Yesterday someone pointed something out to me and my mind is still reeling from it: the boy Samuel DIDN’T serve God in the Temple.

Even though the Bible translations I am most familiar with (NIV 1984, ESV) use the word ‘temple’ (eg 1 Sam 3:3: “Samuel was lying down in the temple, where the ark of God was”), it is clear from 2 Samuel 7 that the Jews were still worshipping in the temporary tabernacle tent:

All those Sunday school images of vast stone columns and marble floors are entirely false. I’ve always pictured Hannah weeping and praying for a son on a huge flight of stone steps, but she couldn’t have been.

And while we’re at it, there’s no textual evidence that Eli was sleeping in another ‘room’ or place within the tabernacle as I’ve always imagined. He could have been in the very same space as Samuel and not heard the voice of the Lord.

There’s nothing particularly deeply spiritual I have to say about this, just one of those moments where my life-long perception has been shown to be false. I wonder what else I’m picturing completely differently from how it was…?!