Who Was Elkanah In The Bible

Elkanah in the Bible

Elkanah was an important figure in the Bible, mentioned several times in the book of 1 Samuel. He is described as a “permanent resident” of Ramathaim-Zophim, situated in the hill country of Ephraim, and as a Levite, of the Kohathite branch.

The Bible indicates that Elkanah had two wives. His first wife, Hannah, is a more significant figure in the Bible, the mother of the prophet Samuel. Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah, had children of her own, and her status as a rival wife is often mentioned in the scriptures. Despite this, Peninnah’s name is never mentioned in connection with Elkanah.

Elkanah provided strong support to Hannah in her struggles with Peninnah, and is frequently described as showing favouritism towards her. According to the Bible, Elkanah offered “a double portion” to Hannah after the birth of Samuel, “For he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb.” (1 Samuel 1:5)

Elkanah is also mentioned several times in the book of Samuel, making regular visits to Shiloh, with his family, to pay their respect to God. His visits would involve offerings made to the priests, and sacrifices to God. During these trips, it is clear that Elkanah took his family to visit Eli the High Priest.

Elkanah is an important historical figure in the Bible, making the transition from polytheistic worship to the emergence of monotheism. He started out a polytheist, with his two wives, and worshiping at the trees of different gods, but it was in the temple at Shiloh that he first encountered the idea of a single, all-powerful and all-knowing God.

Hannah’s story, as told in the book of Samuel, is one of the most significant religious stories of the Bible. She was initially thought to be barren, but eventually prayed for a son, and God gave her the answer she longed for. It was Elkanah who first encouraged Hannah’s faith in God, by believing in her when she seemed lost and depressed in her struggle.

Elkanah was also the progenitor of one of the most celebrated kings of Israel, King David, who in turn became the ancestor of Jesus. This in itself links Elkanah to the main storyline of the Bible, underscoring his influence and impact on the historical record.

Hannah and Peninnah’s Rivalry

The Bible recounts the ongoing rivalry between the two wives of Elkanah. The fact that Hannah was unable to conceive while Peninnah had her own children, was a great source of tension between the two.

Elkanah attempted to intervene, upon seeing how distressed his wife was as a result of his second marriage. But his attempts were in vain, and Peninnah continued her mocking and aggression towards Hannah.

Elkanah’s dual marriage is an interesting example of a polygynous marriage, which was a common practice at the time. It was also believed to be God’s will, as per Deuteronomy 21:15.

The text indicates that Elkanah, despite his mixed feelings, found strength in his faith. As is mentioned in 1 Samuel 1:7-8, Elkanah said to his wife, “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” This clearly shows that his feelings for his first wife were still strong, despite the presence of his second wife.

Elkanah’s dual marriage is also symbolic of how the Hebrew culture of the time favoured patriarchy. He was respected in his community and had the power to take on two wives, a power which was denied to his first wife.

The rivalry between Hannah and Peninnah, despite being a source of great anguish to Hannah, served to reinforce the biblical themes of loyalty, courage and resilience. Primarily, it showcases how, in faith and adversity, Elkanah remained loyal to Hannah, and how Hannah’s faith was strong enough to withstand the relentless provocations from Peninnah.

Elkanah’s Characteristics

The Bible does not offer much insight into Elkanah’s character, but it does provide a few details about his life. He is described as a Levite, of the Kohathite branch, and a permanent resident of Ramathaim-Zophim, situated in the hill country of Ephraim.

Elkanah is often associated with his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah, but the Bible points to a few other aspects of his personality. It is evident that Elkanah was a loving father and husband. Although according to the scriptures he favours Hannah, this does not mean he does not love and care for his other children born from Peninnah. He is also described as being “very fond” of his wife Hannah, treating her well and helping her through her difficult time.

Elkanah is also described as a man of faith, taking his family to Shiloh to pay homage to God. He was devoted to God and showed devotion to the priests at Shiloh. He was someone who was open-minded, as his pilgrimage to Shiloh opened his eyes to the truth of monotheism.

It is also important to note that Elkanah’s story helps to showcase the history of the ancient Hebrews, especially his dual marriage and his faithfulness to God. This provides an understanding of the beliefs and practices of the culture of the time.

Polygyny in the Bible

The Bible is full of examples of polygynous marriages, and Elkanah is but one example in the Book of 1 Samuel. Other notable figures in the Bible, and in ancient Hebrew history, to take multiple wives include Abraham, David and Solomon.

At the time, polygyny was seen as a sign of wealth and power, as a man with multiple wives was seen to have much higher status than those who only had one. This practice was also seen as divinely sanctioned and sanctioned in the Bible, as in Deuteronomy 21:15.

The main purpose of polygyny at the time was to produce children, as this was a way to build larger families and gain greater power. Wealthy families at the time would often have multiple wives, making it easier to produce a large number of children.

In Elkanah’s case, it is unclear why he took two wives. It could be that he simply wanted to gain more power, or it could be that he wanted it to provide a better life for his family. What is clear, however, is that Elkanah was devoted to both wives, and loved them dearly.

During the time of Elkanah and the Old Testament, polygyny was a common practice. However, this is not the case today, as it is now accepted across the world that marriage should only involve one husband and one wife.

The Significance of Elkanah Today

The story of Elkanah is an important one for the present-day, as it showcases themes of faith, loyalty and resilience. He showed great devotion to both his wives, and remained with the love of his life despite the suffering imposed by his other wife.

Elkanah also signifies the transition from polytheism to monotheism, making the transition in faith with his pilgrimage to Shiloh. This transition is a key moment in religious history, as it marks the emergence of an all-powerful and all-knowing God.

Elkanah’s story is also significant today in terms of how it serves as an example of the ancient Hebrews’ culture and beliefs. His dual marriage and devotion to God showcase his importance and significance to the Bible, and to religious history.

Additionally, Elkanah’s story serves as an inspirational account for modern-day couples, as it demonstrates loyalty, courage and faith in the face of difficulty. His devotion and loyalty to his wife, regardless of the obstacles, have been a source of hope and inspiration to many.


Elkanah was an important figure in the Bible, mentioned several times in the book of 1 Samuel. He was portrayed as a devoted father and husband, who showed great loyalty to his wives. He is also credited with the transition from polytheism to monotheism and is an ancestor of King David, and thus of Jesus. Despite not much insight being provided into Elkanah’s character, his story has become an inspiration to many couples, due to its demonstration of loyalty, courage and faith.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

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