1 Samuel 13

War with the Philistines

13 Saul was [a]thirty years old when he began to reign, and [b]he reigned [c]forty-two years over Israel.

2 Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel; of whom 2,000 were with him in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent the rest of the people away, each one to his own tent. 3 Jonathan attacked and defeated the Philistine garrison which was at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 All Israel heard that Saul had defeated the Philistine garrison, and also that Israel had become despicable to the Philistines. And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

5 Now the Philistines gathered to fight against Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and troops in multitude, like sand on the seashore. They came up and camped at Michmash, east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a tight situation (for their troops were hard-pressed), they hid in caves, in thickets, in cellars, and in [dry] cisterns (pits). 7 Also some of the Hebrews had crossed the [river] Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him, trembling [in fear and anticipation].

8 Now Saul waited seven days, according to the appointed time which Samuel had set, but Samuel had not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering away from Saul. 9 So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And [d]he offered the burnt offering [which he was forbidden to do]. 10 As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, [e]Samuel finally came; Saul went out to meet and to [f]welcome him. 11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “Since I saw that the people were scattering away from me, and that you did not come within the appointed time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked for the Lord’s favor [by making supplication to Him].’ So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for [if you had obeyed] the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man (David) after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as leader and ruler over His people, because you have not kept (obeyed) what the Lord commanded you.”

15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul assembled and counted the people who were still with him, [only] about six hundred [fighting] men. 16 Saul and his son Jonathan and the people with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Michmash. 17 And the raiding party came from the Philistine camp in three companies: one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another toward the border overlooking the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now no [g]blacksmith (metal-worker) could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20 So all [the men of] Israel went down to the Philistines, each to get his plowshare, pick, axe, or sickle sharpened. 21 The fee [for sharpening] was a pim (two-thirds of a shekel) for the plowshares, the picks, the pitchforks, and the axes, and to straighten the goads (cattle prods). 22 So it came about on the day of battle that [h]neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass at Michmash.


  1. 1 Samuel 13:1 As in some mss of the LXX; Hebrew omits thirty. The original wording of this verse is uncertain.
  2. 1 Samuel 13:1 Or after he reigned two years over Israel Saul chose...
  3. 1 Samuel 13:1 See Acts 13:21; Hebrew omits forty.
  4. 1 Samuel 13:9 This was a direct violation of the instructions Samuel had given to Saul (10:8).
  5. 1 Samuel 13:10 Lit behold, Samuel came.
  6. 1 Samuel 13:10 Lit bless.
  7. 1 Samuel 13:19 Israel lacked the ability to produce iron until the time of Solomon.
  8. 1 Samuel 13:22 Because the Israelite did not yet know how to work iron, their weapons were limited to the bow and arrow, and the sling. The sling was a formidable projectile weapon that had a small cradle or pouch between two lengths of cord. It was used not only in combat by ancient people, but also for hunting game.

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