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1 Samuel 4 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

So the word of Sh’mu’el came to all Isra’el.

Isra’el went out to fight against the P’lishtim, setting up camp at Even-‘Ezer, while the P’lishtim camped at Afek. The P’lishtim drew up in battle formation against Isra’el. The battle was fierce, and Isra’el was beaten by the P’lishtim — they killed about four thousand soldiers on the battlefield. When the army had returned to camp, the leaders of Isra’el asked, “Why has Adonai defeated us today before the P’lishtim? Let’s bring the ark for the covenant of Adonai from Shiloh to us, so that he will come among us and save us from our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark for the covenant of Adonai-Tzva’ot, who is present above the k’ruvim. The two sons of ‘Eli, Hofni and Pinchas, were there with the ark for the covenant of God.

When the ark for the covenant of Adonai entered the camp, all Isra’el gave a mighty shout that resounded through the land. On hearing the shout, the P’lishtim asked, “What does this great shout in the Hebrews’ camp mean?” Then they realized that the ark of Adonai had arrived in the camp, and the P’lishtim became afraid. They said, “God has entered the camp! We’re lost! There was no such thing yesterday or the day before. We’re lost! Who will rescue us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods that completely overthrew the Egyptians in the desert. Be strong; and behave like men, you P’lishtim; so that you won’t become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Behave like men, and fight!”

10 The P’lishtim fought, Isra’el was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. It was a terrible slaughter — 30,000 of Isra’el’s foot soldiers fell. 11 Moreover, the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of ‘Eli, Hofni and Pinchas, died. 12 One of the soldiers, a man from Binyamin, ran and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and earth on his head [as a sign of mourning]. 13 As he arrived, ‘Eli was sitting on his seat by the road, watching; because he was trembling with anxiety over the ark of God. When the man entered the city and told the news, the whole city began crying out. 14 On hearing the cries, ‘Eli asked, “What does this uproar mean?” So the man hurried, came to ‘Eli and told him. 15 ‘Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his gaze was fixed, because he was blind. 16 The man said to ‘Eli, “I’m the soldier that came; I escaped today from the battlefield.” He asked, “How did things go, my son?” 17 The one who had come with the news answered, “Isra’el fled before the P’lishtim, and there was a terrible slaughter among the people. Your two sons, Hofni and Pinchas, also are dead; and the ark of God was captured. 18 As soon as he mentioned what had happened to the ark of God, ‘Eli fell backward off his seat next to the gate, broke his neck and died; for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Isra’el forty years.

19 His daughter-in-law, Pinchas’s wife, was pregnant and near delivery-time. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and husband were dead, she went into abnormal labor, bent over and gave birth. 20 As she was dying, the women standing by her said to her, “Don’t be afraid, because you have given birth to a son.” But she didn’t answer or show any sign of recognition. 21 She named the child I-Khavod [without glory], saying, “The glory has departed from Isra’el”; because the ark of God had been captured, and because of her father-in-law and husband. 22 She said, “The glory of Isra’el has gone into exile, because the ark of God has been captured.”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

1 Samuel 4 Living Bible (TLB)

and he passed them on to the people of Israel.

At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israeli army was camped near Ebenezer, the Philistines at Aphek. And the Philistines defeated Israel, killing four thousand of them. After the battle was over, the army of Israel returned to their camp and their leaders discussed why the Lord had let them be defeated.

“Let’s bring the Ark here from Shiloh,” they said. “If we carry it into battle with us, the Lord will be among us and he will surely save us from our enemies.”

So they sent for the Ark of the Lord of heaven who is enthroned above the angels. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, accompanied it into the battle. When the Israelis saw the Ark coming, their shout of joy was so loud that it almost made the ground shake!

“What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about over in the camp of the Hebrews?”

When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked.

“God has come into their camp!” they cried out. “Woe upon us, for we have never had to face anything like this before! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. Fight as you never have before, O Philistines, or we will become their slaves just as they have been ours.”

10 So the Philistines fought desperately and Israel was defeated again. Thirty thousand men of Israel died that day, and the remainder fled to their tents. 11 And the Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas were killed.

12 A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battle and arrived at Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dirt on his head.[a] 13 Eli was waiting beside the road to hear the news of the battle, for his heart trembled for the safety of the Ark of God. As the messenger from the battlefront arrived and told what had happened, a great cry arose throughout the city.

14 “What is all the noise about?” Eli asked. And the messenger rushed over to Eli and told him what had happened. 15 (Eli was ninety-eight years old and was blind.)

16 “I have just come from the battle—I was there today,” he told Eli, 17 “and Israel has been defeated and thousands of the Israeli troops are dead on the battlefield. Hophni and Phinehas were killed too, and the Ark has been captured.”

18 When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate and his neck was broken by the fall, and he died (for he was old and fat). He had judged Israel for forty years.

19 When Eli’s daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, who was pregnant, heard that the Ark had been captured and that her husband and father-in-law were dead, her labor pains suddenly began. 20 Just before she died, the women who were attending her told her that everything was all right and that the baby was a boy. But she did not reply or respond in any way. 21-22 Then she murmured, “Name the child ‘Ichabod,’ for Israel’s glory is gone.” (Ichabod means “there is no glory.” She named him this because the Ark of God had been captured and because her husband and her father-in-law were dead.)


  1. 1 Samuel 4:12 clothes torn and dirt on his head. This was a common expression of grief in that day.
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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