Shmuel 1-Chapter 4: The war against the Philistines

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Chapter 4: The war against the Philistines

1. The Jewish people go to war against the Philistines:

  • The words that G-d had told Shmuel began occurring to the Jewish people.[1]
  • The Jewish people went to wage war against the philistines [without consulting with Shmuel or the Urim Vetumim[2]] and the encamped in the area [Which would in the future be[3]] called Evan Haezer while the Philistines encamped in the area called Afiq. The Philistines prepared for war against the Jewish people and the soldiers spread out and cause the Jewish people to run away from the philistines.
  • Many Jews fall in battle: During the battle 4000 Jewish soldiers fell in the field.

2. The Aron is brought to escort the Jewish people in the next battle:

  • Bringing the Ark of G-d to the battlefield: The nation returned to the camp and the elders of Israel asked why there were caused the fleet today before the philistines and they came up with the following tactic to take the Aron Habris of G-d from the city of Shiloh and they will travel with them in battle and bring them Salvation from their enemies. So, the people sent messengers to Shilo and carried the Aron Habris of G-d Tzevakos. The two sons of coming Eili, Chafni and Pinchas, were there with the Aron Habris.
  • Receiving the Ark with trepidation: When the Ark of G-d arrived at the camp all the Jewish people trumpeted a great sound and the earth trembled.
  • The Philistines react to the Jewish people bringing the Ark with them to the battlefield: The philistines heard the sound of the trumpets and they said: What is the sound of a great trumpet that we are hearing in the camp of the Jews? And they discovered that the Ark of G-d had arrived at the camp. The philistines became petrified, exclaiming that G-d has come to the camp. They said, woe is on to us, as this has not occurred to us before, neither yesterday nor the day before. Woe is on to us, as who will save us from this great and mighty G-d, the same G-d who smote the Egyptians with plagues in the desert [i.e. in the red sea[4]]. They proclaimed: be strong and be men fellow philistines, blessed will become subjugated to the Israelites just as they were subjugated to us in the past. Be men and fight.

3. The tragic outcomes of the battle:

  • Many Jews fall again in the second battle: The philistines fought against the Israelites and the Jewish people fled each man to his tent and the defeat was very great. 30,000 foot soldiers were killed.
  • The Ark is taken: The Ark of G-d was taken by the philistines.
  • The two sons of Eily die: the two sons of Eily, Chafni and Pinchas, die.

4. Eily is informed of the tragic news and passes away:

  • Shaul arrives to Shiloh to inform them of the tragic news: A man from the tribe of Binyamin who fled from the battlefield arrived in Shilo on that day. His clothing was torn and earth was placed on his head [as a sign of mourning]. [The Midrash states that this man was none other than Shaul the son of Kish, who managed to grab the Luchos from the hands of Goliath and save them from captivity.[5]] When he arrived, Eily was reclining on a chair in an observatory position [near the road, waiting for an anniversary to arrive with the news], as he was anxious regarding the Ark of G-d. The man arrived and informed the entire city of the news and the city gave out a loud cry. Eily heard the commotion and cry of desperation and asked as to why this was happening, so the man was hurriedly summoned, and he informed Eily of the tragic news.
  • The age of Eily: Eily was 98 years old at the time and was blind.
  • Shaul informs Eily of the tragedy: The man [Shaul] told Eily that he is the person who has come from the battlefield and he has fled from there on this day. Eily inquired by saying “My son, tell me what happened?” So, the man heralding the news said: The Jewish people fled from the philistines, and there were many victims who fell in battle amongst the nation, likewise your two sons Chafni and Pinchas have died, and the Ark of G-d has been taken. When the man mentioned that the Ark of G-d had been taken, Eily fell from his chair backwards towards the handle of the gate and cracked his spine and died, as the man was very old and heavy.
  • Eily had judged the Jewish people for 40 years   

5. The wife of Pinchas dies in childbirth:

  • The daughter in law [of Eily] and wife of Pinchas was pregnant [towards the end of her pregnancy[6]] when she heard the news that the Ark of G-d was taken, and of the death of her father in law and husband. She began to give birth as her contractions became very strong [and became deadly]. At the time of her death she was informed by those surrounding her that she should not fear as a son has been born to her. however, she did not answer, and she did not pay attention to their words. The lad was called the name “Iy Kavod” [by his mother] which means lack of honor, to say that the honor of Israel has been exiled the Ark of G-d taken and the father in law and husband of the mother killed. She explained but the main intent of the name however is that the honor of Israel has been exiled as the Ark of G-d has been taken.


[1] See Rashi 3:1; Mahariy Karo 3:1; However see Radak 3:1 that the meaning of this verse is that G-d had instructed Shmuel to tell the Jewish people to go to war in order to punish them in the hands of the philistines

[2] Ralbag 3:1

[3] See Rashi 3:1

[4] Rashi 4:8

[5] Rashi 4:12; See Radak ibid

[6] Radak and Metzudos David 4:19

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