Hannah & Penninah

By Linda Wyke


An argument develops between the two women when Penninah discovers that Hannah has left three-year-old Samuel in the care of the priest Eli.


Hannah Ė older (mid to late thirties) wife of Elkanah
Penninah Ė younger wife (late twenties) of Elkanah
8 children ranging from teens to baby


(Scene: a city street. Penninah, holding a baby, waits pacing, surrounded by 7 other children of varying ages.  Hannah slowly walks up, clearly distracted.  She pulls herself together and is resolute when she speaks.)
Pen:  Hannah,ÖHannah hurry up, we need to be leaving.
(Hannah walks slowly up to her)  Where have you been all this time Hannah?

Han: I have been sacrificing and praying in the temple, Penninah, but I am finished now.  So let us go find the servants and our husband and leave.

Pen:   Where is Samuel?  Donít tell me you lost him in the crowd around the temple.  Seth, Aaron, go out and look for SamuelÖhe has wandered off.

Han:  (quietly) That is not necessary, Peninnah.

Pen:  Of course it is necessary, Hannah, Samuel is just three and Shiloh is a much busier city than he has ever seen.  I canít believe you were so careless that you lost him.  After all, you only have just the one to look after.  I keep track of all 8 of my children; canít you look after just one?

Han:  Stop, Peninnah.  Samuel is not lost.  He is at the temple. (Gathers strength) I gave him to Eli the priest to be brought up in the house of the Lord.

Pen: YOU WHAT!  (Hands baby to teen)  Abigail, take the other children and go find your father. (Children leave)  What do you mean you gave Samuel to Eli?  Now I am sure you have lost your mind!  Does Elkanah know about this?

Han: Yes, my husband knows about itÖhe has known this time would come since I carried Samuel in my womb.  He agreed it was the best way.

Pen:  And somehow you considered giving your only child to a man who raised two wicked sons, the best way?  Hannah, what kind of mother are you?  First you cry and cry for years because you donít have any children. (Bitterly) Does it matter to you that your husband loves you and won't set you aside for being barren?  No! You walk around with a long face and weep and wail because poor Hannah has no children. Then, when God finally opens your womb, you give that child, the one you waited so long for, to a priest who hasnít been able to raise his own sons properly!  How could you do that to your only son??

Han: (answers heatedly) I had no choice, Peninnah.  I sat in that temple 4 years ago weeping and calling out to the Lord to please give me a son.  I made a vow that if God would answer my prayer, I would give that son back to the Lord for all the days of his life.  And God saw my misery and had mercy on me and gave me Samuel.  I have kept him with me for these first years of his life and loved him so. (Resolutely) But now that he is weaned, I have brought him back to the temple to keep my promise.

Pen:  That doesnít mean God wants you to give him back when he is just three years old, Hannah.  A child needs his mother!  Do you think Eli will hold him if he calls out in the night, or if he is sick?  Who do you think will care about his joys or his fears? Those two wicked sons of Eli? (Slyly)  And if you abandon him now, do you think he will remember you.  You will come back to see him in a year and you will be a stranger to him.  (Each thing Peninnah says is like a blow to HannahÖit is clear Hannah has thought of this)

Han:  I know all of this, Penninah.  You ask me who will take care of Samuel, and all I can say is that God will take care of Samuel.  Yahweh has set the world on its foundation and has power over the destinies of kings and peasants alike. He will not forget my son. Yahweh will protect Samuel and keep him safe.

Pen:  You truly believe this?

Han:  Yes, I truly believe this. I could not have left him if it were not so.

Pen:  Then you are a fool Hannah. You have sacrificed your only child.  Do you think that you will have any more children after this?  It took you years to conceive Samuel.

Han:  I donít know if I will ever have another child.  That is in Godís hands.  But I am not a fool, Peninnah, a fool is someone who gives a vow to God and does not honor it.  God gave me Samuel in answer to my prayer, and Samuel will be in my heart always. But he will live in the house of the Lord and serve the Lord for all of his days, as I promised. (Pause) Now we must go and find Elkanah - it is time to leave.

Pen:  I donít understand how you can do this Hannah. (She leaves)

Han:  (looking back at the temple) (quietly, as if to herself) Because God is holy and he will protect and love my son. (Prays)  Oh Lord, Samuel is very small (small sob) be close to him tonight. (To reassure herself as she leaves)  He will protect him.  That is what I must believe. (Exit)

© Linda Wyke, All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. She may be contacted at: Beengraced@aol.com