1 Samuel 4-8 World English Bible

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The Philistines Capture the Ark

4 1  The word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and encamped beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines encamped in Aphek. 2  The Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was struck before the Philistines; and they killed of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3  When the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has Yahweh struck us today before the Philistines? Let us get the ark of the covenant of Yahweh out of Shiloh to us, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies.” 4  So the people sent to Shiloh; and they brought from there the ark of the covenant of Yahweh of Armies, who sits above the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5  When the ark of the covenant of Yahweh came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6  When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” They understood that the ark of Yahweh had come into the camp. 7  The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” They said, “Woe to us! For there has not been such a thing before. 8  Woe to us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods that struck the Egyptians with all manner of plagues in the wilderness. 9  Be strong, and behave like men, O you Philistines, that you not be servants to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Strengthen yourselves like men, and fight!”

10  The Philistines fought, and Israel was struck, and they fled every man to his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 11  The ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

12  There ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn, and with earth on his head. 13  When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching; for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out. 14  When Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, “What does the noise of this tumult mean?”

The man hurried, 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  The man said to Eli, “I am he who came out of the army, and I fled today out of the army.”

He said, “How did the matter go, my son?” 17  He who brought the news answered, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been also a great slaughter among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18  It happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell from off his seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck broke, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.

19  His daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered. When she heard the news that the ark of God was taken, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and brought forth; for her pains came on her. 20  About the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Don’t be afraid; for you have brought forth a son.” But she didn’t answer, neither did she regard it. 21  She named the child Ichabod, [1] saying, “The glory has departed from Israel;” because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22  She said, “The glory has departed from Israel; for the ark of God is taken.”

The Ark in the Land of the Philistines

5 1  Now the Philistines had taken the ark of God, and they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2  The Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 3  When they of Ashdod arose early on the next day, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of Yahweh. They took Dagon, and set him in his place again. 4  When they arose early on the next day morning, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of Yahweh; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands lay cut off on the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. 5  Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any who come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod, to this day.

6  But the hand of Yahweh was heavy on them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and struck them with tumors, even Ashdod and its borders. 7  When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us; for his hand is severe on us, and on Dagon our god.” 8  They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them, 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 carried over to Gath.” They carried the ark of the God of Israel there. 9  It was so, that after they had carried it about, the hand of Yahweh was against the city with a very great confusion: and he struck the men of the city, both small and great; and tumors broke out on them. 10  So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

It happened, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people.” 11  They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and they said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to its own place, that it not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly confusion throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12  The men who didn’t die were struck with the tumors; and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

The Philistines Return the Ark

6 1  The ark of Yahweh was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2  The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of Yahweh? Show us with which we shall send it to its place.” 3  They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, don’t send it empty; but by all means return him a trespass offering: then you shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.” 4  Then they said, “What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him?”

They said, “Five golden tumors, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. 5  Therefore you shall make images of your tumors, and images of your mice that mar the land; and you shall give glory to the God of Israel: perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. 6  Why then do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he had worked wonderfully among them, didn’t they let the people go, and they departed? 7  “Now therefore take and prepare yourselves a new cart, and two milk cows, on which there has come no yoke; and tie the cows to the cart, and bring their calves home from them; 8  and take the ark of Yahweh, and lay it on the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which you return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by its side; and send it away, that it may go. 9  Behold; if it goes up by the way of its own border to Beth Shemesh, then he has done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it was a chance that happened to us.”

10  The men did so, and took two milk cows, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home; 11  and they put the ark of Yahweh on the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors. 12  The cows took the straight way by the way to Beth Shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and didn’t turn aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh. 13  They of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. 14  The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they split the wood of the cart, and offered up the cows for a burnt offering to Yahweh. 15  The Levites took down the ark of Yahweh, and the coffer that was with it, in which the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to Yahweh. 16  When the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. 17  These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering to Yahweh: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one; 18  and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages, even to the great stone, whereon they set down the ark of Yahweh, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

19  He struck of the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh, he struck of the people fifty thousand seventy men; and the people mourned, because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20  The men of Beth Shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God? To whom shall he go up from us?” 21  They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of Yahweh; come down, and bring it up to yourselves.”

7 1  The men of Kiriath Jearim came, and fetched up the ark of Yahweh, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of Yahweh. 2  It happened, from the day that the ark abode in Kiriath Jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after Yahweh.

Samuel Judges Israel

3  Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you do return to Yahweh with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, and direct your hearts to Yahweh, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4  Then the children of Israel did put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and served Yahweh only. 5  Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray for you to Yahweh.” 6  They gathered together to Mizpah, and drew water, and poured it out before Yahweh, and fasted on that day, and said there, “We have sinned against Yahweh.” Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpah.

7  When the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. When the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8  The children of Israel said to Samuel, “Don’t cease to cry to Yahweh our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.” 9  Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a whole burnt offering to Yahweh: and Samuel cried to Yahweh for Israel; and Yahweh answered him. 10  As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel; but Yahweh thundered with a great thunder on that day on the Philistines, and confused them; and they were struck down before Israel. 11  The men of Israel went out of Mizpah, and pursued the Philistines, and struck them, until they came under Beth Kar. 12  Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, [2] saying, “Yahweh helped us until now.”

13  So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more within the border of Israel. The hand of Yahweh 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 even to Gath; and its border did Israel deliver out of the hand of the Philistines. There was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 15  Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16  He went from year to year in circuit to Bethel and Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all those places. 17  His return was to Ramah, for there was his house; and there he judged Israel: and he built there an altar to Yahweh.

Israel Asks for a King

8 1  It happened, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2  Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah: they were judges in Beersheba. 3  His sons didn’t walk in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted justice.

4  Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel to Ramah; 5  and they said to him, “Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.”

Samuel prayed to Yahweh. 7  Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not be king over them. 8  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also to you. 9  Now therefore listen to their voice: however you shall protest solemnly to them, and shall show them the manner of the king who shall reign over them.” 10  Samuel told all the words of Yahweh to the people who asked of him a king. 11  He said, “This will be the manner of the king who shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them to him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots; 12  and he will appoint them to him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and he will set some to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. 13  He will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. 14  He will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive groves, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. 15  He will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. 16  He will take your male servants, and your female servants, and your best young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17  He will take the tenth of your flocks: and you shall be his servants. 18  You shall cry out in that day because of your king whom you shall have chosen you; and Yahweh 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 judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” 21  Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of Yahweh. 22  Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice, and make them a king.”

Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”

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Footnotes

[1] 4:21 “Ichabod” means “no glory.”

[2] 7:12 “Ebenezer” means “stone of help.”

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