1 Samuel 2:22 – The Women at the Tent of Meeting


1 Samuel 2:22


Here and elsewhere, the role of women at the entrance to the tent of meeting is mentioned in passing, assuming that hearers/readers know about the women officiants.


Here in 1 Samuel, the author assumes that the hearer/reader knows that women served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. In the history of biblical reception, interpreters have cast aspersions on the women, suggesting that they might be cultic prostitutes or devotees performing another kind of ritual that later prophets would critique. That is not in the text here. The Hebrew word rendered as “serving” here (and in Exodus 38:8, where the women make a donation that enables the cleansing of the priests) is primarily military in nature – that is, the women may be serving as guards at the place of sacrificial exchange – the entrance to the tent of meeting. 

Women at the central Israelite cultic site are crucial in a number of stories, including Huldah telling Josiah what to do with the “Book of the Law” (2 Kings 22:12-20), and Anna prophesying over Jesus as an infant (Luke 2:36-38). Sadly, in 1 Samuel, their abuse is mentioned to show how completely wicked Hophni and Phinehas have become.