The First Book of Samuel

Chapter 4

The Israelites are overcome by the Philistines at Ebenezer, 1, 2. They fetch the ark to the terror of the Philistines, 3-9. They are smitten again, the ark taken, and Hophni and Phinehas are slain, 10, 11. Eli hears the news and falls backward and breaks his neck, 12-18. Phinehas's wife, discouraged in her travail with Ichabod, dies, 19-22.

1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle and encamped beside Eben-ezer. And the Philistines encamped in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines. And they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3 And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh to us, so that when it comes among us, it may save us from the hand of our enemies." 4 So the people sent to Shiloh so that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout so that the earth resounded. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, "What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" And they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp." And they said, "Woe to us! For there has not been such a thing before. 8 Woe to us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong and acquit yourselves like men, O Philistines, so that you may not be servants to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Acquit yourselves like men and fight."

10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they each fled into his tent. And there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 11 And the ark of God was taken. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent and with earth upon his head. 13 And when he came, behold, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. 14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, "What does the noise of this tumult mean?" And the man came in hastily and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see. 16 And the man said to Eli, "I am he who came out of the army, and I fled today out of the army." And he said, "How did the matter go, my son?" 17 And the messenger answered and said, "Israel has fled before the Philistines. And there has been also a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead. And the ark of God has been taken." 18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate and his neck broke and he died, for he was an old and heavy man. And he had judged Israel forty years.

19 And his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was with child and about to deliver. And when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death, the women who stood by her said to her, "Do not fear, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel"—because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been taken."


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Samuel, Chapter 4[➚]