Smith's Bible Dictionary


E'li. (ascension). A descendant of Aaron through Ithamar, the youngest of his two surviving sons. Lev 10:1-2; Lev 10:12, compare 1Ki 2:27 with 2Sa 8:17; 1Ch 24:3. (B.C. 1214-1116). He was the first of the line of Ithamar who held the office of high priest. The office remained in his family till Abiathar was thrust out by Solomon, 1Ki 1:7; 1Ki 2:26-27, when it passed back again to the family of Eleazar in the person of Zadok. 1Ki 2:35. Its return to the elder branch was one part of the punishment which had been denounced against Eli during his lifetime, for his culpable negligence, 1Sa 2:22-25, when his sons profaned the priesthood; compare 1Sa 2:27-36 with 1Ki 2:27.

Notwithstanding this one great blemish, the character of Eli is marked by eminent piety, as shown by his meek submission to the divine judgment, 1Sa 3:18, and his supreme regard for the Ark of God. 1Sa 4:18. In addition to the office of high priest, he held that of judge. He died at the advanced age of 98 years, 1Sa 4:18, overcome by the disastrous intelligence that the Ark of God had been taken in battle by the Philistines, who had also slain his sons Hophni and Phinehas.


Taken from: Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884)