Eli in Easton's Bible Dictionary
ascent, the high priest when the ark was at Shiloh (1 Sam.
9). He was the first of the line of Ithamar, Aaron's
(1 Chr. 24:3; comp. 2 Sam. 8:17), who held that
office remained in his family till the time of
Abiathar (1 Kings
2:26, 27), whom Solomon deposed, and appointed
Zadok, of the
family of Eleazar, in his stead (35). He acted also
as a civil
judge in Israel after the death of Samson (1 Sam.
judged Israel for forty years.
His sons Hophni and Phinehas grossly misconducted
to the great disgust of the people (1 Sam. 2:27-36).
licentious reprobates. He failed to reprove them so
he ought to have done, and so brought upon his house
judgment of God (2:22-33; 3:18). The Israelites
against the Philistines, whose army was encamped at
battle, fought a short way beyond Mizpeh, ended in
defeat of Israel. Four thousand of them fell in
They now sought safety in having the "ark of the
covenant of the
Lord" among them. They fetched it from Shiloh, and
Phinehas accompanied it. This was the first time
settlement of Israel in Canaan that the ark had been
from the sanctuary. The Philistines put themselves
array against Israel, and in the battle which ensued
smitten, and there was a very great slaughter." The
this great disaster were speedily conveyed to
Shiloh, about 20
miles distant, by a messenger, a Benjamite from the
Eli sat outside the gate of the sanctuary by the
anxiously waiting for tidings from the battle-field.
extent of the national calamity was speedily made
known to him:
"Israel is fled before the Philistines, there has
also been a
great slaughter among the people, thy two sons
Phinehas are dead, and the ark of God is taken" (1
4:12-18). When the old man, whose eyes were
fixed, as of a blind eye unaffected by the light)
heard this sad story of woe, he fell backward from
off his seat
and died, being ninety and eight years old. (See
Eli, Heb. eli, "my God", (Matt. 27:46), an
exclamation used by
Christ on the cross. Mark (15:34), as usual, gives
Aramaic form of the word, Eloi.
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