Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: IN-LAWS (07/11/19)
TITLE: A Tale of Two Wives
By Barbara Lynn Culler
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Peninnah paused at the entrance to the room and sneered. She flipped back her head covering and waddled over to where Hannah was mending her husband’s favorite garment. Sighing deeply, Hannah mentally braced herself, knowing that the persecution would begin again.
“This will be my third child, and you have none! My husband must not love you because you remain childless.”
Hannah kept her head bowed as a tear slipped out. Sharing her husband with Peninnah was often difficult, but the taunting was hard to ignore.
The woman continued her rant. “You are worthless to our husband. I cannot understand why he keeps you around.”
Hannah remained silent, not defending herself to her spouse’s other wife.
The time had come for the family to make the yearly sojourn to the Tabernacle for worship and sacrifice to God. Every year, Hannah implored God to open her womb, yet she remained childless.
During their meal, Elkanah served sacrificial meat to his family, but lovingly gave Hannah double portions. When he stepped away from the table, Peninnah wagged her finger at Hannah.
“He’s only pitying you!”
Tears emerged as Hannah pushed away her food. Upon his return, Elkanah saw that Hannah was distressed. Wrapping his arm around her, he drew her close and whispered;
“Why do you grieve so? You are more important to me than many sons.”
Hannah glanced at Penninah while pondering his words. “He loves me more than he does her.”
“Pity.” Her tormentor’s mocking voice rose up from the other side of Elkanah.
Reeling from her wife-in-law’s snark, Hannah fled to the room of worship, weeping as she beseeched God for a child.
“Oh Mighty God, please bless me with a son, and I will devote his life to you, and his hair shall never be removed!” She silently mouthed her prayerful vow in the stillness of the room.
Eli, the temple priest, walked up to Hannah and accused her of ill behavior: “You are drunk!”
“No, my lord, only troubled in my soul. I desire to give a son to my husband. His other wife torments me over my inability to have children.”
Eli listened to her explanation and responded: “Go now in peace and may God give you the desire of your heart.”
“Thank you,”Hannah softly answered as she wiped away her tears. “May I find favor in your eyes so that God may hear my request.”
Having her burden lifted, Hannah returned to the eating room, consumed her meal and felt better. “I know in my heart that God has heard my plea and will grant my desire.”
Peninnah strutted in after nursing her infant son. “I’ll eventually have another baby. Why isn’t God granting you one? You must have sinned before Him. My own righteousness has brought me many children.”
Not responding to the taunt, Hannah continued sweeping the floor.
The next morning, Hannah and her husband worshipped God before returning home. Later, she and Elkannah had private time together and the Lord allowed for her to become with child.
“I know that I’m having a son,” she told Elkannah. “I will name him Samuel, because I asked God for him.”
Peninnah did not stop harassing Hannah, for she was jealous of her husband’s attention toward Hannah. “You still have only one son, but I have five! Why should my husband love you so much more?”
Hannah ignored her.
When the boy was weaned, Hannah delivered Samuel to the temple, bestowing him to Eli to learn the ways of the priesthood.
“Why are you giving up the only child you shall ever have?” Peninnah didn’t understand why such a vow was given. “You are an old fool, just like our husband.”
“I trust what my Lord has in store for me and for my beloved son.”
Under the tutelage of Eli, Samuel matured, ultimately becoming judge of Israel. Hannah and Elkanah were proud that their son was chosen by God.
Peninnah grew bitter, greatly envying her husband’s other wife. She became discontent, never happy with the joy of her own children, because her husband loved her less.
Hannah, however, bore three more sons and two daughters, remaining grateful for God’s endless blessing.
— Based on 1st Samuel —
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