Philistines Take the Ark in Victory
4 And the word of [the Lord through] Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and they camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines assembled in battle formation to meet Israel, and when the battle was over, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the people (soldiers) came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that He may come among us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent word to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 So it happened that as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all [the people of] Israel shouted with a great shout, and the earth resounded. 6 When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. 7 The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe [disaster is coming] to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who will rescue us from the hand of these mighty [a]gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, so that you do not become servants to the Hebrews, as they have been servants to you; act like men and fight!”
10 So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated and every man fled to his tent. It was a very great defeat, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. 11 Also the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed.(A)
12 Now a man [from the tribe] of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh that same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head [as signs of mourning over the disaster]. 13 When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road, keeping watch, because his heart was anxious about the ark of God. When the man arrived to report [the news] in the city, everyone in the city cried out [to God, for help]. 14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he asked, “What is the noise of this uproar?” And the man came hurriedly and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old; his eyes were dim so that he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli, “I have come from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” Eli said, “How did things go, my son?” 17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backwards by the side of the [city] gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. He had judged Israel for forty years.
19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was pregnant, and was about to give birth; so when she heard the news that the ark of God had been taken and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, because her [labor] pains began. 20 And about the time of her death [following the sudden birth] the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not answer or pay any attention. 21 And she named the boy [b]Ichabod, saying, “The glory has left Israel,” because the ark of God had been taken and because of [the deaths of] her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has left Israel, for the ark of God has been taken.”
- 1 Samuel 4:8 Even though the Philistines associated the God of Israel with the ark, they still thought in terms of multiple gods.
- 1 Samuel 4:21 Hebrew for “Where is the glory?”