The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
Saul was (so many)✻ years old when he began to reign, and he had reigned for two years over Israel
when he picked an army of three thousand men. Of these, two thousand were under his own command, around Machmas and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand under Jonathan at Gabaa in Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent back to their homes.
But now Jonathan overpowered the Philistine garrison at Gabaa, and news of it was brought to the Philistines; whereupon Saul sounded an alarm all through the country, Hebrews, here is news for you!
So the word went round that Saul had overpowered a Philistine garrison, and Israel was at war with the Philistines; and they raised their battle-cry under Saul’s command at Galgala.
Meanwhile the Philistines mustered their forces to make war on Israel, their chariots thirty thousand, their horsemen six thousand strong, and the rest of their host countless as the sand by the sea. On they came, and encamped at Machmas, east of Bethaven.
And now the Israelite folk found themselves hard pressed; and their evil plight drove them to take hiding in den and thicket, cave and cleft and pit;
there were Hebrews, too, that fled across Jordan into Gad and Galaad. As for Saul, he stood his ground at Galgala, but it was a dispirited army that followed him.
For seven days he waited to keep tryst with Samuel, but still Samuel did not come; and meanwhile, men were deserting from his ranks;
so at last he bade them bring the victims for burnt-sacrifice and welcome-offering, and performed the sacrifice himself.
And now, when the burnt-sacrifice was over, he saw Samuel coming, and went out to greet him.
What is this thou hast done? Samuel asked. And he answered, I found that men were deserting from my ranks; thou hadst not kept the tryst, and already the Philistines had raised their standard at Machmas.
Can I let the Philistines sweep down on me here in Galgala, thought I, without first winning the Lord’s favour? So I offered the burnt-sacrifice; there was no other way.
But Samuel told him, This was great folly in thee, so to transgress the commands which the Lord thy God had given thee. But for this, the Lord would have destined thee, here and now, to found a line of kings that should have ruled Israel for ever.✻
Now thy dynasty shall fall with thee; the Lord has found a man to fulfil his purposes, and rule his people instead of thee; such is the reward of disobedience.
With that, Samuel left him, returning from Galgala to Gabaa in Benjamin. From Galgala, too, Saul and the forces that remained with him went up to Gabaa and the hill-country of Benjamin, to meet the attack; when he counted the roll, there were only some six hundred men to be found in his company.
There, at Gabaa, Saul and his son Jonathan encamped with their followers, while the Philistines confronted them at Machmas.
Meanwhile, there were three parties of the Philistine army that went out to find plunder; one of them to the Sual country, on the way to Ephra,
one by the Bethoron road, and one by the frontier path that looks down on the valley of Seboim, going out towards the desert.
(At this time, there were no workers in metal left in the whole of Israel; the Philistines had taken good care that the Hebrews should not be able to make sword or spear.
When a man would sharpen share or spade, axe or hoe, in whatever part of the country he lived, he must go down into the Philistine lands to do it.
Blunted were share and spade, fork and axe; even the goads needed to be straightened;
and in times of battle Saul and his son Jonathan were the only men in the army that carried sword or lance.)
There was, too, a detachment of the Philistines that guarded the pass to Machmas.
The Holy Bible