Who were Hophni and Phinehas?

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By BibleAsk Team


Hophni and Phinehas were the sons of Eli the high priest (1 Samuel 2). They served in the sanctuary of Shiloh at the time of Hannah. The Bible describes these two priests as “sons of Belial” (1 Samuel 2:12) because they “were corrupt; they did not know the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12). Driven by their lusts, Hophni and Phinehas did not obey the Lord nor serve Him.

Hophni and Phinehas’ Wickedness

Eli’s sons violated God’s command by doing evil acts, such as taking portions of the sacrifices for themselves (1 Samuel 2:13-16; Leviticus 7:30-34), and having sexual relations with the sanctuary’s serving women (1 Samuel 2:22). Therefore, the sins of the young men were too great before the LORD. They caused worshipers to detest bringing offerings to the LORD.

God’s Judgement

The wickedness of Hophni and Phinehas raised the anger of the Lord. And He sent a “man of God” with a divine message of judgement to Eli saying, “Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house… Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them” (1 Samuel 2: 31-34).

Eli Failure to Disciple

Eli was lenient with his sons “and he did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). He should have taken a preventive action against them for defiling God’s temple. He merely warned them saying, “If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” (1 Samuel 2:25). His sons disregarded his warnings and he took no further action.

The Death of Eli’s sons

As the two sons rejected God’s protective care and followed their own selfish desires, they sealed their own doom. Soon after, Hophni and Phinehas, took the Ark of the Covenant to war against the Philistines. And the Israelites were defeated, the ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were killed (1 Samuel 4:10–11).

On the same day, when Eli heard the sad news, he fell from his seat, broke his neck, and died (1 Samuel 4:18). Phinehas’ wife who was pregnant and due to deliver, went in labor and gave birth to a son that she named Ichabod which means “the glory has departed” and she also died (1 Samuel 4:19-22).

Hophni and Phinehas disregarded the instructions of God and refused to heed their father’s advice. They reaped the consequences of their deeds. The ministry of Eli’s sons, in 1 Samuel 2, is contrasted with that of the faithful Samuel who grew in favor with both man and God.  After the death of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, God appointed Samuel to become the spiritual leader of Israel. He served as a faithful  judge, priest, and prophet (1 Samuel 3:19-21).

Lessons Learned

The account of Hophni and Phinehas serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of spiritual complacency, corruption, and the abuse of sacred responsibilities. Their lives stand as a stark reminder that those who hold positions of authority, especially within religious contexts, must exercise their duties with integrity and reverence for God’s commandments.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the lives of Hophni and Phinehas unfold as a tragic narrative within the broader scope of biblical history. Their actions, marked by corruption and irreverence, led to the downfall of the priesthood and the profound consequences endured by their family and the nation of Israel. Their story serves as a solemn reminder of the importance of upholding righteousness and fidelity in the service of God.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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