1 Samuel 1-5 Common English Bible (CEB)
1 Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the highlands of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah. He was from the tribe of Ephraim, and he was the son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph. 2 Elkanah had two wives, one named Hannah and the other named Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t.
3 Every year this man would leave his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of heavenly forces in Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were the Lord’s priests. 4 Whenever he sacrificed, Elkanah would give parts of the sacrifice to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But he would give only one part of it to Hannah, though he loved her, because the Lord had kept her from conceiving.[b] 6 And because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving, her rival would make fun of her mercilessly, just to bother her. 7 So that is what took place year after year. Whenever Hannah went to the Lord’s house, Peninnah would make fun of her. Then she would cry and wouldn’t eat anything.
8 “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband Elkanah would say to her. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you[c] so sad? Aren’t I worth more to you than ten sons?”
9 One time, after eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah got up and presented herself before the Lord.[d] (Now Eli the priest was sitting in the chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 10 Hannah was very upset and couldn’t stop crying as she prayed to the Lord. 11 Then she made this promise: “Lord of heavenly forces, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me! Don’t forget your servant! Give her a boy! Then I’ll give him to the Lord for his entire life. No razor will ever touch his head.”
12 As she kept praying before the Lord, Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah was praying in her heart; her lips were moving, but her voice was silent, so Eli thought she was drunk.
14 “How long will you act like a drunk? Sober up!” Eli told her.
15 “No sir!” Hannah replied. “I’m just a very sad woman. I haven’t had any wine or beer but have been pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think your servant is some good-for-nothing woman. This whole time I’ve been praying out of my great worry and trouble!”
17 Eli responded, “Then go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you’ve asked from him.”
18 “Please think well of me, your servant,” Hannah said. Then the woman went on her way, ate some food, and wasn’t sad any longer.[e]
19 They got up early the next morning and worshipped the Lord. Then they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah had sex with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, which means “I asked the Lord for him.”[f]
21 When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and keep his solemn promise, 22 Hannah didn’t go.
“I’ll bring the boy when he is weaned,” she told her husband, “so he can be presented to the Lord and stay there permanently. I will offer him as a nazirite forever.”[g]
23 “Do what seems best to you,” said her husband Elkanah. “Stay here until you’ve weaned him. But may the Lord bring to pass what you’ve[h] promised.” So the woman stayed home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
24 When he had been weaned and was still very young,[i] Hannah took him, along with a three-year-old bull,[j] an ephah[k] of flour, and a jar of wine, and brought him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh. 25 They slaughtered the bull, then brought the boy to Eli.
26 “Excuse me, sir!” Hannah said. “As surely as you live, sir, I am the woman who stood here next to you, praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this boy, and the Lord gave me what I asked from him. 28 So now I give this boy back to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.”
Then they worshipped there before the Lord.[l]
2 Then Hannah prayed:
My heart rejoices in the Lord.
3 Don’t go on and on, talking so proudly,
4 The bows of mighty warriors are shattered,
10 The Lord!
May God give strength to his king
11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the Lord under Eli the priest.
Corruption of Eli’s sons
12 Now Eli’s sons were despicable men who didn’t know the Lord. 13 This was how the priest was supposed to act with the people: Whenever anyone made a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s assistant would come with a three-pronged fork in hand. 14 He would thrust it into the cauldron or the pot.[o] Whatever the fork brought up, the priest would take for himself. This is how it was done for all the Israelites who came to Shiloh.
15 But with Eli’s sons,[p] even before the fat was burned, the priest’s assistant would come and say to the person offering the sacrifice, “Give the priest some meat to roast. He won’t accept boiled meat from you.”[q] 16 If anyone said, “Let the fat be burned off first, as usual, then take whatever you like for yourself,” the assistant would reply, “No, hand it over now. If not, I’ll take it by force.” 17 The sin of these priestly assistants was very serious in the Lord’s sight because they were disrespecting the Lord’s own offering.
18 Now Samuel was serving the Lord. He was a young boy, clothed in a linen priestly vest.[r] 19 His mother would make a small robe for him and take it to him every year when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: “May the Lord replace[s] the child of this woman that you gave back to the Lord.” Then they would return home. 21 The Lord paid attention to Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the Lord’s service.
22 Eli was very old, but he heard everything his sons were doing to the Israelites, and how they had sex with the women who served at the meeting tent’s entrance. 23 Eli said to his sons, “Why are you doing these terrible things that I’m hearing about from everybody? 24 No, my sons. Don’t do this.[t] The report I hear spreading among God’s people isn’t good. 25 If someone sins against someone else, God can intercede; but if someone sins against the Lord, who will intercede then?” But they wouldn’t obey their father because the Lord wanted to kill them. 26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel kept growing up and was more and more liked by both the Lord and the people.
27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said, “This is what the Lord says: I revealed myself very clearly to your father’s household when they were slaves[u] in Egypt to the house of Pharaoh. 28 I chose your father from all of Israel’s tribes to be my priest, to go up onto my altar, to burn incense, and to wear the priestly vest[v] in my presence. I also gave all of the Israelites’ food offerings to your father’s household. 29 Why then do you kick my sacrifices and my offerings—the very ones I commanded for my dwelling place? Why do you respect your sons more than me, getting fat off the best parts of every offering from my people Israel? 30 Because of all that, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: I had promised that your household and your father’s household would serve me forever. But now—this is what the Lord declares: I’ll do no such thing! No. I honor those who honor me, and whoever despises me will be cursed. 31 The days are coming soon when I will eliminate both your children[w] and the children of your father’s household. There won’t be an old person left in your family tree. 32 You’ll see trouble in my dwelling place, though all will go well for Israel.[x] But there will never be an old person in your family tree. 33 One of your descendants whom I don’t eliminate from serving at my altar will cry his[y] eyes out and be full of grief. Any descendants in your household will die by the sword.[z] 34 And what happens to your two sons Hophni and Phinehas will be a sign for you: they will both die on the same day. 35 Then I will establish for myself a trustworthy priest who will act in accordance with my thoughts and desires. I will build a trustworthy household for him, and he will serve before my anointed one forever. 36 Anyone left from your household will come and beg him for a bit of silver or a loaf of bread, saying: ‘Please appoint me to some priestly duty so I can have a scrap of bread to eat.’”
3 Now the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under Eli. The Lord’s word was rare at that time, and visions weren’t widely known. 2 One day Eli, whose eyes had grown so weak he was unable to see, was lying down in his room. 3 God’s lamp hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s temple, where God’s chest[aa] was.
4 The Lord called to Samuel. “I’m here,” he said.
5 Samuel hurried to Eli and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go lie down.” So he did.
6 Again the Lord called Samuel, so Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
“I didn’t call, my son,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.”
(7 Now Samuel didn’t yet know the Lord, and the Lord’s word hadn’t yet been revealed to him.)
8 A third time the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down where he’d been.
10 Then the Lord came and stood there, calling just as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.”
11 The Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of all who hear it tingle! 12 On that day, I will bring to pass against Eli everything I said about his household—every last bit of it![ab] 13 I told him that I would punish his family forever because of the wrongdoing he knew about—how his sons were cursing God,[ac] but he wouldn’t stop them. 14 Because of that I swore about Eli’s household that his family’s wrongdoing will never be reconciled by sacrifice or by offering.”
15 Samuel lay there until morning, then opened the doors of the Lord’s house. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel, saying: “Samuel, my son!”
“I’m here,” Samuel said.
17 “What did he say to you?” Eli asked. “Don’t hide anything from me. May God deal harshly with you and worse still if you hide from me a single word from everything he said to you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him.
“He is the Lord, ” Eli said. “He will do as he pleases.”
19 So Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not allowing any of his words to fail. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was trustworthy as the Lord’s prophet. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh because the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh through the Lord’s own word.
4 And Samuel’s word went out to all Israel.
The Philistines capture God’s chest
In those days the Philistines gathered for war against Israel,[ad] so Israel went out to engage the Philistines in war. Israel camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines readied themselves to fight Israel. When the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the troops returned to the camp, Israel’s elders said, “Why did the Lord defeat us today before the Philistines? Let’s bring the chest containing the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh so it can go with us and save us from our enemies’ power.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the chest containing the covenant of the Lord of heavenly forces, who sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures.[ae] Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were there with the chest containing God’s covenant.
5 When the chest containing the Lord’s covenant entered the camp, all Israel let out such a loud shout that the ground shook. 6 When the Philistines heard the sound of that shout, they asked, “What is that loud shouting in the Hebrew camp about?” When they learned that the Lord’s chest had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid and said, “A god has come into that camp! We’re doomed,” they said, “because nothing like this has ever happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the grip of these powerful deities? They are the same gods who struck the Egyptians in the desert with every kind of wound. 9 Pull yourselves together and act like men, Philistines! Otherwise, you’ll serve the Hebrews like they’ve been serving you. Act like men and fight!”
10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated, and everyone fled to their homes. It was a massive defeat: thirty thousand Israelite foot soldiers fell, 11 God’s chest was taken, and Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas died.
12 That very day, a Benjaminite ran from the battle to Shiloh. His clothes were torn, and dirt was on his head. 13 When he got there, Eli was sitting in a chair beside the road, waiting because he was nervous about God’s chest. The man arrived and gave the news to the city, and the whole city cried out.
14 Eli heard the sound of the cry and said, “What’s all this noise about?”
The man hurriedly went and told Eli the news. (15 Now Eli was 98 years old, and his eyes stared straight ahead, unable to see.) 16 The man told Eli, “I’m the one who just came from the battle. I fled from the battle today.”
“What’s the report, my son?” Eli asked.
17 The messenger answered, “Israel has fled from the Philistines. The army has suffered a massive defeat. Also, your own two sons Hophni and Phinehas have died, and God’s chest has been taken!” 18 At the mention of God’s chest, Eli fell backward off the chair beside the gate. His neck broke, and he died because he was an old man and overweight. Eli had judged Israel for forty years.
19 Now Eli’s daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was pregnant and about to give birth. When she heard the news that God’s chest had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she doubled over and gave birth because her labor pains overwhelmed her. 20 As she was about to die, the women standing by helping her said, “Don’t be afraid. You’ve given birth to a son!” But she didn’t answer or pay them any attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod,[af] saying, “The glory has left Israel,” referring to the capture of God’s chest and the death of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 “The glory has left Israel because God’s chest has been taken,” she said.
God’s chest among the Philistines
5 After the Philistines took God’s chest, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took God’s chest and brought it into Dagon’s temple and set it next to Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen facedown on the ground before the Lord’s chest! So they took Dagon and set him back up where he belonged. 4 But when they got up early the next morning, there was Dagon again, fallen facedown on the ground before the Lord’s chest—and this time Dagon’s head along with both his hands were cut off and lying on the doorstep! Only Dagon’s body[ag] was left intact. 5 That’s why to this day Dagon’s priests or anyone else who enters his temple in Ashdod doesn’t step on the threshold.
6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod: God terrified them and struck them in Ashdod and its surroundings with tumors.[ah] 7 When Ashdod’s inhabitants saw what was happening, they said, “The chest of Israel’s God must not stay here with us because his hand is hard against us and against our god Dagon.”
8 So they summoned all the Philistine rulers to a meeting and asked, “What should we do with the chest of Israel’s God?” The people of Gath said, “Let the chest of Israel’s God be moved to us.” So they moved the chest of Israel’s God to Gath.[ai] 9 But once they moved it, the Lord’s hand came against the city, causing a huge panic. God struck the city’s inhabitants, both young and old, and tumors broke out on them.
10 Then they sent God’s chest to Ekron, but as soon as God’s chest entered Ekron, the inhabitants cried out, “Why have you moved the chest of Israel’s God to us? In order to kill us and our people?”[aj]
11 So they summoned all the Philistine rulers to a meeting and said, “Send the chest of Israel’s God away! Let it go back to its own home so it doesn’t kill us and our people,” because there was a deadly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. 12 The people who didn’t die were struck with tumors, and the screams of the city went all the way up to heaven.