Saul’s Failure

13 Saul was 30 years[a] old when he became king, and he reigned 42 years[b] over Israel.[c] He chose 3,000 men from Israel for himself: 2,000 were with Saul at Michmash(A) and in Bethel’s hill country, and 1,000 were with Jonathan in Gibeah(B) of Benjamin. He sent the rest of the troops away, each to his own tent.

Jonathan attacked the Philistine garrison[d](C) that was in Geba,(D) and the Philistines heard about it. So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land(E) saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!”[e](F) And all Israel heard the news, “Saul has attacked the Philistine garrison,[f] and Israel is now repulsive to the Philistines.” Then the troops were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

The Philistines also gathered to fight against Israel: 3,000[g] chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and troops as numerous as the sand on the seashore.(G) They went up and camped at Michmash, east of Beth-aven.[h](H)

The men of Israel saw that they were in trouble because the troops were in a difficult situation. They hid in caves, thickets, among rocks, and in holes and cisterns.(I) Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.

Saul, however, was still at Gilgal, and all his troops were gripped with fear. He waited seven days for the appointed time that Samuel had set,(J) but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the troops were deserting him. So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered the burnt offering.

10 Just as he finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. So Saul went out to greet him, 11 and Samuel asked, “What have you done?”

Saul answered, “When I saw that the troops were deserting me and you didn’t come within the appointed days and the Philistines were gathering at Michmash, 12 I thought: The Philistines will now descend on me at Gilgal, and I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor. So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.”

13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have been foolish.(K) You have not kept the command which the Lord your God gave you.(L) It was at this time that the Lord would have permanently established your reign over Israel,(M) 14 but now your reign will not endure.(N) The Lord has found a man loyal to Him,[i](O) and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not done what the Lord commanded.” 15 Then Samuel went[j] from Gilgal to Gibeah in Benjamin. Saul registered the troops who were with him, about 600 men.

16 Saul, his son Jonathan, and the troops who were with them were staying in Geba(P) of Benjamin, and the Philistines were camped at Michmash. 17 Raiding parties(Q) went out from the Philistine camp in three divisions. One division headed toward the Ophrah(R) road leading to the land of Shual. 18 The next division headed toward the Beth-horon(S) road, and the last division headed down the border road that looks out over the Valley of Zeboim(T) toward the wilderness.

19 No blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel,(U) because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise, the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20 So all the Israelites went to the Philistines to sharpen their plows, mattocks, axes, and sickles.[k] 21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel[l] for plows and mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for pitchforks and axes, and for putting a point on an oxgoad. 22 So on the day of battle not a sword or spear could be found in the hand of any of the troops who were with Saul(V) and Jonathan; only Saul and his son Jonathan had weapons.

Jonathan’s Victory over the Philistines

23 Now a Philistine garrison(W) took control of the pass at Michmash.


  1. 1 Samuel 13:1 Some LXX mss; MT reads was one year
  2. 1 Samuel 13:1 Text emended; MT reads two years
  3. 1 Samuel 13:1 Some LXX mss omit v. 1
  4. 1 Samuel 13:3 Or governor
  5. 1 Samuel 13:3 LXX reads The slaves have revolted
  6. 1 Samuel 13:4 Or governor
  7. 1 Samuel 13:5 One LXX ms, Syr; MT reads 30,000
  8. 1 Samuel 13:5 LXX reads Michmash, opposite Beth-horon to the south
  9. 1 Samuel 13:14 Lit man according to His heart
  10. 1 Samuel 13:15 LXX reads Samuel left Gilgal and went on his way, and the rest of the people followed Saul to join the people in his army. They went
  11. 1 Samuel 13:20 LXX; MT reads plowshares
  12. 1 Samuel 13:21 Lit of a pim; about ¼ ounce of silver

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