Then Samuel would announce the LORD’S message to all the people of Israel. When Eli was very old, his sons lived more and more in a way the LORD considered evil.*
The Philistines Defeat the Israelites
At that time the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites made their camp at Ebenezer. The Philistines made their camp at Aphek. The Philistines lined up their soldiers in front of the Israelites and began the attack.
The Philistines defeated the Israelites. They killed about 4000 soldiers from Israel’s army. The rest of the Israelite soldiers went back to their camp. The elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD let the Philistines defeat us? Let’s bring the LORD’S Box of the Agreement from Shiloh. God will go with us into battle and save us from our enemies.”
So the people sent men to Shiloh. The men brought back the LORD All-Powerful’s Box of the Agreement. On top of the Box are the Cherub angels. They are like a throne where the Lord sits. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, came with the Box.
When the LORD’S Box of the Agreement came into the camp, all the Israelites gave a great shout loud enough to make the ground shake. The Philistines heard Israel’s shout and asked, “Why are the people so excited in the Hebrew camp?”
Then the Philistines learned that the LORD’S Holy Box had been brought into Israel’s camp. They became afraid and said, “Gods have come to their camp! We’re in trouble. This has never happened before. We are worried. Who can save us from these powerful gods? These gods are the same ones that gave the Egyptians those diseases and terrible sicknesses. Be brave, Philistines. Fight like men. In the past they were our slaves, so fight like men or you will become their slaves.”
10 So the Philistines fought very hard and defeated the Israelites. The Israelite soldiers ran away and went home. It was a terrible defeat for Israel. 30,000 Israelite soldiers were killed. 11 The Philistines took God’s Holy Box and killed Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
12 One of the men who ran from the battle was a man from the tribe of Benjamin. He tore his clothes and put dust on his head to show his great sadness. 13 Eli was worried about the Holy Box, so he was sitting there by the city gate waiting and watching when the Benjamite man came into Shiloh and told the bad news. All the people in town began to cry loudly. 14-15 Eli was 98 years old. He was blind, so he could not see what was happening, but he could hear the loud noise of the people crying. Eli asked, “Why are the people making this loud noise?”
The Benjamite man ran to Eli and told him what happened. 16 He said, “I am the man who just came from the battle. I ran away from the battle today.”
Eli asked, “What happened, son?”
17 The Benjamite man answered, “Israel ran away from the Philistines. The Israelite army has lost many soldiers. Your two sons are both dead, and the Philistines took God’s Holy Box.”
18 When the Benjamite man mentioned God’s Holy Box, Eli fell backward off his chair near the gate and broke his neck. Eli was old and fat, so he died. He had led Israel for 20 years.
The Glory Is Gone
19 Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant. It was nearly time for her baby to be born. She heard the news that God’s Holy Box was taken. She also heard that her father-in-law Eli and her husband Phinehas were both dead. As soon as she heard the news, her pain started and she began giving birth to her baby. 20 She was about to die when the women who were helping her said, “Don’t worry, you have given birth to a son.”
But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 She named the baby Ichabod,§ that is to say, “Israel’s glory has been taken away.”* She did this because God’s Holy Box was taken away and because both her father-in-law and her husband were dead. 22 She said, “Israel’s glory has been taken awaybecause the Philistines had taken God’s Holy Box.
* 4:1 When Eli … evil The ancient Greek version has these words at the end of chapter 3. 4:6 Hebrew Or “Israelite.” 4:18 20 years This is found in the ancient Greek version and Josephus. The standard Hebrew text has “40 years.” § 4:21 Ichabod This name means “No glory.” The Greek has “Ouai Barchaboth.” * 4:21 that is … taken away This is not in the ancient Greek version.