1 Samuel Chapter 4 to 6 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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4 News about Samuel spread through all of Israel. Eli was very old. His sons kept doing bad things before the Lord.*

The Philistines Defeat the Israelites

At that time, the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites made their camp at Ebenezer. The Philistines made their camp at Aphek. 2The Philistines prepared to attack Israel. The battle began. The Philistines defeated the Israelites. The Philistines killed about 4,000 soldiers from Israel’s army. 3The Israelite soldiers came back to their camp. The elders (leaders) of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord let the Philistines defeat us? Let’s bring the Lord’s Box of the Agreement* from Shiloh. {In this way, God will go with us into battle.} He will save us from our enemies.” 4So the people sent men to Shiloh. The men brought back the Lord All-Powerful’s Box of the Agreement.* On top of the Box are the Cherub angels. They are like the throne that the Lord sits on. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, came with the Box. 5When the Lord’s Box of the Agreement* came into the camp, all the Israelites gave a great shout. That shout made the ground shake. 6The Philistines heard Israel’s shout. They asked, “Why are the people so excited in the Hebrew* camp?” Then the Philistines learned that the Lord’s Holy Box* had been brought into Israel’s camp. 7The Philistines became afraid. The Philistines said, “Gods have come to their camp! We’re in trouble. This has never happened before! 8We are worried. Who can save us from these powerful gods? These gods are the same gods that gave the Egyptians those diseases and terrible sicknesses. 9Be brave, Philistines! Fight like men! In the past, the Hebrew people were our slaves. So fight like men or you will become their slaves!” 10So the Philistines fought very hard and defeated the Israelites. Every Israelite soldier ran away to his tent. It was a terrible defeat for Israel. 30,000 Israelite soldiers were killed. 11The Philistines took God’s Holy Box* and killed Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. 12That day a man from the family group of Benjamin ran from the battle. He tore his clothes and put dust on his head {to show his great sadness}. 13Eli was sitting on a chair near the city gates when this man came to Shiloh. Eli was worried about God’s Holy Box,* so he was sitting there waiting and watching. Then the Benjamite man came into Shiloh and told the bad news. All the people in town began to cry out loud. 14–15Eli was 98 years old. Eli was blind, {so he could not see what was happening}. But he could hear the loud noise of the people crying. Eli asked, “Why are the people making this loud noise?” The Benjamite man ran to Eli and told him what happened. 16The Benjamite man told Eli, “I am the man who just came from the battle. I ran away from the battle today!” Eli asked, “What happened, son?” 17The Benjamite man answered, “Israel ran away from the Philistines. The Israelite army has lost many soldiers. Your two sons are both dead. And the Philistines took God’s Holy Box.*” 18When the Benjamite man mentioned God’s Holy Box,* Eli fell backward off his chair near the gate and broke his neck. Eli was old and fat, so he died. Eli had led Israel for 20 years.*

The Glory Is Gone

19Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant. It was nearly time for her baby to be born. She heard the news that God’s Holy Box* was taken. She also heard that her father-in-law Eli and her husband Phinehas were both dead. As soon as she heard the news, her pain started and she began giving birth to her baby. 20She was about to die when the women who were helping her said, “Don’t worry! You have given birth to a son.” But Eli’s daughter-in-law did not answer or pay attention. 21Eli’s daughter-in-law named the baby Ichabod,* that is to say, “Israel’s glory has been taken away!”* She did this because God’s Holy Box* was taken away and because both her father-in-law and her husband were dead. 22She said, “Israel’s glory has been taken away” because the Philistines had taken God’s Holy Box.

Eli was very old … before the Lord This phrase is in the ancient Greek translation, but not in the Hebrew. Box of the Agreement Also called the “Ark of the Covenant.” This box contained the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets and the other things that proved God was with the people of Israel during their time in the Sinai Desert. Hebrew Or, “Israelite.” Holy Box The Box of the Agreement. 20 years This is from the ancient Greek translation and Josephus. The standard Hebrew text has “40 years.” Ichabod This name means “No glory!” The Greek has “Ouai Barchaboth.” Eli’s daughter-in-law … taken away This is not in the Greek translation.

The Holy Box Troubles the Philistines

5 The Philistines carried God’s Holy Box,* from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2The Philistines carried God’s Holy Box into the temple of Dagon* and put it next to the statue of Dagon. 3The next morning, the people of Ashdod got up and found Dagon lying face down on the ground. Dagon had fallen down before the Lord’s Box. The people of Ashdod put the statue of Dagon* back in its place. 4But the next morning when the people of Ashdod got up, they found Dagon on the ground again! Dagon had fallen down before the Lord’s Holy Box.* This time, Dagon’s head and hands were broken off and lying on the threshold.* Only Dagon’s body was still in one piece. 5That is why, even today, Dagon’s priests or any other people who enter Dagon’s Temple at Ashdod refuse to step on the threshold. 6The Lord made life hard for the people of Ashdod and their neighbors. The Lord gave them many troubles. He caused them to get tumors.* The Lord also sent mice to them. The mice ran all over their ships and then onto their land. The people in the city were very afraid.* 7The people of Ashdod saw what was happening. They said, “The Holy Box* of the God of Israel can’t stay here! God is punishing us and Dagon* our god.” 8The people of Ashdod called the five Philistine rulers together. The people of Ashdod asked the rulers, “What must we do with the Holy Box* of the God of Israel?” The rulers answered, “Move the Holy Box* of the God of Israel {to Gath}.” So the Philistines moved God’s Holy Box. 9But after the Philistines had moved God’s Holy Box* to Gath, the Lord punished that city. The people became very scared. God caused many troubles for all the people—young and old. God caused the people in Gath to have tumors.* 10So the Philistines sent God’s Holy Box to Ekron. But when God’s Holy Box* came into Ekron, the people of Ekron complained. They said, “Why are you bringing the Box of the God of Israel to our city Ekron? Do you want to kill us and our people?” 11The people of Ekron called all the Philistine rulers together. The people of Ekron said to the rulers, “Send the Box of the God of Israel back to its place before it kills us and our people!” The people of Ekron were very scared! God made life very hard for them in that place. 12{Many people died.} And the people who did not die, had tumors.* The people of Ekron cried loudly to heaven.

Holy Box The Box of the Agreement. Dagon The Canaanite people worshiped this false god hoping he would give them a good harvest of grain. This was probably the most important god for the Philistine people.  threshold The bottom part of a door opening. tumors Bad growths on the skin. Verse 6 This is from the ancient Greek translation.

God’s Holy Box Is Sent Back Home

6 The Philistines kept the Holy Box* in their land seven months. 2The Philistines called their priests and magicians. The Philistines said, “What must we do with the Lord’s Box? Tell us how to send the Box back home!” 3The priests and magicians answered, “If you send back the Holy Box* of the God of Israel, don’t send it away empty. You must offer gifts so the God of Israel will take away your sins. Then you will be healed. You will be made pure. You should do these things so God will stop punishing you.”* 4The Philistines asked, “What kind of gifts should we send for Israel’s God to forgive us?” The priests and magicians answered, “There are five Philistine leaders. {One leader for each city.} All of you people and your leaders had the same problems. So you must make five gold models to look like five tumors. And you must make five gold models to look like five mice. 5So, make models of the tumors and models of the mice that are ruining the country. Give these gold models to the God of Israel as payment. Then maybe the God of Israel will stop punishing you, your gods, and your land. 6Don’t be stubborn like Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God punished the Egyptians. That is why the Egyptians let the Israelites leave Egypt. 7“You must build a new wagon and get two cows that just had calves. These must be cows that have never worked in the fields. Tie the cows to the wagon so they can pull it. Then take the calves back home and put them in their pen. Don’t let them follow their mothers.* 8Put the Lord’s Holy Box* on the wagon. You must put the golden models in the bag beside the Box. The golden models are your gifts for God to forgive your sins. Send the wagon straight on its way. 9Watch the wagon. If the wagon goes toward Beth Shemesh in Israel’s own land, then the Lord has given us this great sickness. But if the cows do not go straight to Beth Shemesh, then we will know that Israel’s God has not punished us. We will know that our sickness just happened.” 10The Philistines did what the priests and magicians said. The Philistines found two cows that had just had calves. The Philistines tied the cows to the wagon and put the calves in their pens at home. 11Then the Philistines put the Lord’s Holy Box* on the wagon. They also put the bag with the golden models of the tumors and mice on the wagon. 12The cows went straight to Beth Shemesh. The cows stayed on the road, mooing all the way. The cows did not turn right or left. The Philistine rulers followed the cows as far as the city limits of Beth Shemesh. 13The people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley. They looked up and saw the Holy Box.* They were very happy to see the Box again. They ran to get it. 14–15The wagon came to the field that belonged to Joshua of Beth Shemesh and stopped there near a large rock. Some Levites* took down the Lord’s Holy Box* and the bag that had the golden models. The Levites put the Lord’s Box and the bag that was with it on the large rock. The people of Beth Shemesh cut up the wagon and killed the cows. That day, they sacrificed the cows as burnt offerings to the Lord. 16The five Philistine rulers watched the people of Beth Shemesh do all these things. Then the five Philistine rulers went back to Ekron that same day. 17In this way, the Philistines sent golden models of tumors as gifts for their sins to the Lord. They sent one golden model of a tumor for each Philistine town. These Philistine towns were Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. 18And the Philistines also sent golden models of mice. The number of these golden mice was the same number as the towns that belonged to the five Philistine rulers. These towns had walls around them. And each town had villages around it. The people of Beth Shemesh put the Lord’s Holy Box* on a rock. That rock is still in the field of Joshua from Beth Shemesh. 19But there were no priests* there, and the men of Beth Shemesh looked at the Holy Box of the Lord. So God killed 70 men from Beth Shemesh. The people of Beth Shemesh cried because the Lord punished them so severely. 20So the people of Beth Shemesh said, “Where is a priest that can care for this Holy Box? Where should the Box go from here?” 21{There was a priest at Kiriath Jearim.} The people of Beth Shemesh sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim. The messengers said, “The Philistines have brought back the Lord’s Holy Box.* Come down and take it to your city.”

Holy Box The Box of the Agreement, the box that contained the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them and the other things that proved God was with the people of Israel during their time in the Sinai Desert. You should do … punishing you This is from the ancient Greek translation and one of the ancient Hebrew scrolls from Qumran. The standard Hebrew has “Then you will know why God did not stop punishing you.” Don’t … follow their mothers The Philistines thought that if the cows did not try to find their calves it would prove that God was leading them and that he had accepted their gifts. Holy Box The Box of the Agreement, the box that contained the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them and the other things that proved God was with the people of Israel during their time in the Sinai Desert. Levites People from the family group of Levi who helped the priests. no priests Only priests were allowed to carry the Box of the Agreement.

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