1 Samuel 1:1—Was Elkanah, the father of Samuel, an Ephraimite or was he a Levite as indicated in 1 Chronicles 6:16–30?

Problem: In the short genealogical note in 1 Samuel 1:1, Elkanah is said to be from the mountains of Ephraim. However, in 1 Chronicles 6:16–23, the longer genealogical record indicates that Elkanah was a Levite. Which is correct?

Solution: Both are correct. The fact that Eli took Samuel into the temple service as an apprentice, and that Samuel later carried out the functions of the priesthood, substantiate the genealogical report that Samuel, and his father Elkanah, were of the tribe of Levi. The statement in 1 Samuel 1:1 simply points out that Elkanah lived in the mountains of Ephraim. All the Levites were assigned to dwell in certain cities that were scattered throughout the tribes of Israel (Num. 35:6). It is quite probable that Ramathaim Zophim, the city where Elkanah lived, was one of these appointed cities. Elkanah was a Levite by tribal descent and an Ephraimite by geographical location.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.