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עֵלִי   (שמואל א א-ד)
A כהן גדול   from the line of איתמר עלי   is first introduced at the start of ספר שמואל   in a confrontation with חנה   whose silent prayer he mistakes for the ramblings of a drunken woman. After חנה   corrects this impression, עלי   blesses her with the prayer that her petition be answered. עלי   rebukes his sons חפני   and פנחס   for their behaviour at the Tabernacle. He has heard reports that his sons are sleeping with women who come to bring sacrifices and he warns them that God will punish them for their deeds. (According to the מדרש חפני   and פנחס   did not actually have relations with these women, but detained them at שלה thus preventing them from returning to their husbands. See שבת נה :.)  His sons ignore his warnings. עלי   is visited by a man of God who foretells the downfall of the family, predicting that the כהן 's  sons will both die on the same day. Subsequently, God sends a message to עלי via his young apprentice שמואל that his family will be ousted from the priesthood. During a battle against the פלשתים the Israelites decide to bring the ארון   to the field, believing that its presence will assist them achieve victory. חפני   and פנחס   go with the Ark. The פלשתים   win the battle and snatch the Ark. חפני   and פנחס   are killed. The report reaches עלי who upon hearing it falls off his chair, breaks his neck, and dies. He is 98 and had served Israel for 40 years.


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