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Bible Studies/God's promise to Eli


Hello and thank you very much for answering my question. I would like to know if God broke his promise to Eli when he promised him his family would serve as priest due to Eli's sons indiscretions with their service as priests. OR did God just give the priesthood to Ithamar, an elder of Eli's and so making the promise still valid. Thank you in advance for taking my question.

         Peter Tripodi

God does not break promises so our interpretation of events as told in the Bible must fit into that context.  

In 1 Samuel 2, God confirms that Aaron's priestly line, from which Eli was born, would "would walk before Me forever" (1 Samuel 2:30).  As such, Eli served God and began to minister to Samuel but "the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord" (1 Samuel 2:12).  Because of the wickedness of Hophni and Phinehas, God sent a prophet to tell Eli that these two sons would die and that the priesthood would pass to someone faithful.  God will cut off those who do not serve Him and this prophet was sent to tell Eli of this.  The very next thing we read in the Bible is that Samuel was called to service.  Some may argue that Samuel was acting as the son that Hophni and Phinehas were not, serving God in the priestly line.

The Bible does not give a direct account of the ancestry of Eli.  All of Aaron's sons were designated as priests but only Eleazar and Ithamar survived to fulfill those duties (Numbers 3:4).  Because we don't know the lineage of Aaron's descendants that led to Eli, we don't know how many priests were serving at the time of his death.  In addition, in Ezra, we see that there are several priests named so we know there were multiple men who served in that role at the same time.  Clearly, not everyone in Aaron's line served as priests, as shown by the fact that Nadab and Abihu were killed because of their transgressions (Numbers 3:4). Interestingly, Hophni and Phinehas were killed, as their forefathers Nadab and Abihu were killed, because they profaned the priesthood.

Service to God must be according to His rules.  Those who didn't serve (or don't, today) will be set aside and will, ultimately, perish.

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Roy Wallen


Using the Bible as my primary source and references in support of it, I am willing to answer questions on subjects from the Old and New Testaments. My faith is based on biblical Christianity and fundamental views from the Bible. I cannot answer questions about specific sects or religious organizations nor can I address religions outside biblical Christianity. As a Christian for over 40 years, I have studied many aspects of the Christian faith. My particular interests are in creation and the natural processes of the world around us and how they fit with the biblical record. I believe that all Scripture is inspired by God. I believe that there are no contradictions in the Bible and that the Bible is complete in telling us as individuals how we should relate to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit; our purpose on earth; and how we should live. Greek lauguage study has helped me gain additional insight into the New Testament but most of my reference work is done in English and, to a lesser degree, German.


Personal Bible study over the years, lessons delivered in Sunday School settings and messages during organized services, and leading Bible study series have prepared me to be comfortable addressing questions from others.

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Formal study includes Greek language. I am a layman without a theological degree. Training has come from sitting under the ministry of excellent Bible teachers for my entire adult life, personal study, and selected courses. Secular educational background includes an undergraduate engineering degree, graduate work in engineering and business, and advanced courses in business and theology.

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