1After the LORD's Covenant Box had been in Philistia for seven months, 2the people called the priests and the magicians and asked, “What shall we do with the Covenant Box of the LORD? If we send it back where it belongs, what shall we send with it?”
3They answered, “If you return the Covenant Box of the God of Israel, you must, of course, send with it a gift to him to pay for your sin. The Covenant Box must not go back without a gift. In this way you will be healed, and you will find out why he has kept on punishing you.”
4“What gift shall we send him?” the people asked.
They answered, “Five gold models of tumours and five gold mice, one of each for each Philistine king. The same plague was sent on all of you and on the five kings. 5You must make these models of the tumours and of the mice that are ravaging your country, and you must give honour to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will stop punishing you, your gods, and your land. 6Why should you be stubborn, as the king of Egypt and the Egyptians were? Don't forget how God made fools of them until they let the Israelites leave Egypt. 7So prepare a new wagon and two cows that have never been yoked; hitch them to the wagon and drive their calves back to the barn. 8Take the LORD's Covenant Box, put it on the wagon, and place in a box beside it the gold models that you are sending to him as a gift to pay for your sins. Start the wagon on its way and let it go by itself. 9Then watch it go; if it goes towards the town of Beth Shemesh, this means that it is the God of the Israelites who has sent this terrible disaster on us. But if it doesn't, then we will know that he did not send the plague; it was only a matter of chance.”
10They did what they were told: they took two cows and hitched them to the wagon, and shut the calves in the barn. 11They put the Covenant Box in the wagon, together with the box containing the gold models of the mice and of the tumours. 12The cows started off on the road to Beth Shemesh and headed straight towards it, without turning off the road. They were mooing as they went. The five Philistine kings followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.
13The people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley, when suddenly they looked up and saw the Covenant Box. They were overjoyed at the sight. 14The wagon came to a field belonging to a man named Joshua, who lived in Beth Shemesh, and it stopped there near a large rock. The people chopped up the wooden wagon and killed the cows and offered them as a burnt sacrifice to the LORD. 15The Levites lifted off the Covenant Box of the LORD and the box with the gold models in it, and placed them on the large rock. Then the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt sacrifices and other sacrifices to the LORD. 16The five Philistine kings watched them do this and then went back to Ekron that same day.
17The Philistines sent the five gold tumours to the LORD as a gift to pay for their sins, one each for the cities of Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. 18They also sent gold mice, one for each of the cities ruled by the five Philistine kings, both the fortified towns and the villages without walls. The large rock in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, on which they placed the LORD's Covenant Box, is still there as a witness to what happened.
19The LORD killed seventy of the men of Beth Shemesh because they looked inside the Covenant Box. And the people mourned because the LORD had caused such a great slaughter among them.
The Covenant Box at Kiriath Jearim
20So the men of Beth Shemesh said, “Who can stand before the LORD, this holy God? Where can we send him to get him away from us?” 21They sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim to say, “The Philistines have returned the LORD's Covenant Box. Come down and fetch it.”
1So the people of Kiriath Jearim fetched the LORD's Covenant Box and took it to the house of a man named Abinadab, who lived on a hill. They consecrated his son Eleazar to be in charge of it.
Samuel Rules Israel
2The Covenant Box of the LORD stayed in Kiriath Jearim a long time, some twenty years. During this time all the Israelites cried to the LORD for help.
3Samuel said to the people of Israel, “If you are going to turn to the LORD with all your hearts, you must get rid of all the foreign gods and the images of the goddess Astarte. Dedicate yourselves completely to the LORD and worship only him, and he will rescue you from the power of the Philistines.” 4So the Israelites got rid of their idols of Baal and Astarte, and worshipped only the LORD.
5Then Samuel sent for all the Israelites to meet at Mizpah, saying, “I will pray to the LORD for you there.” 6So they all gathered at Mizpah. They drew some water and poured it out as an offering to the LORD and fasted that whole day. They said, “We have sinned against the LORD.” (It was at Mizpah that Samuel settled disputes among the Israelites.)
7When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, the five Philistine kings started out with their men to attack them. The Israelites heard about it and were afraid, 8and said to Samuel, “Keep praying to the LORD our God to save us from the Philistines.” 9Samuel killed a young lamb and burnt it whole as a sacrifice to the LORD. Then he prayed to the LORD to help Israel, and the LORD answered his prayer. 10While Samuel was offering the sacrifice, the Philistines moved forward to attack; but just then the LORD thundered from heaven against them. They became completely confused and fled in panic. 11The Israelites marched out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines almost as far as Bethcar, killing them along the way.
12Then Samuel took a stone, set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and said, “The LORD has helped us all the way” — and he named it “Stone of Help”. 13So the Philistines were defeated, and the LORD prevented them from invading Israel's territory as long as Samuel lived. 14All the cities which the Philistines had captured between Ekron and Gath were returned to Israel, and so Israel got back all its territory. And there was peace also between the Israelites and the Canaanites.
15Samuel ruled Israel as long as he lived. 16Every year he would go round to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and in these places he would settle disputes. 17Then he would go back to his home in Ramah, where also he would serve as judge. In Ramah he built an altar to the LORD.
1When Samuel grew old, he made his sons judges in Israel. 2The elder son was named Joel and the younger one Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3But they did not follow their father's example; they were interested only in making money, so they accepted bribes and did not decide cases honestly.
4Then all the leaders of Israel met together, went to Samuel in Ramah, 5and said to him, “Look, you are getting old and your sons don't follow your example. So then, appoint a king to rule over us, so that we will have a king, as other countries have.” 6Samuel was displeased with their request for a king; so he prayed to the LORD, 7and the LORD said, “Listen to everything the people say to you. You are not the one they have rejected; I am the one they have rejected as their king. 8Ever since I brought them out of Egypt, they have turned away from me and worshipped other gods; and now they are doing to you what they have always done to me. 9So then, listen to them, but give them strict warnings and explain how their kings will treat them.”
10Samuel told the people who were asking him for a king everything that the LORD had said to him. 11“This is how your king will treat you,” Samuel explained. “He will make soldiers of your sons; some of them will serve in his war chariots, others in his cavalry, and others will run before his chariots. 12He will make some of them officers in charge of a thousand men, and others in charge of fifty men. Your sons will have to plough his fields, harvest his crops, and make his weapons and the equipment for his chariots. 13Your daughters will have to make perfumes for him and work as his cooks and his bakers. 14He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his officials. 15He will take a tenth of your corn and of your grapes for his court officers and other officials. 16He will take your servants and your best cattle and donkeys, and make them work for him. 17He will take a tenth of your flocks. And you yourselves will become his slaves. 18When that time comes, you will complain bitterly because of your king, whom you yourselves chose, but the LORD will not listen to your complaints.”
19The people paid no attention to Samuel, but said “No! We want a king, 20so that we will be like other nations, with our own king to rule us and to lead us out to war and to fight our battles.” 21Samuel listened to everything they said and then went and told the LORD. 22The LORD answered, “Do what they want and give them a king.” Then Samuel told all the men of Israel to go back home.
1There was a wealthy and influential man named Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin; he was the son of Abiel and grandson of Zeror, and belonged to the family of Becorath, a part of the clan of Aphiah. 2He had a son named Saul, a handsome man in the prime of life. Saul was a head taller than anyone else in Israel and more handsome as well.
3Some donkeys belonging to Kish had wandered off, so he said to Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4They went through the hill country of Ephraim and the region of Shalishah, but did not find them; so they went on through the region of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then they went through the territory of Benjamin, but still did not find them. 5When they came into the region of Zuph, Saul said to his servant, “Let's go back home, or my father might stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”
6The servant answered, “Wait! In this town there is a holy man who is highly respected because everything he says comes true. Let's go to him, and maybe he can tell us where we can find the donkeys.”
7“If we go to him, what can we give him?” Saul asked. “There is no food left in our packs, and we haven't anything to give him, have we?”
8The servant answered, “I have a small silver coin. I can give him that, and then he will tell us where we can find them.”
9-11Saul replied, “A good idea! Let's go.” So they went to the town where the holy man lived. As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women who were coming out to draw water. They asked these women, “Is the seer in town?”
(At that time a prophet was called a seer, and so whenever someone wanted to ask God a question, he would say, “Let's go to the seer.”)
12-13“Yes, he is,” the young women answered. “In fact, he is just ahead of you. If you hurry, you will catch up with him. As soon as you go into the town, you will find him. He arrived in town today because the people are going to offer a sacrifice on the altar on the hill. The people who are invited won't start eating until he gets there, because he has to bless the sacrifice first. If you go now, you will find him before he goes up the hill to eat.” 14So Saul and his servant went on to the town, and as they were going in, they saw Samuel coming out towards them on his way to the place of worship.
15Now on the previous day the LORD had said to Samuel, 16“Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the tribe of Benjamin; anoint him as ruler of my people Israel, and he will rescue them from the Philistines. I have seen the suffering of my people and have heard their cries for help.”
17When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, “This is the man I told you about. He will rule my people.” 18Then Saul went over to Samuel, who was near the gate, and asked, “Tell me, where does the seer live?”
19Samuel answered, “I am the seer. Go on ahead of me to the place of worship. Both of you are to eat with me today. Tomorrow morning I will answer all your questions and send you on your way. 20As for the donkeys that were lost three days ago, don't worry about them; they have already been found. But who is it that the people of Israel want so much? It is you — you and your father's family.”
21Saul answered, “I belong to the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important one in the tribe. Why, then, do you talk like this to me?”
22Then Samuel led Saul and his servant into the large room and gave them a place at the head of the table where the guests, about thirty in all, were seated. 23Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, which I told you to set aside.” 24So the cook brought the choice piece of the leg and placed it before Saul. Samuel said, “Look, here is the piece that was kept for you. Eat it. I saved it for you to eat at this time with the people I invited.”
So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25When they went down from the place of worship to the town, they made up a bed for Saul on the roof,26and he slept there.
Samuel Anoints Saul as Ruler
At dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get up, and I will send you on your way.” Saul got up, and he and Samuel went out to the street together. 27When they arrived at the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” The servant left, and Samuel continued, “Stay here a minute, and I will tell you what God has said.”
1Then Samuel took a jar of olive oil and poured it on Saul's head, kissed him, and said, “The LORD anoints you as ruler of his people Israel. You will rule his people and protect them from all their enemies. And this is the proof to you that the LORD has chosen you to be the ruler of his people: 2when you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel's tomb at Zelzah in the territory of Benjamin. They will tell you that the donkeys you were looking for have been found, so that your father isn't worried any more about them but about you, and he keeps asking, ‘What shall I do about my son?’ 3You will go on from there until you come to the sacred tree at Tabor, where you will meet three men on their way to offer a sacrifice to God at Bethel. One of them will be leading three young goats, another one will be carrying three loaves of bread, and the third one will have a leather bag full of wine. 4They will greet you and offer you two of the loaves, which you are to accept. 5Then you will go to the Hill of God in Gibeah, where there is a Philistine camp. At the entrance to the town you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the altar on the hill, playing harps, drums, flutes, and lyres. They will be dancing and shouting. 6Suddenly the Spirit of the LORD will take control of you, and you will join in their religious dancing and shouting and will become a different person. 7When these things happen, do whatever God leads you to do. 8You will go ahead of me to Gilgal, where I will meet you and offer burnt sacrifices and fellowship sacrifices. Wait there seven days until I come and tell you what to do.”
9When Saul turned to leave Samuel, God gave Saul a new nature. And everything Samuel had told him happened that day. 10When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. Suddenly the Spirit of God took control of him, and he joined in their ecstatic dancing and shouting. 11People who had known him before saw him doing this and asked one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Has Saul become a prophet?” 12A man who lived there asked, “How about these other prophets — who do you think their fathers are?” This is how the saying originated, “Has even Saul become a prophet?” 13When Saul finished his ecstatic dancing and shouting, he went to the altar on the hill.
14Saul's uncle saw him and the servant, and he asked them, “Where have you been?”
“Looking for the donkeys,” Saul answered. “When we couldn't find them, we went to see Samuel.”
15“And what did he tell you?” Saul's uncle asked.
16“He told us that the animals had been found,” Saul answered — but he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about his becoming king.
Saul is Acclaimed as King
17Samuel called the people together for a religious gathering at Mizpah 18and said to them, “The LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I brought you out of Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and all the other peoples who were oppressing you. 19I am your God, the one who rescues you from all your troubles and difficulties, but today you have rejected me and have asked me to give you a king. Very well, then, gather yourselves before the LORD by tribes and by clans.’ ”
20Then Samuel made each tribe come forward, and the LORD picked the tribe of Benjamin. 21Then Samuel made the families of the tribe of Benjamin come forward, and the family of Matri was picked out. Then the men of the family of Matri came forward, and Saul son of Kish was picked out. They looked for him, but when they could not find him, 22they asked the LORD, “Is there still someone else?”
The LORD answered, “Saul is over there, hiding behind the supplies.”
23So they ran and brought Saul out to the people, and they could see that he was a head taller than anyone else. 24Samuel said to the people, “Here is the man the LORD has chosen! There is no one else among us like him.”
All the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
25Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of a king, and then wrote them in a book, which he deposited in a holy place. Then he sent everyone home. 26Saul also went back home to Gibeah. Some powerful men, whose hearts God had touched, went with him. 27But some worthless people said, “How can this fellow do us any good?” They despised Saul and did not bring him any gifts.