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1 Samuel 4

The Philistines take God's covenant box

1 When Samuel spoke, all the Israelites listened to him.

The Israelites went out to fight against the Philistine people. The Israelite army had their tents near the place called Ebenezer. The Philistine army was in the town called Aphek. 2 The Philistines went out to fight the Israelites. While they fought, the Philistines won the fight with the Israelites. The Philistines killed about 4000 Israelites in the fight. 3 The Israelite soldiers returned to their tents. The leaders of Israel said, ‘We do not know why the LORD let the Philistines win today. We will bring the LORD's covenant box here from Shiloh. We will take it with us into the fight. Then it will save us from our enemies.’

4:3The Jews had covered the covenant box with gold. Moses had put in it the stones with God's rules written on them. It also contained other things. These things helped the people to remember how God had saved them out of Egypt. On each end of the top stood two angels (Exodus 25:17-21).

4 So the people sent men to Shiloh and they brought back the LORD's covenant box. The LORD Almighty sits between the angels on the top of it. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with God's covenant box. 5 The men brought the covenant box of the LORD into their army. The Israelites made a great happy noise that caused the ground to move. 6 The Philistines heard them when they were shouting. They asked each other, ‘Why is all this noise happening in the Israelite army?’

Then the Philistines found out that the LORD's covenant box had come into the middle of the Israelite army. 7 They were afraid. They said, ‘A god has come into their army. We are in trouble. Nothing like this has happened before. 8 This will be very bad for us. Nobody can save us from these powerful gods. They caused great troubles to the people from Egypt and these gods killed them in the desert. 9 Be strong, Philistines. Be strong men. In past days, the Israelites were our servants. Now you must fight like men. If you do not, we will become their servants.’

10 So the Philistines fought strongly and they won again. The Israelites ran towards their own tents. This was a big loss for them. The Philistines killed 30,000 Israelite soldiers. 11 And the Philistines took away God's covenant box. Also, Hophni and Phinehas, Eli's two sons, died.

Eli dies

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

4:12People put dirt on their heads to show how sad they were.

13 Eli was by the side of the road when the man arrived in Shiloh. Eli was sitting on his chair. He was waiting for news. He was not happy because they had taken God's covenant box into the fight. The man from Benjamin came into the town. He told the people what had happened. All the people cried aloud.

14 Eli heard the people crying. He asked, ‘What is all this noise about?’ The man quickly went to tell Eli. 15 Eli was now 98 years old and he could not see. 16 The man from Benjamin said, ‘I have come from the fight. Today I ran from it to you.’ Eli asked, ‘What happened, my son?’

17 The man who brought the news said, ‘The Israelites ran away from the Philistines. The Philistines killed many of the Israelite soldiers. Both your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead. And the Philistines took God's covenant box.’

18 Eli was sitting next to the gate. When the man spoke about God's covenant box, Eli fell off his chair. Eli broke his neck. And he died when he fell. This happened because he was old and heavy. He had been the leader of Israel's people for 40 years.

The glory has left Israel

19 Phinehas had a wife. She would soon have a baby. It was nearly time for the baby to be born. People told her that the Philistines had taken away God's covenant box. They also told her that Phinehas and Eli were dead. When people told her this news, she started to give birth to her baby. But she had a very difficult time. 20 She was dying. Some women helped her to give birth. Just before she died, they said, ‘Do not be afraid. You have a son.’ But she did not answer them or listen to them.

21 She called the boy Ichabod. She said, ‘The glory has left Israel.’ She said that because the Philistines had taken God's covenant box. And she was sad because Eli and her husband were dead. 22 She said, ‘The glory has left Israel because the Philistines have taken God's covenant box.’