Samuel is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. He is also known as a prophet by Christians and Muslims, and is mentioned in the second chapter of the Qur'an, although not by name.

Samuel's mother was Hannah and his father was Elkanah. Elkanah lived at Ramathaim in the district of Zuph. His genealogy is also found in a pedigree of the Kohathites (1 Chronicles 6:3-15) and in that of Heman, his great-grandson (1 Chronicles 6:18–22). According to the genealogical tables in Chronicles, Elkanah was a Levite - a fact not mentioned in the books of Samuel. The fact that Elkanah, a Levite, was denominated an Ephraimite is analogous to the designation of a Levite belonging to Judah (Judges 17:7, for example).

On one occasion Hannah went to the sanctuary and prayed for a child. In tears, she vowed that were she granted a child, she would dedicate him to God as a Nazirite. Eli, who was sitting at the foot of the doorpost in the sanctuary at Shiloh, saw her apparently mumbling to herself and thought she was drunk, but was soon assured of her motivation and sobriety. Eli was the priest of Shiloh, and one of the last Israelite Judges before the rule of kings in ancient Israel. He had assumed the leadership after Samson's death. Eli blessed her and she returned home. Subsequently Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to Samuel. Hannah's exultant hymn of thanksgiving resembles in several points Mary's later Magnificat.

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