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And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. And when the people were come into the camp,
thie elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines ? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of GOD.
And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews ? and they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
And the Philistines" ere afraid; for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Wo unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
Wo unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods ? these are the gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
Be strong and quit yourselves like men, Oye Philistines, that
be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you : quit yourselves like men, and fight.
And the Philistineš fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent; and there was a VOL. II.
very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
And when he came, lo Eli sat upon a seat by the way-side, 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.
And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? and the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
Now Eli was ninety and nine years old ; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the And he said, What is there done, my son? And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among
the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
And it came to pass when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake and he died; for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years. And his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, bare a son at that time, and she died also; and she said, The glory is departed from Israel, for the .ark of Gon is taken.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The people of Israel, finding that they had actually a prophet amongst them, began to think it was a proper time to attempt to free themselves from the Philistines; but they set about this important business in a very irregular and unlawful manner, neglecting to ask coun. sel of God, and reform their lives; they were therefore suffered to fall a prey to their enemies. One would have supposed, that ill success would have reminded them of their duty; but instead of repenting, they seem to have relied on the goodness of their cause, and to think that they could oblige God to appear for them in vindication of His honour, by having the ark in the camp.
very blameable in suffering the ark to be removed; and his sons, who had doubtless been informed of the judgments denounced against them, were impious to the last degree in presuming to carry it; especially, as there was in the law of Moses an express command, that, when the people were settled in Canaan, the ark should rest, that all might come to it.
It was customary for the heathens to carry images of their false deities to battle, to which they imputed all their successes ; no wonder, therefore, that they should be alarmed at hearing that the ark, before which the walls of Jericho had fallen to the ground, was in the camp of Israel; but could the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for whom so many miracles had been wrought, be so ignorant as to suppose that it was in their power to command the Divine PRESENCE to attend their motions? or that the living Gov, the King of Kings, and LORD of LORDS, would subniit to be ranked with idols ?
There is no difficulty in accounting for the defeat which God pernitted the Philistines to give to the Israelites; it certainly was intended to teach them how -wrong it was to trust to external privileges, and fancy that the ark would save them, when God was departed.
Eli appears in this instance to have acted contrary to the dictates of his own mind, and to have suffered his sons to usurp that authority which belonged to him : for we find he was in great agitation of mind, his heart - trembled for the ark, lest it should fall into the hands of the Philistines ; as Israel, especially his own sons, had forfeited it. Now the dreadful threatening comes to his mind that he should see, as a prophet told him, an enemy in God's habitation! When the messenger ar. rived, wearing sackcloth and ashes, the ensigns of distress, he eagerly demanded what was done? With courage
and fortitude he heard of the slaughter of the people, and the death of Hophni and Phinehas; but the loss of the ARK entirely overcame him, for he knew there was no comfort left for Israel, now the GLORY of the LORD was departed.
It was become necessary, for the sake of religion, that those who violated its holy institutions, and suffered others to do so, should be pointed out to the world by exemplary punishments. Eli was certainly a devout man, but as judge and high-priest he was faulty, it is to be hoped that his penitence procured the pardon of God, and that his punishment was only temporal.
In respect to this mode of government, Eli seems to have differed from all former judges; they were distinguished for personal courage, and, by the extraor. dinary aid of the LORD, they subdued the enemies of Israel, but assumed no authority over them in time of peace; for under them (Joshua excepted) every man did that which was right in his own eyes, but it appears, that on account of his being high-priest, the people chose Eli as the properest judge to decide controversies
In the Christian dispensation there is no ark of the covenant, but we are well assured, that the LORD as certainly dwells with us, as He did with the Israelites (though invisible). We may however provoke him to withdraw His presence if we attempt to dishonour Him; let us therefore remember, that it is the glory of a nation to have the Lord amongst them; and let us strive, by the means He has pointed out in the Scriptures, to invite God to abide with us.
From 1 Sam. Chap. v. And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod.
When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD.. And they took Dagon and set him in his place again.
And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD: and the head of Dagon and both the palais of his hands were cut off upon the threshold: only the stump of Dagon was left to him.