For the second entry in the “Jerks of the Bible” series, we are going to get into double trouble. If you have read the book of Samuel you will recall the delinquent sons of Eli. The sons of Eli (Hophni and Phinehas) were basically the modern equivalent of the Lehman Brothers, except they didn’t file for bankruptcy and they were after your beef, not your money. If that analogy does not do anything for you then think of them like this….they were basically ancient versions of the Jersey Shore cast, and they were in charge of the temple offering!
Eli’s Sons: Hophni and Phinehas
The sons of Eli are on the list of jerks for being the worst sons in history. For starters, they were the spoiled rotten kids of the priest at Shiloh. Essentially they were PK’s, and if you don’t know what that means then you need to read this ->link.<-
Anyways, these unbelievably jerky sons were growing up with little supervision and were expected to work for their father at the temple in Shiloh. At various times through the year faithful followers of YHWH would come to the temple and offer their sacrifices to the Lord. It was a spiritual journey for most and was a deeply solemn and meaningful event. For Eli’s sons it mean buffet time!!
Why They Are Jerks
- Abusing the Israelites trying to make sacrifices to God
- Stealing meat from the sacrifices
- Disregarding the laws of the tabernacle
- Having sex with the temple servants
- Disrespecting their father
1 Samuel 2:12-17
Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord. 13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15 But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”
16 If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”
17 This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.
As if their behavior with the temple visitors was not bad enough the Jersey Shore boys had been “seducing” the women of the temple. Now I know what your thinking and no they were not sleeping with temple prostitutes. These were legit young women who did menial tasks around the temple. Much like the Spanish maids in today’s culture. Except Hophni and Phinehas treated them like French maids.
1 Samuel 2:22-25 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25 If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?”
Hophni and Phinehas were so bad that Eli was even punished by God for not handling the situation!
1 Samuel 2:27-34
Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites. 29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’
30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever. ’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age, 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.
34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.
The height of jerk-osity
There are times when you might upset someone they are going to have it out for you, but you know it’s a bad day when the person that wants to take you out is the Lord himself!
1 Samuel 2:25 His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.