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PENINNAH (Heb. פְּנִנָּה; possibly "coral"), second wife of *Elkanah (i Sam. 1:1–2). Peninnah had sons and daughters, while *Hannah, Elkanah's first wife, was barren (1:2). In i Samuel 1, which deals with Samuel's birth, Peninnah plays a secondary role. She seems to have been her husband's less favored wife (cf. 1:5) and is portrayed as a rather unkind woman who made life difficult for Hannah, her rival (1:6–7).

In the Aggadah

The aggadah elaborates on the manner in which Peninnah taunted Hannah on account of her childlessness. Every morning she would mockingly ask whether Hannah had washed her sons' faces, and in the afternoon would sarcastically enquire when she expected them home from school (pr 43, 181b). According to one tradition, this cruelty had a righteous intent; Peninnah hoped thereby that she would encourage Hannah to pray for children (bb 18a; Mid. Ḥag. to Gen. 22:1). She was nevertheless ultimately punished. Two of her children died whenever Hannah gave birth; and she thus witnessed the death of eight of her ten children. The last two were spared solely as a result of Hannah's intercession with the Almighty on her behalf (pr, ibid., 182a).


in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1913), 58, 60; 6 (1928), 216–8, 220; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 363f.