1 Samuel 13

Jonathan attacks the Philistines

1 Saul was 30 years old when he became king. He ruled Israel as king for 42 years. 2 He chose 3,000 men from Israel's army to be with him. 2,000 of those men stayed with him at Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel. Then 1,000 men were with his son Jonathan at Gibeah, in the land of Benjamin's tribe. Saul sent all the other men of the army back to their homes.

13:1We are not sure if 30 and 42 are the right numbers.

3 Some Philistine soldiers had a camp at Geba. Jonathan attacked them there and all the Philistines heard about it. Saul sent a message through all Israel to warn people of the danger. He said, ‘Listen, all you Hebrew people!’ 4 Everyone in Israel heard this message: ‘Saul has attacked the Philistines' camp. Now the Philistines hate the Israelites even more than they did before.’ So all the soldiers in Israel came to join Saul at Gilgal.

13:3‘Hebrew people’ was another way to speak about the Israelites.

Saul prepares to fight the Philistines

5 The Philistines' army came together to fight against the Israelites. The Philistines had 3,000 chariots. They had 6,000 soldiers who rode on horses. Their whole army had more soldiers than the sand on the shore of the sea! The Philistine army went to make their camp at Michmash, which was east of Beth Aven. 6 The Israelites realized that they would be in big trouble if the Philistines attacked them. Some of them went and hid in caves or among the bushes. Others hid among the rocks, in holes in the ground or in wells. 7 Some of the Israelite soldiers crossed the Jordan River. They escaped to the land of Gad and Gilead.

Saul himself stayed at Gilgal. All the soldiers that were still with him were shaking with fear. 8 Samuel had told Saul that he must wait for him to come to Gilgal. Saul waited for seven days as Samuel had said. But Samuel still had not arrived. Saul's army began to leave him.

9 So Saul said, ‘Bring the burnt offering and the peace offerings to me.’ Then Saul offered the burnt offering to God. 10 Just as he finished doing that, Samuel arrived. Saul went to meet Samuel and to say ‘hello’.

11 Samuel asked Saul, ‘What have you done?’

Saul replied, ‘The soldiers were starting to leave me. You had not arrived here at the time that you said you would come. I could see that the Philistine soldiers were preparing for battle at Michmash. 12 I thought that they would come to attack me at Gilgal. I thought, “Before they do that, I must ask the Lord to help us in the fight.” Because of that, I had to offer the burnt offering to him.’

13 Samuel said, ‘You have done a foolish thing. You have not obeyed the command of the Lord your God. If you had obeyed the Lord, he would have let you and your family rule Israel for ever. 14 But because of what you have done, your kingdom will not continue. Instead, the Lord will find a man who pleases him. The Lord has decided that this man will become the leader of his people, instead of you. He will do that because you have not obeyed his command.’

15 After that, Samuel left Gilgal. He went to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin's tribe. Saul counted the soldiers who were still with him. There were about 600 men.

16 Saul and his son Jonathan were staying in Geba, in the land of Benjamin's tribe. They had their soldiers with them there.

The Philistines had their camp at Michmash. 17 The Philistines sent out three small groups of soldiers to attack towns in Israel. One group went towards Ophrah in the land of Shual. 18 The second group went towards Beth Horon. The third group went to Israel's border where they could see across Zeboim Valley towards the wilderness.

19 At that time, there were no people in Israel who could use iron to make things. The Philistines had said, ‘We must not let the Hebrew people make swords and spears.’ 20 So the Israelites had to ask the Philistines to mend their ploughs, axes, hoes and knives that they used on their farms. 21 The Israelites had to pay eight grams of silver for the Philistines to make each plough or hoe sharp again. They paid four grams of silver for each axe, knife or ox-goad.

13:21A hoe is a sharp tool. An ox-goad is a metal stick with a point. Farmers used them.

22 So when the fight started, the soldiers that were with Saul and Jonathan did not have any swords or spears. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Jonathan attacks the Philistines

23 A group of Philistine soldiers went to the narrow road across the hills at Michmash.