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  • 1 Samuel 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, so Israel went out to engage the Philistines in war. Israel camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 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. 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.” 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. Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were there with the chest containing God’s covenant.

    When the chest containing the Lord’s covenant entered the camp, all Israel let out such a loud shout that the ground shook. 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, 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. 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. 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, 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.