1 Samuel 4

4 So, news about Samuel spread through all of Israel.

The Philistines Capture the Ark of the Agreement

At that time the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines went to meet the Israelites in battle. And as the battle spread, they defeated the Israelites, killing about four thousand soldiers on the battlefield. 3 When some Israelite soldiers went back to their camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord let the Philistines defeat us? Let’s bring the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord here from Shiloh and take it with us into battle. Then God will save us from our enemies.”

4 So the people sent men to Shiloh. They brought back the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord All-Powerful, who sits between the gold creatures with wings. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the Ark.

5 When the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord came into the camp, all the Israelites gave a great shout of joy that made the ground shake. 6 When the Philistines heard Israel’s shout, they asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

Then the Philistines found out that the Ark of the Lord had come into the Hebrew camp. 7 They were afraid and said, “A god has come into the Hebrew camp! We’re in trouble! This has never happened before! 8 How terrible it will be for us! Who can save us from these powerful gods? They are the ones who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of disasters in the desert. 9 Be brave, Philistines! Fight like men! In the past they were our slaves. So fight like men, or we will become their slaves.”

10 So the Philistines fought hard and defeated the Israelites, and every Israelite soldier ran away to his own home. It was a great defeat for Israel, because thirty thousand Israelite soldiers were killed. 11 The Ark of God was taken by the Philistines, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

12 That same day a man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battle. He tore his clothes and put dust on his head to show his great sadness. 13 When he arrived in Shiloh, Eli was by the side of the road. He was sitting there in a chair, watching, because he was worried about the Ark of God. When the Benjaminite entered Shiloh, he told the bad news. Then all the people in town cried loudly. 14 Eli heard the crying and asked, “What’s all this noise?”

The Benjaminite ran to Eli and told him what had happened. 15 Eli was now ninety-eight years old, and he was blind. 16 The Benjaminite told him, “I have come from the battle. I ran all the way here today.”

Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”

17 The Benjaminite answered, “Israel ran away from the Philistines, and the Israelite army has lost many soldiers. Your two sons are both dead, and the Philistines have taken the Ark of God.”

18 When he mentioned the Ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair. He fell beside the gate, broke his neck, and died, because he was old and fat. He had led Israel for forty years.

The Glory Is Gone

19 Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and was about to give birth. When she heard the news that the Ark of God had been taken and that Eli, her father-in-law, and Phinehas, her husband, were both dead, she began to give birth to her child. The child was born, but the mother had much trouble in giving birth. 20 As she was dying, the women who helped her said, “Don’t worry! You’ve given birth to a son!” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 She named the baby Ichabod,[a] saying, “Israel’s glory is gone.” She said this because the Ark of God had been taken and her father-in-law and husband were dead. 22 She said, “Israel’s glory is gone, because the Ark of God has been taken away.”


  1. 4:21 Ichabod This name means “no glory.”

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