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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 4


1 and Samuel spoke to all Israel.
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 slew 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."


2 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God.


When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded.


The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked, "What can 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. They said, "Gods have come to their camp." They said also, "Woe to us! This has never happened before.


3 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods that struck the Egyptians with various plagues and with pestilence.


Take courage and be manly, Philistines; otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they were your slaves. So fight manfully!"


The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated; every man fled to his own tent. It was a disastrous defeat, in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.


The ark of God was captured, and Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.


A Benjaminite fled from the battlefield and reached Shiloh that same day, with his clothes torn and his head covered with dirt.


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 divulge his news, which put the whole city in an uproar.


Hearing the outcry of the men standing near him, Eli inquired, "What does this commotion mean?"


(Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes would not focus, so that he could not see.)


The man quickly came up to Eli and said, "It is I who have come from the battlefield; I fled from there today." He asked, "What happened, my son?"


And the messenger answered: "Israel fled from the Philistines; in fact, the troops suffered heavy losses. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are among the dead, and the ark of God has been captured."


At this mention of the ark of God, Eli fell backward from his chair into the gateway; since he was an old man and heavy, he died of a broken neck. He had judged Israel for forty years.


His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was with child and at the point of giving birth. When she heard the news concerning the capture of the ark and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband, she was seized with the pangs of labor, and gave birth.


She was about to die when the women standing around her said to her, "Never fear! You have given birth to a son." Yet she neither answered nor paid any attention.


(She named the child Ichabod, saying, "Gone is the glory from Israel," with reference to the capture of the ark of God and to her father-in-law and her husband.)


She said, "Gone is the glory from Israel," because the ark of God had been captured.



1 [1] And. . . Israel: this belongs to ch 4.

2 [4] Enthroned upon the cherubim: this title of the Lord seems to have originated in the sanctuary at Shiloh; it represents the divine Majesty as seated upon a throne on which he can be borne through the heaven by winged creatures somewhat as in the visions of Ezekial 1 and 10.

3 [8] These mighty gods: the Philistines, who were polytheists, are represented as supposing the Israelites honored several gods.

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