The narrative in 1 Sam 1-2 is unique in its depiction of an identified woman (Hannah) engaging in cult-related activities within a sanctuary. Scholars have commented on Hannah’s religious words and deeds, including her uttering a prayer, making a Nazirite vow for her son, deriving a blessing from the priest Eli, and dedicating her son, as well as participating in a sacrificial ritual. This study investigates Hannah’s agency and its implications within a hierarchical socio-religious domain controlled by a hereditary priesthood (and its male surrogates) that bolsters its power and status by exclusion. Adapting some theoretical insights from Saul Olyan’s Rites and Rank, I explore how Hannah’s words and actions challenge the boundaries that marginalize women and preclude their cultic participation. As a consequence of her agency, not only does her personal situation improve, but Hannah redefines restrictive boundaries, empowering herself to be an active participant and enabling her son Samuel, a nonpriestly outsider, to be inserted into a corrupt cultic establishment, catalyzing its change.

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