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.
141One day Jonathan said to the young man who carried his weapons, “Let's go across to the Philistine camp.” But Jonathan did not tell his father Saul, 2who was camping under a pomegranate tree in Migron, not far from Gibeah; he had about 600 men with him. 3(The priest carrying the ephod was Ahijah, the son of Ichabod's brother Ahitub, who was the son of Phinehas and grandson of Eli, the priest of the LORD in Shiloh.) The men did not know that Jonathan had left.
4In the pass of Michmash, which Jonathan had to go through to get over to the Philistine camp, there were two large jagged rocks, one on each side of the pass: one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. 5One was on the north side of the pass, facing Michmash, and the other was on the south side, facing Geba.
6Jonathan said to the young man, “Let's cross over to the camp of those heathen Philistines. Maybe the LORD will help us; if he does, nothing can keep him from giving us the victory, no matter how few of us there are.”
7The young man answered, “Whatever you want to do,14.7 One ancient translation you want to do; Hebrew you want to do. Turn. I'm with you.”
8“All right,” Jonathan said. “We will go across and let the Philistines see us. 9If they tell us to wait for them to come to us, then we will stay where we are. 10But if they tell us to go to them, then we will, because that will be the sign that the LORD has given us victory over them.”
11So they let the Philistines see them, and the Philistines said, “Look! Some Hebrews are coming out of the holes they have been hiding in!” 12Then they called out to Jonathan and the young man, “Come on up here! We have something to tell14.12 tell; or show. you!”
Jonathan said to the young man, “Follow me. The LORD has given Israel victory over them.” 13Jonathan climbed up out of the pass on his hands and knees, and the young man followed him. Jonathan attacked the Philistines and knocked them down, and the young man killed them. 14In that first slaughter Jonathan and the young man killed about twenty men in an area of about a quarter of a hectare.14.14 Probable text in an area of about a quarter of a hectare; Hebrew unclear. 15All the Philistines in the countryside were terrified; the raiders and the soldiers in the camp trembled with fear; the earth shook, and there was great panic.
16Saul's men on watch at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin saw the Philistines running in confusion. 17So Saul said to his men, “Count the soldiers and find out who is missing.” They did so and found that Jonathan and the young man who carried his weapons were missing. 18“Bring the ephod14.18 One ancient translation ephod (see 2.28); Hebrew Covenant Box. here,” Saul said to Ahijah the priest. (On that day Ahijah was carrying it in front of the people of Israel.)14.18 One ancient translation On that day… Israel; Hebrew Because on that day God's Covenant Box and the people of Israel. 19As Saul was speaking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp got worse and worse, so Saul said to him, “There's no time to consult the LORD!” 20Then he and his men marched into battle against the Philistines, who were fighting each other in complete confusion. 21Some Hebrews, who had been on the Philistine side and had gone with them to the camp, changed sides again14.21 Some ancient translations changed sides again; Hebrew around also. and joined Saul and Jonathan. 22Others, who had been hiding in the hills of Ephraim, heard that the Philistines were running away, so they also joined in and attacked the Philistines, 23fighting all the way beyond Bethaven. The LORD saved Israel that day.
24The Israelites were weak with hunger that day, because Saul, with a solemn oath, had given the order: “A curse be on anyone who eats any food today before I take revenge on my enemies.” So nobody had eaten anything all day. 25They all14.25 Probable text They all; Hebrew All the land. came into a wooded area and found honey everywhere. 26The woods were full of honey, but no one ate any of it because they were all afraid of Saul's curse. 27But Jonathan had not heard his father threaten the people with a curse; so he reached out with the stick he was carrying, dipped it in a honeycomb, and ate some honey. At once he felt much better. 28But one of the men said, “We are all weak with hunger, but your father threatened us and said, ‘A curse be on anyone who eats any food today.’ ”
29Jonathan answered, “What a terrible thing my father has done to our people! See how much better I feel because I ate some honey! 30How much better it would have been today if our people had eaten the food they took when they defeated the enemy. Just think how many more Philistines they would have killed!”
31That day the Israelites defeated the Philistines, fighting all the way from Michmash to Aijalon. By this time the Israelites were very weak with hunger, 32and so they rushed over to what they had captured from the enemy, took sheep and cattle, slaughtered them on the spot, and ate the meat with the blood still in it. 33
Saul was told, “Look, the people are sinning against the LORD by eating meat with the blood in it.”
“You are traitors!” Saul cried out. “Roll a big stone over here14.33 One ancient translation here; Hebrew today. to me.” 34Then he gave another order: “Go among the people and tell them all to bring their cattle and sheep here. They are to slaughter them and eat them here; they must not sin against the LORD by eating meat with blood in it.” So that night they all brought their cattle and slaughtered them there. 35Saul built an altar to the LORD, the first one that he built.
36Saul said to his men, “Let's go down and attack the Philistines in the night, plunder them until dawn, and kill them all.”
“Do whatever you think best,” they answered.
But the priest said, “Let's consult God first.”
37So Saul asked God, “Shall I attack the Philistines? Will you give us victory?” But God did not answer that day. 38Then Saul said to the leaders of the people, “Come here and find out what sin was committed today. 39I promise by the living LORD, who gives Israel victory, that the guilty one will be put to death, even if he is my son Jonathan.” But no one said anything. 40Then Saul said to them, “All of you stand over there, and Jonathan and I will stand over here.”
“Do whatever you think best,” they answered.
Saul said to the LORD, the God of Israel, “LORD, why have you not answered me today? LORD, God of Israel, answer me by the sacred stones. If the guilt is Jonathan's or mine, answer by the Urim; but if it belongs to your people Israel,14.41 Some ancient translations answer me by the sacred stones… your people Israel; Hebrew does not have these words. answer by the Thummim.”14.41 Urim… Thummim: Two stones used by the priest to determine God's will; it is not known precisely how they were used. The answer indicated Jonathan and Saul; and the people were cleared. 42Then Saul said, “Decide between my son Jonathan and me.” And Jonathan was indicated. 43Then Saul asked Jonathan, “What have you done?”
Jonathan answered, “I ate a little honey with the stick I was holding. Here I am — I am ready to die.”
44Saul said to him, “May God strike me dead if you are not put to death!”
45But the people said to Saul, “Will Jonathan, who won this great victory for Israel, be put to death? No! We promise by the living LORD that he will not lose even a hair from his head. What he did today was done with God's help.” So the people saved Jonathan from being put to death.
46After that, Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they went back to their own territory.
47After Saul became king of Israel, he fought against all his enemies everywhere: the people of Moab, of Ammon, and of Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he fought he was victorious.14.47 One ancient translation was victorious; Hebrew acted wickedly. 48He fought heroically and defeated even the people of Amalek. He saved the Israelites from all attacks.
49Saul's sons were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua. His elder daughter was named Merab, and the younger one Michal. 50His wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz; his army commander was his cousin Abner, the son of his uncle Ner. 51Saul's father Kish and Abner's father Ner were sons of Abiel.
52As long as he lived, Saul had to fight fiercely against the Philistines. So whenever he found a man who was strong or brave, he would enlist him in his army.