Eli: indulgent father, humble priest

After the death of Joshua, Israel was ruled by a succession of judges, a period of time during which the tribes of Israel were never united.

In Story of the Old Testament, an LDS author, J.A. Washburn, wrote that by the time of Eli, who was the next to last judge to rule in Israel, two things were evident:"First, there was a common central place of worship at Shiloh, north of Jerusalem, where all were to assemble once each year.

"Second, there seems to have been a sort of central government. Eli sat on his seat before the temple and in some way decided problems for the people."

Washburn surmised that Eli was "an indulgent father, a humble, charitable, and easy-going priest and judge."

Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also priests and officiated at the sacrifice with their father. "But they were wicked, self-indulgent, and disobedient, and utterly disregarded the example and teachings of their father," wrote Washburn. "Of each animal sacrificed the priests were to be given a certain portion after it was boiled and cooked. These two men took what they pleased by force and roasted it to their liking regardless of the law.

"Besides this evil, they were otherwise wicked and immoral and caused much sin and wickedness among the people. . . ."

Because of the sons' transgressions, "a man of God" pronounced the Lord's curse upon Eli's house. (1 Sam. 2:27-34.)


Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by Gerry Avant

Sources: Story of the Old Testament, by J.A. Washburn; Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3, Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet; and October 1983 general conference report.