to live with his wives bickering on a daily basis. A home for each wife, one in the North and one in the South makes a lot of sense to me. In which case these yearly trips to worship and sacrifice to the Lord were probably pretty painful for Hannah. Can you imagine a a long road trip with the other wife who is constantly flaunting her children and pointing out how much better she is. Peninnah would likely assume that she was more favored by God even thought her husband did not love her. 

The Family of Elkanah

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lordwere there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.


Its possible that both wives are in the same household which would cause me to think in that case that Peninnah probably was given to Elkaniah much like Sara gave Hagar to Abraham. Perhaps like Hagar she got a bit uppity with her mistress after she had born a child and secured her place as a child bearing wife. We know that Peninnah was not loved by Elkaniah and was jealous of the favor shown to barren Hannah. Peninnah constantly looked for ways to torment Hannah. Was she a maid turned wife because passing along the family line was very important and at some point Elkaniah had to take another wife. I read somewhere that the rule of the Rabis was that after 10 years of barrenness a man could take another wife.  Elkaniah may have lamented much like Abraham, that he would have to leave everything to Eleazar. "And Abram said, ‘Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eleazar of Damascus and lo, one born in my house is mine heir.’"Genesis 15:2–3 Eleazar may have been a faithful servant or more likely a son born to a concubine because passing along the blood line was of surprime importance. To be an heir he would have had to have carried the seed or the blood line of Abraham.

According to Alice Linley of Just Genesis a proper heir had to come from the ruler/priests, sister wife. The first son of the cousin wife would be an heir to her grandfather and named after him.
Since Samuel becomes the heir and follows his father in the duties of a priest it is likely that his mother was the sister wife.
 
After much torment and years of waiting and praying Hannah at long last cries out to God during the yearly visit to Shiloh. She promises to give the child into the Lords service for all his days. She is good to her word and takes young Samuel to live with Eli the priest. She goes on to have other 5 other children.

1 Samuel 2
20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave toc the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

Hannah has a song of praise much like the magnificat of Mary. In that song there is an interesting line. 1 Samuel 2:5b She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.  According to Matthew Henry "The tradition of the Jews is that when Hannah bore one child Peninnah buried two."  Some how in the song Hannah ends up with seven rather than five children. This is what causes me to think that Peninnah was a wife like Hagar, added because the beloved wife was barren. Perhaps all her many children died leaving only two who in the end are credited to Hannah. Was Peninnah more of a surrogate mother?  It might help explain why she was unloved.

What you might take away from Peninnah's story. We often think that increase is a measure of God's blessing on a life. We can be too quick to assume that someone who struggles is less blessed or loved by God. We are quick to say that success in life is to have the American dream. Revelation 3:17 says "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
The priorities of Gods kingdom are vastly different from the American dream. 
Hannah who seemed to be unblessed gives birth to one of the greatest prophet/priests of Israel. Sometimes God withholds the things we desperately want until the time is ripe. Sometimes there are changes in us that must happen in our relationship with Him that make us ready to fully walk in the things he has destined for us to have. We can feel impatient that God has not answered our prayer when all along God was being patient with us waiting for us to turn to him in our anguish. 





 

15 comments:

  1. Lovely message gained through this Bible story thank you Margot! Inner riches are far more valuable than outer ones.



    Susan Scott's Soul Stuff

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    1. Thank you Susan glad you enjoyed this post.

      Blessings, Margot

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  2. Please read the post at Blogging from A to Z today (Friday April 19). I've featured your blog to help you gain some new blog followers. Don't forget to visit those who are your new followers and have left comments so you can thank them and reciprocally follow their blogs. We're trying to accomplish some fruitful networking today!

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thank you Lee,
      What a blessing to be featured.
      Nice to have you as a follower as well.

      Blessings, Margot

      Delete
  3. I love mosaics and your message was great! Good luck with the A to Z. I recently came to the conclusion that success isn't always measured the way we think it is. I believe God wants us to recognize every step along the way as a success : )
    Kids Math Teacher

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    1. Hi Lucy,
      It is a journey and every journey has its ups and downs.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

      Blessings, Margot

      Delete
  4. I'm happy to discover your blog through the A to Z Challenge and I look forward to reading more!

    -Cristyl @ www.mychillthoughts.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cristy,
      Nice to be discovered. I will be by to visit your blog soon.

      Blessings, Margot

      Delete
  5. Interesting discussion, I do believe God witholds certain things from us until the time is ripe and we're mature enough to receive them.

    J.L. Campbell writes Jamaican Kid Lit

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the discussion - thanks for commenting.

      Blessings, Margot

      Delete
  6. Hi from a fellow A to Z-er. Great post. I think I figured out a long time ago that material increase is not a measure of God's favor, and we're not only promised hardships but told to rejoice in them! But it's still easy for me to fall prey to feeling frustrated with my situation. Thanks for reminding me of the better way.

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    Replies
    1. Again I say rejoice... Yep sometimes its easy to forget when things are difficult.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Blessings, Margot

      Delete
  7. Margot, I love this message of long-suffering. It's not a popular message but it is so true. In a world where everyone wants to be prosperous and instantly gratified, some of the faithful followers feel left out if they don't have all the **material blessings** to show the world. But we're here to give glory to God and not only to benefit from Him. Thanks for the reminder.

    Chontali Kirk
    chontalikirk.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete