ELI: A (high) priest at Shiloh near the close of the period of the Judges, among whom he is also reckoned. Descent from Aaron is claimed for him through Ithamar (I Sam. ii. 27 sqq.; I Chron. xxiv. 6). It was Eli who promised the granting of her petition to the praying Hannah (I Sam. i. 9, 13 sqq.), to whom she afterward entrusted Samuel, the object of that petition (verse 25 sqq.), to become his minister in his old age and then his successor. Eli seems to have been a mild, gentle bearer of the office, who had the interests of the sanctuary at heart; but he was lax in the discipline of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who shamelessly abused their priestly position (I Sam. ii. 12 sqq.). For this reason a prophet first foretold to Eli God's judgment in the sudden death of his two sons, a curse upon the entire family, the members of which were to die early, after failing in preferment to their hereditary office. Finally Samuel announced to his master the near fulfilment of his doom (I Sam. iii.). In a war with the Philistines, Israel was completely overcome, both sons of Eli were killed and Eli, ninety-eight years of age, fell from his seat and died. The narrative relates the fulfilment of the doom on Eli's house during the reign of Solomon.
C. VON ORELLI.