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

1 And Samuel gave those messages to all of the people of Israel. The people of Israel went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer. The Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines brought their forces together to fight against Israel. As the fighting spread, the men of Israel lost the battle to the Philistines. The Philistines killed about 4,000 of them on the field of battle. 3 The rest of the Israelite soldiers returned to camp. Then the elders asked them, "Why did the LORD let the Philistines win the battle over us today? Let's bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh. Let's take it with us. It will save us from the power of our enemies." 4 So the people sent men to Shiloh. They brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He sits there on his throne between the cherubim. He is the One who rules over all. Eli's two sons Hophni and Phinehas were with the ark of the covenant of God in Shiloh. 5 The ark of the LORD's covenant was brought into the camp. Then all of the people of Israel shouted so loudly that the ground shook. 6 The Philistines heard the noise. They asked, "What's all that shouting about in the Hebrew camp?" Then the Philistines found out that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. 7 So they were afraid. "A god has come into their camp," they said. "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has ever happened before. 8 How terrible it will be for us! Who will save us from the power of those mighty gods? They struck down the people of Egypt in the desert. They sent all kinds of plagues on them. 9 "Philistines, be strong! Fight like men! If you don't, you will come under the control of the Hebrews. You will become their slaves, just as they have been your slaves. Fight like men!" 10 So the Philistines fought. The people of Israel lost the battle. Every man ran back to his tent. A large number of them were killed. Israel lost 30,000 soldiers who were on foot. 11 The ark of God was captured. And Eli's two sons Hophni and Phinehas died. 12 That same day a man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the front lines of the battle. He went to Shiloh. His clothes were torn. He had dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair. He was by the side of the road. He was watching because his heart was really concerned about the ark of God. The man entered the town and told everyone what had happened. Then the whole town cried out. 14 Eli heard the people crying out. He asked, "What's the meaning of all of this noise?" The man hurried over to Eli. 15 Eli was 98 years old. His eyes were so bad he couldn't see. 16 The man told Eli, "I've just come from the front lines of the battle. I ran away from there this very day." Eli asked, "What happened, son?" 17 The man who brought the news replied, "Israel ran away from the Philistines. Large numbers of men in the army were wounded or killed. Your two sons Hophni and Phinehas are also dead. And the ark of God has been captured." 18 When the man spoke about the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair. He had been sitting by the side of the gate. When he fell, he broke his neck and died. He was old and fat. He had led Israel for 40 years. 19 The wife of Phinehas was pregnant. She was Eli's daughter-in-law. It was near the time for her baby to be born. She heard the news that the ark of God had been captured. She heard that her father-in-law and her husband were dead. So she went into labor and had her baby. Her pain was so great that her life was slipping away. 20 As she was dying, the women who were helping her spoke up. They said, "Don't be afraid. You have had a son." But she didn't reply. She didn't pay any attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod. She said, "The God of glory has left Israel." She said it because the ark of God had been captured. She also said it because her father-in-law and her husband had died. 22 She said, "The God of glory has left Israel." She said it because the ark of God had been captured.
1 The Philistines had captured the ark of God. They took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 They carried the ark into the temple of their god Dagon. They set it down beside the statue of Dagon. 3 The people of Ashdod got up early the next day. They saw the statue of Dagon. There it was, lying on the ground! It had fallen on its face in front of the ark of the Lord. So they picked the statue of Dagon up. They put it back in its place. 4 But the following morning when they got up, they saw the statue of Dagon. There it was, lying on the ground again! It had fallen on its face in front of the ark of the Lord. Its head and hands had been broken off. Only the body of the statue was left. Its head and hands were lying in the doorway of the temple. 5 That's why to this very day no one steps on the bottom part of the doorway of Dagon's temple at Ashdod. Not even the priests of Dagon step there. 6 The LORD's powerful hand punished the people of Ashdod and the settlements that were near it. He destroyed them. He made them suffer with growths in their bodies. 7 The people of Ashdod saw what was happening. They said, "The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us. His powerful hand is punishing us and our god Dagon." 8 So they called all of the rulers of the Philistines together. They asked them, "What should we do with the ark of the god of Israel?" The rulers answered, "Have the ark moved to Gath." So they moved it. 9 But after the people of Ashdod had moved the ark, the LORD's hand punished Gath. That threw its people into a great panic. The LORD made them break out with growths in their bodies. It happened to young people and old people alike. 10 So the ark of God was sent to Ekron. As the ark was entering Ekron, the people of the city cried out. They shouted, "They've brought the ark of the god of Israel to us. They want to kill us and our people." 11 So they called all of the rulers of the Philistines together. They said, "Send the ark of the god of Israel away. Let it go back to its own place. If you don't, it will kill us and our people." The death of so many people had filled the city with panic. God's powerful hand was punishing the city. 12 Those who didn't die suffered with growths in their bodies. The people of Ekron cried out to heaven for help.
1 The ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory for seven months. 2 The Philistines called for the priests and for those who practice evil magic. They wanted their advice. They said to them, "What should we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place." 3 They answered, "If you return the ark of the god of Israel, don't send it away empty. Be sure you send a guilt offering to their god along with it. Then you will be healed. You will find out why his hand hasn't stopped punishing you." 4 The Philistines asked, "What guilt offering should we send to him?" Their advisers replied, "There are five Philistine rulers. So send five gold models of the growths that are in your bodies. Also send five gold models of rats. Do it because the same plague has struck you and your rulers alike. 5 Make models of the growths and of the rats that are destroying the country. Pay honor to Israel's god. Perhaps his hand will stop punishing you. Maybe it will stop punishing your gods and your land. 6 "Why are you stubborn, as Pharaoh and the people of Egypt were? God was very hard on them. Only then did they send the people of Israel out. Only then did they let them go on their way. 7 "Now then, get a new cart ready. Get two cows that have just had calves. Be sure the cows have never pulled a cart before. Tie the cart to them. But take their calves away and put them in a pen. 8 "Then put the ark of the LORD on the cart. Put the gold models in a chest beside the ark. Send them back to the LORD as a guilt offering. Send the cart on its way. 9 "But keep an eye on the cart. See if it goes up toward Beth Shemesh to its own territory. If it does, then it's the LORD who has brought this horrible trouble on us. But if it doesn't, then we'll know it wasn't his hand that struck us. We'll know it happened to us by chance." 10 So that's what they did. They took the two cows and tied the cart to them. They put the calves in a pen. 11 They placed the ark of the LORD on the cart. They put the chest there along with it. The chest held the gold models of the rats and of the growths. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh. They stayed on the road. They were mooing all the way. They didn't turn to the right or the left. The Philistine rulers followed them all the way to the border of Beth Shemesh. 13 The people of Beth Shemesh were working in the valley. They were gathering their wheat crop. They looked up and saw the ark. When they saw it, they were filled with joy. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. It stopped there beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood the cart was made out of. They sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 Some Levites had taken the ark of the LORD off the cart. They had also taken off the chest that held the gold models. They placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings to the Lord. They also made sacrifices to him. 16 The five Philistine rulers saw everything that happened. On that same day they returned to Ekron. 17 The Philistines sent gold models of growths as a guilt offering to the Lord. There was one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 They also sent five gold models of rats. There was one for each of the Philistine towns that belonged to the five rulers. Each of those towns had high walls around it. The towns also had country villages around them. The Levites set the ark of the LORD on a large rock. To this very day the rock gives witness to what happened there. It's in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. 19 But some of the people of Beth Shemesh looked into the ark of the Lord. So he struck them down. He put 70 of them to death. The rest of the people were filled with sorrow. That's because the LORD had killed so many of them. 20 The people of Beth Shemesh said, "The LORD is a holy God. Who can stand in front of him? Where can the ark go up to from here?" 21 Then messengers were sent to the people of Kiriath Jearim. They said, "The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your place."
1 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and got the ark of the Lord. They took it up to Abinadab's house on the hill. They set his son Eleazar apart to guard the ark. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim for a long time. It was there for a full 20 years. All of the people of Israel were filled with sorrow. They looked to the LORD for help. 3 Samuel spoke to the whole community of Israel. He said, "Do you really want to return to the LORD with all your hearts? If you do, get rid of your strange gods. Get rid of your statues of goddesses that are named after Ashtoreth. Commit yourselves to the Lord. Serve him only. Then he will save you from the powerful hand of the Philistines." 4 So the people of Israel put away their statues of gods that were named after Baal. They put away their statues of goddesses named after Ashtoreth. They served the LORD only. 5 Then Samuel said, "Gather all of the people of Israel together at Mizpah. I will pray to the LORD for you." 6 When the people had come together at Mizpah, they went to the well and got water. They poured it out in the sight of the Lord. On that day they didn't eat any food. They admitted they had sinned. They said, "We've sinned against the Lord." Samuel was the leader of Israel at Mizpah. 7 The Philistines heard that Israel had gathered together at Mizpah. So the Philistine rulers came up to attack them. When the people of Israel heard about it, they were afraid. 8 They said to Samuel, "Don't stop crying out to the LORD our God to help us. Keep praying that he'll save us from the powerful hand of the Philistines." 9 Then Samuel got a very young lamb. He sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the LORD to help Israel. And the LORD answered his prayer. 10 The Philistines came near to attack Israel. At that time Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering. But that day the LORD thundered loudly against the Philistines. He threw them into such a panic that the Israelites were able to chase them away. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah. They chased the Philistines all the way to a point below Beth Car. They killed them all along the way. 12 Then Samuel got a big stone. He set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer. He said, "The LORD has helped us every step of the way." 13 So Samuel brought the Philistines under Israel's control. The Philistines didn't attack their territory again. The LORD used his powerful hand against the Philistines as long as Samuel lived. 14 The Philistines had captured many towns between Ekron and Gath. But they had to give all of them back. Israel took back the territories near those towns from the powerful hand of the Philistines. During that time Israel and the Amorites were friendly toward each other. 15 Samuel continued to lead Israel all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he traveled from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah. He served Israel as judge in all of those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah. That's where his home was. He served Israel as judge there too. And he built an altar there to honor the Lord.
1 When Samuel became old, he appointed his sons to serve as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel. The name of his second son was Abijah. They served as judges at Beersheba. 3 But his sons didn't live as he did. They were only interested in making money. They accepted money from people who wanted special favors. They made things that were wrong appear to be right. 4 So all of the elders of Israel gathered together. They came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "You are old. Your sons don't live as you do. So appoint a king to lead us. We want a king just like the kings all of the other nations have." 6 Samuel wasn't pleased when they said, "Give us a king to lead us." So he prayed to the Lord. 7 The LORD told him, "Listen to everything the people are saying to you. You are not the one they have turned their backs on. I am the one they do not want as their king. 8 They are doing just as they have always done. They have deserted me and served other gods. They have done that from the time I brought them up out of Egypt until this very day. Now they are deserting you too. 9 "Let them have what they want. But give them a strong warning. Let them know what the king who rules over them will do." 10 Samuel told the people who were asking him for a king everything the LORD had said. 11 Samuel told them, "Here's what the king who rules over you will do. He will take your sons. He'll make them serve with his chariots and horses. They will run in front of his chariots. 12 He'll choose some of your sons to be commanders of thousands of men. Some will be commanders of fifties. Others will have to plow his fields and gather his crops. Still others will have to make weapons of war and parts for his chariots. 13 "He'll also take your daughters. Some will have to make perfume. Others will be forced to cook and bake. 14 "He will take away your best fields and vineyards and olive groves. He'll give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and a tenth of your grapes. He'll give it to his officials and attendants. 16 He will also take your male and female servants. He'll take your best cattle and donkeys. He'll use all of them any way he wants to. 17 "He will take a tenth of your sheep and goats. You yourselves will become his slaves. 18 "When that time comes, you will cry out for help because of the king you have chosen. But the LORD won't answer you at that time." 19 In spite of what Samuel said, the people refused to listen to him. "No!" they said. "We want a king to rule over us. 20 Then we'll be like all of the other nations. We'll have a king to lead us. He'll go out at the head of our armies and fight our battles." 21 Samuel heard everything the people said. He told the LORD about it. 22 The LORD answered, "Listen to them. Give them a king." Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Each of you go back to your own town."
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