Eli, the High Priest and judge of Israel, seemed to have been a man who was personally pious, was a tender guardian of young Samuel when he came to the tabernacle at a very young age, and who led Israel for many years. Yet Eli, along with his family, came to a tragic end.
1 Sam. 2:12“Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD.”
In an age of Israel that was known for moral corruption, some of the most degenerate men came from highest house in the land. Hophni and Phineas were in open rebellion to both their father, the High Priest, and the God of heaven. They debauched the worshipers in God’s house. They robbed those who brought sacrifices over their protests that the priests observe the Law. They would not wait until the meat was cooked, they had to have it raw – probably so they could go and sell it. They didn’t care about God’s rules, only what they could get. They took advantage of the women servants who helped run the tabernacle. They were acting in Shiloh in the Lord’s house as if they were in a pagan temple.
Thought they were openly and fully wicked, Eli rebuked them only gently (2:22-25). For this lack of action, lack of leadership, God rebuked Eli very harshly (2:29-34) and prophesied the bad end of the wicked sons.
1 Sam. 4:11“And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.”