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Phinehas (son of Eli)

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This article is about the Ithamarite priest. For the high priest of that name, see Phinehas.

Phinehas (Hebrew: פינחס, Pīnekhās; "Name means::mouth of a serpent") (d. Died::1 Bul 2883 AM) was one of the two sons of Eli who died while carrying the ark of the covenant on the day that it was captured. (1_Samuel 4:11 )


son of::Eli
brother of::Hophni
father of::Ichabod
grandfather of::Ahimelech I
ancestor of::Abiathar
ancestor of::Ahimelech II

The Bible says nothing of Phinehas' birth or that of his brother Hophni, but only of his sins and his death.

The sins of Hophni and Phinehas

Hophni and Phinehas served as priests while their father was high priest, and conducted their duties in an extremely offensive manner. This included misappropriating offered sacrificial meat and even demanding favors from the women who served at the doorway to the Tabernacle tent, favors of the sort that would be called "sexual harassment" of the highest order in modern workplaces.[1][2][3] (1_Samuel 2:12-17,22 )

Hophni and Phinehas misappropriated the meat in two ways. First, the proper method of making a peace offering to God was to burn the fat completely, and offer the breast to the high priest and the right thigh to whichever priest would burn the fat and sprinkle the blood. (Leviticus 7:29-34 ) Instead, Hophni and Phinehas would send their servant to take a three-pronged fork and thrust it into the cauldron into which the person bringing the offering had placed the meat for boiling, and would appropriate whatever meat was impaled on the fork for Hophni and Phinehas to eat.

Furthermore, the proper procedure was to burn all of the fat, including the mesentery, the omentum, the kidneys, the adrenal glands, and a lobe of the liver. (Leviticus 3:3-5 ) The Divine directive was clear: all fat belonged to God. (Leviticus 3:16 ). Instead, the henchman of Hophni and Phinehas would demand meat with fat still on it, saying that the priests would take raw meat only. Sometimes the man offering the sacrifice would try to compromise: if the henchman would wait until all the fat was burned, then he could have all the meat he wanted. (Even this would not have been the correct procedure, as the priest's portion was the breast and the right thigh.) The henchman would typically reply that if the other person did not furnish the raw meat at once, then the henchman would take it by force.

Eli tried to remonstrate with his sons, and reminded them that if a man committed a sin against God Himself, then he would have no one to mediate for him. The sons would not listen. Finally an unnamed prophet warned Eli that eventually both his sons would die on the same day.[3]


That death occurred on or about {{#show:Capture of the ark|?Began}}. On that day, Hophni and his brother, at the request of the elders of Israel, carried the ark of the covenant into a major battlefield. Israel had recently suffered a humiliating defeat by the Philistines, with four thousand casualties. (1_Samuel 4:1-4 )

Hophni and Phinehas might have thought that they were safe while carrying the ark. They were not. The Philistines attacked with even greater ferocity and killed thirty thousand Israelites, including Hophni and Phinehas. They then took the ark, though they would return it seven months later.[1][2][3] (1_Samuel 4:5-11 )

Phinehas left at least two sons. One, Ahitub, succeeded his father Eli as high priest. The other, Ichabod, was born on the day he died.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Konig G, "Eli,", 2001. Accessed December 21, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Blank, Wayne, "Eli," Daily Bible Study, n.d. Accessed December 21, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Eli". Easton's Bible Dictionary. <>. Accessed December 21, 2008.