The following is a fictional story based on 1 Samuel 1. I hope you enjoy it.
The next morning Elkanah got his family up to take the journey to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts. Just like every other year Elkanah explained to his children why it was so important to go to Shiloh. Everyone looked forward to this journey.
“Remember children, this is the place where Yahweh Elohim has decided to allow his presence to dwell. It’s a special place. That’s why all of our people go there to worship him. We come together during these special times as one people, thanking him for his goodness.” Elkanah reached down to pick up the littlest one, who was growing tired from walking.
Photographer: Federico Stevanin
Reaching the area of worship, Elkanah distributed the sacrifices to his family so they could all worship together.
“Here, P’ninah. May the Lord bless you.” P’ninah held her head high as she walked toward her husband to receive her portion. Next, he called each of his children one-by-one and gave each one their portion. Finally, he asked Hannah to step forward.
He leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “To you my love, I give a double portion because I love you. I don’t care if you have no children.” Hannah took her portion and stepped back with the rest of the family.
P’ninah waited until Elkanah left before she began her verbal assault on Hannah. “You think you’re so special, don’t you? Well, you’re not. You are nothing, Hannah. You’re not even a real woman. You can’t birth any children. Even Elohim has forgotten about you. Even he didn’t think you were worth having children. He probably knew you would be an awful mother and decided he didn’t want to put any children through your horrible childrearing. Face it, you are worthless.”
Tears trickled down Hannah’s cheeks. She quickly wiped them away. “You are a horrible person, P’ninah.” She turned and ran off to be alone.
“That’s right, Hannah. Try and run away from the fact that you are worthless. Even Adonai doesn’t love you. No one loves you. No one cares about the cursed, barren woman. Run Hannah. Run and cry.” P’ninah shouted.
At dinner time everyone gathered around the table, but Hannah was too sad to eat. She couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
P’ninah spoke in the most concerned voice she could mustard up, “My dear Hannah, what is wrong with you? Why are you so upset? This is not a time to be crying. We are in the house of Adonai. We have come to worship him. This is not a time to think about ourselves.”
P’ninah always knew just how to stick the knife in Hannah’s back and turn it slowly, causing as much pain as she could.
Elkanah slammed down his fist onto the table. He shouted at Hannah, “Hannah, why are you crying? What has you so upset that you won’t even eat your food? Why are you so sad?” Even though he asked her the questions, he already knew the answers.
Hannah didn’t answer him so he continued frustrated, “Am I not better than ten sons?” Quickly, he stopped himself from going any further because while he loved Hannah more, he did love P’ninah. He did not want to disrespect her. After all, she had given him both, sons and daughters. He settled his anger against Hannah and sat down to finish his meal.
He loved her more than life itself. He gave her everything she could possibly want – everything, that is, except a child. But he was not God. He had no control over who gave birth and who didn’t. It was unfair of her to be so sad when he loved her so much.
Tension dominated the rest of the meal. Everyone eat in silence as quickly as possible. Hannah felt the walls closing in on her. She didn’t know how much longer she could endure holding her pain inside.
Finally, the meal was finished. She pushed her body away from the table and staggered off toward the temple of Adonai. With each step pain seared her heart. A deep emptiness began to fill her soul.
(to be continued…)
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