1Samuel 4

 

1Samuel 4:1–22

The Philistines Take the Ark of God in Battle


Outline of Chapter 4:

 

       vv.    1b–3       Israel is Defeated Before the Philistines

       vv.    4–11      Israel is Defeated a Second Time Before the Philistines

       vv.   12–18      A Benjamite Brings News of These Battles to Shiloh

       vv.   19–22      The Death of the Wife of Phinehas; the Birth of the Son of Phinehas


Charts and Maps:

 

       Introduction    The Time Frame of 1Sam. 4

       Introduction    Text Altering in the Scriptures

       v.     4:1b        Ancient Renderings of 1Samuel 4:1b

       v.      4           The Ark of the Covenant

       v.     11           Parallel Passage Psalm 78:56–61

       v.     17           Speculation About the Messenger and Eli

       v.     18           The Failures of Eli

       v.     18           The Successes of Eli


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

The Ark of God

The Name Hebrew

 

 

The Philistines

Aphek


I ntroduction: Most exegetes group 1Sam. 4:1b–7:1 (or v. 2) as a teaching unit. This is because these three chapters follow the movement of the Ark of God, which is afterwards, until the time of David, rarely mentioned (actually, it is not mentioned again—but that requires some explanation, which will occur later). As you will recall, I placed 1Sam. 4:1a with the previous chapter, and I will add 7:1–2 to the end of 1Sam. 6—when I exegeted the chapters, apart from ever looking at another exegetes work, these seemed to be the most natural bookends.


Before we launch further into the introduction, I should stop and mentioned a few things. As you may or may not realize, there are those who view the Old Testament as primarily the compilation of 4 or 5 individuals and/or groups of people; pretty much, their approach is anyone but the stated author written at any time frame other than what is generally assigned to the book. However, even though there are some false theories out there, this does not mean that this book in particular does not have several difference sources (as the book of Genesis, for instance). However, these theorists suggest that there are multiple authors in this section is because the Ark of God is given several different names (the Ark of God, the Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah, the Ark of Jehovah, the Ark of the God of Israel). Now, it may seem silly to you to base doctrines with such great theological significance upon the occasional change of terms, and that is simply because it is silly. I personally use all of those designations for the Ark of God, primarily to vary my vocabulary. That an author of the ancient world chose to do the same is no big deal. However, and this is significant, there is a strong likelihood that all of 1Sam. 5 and much of 6 was written by a Philistine believer. We will discuss this in chapter 5; and the reasons are more substantial than a different title for the Ark of God (although, interestingly enough, it is referred to as the Ark of the God of Israel exclusively in 1Sam. 5). The various names applied to the Ark very likely have more significance than a simple variance of vocabulary; but such things do not require several authors.


We are still at the end of the time of the judges. Israel is still in a state of great degeneracy. Eli, who is an okay judge and priest, has raised two worthless sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who assumed the duties of the priesthood, but who are both unbelievers, despite the fact that they function as priests. In the cycles of the book of Judges, you will recall that we would have a cycle of deliverance, a period of degeneracy, followed by a calling to God, followed by a deliverance. Where is this cycle?, you may ask. 1Sam. 4 restores that cycle. Certainly, we have the marvelous woman, Hannah, and her husband, Elkanah, and they dedicated their first son to God, and this first son was Samuel, who would be a great man. However, he is in a state of growth. Israel, as a whole, is still in a state of degeneracy. The practices of the Tent of God are still not in keeping with those found in Scripture. So, what we have in this chapter, is Israel on the discipline cycle. Their deliverer is among them, but they have nothing to be delivered from. God puts them in the position of needing Him, and simultaneously destroys the scum of Israel in battle.


We are reintroduced to the Philistines in this chapter. Recall that Joshua conquered most of the Land of Promise, but there remained several pockets of resistance, the Philistines making up the largest and most powerful group of heathen living within Israel along what today is the Gaza Strip. In Joshua 13:2–3, God ominously warns Joshua of the unconquered Philistines: “This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and all the land of the Geshurites; from Shihor, which is east of Egypt, even as far as the border of Ekron to the north (it is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines: the Gadite, the Ashdodite, the Ashkelonite, the Gittite, the Ekronite; and the Avvite.” And, of all the tribes, Judah and Simeon were the most circumspect when it came to securing their land, being the only tribes to continue with their campaign against the resident heathen. They in fact took portions of the Philistine territory in Judges 1:18, capturing Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron (this would have been circa 1400–1350 b.c.). Footnote However, the Philistines maintained a strong foothold in the valley, along with one city near the sea (Ashdod), and eventually took their territory back. In fact, by 1100 b.c., the Philistines were in control of various portions of Israel and Israel was under Philistine control. Footnote All of this would make perfect sense, as Israel, upon entering and conquering the land, was vigorous and strong, and spiritually stable. However, after the passing of two centuries, they had become weak, indolent and spiritually fickle. We would therefore expect a people as tenacious as the Philistines to eventually come back as a serious force, which began in Judges 13 and continues until this time.


The Time Frame of 1Sam. 4

What we know:

Judges 13:1

Judges 13:2–23



Judges 14:4




Judges 14:4–5



Judges 15:20

1Sam. 4:18


1Sam. 4:9

      We know that God gave Israel into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

      Now, in chapter 13, we first have mentioned the rule of the Philistines and then we have the prophecy of the birth of Samson.

      Now, exactly what Philistine control entailed is unclear, but apparently not only did the Philistines have a strong foothold in Israeli land (which they had for hundreds of years), but Israel was apparently under the rule of the Philistines.

      This would reasonably mean occupation by Philistines and that Israel would pay them tribute. This was during the time when Samson was a young man and still hanging with his parents. This did not mean that the Philistines ruled over all of Israel, but they certainly ruled over a significant portion (more than likely the southern mid-section and possibly the south as well).

      We also know that Samson ruled over Israel 20 years and that Eli was a judge for 40 years. Also, they were judges over the same general portion of Israel—the central and south central portion of Israel.

      Finally, it appears as though Israel’s slavery to Egypt is in the past.

What we conclude:

      Samson and Eli were probably not coterminous judges, as they judged over the same area. Therefore, we have at least 60 years of rule, first by Samson and then by Eli.

      If Samson was born around the time of Philistine domination, and if he dies after judging for 20 years, we would guess that Samson was a young judge (beginning around age 20), and that he died after 20 years of judging (at age 40).

      When Samson died, he took several thousand Philistines with him—mostly Philistine royalty (Judges 16:28–31).

      Therefore, Samson’s last act probably ended Philistine rule.

      When we return to this time frame in the book of Samuel, it does not appear as though the Philistines are ruling over Israel, but that they are back to land skirmishes again. When the Philistines discuss the problem of the Ark being brought into the camp of Israel, one in authority remarks, “Take courage and be men, O Philistines, so that you do not become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you. Therefore, be men and fight!” (1Sam. 4:9).

      Therefore, the forty years of Eli’s reign would be marked by Philistine aggression and a back and forth control over certain border portions of Israel, but it does not appear as though the Philistines ruled over Israel during this time period.

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Other theories (Barnes):

      Barnes notes that the Israeli servitude to the Philistines lasted for forty years (Judges 13:1) and that it seems to have terminated during the 20th year of his reign (1Sam. 7:2, 13–14).

      Philistine rule seems to have begun before the birth of Samson (Judges 13:5).

      Since Samson’s judgeship lasted for 20 years (Judges 15:20), then Barnes concludes that the latter portion of the judgeship of Eli and the early portion of Samuel’s judgeship should have been coterminous with the life of Samson. Footnote

      Now, let me take this a little further than Barnes does. What this would mean is that Samson would have been born during the judgeship of Eli, and that the 20 years of Samson’s judgeship would be roughly coterminous with the last 20 years of Eli’s judgeship.

      This would allow for us to compress the time of Eli, Samson and Samuel by at least 20 years.

      This theory would require there to be two primary judges functioning in the same area without the writings of one ever mentioning the other.

      Let me remind of that Samson was kind of goofy and charismatic only insofar as his great strength and stature. He would not have been my first choice as a judge.

      We know little about Eli’s competence as a judge. He raised two crappy children; but he appears to do a good job in guiding Samuel. Bear in mind that, when you raise children, they do have their own volition, and that there is not much you can do about that. That is, you can be the best parent in the world and end up with a loser for a son (or daughter) if they get themselves caught up in negative volition. However, I have seriously digressed from my topic, which is the time line.

Conclusions: The time line here really hinges upon when did the Philistines cease ruling over Israel. They ceased being a major thorn in the side of Israel during 1Sam. 7:13–14; this does not necessarily mean that is when they stopped ruling over Israel. Their rule over Israel probably concluded much earlier than that, as strongly implied by 1Sam. 4:9.

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Israel will go to war against the Philistines and they will be soundly defeated. They return with the Ark of God as a good luck charm. In all of this, they do not consult God, Eli or Samuel. They just grab the Ark and return to battle, and (1) they lose; (2) the unbelieving, degenerate sons of Eli are killed; and, (3) the Ark is taken by the Philistines in battle, something which shocks and surprises both sides at battle.


We also have, with this chapter, a series of judgements upon the house of Eli. Keil and Delitzsch: Israel...suffered a still greater defeat, in which Eli’s sons fell and the ark was taken by the Philistines (vv. 3–11). The aged Eli, terrified at such a loss, fell from his seat and broke his neck (vv. 12–18); and his daughter-in-law was taken in labour, and died after giving birth to a son (vv. 19–22). With these occurrences the judgment began to burst upon the house of Eli. Footnote


You may recall that the sentence structure and vocabulary in the previous chapter, as well as in chapter 1, has been fairly simple. It is kind of like reading the writings of John in the Greek; chapters 1 and 3 would be good Hebrew primers. Although the sentence structure in this chapter is not complex, it is more complex than that of those other two chapters. The vocabulary has become less repetitive, and there is an introduction of vocabulary not found in previous chapters (the latter of which may be explained because of the subject matter change). However, what would appear to be the case is that there is a new author.


Please allow me a digression at this point.

Text Altering in the Scriptures

One of the things which I have dealt with on a number of occasions is the accusation that some organization came along and changed the Scriptures to suit their doctrinal perspective. Usually the Catholic Church is blamed for this. These accusations are made by people who do not have any clue about the Scriptures; they have made up their mind that some big organization wants them to think in a certain way or wants to control them, and so, therefore, this big organization must have come in and made widespread changes to the Bible in order to advance their peculiar doctrines. This is such a gross misconception, but it seems to be quite widespread.

1.    The book of Samuel, as you have already seen, is one of the books with the greatest number of variant readings. The Greek (which is a translation) and the Hebrew are, at times, radically different.

2.    For instanct, in v. 15 of this chapter, Eli is said to be 98 in the Hebrew and Latin, 90 in the Greek, and 78 in the Syriac. The difference in the Greek could be explained by a portion of the manuscript being unreadable; the difference in the Syriac can be explained by a mistaken letter.

3.    In v. 16, for some reason, a portion of v. 14 is repeated in v. 16 in the LXX (this could be due to the Hebrew manuscript from which they worked had this repetition as well). This repetition actually makes the narrative slightly more clear. Apart from that, the only differences are those which are probably based upon the translation, rather than being real differences.

4.    In v. 17, a man who brings the news to Shiloh is called a young man in the Greek, but the bringer of news in the Hebrew.

5.    In v. 18 of this chapter, the Greek has that Eli broke his back and the Hebrew tells us that he broke his neck. The problem is one word which is found nowhere else and has no easy cognates which would help to determine the meaning. Therefore, even though the Latin, Syriac and Hebrew all agree that this word is neck; this is not something that we can conclude with 100% accuracy.

6.    Now, I am not about to spend several hours dealing with each and every difference between the Hebrew and the most ancient translation of the Bible; however, what should be clear is, all of these differences are minor, many of them can be easily explained, and none of them have any sort of influence of some religious authority attempting to lay down this or that doctrine which was not there before.

7.    When dealing with the disputed readings of the Old Testament, this tends to be the case throughout. As you can see, there are 4 verses right in a row in 1Samuel 4 which are problematic. Samuel is one of the most problematic books in the Bible when it comes to determining what the original text should be. However, in no case that I have come across, do we find some verse which may have been altered in order to reflect this or that doctrinal perspective.

8.    The KJV had, as its oldest Old Testament manuscripts texts from the tenth century a.d. These are known as the Masoretic texts. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 (and some in subsequent years), we got to look at texts which could be dated as far back as 100 b.c. (possibly even earlier). We have also a plethora of Greek, Latin and Syriac manuscripts which have been uncovered as well, all of which pre-date the Masoretic text upon which the KJV was based. The result is, there have been a few changes and a few questions have been raised about a number of passages.

9.    However, and listen well, there has been no evidence of manuscript tampering where this or that doctrinal perspective was slipped into the text. A huge percentage of the differences can be explained, even if we might still disagree as to which is accurate.

10.  But this is key: there is no fundamental doctrine which is affected by any of these manuscript differences. Many English translations make mention of these differences (NASB, NRSV, NKJV), and these differences are well-known to scholars throughout the world. However, no cult or denomination has seized upon this or that difference and based some new or strange doctrine upon it.

11.  With regards to the New Testament, without going into any great depth: we have over 24,000 New Testament manuscripts (partial or whole), some of which date back as early as 125 a.d. This is unheard of in ancient literature; that is, most of our ancient literature is separated in time from its writing typically by a 1000 years. Furthermore, the number of manuscripts which we have from any ancient literature tends to be a number that you can count on the fingers of one hand. There are three strong exceptions to this. We have 193 copies of the writing of Sophocles (the intervening time period, by the way, is 1400 years); we have 200 copies of a work by Demosthenes (1300 intervening years) and a remarkable 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad (which only 500 intervening years). So, we have about a fortieth of the number of manuscripts which we have for the New Testament.

12.  Do you grasp what I am telling you here? The New Testament is completely unique when compared to any ancient manuscript.

13.  If there was some evil organization which came along and altered New Testament manuscripts in order to reflect this or that doctrinal perspective, when did this occur? The Catholic church did not come on the scene until the 4th century a.d. We know how Jerome translated the Old and New Testaments—we have copies of his Latin work. We also know that he did an outstanding job in this regard. So far, I have come across not a single passage which reflects Catholic doctrine as opposed to any other viewpoint in Jerome’s translation. Now, the Catholics do have some peculiar doctrines, and they come from two sources: (1) the Catholics recognize the Apocrypha Footnote as divine (which it is not) and the pope has the authority to make papal pronouncements which overrule Scripture and/or previous Catholic doctrines. When you have that kind of authority, you do not need to alter Scripture. Furthermore, throughout the Middle Ages, the Catholic church vigorously acted to keep the Bible out of the hands of common men (when common men got their hands on Scripture, what happened was the Reformation—which was a return to Scripture and Scriptural authority).

14.  We have far too many New Testament manuscripts from a period of time when there was no ruling body, no large church organization and no large religious organization which would have altered the Scriptures.

15.  To get an idea as to what has to be done in order to propagate a particular viewpoint which is not consistent with Scripture, we go to Robert Funk, a theologian who believed that we have a mistaken view of Jesus, and that He was a great religious leader, but not divine; and He certain did not do anything miraculous. In order for Funk and his followers to come to this incorrect view of Jesus, they must throw out 80% of the gospels. That is, they must disregard 80% of eyewitness testimony in order to promulgate their own distorted beliefs.

16.  However, when it comes to disputed readings in the New Testament, we are dealing with 0.5% of the New Testament. By the way, no other example of ancient literature can make that same claim to accuracy.

17.  By way of example, one might think that Shakespear, who wrote about 300 years ago, and after the advent of printing, that his writings would be as accurate, if not more so, than the New Testament, since the New Testament was written 2000 years ago, long before the advent of printing. In the New Testament, with the exception of perhaps as many as 20 verses, scholars have come to agree on correct text. However, if we look at Shakespear’s 37 plays, there are a 100 readings which are still in dispute, which readings materially affect the meaning of the passages in which they occur. Footnote The New Testament is far more accurate in its transmission than one of the most famous writers of our recent history.

The conclusion is, there has never been any organization which has made great hidden changes to the Old or New Testaments in order to promulgate some particular set of doctrines.


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All that is found in the next section is simply repeated from the end of 1Sam. 3.

 

And so was a word of Samuel to all Israel.

1Samuel

4:1a

And thus the word of Samuel came [lit., was] to all Israel.

And in this way, the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

 

Let’s see how others have rendered this:

 

Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And the word of Samuel came to pass to all Israel. This is actually the end of 1Sam. 3:21 in the Latin.

Masoretic Text                       And so was a word of Samuel to all Israel.

Septuagint                             [nothing]

 

Significant differences: 

 

Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Then Samuel would speak to the whole nation of Israel. [given as a part of 1Sam. 3]

REB                                       Samuel’s word had authority throughout Israel.

TEV                                       And when Samuel spoke, all Israel listened.

 

Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         And Samuel spoke to all Israel. [given as a part of 1Sam. 3]

JPS (Tanakh)                        ...and Samuel’s word went forth to all Israel. [given as a part of 1Sam. 3]

 

Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

Young's Literal Translation    And the word of Samuel is to all Israel,...

 

What is the gist of this verse? God’s teaching went through Samuel; and Samuel’s word was taught throughout all of Israel.

 

1Samuel 4:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

dâbâr (רָבָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

Shemûwêl (ל̤אמש) [pronounced she-moo-ALE]

which means heard of El; it is transliterated Samuel

proper masculine noun

Strong’s #8050 BDB #1028

lâmed (ל) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

every, each, all of, all; any of

masculine singular construct not followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

 

Translation: And thus the word of Samuel came [lit., was] to all Israel. As is quite obvious, a great many modern translations append chapter 3 with the first half of v. 1 of the next chapter (this includes, but it not limited to, the CEV, TEV, the JPS, the NRSV, the REB, the NAB, the NJB, the NASB, and God’s Word™). What follows is: Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek (1Sam. 4:1b). As you see, there is little or no connect between v. 1a and 1b. Who made this original separation and why is a mystery. However, they did a pretty sloppy job with the book of Samuel (as we will see in subsequent chapters).

 




This verse belongs with the previous chapter and was exegeted in great detail there. However, there is an alternate explanation, which is that Samuel incites Israel to go to war with the Philistines, which would place v. 1a with 1b. Keil and Delitzsch suggest that the sense of v. 1 is, At the word or instigation of Samuel, Israel went out against the Philistines to battle. Footnote As you may recall, Barnes rejects this, saying that such an interpretation does not reflect the natural understanding of these words. Footnote A primary reason that I would go along with Barnes is that, Samuel seems to be completely immersed in the plan of God in 1Sam. 3:21 (And Jehovah appeared again at Shiloh, because Jehovah revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of Jehovah). V. 4:1a seems to naturally follow this. However, in the war against the Philistines, Israel will lose, lose badly, and then make a critical error of misjudging their next step. In other words, there is nothing in this war with the Philistines which smacks of the Lord except for judgment against Israel. This is incongruous with 1Sam. 3:21. The best we can expect is that Samuel was growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, but Israel did not correspondingly advance as a nation.

 

Now, it is unclear as to how long Samuel ruled over Israel up until this point in time. 1Sam. 3:21–4:1a simply summarizes Samuel’s ministry before God. Where we are in this ministry come the next half of the verse is unclear. However, some explanation is necessary in order to understand Israel’s behavior. Edersheim provides that for us: Samuel’s ministry restored and strengthened belief in the reality of God’s presence in His temple, and in His help and power. In short, it would tend to keep alive and increase historical, although not spiritual belief in Israel. Such feelings, when uncombined with repentance, would lead to a revival of religiousness rather than of religion; to confidence in the possession of what, dissociated from their higher bearing, were merely externals; to a confusion of symbols with reality; and to such a reliance on their calling and privileges, as would have converted the wonder-working Presence of Jehovah in the midst of His believing people into a magic power attaching to certain symbols, the religion of Israel into mere externalism, essentially heathen in hits character, and the calling of God’s people into a warrant for carnal pride of nationality. In truth, however different in manifestation, the sin of Israel was essentially the same as that of Eli’s sons. Accordingly it had to be shown in reference to both, that neither high office nor yet the possession of high privileges entitles to the promises attached to them, irrespective of a deeper relationship between God and His servants. Footnote Now, unless you are fairly familiar with the next couple chapters, this quote may not have meant much to you. I will repeat it once we complete this study.


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Israel is Defeated Before the Philistines


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

And so went out Israel to meet Philistines to the war and so they camped beside the Ebenezer and so Philistines camped in Aphek.

1Samuel

4:1b

[Septuagint: And it was in those days that Gentiles assembled in order to war against Israel.] Therefore, Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle; they camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.

At that time, the Philistines mustered their armies to war with Israel. Therefore, Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle. Israel camped beside Ebenezer and the Philistines camped in Aphek.


First, what others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight: and Israel went out to war against the Philistines, and camped by the Stone of help. And the Philistines came to Aphec...

Masoretic Text                       And so went out Israel to meet Philistines to the war and so they camped beside the Ebenezer and so Philistines camped in Aphek.

Peshitta                                 Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and encamped by the Rock of Help; and the Philistines encamped at Aphek.

Septuagint                             And it came to pass in those days that the Philistines gathered themselves together against Israel to war; and Israel went out to meet them and encamped at Aben-ezer, and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.

 

Significant differences:          The biggest difference is that which is most obvious: the first sentence of chapter 4 in the LXX and the Vulgate is not found in the MT. The addition of this sentence makes more sense than its absence (which is the reason it is excluded from many translations).


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

NLT                                At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek.

REB                                       The time came when the Philistines mustered for battle against Israel, and the Israelites, marching out to meet them, encamped near Eben-ezer.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        Israel marched out to engage the Philistines in battle; they encamped near Eben-ezer, while the Philistines encamped at Aphek.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.

NRSV                                    In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel, and Israel went out to battle against them; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek.

Young's Updated LT              ...and Israel went out to meet the Philistines for battle, and they encamp by Ebenezer, and the Philistines have encamped in Aphek,...


What is the gist of this verse? The troubles between the Jews and the Philistines continue; the Philistines gather their troops in Aphek to fight against Israel and the Israelites camp in Ebenezer.


You will note that the Septuagint and the NRSV begins v. 1b differently. They insert: And it came to pass in those days that the Philistines mustered themselves for battle against Israel... This is what we find in the Greek and several translations go with the Greek at this point (the NRSV, the REB, the NAB and the NJB are four examples).


Ancient Renderings of 1Samuel 4:1b

Massoretic Text and Targum (the Aramaic Paraphrase)

The Greek Septuagint

The Latin Vulgate

And so went out Israel to meet Philistines to the war and so they camped beside the Ebenezer and so Philistines camped in Aphek.

And it came to pass in those days that the Philistines gathered themselves together against Israel to war; and Israel went out to meet them and encamped at Aben-ezer, and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.

And it came to pass in those days that the Philistines gathered themselves together to war; and Israel went out to meet them and encamped at Aben-ezer, and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.

I include this because this verse represents one of the greatest differences in text of the ancient versions. You may wonder, why am I so anal about these differences? In various criticisms of Scripture, particular Old Testament Scripture, often the charge is laid, how can you be so certain that this is what was in the Bible? It was written thousands of years ago. It is a verse like this which answers that charge. We have great differences between the ancient versions in several passages like this one, and, although I personally have my preferences, theologians will still disagree about which one is correct (witnessed by that fact that various English translations follow different versions at this point). However, what is most important to note is that, despite all of these differences, the essential meaning of this verse remains unchanged. So, certainly we have a disagreement as to which text is accurate (that is, which text most closely matches the autographs). However, the meaningful difference is minimal. Footnote Now, what the Greek does appear to indicate is that the Philistines were the aggressors.


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Since we have some text which is found in the Greek (as well as the Latin), but not in the Hebrew, we examine the Greek text here:


1Samuel 4:1a from the Greek Septuagint

Greek/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

Strong’s Number

kaí (Καί) [pronounced ]

and, even, also; so, too, then, that; indeed, but

conjunction

Strong’s #2532

gínomai (vίνομαι) [pronounced GIN-oh-mī]

to become [something it was not before]; to be born; to arise, come about; to be made, to be created; to happen, to take place

3rd person masculine singular, aorist passive indicative

Strong’s #1096

en (ἐν) [pronounced en]

in, by means of, with

preposition

Strong’s #1722

tais (τας) [pronounced taiç]

to the, for the; in the; by the, by means of the

feminine plural definite article; dative, locative and instrumental cases

Strong’s #3588

hêmera (ἡμάρα) [pronounced hay-MEH-raw]

day, daytime; 24-hour day; period of time

feminine plural noun; dative, locative and instrumental cases

Strong’s #2250

ἐκείναις

them, those; to those [them]; in those [them]; by those [them]

3rd person feminine plural pronoun or remote demonstrative; locative, dative or instrumental case

Strong’s #1565


Translation: And it was in those days... This sounds like the beginning of a new chapter or a completely new topic. Around the time that God spoke to Samuel, might be a way of paraphrasing this.


1Samuel 4:1b from the Greek Septuagint

Greek/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

Strong’s Number

kaí (Καί) [pronounced ]

and, even, also; so, too, then, that; indeed, but

conjunction

Strong’s #2532

sunathroizô (συναθροίζω) [pronounced soon-ath-ROID-zoh]

to gather together with others; to assemble, to convene, to call together; to be gathered together, to come together

3rd person masculine plural, Present middle indicative

Strong’s #4867

allophulos (ἀλλόφυλος) [pronounced al-LOW-fu-loss]

foreign (from a Jewish standpoint), Gentile, heathen

masculine plural noun (or adjective), nominative case

Strong’s #246

eis (εἰς) [pronounced ICE]

to, toward; into; unto, in order to, for, for the purpose of, for the sake of, on account of

directional preposition

Strong’s #1519

polemos (πόλεμος) [pronounced POHL-em-oss]

a war, fight, battle; strife, warfare; dispute, quarrel

masculine singular noun, accusative case

Strong’s #4171

epí (ἐπί) [pronounced eh-PEE]

to, towards; on, upon; at, by, before; over, against; to, across

preposition of superimposition; a relation of motion and direction with accusative case

Strong’s #1909

Israêl (Ισραήλ) [pronounced is-rah-ALE]

is transliterated Israel

Proper singular noun; masculine, Indeclinable

Strong’s #2474


Translation: ...that Gentiles assembled in order to war against Israel. We have foreign troops gathering together to go to war against Israel. That the Jews have constant difficulties in the Land of Promise today should be no surprise to us.


That we have this line here seems to complete this verse and give the topic a true beginning. On the other hand, it could have been inserted for that purpose, and added so that the Philistines are seen as the aggressors here.


1Samuel 4:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâtsâ (אָצָי) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to go out, to come out, to come forth; to rise; to flow, to gush up [out]

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

lâmed (ל) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qârâ (א ָר ָק) [pronounced kaw-RAW]

to encounter, to befall, to meet; to assemble [for the purpose of encountering God or exegeting His Word]; to come, to assemble

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #7122 & #7125 BDB #896

This is a homonym; the other qârâ means to call, to proclaim, to read, to assemble.

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

lâmed (ל) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

milechâmâh (הָמָח׃ל ̣מ) [pronounced mil-khaw-MAW]

battle, war

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4421 BDB #536


Translation: Therefore, Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle;... It is at this point that I see a connection between v. 1a and 1b—Samuel begins to take a position of authority and begins his ministry, which includes the dissemination of truth. So, as truth from Samuel is in Israel, Israel goes out to battle, away from the truth. It is not that it is wrong for Israel to go to war against the Philistines, it is simply the fact that they do so apart from any spiritual preparation. The word of Samuel has just come to Israel and Israel goes away from it. Just because there are a handful of good men in Israel does not mean that Israel has recovered as a nation. A cancer of villainy has developed in Israel, which cancer must be removed. A callousness toward the revealed Word of God has developed. No one in this chapter asks God, Eli or Samuel for guidance. They simply go to war against the Philistines and at no step along the way do they inquire of God’s will. What we find with v. 1a is not so much a verse which must be placed with chapter 3 or with chapter 4 of Samuel, but a verse which is a transition verse. It takes us from God revealing His Word to Samuel in the Tent of God to the moving away of Israel from the Word of God. In a time when a division of chapters meant nothing, we would expect to find transitional statements which take us from one scenario to another, smoothly and simply.


Who they are meeting are the Philistines, who have remained Israel’s bitter enemies (in the Greek, it simply reads them; in the Hebrew, it reads Philistines). Footnote We last encountered the Philistines in Judges 13–16, which seems like eons ago, but, in terms of time, this was recent or almost simultaneous to the events of these first few chapters of Samuel. Some teach that no interval of time has taken place since the death of Samson. In fact, Barnes even suggests that the birth of Samuel and the events of these first few chapters of 1Samuel could even be simultaneous to the last several years of the life of Samson. Samson was a judge in Dan, whereas Eli was a judge in Ephraim/Benjamin. Now, these were adjacent territories, but this does not mean that Samson and Eli could not have had coterminous and similar authority in their lifetimes. On the other hand, I believe that there is clearly a break in time between Samson’s death and the birth of Samuel (during which time period, Eli was a judge and the Philistines did not rule over Israel). My thinking is that, Sampson, for many years, kept the Philistines out of Dan, but, at his death, the movement of the Philistines continued, until even the tribe of Dan was forced to take property in the far northern portion of Israel. But my basic point here is that establishing an exact time line is difficult; however, it is quite clear that Israel continued to be at war with the Philistines. Samson killed a great many Philistines at his death, which very likely ended Philistia rule over Israel, but did not end the ongoing Israeli-Philistine conflict. In fact, Israel’s only significant military leader, Samson, seemed to be out of the picture altogether now. Footnote We covered the Doctrine of the Philistines back in Judges 14:4; however, it would not hurt for you to review that doctrine.


We continue this sentence with a lâmed preposition, the definite article and the feminine singular noun battle, war. This gives us, so far: And so Israel went out to meet [the] Philistines to the war...


The Egyptian texts from the time of Rameses III (1198–1167 b.c.) mentions the Philistines, naming them as among the Sea peoples of the Mediterranean Sea. What appears to be the case is that the Israelites moved into Palestine slightly before the invasion of the Philistines. The Philistines made several moves along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to find an area suitable for them. They were rebuffed by the Egyptians, but they were able to chisel a portion of land out of Palestine for themselves along the sea. Robert Gordon: Since such a limited terrain was incapable of satisfying the territorial ambitions of both incoming groups, conflict was unavoidable. Footnote


1Samuel 4:1c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

chânah (ה ָנ ָח) [pronounced khaw-NAW]

to bivouac, to camp, to encamp in [or, against], to set up camp

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2583 BDB #333

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

Eben (ןבא) [pronounced EHB-ven]

stone and is transliterated Eben

proper masculine noun with the definite article (meaning that it is not a construct here)

Strong's #68 BDB #6

׳êzer (רזֵע) [pronounced ĢAY-zer]

help and is transliterated Ezer

proper masculine noun with the definite article

Strong’s #72 BDB #7

Together, these are transliterated either Ebenezer or Eben-ezer. The definite articles are ignored in the transliteration.

 

Translation: ...they camped beside Ebenezer... In the next portion of v. 1, we have the definite article followed by feminine singular noun ebven (ן ב א) [pronounced EHB-ven] is found over 250 times in the Old Testament and is consistently translated stone. Because of the definite article, this word would not be a construct. Then we have the definite article again followed by the masculine singular noun ׳êzer (ר ז ֵע) [pronounced ĢAY-zer], which means help. This gives us: ...and so they camped beside the stone the help... Since this cannot be a construct relationship (i.e., the stone of help), our other option is that this is a proper noun, which is what this appears to be, and it is transliterated either Ebenezer or Eben-ezer. This would give us: ...beside the Ebenezer... instead.


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The site of Ebenezer is only found in this passage. It is obviously near Aphek (mentioned below), probably to the east of it (as the Philistines occupied the land on the west and the Israelites occupied the land to the east). The Open Bible is more dogmatic about this and states that Ebenezer is 20 miles (32 km) west of Shiloh and that Aphek is about 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Ebenezer. Footnote Ebenezer was the site of two battles between Israel and the Philistines, both recorded here. The first battle is mentioned in vv. 1–2, and it is actually unclear whether it occurred in Ebenezer, Aphek or somewhere between. 4000 Israelites will die in this battle. The second battle in Ebenezer is found in vv. 10 and it appears as though the Philistines went to the Israelites in Ebenezer, as the Ark which they will capture is said to have been taken from Ebenezer to Ashdod (1Sam. 5:1). Some scholars, according to ZPEB, believe that the modern site of Ebenezer is Majdel Yaba, which is northeast of Jaffa. Footnote Now, we will hear the name Ebenezer again in 1Sam. 7:12 when the forces of Israel defeat the Philistines. Samuel takes a stone a sets it there, between Mizpah and Shen, as a memorial to the battle. Since Aphek, mentioned here, and Mizpah mentioned in 1Sam. 7:12, are about 25 miles apart, Footnote this would indicate that the two Ebenezer’s are different. Footnote One Ebenezer is a stone which is a memorial; and the other is the site of two battles, both of which saw the sound defeat of Israel. Although I would like them to represent the same place, it just does not seem reasonable without completely rethinking the locations of Aphek or Mizpah. Keil and Delitzsch suggest that Samuel named this camp many years after the battle in this chapter, Footnote in 1Sam. 7:12, but that would be illogical from the standpoint of location. Although Keil and Delitzsch often provide excellent insights to the understanding of various passages in the Word of God, they appear to be somewhat off their game so far in this chapter.


1Samuel 4:1d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

chânah (ה ָנ ָח) [pronounced khaw-NAW]

to bivouac, to camp, to encamp in [or, against], to set up camp

3rd person masculine plural, Qal perfect

Strong's #2583 BDB #333

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Ăphêq (קֵפֲא) [pronounced uh-FAYK]

to hold, to be strong; transliterated Aphek

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #663 BDB #67


Translation: ...while the Philistines camped in Aphek. We covered the Doctrine of Aphek back in Joshua 12:18, and came up with two or three different Aphek’s from Scripture (and another in the holy land outside of Scripture). This one would have been in the far west portion of Ephraim, next to the territory of Dan, which was controlled by the Philistines. It would make sense for the Philistines to continue to pressure the Israelites for more territory via more military action, and moving in this particular direction also makes perfect sense.


One of the discussions that we had in the introduction is, Is Israel under Philistine domination at this time? An answer to this question will help us to put together a time line. Throughout most of Israel’s early history, the Philistines occupied the Mediterranean coast of Palestine (the name Palestine, by the way, comes from Philistine). Early on, the Philistines moved into Dan and Dan went northward (Judges 18). In fact, almost all of Israel was marked by an inability to remove the pagan populations from their territory (Judges 1:21–36). So, in other words, even if some of the indigenous population of Palestine remained and occupied territory, this is not the same as that group ruling over Israel (ala Judges 2:11–23 3:13–14 4:1–3 6:1–7 etc.). So, my point in this is that the Philistines lived side-by-side the Israelites for hundreds of years. They were generally a thorn in the side of the Israelites throughout that time period. However, there was a specific time period, 40 years, during which the Philistines actually dominated Israel (Judges 13:1). When that domination ended is where theologians disagree. One theory (mine), is that it ended when Samson killed thousands of Philistine aristocrats and leaders in Gaza (Judges 16:21–30). Another reasonable theory is that their domination of Israel ended about 20 years into the judgeship of Samuel (1Sam. 7). It is clear that 1Sam. 7 marks an end to serious Philistine aggression against Israel, and it is possible that official ends the 40 years of domination (nowhere previously do we have any language which specifically marks the end of Philistine domination as we do for the other dominations). I bring all of this up because in this passage, the Philistines are in Aphek, which is past the former territory of Dan, which would certainly imply that the Philistines occupied the area of Dan. In 1Sam. 6, Israel will face down the Philistines in Beth-shemesh, which is also on the border of Dan, again, away from the Philistine coastline, which implies that the Philistines controlled the territory of Dan. However, so far, none of these points allow us to unequivocally conclude when the forty years of Philistine domination were completed.


To sum up, we have essentially two possible, but very similar scenarios: (1) The Philistines control a significant portion of Israel, although there are apparently a few Israelites still living in that portion of land (this would be the Mediterranean coastline and the former territory of Dan); and they, the Philistines, are looking to take control of more territory. Or, (2) The Philistines rule over a portion of Israel, meaning that they occupy and control territory which is simultaneously occupied by Israelites and that they collect some sort of tribute from Israel (think protection money). What the Philistines are doing is simply expanding both their territory and influence over Israel. There are several factors at play here, some practical and others psychological. As a population increases, it requires more resources and, therefore, more land. The Israelites had no negative appreciable affect on the population growth of the Philistines, so, as they increased in size, they required more land and resources. Secondly, you have the psychological drive of the leaders of the Philistines. People who go into public service often suffer from power lust. Their seemingly altruistic motives of making a difference really boils down to the fact that they want power and control. They may rationalize that with their power and control, they will make a difference, but it is often this power and control which are the true motivating factors. The population in general also looks to expand, and again, for the two similar motives. We might not be able to look at the United States now and grasp this—after all, we have no desire to take over any portion of Canada or Mexico. However, at our inception, with a relatively small population, we sought, mostly as a nation of individuals, to take and dominate the land which is now the United States. Point in fact is that we did not really need all of the territory which we took. Furthermore, we were not driven by politicians to take the land, but by our own lusts (generally, it was for land and wealth which the west promised). To see a more modern-day equivalent of this is to examine the very land of Palestine which we are studying now. If you examine the land of the middle east and that controlled by Arabic nations, you will note that the land occupied by Israel is a mere postage stamp by comparison. However, some groups of Arabs are up in arms over this extremely small Israeli-occupied area and will sacrifice their own lives to take a city block here and a few square miles there away from Israel. Now, much of that motivation is fueled by hatred, which is certainly another factor in our study of the ancient land of Palestine.


And so prepared Philistines to meet Israel and so permitted [or, forsook] the battle; and so was defeated Israel to faces of Philistines and so they struck in the army in the field about four thousand a man.

1Samuel

4:2

Then the Philistines prepared to meet Israel; and the battle spread [out]; and Israel was defeated before the Philistines; and they struck down from the army in the field about 4000 men.

The Philistines prepared themselves to meet Israel in battle. As the battle neared an end, Israel was soundly defeated by the Philistines, who had killed about 4000 from Israel’s army in the field.


First, what others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         And put their army in array against Israel. And when they had joined battle, Israel turned their backs to the Philistines: and there were slain in that fight, here and there in the fields, about four thousand men.

Masoretic Text                       And so prepared Philistines to meet Israel and so permitted [or, forsook] the battle; and so was defeated Israel to faces of Philistines and so they struck in the army in the field about four thousand a man.

Peshitta                                 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel; and when they fought, Israel was defeated before the Philistines; and there were about 4000 men slain on the battlefield.

Septuagint                             And the Philistines prepared to fight with Israel, and the battle was turned against them; and the men of Israel fell before the Philistines, and there were struck in the battle in the field four thousand men.

 

Significant differences:          The differences found here might be a result of an attempt to translate from the Hebrew into the Greek. In any case, the differences are not serious. The Latin is also very different, which suggests that there was probably a problem with making sense out of the Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

NAB                                       The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel. After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the battle field.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word™                         The Philistine organized their troops to meet Israel in battle. As the battle spread, [the Philistines defeated Israel and killed about 4,000 soldiers in the field]. [I included their translation of v. 3 here to complete the thought of v. 2].

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Philistines arrayed themselves against Israel; and when the battle was fought, Israel was routed by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the field of battle.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   And the Philistines set themselves in array to meet Israel, and <when the battle spread out> then Israel was struck down before the Philistines, —and there were slain of the army in the field about four thousand men.

NASB                                     And the Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield.

NRSV                                    The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battled was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle.

NKJV                                     Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field.

Young's Updated LT              ...and the Philistines set themselves in array to meet Israel, and the battle spread itself, and Israel is smitten [or, struck] before the Philistines, and they smite [strike] among the ranks in the field about four thousand men.


What is the gist of this verse? In the battle, the Philistines strike down about 4000 of the Israelites.


1Samuel 4:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

׳ârake (ַרָע) [pronounced ģaw-RAK']

to prepare, to organize, to set in order, to arrange in order, to set in a row

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6186 BDB #789

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

lâmed (ל) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qârâ (א ָר ָק) [pronounced kaw-RAW]

to encounter, to befall, to meet; to assemble [for the purpose of encountering God or exegeting His Word]; to come, to assemble

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #7122 & #7125 BDB #896

This is a homonym; the other qârâ means to call, to proclaim, to read, to assemble.

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: Then the Philistines prepared to meet Israel;... The idea is that they simply did not all run out to do battle with one another, but there was organization—at least on the part of the Philistines. They were professionals in the realm of the military and they organized their army to do battle against Israel.


1Samuel 4:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâţash (ש-טָנ) [pronounced naw-TASH]

to allow to; to leave [forsake], to let go of, to let alone in the sense of to disperse, to be spread out, to let run wild

3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #5203 BDB #643

Owen gives two different readings here: one reading is thiţţôsh (שֹ  ̣) [pronounced thiht-TOHSH], which I cannot find, and therefore cannot give any meaning to. The other is what you see above.

The 3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect of nâţash (ש-טָנ) [pronounced naw-TAHSH], means to leave, to forsake, to permit, and is consistently so rendered in Scripture. Gesenius offers the meaning to spread out, to disperse, primarily for this passage, and it does appear as though the Niphal stem means to spread out in some passages (e.g., Judges 15:9 2Sam. 5:18 Isa. 16:8). Gordon mentions the alternatives of clashed, fluctuated, deployed. Footnote Strong’s #5203 BDB #643. Taking in the subject, this would read: ...and so the battle would leave... or ...and so the battle would forsake... This is a problem, as such a translation makes little sense here. It appears as though we have a disputed meaning here, which results in even ancient translations having some disagreement at this point.

This particular Hebrew word, nâţash, is found in Zodhiates, and in the New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance (although alternate meaning of the word is also given in the Concordance—to spread). My resources do not indicate that there is an alternate reading (apart from that listed by Owen), but, at best, an alternate meaning. Both the NRSV and God’s Word™ simply tell us via footnotes that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. Translators recognize that something is wrong here, even if it is not an alternate reading. The NRSV, NKJV and REB tell us that the battle was joined (which does not make much sense either, and is the antithesis of the verb found here). Other translations go freestyle at this point, calling it a fierce struggle (e.g., the NAB and the NJB). I cannot find the corresponding Greek word in my Greek lexicons, and Brenton gives the rendering was turned against (and it is possible that the Greeks had the same problem that we do at this point). The simplest way out of this problem is to allow for the additional meaning of nâţash to spread out, a meaning which is very likely found in the Niphal, and just less often in the Qal. Footnote

All of this goes to explain why there might be some serious disagreement in the ancient translations at this point.

milechâmâh (הָמָח׃ל ̣מ) [pronounced mil-khaw-MAW]

battle, war

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4421 BDB #536


Translation: ...and the battle spread [out];... The Septuagint has that the battle was turned against them; Young, Owen, the NASB and God’s Word™ have the battle spreading (those three are fairly good company to be in, so I will go with that rendering, despite what we have in BDB). Although several translations insert the word when at this point, there is no when. ...and the battle spread... I am thinking that perhaps this was in contrast to the Philistines organizing themselves and setting themselves up in battle array. Once the war began, the disorganization and chaos of warfare increased.


1Samuel 4:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâgaph (ףַגָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHF]

to be struck down, to be smitten, to be hit

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong's #5062 BDB #619

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (םי̣נָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular); with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, they mean upon the face of, before, before the face of, in the presence of, in the sight of, in front of. When used with God, it can take on the more figurative meaning in the judgment of.

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: ...and Israel was defeated before the Philistines;... One of the discussions earlier in this chapter was, is Israel still under the tyranny of the Philistines? Although this verse would be a good place to set the record straight, God the Holy Spirit chose not to. We are not clear whether the Philistines rule over a small amount of Israel territory and are looking to expand their influence; we don’t know if Israel is under their tyranny and is now revolting against them; we don’t know if this is simply another skirmish between the two powers. It appears that Israel does have a reasonable amount of autonomy and there is no language indicating that this is a rebellion by Israel. My thinking is that these are two major powers who exist side-by-side who, each of whom would like to carve out more real estate for themselves. The Philistines appear to be the aggressors (which is more clear in the Greek than in the Hebrew).


1Samuel 4:2d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâkâh (ה ָכ ָנ) [pronounced naw-KAWH]

to smite, to assault, to hit, to strike, to strike [something or someone] down, to defeat

3rd person masculine plural, Hiphil imperfect

Strong #5221 BDB #645

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ma׳ărekeh (ה∵כ∵רֲע -מ) [pronounced mah-ģuh-reh-KEH]

row, rank, battle line; this is also translated armies

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4634 BDB #790

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

sâdeh (ה∵דָ) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, country, open field, open country

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

as, like, according to; about, approximately

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

arebâ׳âh (הָעָרַא) [pronounced ahre-baw-ĢAW]

four

feminine singular construct; numeral

Strong’s #702 BDB #916

ălâphîym (מי.פָלֲא) pronounced uh-law-FEEM]

thousands, families, [military] units

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35


Translation: ...and they struck down from the army in the field about 4000 men. We are generally uncertain about the word thousand in the Hebrew, and, in this case, it could refer to [military] units, Footnote meaning the casualties were much smaller. In the Septuagint, the Syriac and the Vulgate, it reads and there were struck; i.e., the word slain is in the passive voice. Now, even though there are some difficulties in the rendering of this verse, the final outcome is fairly easy to grasp. In their skirmish with the Philistines, Israel was soundly defeated.


And so come the people unto the camp and so said elders of Israel “For why struck us Yehowah the day to faces of Philistines? Let us bring unto us from Shiloh an Ark of Covenant of Yehowah and He will come in our midst and He will deliver us from a hand of our enemies.”

1Samuel

4:3

And the people came into the camp and the elders of Israel said, “Why did Yehowah strike us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah from Shiloh that He will come into our midst and deliver us from the hand of our enemies.”

When the people of Israel returned to their camp, their elders asked, “Why did Jehovah allow us to be defeated before the Philistines? Let’s bring the Ark of Jehovah from Shiloh, and therefore, God will have to join us in battle and He will then deliver us from the power of our enemies.”


First, what others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so come the people unto the camp and so said elders of Israel “For why struck us Yehowah the day to faces of Philistines? Let us bring unto us from Shiloh an Ark of Covenant of Yehowah and He will come in our midst and He will deliver us from a hand of our enemies.”

Septuagint                             And the people came to the camp, and the elders of Israel said, “Why had the Lord caused us to fail this day before the Philistines? Let us take the ark of our God out of Selom and let it proceed from the midst of us, and it will save us from the hand of our enemies.”

 

Significant differences:          The minor differences are noted in the different colored font. There is nothing which significantly alters our understanding at this point.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

The Message                         When the troops returned to camp, Israel's elders said, "Why has GOD given us such a beating today by the Philistines? Let's go to Shiloh and get the Chest of GOD's Covenant. It will accompany us and save us from the grip of our enemies."


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word™                         When the troops came back to the camp, the leaders of Israel asked, “Why has the Lord used the Philistines to defeat us today? Let’s get the ark of the Lord‘s promise from Shiloh so that he may be with us and save us from our enemies.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        When the [Israelite] troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us fetch the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh; thus He will be present among us and will deliver us from the hands of our enemies.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it [or, he] may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”

Owen's Translation                And when the troops came to the camp and said the elders of Israel, “Why has put us to rout Yahweh today before the Philistines? Let us bring unto us from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of Yahweh that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.

Young's Updated LT              And the people come in unto the camp, and the elders of Israel say, ‘Why has Jehovah smitten us today before the Philistines? We take unto us from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and it comes into our midst, and He will save us out of the hand of our enemies.’


What is the gist of this verse? The troops are upset that God has allowed them to be struck down before the Philistines. Then they come up with the idea of bringing the Ark of Jehovah into battle.


1Samuel 4:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

el (לא) [pronounced el]

unto, in, into, toward, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

machăneh (ה נ ֲח ַמ) [pronounced mah-khuh-NEH]

camp, encampment; an army camp; those who are camped [army, company, people]; the courts [of Jehovah]; the heavenly host

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4264 BDB #334


Translation: And the people came into the camp... Not all of Israel was destroyed. They were soundly defeated, but they still had an army remaining. They regroup in camp.


1Samuel 4:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

zâkên (ן ֵקָז) [pronounced zaw-KANE]

old, elderly, aged

masculine plural adjective used as a substantive; construct state

Strong’s #2205 BDB #278

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

Lâmed + mâh can be rendered why, for what reason, to what purpose, for what purpose, indicating an interrogatory sentence.

nâgaph (ףַגָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHF]

to strike, to strike down, to hit

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #5062 BDB #619

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

yôwm (םי) [pronounced yohm]

day; time; today (with a definite article)

masculine singular noun with a definite article

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (םי̣נָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular); with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, they mean upon the face of, before, before the face of, in the presence of, in the sight of, in front of. When used with God, it can take on the more figurative meaning in the judgment of.

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: ...and the elders of Israel said, “Why did Yehowah strike us today before the Philistines? Their question, which is not asked of God, but apparently amongst each other, is: “Why did Yehowah strike us today before the Philistines?” This is actually a question similar to what Israel has asked before. After they had defeated Jericho for their first step into the Land of Promise, Israel was then beaten by the inhabitants of a smaller city named Ai. No less a man than Joshua himself petitioned God, saying, “Alas, O Jehovah God, why did You bring this people over the Jordan, and then deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?” (Joshua 7:7a). On the plus side, the stricken Israelites don’t cry out, where is God? Instead, they ask, Why did You, O God, bring us to this side of the Jordan just to kill us? (which was a common refrain of gen x, the exodus generation). Footnote Why did God strike us? is the reasonable question that the Israelites should be asking themselves. They recognize that God is over all and in control, and that their loss relates to Him more than to anything else. The problem is, they do not pursue this question to its logical end, which would be that their relationship with God is messtup.


1Samuel 4:3c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

lâqach (חַקָל) [pronounced law-KAHKH]

to take, to take away, to take in marriage; to seize

1st person plural, Qal imperfect; with the voluntative hê

Strong’s #3947 BDB #542

el (לא) [pronounced el]

unto, in, into, toward, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

Shilôw (ל̣ש) [shi-LOH]

quiet, relaxed, prosperous; transliterated Shiloh

proper noun locale

Strong’s #7887 BDB #1017

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

berîyth (תי.ר) [pronounced bereeth]

pact, alliance, treaty, alliance, covenant

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #1285 BDB #136

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah from Shiloh... So, then, they don’t really answer this question, although it might be implied that they do, by deciding the problem is that there is no Ark of God with them. So they decide to bring the Ark into battle. Some of them no doubt knew a little of their history and recalled that Joshua brought the Ark into battle against Jericho. However, what they fail to realize is, this was at the guidance of Jehovah Elohim.


1Samuel 4:3d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

qereb (ברק) [pronounced KEH-rebv]

midst, inward part

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #7130 BDB #899

With the bêyth preposition, it means in the midst of, among, into the midst of (after a verb of motion).


Translation: ...that He will come into our midst... Their reasoning comes next: they will bring the Ark into battle, because this will cause God to go into battle with them. Now, do you see a problem here? God is not confined to the Ark. They did not lose because the Ark is kept in the Tabernacle. They lost because God was not with them, or God wanted many of them to die in battle. Bringing the Ark into battle will not change that fact.


1Samuel 4:3e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

yâsha׳ (עַשָי) [pronounced yaw-SHAHĢ]

to deliver, to save; to set free, to preserve; to aid, to give relief

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong’s #3467 BDB #446

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

kaph (ףַ) [pronounced kaf]

palm, hollow or flat of the hand, sole of the foot; bowl, spoon

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #3709 BDB #496

âyab (בַי ָא) [pronounced aw-YABV]

enemy, the one being at enmity with you; enmity, hostility

masculine plural, Qal active participle with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong’s #340 BDB #33


Translation: ...and deliver us from the hand of our enemies.” It is unclear whether the verb’s subject is Ark or Yehowah. However, they are closely associated, so that they would be considered a package deal. That is, if the Ark is with them, Yehowah would be with them as well.


No doubt that the person who suggested bringing the Ark either quoted Scripture or told a familiar Bible story which involved the Ark of God. Now, this idea to bring the Ark reveals is an imperfect knowledge of what happened in the past. Perhaps one of the elders got this really holy look on his face and suggested that Joshua brought the Ark to the battle of Jericho (which is true—Joshua 6:6–21). However, Joshua didn’t bring the Ark to every battle against every city. In fact, Joshua was not even the one who made the decision to bring the Ark with the troops of Israel when they marched around the city of Jericho. It was God, and not Joshua, who determined that would be done in Israel’s attack against Jericho (Joshua 6:1–5).


Right after Israel destroyed the city of Jericho, they went up against a smaller city, Ai, and this time, Israel was soundly defeated (Joshua 7:1–15). Did they go fetch the Ark of God and regroup against Ai? Absolutely not. There were two things which were done by Israel to defeat Ai: (1) they dealt with the sin of Achan, who kept some items taken out from Jericho which should have been completely sacrificed to God (Joshua 7:16–26); and, (2) the army of Israel employed strategy and tactics (Joshua 8). The Ark of Jehovah was not a good luck charm which they took to Ai.


You may wonder by what means did these men of Israel take the Ark. First of all, the leadership of Tent of God was iffy. Eli was old and blind and certainly retired. It is unclear how old Samuel was; his authority, although God-granted, was not respected and would not be respected until 1Sam. 7:3, 21 years from this time (the end of 1Sam. 3 notwithstanding, as that gives an overview of his ministry—not an indication of how the people of Israel felt right then and there). Phinehas and Hophni had both acted as head priests prior to this and although it was not their idea to get the Ark, they certainly would have consented to it. I doubt that they really concerned themselves about the Ark. The BBQ was outside, and that was their primary concern.


Maybe an elder quoted Num. 10:34–35: And the cloud of Jehovah was over them by day, when they set out from the camp. Then it was, when the ark was set out, that Moses said, “Rise up, O Jehovah, and let Your enemies be scattered; and let those who hate You flee from You.” Some of the worst suggestions you will ever hear will be preceded by the quotation of a verse or two. Something like this would sound holy and godly, even though it does not pertain at all to the situation in which Israel now finds herself. With respect to the quotation, was Israel going to war against anyone in specific at that time? No. They were simply marching toward the Land of Promise at the time of Num. 10. In fact, almost immediately after Moses’ stirring call to God in Num. 10, the spies bring back a report about the people of the Land of Canaan and how big they are. Then Israel went into a whining fit and refused to go to war against the peoples of Canaan. When they did have a change of heart and went to fight the Amalekites and the Canaanites, they were soundly defeated (Num. 14). Now, even though they did not take the Ark into battle with them that time, Moses didn’t send them back a second time with the Ark (Num. 14:44–45).


My point in these two mentions of the Ark was that, any of the elders could have stood up and quoted Scripture out of context, conveying only half the information. They could have said that Joshua brought the Ark into battle against Jericho; that Moses put the Ark before them as they marched to the Land of Canaan. However, that would have only been a portion of the story. Note that I gave you the entire context, which shows that bringing the Ark into battle did not guarantee victory. Note what the elders of Israel did not do. They did not consult God; they did not inquire of Urim and Thummim by the High Priest. They did not go to Samuel or to Eli to ask them for their opinions. It was simply that they needed the Ark of God as a good luck charm, and that it would automatically pull God into the battle. Zodhiates makes essentially the same comment: The Israelites were treating the ark as a kind of magic charm instead of the testimony of God’s power and presence. There mere presence of the ark would not bring victory in the battle. Footnote Again, we have discussed Israel’s initial defeat by the city of Ai, and that Israel did not bring the Ark of God into battle against the people of Ai in order to reverse their defeat. You might even wonder, why didn’t this work? If you went to war and held up a Bible in front of you, it would not deflect bullets, would it? The presence of the Ark is not going to guarantee victory.

 

McGee: My friend, this reveals the superstition and paganism of these people who thought there was some merit in the object. The merit was not in that box because God was not in that box. You cannot get God into a box! The merit was in the presence and person of God. In church work today many people, even in our good churches, are equally as superstitious. They think that God, as it were, is in a box. They say, “Look at this method. It is a nice little package deal. It is success in a box. This method will solve our problem.” So many people are moving in that direction today. My friend, that is not being spiritual. That is being superstitious. The merit is in Christ. Success is determined by whether or not we are with Him. That is all important. Footnote


You must also have an insight as to how the Philistines viewed this. Some pagan groups viewed their wars ultimately as wars between their gods and the gods of their opposition. The Philistines themselves understood and feared the strength of the God of Israel, which will come out later in this chapter. However, in this battle with Israel, there was nothing to indicate that the God of Israel was with them. When Israel chose to get the Ark, their thinking was reduced to the level of the Philistines. They saw it as a war between their respective Deities as well. The pagan notion was that the religious symbol or idol was directly connected to their god. You bring the idol, you have the god; you forget the idol, and the god of that idol isn’t coming either. The NIV Study Bible puts it this way: [Israel’s choice to bring the Ark into battle reflected the pagan notion that the deity is identified with the symbol of his presence, and that God’s favor could automatically be gained by manipulating the symbol. Footnote In case you don’t recognize what the Israelites are doing here, they are being idolaters. The Ark of God represents God and it teaches salvation, but the Ark cannot be used to manipulate God or to invoke His power or presence. Now let me give you the even darker interpretation: taking the Ark into battle was like holding God hostage. Whatever considerations should have been taken were unnecessary because they had the Ark of God. God had to follow them into battle and deliver them. He did not have a choice because they had His Ark. By their thinking, God could not allow their defeat with His Ark and He could not allow anything to happen to His Ark. They took the Ark hostage, and now God would have to do their bidding. They were wrong.


This bypasses the idea of personal responsibility and their relationship with God. Israel was not going to win every battle because their God was the God of the Universe. Their thinking and their responsibilities toward God were a part of their existence as a nation and this relationship impacted the very wars in which they were engaged. How do I explain this? There was no contest between the God of Israel and the gods of the Philistines. That was not the issue. The problem was the soul of Israel and Israel’s relationship with God. If Israel were right with God, everything else would fall into place. If Israel was not right with God, all manner of problems could occur. So the war here is not one between God and gods, but between Israel and herself.


Practical application: Now, as I go through this, you often think to yourself, well, this borders on almost being fascinating, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with me. And you would be wrong. There are several applications. First, do you wear a cross? Do you have a cross hanging from your rearview mirror or a statue of Mary on your car dashboard? What do these represent to you? Do you think that it is less likely that you will be in an accident with these paraphernalia scattered about your car? That is idolatry. Do you think your cross will ward off evil? That is idolatry. Do you think that these items will bring God closer to you or invoke the spirit of Mary somehow to ride shotgun? That is idolatry. Now, let’s say you take the statue of Mary down, and then you get into a car wreck, does that mean that I was wrong and you were right? Hell, no! It means that I am still right and you are an idiot. God’s Word is what stands, and this is part of what this passage teaches us. It does not matter what happens in your day-to-day experience (and you should never supplant spiritual truth with that which you perceive from experiences in your daily life—that is what makes you a fool). Footnote


Practical application: Secondly, you don’t win every battle in this life. There are some you lose because God chooses for things to be that way and there are some you lose because of your spiritual state of being. Being a child of God does not mean that you go through this life without pain and suffering and defeat. Being a child of God who is right spiritually means that you can face this pain, suffering and defeat with enough internal fortitude to be able to deal with it and the outcomes, right or wrong, good or bad. Israel will lose their next battle just as they lost this one because of their spiritual state. Bringing the Ark, if anything, incensed God.


Let me go off on another tangent, now that I am here: I recall when I was first saved—I figured that no matter what decision I made, things would just turn out okay because I was a new believer and God was taking care of things. Now, God was able to take all of the decisions which I made, good and bad, and make them turn out for good; just as my parents could take my good and bad decisions and teach me from those decisions what is right and what is wrong. However, it would have been a hell of a lot easier to make the good and right decisions from the get go.


Practical application: Now, the third spiritual point which can learn from the application of this passage is this: You cannot simply pick some experience recorded in Scripture and copy it, thinking that is God’s plan of action for you. What they did is, some of these men knew that the Ark had been used at a previous battle, so they decided to copy that. They took something which was legitimate and right and misapplied it to their own situation. Let me give you a common place where this is done: in holy roller churches. They notice that Jesus and the Apostles healed and also that the Apostles went out and spoke in tongues (actually, in foreign languages which they did not know); and they decide to copy these actions. Now, what they do is a rather lame copy. If you have ever seen holy rollers heal, you can immediately recognize that it bears little resemblance to the healings of Jesus. You have men striking or appearing to strike members of their congregation in the head, and those people will fall to the ground, having been struck by the spirit. Finding legitimate healings is nigh impossible. Much of what we find in the gospels are miraculous healings (although, it is very likely that not all of them are). We have cripples who walk, people who are insane cured, and we even see the dead rise. Not one time does Jesus blame a person He heals for not having enough faith.


Another place where these holy rollers develop a lame counterfeit to what we find in Scripture is speaking in tongues. There is one passage, and one passage only, which can be mistakenly understood to indicate that people speak with the tongues of angels. And so, instead of a few members of the congregation speaking in foreign languages to evangelize the unbelievers, as the Apostles did, you have most of the congregation speaking in a holy ghost language, a language of angels; which is just flat out emotional gibberish. Again, this bears little resemblance to the Apostles speaking the languages of the hearers on the day of Pentecost, evangelizing them in their native tongue. My point in all of this is, you do not pick some experience or some incident recorded in the Bible and copy it. That is not how we are supposed to conduct our lives.


Practical application: Many times a believer will suggest a course of action for a congregation, for a marriage, for himself and at least one other believer, and he will sound holy and he will mention things like God, covenant, Holy Spirit, and he might even quote some Scripture. The end result, is he will convince those around him to pursue some bogus course of action. Similar people convince others of some bogus doctrine of Scripture by saying a few holy words and quoting some Scripture. If anyone had any spiritual discernment, they would have stood up and said, “You can’t simply haul the Ark of the Covenant into battle as some sort of a good luck charm. God did not guarantee us that whenever the Ark was taken into battle that He would defeat the enemy. We were just soundly defeated and we need to determine why before we go back into battle against the Philistines.” You learn Scripture in order to be discerning. All sorts of believers and unbelievers twist Scripture into meaning something that it does not. Peter, when speaking of Paul’s letters, as an aside said that what Paul wrote was often hard to understand, and then Peter adds, which the untaught and the unstable distort, as they do with the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16). So, will Scripture be distorted? Obviously. Will it be distorted by seemingly godly men? Obviously. How do you keep from being taken in? By knowing God’s Word. Believers are often taken down some wrong path—this is Satan’s joy. He loves to quote Scripture, he loves to take believers in, and he loves to place us in compromising positions and in the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. My point is, this passage has everything in the world to do with you. The people of Israel are being taken in by their elders, who know just enough doctrine to be dangerous. The best advice that I ever received as a believer early on was to do nothing and take in Bible doctrine. You might, as a young believer, have all kinds of enthusiasm, and that is great. Channel that enthusiasm into learning the Word of God. Don’t think, one month or six months after salvation that you are going to go out and do all these great things for God. You are barely a spiritual baby. Two and three year old children have all kinds of energy and enthusiasm. Do we then send them out to set up great business corporations to support their family? Certainly not. Paul tells us that, in spiritual youth, do not attempt to make any great decision (II Cor. 7:17–27). Footnote The key is fairly simple: upon your salvation, God will place before you a number of decisions to be made, each often increasing in its requirement of spiritual discernment. If you take in God’s Word and apply God’s Word, you will make the proper decisions. But do not go out there looking to make decisions that God has not placed before you. So, our Scriptural illustration: Israel has just been defeated in battle by the Philistines. What should they do? They should inquire of God what the problem is; through Samuel, if they can’t figure it out themselves. They are not to head on over to Shiloh to snatch up the Ark as though it is their secret weapon, and go back into battle against the Philistines. Now, we have every reason to expect that the men who place their hands on the Ark will die. However, that does not happen. And, there is a reason for that. We do not know the mode of transportation for the Ark, and it is even possible that they properly transported it. In any case, there were no resultant casualties from the moving of the Ark. However, just keep in the back of your mind that God allowed the transporting the Ark without incident for a reason.


Let me make another point: I teach each passage of the Bible in order, in its context, with as accurate of translation as I can come up with. When Scripture is taught using ICE principles, Footnote it is much more difficult to twist Scripture out of its context. No one, with a complete understanding of Num. 10:33–36 or Joshua 6:1–6 would ever suggest to bring the Ark of God into battle as a solution.


Now, allow me another tangent: your pastor is supposed to teach you the entire body of Scripture. If you go to the same church for, say, 5 years, and he has not even exegeted two or three books in that time (or one long book), then he is not doing his job. As he teaches you Scripture, he should make application, as I have done here. You wouldn’t get this on your own. Even if you were in some Bible study group that meets every Tuesday or Friday night, you would never, ever gain the insights and information which I have provided for you in these first four chapters of the book of Samuel). Footnote You wouldn’t have necessarily seen, for instance, the application of this passage to your life. You might have read this passage three or four times in your program to read through the Bible once a year and still, as far as you are concerned, it is some battle between two peoples which occurred a long time ago. This passage is relevant to you and your life. It has application to you and your day-to-day decisions. Not only the victories, but the losses suffered by other believers teach us about our spiritual walk. It is your pastor who both teaches your Scripture, line by line, and then makes application of God’s Word to your life.


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Israel Is Defeated a Second Time Before the Philistines

And so sent the people [to] Shiloh and brought from there an Ark of a Covenant of Yehowah of Hosts, sitting, the cherubim; and there [were] a pair of sons of Eli with an Ark of a Covenant of God—Hophni and Phinehas.

1Samuel

4:4

And the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah of the Armies, [Who] is sitting [between] the Cherubim. With the Ark of the Covenant of God, were two of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

And the people sent a small envoy to Shiloh to bring to them the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah of the Armies, Who is enthroned between the Cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons, accompanied the Ark of the Covenant of God back to the camp.


First, the translations:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so sent the people [to] Shiloh and brought from there an Ark of a Covenant of Yehowah of Hosts, sitting, the cherubim; and there [were] a pair of sons of Eli with an Ark of a Covenant of God—Hophni and Phinehas.

Septuagint                             And the people sent to Selom, and they took there the ark of the Lord, Who dwells [between] the cherubs; and both the sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees, with the ark.

 

Significant differences:          This time, it is the Greek which appears to be lacking a few words. However, the differences between the texts are insignificant.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The army sent some soldiers to bring back the sacred chest from Shiloh, because the LORD All-Powerful has his throne on the winged creatures on top of the chest. As Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas,...

The Message                         So the army sent orders to Shiloh. They brought the Chest of the Covenant of GOD, the GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, the Cherubim-Enthroned-GOD. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, accompanied the Chest of the Covenant of God.

TEV                                       So they sent messengers to Shiloh and got the Covenant Box of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned above the winged creatures. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, came along with the Covenant Box.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        So the troops sent men to Shiloh; there Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were in charge of the Ark of the Covenant of God, and they brought down from there the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts Enthroned on the Cherubim.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   So the people sent to Shiloh, and carry from there the ark of the covenant of Yahweh of hosts, who inhabits [or, sits upon or, is enthroned in] the cherubim, —and ║there║ were the two sons of Eli with the ark of the covenant of God, namely, Hophni and Phinehas.

NASB                                     So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

NKJV                                     So the people sent to Shiloh, 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.

Young's Updated LT              And the people sent to Shiloh, and they take up there the ark of the covenant of Jehovah of Hosts, inhabiting the cherubs, and there are two sons of Eli, with the ark of the covenant of God, Hophni and Phinehas.


What is the gist of this verse? The elders apparently sent some of their men to Shiloh to pick up the Ark, and Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons, came along with the Ark.


1Samuel 4:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâlach (ח ַל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LAKH]

to send, to send for [forth, away], to dismiss, to deploy, to put forth, to stretch out

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

׳am (ם ַע) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

Shilôw (ל̣ש) [shi-LOH]

quiet, relaxed, prosperous; transliterated Shiloh

proper noun locale

Strong’s #7887 BDB #1017


Translation: And the people sent to Shiloh... The people refer back to the Israelites who had returned to camp defeated, along with the elders who were there. They apparently send a small but forceful delegation to Shiloh, where Eli and his sons were; and where the Ark was.


1Samuel 4:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâsâ (אָָנ) [pronounced naw-SAW]

to lift up, to bear, to carry

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #5375 (and #4984) BDB #669

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

shâm (ם ָש) [pronounced shawm]

there; at that time, then; therein, in that thing

adverb

Strong’s #8033 BDB #1027

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

berîyth (תי.ר) [pronounced bereeth]

pact, alliance, treaty, alliance, covenant

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #1285 BDB #136

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

tsebâôwth (תאָבצ) [pronounced tzeb-vaw-OHTH]

armies, wars

masculine plural noun, simply the plural of Strong’s #6635, but often used in titles

Strong’s #6635 BDB #838


Translation: ...and brought from there the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah of the Armies,... We are given very little by way of specifics. We do not know if there was a negotiation here between these soldiers and Eli’s sons; whether anyone stopped to ask Eli about this. We do not even know if the Bible was consulted with regards to the moving of the Ark. However, God allowed the Ark to be taken into the camp of the Israelites, and apparently without incident.


1Samuel 4:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâshab (בַשָי) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

to remain, to stay; to dwell, to live, to inhabit; to sit

masculine singular, Qal active participle

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

kerûwbîym (בר) [pronounced keroob-VEEM]

transliterated cherubim; it means angels

masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3742 (and #3743) BDB #500

Some believe that this refers to a particular group of angels. I lean toward the idea that this indicates that we are in an unseen conflict.

 

Translation: ...[Who] is sitting [between] the Cherubim. Then we have the Qal active participle of inhabiting, dwelling in, sitting upon. Now, I would like to associate with this verb the masculine plural of kerûwb (בר) [pronounced keroobv], which is transliterated cherub. When using this word, it is not clear whether we are referring to a classification of angels, or if this is simply a word which can be used instead of angel. On top of the Ark of the Covenant, we have two sculpted cherubim (the -im is plural in the Hebrew) facing one another (Ex. 25:18–21). My particular thoughts is that the purpose of such a reference is to remind us that we are in the midst of the angelic conflict and that the unseen angels play a real part in our lives. We examined the Cherubim back in Gen. 3:24.


Now, even though it is clear that the Cherubim are sitting upon the Ark of God, the Qal participle is not in the plural, but in the singular. Therefore, the nearest masculine singular noun belongs to this verb, which noun is Yehowah, which, therefore, requires us to insert some words: ...[the One] sitting [between] the cherubim... We can reasonably infer the One from the masculine singular Qal participle, but whereas we have two prepositions meaning between in Ex. 25:22, we have no preposition here. So, no matter how we take this, this portion of the verse appears to be missing something. If it is Yehowah Who is sitting between the Cherubim, it would seem that we would need a preposition to describe where He is sitting with respect to the Cherubim, as we have in Ex. 25:22 and Num. 7:89. If it is the Cherubim who are sitting upon the Ark, we would need a plural ending for the verb (and, point in fact, they stand upon the Ark). Now, I personally thought that I had this problem solved in suggesting that it was Young who conveys the most accurate sense where it refers to God inhabiting the Cherubim. Whereas, God does not inhabit or indwell the Cherubim, the elders of Israel were behaving as though He did. The problem with that approach is that we have the same verbiage in 2Sam. 6:2 (and Psalm 80:1 99:1), where David is fetching the Ark, and it is an occasion of joy and celebration. Therefore, in the English, it seems our only reasonable approach is to insert the prepositions between or above and assume that yâshab implies one of those.


We might do well to spend a little time with...

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark was symbolic of Jesus, the God-man, to come in the flesh. It was symbolic of His work and His death upon the cross. The Ark was a box made out of acacia wood and covered inside and out with a layer of gold. The wood represented the humanity of Jesus and the gold His deity. Inside the Ark was Aaron’s rod that budded, the Decalogue and the pot of manna. The pot of manna repress God’s provision for man; the Decalogue (i.e., the Ten Commandments) represents God’s perfect Law, which all men have transgressed; and Aaron’s rod that budded represents the resurrection. It was a dead branch from which spouted live growth. On top of the Ark were the two Cherubim who represent the Angelic conflict and, more specifically, the fact that angels observe us constantly. In between the angels is the mercy seat, which is our point of contact with God. God sent His Son to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins, and the mercy seat represents that provision. Footnote

What the Ark was not was a representation of God or an earthly manifestation of Him. God spoke to Moses from the mercy seat (Num. 7:89) because the Ark was God’s point of contact with man. Unlike an idol, which is the earthly thing that a god supposedly inhabits, the Ark represented the plan of God, the provision of God, the perfect character of God and His Son to come in the flesh. It was a shadow of the good things to come, just as the animal sacrifices and other offerings of the priests, the Sabbath day and the various Festivals were shadows of the good things to come (Col. 2:16–17 Heb. 8:1–5). The point in all of this is that the Ark of the Covenant was not some idol representing God, but it represented and therefore taught a number of doctrines which were all related to the character of God.


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1Samuel 4:4d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shâm (ם ָש) [pronounced shawm]

there; at that time, then; therein, in that thing

adverb

Strong’s #8033 BDB #1027

shenayim (ם̣י-נש) [pronounced sheNAH-yim]

two of, a pair of, a duo of

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #8147 BDB #1040

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750

׳îm (ם̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

berîyth (תי.ר) [pronounced bereeth]

pact, alliance, treaty, alliance, covenant

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #1285 BDB #136

Ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods, foreign gods, god; God; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

Châphenîy (י.נפָה) [pronounced chaff-NEE]

hollow of hand? and is transliterated Hophni

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #2652 BDB #342

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Phîynechâç (סָחני.) [pronounced pheene-KHOSS]

 which possibly means Negro in Egyptian, and is transliterated Phinehas

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #6372 BDB #810


Translation: With the Ark of the Covenant of God, were two of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Now, recall, from a couple chapters ago. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli. They disrespected God and His authority. Animal sacrifices were merely opportunities for them to add more meat to their diets. They had no concept or understanding of the Lord they served. In their own minds, Hophni and Phinehas had a good thing going. They worked very little and got all the barbeque they could eat. So, they did not want the Ark to fall into the wrong hands, so to speak. Therefore, they came along with the Ark of God. This is so indicative of the refrain in the book of Judges: In those days there was no king in Israel, so every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). Again, the details are sketchy. Although it is possible that Eli sent them with the Ark, it does not appear as though they would listen to Eli. Furthermore, Eli knows that his sons are going to die—sending them along with the Ark into battle might not be the sort of thing an overindulgent father would do.


One of the things which is left out is the confrontation between the army of Israel and these two hack priests is that these were large men, probably nearing 300 pounds, fairly rotund, and they were able to bully the average Israelite (1Sam. 2:16). However, here they faced a contingent from an army of rugged Israelites, which was a lot different from those they were used to bullying. So, on the one hand, you have these rough and tumble army veterans who don’t want to offend Jehovah God or those they perceive that work for Him; yet, they intend to take that Ark with them into battle no matter what. On the other hand, you have these two very rotund hack priests, who (1) recognize that no matter what they say or do, the Ark is going into battle; and, (2) these priests still need to protect their goose that lays the golden eggs. Now, I am certain that, because of manners, much of this was left unsaid. The army (or, actually, several representatives) show up, explaining how they were beaten in battle and how they need to take the Ark into battle to insure victory. Even though this may have been presented as a formal request, the answer no was not going to be accepted. This was patently clear to the two brothers, who therefore had to determine how to go along with the request and protect their Ark.


And he was as a coming of an Ark of a Covenant of Yehowah unto the camp and so they shouted all of Israel a shout great and so stirred up the earth.

1Samuel

4:5

And it was when the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah came into the camp that all Israel shouted a mighty shout, and the earth was stirred.

Then, when the Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah came into the camp, all of Israel shouted this tremendous shout which shook the earth.


First, what others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And he was as a coming of an Ark of a Covenant of Yehowah unto the camp and so they shouted all of Israel a shout great and so stirred up the earth.

Septuagint                             And it came to pass when the ark of the Lord entered into the camp, that all Israel cried out with a loud voice, and the earth resounded.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       ...[Hophni and Phinehas] brought the chest into camp, the army cheered so loudly that the ground shook.

The Message                         When the Chest of the Covenant of GOD was brought into camp, everyone gave a huge cheer. The shouts were like thunderclaps shaking the very ground.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word™                         When the Lord‘s ark came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth rang with echoes.

JPS (Tanakh)                        When the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord entered the camp, all Israel burst into a great shout, so that the earth resounded.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And it happened as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, that all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded.

Young's Updated LT              And it came to pass, at the coming in of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah unto the camp, that all Israel shouted—a great shout—and the earth is moved.


What is the gist of this verse? When the Ark entered into the camp of the army of Israel, the Israelites shouted so loudly, that the earth was moved (this is an expression, by the way—don’t take it as being literal).


1Samuel 4:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

as, like, according to; about, approximately

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

berîyth (תי.ר) [pronounced bereeth]

pact, alliance, treaty, alliance, covenant

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #1285 BDB #136

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

el (לא) [pronounced el]

unto, in, into, toward, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

machăneh (ה נ ֲח ַמ) [pronounced mah-khuh-NEH]

camp, encampment; an army camp; those who are camped [army, company, people]; the courts [of Jehovah]; the heavenly host

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4264 BDB #334


Translation: And it was when the Ark of the Covenant of Yehowah came into the camp... Why have I inserted the definite articles, yet they are not found in the Hebrew? Constructs simply do not have definite articles in the Hebrew.


The first thing they should have done was notice that with the Ark came Hophni and Phinehas, and those two should have been sent packing. However, there is no indication that the army or the elders of the army knew what they were doing any more than Hophni and Phinehas. The two brothers used their position to gorge themselves and the army was using the Ark in order to defeat the Philistines. There was nothing of spiritual dynamics here.


You may ask, where is Samuel in all of this? Samuel is still quite young, even though 1Sam. 4 may not follow the events of 1Sam. 3:1–18 immediately, there is nothing to indicate that they occurred after Samuel was firmly established as a prophet of God (1Sam. 3:19–4:1a). Those final verses are a summary, and not meant to be taken as the chronological order of things—that is, we do not have God calling Samuel, followed Samuel growing spiritually and being recognized by all Israel, followed by this war against the Philistines. Hebrew Scripture, for the most part, is very topical; therefore, what we have in 1Sam. 3:1–4:1a is a topical unit, beginning with God calling Samuel, and ending with a summary of Samuel’s ministry. When we examine the movement of the Ark and this battle with the Philistines, that is a new topic which reasonably occurs before the summary verses of 1Sam. 3. Therefore, Samuel, not being yet recognized as a prophet from God, but probably still being a teen, had no authority to do anything. It is unlikely that anyone consulted him about the taking of the Ark; and it is very possible that no one even consulted Eli about the taking of the Ark. Very likely, this was an executive decision made by the elders at war and Eli’s two sons.


1Samuel 4:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

rûwa׳ ( ַער) [pronounced roo-AHĢ]

to shout, to raise a shout, to cry out, to give a blast, are caused to shout

3rd person plural, Hiphil perfect

Strong’s #7321 BDB #929

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

every, each, all of, all; any of

masculine singular construct not followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

terûw׳âh (הָער ׃) [pronounced t'rū-AWH]

a shout, a cry; a tumult, a loud noise; a joyful noise, rejoicing; a war cry, a cry for battle; the blast [of war, alarm or joy]

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8643 BDB #929

gâdal (ל ַד ָ) [pronounced gaw-DAHL

to be [become] great; to grow; to be greatly valued [celebrated, praised]; to twist together, to bind together

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #1431 BDB #152.


Translation: ...that all Israel shouted a mighty shout,... What they shouted was a great shout. Their trust was not in God but in this religious artifact, which is quite a different thing. This religious artifact represented God; however, realize what came with it: Hophni and Phinehas. They represent unbelieving religion; they are the leaven in the faith; they are the distortion of that which is true and right. The fact that they came along, despite what is know about them in all of Israel, indicates that the people of Israel were willing to compromise the truth of God.


Secondly, bringing the Ark into battle does not insure victory in any way. There is nothing in the Law which states, “When you find your wars against the heathen not going so well, then go fetch the Ark of God to lead you into battle.” What we do have is one historical incident of the Ark being taken into battle by Joshua at God’s request. God made it clear that He was at war with the gods of the indigenous heathen of the Land of Promise. That is, from the earliest beginnings of Israel, God made it clear that He was against and at war with religion. Now, for the 1% who misapply everything they hear: this does not mean that you go out and burn down the nearest Mosque. Do not mix up the dispensation of Israel (where Israel was a theocracy) with the dispensation of the Church (where no national entity is a theocracy). Israel had specific commands to remove the religious heathen from the Land of Promise; we of the Church Age, on the other hand, have not received any such command, specifically stated or implied.


Application: Do not find some miscellaneous passage in the Old or New Testament where we find an historical narrative and copy what is done there. We are not supposed to copy each and every action which we find in Scripture—there is no call for us to do so at any time. Paul, Peter and John give us the doctrines which we should follow; the principles that we should learn—the epistles tell us what should and should not be done. Never go to any historical narrative, including the gospels and the book of Acts, and set out to copy what you read there. Some actions which we find are valid, some are not. Some apply to a very specific place in time; some actions have a wider application. Some actions are only valid for the pre-canon period of the Church Age. What I hope is obvious is, when Jesus came to this earth, He did things which were absolutely incredible—He healed all who came to Him; He never complained that someone did not have enough faith to be healed. This drew man’s attention to Jesus as God’s Son. Please have enough sense to realize that, God has not called any of us to duplicate Christ’s miracles—God does not think it necessary for huge groups of people to remark, “Hey, check out Charlie Brown—if you go to him with any disease, he will heal you.” God is not in the business of glorifying man. God focuses our attention on Jesus.


1Samuel 4:5c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hûwm (םה) [pronounced hoom]

to be disturbed, to be in commotion; to be throw into chaos, to be discomfited

3rd person feminine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong’s #1949 BDB #223

erets (ץ ר א) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #776 BDB #75


Translation: ...and the earth was stirred. Then we have the wâw consecutive followed by the 3rd person feminine singular, Niphal imperfect of to murmur, to roar, to throw into chaos, to discomfit, to cause a stir, to cause a disturbance. What receives the action of the verb is the earth (or, the land), giving us: ...a great shout so the earth was stirred up. All those of Israel were quite enthusiastic at the bringing of the Ark into the camp. This further illustrates that the men there viewed the Ark as equivalent to God coming into their camp; that is the essence of idolatry, pure and simple. When interpreting this, let us use a little sense. The earth did not swerve off of its axis; nor were people in India disturbed by the shouting of the Israelites. This simply means that the Israelite soldiers received the Ark of God with a resounding shout, which could be heard far outside their camp.


Here’s the deal: these soldiers, even though they had great confidence, it was essentially in an idol—they saw the Ark of God as being an unbeatable good luck charm. They were making decisions based upon practically no doctrine at all; they were making decisions based upon copying an incident which occurred several hundred years previous, an incident which they did not understand or properly interpret. As a believer, you cannot just make any willy nilly decision and expect everything to be okay (and I am assuming that these men are believers, which they may or may not be).


Application: When I first believed in Christ Jesus, I foolishly thought that I could do whatever seemed right, and God would work things out. Now, certainly, it is true that God works all things together for good.  No matter how much we screw up our lives, if we are still alive, then God still has a plan for us and He can straighten everything out. However, this does not mean that we should make whatever decisions that we feel like making (and I am not even talking about sin here). Paul emphatically tells us that at salvation, we should not endeavor to change our status in any major way. If we are single, we stay single; if we are married, we stay married; if we are slaves, we remain slaves (that is, don’t suddenly change jobs from the CEO of a major company to running a Christian book store). You will be faced with hundreds of decisions immediately after salvation, and Paul tells us to avoid major changes (I Cor. 7:10–29). The implication is that you will spiritually grow and then be able to make the proper and correct decisions. I, knowing very little at the beginning of my spiritual life (like everyone), made a lot of major decisions which I should have put off until I was ready to make these decisions. The results were pretty disastrous. These Israelites are just jumping into this battle without any spiritual foresight. They do not inquire the will of God; they look for no spiritual direction; they grab the Ark and go into battle. At salvation, you do not grab the flag and run into battle. You cool your heels; you grow; you learn the spiritual side of life, and make decisions based upon God’s Word.


And so heard Philistines a sound of the shout and so they said, “What sound the shout the this great in a camp of the Hebrews.” And so they knew that an Ark of Yehowah had come unto the camp.

1Samuel

4:6

Then the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, and they said, “What [is] this noise of this great shouting from the camp of the Hebrews?” They knew that the Ark of Yehowah had come into the camp.

This shout was heard as far away as the camp of the Philistines, and they asked one another, “What is the reason for the shouting in the Israelite camp?” They knew that the Ark of Jehovah had come into the camp.


What others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so heard Philistines a sound of the shout and so they said, “What sound the shout the this great in a camp of the Hebrews.” And so they knew that an Ark of Yehowah had come unto the camp.

Septuagint                             And the Philistines heard the cry, and the Philistines said, “What [is] this great cry in the camp of the Hebrews?” And they understood that the Ark of the Lord was come into the camp.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       The Philistines heard the noise and said, "What are those Hebrews shouting about?" When the Philistines learned that the sacred chest had been brought into the camp.

The Message                         The Philistines heard the shouting and wondered what on earth was going on: "What's all this shouting among the Hebrews?" Then they learned that the Chest of GOD had entered the Hebrew camp.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Philistines heard the noise of the shouting and they wondered, “Why is there such a loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews?” And when they learned that the Ark of the had come to the camp,...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, "What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp,.

NASB                                     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?” Then they understood that the ark of the had come into the camp.

Young's Updated LT              And the Philistines hear the noise of the shouting, and say, ‘What is the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews?’ and they perceive that the ark of Jehovah has come in unto the camp.


What is the gist of this verse? The Philistines hear the shout made by the army of Israel and understand that the Ark of God was brought into their camp.


1Samuel 4:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâma׳ (ע ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

to listen [intently], to hear, to listen and obey, [or, and act upon, give heed to, take note of], to hearken to, to be attentive to, to listen and be cognizant of

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

terûw׳âh (הָער ׃) [pronounced t'rū-AWH]

a shout, a cry; a tumult, a loud noise; a joyful noise, rejoicing; a war cry, a cry for battle; the blast [of war, alarm or joy]

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #8643 BDB #929


Translation: Then the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting,... The two camps of the two armies are near enough to one another that when the Ark of God comes into the camp of Israel and Israel cries out in relief, the noise is loud enough to be heard by the Philistines.


1Samuel 4:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

terûw׳âh (הָער ׃) [pronounced t'rū-AWH]

a shout, a cry; a tumult, a loud noise; a joyful noise, rejoicing; a war cry, a cry for battle; the blast [of war, alarm or joy]

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #8643 BDB #929

gâdôwl (לד ָ) [pronounced gaw-DOHL]

large, great or mighty [in power, nobility, wealth; in number, or magnitude and extent], loud, older, important, distinguished; vast, unyielding, immutable, significant, astonishing

feminine singular adjective with a definite article

Strong’s #1419 BDB #152

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

machăneh (ה נ ֲח ַמ) [pronounced mah-khuh-NEH]

camp, encampment; an army camp; those who are camped [army, company, people]; the courts [of Jehovah]; the heavenly host

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #4264 BDB #334

׳Iberîym (םי .רב̣ע) [pronounced ģibe-VREEM]

those from beyond; transliterated Hebrews, Eberites

proper masculine plural gentis/noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5680 BDB #720


Translation: ...and they said, “What [is] this noise of this great shouting from the camp of the Hebrews?” Or, “What [does] the sound of this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews [mean]?” The Philistines had just soundly defeated the Israelites in battle, killing 4000 of them; and suddenly, from the camp of the Israelites is this incredibly loud, passionate shout. The Israelites had nothing to shout about, insofar as the Philistines were concerned. They expected Israel to surrender or to sneak away or to run off; but they did not expect any shouting from their camp.

 

The word Hebrew is ׳iberîy (י.רב̣ע) [pronounced ģibe-VREE], which is poorly transliterated as Hebrew. This word, interestingly enough, is found most often in Genesis, Exodus, once in Deuteronomy, the book of 1Samuel; after this, we will find it thrice in Jeremiah and once in Jonah. We first find this mentioned back in Gen. 14:13 in reference to Abraham, at which time we discussed it in more detail in the Doctrine of the Name Hebrew.


1Samuel 4:6c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâda׳ (עַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to know, to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to become acquainted with, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something; to see

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

when, that, for, because, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

el (לא) [pronounced el]

unto, in, into, toward, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

machăneh (ה נ ֲח ַמ) [pronounced mah-khuh-NEH]

camp, encampment; an army camp; those who are camped [army, company, people]; the courts [of Jehovah]; the heavenly host

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4264 BDB #334


Translation: They knew that the Ark of Yehowah had come into the camp. We are not told how the Philistines knew this, although military intelligence is probably the method by which they came to know that the Israelites had brought the Ark into their camp.


Now, there are some unanswered questions here: why had the fighting stopped? Why did the Philistines not pursue the Israelite army and destroy them completely? There are a number of possibilities. The Philistines could have grown weary of fighting; they knew that they were going to win, so they allowed the Israelites to retreat. It is possible that such a move could have resulted in many Israelite soldiers deserting their army. There is no rule of war that states, when one side is winning that they will continue fighting until they have destroyed their enemies. Therefore, for whatever reason, the fighting between Israel and Philistia had be halted for a short time, and Israel managed to get the Ark during that respite.


There are two possible scenarios (and possibly more) which explain how the Philistines knew what had happened. They could have had spies watching over the camp of Israel, observing their activity, to best determine what to do next. Another possibility is, the Philistines heard the shouting, and then sent spies to try to figure out what had happened.


Personally, I would have placed the latter half of this verse with the next verse. And they knew that the Ark of God had come into the camp. Therefore, the Philistines were afraid, for they exclaimed, “Elohim has come into [their] camp.” They also said, “Woe to us, for our generation has not faced anything like this before.”


And so were afraid the Philistines for they had said, “Had come Elohim unto the camp”; and so they said, “Woe to us for there was not as this before.

1Samuel

4:7

Therefore, the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the [their] camp.” So they [the Hebrews] said, “Woe to us, for [there] was not like this before.

Therefore, the Philistines were afraid, and they said to one another, “God has come into their camp.” They also said, “This is severely distressing. Our generation has never faced anything like this before.”


The other translations:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so were afraid the Philistines for they had said, “Had come Elohim unto the camp”; and so they said, “Woe to us for there was not as this before.

Septuagint                             And the Philistines feared, and said, “These are the Gods that are come to them into the camp. [v. 8 continues with: Woe to us, O Lord, deliver us to–day for such a thing has not happened before].

 

Significant differences:          Although the Hebrew has an additional sentence, this additional sentence is found as part of v. 8 in the Greek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

NASB                                     And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.

NJB                                At this, the Philistines were afraid; for they said, ‘God has come into the camp. Disaster!’ they said. ‘For nothing like this has ever happened before...

REB                                       “A god has come into the camp,’ they cried. ‘We are lost! No such thing has ever happened before...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word™                         Then they were frightened and said, “A god has come into [their] camp.” They also said, “Oh no! Nothing like this has ever happened before...

JPS (Tanakh)                        And when they learned that the Ark of the had come to the camp, the Philistines were frightened; for they said, “God has come to the camp.” And they cried, “Woe to us! Nothing like this has every happened before. [I obviously included part of the previous verse with this one, which makes more sense. The JPS translators recognized this as well]


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

ESV                                       ...the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "A god has come into the camp." And they said, "Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.

Young's Updated LT              And the Philistines are afraid, for they said, ‘God has come in unto the camp;’ and they say, ‘Woe to us, for there has not been like this heretofore.


What is the gist of this verse? The Philistines were concerned because they heard the Hebrews say, “God has come into our camp.” They Philistines were very upset, because they had not faced the God of Israel before.


1Samuel 4:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yârê (א ֵר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAY]

to fear, to fear-respect, to reverence, to have a reverential respect

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3372 BDB #431

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun); with the definite article

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: Therefore, the Philistines were afraid,... In this verse, we have the Qal imperfect of to fear, to fear-respect, to reverence, to have a reverential respect. The subject of the verb is the Philistines. Context guides us as to its exact meaning. Here, it should be clear that the Philistines truly have a fear and perhaps a great respect for the God of the Hebrews, even though what God did on their behalf occurred four centuries previous. That is, it was well-known to the Philistines what God did with Israel—i.e., taking Israel out of Egypt and bringing them into the Land of Promise.


1Samuel 4:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

when, that, for, because, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

Ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods, foreign gods, god; God; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

machăneh (ה נ ֲח ַמ) [pronounced mah-khuh-NEH]

camp, encampment; an army camp; those who are camped [army, company, people]; the courts [of Jehovah]; the heavenly host

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4264 BDB #334


Translation: ...for they [the Hebrews] had said, “God has come into the [their] camp.” Then we have for they said, giving us: And the Philistines were afraid, for they [the Hebrews] said...


Now, I should stop here and note that we are operating in the literary form known as 3rd person omniscience. That is, the author knows what is going on in both camps, even though he is not physically present at either. We do not know how this is. It could be as intricate as a prisoner of war observing this (which is highly unlikely); it could be information conveyed by the Philistines during the next battle or afterwards, which also seems convoluted. It is possible that a man of God wrote this and this information was a part of his inspiration; and it is even more reasonable that Israel had spies as well, and this information was brought back to the camp of Israel that very night. All of the information of this war would be brought back by Israelite soldiers. Personally, given that we have so much information about what happened with the Ark of God in Philistia (in upcoming chapters), my guess is, at least one Philistine was converted and he came over to Israel, after observing what he observed. It would be reasonable to suppose that this is a very high-ranking soldier in the Philistine army. I believe that I have also suggested that some Philistine (possibly even the King of Gath) became so well-acquainted with these events that he told David of these things when David lived in Gath (which would not require a Philistine soldier or citizen to defect).

 

Now, for the content of what the Philistines said (which will go on for this and the next two verses): we begin with the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect of to come; the reason that the masculine singular aspect of this verb is important, is that the verb itself is a masculine plural; ělôhîym Footnote (מי ̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM], which means gods or God. This word can refer to the Godhead or to foreign gods. Context indicates which is applicable; here the singular verb tells us that the Philistines knew enough about Israel’s God, to properly designate Him as ělôhîym , which is a plural noun, yet to understand that He acts with a singular purpose, and thus we have a singular verb.


In the Greek, the quote continues in the next verse, the latter half of this verse is missing altogether. I could not find another translation which left out that second line. Footnote


1Samuel 4:7c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ôwy (יא) [pronounced ohy]

woe! alas! oh! ôwy is onomatopoetic; it is a passionate cry of grief or despair

Interjection

Strong’s #188 BDB #17

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person plural suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: So they said, “Woe to us,... Then we have and so they said followed by the interjection ôwy (יא) [pronounced ohy], which means woe! It is onomatopoetic. It is an impassion expression of grief and desire, for which we have no modern-day equivalent (although I can picture a Shakespearean actor crying out, “Oh wretchedness, oh despair” such language would sound trite today). Today, the Jews use this same word, and you probably recognize it as oy; however, it conveys a lot less emotion. Prior to this, this word has only been found in Num. 21:29 24:23.


1Samuel 4:7d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

when, that, for, because, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

zôth (תאֹז) [pronounced zoth]

here, this, thus

feminine singular of zeh; demonstrative pronoun, adverb

Strong’s #2063 (& 2088, 2090) BDB #260

The kaph preposition and demonstrative feminine singular adjective zeh (ה ז) [pronounced zeh], which means here, this. According to BDB, together, they mean the like of this, as follows, things such as this, as this.

ethemûwl (למ ׃∵א) [pronounced ethe-MUHL]

 yesterday; and is used figuratively for recently, formerly

adverb

Strong’s #865 (and #8543) BDB #1069

shileshôwm (םש  ׃ל  ̣ש) [pronounced shil-SHOHM]

three days ago, the day before yesterday

adverb

Strong’s #8032 BDB #1026

Together, these two adverbs mean before, previously, afore time, hitherto, heretofore (see Gen. 31:2 2Kings 13:5).


Translation: ...for [there] was not like this before. The complete thought is: And they also said, “Woe to us, for [there] as not been [something] like this before.” This might be seen as a fulfillment to what Moses wrote hundreds of years before: “The peoples have heard and they tremble. Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.” (Ex. 15:14).


Now, other nations in other times have faced the Jews and their God Jehovah, but this generation of Philistines had never warred directly with the God of the Jews. They believed that if the Ark of God was with the Israelites, that Jehovah Elohim was also with the Israelites. If the Ark was not there, then the Israelites had not brought God into battle with them. This again is the mindset of idolatry. Some object is so closely associated with God as it is thought to be God. Our present day idolatry takes a different form entirely. Things are simply thought to be much more important than God are our idols today.


What the Philistines said is continued into the next verse:


Woe to us; Who can deliver us from a hand of the Elohim the Mighty, the these. These, they [are] the Elohim the Ones striking Egyptians in every strike in the desert wilderness.

1Samuel

4:8

Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these Mighty Gods (Elohim)? These [are] the gods (Elohim) [Who] were the ones striking [down] the Egyptians with every [kind of] beating in the desert wilderness.

Oh, hell! Who can deliver us from the hand of the Mighty God of Israel? This is the God Who decimated the Egyptians.


The Hebrew is kind of a mess in this verse, which might indicate great emotion on the part of the speaker:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Woe to us; Who can deliver us from a hand of the Elohim the Mighty, the these. These, they [are] the Elohim the Ones striking Egyptians in every strike in the desert wilderness.

Septuagint                             Woe to us, O Lord, deliver us to–day for such a thing has not happened before; woe to us, who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that smote Egypt with every plague, and in the wilderness.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences; the Greek and Hebrew simply separate vv. 7–8 differently.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

NJB                                Disaster! Who will rescue us from the clutches of this might7y God/ This was the God who struck down Egypt with every kind of misfortune in the desert.

REB                                       We are utterly lost! Who can deliver us from the power of this mighty god? This is the god who broke the Egyptians and crushed them in the wilderness.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word™                         “...We’re in trouble now! Who can save us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every kind of plague in the desert.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        Woe to us! Who will save us from the power of this mighty God? He is the same God who struck the Egyptians with every kind of plague in the wilderness!


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness.

Young's Updated LT              Woe to us, who will deliver us out of the hand of these Honourable gods? These are the gods who are smiting the Egyptians with every plague in the wilderness.


What is the gist of this verse? The Philistines are now extremely concerned, given that the God of Israel struck down Egypt with plagues.


1Samuel 4:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ôwy (יא) [pronounced ohy]

woe! alas! oh! ôwy is onomatopoetic; it is a passionate cry of grief or despair

Interjection

Strong’s #188 BDB #17

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person plural suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

mîy (י ̣מ) [pronounced mee]

who, whom; occasionally rendered how, in what way

pronominal interrogative

Strong’s #4310 BDB #566

nâtsal (ל ַצ ָנ) [pronounced naw-TSAHL]

to snatch away, to deliver, to rescue, to snatch out of danger, to preserve, to recover

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5337 BDB #664

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

yâd (דָי) [pronounced yawd]

generally translated hand

feminine singular construct

Strong's #3027 BDB #388

Ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods, foreign gods, god; God; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

addiyr (רי ̣ַא) [pronounced ahd-DEER]

majestic, powerful, magnificent, glorious

masculine plural adjective with the definite article

Strong’s #117 BDB #12

That’s the short version. According to Gesenius, this means ➊ large, very great, mighty (Psalm 93:4 Isa. 33:21); ➋ powerful when used of kings and kingdoms (1Sam. 4:8 Psalm 136:18 Ezek. 32:18); ➌ prince, leader, chief, noble (when used as a substantive); ➍ magnificent, illustrious, glorious (Psalm 8:2); and, ➎ noble (when applied in a moral sense, as in Psalm 16:3).

êlleh (ה  ֵא) [pronunced KEHLleh]

these, these things

demonstrative plural adjective with the definite article

Strong's #428 BDB #41


Translation: Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these Mighty Gods [Elohim]? Now, you may be confused, as we had Elohim in the previous verse, along with a singular verb; and now it shows up again in this verse, but with a plural verb. I just said that the Philistines understood, to some degree, the Trinity, and now here, with a plural verb, it appears as though they do not. Here is where we can be confident that the Hebrew text is superior to the Greek. The Hebrew text indicates that we have at least two different people speaking. One Philistine seems to understand that the God of Israel is spoken of in the plural, but acts singularly or with a singular purpose. Another Philistine may not be so steeped in theology, and simply recalls the mention of the Hebrew God, Yehowah Elohim, and recalls what happened in Egypt, and puts the two together, without showing a complete theological understanding of the events. This would not be unlikely. In fact, it would be very likely for those in the camp of the Philistines to have an imperfect knowledge of the God of Israel. It would be reasonable that they would have slightly different and imperfect understandings of the God of Israel. So, what we find here is not the general moaning of the camp, but more individuals discussing this matter, expressing their fear and apprehension as well.


1Samuel 4:8b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hêm (ם ֵה) [pronounced haym]

they, those; themselves; these [with the definite article]

3rd person masculine plural personal pronoun

Strong’s #1992 BDB #241

Ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods, foreign gods, god; God; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong's #430 BDB #43

nâkâh (ה ָכ ָנ) [pronounced naw-KAWH]

to smite, to assault, to hit, to strike, to strike [something or someone] down, to defeat

masculine plural Hiphil participle with the definite article

Strong #5221 BDB #645

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

Mitzerayim (ם̣י-רצ̣מ) [pronounced mits-RAH-yim]

Egypt, Egyptians

proper noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4714 BDB #595

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

every, each, all of, all; any of

masculine singular construct not followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

makkâh (ה ָ ַמ) [pronounced mahk-KAW]

a blow, a wounding, a wound, a slaughter, a beating, a scourging

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #4347 BDB #646

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

midebâr (רָ ׃ד ̣מ) [pronounced mide-BAWR]

wilderness, unpopulated wilderness, desert wilderness; mouth

masculine singular noun with directional hê (with the definite article)

Strong’s #4057 BDB #184


Translation: These [are] the gods [Elohim] [Who] were the ones striking [down] the Egyptians with every [kind of] beating in the desert wilderness. We have a repeat of the word these, which is, at first, disconcerting; however, this is the beginning of a new sentence (or, it has been accidentally copied twice—also a possibility).


Note that Israel’s sound and complete defeat of Egypt was well-known to the Philistines. 400 years previous, Israel and Egypt’s relationship is known by what God did to Egypt (Ex. 7–12). Egypt was beat down with every sort of beating or scourging a nation could receive, and the Philistines understood that this was from the hand of God. Did they have an incomplete understanding of the Trinity? Certainly; but then, so do we. Whether they thought of Elohim as One God with three manifestations or as a Trinity of gods, or even as a plethora of gods, makes little difference. What is important is that they realized that they were in for it—that the God of Israel was powerful and great.


On a lighter note, it is also obvious that the information which the Philistines had was somewhat blurred. The Egyptians suffered at the hands of God many plagues, and Israel wandered through the desert wilderness, but it was actually in Egypt where God struck the Egyptians with the various plagues. It was in the desert wilderness that God tested Israel (and Israel did not fare too well). God did not attack Egypt with plagues in the desert wilderness. It was 4 centuries later, so we would expect that the history known by the Philistines might be somewhat inaccurate. Footnote There have been explanations offered to clear this up and allow for the Philistine record of history to be more accurate at this point (e.g., inserting a copula near the end of this verse), but none of these solutions has a manuscriptal foundation (although the Greek Septuagint does insert the copula kaí, which almost fixes things). Footnote


Strengthen [yourselves] [or, take courage] and be as though men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as which they were slaves to you; and you [all] have been according as men and you have fought.”

1Samuel

4:9

Take courage and be men, O Philistines, so that you do not become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you. Furthermore, you have been men and you have engaged in war [against them].

Show some courage and act like men, you Philistines, so that you do not end up being slaves to the Hebrews (as they were once slaves to you). Besides, you have acted like men in the past and you have warred against them in the past.


It is at this point that good leadership and military discipline kick in for the Philistines. They have assumed that they are lost. They cannot imagine defeating the Israelis in battle now, but their officers encourage them and they will consent to war with the Israelites. Their leaders admonish them to act like men and offer them the opposite scenario. “Let’s say that you do not fight and that Israel wins—then you will become slaves to Israel!” so their leaders warn them.


What others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Strengthen [yourselves] [or, take courage] and be as though men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as which they were slaves to you; and you [all] have been according as men and you have fought.”

Septuagint                             Strengthen yourselves and behave yourselves like men, O you Philistines, that you may not serve the Hebrews as they have served us, but be men and fight with them.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

The Message                         On your feet, Philistines! Courage! We're about to become slaves to the Hebrews, just as they have been slaves to us. Show what you're made of! Fight for your lives!"


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        Brace yourselves and be men, O Philistines! Or you will become slaves to the Hebrews as they were slaves to you. Be men and fight!”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “Take courage and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”

Owen                                     Take courage and acquit yourselves like men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you. Acquit yourselves like men and fight.

Young's Updated LT              ‘Strengthen yourselves and become men, O Philistines, lest you [all] do service to Hebrews , as they have done to you—then you [all] have become men, and have fought.’


What is the gist of this verse? The Philistines are strengthened by their leaders, challenged to go and fight the Hebrews, or to face slavery to the Hebrews.


1Samuel 4:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

châzaq (ק ַז ָח) [pronounced khaw-ZAHK]

take courage, be strong [brave, courageous], show yourself to be strong [to aid, to assist]

3rd person masculine singular, Hithpael imperative

Strong’s #2388 BDB #304

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ănâsîym (םי.שָנֲא) [pronounced uh-NAW-seem]; also spelled îyshîym (םי.שי ̣א) [pronounced ee-SHEEM]

men; inhabitants, citizens; companions; soldiers, followers

masculine plural noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: Take courage and be men, O Philistines,... In v. 9, we get the pep talk, obviously from one in authority to those under his authority. It is unclear whether there is some demeaning sarcasm implied here or not (“Act as though you were men, O Philistines”). We have the Hebrew version of what was said in the language of the Philistines, so this would be difficult to tell. Certainly, it would carry with it the idea that if one did not stand up against the Hebrews, he would, in essence, demean his own manhood. Now and again in the modern world, we have to bolster up our young men by telling them, “Act like a man” or “Be a man.” Paul even gave such direction to the Corinthians: Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong (I Cor. 16:13).


In any case, note the detail here—this suggests that there is an eyewitness here. Had this been written simply from the point of view of some Israelite, the next few chapters would have been condensed to a verse or two.


1Samuel 4:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

pen (ן∵) [pronounced pen]

lest, peradventure, or else, in order to prevent, or, so that [plus a negative]

conjunction

Strong's #6435 BDB #814

׳âbad (ד ַב ָע) [pronounced ģawb-VAHD]

to work, to serve, to labor; to be a slave to

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5647 BDB #712

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳Iberîym (םי .רב̣ע) [pronounced ģibe-VREEM]

those from beyond; transliterated Hebrews, Eberites

proper masculine plural gentis/noun with the definite article

Strong’s #5680 BDB #720


Translation: ...so that you do not become slaves to the Hebrews,... You may recall that the Hebrews had some men who were potentially their slaves (the Gibeonites). The Gibeonites may have begun as their slaves, but that did not seem to hold. However, I digress. The Philistines faced two things, in their own estimation: death in battle against the Jews or slavery to the Jews.


1Samuel 4:9c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

Together, kaăsher (ר ש ֲא ַ) [pronounced kah-uh-SHER] means as which, as one who, as, like as, just as; because; according to what manner.

׳âbad (ד ַב ָע) [pronounced ģawb-VAHD]

to work, to serve, to labor; to be a slave to

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong's #5647 BDB #712

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine plural suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: ...as they have been slaves to you. Or, ...as they have served you... In Israel’s recent history, they had been slaves to the Philistines (see Judges 10:7 13:1). That was during the time to Samson, and it was probably relatively local rather than nationwide. It is this portion of the verse which indicates that Israel’s servitude to the Philistines is in the past. Now, the argument could be made that since there is technically no past, present and future tense in the Hebrew, we cannot conclude this refers to a past event. However, just how much sense would this passage make if this referred to a future event? And, if Israel’s slavery were ongoing, then the Qal imperfect would have been used, as the Israelites would have continually been under Philistine rule. However, since we have the Qal perfect, we are referring to a period of time which is summed up as a whole, rather than to an ongoing action. Therefore, we could safely conclude that Israel’s slavery to the Philistines is in the past.


In any case, the argument is, these people used to be your slaves...are you willing to be their slaves?


1Samuel 4:9d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ănâsîym (םי.שָנֲא) [pronounced uh-NAW-seem]; also spelled îyshîym (םי.שי ̣א) [pronounced ee-SHEEM]

men; inhabitants, citizens; companions; soldiers, followers

masculine plural noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lâcham (םַחָל) [pronounced law-KHAHM]

to engage in battle, to engage in war, to wage war; to fight, to battle

2nd person masculine plural, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #3898 BDB #535


Translation: Furthermore, you have been men and you have engaged in war [against them]. In this final phrase, the leader of the Philistines reminds them that they have already been in war against the Hebrews; they had already acquitted themselves as men—they just soundly defeated the Israeli army. So they are told, just go back and do it again. In other words, these are not orders for what these Philistines should do, but a reminder of what they have done.


The arguments are as follows:

18.  The Israelites have been slaves to you.

19.  If you just give up, you will become their slaves.

20.  You should act like men.

21.  You have already acted as men and have defeated them in battle; do it again.

Again, note how much we know about the pep talk that these Philistine soldiers receive. This clearly suggests that someone actually witnessed this event and recorded it. The reason I don’t believe that this was a Jewish spy is, the information about the Ark will continue in subsequent chapters.



And so fought Philistines and so was struck down Israel and so they flee a man to his tents and so was the slaughter great very and so fell from Israel 30,000 a footman.

1Samuel

4:10

And the Philistines engaged in war and Israel was defeated, so they [Israel] fled [each] man to his [own] tent, and the slaughter was extremely great, and 30,000 foot soldiers of Israel fell.

As a result, the Philistines fought the Israelites and defeated them. Those who were not killed deserted, returning to his own home. The number of Israelite soldiers killed was 30,000.


This is impressive. The Israelites had won a victory in attitude over the Philistines. The Israelis had assumed that they would triumph now in war and the Philistines had assumed that they would lose. However, the Philistines still fought bravely, exhibiting tremendous resolve. This is why discipline and leadership are so important in war. The Philistines do not expect to win, but they fight valiantly anyway. The result will be a tremendous victory over the Israelites.


What others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so fought Philistines and so was struck down Israel and so they flee a man to his tents and so was the slaughter great very and so fell from Israel 30,000 a footman.

Septuagint                             And they fought with them; and the men of Israel fall, and they fled every man to his tent; and there was a very great slaughter; and there fell of Israel 30,000 ranks.

 

Significant differences:          No significant difference.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

TEV                                       The Philistines fought hard and defeated the Israelites, who went running to their homes. There was a great slaughter; thirty thousand Israelite soldiers were killed.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Philistines fought; Israel was routed, and they all fled to their homes. The defeat was very great, thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell there.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent, and the slaughter was very great; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.

Young's Updated LT              And the Philistines fight, and Israel is smitten [i.e., struck down], and they flee each to his tents, and the blow is very great, and there fall of Israel thirty thousand footmen;...


What is the gist of this verse? Israel and the Philistines fight, and the Philistines are victorious, killing 30,000 Israelites.


1Samuel 4:10a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

lâcham (םַחָל) [pronounced law-KHAHM]

to engage in battle, to engage in war, to wage war; to fight, to battle

3rd person masculine plural, Niphal imperfect

Strong’s #3898 BDB #535

Pelishetîy (י. ש ̣ל) [pronounced pe-lish-TEE]

transliterated Philistines

masculine plural gentilic adjective (acts like a proper noun)

Strong’s #6430 BDB #814


Translation: And the Philistines engaged in war... This means that the pep talk given in the previous verse worked. The Philistines went to war against the Israeli army, despite their loss of confidence.


1Samuel 4:10b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâgaph (ףַגָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHF]

to be struck down, to be smitten, to be hit

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong's #5062 BDB #619

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975


Translation: ...and Israel was defeated,... The military strength and resolve of the Philistine army pays off. They defeat Israel. Israel had confidence going into battle, but they foolishly depended upon the Ark as if it were some kind of good luck charm, or, even worse, as though it was the actual embodiment of Jehovah Elohim.


1Samuel 4:10c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nûwç (סנ) [pronounced noose]

to flee, to flee from, to escape, to depart, to hasten quickly [away]

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5127 BDB #630

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ohel (ל הֹא) [pronounced OH-hel]

tent, tabernacle, house, temporary dwelling

masculine plural noun with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #168 BDB #13


Translation: ...so they [Israel] fled [each] man to his [own] tent,... Israel’s reaction to the defeat was to desert (those who remained alive). We have the wâw consecutive and the 3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect of to flee, to flee from, to escape, to depart, to hasten quickly [away]. Recall earlier in this chapter, where we seemed to have a subject and verb which did not match exactly; we have this here as well. Israel is in the singular, but this verb is a masculine plural (and it is followed by a masculine singular noun). The subject is actually implied, which is the men or soldiers of Israel. Then we have a man, which essentially means, in this context, each man, followed by to his tents, giving us: ...so they flee each man to his tents... I would have expected tent (in the singular), but it is plural in the Hebrew (but singular in the Greek). Footnote In any case, The men of Israel did not simply retreat and regroup; the men of Israel retreated and deserted. In their own minds, they had no reason to simply retreat and regroup, as returning to war simply would mean their death. Their freedom (I should say, the freedom of Israel) did not mean that much to them. Or, they may have seen their fight as futile. They were ready to accept their fate as defeated; by retreating to their own tents, they preserved their own lives.


1Samuel 4:10d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

makkâh (ה ָ ַמ) [pronounced mahk-KAW]

a blow, a wounding, a wound, a slaughter, a beating, a scourging

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4347 BDB #646

gâdôwl (לד ָ) [pronounced gaw-DOHL]

large, great or mighty [in power, nobility, wealth; in number, or magnitude and extent], loud, older, important, distinguished; vast, unyielding, immutable, significant, astonishing

feminine singular adjective

Strong’s #1419 BDB #152

meôd (דֹא ׃מ) [pronounced me-ODE]

exceedingly, extremely, greatly, very

adverb

Strong’s #3966 BDB #547


Translation: ...and the slaughter was extremely great,... There were a great number of Israelites who were killed. God destroyed these men who agreed that the Ark of God should be brought into battle. There are a great number of degenerates in Israel.


1Samuel 4:10e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâphal (לַפָנ) [pronounced naw-FAHL]

to fall, to lie, to die a violent death, to be brought down, to settle, to sleep deeply

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5307 BDB #656

Extended Qal meanings: to fall [to the ground, in battle], to die, to die a violent death; a man felled [by sickness]; [a building] falling down [in decay]; about to fall, about to come to ruin; [a fetus] falling out [or, being born, being aborted]; to fall away [used of members of a body]; [a face being] cast down [in sorrow], to fall down, to come down [from heaven], to descend; [sleep, terror, calamity] to fall upon [anyone]; to throw onself, to cast onself; to rush upon; to fall prostrate, to prostrate oneself; to fall upon someone [in affection]; to fall upon [an enemy], to attack; to alight [from a beast or chariot], to let oneself down; to encamp [as an army]; [a prayer] to fall before [someone for consideration, to be heard]; to fall away, to desert. Footnote I hope that the relationship is clear between the basic meaning, to fall, and the extended understanding of this verb.

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

Yiserâêl (לֵאָר ׃̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

shelôshîym (םי.שֹלש) [pronounced shelow-SHEEM]

thirty

plural numeral

Strong’s #7970 BDB #1026

eleph (ף ל א) pronounced EH-lef]

thousand, family, (500?); military unit

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #505 (and #504) BDB #48

ragelîy (י.ל ג-ר) [pronounced rahge-LEE]

on foot, footmen

masculine singular adjective

Strong’s #7273 BDB #920


Translation: ...and 30,000 foot soldiers of Israel fell. We have another wâw consecutive, and the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect of to fall, to lie, to die a violent death, to be brought down, to settle, to sleep deeply. Then we have from Israel, the two words for 30,000, Footnote and the masculine singular adjective on foot, footmen. I don’t see any way of rendering this as a singular in the English so that it makes sense. This gives us: And so 30,000 footmen of Israel fell. The slaughter in the ancient world war was either incredibly massive, beyond what we can imagine, or the number of the Hebrew language is different than we have supposed. Footnote


Now, you may wonder, as certainly did the Israelites and the Philistines, why the Ark of God did not do the Israelites any good and why did God allow so many of the Israelites to be killed. Again, the Ark was not God. God did not travel with the Ark nor was God confined to the Ark. It simply was a teaching aide to the Israelites and God would, on occasion, speak to certain men from above the Ark. Next, why did God allow such a slaughter? God had warned Israel from the very beginning. “However, it shall be that if you do not obey Jehovah your God and observe all of His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and they will overtake you...Jehovah will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them. You will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of this earth.” (Deut. 28:15, 25). Moses delivered this warning to the Israelites before they had even crossed over the Jordan into the Land of Promise. God fulfills this promise by this slaughter.


And an Ark of Elohim was captured and a pair of [the] sons of Eli died—Hophni and Phinehas.

1Samuel

4:11

Also, the Ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

Also, the Ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed in the battle.


What others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And an Ark of Elohim was captured and a pair of [the] sons of Eli died—Hophni and Phinehas.

Septuagint                             And the ark of God was taken, and both the sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinehas, died.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

The Message                         As if that wasn't bad enough, the Chest of God was taken and the two sons of Eli--Hophni and Phinehas--were killed.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        The Ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And the Ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Young's Updated LT              ...and the ark of God has been taken, and the two sons of Eli have died, Hophni and Phinehas.


What is the gist of this verse? The Philistines captured the Ark of God and Eli’s two sons died in battle.


1Samuel 4:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods or God; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

lâqach (חַקָל) [pronounced law-KAHKH]

to be taken, to be taken away; to be brought; to be seized, to be captured

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong’s #3947 BDB #542


Translation: Also, the Ark of God was captured,... This turn of events was unexpected. Not the deaths of Hophni and Phinehas, but the taking of the Ark of God. No one in Israel would have ever thought such a thing could happen. This was unprecedented and a complete surprise to all Israel. The fact that the Ark was taken out of Israel is stated five times in this chapter alone (v. 11, 17, 19, 21–22). This repetition tells us just how unbelievable such a thing could be.


Parallel Passage Psalm 78:56–61

We find a parallel passage in Psalm 78:56–61, the historical survey psalm (we studied it after finishing the book of Exodus).

Then they tested God and they rebelled, against God Most High;

furthermore, they did not keep His testimonies.

Then they turned themselves away from God;

and they behaved deceitfully and faithlessly, just like their fathers;

they turned themselves away like a deceitful bow.

Then they provoked Him to anger with their high places;

and they moved Him to jealousy with their graven images.

God heard about their apostasy which made Him furious;

then He completely rejected Israel.

He forsook His dwelling-place at Shiloh;

the tent where He dwelt among men.

Then He delivered His power to captivity

and His glory to the hand of a foe.


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This would be a good time to examine the Doctrine of the Ark of God (which we have covered briefly in this chapter).


You might wonder how would God allow His Ark to be taken in battle—focus in on who is carrying the Ark: Hophni and Phinehas, two of the most degenerate priests in Israel’s history (at least up until this time).


1Samuel 4:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shenayim (ם̣י-נש) [pronounced sheNAH-yim]

two of, a pair of, a duo of

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #8147 BDB #1040

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750

mûwth (תמ) [pronounced mooth]

to die; to perish, to be destroyed

3rd person plural, Qal perfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

Châphenîy (י.נפָה) [pronounced chaff-NEE]

hollow of hand? and is transliterated Hophni

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #2652 BDB #342

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

Phîynechâç (סָחני.) [pronounced pheene-KHOSS]

 which possibly means Negro in Egyptian, and is transliterated Phinehas

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #6372 BDB #810


Translation: ...and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. You will recall that Eli’s sons were men who did not believe in God and used the sacrifices to increase their meat intake (1Sam. 2:12–17). Whereas, the first event was completely unexpected, many expected the second.

 

Keller comments at this point: The hill country was occupied, Israel was disarmed, and garrisons were located in the tribal territories. At their first assault the Philistines had achieved their purpose, central Palestine was in their hands. Footnote


The mistake made by the Jews is a mistake commonly made by Christians—they looked at some which has already occurred, e.g., Joshua leading Israel into battle against Jericho with the Ark, and they misapply it to themselves. Joshua did not carry the Ark of God into battle at each city he attacked. God told him to bring the Ark one time against one city. Believers are forever looking back into this particular action or that which they dredge up from the Old or New Testament and then they try to copy that act. Simply copying this person or that is not the Christian way of life. Copying this action or that is not the Christian way of life. You must have some degree of discernment. The Christian way of life is the filling of the spirit, through naming your sins to God, and then learning God’s Word (as both Thieme’s call it, epistemological rehabilitation).


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A Benjamite Brings News of These Battles to Shiloh


And so ran a man of Benjamin from the battle line and so he came [to] Shiloh the day the this and his clothes torn and earth upon his head.

1Samuel

4:12

And a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and he came to Shiloh that same day; and his clothes were torn and [there was] dirt on his head.

Then a Benjamite ran from the battle line to Shiloh; his clothes were torn and there was dirt on his head.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so ran a man of Benjamin from the battle line and so he came [to] Shiloh the day the this and his clothes torn and earth upon his head.

Septuagint                             And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the battle, and he came to Selom on that day; and his clothes torn, and earth upon his head.

 

Significant differences:          None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

The Message                         Immediately, a Benjaminite raced from the front lines back to Shiloh. Shirt torn and face smeared with dirt,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        A Benjaminite ran from the battlefield and reached Shiloh the same day; his clothes were rent and there was earth on his head.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head.

Young's Updated LT              And a man of Benjamin ran out of the ranks, and came into Shiloh, on that day, and his long robes are rent [torn], and earth on his head;...


What is the gist of this verse? A man of Benjamin runs to Shiloh on the day, his outer clothing torn, and there is dirt upon his head.


1Samuel 4:12a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

rûts (ץר) [pronounced roots]

to run, to hasten to; to move quickly [and with purpose]; to rush upon [in a hostile manner]

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7323 BDB #930

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular construct

Strong's #376 BDB #35

Ben yemîynîy (י.ני.מי־ן∵) [pronounced ben-yemee-NEE]

son of [my] right hand and is rendered Benjamite

gentilic adjective

Strong’s #1145 BDB #122

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ma׳ărekeh (ה∵כ∵רֲע -מ) [pronounced mah-ģuh-reh-KEH]

row, rank, battle line; this is also translated armies

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4634 BDB #790


Translation: And a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line... It is pretty obvious that this altercation involves the central portion of Israel. The Philistines occupied the coast of the Mediterranean Sea along Judah and Dan, and they had taken over much of the territory of Dan. Adjacent to Dan are the territories of Ephraim (wherein was the Tent of God) and Benjamin. We should expect men from Ephraim, Benjamin and Judah to be involved in this war, and possibly from Dan (if there are any men left in Dan). Apparently there is a gloss in the Aramaic paraphrase which identifies Saul as the runner (which is apparently a rabbinic tradition), but there is no reason for that to be taken as the truth. Footnote


1Samuel 4:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

Shilôw (ל̣ש) [shi-LOH]

quiet, relaxed, prosperous; transliterated Shiloh

proper noun locale

Strong’s #7887 BDB #1017

yôwm (םי) [pronounced yohm]

day; time; today (with a definite article)

masculine singular noun with a definite article

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

hûw (אה) [pronounced hoo]

that

masculine singular, demonstrative pronoun (with a definite article)

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214


Translation: ...and he came to Shiloh that same day;... News services in those days were much different than we have today. Here, a man ran with the news to Shiloh. It is possible that, after capturing the Ark, that the Philistines set their sites on Shiloh to destroy next. However, we do not know when Shiloh will be destroyed; even though we are certain that Shiloh will be destroyed, and probably around this time period.


Now, I don’t want you to think that this man is simply a military deserter. These soldiers fought for the freedom of their land and they fought for the freedom of their families. There were probably a number of soldiers who were designated as runners or as associated press who, when there was significant news to tell, would run to specific cities to spread this news. I don’t know how much we know about these men, but we come across them on several occasions in Scripture. We don’t know if one or a dozen traveled with the army; whether there was one so designated; or whether the designation came near the end of a battle. We do not know if, once this runner arrived to a city, if there were other runners who would go from that city out in all directions to spread the news. What the city would do after this news was spread would depend upon the news, the city, the events which took place and the general plan which the elders may have arrived at before the events took place.


1Samuel 4:12c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

maddîym (םי. ַמ) [pronounced mahd-DEEM]

measure, cloth garment, outer garments; armored coat; carefully tailored clothing; a thick piece of cloth; a leather garment, a carpet

masculine plural noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #4055 BDB #551

qâra׳ (ע-רָק) [pronounced kaw-RAHĢ]

to bend, to tear apart; to tear out, to tear away; to cut in pieces [with a knife]; to cut out; to tear with words [i.e, to curse]

Qal passive participle

Strong’s #7167 BDB #902

qâra׳ (ע-רָק) [pronounced kaw-RAHĢ]

to bend, to tear apart; to tear out, to tear away; to cut in pieces [with a knife]; to cut out; to tear with words [i.e, to curse]

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7167 BDB #902

ădâmâh (הָמָד ֲא) [pronounced uh-daw-MAWH]

ground, soil, dirt, earth, tillable earth, land, surface of the earth

feminine singular noun

Strong's #127 BDB #9

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

rôsh (שאֹר) [pronounced rohsh]

head, top, chief, front, choicest

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #7218 BDB #910


Translation: ...and his clothes were torn and [there was] dirt on his head. The Hebrews tended to be very demonstrative. He did not necessarily have torn clothes and dirt on his forehead from the battle, but he could have done that to himself, as an indication of his heart-felt sorrow. We find this same phrasing in 2Sam. 1:2, when a man reports to David that both Saul and his son Jonathan were dead. When the Israelites were defeated at Ai, when Israel first marched into the Land of Promise, Joshua and the other elders of Israel tore their clothes and put dust on their heads (Joshua 7:6). Often, the person was a bearer of bad news, and the torn clothes and the dust upon the head indicated that (2Sam. 1:2 13:19 15:32). It appeared as though there were men who specifically had the duty of acting as a runner to deliver important news (2Sam. 18:19–31). In some cases, these actions were done before God due to whatever sin or sins they may have committed (see Neh. 9:1 as well).


And so he came and, behold, Eli was sitting upon the seat [by the] side of a road watching [intently] [or, side of a road of Mizpah], for was trembling his heart on account of an Ark of the Elohim. And the man had come to make known in the city and so cried out [in distress] all of the city.

1Samuel

4:13

And so he came and, he saw that [lit., behold] Eli was sitting on the seat [of honor] [by the] side of the road watching [intently] [or, of the road of Mizpah], for his heart was trembling on account of the Ark of Elohim. And the man had come to make known [the news of the defeat and capture] in the city, and all the city cried out [in great distress].

The man came and saw Eli sitting on his seat at the side of the road watching intently, and his heart was trembling because of the Ark of Elohim. The man had come to the city to make known what had happened in battle, and the city cried out in great distress.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so he came and, behold, Eli was sitting upon the seat [by the] side of a road watching [intently] [or, side of a road of Mizpah], for was trembling his heart on account of an Ark of the Elohim. And the man had come to make known in the city and so cried out [in distress] all of the city.

Septuagint                             And he came, and, behold, Heli was upon the seat by the gate looking along the way, for his heart was greatly alarmed for the Ark of God.  And the man entered into the city to bring tidings; and the city cried out.

 

Significant differences:          No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

The Message                         ...he entered the town. Eli was sitting on his stool beside the road keeping vigil, for he was extremely worried about the Chest of God. When the man ran straight into town to tell the bad news, everyone wept..

REB                                       When he arrived Eli was sitting on a seat by the road to Mizpah, for he was deeply troubled about the Ark of God. The man entered the town with his news, and all the people cried out in horror.

TEV                                       Eli, who was very worried about the Covenant Box, was sitting in his seat beside the road, staring. The man spread the news throughout the town, and everyone cried out in fear.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        When he arrived, he found Eli sitting on a seat, waiting beside the road—his heart trembling for the Ark of God. The man entered the city to spread the news, and the whole city broke out in a cry.



Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Emphasized Bible           And <when he entered> lo! Eli was sitting upon his chair by the wayside watching, for his heart was trembling for the ark of God, —and ║the man║ entered to tell the news in the city, and all the city made outcry.

NASB                                     When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God. So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. [Greek version reads: beside the gate watching the road]

NKJV                                     Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on 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. [MT and Vulgate: by the wayside watching; LXX: beside the gate watching the road.] Also, trembled or trembled with anxiety.

Young's Updated LT              ...and he comes in, and lo, Eli is sitting on the throne by the side of the way, watching, for his heart has been trembling for the ark of God, and the man had come in to declare it in the city, and all the city cried out.


What is the gist of this verse? Eli is concerned, as he knows that his sons are under judgment, so he waits by the road to hear any news from what happens in this battle. A man enters into the city with news of the battle.


1Samuel 4:13a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hinnêh (הֵ ̣ה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750

yâshab (בַשָי) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

to remain, to stay; to dwell, to live, to inhabit; to sit

Qal active participle

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

kiççê (א ֵ̣) [pronounced kis-SAY]

throne, seat of honor; seat of judgment

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #3678 BDB #490


Translation: And so he came and, he saw that [lit., behold] Eli was sitting on the seat [of honor]... This narrative is still being given from the 3rd person omniscient point of view. It is not this Benjamite who sees Eli. Eli is waiting patiently, concerned about the taking of the Ark into battle; the Benjamite apparently enters into the city from another direction, bypassing Eli, and he tells the news to everyone else. This will become apparent in the next verse, as the entire city will know before Eli does. It is likely that this is intentional. The news that this man must give to Eli—that both the Ark was taken and his sons were dead—was the most difficult news to give to anyone.


As this man comes into Shiloh, he sees Eli sitting at the entrance, as we found him in 1Sam. 1:9.


1Samuel 4:13b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâd (דָי) [pronounced yawd]

generally translated hand

feminine singular construct

Strong's #3027 BDB #388

This Hebrew word is uncertain. In the Hebrew, we have the Hebrew word ן-י or ך-י, neither of which has a translation into English. What most scholars contend is that this is the yâd (דָי) [pronounced yawd], which means hand. Yâd is also used figuratively to mean the side of. Strong's #3027 BDB #388.

dereke (ר) [pronounced DEH-reke]

way, distance, road, journey, manner, course

masculine singular noun

Strong's #1870 BDB #202

tsâphâh (הָפָצ) [pronounced tsaw-FAW]

to watch or to look out [with great concern], to [carefully, intently] look about, to [faithfully] keep watch

Piel participle

Strong’s #6822 BDB #859

An alternate interpretation comes from the spelling of the Piel participle of tsâphâh, which is metsapeh (ה∵-צמ) [pronounced metzah-PEH], which is very similar to mitsepâh (ה ָ  ׃צ  ̣מ) [pronounced mitze-PAW], which is transliterated Mizpeh or Mizpah (depending upon the vowel pointing, and it means outlook point, watchtower. Strong’s #4708 (& #4709) BDB #859.


Translation: ...[by the] side of the road watching [intently] [or, of the road of Mizpah],... In the Greek, we have, literally: ...Heli on the seat beside the gate watching the road... Neither rendering causes us any theological concern.


What Eli is doing is the Piel participle of to look out, to view, to look about, to spy, to keep watch. The Piel is the intensive stem, meaning that Eli is watching with great concern. Occasionally, we will have a phrase like this which is, apart from the situation at hand, almost humorous. Eli, a blind man, sits by the gate to the city watching.


In the exegesis above, it is possible that this reads that Eli is by the side of the road to Mizpah. Now, there are six different Mizpah’s in Scripture, the thinking is that this is the one south of the city, so that Eli is waiting by the Mizpah gate. This explains the NEB and REB translations. This gives us: ...[at the] side of [the] road watching... or, ...[at the] side of [the] road of Mizpah... The latter understanding means that Eli simply went to the wrong gate to wait at, as Mizpah is in the south and news would be coming from the west. However, even though the battle may have begun in the west, this does not mean Eli expected it to end in the west. What he had hoped for was for the Philistines to mount a retreat, which would send them southward toward their original cities, which would cause the news to come from the south. Although all of this would explain why Eli hears the news last, it does not jibe with the Septuagint’s more natural rendering of ...Heli on the seat beside the gate watching the road... And, I should mention, that we can accept the translation from the Hebrew, and still explain why Eli hears the news last.


1Samuel 4:13c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

when, that, for, because, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

lêb (בֵל) [pronounced laybv]

heart, inner man, mind, will, thinking

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #3820 BDB #524

chârêd (ד̤רָח) [pronounced khaw-RAYD]

trembling, fearful, afraid

masculine singular Adjective (also used as a verb)

Strong's #2730 BDB #353


Translation: ...for his heart was trembling... This is an interesting phrase, as Eli is blinded with cataracts. What he is actually doing, is he is sitting on his seat of honor, listening intently. He can see, but everything is blurry, as though his eyeballs had been coated with Vaseline.


1Samuel 4:13d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

When not showing a physical relationship between two things, ׳al can take on a whole host of new meanings: on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, besides, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by on to, towards, to, against, in the matter of, concerning, as regards to. It is one of the most versatile prepositions in Scripture. This word often follows particular verbs. In the English, we have helping verbs; in the Hebrew, there are helping prepositions.

ărôwn (ןר ֲא) [pronounced uh-ROHN]

ark, chest; Ark

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #727 BDB #75

ělôhîym (מי̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods or God; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong's #430 BDB #43


Translation: ...on account of the Ark of Elohim. What he is watching intently for is for news about the Ark of God. Eli realized that the taking of the Ark, without consulting him, without consulting God, was a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do. He was not so idolatrous as to think that the Ark had magical powers to keep Israel from being beaten in war; and he knew that there was nothing inherent in the Ark itself to keep it from being taken in battle. Whatever concerns he had about his sons are not mentioned—only his concern for the Ark. This prompted the NIV Study Bible to reasonably conclude that Eli was more concerned for the Ark than he was for his sons. Footnote


1Samuel 4:13e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #376 BDB #35

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâgad (ד ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHD]

to make conspicuous, to make known, to expound, to explain, to declare, to inform, to confess, to make it pitifully obvious that

Hiphil infinitive construct

Strong's #5046 BDB #616

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

׳îyr (רי ̣ע) [pronounced ģeer]

encampment, city, town

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #5892 BDB #746


Translation: And the man had come to make known [the news of the defeat and capture] in the city,... The runner-informant went throughout the city, telling of the defeat of Israel’s troops, the loss of so many men, and the loss of the Ark. The information spread quickly.


1Samuel 4:13f

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

zâ׳aq (ק ַע ָז) [pronounced zaw-ĢAHK]

to cry out, to call, to cry

3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2199 BDB #277

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

the whole, all of, the entirety of, all; can also be rendered any of

masculine singular construct followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

׳îyr (רי ̣ע) [pronounced ģeer]

encampment, city, town

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #5892 BDB #746

 

Translation: ...and all the city cried out [in great distress]. The result of his declaring what had happened is given with 3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect of zâ׳aq (ק ַע ָז) [pronounced zaw-ĢAHK], which means to cry out, to call, to cry. It is often used for an utterance of horror, anxiety, alarm, distress, sorrow. Notice the onomatopoetic quality of this word. Most believers, during crisis periods of their lives, feel as though God has deserted them, and they cry out in distress (and they may keep it inside as well). This is how those in Israel felt. The idea that the Ark of God, their physical manifestation of God, could be captured and taken by heathen is beyond their imagination. They had assumed that God would protect His Ark and His people under any circumstance. And without God, they were nothing. The subject of the verb is all of the city, giving us: ...and so cried out [in distress] all of the city. Recall that Israel had been in several cycles of slavery to other surrounding nations and this is what they expected to occur again. In particular, they had been under Philistine tyranny for years (Judges 13:1) and this threatened to reoccur during their generation.

 

Edersheim describes this scene for us: Tidings fo this crushing defeat were not long in reaching Shiloh. Just outside the gate of the sanctuary, by the way which a messenger from the battlefield must come, sat the aged high-priest. His eyes were “stiffened” by age, but his hearing was keen as he waited with anxious heart for the expected news. The judgment foretold, the presence of his two sons with the army in the field, the removal of the ark, without any Divine authority, at the bidding of a superstitious people, must have filled him with sad misgivings. Had he been right in being a consenting party to all this? Had he been a faithful father, a faithful priest, a faithful guardian of the sanctuary? And now a confused noise as of a tumult reached him. Up the slopes which led to Shiloh, “with clothes rent and earth upon his head,” in token of deepest meaning, ran a Benjamite, a fugitive from the army. Pas the high-priest he sped, without stopping to speak to him whose office had become empty, and whose family was destroyed. Now he has reached the marketplace; and up and down those steep, narrow streets fly the tidings. They gather around him; they weep, they cry out in the wilderness of their grief, and “the noises of the crying” is heard where the old man sits alone still waiting for tidings. Footnote


And so heard Eli [the] sound of the outcry; and so, he said “What [is the] sound of the multitude the this?” And the man hastened and so he came and so he made known to Eli.

1Samuel

4:14

Now Eli heard the sound of the outcry, and he said, “What [is] the sound of this crowd?” And the man hastened and came and made known [this information] to Eli.

Now Eli heard the sounds of the outcry, and he inquired, “What is the meaning of the sound of the crowds?” So then man hurried to go to Eli to tell him what had happened.


Now, what this does not explain is, why did Eli—who is sitting by the city gate, waiting for news of the battle and his sons and concerning the Ark—why has he not heard the news yet? There have been a lot of explanations given here. One explanation is that Eli sat by the wrong gate. One tradition is that Eli is not waiting and watching, but he is waiting to Mizpah, which is to the south (see the REB and the exegesis of the previous verse); and the runner came from Ebenezer, which is from the west. Obviously, the idea is, Eli is an old man, who being blind and possibly a little daft, goes and sits by the wrong gate. Or, as mentioned before, Eli was hoping/expecting the battle to side with Israel, which means that the Philistines would retreat and that the Israelites would pursue them, taking them to the south toward the Philistine cities. Therefore, a runner with good news would be coming from the south. Anyway, when the runner comes in by the west gate, Eli is still sitting at the south gate waiting for the news, and Eli never hears what happened until the last. The other explanation, which is just as likely, is that the runner, seeing this fat old blind guy sitting near the gate of the city, just ran right by him without stopping, and went toward the first crowd that he saw. The crowd of people became larger and the messenger was then pointed in the direction of Eli, with an explanation as to who he was. And that is when Eli was told the news.


Now, what others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so heard Eli [the] sound of the outcry; and so, he said “What [is the] sound of the multitude the this?” And the man hastened and so he came and so he made known to Eli.

Septuagint                             And Heli heard the sound of the cry, and said, “What is the voice of this sound?” And the man hastened and advanced to Heli, and said, to him,...

 

Significant differences:          There is a slight difference at the end of this verse; however, it might be a matter of translation.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       He was ninety-eight years old and blind, but he could hear everyone crying, and he asked, "What's all that noise?" The soldier hurried over and told Eli,... [vv. 14–15].

The Message                         They were appalled. Eli heard the loud wailing and asked, "Why this uproar?" The messenger hurried over and reported.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        And when Eli heard the sound of the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?” the man rushed over to tell Eli.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the noise of this commotion mean?” Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli.

Young's Updated LT              And Eli hears the noise of the cry, and says, ‘What—the noise of this tumult!’ And the man hastened, and came in, and declares to Eli.


What is the gist of this verse? The city is crying out over the loss of the Ark and Eli hears this and asks, “What is the meaning of this noise?” The newsman comes now to Eli.


1Samuel 4:14a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâma׳ (ע ַמ ָש) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

to listen [intently], to hear, to listen and obey, [or, and act upon, give heed to, take note of], to hearken to, to be attentive to, to listen and be cognizant of

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

tse׳âqâh (הָקָעצ) [pronounced tze-ģaw-KAW]

outcry, cry, a crying out

Feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6818 BDB #858


Translation: Now Eli heard the sound of the outcry,... The verb is the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect of to listen, listen intently, to listen and obey, to listen and act upon, to listen and give heed to, to hearken to, to be attentive to, listen and take heed to, listen and take note of, listen and be cognizant of. Since there is no obedience implied here, Eli is simply sitting on his chair listening intently to the sounds of the city, and the Israelites, being very demonstrative, are making a lot of sounds. We have the proper noun Eli and the direct object (i.e., what he is listening to), which is the masculine singular construct of sound, voice, which is affixed to the definite article and the feminine noun outcry, cry. So Eli heard [the] sound of the outcry... Recall that Jews tend to be very demonstrative with their emotions (at least in the Old Testament)—therefore, Eli would hear a lot of crying out, calling out to God, and remorseful epithets. Standing just outside the city gates, anyone could hear the lamentations of the city as a whole. So, Eli hears all this. He knows that something horrible has happened and he certainly assumes that it has something to do with the war against the Philistines.


1Samuel 4:14b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

qôwl (לק) [pronounced kohl]

sound, voice, noise; loud noise, thundering

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #6963 BDB #876

hâmôwn (ןמָה) [pronounced haw-MOHN

multitude, crowd, throng

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #1995 BDB #242

zeh (ה ז) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, thus

demonstrative adjective with the definite article

Strong’s #2063, 2088, 2090 BDB #260


Translation: ...and he said, “What [is] the sound of this crowd?” Eli asks, to no one in particular, what is this noise all about? He can hear a large number of people crying out and knows that it must have something to do with the war against the Philistines.


1Samuel 4:14c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #376 BDB #35

mâhar (ר ַה ָמ) [pronounced maw-HAHR]

to hasten, to hurry, to make haste; its transitive use is to prepare quickly, to bring quickly, to do quickly

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #4116 BDB #554


Translation: And the man hastened... Recall the Eli was nearly blind, somewhat of a relic of the town, although greatly respected. His hearing is acute, and he calls out, What the hell is going on? The Benjamite is told about this. It is possible that he did not know who Eli was, and it is possible that he was avoiding speaking to Eli, as what he has to say is so awful. Now he goes to Eli. As mentioned before, we can only speculate as to why he went to Eli after speaking to the city as a whole. (1) The man came in by a different entrance to the city (which seems unlikely, as Eli is waiting by the road); (2) the man did not know who Eli was, and just passed him by; or (3) the man avoided Eli because his news to Eli would be the most difficult to deliver.


1Samuel 4:14d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâgad (ד ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHD]

to make conspicuous, to make known, to expound, to explain, to declare, to inform, to confess, to make it pitifully obvious that

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5046 BDB #616

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750


Translation: ...and came and made known [this information] to Eli. Even though Eli knows, to some degree, what the news will be, it is still difficult for him to take. In this situation, it is going to be the worst possible news. His making known to Eli this information will not occur until v. 16; we first get a description of Eli:


And Eli, a son of ninety and eight a year; and his [two] eyes took a stand and he was not able to see.

1Samuel

4:15

Eli [was] a son of ninety-eight years; and his eyes were fixed and he was unable to see.

Eli was 98 years old, and his eyes were blinded by cataracts.


What others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                         Now Heli was ninety and eight years old, and his eyes were dim, and he could not see.

Masoretic Text                       And Eli, a son of ninety and eight a year; and his [two] eyes took a stand and he was not able to see.

Peshitta                                 Now Eli was 78 years old; and his eyes were dim so that he could not see.

Septuagint                             Now Heli [was] a son of ninety years and his eyes were fixed, and he saw not.

 

Significant differences:          The ages are different (recall that the Vulgate, Peshitta and MT all are from the same family of manuscripts so we should expect most agreement between them). Eli’s eyes being dim is probably a result of a translation rather than any sort of difference in manuscripts.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       He was ninety-eight years old and blind,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        Now Eli was ninety-eight years old; his eyes were fixed in a blind stare.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see.

Young's Updated LT              And Eli is a son of ninety and eight years and his eyes have stood, and he has not been able to see.


What is the gist of this verse? Eli’s age is given and the problem with his eyes, a sign of age, is again noted.


1Samuel 4:15a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

tishe׳îym (םי.ע ש ̣) [pronounced tishe-ĢEEM]

ninety

indeclinable noun; archaic plural

Strong’s #8673 BDB #1077

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shemôneh (ה∵נֹמ ש) [pronounced shemoh-NEH]

eight

masculine singular numeral

Strong’s #8083 BDB #1032

shânâh (הָנָש) [pronounced shaw-NAW]

year

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040.

The Arabic and Syrian versions both read this as 78 years old, but that is probably due to misreading a ע (ĢAH-yin) for a צ (tsâdêy). Footnote This reads ninety in the Greek (which could mean that a portion of the text was too difficult to read).


Translation: Eli [was] a son of ninety-eight years;... We have our second to the last description of Eli prior to his death here. Eli is 98.


1Samuel 4:15b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳ayin (ן̣יַע) [pronounced ĢAH-yin]

 spring, fountain; eye, spiritual eyes

feminine dual noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5869 (and #5871) BDB #744

qûwm (םק) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to get up; to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

yâkôl (לֹכָי) [pronounced yaw-COAL]

to be able, can, to have the ability, to have the power to; to be able to bear; to be able to bring oneself [to do anything]; to be lawful, to be permitted; to be powerful, to prevail

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3201 BDB #407

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

rââh (ה ָאָר) [pronounced raw-AWH]

to see, to look, to look at, to view, to behold; to perceive, to understand, to learn, to know

Qal infinitive construct

Strong's #7200 BDB #906


Translation: ...and his eyes were fixed and he was unable to see. The verb here is the 3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect of to stand, to take a stand, to rise up. In this context, it simply means that his eyes were fixed. I don’t understand why we have the feminine singular verb with a feminine dual noun (eyes). This gives us: ...and his eyes were fixed... Recall that when God called out to Samuel, Eli’s vision was beginning to deteriorate (1Sam. 3:2). What often occurs in older people is that the lens and often the lens sac both become clouded over. We often see this in older pets—we can see the white in the midst of their eyes. When you are on the other side of that cloudiness, it becomes very difficult to see through it. This cannot be corrected with glasses or with contact lenses, because the problem is the lens itself. If you took a pair of glasses and smeared them with Vaseline, this is how the world looked to Eli when his cataracts began to get bad. Eventually, both of his lenses were entirely clouded over, and he could not see at all. Since his eyes were no longer able to distinguish objects and no longer did they respond to light, they were simply fixed (this is my theory, anyway). There was no reason for Eli to look this way or that. Since there was no such thing as cataract surgery at that time, when a person got such a disease, they were stuck with it for the rest of their lives. Footnote


This is followed by ...and he was unable to see. The purpose of the description is to help us to understand how this news will kill Eli.


And so said the man unto Eli, “I [am] the coming one from the battle field and I from the battle field escaped the day.” And so he said, “What is the word, my son?”

1Samuel

4:16

Then the man said to Eli, “I [am] the one coming from the battle, and I fled from the battlefield today.” And he [Eli] said, “How is the matter, my son?”

Eli called out to what sounded like a crowd of men, saying, “What is all the commotion about?” Then the man ran over to Eli and said to him, “I have returned from the battlefield today.” And Eli asked him, “What happened?”


First, what others have done:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so said the man unto Eli, “I [am] the coming one from the battle field and I from the battle field escaped the day.” And so he said, “What is the word, my son?”

Septuagint                             And Heli said to them that stood round about him, “What [is] the voice of the sound?” And the man hastened and advanced to Heli, and said to him, “I am he that is come out of the camp, and I have fled from the battle today.” And Heli said, “What is the event, son?”

 

Significant differences:          For some reason, a portion of v. 14 is repeated in v. 16 in the LXX. Apart from that, the only differences are those which are probably based upon the translation, rather than being real differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

The Message                         The man said to Eli, "I've just come from the front, barely escaping with my life." "And so, my son," said Eli, "what happened?"



Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

JPS (Tanakh)                        The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battlefield; I have just fled from the battlefield.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And the man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?”

Young's Updated LT              And the man says unto Eli, ‘I am he who has come out of the ranks, and I out of the ranks have fled today;’ and he says, “What has been the matter, my son?’


What is the gist of this verse? The man tells Eli that he has just come from the front, and Eli asks how did things go.


1Samuel 4:16a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #376 BDB #35

el (לא) [pronounced el]

unto, in, into, toward, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

׳Êlîy (י.ל̤ע) [pronounced ģay-LEE]

transliterated Eli

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #5941 BDB #750

ânôkîy (י.כֹנָא) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me

1st person singular personal pronoun (sometimes a verb is implied)

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

the one entering [coming, one going] [in]; he who enters [goes, comes (in)]

Qal active participle with the definite article

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ma׳ărekeh (ה∵כ∵רֲע -מ) [pronounced mah-ģuh-reh-KEH]

row, rank, battle line; this is also translated armies

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4634 BDB #790


Translation: Then the man said to Eli, “I [am] the one coming from the battle,... You will note that the Septuagint is a bit more coherent here. It sounds as though the crowd of men is right there near Eli, within several hundred yards, all surrounding this man who was telling them what had happened on the battlefield. Eli stands up and calls out, “What is going on?” In the Septuagint, this would be the second time that Eli asks this question. The man, either realizing who Eli was or being told by someone in the crowd, breaks away from the crowd and runs over to Eli to speak to him. The Septuagint paints us a more complete picture that what we find in the Massoretic text. Now, is the Septuagint a paraphrase at this point or do we have a repetition based on a faulty manuscript or is it accurate? I don’t know, and the Dead Sea Scrolls is missing most of 1Sam. 4. In any case, complete picture or not, the differences here are minor.


In any case, the man identifies who he is and from where he came.


1Samuel 4:16b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ânîy (י.נָא) [pronounced aw-NEE]

I, me; in answer to a question, it means I am, it is I

1st person singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #589 BDB #58

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ma׳ărekeh (ה∵כ∵רֲע -מ) [pronounced mah-ģuh-reh-KEH]

row, rank, battle line; this is also translated armies

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4634 BDB #790

nûwç (סנ) [pronounced noose]

to flee, to flee from, to escape, to depart, to hasten quickly [away]

1st ps, Qal perfect

Strong's #5127 BDB #630

yôwm (םי) [pronounced yohm]

day; time; today (with a definite article)

masculine singular noun with a definite article

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398


Translation: ...and I fled from the battlefield today.” The verb is the 1st person, Qal perfect of to flee, to flee from, to escape, to depart, to hasten quickly [away]. Again, this is probably this man’s responsibility and not a matter of deserting the troops.


1Samuel 4:16c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

dâbâr (רָבָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

These three words have been translated in a myriad of ways: How is the matter? (Kukis ML) How did the matter go? (LTHB, NKJV, MKJV); How did it go? (The Amplified Bible, ESV, Owen); How went the matter? (HNV, WEB); How did things go? (NASB, NRSV); What has been the matter? (Updated Young Translation); and then we have the less literal renderings of this phrase: What happened? (God’s Word™, NIV, the Tanakh); What was the outcome? (HCSB); What is the news? (REB); What has happened? (NJB). This set of translations are taken from 2Sam. 1:4.

bên (ן ֵ) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119


Translation: And he [Eli] said, “How is the matter, my son?” Properly, in a traditional English format, we would have a new paragraph, as Eli will now speak. He asks: “How is the matter, my son?” or, “What is the word, my son?”


There are several implications of deference here. First, instead of speaking to him, the younger man speaks unto him, which generally indicates respect. Next, the younger man allows Eli to speak, rather than rushing right into the details of what has happened.


This situation, interestingly enough, parallels the beginning of 2Samuel. Saul will have gone into battle with the Philistines (1Sam. 31:1), and, after the outcome of the battle has bene decided, a man will run from the battle to David. The man will have his clothes torn and there is dust on his head. Then David asks him what happened, and he tells David that the infantry retreated and deserted, and that Saul and his son Jonathan are both dead (2Sam. 1:1–5). The question asked here is identical to the question David will ask the Amalekite in 2Sam. 1:4.


And so answers the bringer of tidings and says, “Fled Israel to faces of Philistines and also a slaughter great was in the people; and also a pair of your sons died, Hophni and Phinehas; and an Ark of the Elohim was taken.”

1Samuel

4:17

So the one bringing the tidings answered and said, “Israel fled before the Philistines and the slaughter was great among the people; furthermore, your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died. Also, the Ark of God was captured.”

Then the messenger answered Eli, saying, “Israel retreated from the Philistines and there was a great slaughter among the people. Also, your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead. Furthermore, the Ark of God was captured.”


What we have here is quite a tremendous blow, nationally, personally and spiritually to Eli. Israel was soundly defeated before the Philistines, Eli’s two sons died in battle, and the Ark of God was captured by the Philistines. Actually, if anything, these things build in intensity. We have come out of the time period of the judges, so Israel’s defeat in battle and subsequent slavery had occurred several times already to different portions of Israel. However, the loss of his sons, was particularly devastating to Eli. When a mother loses a son, even if he is executed for brutally and callously murdering someone, she is still grief-stricken, because she remembers the innocent boy he once was. Hophni and Phinehas may have been callous jerks for most of their lives, but Eli in part shielded himself from that aspect of their lives; and, like any father, he saw what he believed to be good in them. In any case, because they did not believe in the God of Israel, they would spend eternity in torment, separated from Eli forever.


Now, here are the various translations:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so answers the bringer of tidings and says, “Fled Israel to faces of Philistines and also a slaughter great was in the people; and also a pair of your sons died, Hophni and Phinehas; and an Ark of the Elohim was taken.”

Septuagint                             And the young man answered and said, “The men of Israel fled from the face of the Philistines, and there was a great slaughter among the people, and both your sons are dead, and the Ark of God is taken.”

 

Significant differences:          The young man is referred to differently in the Greek and the Hebrew. This does not affect the meaning signif