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1 Samuel 4:1-11

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.

4:4 So the army 11  sent to Shiloh, and they took from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits between the cherubim. Now the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 4:5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord arrived at the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly 12  that the ground shook.

4:6 When the Philistines heard the sound of the shout, they said, “What is this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews?” Then they realized that the ark of the Lord had arrived at the camp. 4:7 The Philistines were scared because they thought that gods had come to the camp. 13  They said, “Too bad for 14  us! We’ve never seen anything like this! 4:8 Too bad for us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues in the desert! 4:9 Be strong and act like men, you Philistines, or else you will wind up serving the Hebrews the way they have served you! Act like men and fight!”

4:10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated; they all ran home. 15  The slaughter was very great; thirty thousand foot soldiers fell in battle. 4:11 The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were killed.

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.”

11 tn Or “people.”

12 tn Heb “shouted [with] a great shout.”

13 tn The Hebrew text has a direct quote, “because they said, ‘Gods have come to the camp.’” Even though the verb translated “have come” is singular, the following subject should be taken as plural (“gods”), as v. 8 indicates. Some emend the verb to a plural form.

14 tn Traditionally “woe to.” They thought disaster was imminent.

15 tn Heb “and they fled, each to his tents.”



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