Women in the Bible: Peninnah

Peninnah is an unfamiliar Bible character. Hare you ever heard of her? She’s a co-wife with Hannah (the mother of Samuel). Their husband is Elkanah. Having two wives is never a good idea. Conflict ensues.

In a tale reminiscent of Jacob and his two wives, Rebecca and Leah, we have the story of Elkanah and his two wives. 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 her 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 her 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.]

[Discover more about the Bible at A Bible A Day.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

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2 Comments

  • rocksand5 Posted August 15, 2014 9:14 pm

    Never heard of her! I wonder how Peninnah is pronounced? Is this where we get the name Penny? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Peter DeHaan Posted August 18, 2014 11:31 am

      I suppose we could give her the nickname of Penny. It would certainly be easier to pronounce!

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