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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 4

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1Samuel's word had authority throughout Israel.

THE time came when the Philistines mustered for battle against Israel a 4:1 The time … Israel: so Gk; Heb. omits. , and the Israelites, marching out to meet them, encamped near Eben-ezer, while the Philistines’ camp was at Aphek. 2The Philistines drew up their lines facing the Israelites, and when battle was joined the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field. 3When their army got back to camp, the Israelite elders asked, ‘Why did the LORD let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to go with us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.’ 4The army sent to Shiloh and fetched the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD of Hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim; Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the Ark.

5When the Ark came into the camp it was greeted with such a great shout by all the Israelites that the earth rang. 6The Philistines, hearing the noise, asked, ‘What is this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews?’ When they learned that the Ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7they were alarmed. ‘A god has come into the camp,’ they cried. ‘We are lost! No such thing has ever happened before. 8We are utterly lost! Who can deliver us from the power of this mighty god? This is the god who broke the Egyptians and crushed them in the wilderness. 9Courage, act like men, you Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews as they were to you. Be men, and fight!’ 10The Philistines then gave battle, and the Israelites were defeated and fled to their homes. It was a great defeat, and thirty thousand Israelite foot-soldiers fell. 11The Ark of God was captured, and Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, perished.

12A Benjamite ran from the battlefield and reached Shiloh on the same day, his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13When he arrived Eli was sitting on a seat by the road to Mizpah, for he was deeply troubled about the Ark of God. The man entered the town with his news, and all the people cried out in horror. 14When Eli heard the uproar, he asked, ‘What does it mean?’ The man hurried to Eli and told him. 15Eli was ninety-eight years old and sat staring with sightless eyes. 16The man said to him, ‘I am the one who has just come from the battle. I fled from the field this very day.’ Eli asked, ‘What is the news, my son?’ 17The runner answered, ‘The Israelites have fled before the Philistines; the army has suffered severe losses; your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the Ark of God is taken.’ 18At the mention of the Ark of God, Eli fell backwards from his seat by the gate and broke his neck, for he was an old man and heavy. So he died; he had been judge over Israel for forty years.

19His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near her time, and when she heard of the capture of the Ark and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband, she went into labour and she crouched down and was delivered. 20As she lay dying, the women who attended her said, ‘Do not be afraid; you have a son.’ But she did not answer or heed what they said. 21She named the boy Ichabod b 4:21 Ichabod: that is No-glory. , saying, ‘Glory has departed from Israel,’ referring to the capture of the Ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband; 22‘Glory has departed from Israel,’ she said, ‘because the Ark of God is taken.’

Notes:

a 4:1 The time … Israel: so Gk; Heb. omits.

b 4:21 Ichabod: that is No-glory.

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