So, you’re asking yourself “How many children did Hannah have?” Yes – the Hannah from the Bible. How many children did she bear in her life time?
How Many Children Did Hannah Have? It’s complicated…
The answer is a little complicated.
Are you asking how many children Hannah had when she was first married (0)?
Or how many children she had when her first son was born (1, of course!)?
Or do you want to know how many children she finally had with her husband at the end of her life (6 total)?
So, I think when most people ask “How Many Children did Hannah have?” they’re really looking for that final number. Hannah had six (6) children by the end of her life.
But if you’re curious as to the details, let’s explore those now!
Where Hannah’s Mentioned in the Bible
References to this woman – Hannah – are found in the Old Testament only.
And within the Old Testament, she appears only in the first and second chapters of the book of 1 Samuel.
Hannah Was One of Two Wives of One Man
According to 1 Samuel 1:1-2 she was one of two wives of a man named Elkanah. He lived in a city called Ramathaim Zophim (or – for short – Ramah). That was in the hill country of the Israelite tribe Ephraim.
In case you’re curious, Hannah’s “co-wife” (weird, I know, but not unheard of in the ancient Near East!) was named Peninah. And she wasn’t very nice to Hannah.
Hannah Had No Children At First
Anyway, since we’re trying to figure out how many children Hannah had – we need to start off by saying that she had none.
Peninah had some (we don’t know how many – but according to 1 Samuel 1:4 she had “sons and daughters”).
But Hannah? She was barren. That’s what 1 Samuel 1:2 tells us.
Hannah Was More Loved
And even though Hannah may have been thought of as “less productive” in her agrarian society – Elkanah loved her very much according to 1 Samuel 1:5 – probably more so than he loved the “fertile” – but rather unkind – Peninah.
Hannah Was Hated by Peninah
And this wicked Peninah would make life miserable for Hannah by mocking her for not being able to have children (1 Samuel 1:7).
Elkanah Tried in Vain to Comfort Hannah
Elkanah would try in vain to comfort Hannah – who had no children at this point (1 Samuel 1:8).
Hannah Seeks Comfort from the Lord
So, Hannah prayed in the Tabernacle in Shiloh (before it was in Jerusalem!) one day for a son (1 Samuel 1:9). She prayed so desperately and fervently that Eli – the priest – thought she was drunk! When he discovered that she was just praying with great vigor, he blessed her.
Hannah Had One Son – Samuel!
She went back home to Ramah with Elkanah. They had marital relations. And the Lord gave her a son named Samuel.
So far then Hannah has one child – a son.
Hannah Gives Up Samuel
Then Hannah and Elkanah brought Samuel back to Shiloh eventually to have him serve the Lord in the Tabernacle there.
It’s there that Hannah breaks into poetic verse and denounces the wicked Peninah indirectly. After that, we interestingly never hear about Peninah again.
Did Hannah Have Seven Children?
Hannah also declared in 1 Samuel 2:5 that the barren woman bears seven children. That’s not to say that she herself actually had seven children – it seems that she’s just using a number to indicate completeness and wholeness – entirety – satisfaction, etc.
Eli Prays that Hannah Would Have More Children
But later on in 1 Samuel 2 we’re told that Hannah and Elkanah would come up to Shiloh to worship the Lord every year. On one such occasion, Eli the priest blesses them and prays that the Lord would give them more children. And that’s just what the Lord did! He caused Hannah to bear three sons and two daughters!
Hannah Ends Up with Six Children Total
So, that’s six children that Hannah ended up bearing, counting Samuel. That’s one less than the seven that she mentioned in her poem. And yet – it’s six more than she had in the beginning. All through God’s gracious actions on her behalf!
And Most Importantly…
One of Hannah’s six children – Samuel – would be used – as she says in 1 Samuel 2:10 – to strengthen the Lord’s king and exalt the power of the Lord’s Anointed.
That is – David – the coming King of Israel in Hannah’s day. And the future ancestor of God’s ultimate Anointed – Jesus Christ.