|Reading The Text: Chapter I Part IV: A Restored Elkanah|
|Written by Michael Linetsky|
"Early the next morning they bowed low before the Lord and they went back home to Ramah”. The narrative drags out the closing of the episode at Shiloh thereby allowing the
reader to dwell on the matter. Having taken Eli’s wish as God’s they begin their worshipping early in the morning so as not to delay in giving thanks to God. This trait of promptness may be Elkanah’s as it will be he who prompts Hannah to dedicate Samuel without any delay.
The Narrative extracted all names out of this passage so as to cast the familial unity into relief. All the actions are done in unison. They arise, they bow, they go back home. The house mentioned here for the first time in the gains prominence and is referred to inclusively as “their house”. At this pivotal point in the story the family experiences a transformation. What was a collection of dialogues between discordant individuals turns into a harmonious collaboration. Whereas it has been Elkanah that would offer sacrifice to the Lord it is now ‘they’ who prostrate themselves before the Lord. Whereas it has been Elkanah who has gone up to Shiloh ‘from his city’ -- ‘they’ return’ to ‘their house’. In the Patriarchy, children are the source of the parents inner peace and stability of the home.
Just like the family itself the Narrative too takes Eli’s words decisively and now rushes events to show the fulfillment of Hannah’s request from God. As if immediately when they come home Elkanah “knows” Hannah “his wife”. Elkanah already perceives her as his wife despite that she has not actually borne him a child.
While Elkanah knows his wife God “remembers” her. This “remembering” hearkens back to Hannah’s prayer in the Temple where she asks of God that He “remember” her and grant her a child. We can almost sense the forthcoming birth! The narrative sets the human effort against the divine predetermination in his dual presentation of history. While it is Elkanah who knows Hannah it is ultimately God who grants her a child. The same God who previously closed her womb now opens it up