Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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eli Summary and Overview

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eli in Easton's Bible Dictionary

ascent, the high priest when the ark was at Shiloh (1 Sam. 1:3, 9). He was the first of the line of Ithamar, Aaron's fourth son (1 Chr. 24:3; compare 2 Sam. 8:17), who held that office. The 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. 4:18), and judged Israel for forty years. His sons Hophni and Phinehas grossly misconducted themselves, to the great disgust of the people (1 Sam. 2:27-36). They were licentious reprobates. He failed to reprove them so sternly as he ought to have done, and so brought upon his house the judgment of God (2:22-33; 3:18). The Israelites proclaimed war against the Philistines, whose army was encamped at Aphek. The battle, fought a short way beyond Mizpeh, ended in the total defeat of Israel. Four thousand of them fell in "battle array". They now sought safety in having the "ark of the covenant of the Lord" among them. They fetched it from Shiloh, and Hophni and Phinehas accompanied it. This was the first time since the settlement of Israel in Canaan that the ark had been removed from the sanctuary. The Philistines put themselves again in array against Israel, and in the battle which ensued "Israel was smitten, and there was a very great slaughter." The tidings of this great disaster were speedily conveyed to Shiloh, about 20 miles distant, by a messenger, a Benjamite from the army. There Eli sat outside the gate of the sanctuary by the wayside, anxiously waiting for tidings from the battle-field. The full 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 Hophni and Phinehas are dead, and the ark of God is taken" (1 Sam. 4:12-18). When the old man, whose eyes were "stiffened" (i.e., fixed, as of a blind eye unaffected by the light) with age, heard this sad story of woe, he fell backward from off his seat and died, being ninety and eight years old. (See ITHAMAR T0001913.) Eli, Heb. eli, "my God", (Matt. 27:46), an exclamation used by Christ on the cross. Mark (15:34), as usual, gives the original Aramaic form of the word, Eloi.

eli in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(ascension), a descendant of Aaron through Ithamar, the youngest of his two surviving sons. #Le 10:1,2,12| comp. 1Kin 2:27 with 2Sam 8:17; 1Chr 24:3 (B.C. 1214-1116.) he was the first of the line of Ithamar who held the office of high priest. The office remained in his family till Abiathar was thrust out by Solomon, #1Ki 1:7; 2:26,27| when it passed back again to the family of Eleazar int he person of Zadok. #1Ki 2:35| Its return to the elder branch was one part of the punishment which had been denounced against Eli during his lifetime, for his culpable negligence. #1Sa 2:22-25| when his sons profaned the priesthood; comp. #1Sa 2:27-36| with 1Kin 2:27 Notwithstanding this one great blemish, the character of Eli is marked by eminent piety, as shown by his meek submission to the divine judgment, #1Sa 3:18| and his supreme regard for the ark of God. #1Sa 4:18| In addition to the office of high priest he held that of judge. He died at the advanced age of 98 years, #1Sa 4:18| In addition to the office of high priest he held that of judge. He died at the advanced age of 98 years, #1Sa 4:18| overcome by the disastrous intelligence that the ark of God had been taken in battle by the Philistines, who had also slain his sons Hophni and Phinehas.

eli in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

E'LI (ascent, elevation), a descendant of Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron, and successor of Abdon as high priest and judge of Israel. 1 Sam 2:11. In consequence of his negligence or injudicious management of his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, he suffered severe chastisement. Samuel was directed to disclose to Eli the judgments that would come upon his family, 1 Sam 3:13-14, chiefly because of his neglect of paternal duty. The old man received the intelligence with remarkable submission, but it was not until 27 years after that God fulfilled his threatenings. Then his two sons were both slain in the same battle with the Philistines, into whose hands the ark of God fell. The aged priest, then in his 98th year, was so overwhelmed when these calamities were made known to him that he fell backward from his seat and broke his neck. He had governed the Hebrews in all their concerns, civil and religious, for the long period of 40 years. 1 Sam 4:18. See Eloi.

eli in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Sprung from Ithamar, Aaron's younger surviving son (Leviticus 10:1-2; Leviticus 10:12). (Compare ABIATHAR.) (1 Kings 2:26-27; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 2 Samuel 8:17). Compare Eleazar's genealogy, wherein Eli and Abiathar do not appear (1 Chronicles 6:4-15; Ezra 7:1-5). No high priest of Ithamar's line is mentioned before Eli, whose appointment was of God (1 Samuel 2:30). His grandson Ahitub succeeded (1 Samuel 14:3). Abiathar. Ahitub's grandson, was thrust out by Solomon for his share in Adonijah's rebellion and the high priesthood reverted to Eleazar's line in Zadok (1 Kings 2:35). The transfer was foretold to Eli by the unnamed man of God first, and by the child Samuel next (1 Samuel 2:3): a punishment from God, because though Eli reproved his wicked sons Hophni and Phinehas in word he did not in act, put forth his authority as a judge to punish, coerce, and depose them, "because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." Another part of the curse, "I will cut off the arm of thy father's house that. there shall not be an old man in thine house," was being fulfilled in David's days, when "there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar (16) than of the sons of Ithamar" (8) (1 Chronicles 24:4). Eli's grace shone in the meekness with which he bowed to the Lord's sentence, "It is the Lord, let Him do what, seemeth Him good." His patriotism and piety especially appear in his intense anxiety for the safety of the ark; "his heart trembled for the ark of God." The announcement after the battle, of the slaughter of the people and even of his sons did not so much overwhelm him as that of the ark of God: instantly "he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck broke and he died; for he was old and heavy." The Hebrew Scriptures make his term of office as judge 40 years; the Greek Septuagint 20 years. Some reconcile the two by making him co-judge with Samson for 20 years, and sole judge for 20 more years. He was 98 years of age at his death. His failing and its penalty are a warning to all parents, even religious ones, and all in authority, to guard against laxity in ruling children and subordinates in the fear of the Lord, punishing strictly, though in love, all sin, jealous for God's honor even at the cost of offending man and of painting natural parental feeling. Condoning sin is cruel to children as well as dishonoring to God. Children will respect most the parent who respects God. Perhaps Eli clung to office too long, when through age he was no longer able vigorously to fulfill it. He who cannot rule his own house is unfit to rule the house of God (1 Timothy 3:5).