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Peninnah (right) with Elkanah and Hannah as they return to Ramah.

Peninnah (Hebrew: פְּנִנָּהPəninnāh; sometimes transliterated Penina) was one of Elkanah's two wives, briefly mentioned in the first Book of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:2). Her name may derive from פְּנִינִים (pənînîm) meaning "pearl", "jewel" or "coral".[1]

Peninnah was less favored than Elkanah's other wife, Hannah; although she bore him more children, Peninnah also brought grief and disharmony to the household by her insolent mocking of infertile Hannah. "And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat." [2] Every year, when Elkanah offered up a sacrifice at Shiloh, he would share out the portions of meat and give Hannah a double portion, which further incited the jealousy of Peninnah.[3]

Eventually, in answer to her desperate prayer, Hannah’s womb was opened, and she bore Samuel, and later another three sons and two daughters.[4] Some commentators suggest that Peninnah's actions were in fact noble, and that Peninnah "mocked" the barren Hannah in order to further drive Hannah to pray even harder to God to give her children.[citation needed]

After the birth of Samuel, Peninnah is not mentioned again, and 1 Samuel 2:20 says that Eli "would bless Elkanah and his wife", referring to Hannah. The singular pronoun may suggest that Peninnah has been divorced - in any case, she is no longer required in the narrative.


  1. ^ Smith, William. Smith's Bible Dictionary.
  2. ^ 1 Samuel 1:6-7.
  3. ^ 1 Samuel 1:4-5.
  4. ^ 1 Samuel 2:21.

External links[edit]

Online text of 1 Samuel 1