Hophni was the one of the sons of Eli the priest. He was a brother to Phineas.Though their father Eli was a good priest (and strong role model for Samuel—his young protégé), he failed to raise sons that followed his God-honoring ways. Rather than treat their priestly office with reverent humility, Hophni and his brother mistreated the people, abused their sacrifices, and went as far as enjoying inappropriate sexual liaisons at the very tabernacle itself. Rather than treat God and their office with deserving awe, they made a mockery of God and His commands. When the Philistines mobilized their army against the Israelite people, Hophni and Phinehas rallied the people by taking the ark of the covenant into battle. For two brothers who didn’t fear God or His commands, it is easy to see how they would irreverently place the ark at the front lines either as a lucky charm or a tactic to manipulate and motivate the people.
Rather than guarantee their victory, the ark was captured—the people of God were routed, and these two evil priests met their deaths on the battlefield.