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1 Samuel 4

The Philistines Capture the Ark

1 Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

Now the Israelites went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines arrayed themselves against Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who struck down about four thousand men on the battlefield.

3 When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why has the LORD brought defeat on us before the Philistines today? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh, so that it may go a with us to save us from the hand of our enemies.”

4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD of Hosts, who sits enthroned between 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 the LORD entered the camp, all the Israelites raised such a great shout that it shook the ground.

6 On hearing the noise of the shout, the Philistines asked, “What is this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews?”

And when they realized that the ark of the LORD had entered the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “The gods have entered b their camp!” they said. “Woe to us, for nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Take courage and be men, O Philistines! Otherwise, you will serve the Hebrews just as they served you. Now be men and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and each man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great—thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

The Death of Eli

12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line all the way to Shiloh, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli, sitting on his chair beside the road and watching, because his heart trembled for the ark of God.

When the man entered the city to give a report, the whole city cried out.

14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “Why this commotion?”

So the man hurried over and reported to Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his gaze was fixed because he could not see.

16 “I have just come from the battle,” the man said to Eli. “I fled from there today.”

“What happened, my son?” Eli asked.

17 The messenger answered, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are both dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”

18 As soon as the ark of God was mentioned, Eli fell backward from his chair by the city gate, and being old and heavy, he broke his neck and died. And Eli had judged c Israel forty years.

19 Now Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and about to give birth. When she heard the news of the capture of God’s ark and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband, she collapsed and gave birth, for her labor pains overtook her.

20 As she was dying, the women attending to her said, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son!”

But she did not respond or pay any heed. 21 And she named the boy Ichabod, d saying, “The glory has departed e from Israel,” because the ark of God had been captured and her father-in-law and her husband had been killed.

22 “The glory has departed from Israel,” she said, “for the ark of God has been captured.”



3 a Or He may go
7 b Or A god has entered
18 c Or governed or led
21 d Ichabod means no glory .
21 e Or gone into exile ; also in verse 22

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