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1 Samuel 4:1-3

Context
4:1 Samuel revealed the word of the Lord 1  to all Israel.

The Ark of the Covenant is Lost to the Philistines

Then the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. 2  They camped at Ebenezer, 3  and the Philistines camped at Aphek. 4:2 The Philistines arranged their forces to fight 4  Israel. As the battle spread out, 5  Israel was defeated by 6  the Philistines, who 7  killed about four thousand men in the battle line in the field.

4:3 When the army 8  came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by 9  the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us 10  from the hand of our enemies.

1 tn Heb “and the word of Samuel was.” The present translation understands Samuel to be the speaker of the divine word (“Samuel” is a subjective genitive in this case), although the statement could mean that he was the recipient of the divine word (“Samuel” is an objective genitive in this case) who in turn reported it to Israel.

2 tn Heb “and Israel went out to meet the Philistines for battle.”

3 tn Heb “the stone, the help.” The second noun is in apposition to the first one and apparently is the name by which the stone was known. Contrast the expression used in 5:1 and 7:12, where the first word lacks the definite article, unlike 4:1.

4 tn Heb “to meet.”

5 tn The MT has וַתִּטֹּשׁ (vattittosh), from the root נטשׁ (ntsh). This verb normally means “to leave,” “to forsake,” or “to permit,” but such an idea does not fit this context very well. Many scholars have suspected that the text originally read either וַתֵּט (vattet, “and it spread out”), from the root נטה (nth), or וַתִּקֶשׁ (vattiqesh, “and it grew fierce”), from the root קשׂה (qsh). The former suggestion is apparently supported by the LXX ἔκλινεν (eklinen, “it inclined”) and is adopted in the translation.

6 tn Heb “before.”

7 tn Heb “the Philistines, and they killed.” The pronoun “they” has been translated as a relative pronoun (“who”) to make it clear to the English reader that the Philistines were the ones who did the killing.

8 tn Or “people.”

9 tn Heb “before.”

10 tn Heb “and it will come in our midst and it will save.” After the cohortative (see “let’s take”), the prefixed verbal forms with the prefixed conjunction indicate purpose or result. The translation understands the ark to be the subject of the third masculine singular verbs, although it is possible to understand the Lord as the subject. In the latter case, one should translate, “when he is with us, he will save us.”



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