1 Samuel 2:11–17
Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest.
Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD. And the priests’ custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, “Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw.”
And if the man said to him, “They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires,” he would then answer him, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.”
Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
The Hebrew word in verse 17 that’s translated as the young men (הַנְּעָרִ֛ים, ha-narr-eem) frequently refers to male adolescents, though it can mean young men. The Hebrew word used later in verse 17 that’s translated as men (הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים, ha-ah-na-sheem) means adult males. The distinction is important here because it means that Eli’s sons weren’t just abhorrent themselves; they were causing men to abhor the offering.
This isn’t surprising. Imagine going up to give an offering to the LORD and being treated like this. I sure wouldn’t want to do it again. The whole thing had the look and feel of a scam, which was how Eli’s sons saw it.
They did not know the LORD, and it showed.
Note the stark contrast between Eli’s sons and Hannah. Hannah’s vow was to give back to the LORD 100% of His gift to her. Eli’s sons did the opposite, taking for themselves what was supposed to be 100% given to the LORD. What they took was explicitly forbidden.
“All fat is the LORD’s.” — Leviticus 3:16b
“For whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his people.” — Leviticus 7:25
This prohibition is quite specific. That, combined with the effect their sin was having on everyone, makes the actions of Eli’s sons strikingly grave.
It’s like they were trying to do the most offensive thing they could think of.
Come to think of it, that’s an all too common behavior for an adolescent.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.