Hannah’s Prayer (1 Sam. 2) by V. Phillips Long
Hannah’s prayer in response to having given birth to a son (1 Sam. 2:1-10) is full of concepts reflecting the realities and beliefs of the ancient world. Phil Long in his Samuel commentary in ZIBBCOT clarifies a few of these below that deal with views of deity and, especially views of kingship.
The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up (2:6). The conviction that the fate of human beings is in the hands of God (or the gods) runs deep in ancient Near Eastern cultures. In the Akkadian creation epic known as the Enuma Elish, we read the following lines: "Thou, Marduk, art the most honored of the great gods, Thy decree is unrivaled, thy word is Anu [i.e., it has the authority of the sky-god Anu]. From this day unchangeable shall be thy pronouncement. To raise or bring low—these shall be (in) thy hand."1 From the Egyptian Instruction of Amenemope comes the following: "He [the deity] tears down and builds up every day, he makes a thousand poor as he wishes, and makes a thousand people overseers, when he is in his hour of life."2