The Bible – Old Testament
There was a certain man from Rama-thaim, Elkanah by name, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
He had two wives, one named Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.
This man regularly went on pilgrimage from his city to worship the LORD of hosts and to sacrifice to him at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were ministering as priests of the LORD.
When the day came for Elkanah to offer sacrifice, he used to give a portion each to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters,
but a double portion to Hannah because he loved her, though the LORD had made her barren.
Her rival, to upset her, turned it into a constant reproach to her that the LORD had left her barren.
This went on year after year; each time they made their pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the LORD, Peninnah would approach her, and Hannah would weep and refuse to eat.
Her husband Elkanah used to ask her: “Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you refuse to eat? Why do you grieve? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
Hannah rose after one such meal at Shiloh, and presented herself before the LORD; at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair near the doorpost of the LORD’S temple.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously,
1 and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives; neither wine nor liquor shall he drink, and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
As she remained long at prayer before the LORD, Eli watched her mouth,
for Hannah was praying silently; though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli, thinking her drunk,
said to her, “How long will you make a drunken show of yourself? Sober up from your wine!”
“It isn’t that, my lord,” Hannah answered. “I am an unhappy woman. I have had neither wine nor liquor; I was only pouring out my troubles to the LORD.
Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well; my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”
Eli said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left. She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast.
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD, and then returned to their home in Ramah. When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah, the LORD remembered her.
She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son whom she called Samuel, since she had asked 2 the LORD for him.
The next time her husband Elkanah was going up with the rest of his household to offer the customary sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vows,
Hannah did not go, explaining to her husband, “Once the child is weaned, I will take him to appear before the LORD and to remain there forever; I will offer him as a perpetual nazirite.”
Her husband Elkanah answered her: “Do what you think best; wait until you have weaned him. Only, may the LORD bring your resolve to fulfillment!” And so she remained at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
3 Once he was weaned, she brought him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull, Hannah, his mother, approached Eli
and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” She left him there;
1  Give him to the LORD: some ancient texts call Samuel a nazir in this context; see note on ⇒ Numbers 6:1-3
2  Since she had asked: this explanation would be more directly appropriate for the name Saul, which means “asked”; Samuel means “name of God.”
3  An ephah: a little more than a bushel.