Chofni and Pinchas, the sons of Eli, when they seemingly cheated those bringing offerings at Mishkan Shilo and cohabitated with the women who congregated at the Mishkan. (I Shmuel 12-17,22)

Anyone who says these people sinned is mistaken. For real?

I think each case of that question deserve their own question.

What was Hofni and Phineas apparent sin? Did they sin? What did they do?

It seems that cohabiting with any women is not a sin as long as the women are not married to anybody. Cheating at offerings? Hmmm. Cheating seems to be sinning. (don't steal, don't defraud, don't get bribe, it's all in the book)

I am not a rabbi nor will I ever be. So what does the law actually said?


2 Answers 2


Judaica Press Samuel I 2:22 cites Rashi who quotes the gemoro that Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachmani said in the name of Rebi that by delaying the sacrifices of the women who were bringing sacrifices, it was as if they had committed adultery with them. Actually they delayed the women from returning to their husbands. This was an abuse of authority rather than the actual sin of which they were accused.

Similarly in 2:17-22 it was not theft because they were supposed to get the sacrificial meat, but it was an abuse of authority by taking it when it was more convenient for them (and delaying the actual kaparah) rather than the normal time to do so.

  • What is kaparah? What were the women actually do? Did ancient jewish religion involve temples prostitute? Might be hard to believe because christianity that follows are very puritan. But we have women attending the temples and it has to be women, with mirrors and now somebody is cohabiting with them?
    – user4951
    Dec 4, 2015 at 3:14
  • @JimThio The women had to bring sacrifices after child birth in order to remove the ritual impurity. Chofni and Pinchas delayed bringing the sacrifices so that the women did not return home immediately. Kapparah means atonement and did not occur until the portion of the sacrifice that was required had been placed on the altar. Chofni and Pinchas delayed until it was convenient for them to do so, but had their servants get the part that they were to eat immediately. Dec 4, 2015 at 5:49

The Babylonian Talmud (Shabbath, Folio 55B) is clear that Hophni (or Chofni) was engaging in open sexual immorality. However, his fellow priest and brother, Phineas (or Pinchas) had tolerated the immoral behavior, for which he too was deemed culpable by reason of association in the high priestly office.

Please click on the image below to enlarge.

SHABBATH Folio 55B enter image description here

  • That's only according to one opinion there (that of Rav). R' Shmuel bar Nachmani, a few lines earlier, says that neither Chofni nor Pinchas actually committed adultery.
    – Meir
    Feb 1, 2021 at 16:10

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