Hannah wiped her mouth and brushed her back. The morning sickness had hit about two weeks before. Morning sickness was a misnomer. It was more like ‘all day sickness’. Her head swam and she could keep little down right now. She poured a bit of water into her cup, took a sip, gargled and spit. Then she drank the rest of the water before placing her scarf ver her head. Today she tied it around her securing the ends behind neck so nothing would be in the way if she became sick again. At this point she wasn’t even sure she could keep down the water. A small sip of the pomegranate syrup every quarter hour seemed to help until the nausea alleviated. But her favorite had been the anise and fennel tea she drank as she nibbled on unleavened bread. Soon, the midwives told her, she would be able to hold down lamb and chickpea soup. They also encouraged her to walk and to keep busy. She was exhausted, but that piece of advice would not be difficult to follow. There was much to do. Hannah rejoiced, even during the times of sickness, for God had remembered her and given her great joy!
The weeks passed, the nausea abated and her belly began to grow. She felt small flutters inside her and laughed with joy at each little movement. Elkanah smiled at her and treated her as though she would break. He hovered over her as though she were a fragile being. She had never been fragile!
“Do you think the water for your bath is too warm? Let it cool before you step in.”
“Perhaps you shouldn’t eat that. If it makes you sick then it may make the baby sick.”
“You’ve been standing all day. Why don’t you sit down.”
As the baby grew, the skin of her stomach stretched tight and the small movements became jabs into her rib-cage taking her breath away. Then there were kicks to her bladder sending sharp pains stopping her in her tracks. She no longer smiled when her son moved within her. But she remembered the joy. She held onto joy with hope, trust, and faith. She knew a great joy awaited her. She carried her joy within her.
Elkanah continued his hovering. But perhaps the most concerning thing he said came one evening as he watched her brush her hair. “Hannah.” He paused. She glanced back. He was twirling a loose thread on the blanket and biting the inside of his lip. “You know the law?”
She narrowed her eyes. “I suppose. Most of it.”
“You know, according to the law, any vow you make I can nullify with just a word. Just one word, Hannah.” He lowered his voice and whispered the word. “No!”
Hannah scooched herself to the edge of the stool and rocked herself forward to a standing position. “So, you would deny the vow I made to the Lord of Hosts? Your God, and mine?”
“I would tell everyone you were despondent, that you did not realize the seriousness of what you promised.” His eyes locked with hers, pleading.
“Yes, Elkanah, I was heartbroken.” She sat on the side of the bed. “I was walking in a despair so thick it was as though a heavy cloak suf me with every step. But hope arose in me, Kenah, as we sacrificed and worshiped last year. A hope I thought had died within me. I prayed to the one true God to grant the desire of my heart. When Eli spoke to me, it was more than a confirmation! I SAW, Kenah.” Her voice deepened and her eyes looked afar off. “I saw a baby boy, no longer a baby boy, serving in the tabernacle. Prophesying before kings. And then I saw more babies. Our babies. Would you take that from me? Would you take that from us?”
“Hannah, we have no King in Israel.”
“No, but the people cry out for one. One day, perhaps even in Samuel’s day, there will be a king.”
“Yes. I asked of God. He answered. Because of His great name He answered. Our son will be a son of God. He will serve in the tabernacle as a Levite. It is his birthright.”
Elkanah nodded. “You know, we’ve lived among Ephraim for so long, I have almost forgotten.” He reached for her hand. “Whatever you think is best, dear. I will support you. I will honor you in this. The God we serve keeps His promises. Who am I to break yours?”
Hannah smiled. “Only my husband.”