And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And the ark of God was taken.—The bare fact, without comment or note, is given of this, the greatest calamity that had yet happened to Israel. All the people would know by this terrible sign that their invisible King had withdrawn His countenance from them; but the loss of the Ark to the heathen taught another lesson, not merely for the Israel of the days of Eli and Samuel—the eternal truth that “the living God does not bind His presence to a dead thing” (Erdmann). But though it was a dead thing, it was inexpressibly precious to the patriot Israelite. Was it not the ark “which Moses had made by God’s command at Sinai, and on which the Divine presence was enshrined in the Holy of Holies; and which had accompanied Israel in their marches through the wilderness, and before which the waters of Jordan had fled backward, and the walls of Jericho had fallen down?—that ark was taken by idolaters.”—Bishop Wordsworth.
The two sons of Eli . . . were slain.—This was in strict accordance with the saying of the man of God. (See 1Samuel 2:34.)1 Samuel 4:11. The ark of God was taken — Which God justly and wisely permitted, to punish the Israelites for their profanation of it; that, by taking away the pretences of their foolish confidence, he might more deeply humble them, and bring them to true repentance: and that the Philistines might by this means be more effectually convinced of God’s almighty power, and of their own impotency, and of that of their gods, and so a stop might be put to their triumphs and rage against the poor Israelites. Thus, as God was no loser by this event, so the Philistines were no gainers by it; and Israel, all things considered, received more good than hurt by it. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain — If Eli had done his duty, and put them from the priesthood, they might have lived, though in disgrace. But now God takes the work into his own hands, and chases them out of the world by the sword of the Philistines.Numbers 22:5; Joshua 2:10.
Hophni and Phinehas, were slain; which fulfilled the prophecy of the man of God, that they should both die in one day, 1 Samuel 2:34. It is very probable they stood fast by the ark, and chose rather to die than to give it up freely; having received a charge from their father, that if the ark was taken, not to desire life, nor ever dare to come into his presence more, as Josephus (a) relates.And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. Hophni and Phinehas were slain] The “sign” given by the man of God that the whole doom pronounced against Eli’s house would be executed (ch. 1 Samuel 2:34).
The Psalmist’s account of the catastrophe should be compared, Psalm 78:56-64.Verse 11. - Moreover, the ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain, according to the prediction of the man of God. Probably the last resistance was made round the ark, and the sons of Eli at least died "as men" (1 Samuel 2:33). THE OVERTHROW OF ELI'S HOUSE (vers. 12-22).
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