1 Samuel 4-8 Revised Standard Version

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The Philistines Capture the Ark

4 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines; they encamped at Ebene'zer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. 2  The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3  And when the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies." 4  So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phin'ehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5  When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6  And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, "What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" And when they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, 7  the Philistines were afraid; for they said, "A god has come into the camp." And they said, "Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8  Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9  Take courage, and acquit yourselves like men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; acquit yourselves like men and fight."

10  So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home; and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11  And the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phin'ehas, were slain.

12  A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes rent and with earth upon his head. 13  When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 14  When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, "What is this uproar?" Then the man hastened and came and told Eli. 15  Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set, so that he could not see. 16  And the man said to Eli, "I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today." And he said, "How did it go, my son?" 17  He who brought the tidings answered and said, "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great slaughter among the people; your two sons also, Hophni and Phin'ehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured." 18  When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.

19  Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phin'ehas, was with child, about to give birth. And when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth; for her pains came upon her. 20  And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, "Fear not, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer or give heed. 21  And she named the child Ich'abod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22  And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

The Ark in the Land of the Philistines

5 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they carried it from Ebene'zer to Ashdod; 2  then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3  And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4  But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5  This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

6  The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. 7  And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us; for his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god." 8  So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?" They answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath." So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. 9  But after they had brought it around, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out upon them. 10  So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But when the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, "They have brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to slay us and our people." 11  They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not slay us and our people." For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there; 12  the men who did not die were stricken with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

The Philistines Return the Ark

6 The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2  And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place." 3  They said, "If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you." 4  And they said, "What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?" They answered, "Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for the same plague was upon all of you and upon your lords. 5  So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. 6  Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had made sport of them, did not they let the people go, and they departed? 7  Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows upon which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8  And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way. 9  And watch; if it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-she'mesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us, it happened to us by chance."

10  The men did so, and took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11  And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12  And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-she'mesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-she'mesh. 13  Now the people of Beth-she'mesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14  The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-she'mesh, and stopped there. A great stone was there; and they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15  And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone; and the men of Beth-she'mesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16  And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron. 17  These are the golden tumors, which the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ash'kelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18  also the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone, beside which they set down the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-she'mesh.

19  And he slew some of the men of Beth-she'mesh, because they looked into the ark of the Lord; he slew seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had made a great slaughter among the people. 20  Then the men of Beth-she'mesh said, "Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?" 21  So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kir'iath-je'arim, saying, "The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you."

7 And the men of Kir'iath-je'arim came and took up the ark of the Lord, and brought it to the house of Abin'adab on the hill; and they consecrated his son, Elea'zar, to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2  From the day that the ark was lodged at Kir'iath-je'arim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Samuel Judges Israel

3  Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, "If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ash'taroth from among you, and direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." 4  So Israel put away the Ba'als and the Ash'taroth, and they served the Lord only. 5  Then Samuel said, "Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you." 6  So they gathered at Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.

7  Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it they were afraid of the Philistines. 8  And the people of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines." 9  So Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord; and Samuel cried to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10  As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel; but the Lord thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion; and they were routed before Israel. 11  And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, as far as below Beth-car. 12  Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jesha'nah, and called its name Ebene'zer; for he said, "Hitherto the Lord has helped us."

13  So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14  The cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel rescued their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. 15  Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16  And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all these places. 17  Then he would come back to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he administered justice to Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

Israel Asks for a King

8 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2  The name of his first-born son was Jo'el, and the name of his second, Abi'jah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3  Yet his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

4  Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5  and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations." 6  But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to govern us." And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7  And the Lord said to Samuel, "Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8  According to all the deeds which they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9  Now then, hearken to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them." 10  So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking a king from him. 11  He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12  and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13  He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14  He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15  He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16  He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work. 17  He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day." 19  But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No! but we will have a king over us, 20  that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles." 21  And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22  And the Lord said to Samuel, "Hearken to their voice, and make them a king." Samuel then said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city."

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