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Hannah's Song - 1 Samuel 2 - notes

1) The Hebrew has a repeated -îy sound, imitated in this verse (and to some extent throughout the song) by -igh. Horn can symbolise strength, dignity, power etc and is (grammatically) a feminine word. High place is râmâh - the name of Hannah's home town as well as a place of worship.

2) The repeated êyn ("There is not" or equivalent) is copied here. The shorter verse style has been chosen to imitate the verbless style of the phrases in this verse. Rock as an indication of divinity is echoed in David's Song (2 Samuel 22, Psalm 18) but both of these are subordinate to the more elaborate development of this idea in the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32).

3) The first line has repeated verbs (making much, speaking) and the repetition of gebohah (pride). Hence the emphasis in the sentence.

4) Strictly, strength is bow, but taken here to represent the military prowess of the valiant (warriors) - bow (qesheth) is singular whilst valiant (gibborîym) is plural. Prepared to be translates 'girded for', and has the primary sense of 'someone else is preparing them to be' rather than 'they are ready to be'.

5) Those who have feasted and those who have hungered translate The satisfied and the hungry, and have been chosen to present more of a parallel phrasing than the shorter versions. Will be working translates will hire themselves out as workers. Strictly, the last line reads mother of many sons but the amplification is not really needed here. The last two lines have a repeated -âh sound, imitated here by alliteration of consonants.

8) nedîybîym (Nobles) can signify people of noble rank, or those of a generous, willing or noble disposition. The former has been chosen to retain the idea of elevation and enobling of the poor, and to accompany the throne of the next line. Grant him the right has the idea of giving as an entitlement or inheritance. In the last two lines, ’erets and têbêl can be seen simply as poetic variations on world: however the former often conveys the idea of land as opposed to sea or sky, and the latter conveys the idea of cultivated land as opposed to wilderness. Hence earth and world of men as the translation. Orders conveys sets in place rather than issues instructions to.

9) Steps is strictly feet here. Obscurity translates choshek (darkness), which can be used figuratively as well as literally.

10) shamayim - skies here, but heavens is also possible. Some themes from the first verse are echoed here - for example Hannah's triumph over her adversaries in verse 1 is a parallel to Yahweh's triumph over those who contend against him here, and your salvation (yeshu‘âthekâ) mirrors his anointed (meshîychû).