Couples in the Bible: Elkanah and Hannah

Elkanah is an Ephrathite and has two wives. The first is Hannah, who is childless, and the second is Peninnah, who has children.  {1 Samuel 1:1-2}

Each year they go to Shiloh to offer their sacrifice. To Peninnah and her children, Elkanah gave a portion but to Hannah he gave a double portion “because he loved her”. However, Peninnah enjoys provoking her.

Elkanah does not understand why she is so grieved and sad, asking if he’s not better than ten sons. {1 Samuel 1:3-8}

 Hannah was deeply troubled and prayed to the Lord so fervently that Eli—the priest—thought she was drunk. She ask “let your servant find favor in your eyes” and went away no longer sad. {1 Samuel 1:9-18}

Hannah finally had a son, Samuel

After arriving back home, Hannah has a son she named Samuel. She kept him with her until he was weaned and then took him and a sacrifice to the temple. She left Samuel with Eli to be trained and raised for God. She says “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”   {1 Samuel 1:27-28}

Hannah prays and sings a song of praise to God. {1 Samuel 2:1-11} She visited Samuel each year at the temple, bringing him a new robe and bore three more sons and two daughters. {1 Samuel 2:18-21}

Lessons from Elkanah and Hannah:

  1. They loved one another
  2. Playing favorites caused problems
  3. Elkanah didn’t understand her desire to be a mother
  4. Hannah prayed fervently
  5. Hannah thanked God in advance and believed he would answer her prayers
  6. Hannah praised God when he did answer her prayers
  7. Hannah kept her promise from God


  • Nichole Attanasio

    I like your insights BU I do have a couple of things I personally would change and that is about having favorites and Elkanah not understanding her desire to become a mother.

    1- I personally (and this is just me) think that he didn’t actually have favorite of his two wives. I think he saw that Hannah had more to her in personality and certain traits and gifts like maybe kindness, compassion, loving, not judgemental, probably served others’ including helping with the other children from Peninah etc. And yet we see how Peninah mocks Hannah and makes fun of her and rubs it in her face that she’s not yet a mother. Which leads me to the second thing.

    2- I think he did understand her longing to be a mother in my honest opinion. I like to think that he probably prayed for Hannah MANY AND COUNTLESS times to God to let Hannah be able to have a child, but it was Hannah who had to have that faith in knowing God could help grant her prayers and it was she who also had to ask for one. So I like to think Elkanah did understand but to an extent because even though I’ve never had kids of my own, I don’t know what it’s like to be barren. But I do know what it’s like to long for a child of my own someday with someone whom I’ll marry and love. Which is why I see that once the child was born and she told him about her promise to God, he was VERY SUPPORTIVE to her and he probably had to have his own kind of faith in knowing he would have to also take this new child of his to the tabernacle and serve God until the end of his days. Which leads to both their faith’s in their own situations here to having 5 more children and if you add Samuel to that, it made a total of 6 kids for Hannah!

    Overall, this is all just me and that I personally thing Elkanah may have seen other thins in Hannah considering the way Peninah sounded of how she treated Hannah about being barren; he asked if he was no better than ten sons and yet he most likely still prayed for her endlessly and did have some longing to have a child with Hannah; and he was a very supportive and faithful husband even when it seemed he too had to have faith to give up Samuel and honor Hannah’s promise. Anyway, just my two cents there in how I personally see this story.

    (Which we all see these differently and that’s okay 🙂 )

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