Old Testament Summary Lesson 21: “God Will Honor Those Who Honor Him”
- Samuel Means Dedicated to the Lord: Hannah, the wife of Elkanah and the mother of the prophet Samuel, is a devout woman who made an annual pilgrimage to the Temple in Shiloh. Anguished at her barrenness and vowing to dedicate any son born to her to the service of God, the high priest Eli heard her and added his blessing to her pleas. (1 Samuel 1:11) First fruits and first born were offerings to the Lord in any case. They could be redeemed by paying money instead. Hannah gave her firstborn son to the High Priest (Kohen) and hence to the Lord.
- Eli’s Sons Take Advantage of Worshipers: Providing religious service for money is improper. This kind of profiteering is still repugnant in Jewish Law. Yet one can see religious men at the Western (Wailing) Wall waiting to assist Bar Mitzvah services on Mondays and Thursdays, (not Saturdays, Sabbaths, because no money is handled on this day). The families allowing them to assist are supposed to pay money in return. If the sum is not sufficient, often, more is demanded. It’s like blessings being given with one hand while the other is cupped for a “donation.”
- Service to God Instead of Self-service: Entertainment: “After the Shivah, (mourning period at death) . . . mourning continues till the thirtieth (Hebrew: sheloshim) day after death. During this period the mourner should not attend places of entertainment or participate in social gatherings . . . may not marry during the sheloshim.” Sabbath: “The rabbis . . . thought that the Sabbath is the most important of all the laws of the Torah and that by itself it is equal to all the rest. One statement is that “if Israel keeps one Sabbath as it should be kept, the Messiah will come.” They saw Shabbat as a special privilege; a gift that God gave His people Israel and as a foretaste of the world-to-come.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Fasting: “Both the prophets and the rabbis stressed that mere fasting without repentance . . . is valueless.” “Fasting is an act of repentance or of supplication seeking divine forgiveness or the prevention of disaster. . . . On fast days one neither eats nor drinks. On major fasts, other prohibitions are washing, wearing leather shoes, using ointments or perfumes, and other physical pleasures. There are special prayers and the Torah is read in the synagogue. Yom Kippur and Tishah Be-Av are observed from sunset to sunset. All other fasts are from sunrise to sunset.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Morality: “Amos cried out against the careful observance of the Temple ritual when it ignored morality as an integral part of religion. Ritual alone does not please God, who demands that it go hand in hand with mercy and compassion.” “Judaism encourages modesty as one of the means to chastity. . . the Jewish woman is . . . to dress and act modestly at all times . . . a man is forbidden to be alone with a woman with whom he is not permitted to have sexual relations from considerations of both chastity and modesty.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)