The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
The Philistines, at this time, had mustered their forces for battle, and the Israelites went out to meet them in arms, encamping at the Rock of Deliverance; the Philistines were encamped at Aphec.✻
So now the Philistines marshalled their forces, and when battle was joined, they put the Israelites to rout; four thousand men were killed in that fight, scattered through the countryside.
So the army fell back upon its encampment; and now the elders of Israel were at a loss; why had the Lord so left them at the mercy of the Philistines? They would send to Silo for the ark that bore record of the Lord’s covenant; surely he would come into their midst, and save them from the power of their enemies.
The ark of the Lord of hosts, who sits enthroned above the Cherubim! They brought it there all the way from Silo; and with the ark came the two sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees.
Loud was the cry all Israel raised when the ark reached their camp, so loud that the earth rang again;
and the Philistines, hearing it, wondered what could have set the Hebrew camp in such an uproar. When they were told that the ark of the Lord had been brought there,
they were in a great taking of fear; God himself, they said, has come into the camp! And they groaned aloud;
An ill day for us! Such confidence has never been theirs till now; an ill day! What defence have we against such heavenly powers as these? These are the powers that brought great plagues on Egypt, out yonder in the desert.
Philistines, you must summon up your courage, and play the man, or these Hebrew slaves are like to be your masters. Courage, then; to arms!
And they fought so well that Israel was utterly defeated, every man making for his own home in flight; here was a great disaster, in which thirty thousand of Israel’s warriors fell.
The ark of God, too, was taken by the enemy, and Heli’s sons, Ophni and Phinees, were killed.
There was a man of Benjamin that ran from the field, and reached Silo that same day, with torn garments, and dust scattered on his head.
At the time when he reached it, Heli was sitting there waiting for news, on a seat by the wayside; his heart misgave him for the safety of God’s ark. When the tidings so brought were made known publicly, the whole city fell to lamenting.
The noise of it came to Heli’s ears, and he asked what this tumult should mean. With all speed the messenger came up and told his news.
(Heli was then ninety-eight years old; his eyes were dim with age now, and sightless.)
I come with news of the battle, he said; this very day I have run back from the army. And the news, my son, asked Heli; what is the news?
Israel has been routed by the Philistines, the messenger answered, and there is great havoc wrought among the people; and thy two sons, Ophni and Phinees, are dead; and the ark of God was taken.
And Heli, when he heard mention made of God’s ark, fell backwards from his seat, there in the door-way, and broke his neck, and died; so old a man was he, so spent with age. For forty years he had ruled Israel.
His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinees, was then in her pregnancy, and near her time; she too heard that the ark of God had been taken, that her father-in-law was dead and her husband besides, whereupon her pangs bowed her down suddenly, and she gave birth.
She was at the point of death when the women about her said, Take heart, thou hast borne a son; but she gave no answer, and took no heed.
Only she gave her son the name of Ichabod, thinking how the divine presence had left Israel, now the ark was taken; thinking, too, of her father-in-law and her husband;
but it was the loss of God’s ark that made her say, The splendour has passed away from Israel.
The Holy Bible