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1 Samuel 4 1 Samuel 5 - 1 Samuel 6

Chapter 4

Defeat of the Israelites.[a] At that time, the Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel. Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel. After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the Lord from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”

Loss of the Ark. So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim.[b] The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, accompanied the ark of God. When the ark of the Lord arrived in the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. The Philistines, hearing the uproar, asked, “What does this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” On learning that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were frightened, crying out, “Gods have come to their camp. Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?[c] These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with various plagues in the desert. Take courage and act like soldiers, Philistines; otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they were your slaves. Fight like soldiers!” 10 The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated; everyone fled to their own tents.[d] It was a disastrous defeat; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were dead.

Death of Eli. 12 A Benjaminite fled from the battlefield and reached Shiloh that same day, with his clothes torn and his head covered with dirt. 13 When he arrived, Eli was sitting in his chair beside the gate, watching the road, for he was troubled at heart about the ark of God. The man, however, went into the city to announce his news; then the whole city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the uproar, he wondered why there was such commotion. Just then the man rushed up to inform him. 15 Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes would not focus. So he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli: “I have come from the battlefield; today I fled from there.” He asked, “What happened, my son?” 17 And the messenger answered: “Israel fled from the Philistines; in fact, the troops suffered heavy losses. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 At this mention of the ark of God, Eli fell backward from his chair into the gateway; he died of a broken neck since he was an old man and heavy. He had judged Israel for forty years.

19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and about to give birth. When she heard the news about the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband, she crouched down in labor, and gave birth. 20 She was about to die when the women standing around her said to her, “Do not be afraid, you have given birth to a son.” Yet she neither answered nor paid any attention. 21 She named the child Ichabod, saying, “Gone is the glory from Israel,” referring to the capture of the ark of God and to her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “Gone is the glory from Israel,” because the ark of God had been captured.

Chapter 5

The Ark in the Temple of Dagon. [a]The Philistines, having captured the ark of God, transferred it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. They then took the ark of God and brought it into the temple of Dagon, placing it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next morning, Dagon was lying face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they picked Dagon up and put him back in his place. But early the next morning, when they arose, Dagon lay face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord, his head and hands broken off and lying on the threshold, his trunk alone intact. For this reason, neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter the temple of Dagon tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this very day.

The Ark Is Carried About. Now the hand of the Lord weighed heavily on the people of Ashdod, ravaging them and afflicting the city and its vicinity with tumors.[b] On seeing how matters stood, the people of Ashdod decided, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand weighs heavily on us and Dagon our god.” So they summoned all the Philistine leaders and inquired of them, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” The people of Gath replied, “Let them move the ark of the God of Israel to us.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath. But after it had been brought there, the hand of the Lord was against the city, resulting in utter turmoil: the Lord afflicted its inhabitants, young and old, and tumors broke out on them. 10 The ark of God was next sent to Ekron; but as it entered that city, the people there cried out, “Why have they brought the ark of the God of Israel here to kill us and our kindred?” 11 Then they, too, sent a summons to all the Philistine leaders and pleaded: “Send away the ark of the God of Israel. Send it back to its place so it does not kill us and our kindred.” A deadly panic had seized the whole city, since the hand of God lay heavy upon it. 12 Those who escaped death were afflicted with tumors. Thus the outcry from the city went up to the heavens.

Chapter 6

The Ark Is Returned. The ark of the Lord had been in the land of the Philistines seven months when they summoned priests and diviners to ask, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us what we should send back with it.” They replied: “If you intend to send back the ark of the God of Israel, you must not send it alone, but must, by all means, make amends to God through a reparation offering.[a] Then you will be healed, and will learn why God continues to afflict you.” When asked further, “What reparation offering should be our amends to God?” they replied: “Five golden tumors and five golden mice to correspond to the number of Philistine leaders, since the same plague has struck all of you and your leaders. Therefore, make images of the tumors and of the mice that are devastating your land and so give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps then God will lift his hand from you, your gods, and your land. Why should you become stubborn, the way the Egyptians and Pharaoh were stubborn? Was it not after he had dealt ruthlessly with them that the Israelites were released and departed? So now set to work and make a new cart. Then take two milk cows that have not borne the yoke; hitch them to the cart, but drive their calves indoors away from them.[b] You shall next take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, putting the golden articles that you are offering as reparation for your guilt in a box beside it. Start it on its way, and let it go. Then watch! If it goes up to Beth-shemesh[c] along the route to the Lord’s territory, then it was the Lord who brought this great calamity upon us; if not, we will know that it was not the Lord’s hand, but a bad turn, that struck us.”

The Ark in Beth-shemesh. 10 They acted upon this advice. Taking two milk cows, they hitched them to the cart but shut up their calves indoors. 11 Then they placed the ark of the Lord on the cart, along with the box containing the golden mice and the images of the tumors. 12 The cows went straight for the route to Beth-shemesh and continued along this road, mooing as they went, turning neither right nor left. The Philistine leaders followed them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 The people of Beth-shemesh were harvesting the wheat in the valley. They looked up and rejoiced when they saw the ark. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stopped there. At a large stone in the field, the wood of the cart was split up and the cows were offered as a burnt offering to the Lord15 The Levites, meanwhile, had taken down the ark of God and the box beside it, with the golden articles, and had placed them on the great stone. The people of Beth-shemesh also offered other burnt offerings and sacrifices to the Lord that day. 16 After witnessing this, the five Philistine leaders returned to Ekron the same day.

17 The golden tumors the Philistines sent back as a reparation offering to the Lord were as follows: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, and one for Ekron. 18 The golden mice, however, corresponded to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five leaders, including fortified cities and open villages.[d] The large stone on which the ark of the Lord was placed is still in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite at the present time.

Penalty for Irreverence. 19 The descendants of Jeconiah did not join in the celebration with the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh when they saw the ark of the Lord, and seventy of them were struck down. The people mourned over this great calamity which the Lord had inflicted upon them. 20 The men of Beth-shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this Holy God? To whom can the ark go so that we are rid of it?” 21 They then sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord; come down and get it.”

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