111About a month later King Nahash of Ammon led his army against the town of Jabesh in the territory of Gilead and besieged it. The men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will accept you as our ruler.”
2Nahash answered, “I will make a treaty with you on one condition: I will put out everyone's right eye and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”
3The leaders of Jabesh said, “Give us seven days to send messengers throughout the land of Israel. If no one will help us, then we will surrender to you.”
4The messengers arrived at Gibeah, where Saul lived, and when they told the news, the people started crying in despair. 5Saul was just coming in from the field with his oxen, and he asked, “What's wrong? Why is everyone crying?” They told him what the messengers from Jabesh had reported. 6When Saul heard this, the Spirit of God took control of him, and he became furious. 7He took two oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent messengers to carry the pieces throughout the land of Israel with this warning: “Whoever does not follow Saul and Samuel into battle will have this done to his oxen!”
The people of Israel were afraid of what the LORD might do, and all of them, without exception, came out together. 8Saul gathered them at Bezek: there were 300,000 from Israel and 30,000 from Judah. 9They said to the messengers from Jabesh, “Tell your people that before noon tomorrow they will be rescued.” When the people of Jabesh received the message, they were overjoyed 10and said to Nahash, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do with us whatever you wish.”
11That night Saul divided his men into three groups, and at dawn they rushed into the enemy camp and attacked the Ammonites. By noon they had slaughtered them. The survivors scattered, each man running off by himself.
12Then the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Where are the people who said that Saul should not be our king? Hand them over to us, and we will kill them!”
13But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this is the day the LORD rescued Israel.” 14And Samuel said to them, “Let us all go to Gilgal and once more proclaim Saul as our king.” 15So they all went to Gilgal, and there at the holy place they proclaimed Saul king. They offered fellowship sacrifices, and Saul and all the people of Israel celebrated the event.
121Then Samuel said to the people of Israel, “I have done what you asked me to do. I have given you a king to rule you, 2and now you have him to lead you. As for me, I am old and grey, and my sons are with you. I have been your leader from my youth until now. 3Here I am. If I have done anything wrong, accuse me now in the presence of the LORD and the king he has chosen. Have I taken anybody's cow or anybody's donkey? Have I cheated or oppressed anyone? Have I accepted a bribe from anyone? If I have done any of these things, I will pay back what I have taken.”
4The people answered, “No, you have not cheated us or oppressed us; you have not taken anything from anyone.”
5Samuel replied, “The LORD and the king he has chosen are witnesses today that you have found me to be completely innocent.”
“Yes, the LORD is our witness,” they answered.
Samuel continued, “The LORD is the one who chose Moses and Aaron and who brought your ancestors out of Egypt. 7Now stand where you are, and I will accuse you before the LORD by reminding you12.7 One ancient translation by reminding you; Hebrew does not have these words. of all the mighty actions the LORD did to save you and your ancestors. 8
When Jacob and his family went to Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them,12.8 One ancient translation and the Egyptians oppressed them; Hebrew does not have these words. your ancestors cried to the LORD for help, and he sent Moses and Aaron, who brought them out of Egypt and settled them in this land. 9
But the people forgot the LORD their God, and so he let the Philistines and the king of Moab and Sisera, commander of the army of the city of Hazor, fight against your ancestors and conquer them. 10
Then they cried to the LORD for help and said, ‘We have sinned, because we turned away from you, LORD, and worshipped the idols of Baal and Astarte. Rescue us from our enemies, and we will worship you!’ 11
And the LORD sent Gideon, Barak,12.11 Some ancient translations Barak; Hebrew Bedan. Jephthah, and finally me. Each of us rescued you from your enemies, and you lived in safety. 12
But when you saw that King Nahash of Ammon was about to attack you, you rejected the LORD as your king and said to me, ‘We want a king to rule us.’
13“Now here is the king you chose; you asked for him, and now the LORD has given him to you. 14All will go well with you if you honour the LORD your God, serve him, listen to him, and obey his commands, and if you and your king follow him. 15But if you do not listen to the LORD but disobey his commands, he will be against you and your king.12.15 One ancient translation your king; Hebrew your ancestors. 16So then, stand where you are, and you will see the great thing which the LORD is going to do. 17It's the dry season, isn't it? But I will pray, and the LORD will send thunder and rain. When this happens, you will realize that you committed a great sin against the LORD when you asked him for a king.”
18So Samuel prayed, and on that same day the LORD sent thunder and rain. Then all the people became afraid of the LORD and of Samuel, 19and they said to Samuel, “Please, sir, pray to the LORD your God for us, so that we won't die. We now realize that, besides all our other sins, we have sinned by asking for a king.”
20“Don't be afraid,” Samuel answered. “Even though you have done such an evil thing, do not turn away from the LORD, but serve him with all your heart. 21Don't go after12.21 Some ancient translations after; Hebrew because after. false gods; they cannot help you or save you, for they are not real. 22The LORD has made a solemn promise, and he will not abandon you, for he has decided to make you his own people. 23As for me, the LORD forbid that I should sin against him by no longer praying for you. Instead, I will teach you what is good and right for you to do. 24Obey the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Remember the great things he has done for you. 25But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be destroyed.”
13113.1 One ancient translation does not have verse 1; Hebrew has as verse 1 Saul was… years old when he became king, and he was king of Israel for two years. The Hebrew text is defective at two points in this verse. 2Saul picked 3,000 men, keeping 2,000 of them with him in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel and sending 1,000 with his son Jonathan to Gibeah, in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The rest of the men Saul sent home.
3Jonathan killed the Philistine commander13.3 killed the Philistine commander; or defeated the Philistines camping. in Geba, and all the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul sent messengers to call the Hebrews to war by blowing a trumpet throughout the whole country. 4All the Israelites were told that Saul had killed the Philistine commander and that the Philistines hated them. So the people answered the call to join Saul at Gilgal.
5The Philistines assembled to fight the Israelites; they had 30,000 war chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and as many soldiers as there are grains of sand on the seashore. They went to Michmash, east of Bethaven, and camped there. 6Then they launched a strong attack against the Israelites, putting them in a desperate situation. Some of the Israelites hid in caves and holes or among the rocks or in pits and wells; 7others crossed the River Jordan into the territories of Gad and Gilead.
Saul was still at Gilgal, and the people with him were trembling with fear. 8
He waited seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him to do, but Samuel still had not come to Gilgal. The people began to desert Saul, 9so he said to them, “Bring me the burnt sacrifices and the fellowship sacrifices.” He offered a burnt sacrifice, 10and just as he was finishing, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet him and welcome him, 11but Samuel said, “What have you done?”
Saul answered, “The people were deserting me, and you had not come when you said you would; besides that, the Philistines are gathering at Michmash. 12So I thought, ‘The Philistines are going to attack me here in Gilgal, and I have not tried to win the LORD's favour.’ So I felt I had to offer a sacrifice.”
13“That was a foolish thing to do,” Samuel answered. “You have not obeyed the command the LORD your God gave you. If you had obeyed, he would have let you and your descendants rule over Israel for ever. 14
But now your rule will not continue. Because you have disobeyed him, the LORD will find the kind of man he wants and make him ruler of his people.”
15Samuel left Gilgal and went on his way. The rest of the people followed Saul as he went to join his soldiers. They went from Gilgal13.15 Some ancient translations on his way… went from Gilgal; Hebrew does not have these words. to Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. Saul inspected his troops, about 600 men. 16Saul, his son Jonathan, and their men camped in Geba in the territory of Benjamin; the Philistine camp was at Michmash. 17The Philistine soldiers went out on raids from their camp in three groups: one group went towards Ophrah in the territory of Shual, 18another went towards Beth Horon, and the other one went to the border overlooking the Valley of Zeboim and the wilderness.
19There were no blacksmiths in Israel because the Philistines were determined to keep the Hebrews from making swords and spears. 20(The Israelites had to go to the Philistines to get their ploughs, hoes, axes, and sickles13.20 One ancient translation sickles; Hebrew ploughs. sharpened; 21the charge was one small coin for sharpening axes and for repairing ox goads,13.21 Probable text the charge… repairing ox goads; Hebrew unclear. and two coins for sharpening ploughs or hoes.) 22And so on the day of battle none of the Israelite soldiers except Saul and his son Jonathan had swords or spears.
23The Philistines sent a group of soldiers to defend the pass of Michmash.