1About 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.
1Then 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.
6Samuel 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 you of all the mighty actions the LORD did to save you and your ancestors. 8When Jacob and his family went to Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them, 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. 9But 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. 10Then 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!’ 11And the LORD sent Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, and finally me. Each of us rescued you from your enemies, and you lived in safety. 12But 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.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 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.”
12Saul 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 commander 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. 8He 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. 14But 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 Gilgal 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 sickles sharpened; 21the charge was one small coin for sharpening axes and for repairing ox goads, 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.
1One 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, 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 tell 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.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.
The Defeat of the Philistines
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 ephod here,” Saul said to Ahijah the priest. (On that day Ahijah was carrying it in front of 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 again 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.
Events after the Battle
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 all 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. 33Saul 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 here 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.
41Saul 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, answer by the Thummim.” 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.
Saul's Reign and Family
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.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.
1Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one whom the LORD sent to anoint you king of his people Israel. Now listen to what the LORD Almighty says. 2He is going to punish the people of Amalek because their ancestors opposed the Israelites when they were coming from Egypt. 3Go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Don't leave a thing; kill all the men, women, children, and babies; the cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”
4Saul called his forces together and inspected them at Telem: there were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 from Judah. 5Then he and his men went to the city of Amalek and waited in ambush in a dry riverbed. 6He sent a warning to the Kenites, a people whose ancestors had been kind to the Israelites when they came from Egypt: “Go away and leave the Amalekites, so that I won't kill you along with them.” So the Kenites left.
7Saul defeated the Amalekites, fighting all the way from Havilah to Shur, east of Egypt; 8he captured King Agag of Amalek alive and killed all the people. 9But Saul and his men spared Agag's life and did not kill the best sheep and cattle, the best calves and lambs, or anything else that was good; they destroyed only what was useless or worthless.
Saul is Rejected as King
10The LORD said to Samuel, 11“I am sorry that I made Saul king; he has turned away from me and disobeyed my commands.” Samuel was angry, and all night long he pleaded with the LORD. 12Early the following morning he went off to find Saul. He heard that Saul had gone to the town of Carmel, where he had built a monument to himself, and then had gone on to Gilgal. 13Samuel went up to Saul, who greeted him, saying, “The LORD bless you, Samuel! I have obeyed the LORD's command.”
14Samuel asked, “Why, then, do I hear cattle mooing and sheep bleating?”
15Saul answered, “My men took them from the Amalekites. They kept the best sheep and cattle to offer as a sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have destroyed completely.”
16“Stop,” Samuel ordered, “and I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul said.
17Samuel answered, “Even though you consider yourself of no importance, you are the leader of the tribes of Israel. The LORD anointed you king of Israel, 18and he sent you out with orders to destroy those wicked people of Amalek. He told you to fight until you had killed them all. 19Why, then, did you not obey him? Why did you rush to seize the loot, and so do what displeases the LORD?”
20“I did obey the LORD,” Saul replied. “I went out as he told me to, brought back King Agag, and killed all the Amalekites. 21But my men did not kill the best sheep and cattle that they captured; instead, they brought them here to Gilgal to offer as a sacrifice to the LORD your God.”
22Samuel said, “Which does the LORD prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him. 23Rebellion against him is as bad as witchcraft, and arrogance is as sinful as idolatry. Because you rejected the LORD's command, he has rejected you as king.”
24“Yes, I have sinned,” Saul replied. “I disobeyed the LORD's command and your instructions. I was afraid of my men and did what they wanted. 25But now I beg you, forgive my sin and go back with me, so that I can worship the LORD.”
26“I will not go back with you,” Samuel answered. “You rejected the LORD's command, and he has rejected you as king of Israel.”
27Then Samuel turned to leave, but Saul caught hold of his cloak, and it tore. 28Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today and given it to someone who is a better man than you. 29Israel's majestic God does not lie or change his mind. He is not a human being — he does not change his mind.”
30“I have sinned,” Saul replied. “But at least show me respect in front of the leaders of my people and all Israel. Go back with me so that I can worship the LORD your God.” 31So Samuel went back with him, and Saul worshipped the LORD.
32“Bring King Agag here to me,” Samuel ordered. Agag came to him, trembling with fear, thinking to himself, “What a bitter thing it is to die!”33Samuel said, “As your sword has made many mothers childless, so now will your mother become childless.” And he cut Agag to pieces in front of the altar in Gilgal.
34Then Samuel went to Ramah, and King Saul went home to Gibeah. 35As long as Samuel lived, he never again saw the king; but he grieved over him. The LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king of Israel.