1 Samuel 1:11, 21-28 – Women’s Vows


1 Samuel 1:11


Hannah makes a vow to the LORD, and Elkanah does not interfere. 


Way back in Numbers 30, the rules for women’s religious vows said that a husband or a father may negate any vow a woman in their charge makes to God, but an independent woman must fulfill her vows. Hannah, as a married woman, promises to devote her firstborn (and Elkanah’s firstborn with her) to God’s service in the tent. Later, after Samuel is born, Hannah refuses to go up to the sacred site with Elkanah until Samuel is weaned. Elkanah’s response is noteworthy: “Do what seems best to you…” (1 Samuel 1:23). 

When Samuel is weaned, Hannah takes their son, a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a jug of wine, to devote all of them to the LORD. Elkanah funds Hannah’s vow and allows his son to be dedicated in the compound at Shiloh. This account is an important insight into ancient women’s religiosity and a helpful amelioration through narrative to the assumption that only men took vows, or that men did not support their wives’/daughters’ costly vows. Hannah made a vow to God, and her husband supported her in it.