1 Samuel 4

1 Samuel spoke the Lord's messages to all the Israelites.

The Philistines take God's Covenant Box

The Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelite army put up their tents near the place called Ebenezer. The Philistine army put up their tents at Aphek. 2 The Philistines went to attack the Israelites. As the battle continued, the Philistines won the fight and they killed about 4,000 Israelites.

3 The Israelite soldiers returned to their tents. The leaders of Israel said to each other, ‘Why did the Lord let the Philistines win against us today? We should bring the Lord's Covenant Box here from Shiloh. We will take it with us into the battle. Then it will save us from our enemies.’

4:3The Covenant Box was where the Lord met with his people. So they thought that the Lord would be with them in the battle. See Exodus 25:17-21.

4 So the people sent men to Shiloh and they brought back the Lord's Covenant Box. That is where the Lord Almighty sits between the cherubs. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, also came with God's Covenant Box. 5 The men brought the Lord's Covenant Box into the place where the soldiers' tents were. When the Israelites saw it, they shouted so loudly that the ground shook.

6 The Philistines heard the loud noise. They asked each other, ‘What is happening there among the Hebrew people's army?’ Then they realized that the Lord's Covenant Box had arrived there. 7 They were afraid and they said, ‘Their gods have come to help them fight! We are in bad trouble. Nothing like this has happened to us before. 8 This is terrible! Nobody can save us from those powerful gods. Those gods punished the Egyptians with many bad diseases in the desert. 9 Philistine soldiers, you must be brave! You must fight as strong men! If not, we will become slaves of these Hebrew people, as they were once our slaves. So be ready to fight bravely!’

4:6The Israelites were also called Hebrews.

10 So the Philistines did fight strongly and they won again. They killed 30,000 Israelite soldiers in the battle. The other Israelite soldiers all ran home. 11 The Philistines took God's Covenant Box for themselves. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, also died.

Eli dies

12 That same day, a soldier from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battle. He ran to Shiloh. He had torn his clothes and he had put dirt on his head.

4:12People tore their clothes and they put dirt on their heads to show that they were very upset.

13 Eli was sitting on his chair by the side of the road in Shiloh. He was waiting for news of the battle. He wanted to know if God's Covenant Box was safe. When the soldier arrived in the city, he told the people what had happened in the battle. All the people started to cry loudly.

14 Eli heard the people's loud voices. He asked, ‘What is causing all the noise?’ The soldier quickly went to tell Eli the news. 15 Eli was now 98 years old and he could not see at all. 16 The soldier said to Eli, ‘I am the man who ran here today from the battle.’ Eli asked him, ‘What happened, my son?’

17 The soldier replied, ‘The Israelites ran away while the Philistines chased them. The Philistines killed many of our soldiers. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead. And the Philistines have taken away God's Covenant Box.’

18 Eli was sitting near the city's gate. He was old and fat. When the soldier spoke about God's Covenant Box, Eli fell back off his chair. His neck broke and he died. He had been a leader of Israel's people for 40 years.

19 At that time, Phinehas' wife was pregnant. She was ready to give birth. She heard the news that the Philistines had taken away God's Covenant Box. She heard that her husband Phinehas and his father Eli were dead. When she heard this news, she started to give birth to her baby. But she had a lot of pain. 20 She was dying. The women who were helping her said, ‘Do not be afraid. You have given birth to a son!’ But this did not make her happy. She did not answer them.

21 She called the boy's name Ichabod, because she said, ‘God's glory has gone away from Israel.’ She said this because the Philistines had taken away God's Covenant Box, and because her husband and his father had died. 22 She said, ‘God's glory has gone away from Israel because the Covenant Box has gone.’