Chana was one of the seven women to whom G‑d gave the power of prophecy, for altogether we had seven women prophetesses, and forty-eight prophets, whose prophecies are mentioned in the tanach.
The story, as we read it on Rosh Hashanah from the first chapter of the book of Samuel 1, begins with introducing to us Elkanah, Chana's husband. He was a Levite (belonging to the tribe of Levi) and lived in Ramataim Zofim of Mount Ephraim. Elkanah was a man of noble character and of great piety. He saw with sorrow that many of his Jewish brethren were slowly drifting away from G‑d, and he took upon himself to create a lively interest in the spiritual center of Shiloh, where Ell the High Priest was the judge of Israel in those days.
As prescribed in the Torah, Elkanah made a pilgrimage to Shiloh during each of the Three Festival seasons. Together with him his family spent the holiday in a religious atmosphere in the holy city of the Sanctuary. 'When the people saw Elkanah's caravan making its way to Shiloh in a happy and festive spirit, many of them joined him. A closer bond thus developed between the Jewish people and their spiritual center in Shiloh, thanks to Elkanah's influence.
Chana was one of the two wives of Elkanah, and she was childless. Silently she suffered many humiliations at the hands of the more fortunate Peninah, who did have children. On one of the annual pilgrimages to Shiloh, Chana stood in the Sanctuary and poured out her heart before G‑d. She prayed that G‑d bless her with a son, and vowed that she would consecrate his whole life to G‑d. Silently she prayed, swaying slightly. Eli saw her and thought she was drunk. He rebuked her for entering the Sanctuary in a state of drunkenness. But Chana answered with dignity, "No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before G‑d."
Eli realized the deep piety and grief, which had moved this woman, and he said to her, "Go in peace, and the G‑d of Israel grant thee thy petition that you have asked of Him." Chana thanked him graciously and went away with happiness in her heart, feeling certain that her prayer was accepted.
In due time a son was born to her, whom she named Samuel, meaning, as she said, "I have asked him (borrowed him) of G‑d." Chana's joy knew no bounds. The first few years she kept him home. Then true to her promise, she took him to Shiloh with an offering of gratitude to G‑d. Turning the boy over to Eli, the High Priest, Chana said, "My lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here praying unto G‑d. For this child I prayed, and G‑d hath given me my petition." She told Eli of her vow, and left her beloved son in Eli's care, to be brought up in a wholly religious atmosphere in the Sanctuary.
You might think that Chana would be heart-broken to part with her son, for whom she had prayed for so many years. But Chana was full of joy as she prayed to G‑d and said, "My heart rejoices in Go.” These were the first words of Chana's famous prophecy which reads like a wonderful hymn: "There is none holy as G‑d, for there's none beside Thee; neither is there any rock like our G‑d.
"Talk no more so exceedingly proudly; let not arrogance come out of your mouth, for G‑d is an all-knowing G‑d; and unto Him all actions are known. G‑d brings death and makes life, He brings down to the grave, and He brings up. G‑d makes poor, and makes rich; He brings low, and He lifts up. He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, to make them inherit the seat of glory…”
As we read the inspiring words of the prophetess, we can see at once how fitting they are for the Day of judgment, Rosh Hashanah, when G‑d decides on the fate of each person: who shall live, who shall be rich, who shall be honored --or otherwise.
Our Sages tell us that the prophetess Chana has taught us several important things. One of them is the importance of reciting prayer in a whisper. As you know, we have the "quiet" shemone esrei, which is then repeated aloud by the chazan (if the service is held in the synagogue). The "quiet" shemone esrei, which we say in a whisper, our lips moving but our voice hardly audible, in the way Chana prayed, is the most important part of our prayer. When the heart is full and overwhelmed in the presence of the Almighty, then prayer is best expressed in a whisper.
Chana also introduced the holy name of G‑d, as the "G‑d of Hosts," that is, the Master of the whole universe, the hosts of heaven and earth. It is most fitting on Rosh Hashanah, when we proclaim G‑d’s kingdom over the whole world.
According to the Tarumi (which reveals many secrets hidden in the Holy Scriptures), the first verse of Chana's prayer contains the prophecy that her son Samuel would be a prophet in Israel; that in his days the people of Israel would be delivered from the Philistines; that he would perform many miracles and wonders; and that his grandson Heyman with his fourteen sons would sing and say Psalms in the Beit Hamikdash, together with other fellow Levites.
In the second verse, Chana predicts the defeat of Sennacherib at the gates of Jerusalem. Further on she prophesies about Nebuchadnezzar and other enemies of Israel who would pay for their wickedness; among them the Macedonians (Greeks) who would be defeated by the Hasmoneans; the wicked Haman and his sons and their defeat at the hands of Mordechai and Esther."
Finally, Chana also prophesies about the great world war, when all the world will be engulfed in a desperate war of self-extermination, and then the Messiah will come and bring complete redemption to the people of Israel, and there will be a new world in which there will be no evil, no destruction, for all the world will be full of the wisdom of G‑d.