1 Samuel 4; 1 Samuel 5; 1 Samuel 6; 1 Samuel 7; 1 Samuel 8

1 And Samuel's word went out to all Israel. In those days the Philistines gathered for war against Israel, so Israel went out to engage the Philistines in war. Israel camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines readied themselves to fight Israel. When the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the troops returned to the camp, Israel's elders said, "Why did the LORD defeat us today before the Philistines? Let's bring the chest containing the LORD's covenant from Shiloh so it can go with us and save us from our enemies' power." 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the chest containing the covenant of the LORD of heavenly forces, who sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures. Eli's two sons Hophni and Phinehas were there with the chest containing God's covenant. 5 When the chest containing the LORD's covenant entered the camp, all Israel let out such a loud shout that the ground shook. 6 When the Philistines heard the sound of that shout, they asked, "What is that loud shouting in the Hebrew camp about?" When they learned that the LORD's chest had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid and said, "A god has come into that camp! We're doomed," they said, "because nothing like this has ever happened before. 8 We're doomed! Who will deliver us from the grip of these powerful deities? They are the same gods who struck the Egyptians in the desert with every kind of wound. 9 Pull yourselves together and act like men, Philistines! Otherwise, you'll serve the Hebrews like they've been serving you. Act like men and fight!" 10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated, and everyone fled to their homes. It was a massive defeat: thirty thousand Israelite foot soldiers fell, 11 God's chest was taken, and Eli's two sons Hophni and Phinehas died. 12 That very day, a Benjaminite ran from the battle to Shiloh. His clothes were torn, and dirt was on his head. 13 When he got there, Eli was sitting in a chair beside the road, waiting because he was nervous about God's chest. The man arrived and gave the news to the city, and the whole city cried out. 14 Eli heard the sound of the cry and said, "What's all this noise about?" The man hurriedly went and told Eli the news. ( 15 Now Eli was 98 years old, and his eyes stared straight ahead, unable to see.) 16 The man told Eli, "I'm the one who just came from the battle. I fled from the battle today." "What's the report, my son?" Eli asked. 17 The messenger answered, "Israel has fled from the Philistines. The army has suffered a massive defeat. Also, your own two sons Hophni and Phinehas have died, and God's chest has been taken!" 18 At the mention of God's chest, Eli fell backward off the chair beside the gate. His neck broke, and he died because he was an old man and overweight. Eli had judged Israel for forty years. 19 Now Eli's daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was pregnant and about to give birth. When she heard the news that God's chest had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she doubled over and gave birth because her labor pains overwhelmed her. 20 As she was about to die, the women standing by helping her said, "Don't be afraid. You've given birth to a son!" But she didn't answer or pay them any attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has left Israel," referring to the capture of God's chest and the death of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 "The glory has left Israel because God's chest has been taken," she said.
1 After the Philistines took God's chest, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took God's chest and brought it into Dagon's temple and set it next to Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen facedown on the ground before the LORD's chest! So they took Dagon and set him back up where he belonged. 4 But when they got up early the next morning, there was Dagon again, fallen facedown on the ground before the LORD's chest—and this time Dagon's head along with both his hands were cut off and lying on the doorstep! Only Dagon's body was left intact. 5 That's why to this day Dagon's priests or anyone else who enters his temple in Ashdod doesn't step on the threshold. 6 The LORD's hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod: God terrified them and struck them in Ashdod and its surroundings with tumors. 7 When Ashdod's inhabitants saw what was happening, they said, "The chest of Israel's God must not stay here with us because his hand is hard against us and against our god Dagon." 8 So they summoned all the Philistine rulers to a meeting and asked, "What should we do with the chest of Israel's God?" The people of Gath said, "Let the chest of Israel's God be moved to us." So they moved the chest of Israel's God to Gath. 9 But once they moved it, the LORD's hand came against the city, causing a huge panic. God struck the city's inhabitants, both young and old, and tumors broke out on them. 10 Then they sent God's chest to Ekron, but as soon as God's chest entered Ekron, the inhabitants cried out, "Why have you moved the chest of Israel's God to us? In order to kill us and our people?" 11 So they summoned all the Philistine rulers to a meeting and said, "Send the chest of Israel's God away! Let it go back to its own home so it doesn't kill us and our people," because there was a deadly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. 12 The people who didn't die were struck with tumors, and the screams of the city went all the way up to heaven.
1 The LORD's chest was in Philistine territory for seven months. 2 The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners. "What should we do with the LORD's chest?" they asked. "Tell us how we should send it back to its own home." 3 They replied, "If you are returning the chest of Israel's God, don't send it back empty, but be sure to return a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and it will become clear to you why God's hand hasn't left you alone." 4 "What compensation offering should we return to him?" they asked. The priests and diviners replied: "Five gold tumors and five gold mice, matching the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague came on all of you and your rulers. 5 You must make images of your tumors and the mice that have devastated the land. Honor Israel's God. Perhaps he will lighten the weight of his hand on you, your gods, and your land. 6 Why be stubborn like the Egyptians and Pharaoh? After God had dealt harshly with them, didn't they send the Israelites on their way? 7 So get a new cart ready along with two nursing cows that have never been yoked before. Harness the cows to the cart, but take any of their calves that are following back home. 8 Next, take the LORD's chest and put it in the cart. Set the gold items that you are giving God as a compensation offering in a box next to the chest. Then send it on its way. 9 Then watch what happens: If the cart goes up the road to its own territory toward Beth-shemesh, then Israel's God has brought this great disaster on us. If the cart goes another way, then we'll know that it wasn't God's hand that struck us. It happened to us randomly." 10 The rulers did just that. They took two nursing cows and harnessed them to the cart, penning their calves up at home. 11 They put the LORD's chest on the cart along with the box containing the gold mice and the images of their tumors. 12 The cows went straight ahead, following the road to Beth-shemesh. They kept to one route, mooing as they went, without turning right or left. The Philistine rulers followed them as far as the territory of Beth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley. When they looked up and saw the chest, they were overjoyed at the sight. 14 The cart entered the field belonging to Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped right by a large stone. They chopped up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as an entirely burned offering to the LORD. 15 The Levites unloaded the LORD's chest and the box that was with it that contained all the gold items, and they set them on the large stone. That very day the people of Beth-shemesh offered entirely burned offerings and made sacrifices to the LORD. 16 When the five Philistine rulers witnessed this, they went straight back to Ekron. 17 These are the gold tumors that the Philistines returned as a compensation offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, and one for Ekron. 18 The gold mice matched the number of Philistine cities belonging to the five rulers, from fortified cities to country villages. And the large stone they set the LORD's chest on is a witness even now in the field that belongs to Joshua of Beth-shemesh. 19 But God struck down some of the people from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the LORD's chest. God struck seventy people, and the community grieved because the LORD had struck them so severely. 20 The people of Beth-shemesh said, "Who can stand before the LORD, this holy God? Where can he go that is away from us here?" 21 They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim. "The Philistines returned the LORD's chest!" they said. "Come down and take it back with you."
1 So the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took the LORD's chest. They brought it to Abinadab's house, which was on the hill. Then they dedicated Eleazar, Abinadab's son, to care for the LORD's chest. 2 Now a long time passed—a total of twenty years—after the chest came to stay in Kiriath-jearim, and the whole house of Israel yearned for the LORD. 3 Then Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are turning to the LORD with all your heart, then get rid of all the foreign gods and the Astartes you have. Set your heart on the LORD! Worship him only! Then he will deliver you from the Philistines' power." 4 So the Israelites got rid of the Baals and the Astartes and worshipped the LORD only. 5 Next Samuel said, "Assemble all Israel at Mizpah. I will pray to the LORD for you." 6 So they assembled at Mizpah, and they drew water and poured it out in the LORD's presence. They fasted that same day and confessed, "We have sinned against the LORD." Samuel served as judge of the Israelites at Mizpah. 7 When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had assembled at Mizpah, the Philistine rulers went up to attack Israel. When the Israelites learned of this, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 The Israelites said to Samuel, "Please don't stop praying to the LORD our God for us, so God will save us from the Philistines' power!" 9 So Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as an entirely burned offering to the LORD. Samuel cried out in prayer to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him. 10 While Samuel was offering the entirely burned offering, the Philistines advanced to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered against the Philistines with a great blast on that very day, throwing the Philistines into such a panic that they were defeated by Israel. 11 The Israelite soldiers came out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines. They struck them down until they reached a place just below Beth-car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, "The LORD helped us to this very point." 13 So the Philistines were defeated, and they stopped coming into Israelite territory. The LORD's hand was against the Philistines throughout Samuel's life. 14 The towns the Philistines had captured from Israel, from Ekron to Gath, were returned to Israel. Israel also recovered the territory around those two cities from the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 15 Samuel served as Israel's judge his whole life. 16 Each year he traveled between Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, serving as Israel's judge in each of those locations. 17 Then he would return to Ramah because that's where his home was. In Ramah too he served as Israel's judge, and that is also where he built an altar to the LORD.
1 Now when Samuel got old, he appointed his sons to serve as Israel's judges. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel; the name of the second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beer-sheba. 3 But Samuel's sons didn't follow in his footsteps. They tried to turn a profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice. 4 So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "Listen. You are old now, and your sons don't follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have." 6 It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us," so he prayed to the LORD. 7 The LORD answered Samuel, "Comply with the people's request—everything they ask of you—because they haven't rejected you. No, they've rejected me as king over them. 8 They are doing to you only what they've been doing to me from the day I brought them out of Egypt to this very minute, abandoning me and worshipping other gods. 9 So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them." 10 Then Samuel explained everything the LORD had said to the people who were asking for a king. 11 "This is how the king will rule over you," Samuel said: "He will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariot. 12 He will use them as his commanders of troops of one thousand and troops of fifty, or to do his plowing and his harvesting, or to make his weapons or parts for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, or bakers. 14 He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will give one-tenth of your grain and your vineyards to his officials and servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants, along with the best of your cattle and donkeys, and make them do his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! 18 When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose for yourselves, but on that day the LORD won't answer you." 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, "No! There must be a king over us 20 so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles." 21 Samuel listened to everything the people said and repeated it directly to the LORD. 22 Then the LORD said to Samuel, "Comply with their request. Give them a king." Samuel then told the Israelite people, "Go back, each of you, to your own hometown."
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