Biblical People

Biblical People: Peninnah

Peninnah is an unfamiliar Bible character. She is a co-wife with Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Their shared husband is Elkanah. In a tale reminiscent of Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah, we have the story of Elkanah and his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.

Just as Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah, Elkanah loves Hannah more than Peninnah. Likewise, as Rachel, the favored wife, is childless, so, too, is Hannah. 

Another parallel biblical account is of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, where Hagar, the wife with a child, harasses Sarah, the wife without one. So too, Peninnah harasses Hannah. 

Despite Peninnah producing children for Elkanah, he loves Hannah more. Peninnah lashes out at her rival in the only way possible, by verbally tormenting her each day. While we can’t condone Peninnah’s actions, we can understand the angst behind them.

When we’re in an unbearable situation, do we try to make the best of it or blame others and harass them?

[Discover more about Peninnah in 1 Samuel 1.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.