Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Who was the priest that fell and broke his neck?


That would be Eli, the high priest of Israel. You’ll find the story in the early chapters 1st Samuel.

It was the end of a sad chapter in Israel’s history and in the life of Eli and his family. He had two very wicked sons named Hophni and Phinehas who were very corrupt and did not know the Lord. Evidently Eli had not been much of a parent because from Scripture he seems to be powerless or unwilling to deal with his sons. Even when his sons would fornicate with the women who assembled at the Tabernacle he seemed to have a little more than a verbal rebuke for them.

In an alarming verse (1st Samuel 2:25) we find out that the boys did not heed their fathers voice because the Lord desired to kill them. I don’t know about you but I don’t think that I would ever want to be in a position where the Lord himself desired to kill me. It is shocking to even consider the thought that God specifically wanted to end the life of specific people. It would appear from the verses, that the Lord stopped up their ears from hearing Eli’s warning. Scary stuff…

Late in Eli’s life, the Ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines. Hophni and Phinehas were among the Israelites who had decided to take the Ark of the covenant into battle against the Philistines after they had already been beaten badly by them. The elders of Israel decided that taking the Ark to the front lines would assure them of victory.

Even though the Philistines understood that the ark of the Lord was present and it made them afraid, they still fought and won the battle. The man of Israel ran away and while many escaped, 30,000 soldiers were slaughtered. The Ark of the covenant was captured and Eli’s two sons were killed.

A messenger ran all the way to Shiloh to inform Eli and found him sitting by the wayside. The Bible says that Eli sat trembling because of his concern for the Ark of the covenant. When the messenger delivered the news of the defeat, the entire city cried out in anguish.

Eli, who was old and blind and fat (sorry there’s not a more delicate way to say that), asked the messenger about his sons. Upon the news that Hophni and Phinehas were dead and the Ark had been captured, the Bible says that Eli fell off his seat backwards, broke his neck and died. Phinehas’ wife went into labor when she heard that her husband and father-in-law was dead and she bore a son. The baby was named Ichabod which is translated “the glory has departed from Israel!”.

A very sad ending to a very sad time and sad state of affairs for Israel.

(I’m often puzzled why people call the Bible boring when it is filled with such intriguing stories)