The predecessor of Samuel as 'judge,' and high priest in the sanctuary at Shiloh. Excepting in the final scene of his life, every time he comes before us it is in connexion with others who occupy the position of greater interest. Thus in his interviews with Hannah, in the first one it is she in whom the chief interest centres (1Sa 1:12 ff.); in the second it is the child Samuel (1Sa 1:24 ff.). The next time he is mentioned it is only as the father of Hophni and Phinehas, the whole passage being occupied with an account of their evil doings (1Sa 2:12 ff.). Again, in 1Sa 2:27 ff., Eli is mentioned only as the listener to 'a man of God' who utters his prophecy of evil. And lastly, in his dealings with the boy Samuel the whole account (ch. 3) is really concerned with Samuel, while Eli plays quite a subsidiary part. All this seems to illustrate the personality of Eli as that of a humble-minded, good man of weak character; his lack of influence over his sons only serves to emphasize this estimate.
W. O. E. Oesterley.