Today we have the pleasure of meeting a character from the Bible, Hannah, as told in Jill Eileen Smith’s novel A Passionate Hope.
My name is Hannah, which means “favor or grace”. Looking back on my life, I can say now that God has shown me both.
My father is Hyam. My mother is Adva. I am their only daughter, though I have many brothers and sisters-in-law.
My brothers are Barukh, Chaim, Dan, and Gilad.
I have lived all of my life in the hills of Ephraim.
I do not understand this foreign word.
Ah, work. My work is to do the daily tasks of womanhood—to care for our home, keep us clothed and fed and to meet my husband’s needs. My husband, Elkanah, is a Levite and I do what I can to help him carry out his duties in that role. I also sell some of my weaving in the marketplace. This helps my husband and makes me feel useful.
My husband’s sister Meira used to be my closest friend, but once she married, we rarely saw each other. My sister-in-law Dana has become my only friend and confidant in our large and often contentious household.
I wish I had no enemies, but my sister-wife Peninnah has done her best to not live at peace with me. I find her presence trying.
I have no children—at least I did not in the early years. That is why Elkanah married Peninnah. But God blessed us later with Samuel and many more sons and daughters.
What person do you most admire?
I have always loved and admired my husband. To think that Elkanah loves me as he does…I never dreamed he would care for me.
Overall outlook on life:
Life…we are here such a short time and then we rest in Sheol. But I have always believed that one day I would see God. He is the one I long for, and when life has been at its worst, He has carried me through each struggle. What would I do without Him?
Do you like yourself?
I find this question confusing. We do not spend time thinking about liking ourselves. This sounds like someone who is focused too much on the wrong things. When I think of Adonai or Elkanah, I do not think of Hannah, though I will admit, sometimes I feel sorry for myself when Peninnah is near.
What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?
I would have chosen a path that kept our marriage between Elkanah and me alone. Sharing a husband is not God’s best and it has made life miserable for everyone at times.
How do others view you?
I have no idea what people think of me.
I fear, rather I used to fear never bearing a son, never outliving my shame. But as I said, God has shown me favor and grace. I praise Him for His goodness to me.
When are you happy?
When I am alone with Adonai. I love to walk in the hills and pray. They say we should pray at the Tabernacle, and I try…but I feel more of God’s presence in the creation that surrounds me. I do love to sing in worship with the serving women in Shiloh though.
What makes you angry?
I grow angry at the corruption of the priests in Shiloh—sometimes to the point of despair. When will God answer? When will He restore worship to what it is meant to be? Yet there is nothing to be done but wait and pray.
What makes you sad?
I will admit, every time Peninnah birthed another child, I wanted to run far from home. The joy over her success reminded me all over again of my failures.
What makes you laugh?
Elkanah. We manage to find humor in the strangest places. Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself or you will see life as too difficult.
Hopes and dreams:
I hope my children grow up to follow Adonai all of their days.
Facing the fact that I had to release Elkanah to marry another woman. I couldn’t let him know how hard that was for me, but a piece of my heart broke away that day and I never felt the same again.
What do you care about most in the world?
Adonai. Pleasing Him. And then…having children consumed me until it no longer did.
Do you have a secret?
Yes, but I can’t share it, lest it stop being a secret.
Thank you, Hannah, for giving us this glimpse into your life.
Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Wives of King David, the Wives of the Patriarchs, the Loves of King Solomon, and the Daughters of the Promised Land series. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com.