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Saul Rules over Israel

13 Saul was thirty[a] years old[b] at the beginning of his reign, and he reigned forty-two years[c] over Israel. He chose for himself three thousand from Israel. Two thousand of these were with Saul at Micmash in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. He sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” And all Israel did hear, saying, “Saul has defeated the garrison of the Philistines; and also, Israel has become a stench among the Philistines!” So the people were called out after Saul at Gilgal.

Saul’s Blunder

And the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and an army as numerous as sand which is on the seashore. And they came up and encamped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven.

When the men of Israel saw that it was too difficult[d] for them, because the army was hard pressed, the people hid themselves in the caves, in the thorn bushes, in the cliffs, in the vaults[e] and in the wells. Some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. But Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the army followed him trembling.[f] He waited seven days according to the appointed time Samuel determined, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the army started to slip away from him.[g] So Saul said, “Bring here to me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as[h] he finished offering the burnt sacrifice, Samuel was coming. So Saul went out to meet him and to bless him. 11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “Because I saw that the army was scattering[i] from me and you did not come at the appointed time[j] and that the Philistines had gathered at Micmash, 12 therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not yet implored the face of Yahweh.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”

13 Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have behaved foolishly! You have not kept the command of Yahweh your God which he commanded you. For then, Yahweh would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now, your kingdom will not endure. Yahweh has sought for himself a man according to his own heart, and Yahweh has appointed him as leader over his people, because you have not kept what Yahweh commanded you.”

15 Then Samuel got up and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul mustered the people who were found with him, about six hundred men. 16 Saul and Jonathan his son and the army that remained with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin, and the Philistines encamped at Micmash. 17 The raiders[k] went out from the camp of the Philistines in three divisions. One division turned on the road[l] to Ophrah toward the land of Shual. 18 One division turned on the road[m] to Beth Horon, and one turned on the road[n] toward the border overlooking the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now no skilled craftsman could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines had said, “So that the Hebrews cannot make swords or spears for themselves.” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to have his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his iron plowshare[o] sharpened. 21 The charge[p] was two-thirds of a shekel[q] for the plowshare and for the mattock, and a third of a shekel for the pick[r] and for the axe, and to set the goading sticks. 22 So[s] on the day of battle, there was not a sword or a spear found in the hands of all the army that was with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.[t] 23 Now the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Micmash.


  1. 1 Samuel 13:1 A few LXX manuscripts have “thirty,” but the number of years is missing from the Masoretic Hebrew text
  2. 1 Samuel 13:1 Literally “a son of years”
  3. 1 Samuel 13:1 The Masoretic Hebrew text reads “two years” here, but this number seems far too small; either it is not correct or part of the number is missing (the present translation supplies “forty”); other English versions differ as to Saul’s age at coronation and the total years of his reign
  4. 1 Samuel 13:6 Literally “too narrow”
  5. 1 Samuel 13:6 Or “cellars” or “tombs” ‘ or “strongholds”
  6. 1 Samuel 13:7 Literally “trembled after him”
  7. 1 Samuel 13:8 Literally “the people scattered away from him”
  8. 1 Samuel 13:10 Literally “And it happened as”
  9. 1 Samuel 13:11 Literally “dispersed themselves”
  10. 1 Samuel 13:11 Literally “according to the appointed time of the days”
  11. 1 Samuel 13:17 Literally “destroyers”
  12. 1 Samuel 13:17 Or “way”
  13. 1 Samuel 13:18 Or “way”
  14. 1 Samuel 13:18 Or “way”
  15. 1 Samuel 13:20 So the Masoretic Hebrew text; LXX reads “sickle”
  16. 1 Samuel 13:21 Or “fee”
  17. 1 Samuel 13:21 Literally “a pim” (possibly a stone weight used as a measure)
  18. 1 Samuel 13:21 Literally “and for three, a pick” (uncertain; perhaps meaning “a third of a shekel,” or a three-pronged pick”
  19. 1 Samuel 13:22 Literally, “And it happened”
  20. 1 Samuel 13:22 Literally, “it could be found for Saul and for Jonathan his son”