Before we move on with Samuel’s life, we have to learn what happened to the priests and judges before him. This chapter does just that. Notice there is not a single mention of Samuel in this chapter. It’s all about the demise of the Israelites with an emphasis on the deaths of Eli and his two sons, Phinehas and Ferb, er, I mean Phinehas and Hophni. I was struck by the fact that Eli worried about the safety of the Ark of God more than he worried about the safety of his own sons. There’s no mention of a reaction when Eli is told his sons are dead, but when he learned the Ark had been captured, he “fell backward from his seat beside the gate” and broke his fat (overweight v. 18) neck. The chapter leaves the Israelites with no judge and no official high priest, and while there’s still no mention of Samuel, we know now what happened as he was being trained and brought up to take the lead. We also know the state of Israel and how desperate they were for God to be with them.
I noticed in verse 6 that the Philistines referred to the Israelites, I believe for the first time, as Hebrews. I may be wrong, but I don’t recall seeing the word Hebrews used since Moses’ time. I found this fascinating.
And what of young Ichabod? Poor thing. He’s basically an orphan from day one. He is still a Levite, though, so he may pop up in the stories ahead. Let’s keep him in the backs of our minds.
Writing prompt: the Ark
We didn’t even touch on how the Ark of God is now in the hands of the Philistines. To the Israelites, this means that God Himself is no longer with them. It could have some other implications as well. Write about how the Israelites might be feeling at this time.