1. Her Story Is in the Book of Samuel

In the annals of biblical history, there are countless stories of inspiring women who played crucial roles in shaping the destiny of our nations. Among them, Hannah stands out as a woman of unwavering faith, wisdom, and motherly devotion. The beloved mother of Samuel, one of Israel’s most revered prophets, the life of Hannah (Chanah) life is chronicled in the opening chapters of the Book of Samuel.1

Read: The Story of Hannah

2. She Was One of Two Wives

Hannah was married to Elkanah, but they faced a challenging situation as she was unable to bear children. Selflessly, Hannah encouraged Elkanah to marry a second woman, named Peninah.2 Peninah and Elkanah had several children, but Hannah remained barren, which caused her great distress. Despite her pain, she didn’t lose faith in G‑d or His plan for her.

Read: Polygamy in Judaism

3. Peninah Would Taunt Her

To add to Hannah’s anguish, Peninah would often taunt her about her lack of children. Our sages tell us that Peninah had good intentions. She wanted to bring Hannah to a point where she would implore G‑d for a child, as in fact happened. This was nevertheless a grave sin, as it hurt Hannah, and Peninah was punished.3

4. She Cried Out to G‑d

One year, as Elkanah, Hannah, Peninah and her children made their annual pilgrimage to the Tabernacle at Shiloh, Hannah poured out her heart to G‑d in fervent prayer. Standing before the altar, she whispered her prayers quietly and vowed that if G‑d would grant her a son, she would dedicate him to His service all the days of his life.4

Read: Chanah’s Prayer

5. The High Priest Thought She Was Drunk

Eli, the High Priest, observed her moving lips without hearing her words and initially mistook her for a drunken woman since it was not the norm then to pray quietly. In her dialogue with him, she explained that she wasn’t drunk but had poured out her soul to G‑d. When Eli realized the truth, he blessed her and assured her that G‑d had heard her plea.5

Read: The Woman Who Corrected the High Priest

6. G‑d Granted Her Wish

G‑d listened to Hannah’s prayers, and she conceived a son, whom she named Samuel, meaning, “I have asked him of G‑d.” For the next few years, Hannah did not leave home to go to the Tabernacle, preferring to stay home with her son.6

7. She Made Good on Her Promise to Give Samuel to G‑d

True to her promise, after Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him to the Tabernacle to be raised under the guidance of Eli, the High Priest. This act of sacrifice demonstrated her profound dedication to G‑d.7

8. Her ‘Song’ Became Part of Scripture

Hannah's gratitude for the gift of Samuel overflowed in a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving, known as “Hannah’s Song.” Found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, this poetic masterpiece reflects her profound understanding of G‑d’s role in reversing human fortunes. In her song, she acknowledges G‑d’s power and rejoices in having faith in Him.

9. Samuel Anointed the First Two Kings of Israel

Samuel grew up under the guidance of Eli in the Tabernacle, and became one of Israel’s most significant prophets and leaders. Through Hannah’s nurturing and Eli’s mentorship, Samuel became a great prophet of Israel. He played a pivotal role in anointing Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David.8

10. She Taught Us How to Pray

Hannah’s prayer offers valuable insight into the art of communicating with G‑d and the transformative power of prayer. She didn't hold back from sharing her pain, longing and commitment to G‑d. We learn many laws of prayer from her, and her prayer is in fact the source for our primary prayer—the Amidah—being said in a whisper.9 Hannah taught that through prayer, we open the door to a deeper, more profound relationship with G‑d, who delights in the sincere cries of His children.

Read: Changing G‑d’s Mind

11. She’s One of the 7 Prophetesses

Hannah holds a unique place among Biblical figures as a prophetess herself. While she is primarily known for her role as a devoted mother and for her heartfelt prayer at Shiloh, Hannah, stands among the distinguished group of seven known prophetesses in Jewish tradition. Her prophetic status is evident in the heartfelt prayer, known as “Hannah’s Song,” where she eloquently expresses prophecies of G‑d’s Divine plan for Israel.

Read: The 7 Prophetesses

12. She Is a Paradigm of Motherly Devotion

Hannah’s unwavering dedication to her son, Samuel, during his early years, showcases her motherly devotion above personal desires. She sacrificed the spiritual benefits she could have gained from worshiping at Shiloh, choosing instead to stay by Samuel’s side and nurture his character and spiritual foundation. Through her selflessness, Hannah had a profound impact on Samuel’s life, shaping him into one of Israel’s greatest prophets and leaders. Her story serves as a timeless example of the profound influence a mother can have on the spiritual upbringing of the next generation.

Watch: The Gift of Motherhood

13. She Had Other Children

After having Samuel, Hannah gave birth to two more sons and two daughters. Nevertheless, she is known as the mother of Samuel, the son she gave away to Eli, to be raised in service of G‑d.10

14. We Read Her Story on Rosh Hashanah Morning

We read Hannah’s moving story as the haftarah reading on Rosh Hashanah. Like Sarah, whose story is also read that day, Hannah was childless for many years. Our sages tell us that both women were blessed with a child on Rosh Hashanah. One of the names of Rosh Hashanah is Yom Hazikaron, “the day of remembrance.” On this day, the fate of both women was “remembered” by G‑d.

Read: 17 Rosh Hashanah Facts

15. She Teaches Us a New Name for G‑d

Hannah introduced a new holy name of G‑d, as the “G‑d of Hosts.” In doing so, she taught us that G‑d is the Master of the whole universe, the hosts of heaven and earth.11 It is most fitting to read her story on Rosh Hashanah, when we proclaim G‑d’s kingship over the whole world.

Read: How Many Names Does G‑d Have?

16. Her Name Means ‘Grace’

The Hebrew name “Chana” (חַנָּה) means “grace” or “favor.” It is often associated with positive qualities such as kindness, beauty and blessing. Despite her initial hardship of infertility, she received G‑d’s favor and grace when her prayers were answered, through the birth of her son Samuel, the prophet and judge.

17. Her “Drunkenness’ Has a Lesson for Us

When Eli accused Hannah of “drunkenness,” on a deeper level he was rebuking her for “indulging” and being “drunk” with her own personal wants. A holy encounter of praying at Shiloh should be used for spiritual growth, not for praying profusely for her personal needs. To this, she responded, “I have poured out my soul before G‑d.” I am not merely asking for a son; I am asking for a son that I will “dedicate to G‑d all the days of his life.” Hannah was explaining that we pray for material things from our innermost soul, in order to use them in the service of G‑d.

By answering her prayer on Rosh Hashanah when we crown G‑d as our King, G‑d encourages us to approach Him with requests for our everyday needs—while using these material things for their higher, spiritual purpose.12