Lesson 5 – LITTLE SAMUEL’S COAT
“But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice” (1 Sam. 2:18-19).
Looking closely at this passage, we see several important things. Primarily, we see Samuel was serving the Lord in the temple at a very young age. Other passages about the life of Samuel tell us how Hannah prayed earnestly for him and vowed to give him back to the Lord if He would grant her a son. Samuel’s birth, training and life were the direct results of Hannah’s love for God and her faithfulness to that vow made several years before. Not only do we see Hannah’s love in training her son for that purpose, but we also see a further demonstration of a mother’s love in her yearly gift of a coat when she came to offer sacrifices with her husband at the feast.
Samuel wore an ephod, as did the priests with Ahimilech (1 Sam 22:18). There is no question but that the ephod was at least closely associated with the priesthood. Apparently, it was not limited to the high priest. Later in Samuel’s life, he was a judge, a seer and a prophet, but not a priest at this age. However, as a descendent of Levi through Kohath (1 Chr. 6:38), the same tribe through which Aaron was descended, Samuel was priest’s helper (1 Chr. 6:1-3; 1 Sam. 3:1). His father was an Ephrathite, because he lived in Mt. Ephraim, but not because he was descended from the tribe of Ephraim. Hannah may also have been of the tribe of Levi, but there is no record of it. In any case, Samuel wore the ephod, which shows it was not limited to the high priest or even to the priest. Samuel was a prophet just as David was a prophet (Acts 2:29-30), and therefore authorized as much as David to wear an ephod.
Concerning Samuel’s ancestry, see 1 Samuel 7:9. “And Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.” We know that King Saul was condemned for offering a sacrifice, which only the priests and Levites were authorized to do. Samuel was at least a Levite (if not a priest) or he would have been condemned along with King Saul.
How and when did little Samuel wear the coat his mother made him? It is not generally known, but we may assume he used it to cover himself in cold weather or perhaps even to sleep in at night. It may have been brightly colored like the coat Jacob made for Joseph, but we cannot say. Nevertheless, it was a gift of love from a mother who never forgot the child she could not redeem (Num. 18:15) because of her vow. Her faithfulness in keeping her vow was paramount, but her faithfulness in showing love both to her God and to her son was never laid aside.
- Why did all the firstborn males belong to the Lord (Exodus 13:15; 18:15)?
- What was supposed to be redeemed, and how was that to be done (Ex 13:13-15)?
- Why did Jesus’ parents offer the sacrifice of birds after his birth (Luke 2:24, Lev 12:2, 6-8)?
- Give details of the vow Hannah made in her prayer (1 Sam. 1:11).
- How does the Nazarite vow compare ( 6:1-11)?
- How do we know that Hannah’s husband approved her vow (Nu 30:3-8, I Sam 1:23-25)?
- From which tribe was Elkanah descended (Exodus 6:24; 1 Sam. 1:1; 1 Chr. 6:22-24; 1 Chr. 6:33-38; 1 Chr. 6:38)? Was this a tribe from which the priests were chosen?
- Why was it acceptable for Samuel to wear the ephod while in the service of the temple?
The Four Garments of all Priests
The first four garments that the priests wore in their daily activities before the Lord. The breeches, coat, the mitre, and girdle, were to be worn by the all the priests and the high priest.
Each of these garments also was symbolic of certain acts of atonement.
The fine linen tunic – atonement for accidental killing or intentional murder.
The girdle or belt – atonement for a sinful heart, improper thoughts and theft
The turban or hat and the mitre of the High Priest – atonement for haughtiness or pride of countenance. (Ps. 10:4)
The breeches – atonement for unchastity and sexual transgressions (Matt 5:28)
- Why would Hannah want to have a son if she were to lose him as soon as he was weaned (1 Sam 1:6-8)?
- We know Hannah was diligent to teach and to prepare Samuel for his future work before he went to the temple. After he was weaned, Hannah only saw Samuel once a year, but she continually demonstrated her love for him by bringing him the new coat she had made. How was her work before and after he went to the temple showing love to him? What lessons may we learn from this mother’s love?
Bible Encyclopedia: Hebrew Priesthood
(2) Woven Coat. The coat of fine linen or cotton. (Exod. xxxix :27) which was worn by of needlework’ (Exod. xxxix :29). Josephus de scribes it as often going round, four lingers broad, but so loosely woven that it might be taken for the skin of a serpent; and that it was embroidered with flowers of scarlet, and purple, and blue, but that the warp was nothing but linen. The beginning of its circumvolution was at the breast; and when it had gone often round, it was there tied, and hung loosely down to the ankles while the priest was not engaged in any laborious service, for in that position it appeared in the most men in general (Gen. xxxvii :3); also by women (2 Sam. xiii:18; Cant. v :3), next to the skin. It was to be of woven work. Josephus states that it reached down to the feet, and sat close to the body ; and had sleeves, which were tied fast to the arms; and was girded to the breast a little above the elbows by a girdle. It had a narrow aperture about the neck, and was tied with certain strings hanging down from the edge over the breast and back, and was fastened above each shoulder (Antiq. iii, 7, 2). But this garment, in the case of the priests and high-priest, was to be broidered (Exod. :4). A broidered coat, by which Gesenius understands a coat of cloth worked in checkers or cells.