1 Samuel 2:31-34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

31 Behold, the days are coming when I will break your [q]strength and the [r]strength of your father’s house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that [s]I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 33 Yet I will Not cut off every man of yours from My altar [t]so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die [u]in the prime of life. 34 This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die.

1 Samuel 2:33-34 seems to state that Not every man among Eli's descendants will be killed/die before their time or in sadness. Furthermore, the aforementioned verse seems to imply that the reason why God wanted to leave some of the descendants alive was because God wanted the living descendants to weep and let his soul grieve. Is said analysis and interpretation correct?

1 Samuel 4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the noise of this commotion mean?” Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?” 17 Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, [f]Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for [g]he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years.

However, 1 Samuel 2:33-34 seems to only Partially accurately prophecizes (and in some ways contradicts) what happens in 1 Samuel 4:18. The reason why I say it only Partially accurate is because it is true that both sons, Hophni and Phinehas, die violent deaths, and Eli does live long enough to have a grieving soul and be shocked and sad due to the loss of Israel's ark of the covenant, and possibly violent deaths of his 2 sons on the same day. However, Eli himself dies violently by falling off the seat, and breaking his neck which ultimately leads to his death. Therefore, to me, it seems that 1 Samuel 2:33-34 is Only partially accurate, and in some ways contradicts with 1 Samuel 4:18. Is my analysis and interpretation correct? Could someone please point out if there is something wrong with my analysis and interpretation?

  • The ESV and some others give a quite different translation of 1 Sam 2:33 that is significant.
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


It is hard to interpret this verse as referring to Eli himself, since the text clearly states "and a man of yours", or "of your lineage". Eli barely fits the description of "the man of Eli's lineage" as he is "the man" itself who is being cut off. This is where I think your interpretation goes off.

Thus the word איש most likely does not refer to a specific man, rather to any man who does survive this curse, see commentary K&D. The essence of this verse is then, that anyone who does make it through manhood without dying will not fare well, but will live in misery and will be a curse and a grievance to all who stand by. Thus the your in "your eyes" is not ever meant to fulfilled in real life, rather it should be interpreted like this: were you able to live long enough to see your grandchildren, they will be a grievance to your soul as they will live in misery and shame.

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