The Sons of Eli
A child’s scream interrupted our meal around the campfire. Everyone jumped up and looked in the direction of the scream to see what had happened. A boy about ten years old was getting up from the ground, having been thrown from Pegasus. He picked up a stone and threw it at Pegasus, hitting him on the lower part of his left hind leg, as he ran out of range of the boy’s wrath.
“Hophni!” Eli shouted, running toward the angry boy. “What did you do? What happened?”
“That horse refused to let me ride him!” he wailed. “Does he not understand that I am the son of a high priest? I have a right!”
“That horse is too big for you,” Eli said in soothing tones. “Someday you and Levi can ride whatever horses you want.”
“I want to ride now!” Hophni complained loudly. “Am I not your son NOW?”
“Yes, of course,” Eli replied hastily, “but this is not our horse.”
“So?” he cried even louder. “Whoever owns this horse ought to respect a future high priest.”
By this time, I had reached the spot where Pegasus and Pleiades were standing a short distance away. “What happened?” I asked them in a low voice.
“The silly kid tried to ride me,” Pegasus answered. “He is a little brat. He thinks everyone must serve him. If either he or his brother is the future High Priest, then Israel is doomed. The people as well as the office will be abused. Worse yet, it appears that his father has instilled in them the idea that they are like royalty, that all men must be their servants, and that they have the right to take whatever they wish. Both of them are dangerous.”
“I will do what I can to handle the situation,” I assured him. I turned and walked back to the tear-stained boy who was still in a state of shock that Pegasus would not submit to his will. Plainly, he was used to getting his way.
“No one is able to ride either Pegasus or Pleiades unless he is in agreement with them,” I explained to Eli. “They will allow no rider who thinks he is superior to them or who violates the covenant of God. Your son is not spiritually mature. If his nature remains unchanged, he will not rule as a steward, but as a tyrant. I suggest that you discipline him and correct him before he brings shame to your house.”
Offended, Eli drew himself up and said indignantly, “What right have you to tell me how to treat my own son? I am answerable only to God, and I will not be lectured by you or by anyone else!”
“I am giving you the word of God,” I replied in a low voice, trying to avoid open confrontation and not wanting Eli to lose face in front of the tribal elders. “If you do not correct your sons, God will do it for you. He is merciful and will give you time, but in the end, He will do what He will do, because we are all His children.”
Eli opened his mouth again, no doubt to rebuke me further, but he was interrupted by the thunder of hoofs. We turned to see Pleiades rearing on her hind legs high over Levi, who stood there paralyzed with surprise and fear. Eli was horrified. But Pleiades’ hooves came down with full force to the ground next to the boy and stamped upon an unnoticed creature on the ground. Then Pleiades wheeled and retreated about ten yards away, where she turned, and looked at the crying boy.
The boy’s mother came running out from the crowd and rushed to her young son, grabbing him in her arms. Then she saw a crushed serpent lying on the ground a few feet from her youngest son. The boy still had not seen the serpent, for his eyes were filled with tears, and he was too busy nurturing his tantrum to notice anything around him.
The elders, led by Eli, gathered around the dead serpent, finally realizing that instead of being a threat, Pleiades had just saved the boy’s life. “Any ordinary horse,” said the Chief of Benjamin, “would have run from a serpent. But this horse ran to the serpent and crushed its head. This is no ordinary horse. She has just saved the boy’s life!”
Abihud, the Chief of Benjamin, and Boaz, the Chief of Judah, had come to my side while the other Chiefs were distracted by the dead serpent and the screaming child. “Indeed, these are no ordinary horses,” I responded. “She is Pleiades, named for the congregation of Israel. She is a picture of what Israel ought to be, if Israel knew the will of God and if the law of God were written on the hearts of the people. That is why only those who have the laws of God written on their hearts may ride her. Only those who are in agreement with God can find themselves in agreement with Pleiades. As you can see, neither Levi nor Hophni are qualified.”
I continued, “The other horse is Pegasus, the Chief Horse. I also call him Yah-sus, Yahweh’s horse. He needs no bridle, for he knows the will of Yahweh and follows His voice by instinct. Bits and bridles are for ordinary horses who must do their master’s will. But I do not ride this horse; he carries me to wherever Yahweh wills me to go.”
“Yes, I see,” Abihud said, nodding his head. “Heaven help us when one of Eli’s sons wears the ephod. I fear that he will lead many good Israelites into disaster.”
“Yes,” Boaz muttered. “I do hope that the High Priest of the next generation will grow up to know the God of heaven.”
I looked at him intently. “Neither Hophni nor Levi will ever wear the ephod, but they will indeed lead many Israelites into disaster.”
“How do you know this?” Abihud asked with a serious look.
“It is written in the books of heaven,” I answered. “I have read their Book of Destiny. But that time is yet far off. Perhaps there is yet time to uproot that problem before it grows into a great tree that bears such bitter fruit.”
“I feel inside my heart that if this is not resolved, we will all be affected,” Abihud said. “Our father Jacob prophesied that Dan would be “a serpent in the way.” 39 Dan’s tribal symbol is an eagle carrying away a serpent, for that is the job of a judge, but what shall befall us if the tribe of Dan embraces the serpent and its lies? It seems to me that the serpent that lies dead at our feet is not the only serpent that should concern us. There is a lawless serpent of iniquity in the hearts of our people—and, obviously, even in the house of Eli—that should be removed from the camp instead of embracing it.”
I was surprised to hear him say this, but glad to know that there were those in our midst who had greater understanding of truth than most of their contemporaries.
“When most of the tribe of Dan went north to obtain their land inheritance,” I said, “they took over a city 40 that worshiped Pan at a grotto known as the home of Pan. So it is not surprising to find that the tribe of Dan has been afflicted with idolatry. Dan occupied that place without cleansing the land of the spirit of idolatry. The tribe of Dan appears to rule that city, but in fact it is the false god that rules both the land and its present inhabitants of Dan. Pan is the god of a counterfeit feast of Sukkoth, and he rules by deception and lies by the power of the original serpent in the Garden.”
“So there is a serpent within the tribe of Dan,” said Abihud. “To worship idols in the name of Yahweh is no better than worshiping idols in the name of Pan or Dagon. Instead of following a false god and embracing the serpent, they ought to follow their true calling to expel the serpent by the power of angels.”
“Do you know the name of your angel?” I asked Abihud.
“No, I was unaware that I had an angel,” he replied, surprised by my question.
“Your angel is Amet,” I said, “the Angel of Truth. You are well named, for your angel has revealed to you that your true Father is the Majestic One in heaven. Although your fathers once defended evil men and brought your tribe into near extinction, you have learned to defend truth and righteousness instead of injustice. Your tribe has a very important calling to bring the light of truth to Judah.” 41
“When will this be?” he asked.
“Many generations must yet pass, and your tribe will yet suffer many things. Truth can be a painful thing, for it has a way of burning the flesh. Hence, men fear truth and often flee from its presence. Fear of truth stops our ears and blinds our eyes. Pure hearts are drawn to the truth. Truth begets honesty. Honesty begets humility. Humility begets grace. Grace begets life. Life begets unity with God.”
I paused while Abihud pondered this. I then told him of the future of the tribe of Benjamin.
“In the days of your sons and grandsons,” I said, “a king will arise out of Benjamin who will reflect the hearts of the people, a man who will cause much pain in Israel. He will seek power but will rebel against truth. However, many generations later, another son will arise out of Benjamin who will bring the light to Judah and to the world. 42 The God of Israel will reveal to him, above all his brethren, the meaning of the promise to Abraham and will empower him to carry the Truth outside the borders of Israel to all the families of the earth.”
“Most of our people,” Abihud replied, “do not believe that the other nations are capable of understanding truth, because they were not present when Moses revealed the truth from heaven. But I have met a few travelers passing through Gibeah—Philistines, Ammonites, and Moabites—and when I extended hospitality to them, I found them to be not much different from us. My neighbors resented my actions somewhat, but I found that these foreigners were interested in learning more about my God when they were treated with kindness and respect.”
“You are far advanced for your time,” I said. “The captivities occurred because the Israelites adopted foreign gods, but maintained an attitude of superiority over the people who supplied them with those gods. You, on the other hand, have remained humble while rejecting foreign gods. Humility of mind is the evidence of Amet working in your heart, for you regard others as more important than yourself.”
“The Angel of Truth,” I continued, “is opposed by the evil Prince of Vainglory, who inspires men with empty conceit and selfishness. Wherever he finds iniquity, he flings truth to the ground, 43 giving men the illusion of superiority.”
“How do you know these things?” he asked incredulously.
“I have been to the Mountain of God,” I said. “I have approached the God of Abraham face to face, even as Moses did long ago. It is for this reason that my wife and I were sent here with a message of truth, although we know that few can yet receive it. One day a descendant of yours will be called by the God of Israel to destroy the works of the Prince of Vainglory by the power of this Angel of Truth. He will be sent to a foreign nation that is entirely ruled by this evil prince. This spiritual battle will be long, but your descendants will prevail in the end and bring this truth to the world.”
“That is good news,” Abihud said with relief. “But what can I do in my generation?”
“Continue to seek the face of Yahweh and study the laws of Moses,” I said. “The Angel of Truth will reveal the heart of Yahweh to you and to all who are true sons of their heavenly Father. Know also that the faith now in your heart will bear fruit in a future generation.”
“Do I have an angel as well?” Boaz asked.
“We all have at least one angel that has been assigned to us. Our angels determine our calling, and we all have a calling, even if we do not fulfill it in this life time. Your angel is called Amen. He is the spiritual twin of Amet, for truth and agreement must walk together to establish all things.”
I continued, “You are of Judah, the tribe that is called to bring forth the promised King, who will be called the Lion of Judah. You wear his signet ring. That King will be one with the Amen angel and one of His titles will be The Amen. He will do all things as a true and faithful Witness on earth of that which His heavenly Father does in heaven.”
After a pause, I continued, saying, “Judah is called to praise the God of heaven with hands raised. True praise is surrender to His will in every thought and deed, to become a Memra, the manifestation of God, and to become the word made flesh. When you are in His image and in full agreement with Him, He accepts this as the highest praise. That is your ultimate Amen calling.”
We were then interrupted by a signal to return to the campfire to eat the meal prepared for us. As we approached, we saw Eli, whose wife still held their tear-stained son, Levi. By this time the boy had ceased from crying. “From this day forward,” Eli said loudly enough for all to hear, “my son will be called Phinehas, for he has been delivered from the mouth of the serpent.”
The name was from peh (or phey), the Hebrew word for “mouth,” and nahas (or nachash), the Hebrew word for “serpent.” Nachash was the word used to describe the serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Hence, Phinehas means “mouth of a serpent.” I looked at Abihud standing next to me, but said nothing.
“He is well named,” Abihud said quietly, “though perhaps not in the way his father thinks. I doubt that he has truly been delivered, but I fear that he has become the mouthpiece of the serpent, one who will speak his lies, rather than the truth of Yahweh.”
“I am curious. Who is the child’s mother?” I asked.
“His mother, Aliyah, is from the house of Jonathan,” Abihud replied. “Jonathan was the Levite priest who was hired by the people of Dan to minister to them when they conquered Laish and renamed it Dan. Jonathan was an idolatrous priest many years ago, and Eli’s wife is from his household.”
“How did Eli decide to marry a woman of the house of Jonathan?” I asked with some surprise.
“Eli’s father, Uzzi, wanted to bring the priests of Dan back into unity with the priests of Shiloh,” Abihud said. “The city of Dan is so far to the north that the people are largely cut off from the rest of Israel. Uzzi thought that if his son married one of the daughters of the house of Jonathan, the people of Dan would maintain closer ties to Shiloh. So he arranged that marriage with Eli for the sake of unity.”
“That plan might have worked if the woman had not been from an idolatrous family,” I said with a frown. “Is there fellowship between light and darkness? What agreement can there be between the tabernacle of Yahweh and a shrine to idols. Can we partake of the table of Yahweh and the table of idols? What fellowship or harmony has Yahweh with Belial?” 44
I paused for a moment and then asked again, “Did she bring idols with her into this marriage?”
“None that we have seen openly,” Abihud said. “However, household idols can easily be hidden, so we cannot say for sure.”
“Regardless,” I said, “it seems that she has brought the spirit of those idols with her to the house of God in Shiloh. She has corrupted the sons of Eli and the priesthood itself. Hophni and Phinehas are the sons of both parents and have a mixture of light and darkness in their hearts. They will become a scourge to Israel.
After a short pause, I continued, “The failure of Eli’s sons will be the cause of a change in the priesthood.”
“But Moses himself established this priesthood,” Boaz said with a puzzled look. 45 “How could it fail?”
“It was established,” I replied, “for olam, an unknown period of time, but not for all time. The promise was conditional upon the obedience of his sons who came after him. But his dynasty is coming to an end soon, and his line will be replaced by those who are not idolatrous. 46 There is no need for alarm, however. God has a purpose in this, for it is but a small foreshadowing of a much greater change of priesthood that God has planned for the future.
“Failure of one religious form only proves its inadequacy,” I continued, “showing the need for something better yet to come. God does not destroy that which is flawed; He replaces it with something better and greater. First, Yahweh will replace the priestly dynasty of Phinehas because of the sons of Eli. Later, He will replace Levi himself with an entirely new priesthood that is no longer restricted to the sons of Aaron.”
“I do not understand,” Abihud said, shaking his head, “how the priesthood could be inadequate, other than when one line becomes corrupt and is replaced by another dynasty? What greater priesthood is there?”
“The greater priesthood is the Melchizedek Order, which, as you know, was Shem’s title when he built Jerusalem,” I said. “He was the priest of El Elyon long before the birth of Levi. His priesthood preceded the Order of Aaron by many centuries, and in the end that older priesthood will prevail. Moses was actually of that Order, for though he was not descended from Aaron, he had direct access to Yahweh in the tabernacle.”
“Further,” I said, looking at Boaz, “the king who will come from your lineage will also be of the Melchizedek Order. 47 He will rule as a King-Priest, though not from Jerusalem. His throne will be established in a new Jerusalem—a greater city for a greater High Priest.”
As Abihud and Boaz listened silently, I continued, “Moses also spoke of One like him who would be greater. He is the One who will institute this change in the progression of both the Kingdom and its priesthood. He will be your own descendant in a generation yet to come,” I said, pointing to Boaz, “Though you are not of the tribe of Levi, your greater Son will rule as a King-Priest in that new order.”
“Furthermore,” I added, “your faith today enables you to discern the problem with Eli’s sons, and this itself foreshadows the faith of your own descendant, who will open the eyes of the blind and institute a greater form of worship. But for now you need not concern yourself with such things.”
Boaz was content with this answer, but his friend Abihud seemed troubled. Both of them pondered all these things in their hearts.
- Genesis 49:17
- Judges 18:29
- 1 Kings 11:36
- Comparing the two Sauls, the second being the Apostle Paul.
- Daniel 8:12, as explained in my commentary on Daniel.
- 1 Samuel 2:12; 2 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 10:21
- Numbers 25:13
- 1 Samuel 2:27-36
- Psalm 110:4