Peninnah is an unfamiliar Bible character. She is a co-wife with Hannah (the mother of Samuel); their husband is Elkanah.
In a tale reminiscent of Jacob and his two wives, Rebecca and Leah, we have the story of Elkanah and his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Just as Jacob loves Rebecca more than Leah, Elkanah loves Hannah more than Peninnah. Likewise, as Rebecca, the favored wife, is childless, so too is Hannah, the favored wife.
Another parallel biblical account is of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Hagar, the wife with a child, harasses Sarah, the wife without a child. So to, Peninnah harasses Hannah. This is the extent of what the Bible says about Peninnah.
All we know then about Peninnah is that despite her producing children for Elkanah, he loves Hannah more—and Peninnah lashes out at her rival in the only way possible, by verbally tormenting her.
While we can’t condone Peninnah’s actions, we can understand them.
What we learn from this story (as well as from Leah and Hagar) is that having two wives (or girlfriends) is never a good idea.
[Read more about Peninnah in 1 Samuel 1-2.]
Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available from Amazon.
Join me on the journey!
Sign up for my weekly newsletter about biblical spirituality, and I'll send you a free e-book, How Big Is Your Tent?