The Ill-Fated Pelishti War // Simply Tanach: Shmuel's "Book of Shmuel" (Shmuel I: Perakim 1-7) -- *Perek 4*
The Main Text:
1 א

(א) וַיְהִ֥י דְבַר־שְׁמוּאֵ֖ל לְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיֵּצֵ֣א יִשְׂרָאֵל֩ לִקְרַ֨את פְּלִשְׁתִּ֜ים לַמִּלְחָמָ֗ה וַֽיַּחֲנוּ֙ עַל־הָאֶ֣בֶן הָעֵ֔זֶר וּפְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים חָנ֥וּ בַאֲפֵֽק׃

(ב) וַיַּעַרְכ֨וּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֜ים לִקְרַ֣את יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וַתִּטֹּשׁ֙ הַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וַיִּנָּ֥גֶף יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לִפְנֵ֣י פְלִשְׁתִּ֑ים וַיַּכּ֤וּ בַמַּֽעֲרָכָה֙ בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה כְּאַרְבַּ֥עַת אֲלָפִ֖ים אִֽישׁ׃

(ג) וַיָּבֹ֣א הָעָם֮ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה֒ וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ זִקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לָ֣מָּה נְגָפָ֧נוּ יקוק הַיּ֖וֹם לִפְנֵ֣י פְלִשְׁתִּ֑ים נִקְחָ֧ה אֵלֵ֣ינוּ מִשִּׁלֹ֗ה אֶת־אֲרוֹן֙ בְּרִ֣ית יקוק וְיָבֹ֣א בְקִרְבֵּ֔נוּ וְיֹשִׁעֵ֖נוּ מִכַּ֥ף אֹיְבֵֽינוּ׃

(ד) וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח הָעָם֙ שִׁלֹ֔ה וַיִּשְׂא֣וּ מִשָּׁ֗ם אֵ֣ת אֲר֧וֹן בְּרִית־יקוק צְבָא֖וֹת יֹשֵׁ֣ב הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י עִם־אֲרוֹן֙ בְּרִ֣ית הָאֱלֹקִ֔ים חָפְנִ֖י וּפִֽינְחָֽס׃

(ה) וַיְהִ֗י כְּב֨וֹא אֲר֤וֹן בְּרִית־יקוק אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיָּרִ֥עוּ כָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תְּרוּעָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה וַתֵּהֹ֖ם הָאָֽרֶץ׃

(ו) וַיִּשְׁמְע֤וּ פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ אֶת־ק֣וֹל הַתְּרוּעָ֔ה וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ מֶ֠ה ק֣וֹל הַתְּרוּעָ֧ה הַגְּדוֹלָ֛ה הַזֹּ֖את בְּמַחֲנֵ֣ה הָעִבְרִ֑ים וַיֵּ֣דְע֔וּ כִּ֚י אֲר֣וֹן יקוק בָּ֖א אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃

(ז) וַיִּֽרְאוּ֙ הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים כִּ֣י אָמְר֔וּ בָּ֥א אֱלֹקִ֖ים אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה וַיֹּאמְרוּ֙ א֣וֹי לָ֔נוּ כִּ֣י לֹ֥א הָיְתָ֛ה כָּזֹ֖את אֶתְמ֥וֹל שִׁלְשֹֽׁם׃

(ח) א֣וֹי לָ֔נוּ מִ֣י יַצִּילֵ֔נוּ מִיַּ֛ד הָאֱלֹקִ֥ים הָאַדִּירִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה אֵ֧לֶּה הֵ֣ם הָאֱלֹקִ֗ים הַמַּכִּ֧ים אֶת־מִצְרַ֛יִם בְּכָל־מַכָּ֖ה בַּמִּדְבָּֽר׃

(ט) הִֽתְחַזְּק֞וּ וִֽהְי֤וּ לַֽאֲנָשִׁים֙ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים פֶּ֚ן תַּעַבְד֣וּ לָעִבְרִ֔ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר עָבְד֖וּ לָכֶ֑ם וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם לַאֲנָשִׁ֖ים וְנִלְחַמְתֶּֽם׃

(י) וַיִּלָּחֲמ֣וּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֗ים וַיִּנָּ֤גֶף יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וַיָּנֻ֙סוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ לְאֹהָלָ֔יו וַתְּהִ֥י הַמַּכָּ֖ה גְּדוֹלָ֣ה מְאֹ֑ד וַיִּפֹּל֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל שְׁלֹשִׁ֥ים אֶ֖לֶף רַגְלִֽי׃

(יא) וַאֲר֥וֹן אֱלֹקִ֖ים נִלְקָ֑ח וּשְׁנֵ֤י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִי֙ מֵ֔תוּ חָפְנִ֖י וּפִֽינְחָֽס׃

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(יב) וַיָּ֤רָץ אִישׁ־בִּנְיָמִן֙ מֵהַמַּ֣עֲרָכָ֔ה וַיָּבֹ֥א שִׁלֹ֖ה בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא וּמַדָּ֣יו קְרֻעִ֔ים וַאֲדָמָ֖ה עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃

(יג) וַיָּב֗וֹא וְהִנֵּ֣ה עֵ֠לִי יֹשֵׁ֨ב עַֽל־הַכִּסֵּ֜א יך [יַ֥ד] דֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ מְצַפֶּ֔ה כִּֽי־הָיָ֤ה לִבּוֹ֙ חָרֵ֔ד עַ֖ל אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹקִ֑ים וְהָאִ֗ישׁ בָּ֚א לְהַגִּ֣יד בָּעִ֔יר וַתִּזְעַ֖ק כָּל־הָעִֽיר׃

(יד) וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע עֵלִי֙ אֶת־ק֣וֹל הַצְּעָקָ֔ה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מֶ֛ה ק֥וֹל הֶהָמ֖וֹן הַזֶּ֑ה וְהָאִ֣ישׁ מִהַ֔ר וַיָּבֹ֖א וַיַּגֵּ֥ד לְעֵלִֽי׃

(טו) וְעֵלִ֕י בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים וּשְׁמֹנֶ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וְעֵינָ֣יו קָ֔מָה וְלֹ֥א יָכ֖וֹל לִרְאֽוֹת׃

(טז) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הָאִ֜ישׁ אֶל־עֵלִ֗י אָֽנֹכִי֙ הַבָּ֣א מִן־הַמַּעֲרָכָ֔ה וַאֲנִ֕י מִן־הַמַּעֲרָכָ֖ה נַ֣סְתִּי הַיּ֑וֹם וַיֹּ֛אמֶר מֶֽה־הָיָ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר בְּנִֽי׃

(יז) וַיַּ֨עַן הַֽמְבַשֵּׂ֜ר וַיֹּ֗אמֶר נָ֤ס יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לִפְנֵ֣י פְלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וְגַ֛ם מַגֵּפָ֥ה גְדוֹלָ֖ה הָיְתָ֣ה בָעָ֑ם וְגַם־שְׁנֵ֨י בָנֶ֜יךָ מֵ֗תוּ חָפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣ינְחָ֔ס וַאֲר֥וֹן הָאֱלֹקִ֖ים נִלְקָֽחָה׃ (פ)

(יח) וַיְהִ֞י כְּהַזְכִּיר֣וֹ ׀ אֶת־אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹקִ֗ים וַיִּפֹּ֣ל מֵֽעַל־הַ֠כִּסֵּא אֲחֹ֨רַנִּ֜ית בְּעַ֣ד ׀ יַ֣ד הַשַּׁ֗עַר וַתִּשָּׁבֵ֤ר מַפְרַקְתּוֹ֙ וַיָּמֹ֔ת כִּֽי־זָקֵ֥ן הָאִ֖ישׁ וְכָבֵ֑ד וְה֛וּא שָׁפַ֥ט אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אַרְבָּעִ֥ים שָׁנָֽה׃

(יט) וְכַלָּת֣וֹ אֵֽשֶׁת־פִּינְחָס֮ הָרָ֣ה לָלַת֒ וַתִּשְׁמַ֣ע אֶת־הַשְּׁמֻעָ֔ה אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹקִ֔ים וּמֵ֥ת חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָׁ֑הּ וַתִּכְרַ֣ע וַתֵּ֔לֶד כִּֽי־נֶהֶפְכ֥וּ עָלֶ֖יהָ צִרֶֽיהָ׃

(כ) וּכְעֵ֣ת מוּתָ֗הּ וַתְּדַבֵּ֙רְנָה֙ הַנִּצָּב֣וֹת עָלֶ֔יהָ אַל־תִּֽירְאִ֖י כִּ֣י בֵ֣ן יָלָ֑דְתְּ וְלֹ֥א עָנְתָ֖ה וְלֹא־שָׁ֥תָה לִבָּֽהּ׃

(כא) וַתִּקְרָ֣א לַנַּ֗עַר אִֽי־כָבוֹד֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר גָּלָ֥ה כָב֖וֹד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֶל־הִלָּקַח֙ אֲר֣וֹן הָאֱלֹקִ֔ים וְאֶל־חָמִ֖יהָ וְאִישָֽׁהּ׃

(כב) וַתֹּ֕אמֶר גָּלָ֥ה כָב֖וֹד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּ֥י נִלְקַ֖ח אֲר֥וֹן הָאֱלֹקִֽים׃ (פ)

(1) and Samuel’s word went forth to all Israel. Israel marched out to engage the Philistines in battle; they encamped near Eben-ezer, while the Philistines encamped at Aphek.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.”

(4) 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.

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

(6) 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 LORD had come to the camp,

(7) the Philistines were frightened; for they said, “God has come to the camp.” And they cried, “Woe to us! Nothing like this has ever happened before.

(8) 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!

(9) 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!”

(10) 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.

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

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

(13) 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.

(14) 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.

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

(16) The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battlefield; I have just fled from the battlefield.” [Eli] asked, “What happened, my son?”

(17) The bearer of the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines and the troops also suffered a great slaughter. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the Ark of God has been captured.”

(18) When he mentioned the Ark of God, [Eli] fell backward off the seat beside the gate, broke his neck and died; for he was an old man and heavy. He had been a chieftain of Israel for forty years.

(19) His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was with child, about to give birth. When she heard the report that the Ark of God was captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she was seized with labor pains, and she crouched down and gave birth.

(20) As she lay dying, the women attending her said, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not respond or pay heed.

(21) She named the boy Ichabod, meaning, “The glory has departed from Israel”—referring to the capture of the Ark of God and to [the death of] her father-in-law and her husband.

(22) “The glory is gone from Israel,” she said, “for the Ark of God has been captured.”

2 ב

SUPPORTING TEXTS:

Two Examples of the Pelishti war strategy:
3 ג

(ט) וַיַּעֲל֣וּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וַֽיַּחֲנ֖וּ בִּיהוּדָ֑ה וַיִּנָּטְשׁ֖וּ בַּלֶּֽחִי׃

(9) The Philistines came up, pitched camp in Judah and spread out over Lehi.

4 ד

(יח) וּפְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים בָּ֑אוּ וַיִּנָּטְשׁ֖וּ בְּעֵ֥מֶק רְפָאִֽים׃

(18) The Philistines came and spread out over the Valley of Rephaim.
The repudiation of the idea of using the Aron as the end and not just a means to reach HaShem:
5 ה

(ב) וַיְהִ֗י מִיּ֞וֹם שֶׁ֤בֶת הָֽאָרוֹן֙ בְּקִרְיַ֣ת יְעָרִ֔ים וַיִּרְבּוּ֙ הַיָּמִ֔ים וַיִּֽהְי֖וּ עֶשְׂרִ֣ים שָׁנָ֑ה וַיִּנָּה֛וּ כָּל־בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אַחֲרֵ֥י יקוק׃ (ס) (ג) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל אֶל־כָּל־בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ לֵאמֹר֒ אִם־בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֗ם אַתֶּ֤ם שָׁבִים֙ אֶל־יקוק הָסִ֜ירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹקֵ֧י הַנֵּכָ֛ר מִתּוֹכְכֶ֖ם וְהָעַשְׁתָּר֑וֹת וְהָכִ֨ינוּ לְבַבְכֶ֤ם אֶל־יקוק וְעִבְדֻ֣הוּ לְבַדּ֔וֹ וְיַצֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִיַּ֥ד פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃ (ד) וַיָּסִ֙ירוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶת־הַבְּעָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הָעַשְׁתָּרֹ֑ת וַיַּעַבְד֥וּ אֶת־יקוק לְבַדּֽוֹ׃ (פ)

(2) A long time elapsed from the day that the Ark was housed in Kiriath-jearim, twenty years in all; and all the House of Israel yearned after the LORD. (3) And Samuel said to all the House of Israel, “If you mean to return to the LORD with all your heart, you must remove the alien gods and the Ashtaroth from your midst and direct your heart to the LORD and serve Him alone. Then He will deliver you from the hands of the Philistines.” (4) And the Israelites removed the Baalim and Ashtaroth and they served the LORD alone.

Other examples of these signs of mourning:
6 ו

(ב) וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י וְהִנֵּה֩ אִ֨ישׁ בָּ֤א מִן־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה֙ מֵעִ֣ם שָׁא֔וּל וּבְגָדָ֣יו קְרֻעִ֔ים וַאֲדָמָ֖ה עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ וַיְהִי֙ בְּבֹא֣וֹ אֶל־דָּוִ֔ד וַיִּפֹּ֥ל אַ֖רְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּֽחוּ׃

(2) On the third day, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes rent and earth on his head; and as he approached David, he flung himself to the ground and bowed low.
7 ז

(לב) וַיְהִ֤י דָוִד֙ בָּ֣א עַד־הָרֹ֔אשׁ אֲשֶֽׁר־יִשְׁתַּחֲוֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם לֵאלֹקִ֑ים וְהִנֵּ֤ה לִקְרָאתוֹ֙ חוּשַׁ֣י הָאַרְכִּ֔י קָר֙וּעַ֙ כֻּתָּנְתּ֔וֹ וַאֲדָמָ֖ה עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃

(32) When David reached the top, where people would prostrate themselves to God, Hushai the Archite was there to meet him, with his robe torn and with earth on his head.
Comparing Rachel's death to Eishes Pinchas' death:
8 ח

(טז) וַיִּסְעוּ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית אֵ֔ל וַֽיְהִי־ע֥וֹד כִּבְרַת־הָאָ֖רֶץ לָב֣וֹא אֶפְרָ֑תָה וַתֵּ֥לֶד רָחֵ֖ל וַתְּקַ֥שׁ בְּלִדְתָּֽהּ׃ (יז) וַיְהִ֥י בְהַקְשֹׁתָ֖הּ בְּלִדְתָּ֑הּ וַתֹּ֨אמֶר לָ֤הּ הַמְיַלֶּ֙דֶת֙ אַל־תִּ֣ירְאִ֔י כִּֽי־גַם־זֶ֥ה לָ֖ךְ בֵּֽן׃ (יח) וַיְהִ֞י בְּצֵ֤את נַפְשָׁהּ֙ כִּ֣י מֵ֔תָה וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ בֶּן־אוֹנִ֑י וְאָבִ֖יו קָֽרָא־ל֥וֹ בִנְיָמִֽין׃ (יט) וַתָּ֖מָת רָחֵ֑ל וַתִּקָּבֵר֙ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ אֶפְרָ֔תָה הִ֖וא בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם׃ (כ) וַיַּצֵּ֧ב יַעֲקֹ֛ב מַצֵּבָ֖ה עַל־קְבֻרָתָ֑הּ הִ֛וא מַצֶּ֥בֶת קְבֻֽרַת־רָחֵ֖ל עַד־הַיּֽוֹם׃

(16) They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor. (17) When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.” (18) But as she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. (19) Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath—now Bethlehem. (20) Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at Rachel’s grave to this day.

9 ט

These next sources are photocopied from the Daat Mikra Bible Atlas by Mosad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem, Israel.

  • Pages 72-73: Explains the three "waves" of Philistine invaders.
  • Page 181: Explains the third (and final) "wave" in more details.
  • Pages 188-189: Explains the Battle of Even HaEzer.
10 י
11 יא
12 יב
13 יג
14 יד
15 טו

ADDITIONAL READING: