1 Samuel 4:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
The man who brought the news replied, "Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured."

King James Bible
And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.

Darby Bible Translation
And the messenger answered and said, Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.

World English Bible
He who brought the news answered, "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been also a great slaughter among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured."

Young's Literal Translation
And he who is bearing tidings answereth and saith, 'Israel hath fled before the Philistines, and also a great slaughter hath been among the people, and also thy two sons have died -- Hophni and Phinehas -- and the ark of God hath been captured.'

1 Samuel 4:17 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

And the messenger answered - Never was a more afflictive message, containing such a variety of woes, each rising above the preceding, delivered in so few words.

1. Israel is fled before the Philistines.

This was a sore evil: that Israel should turn their backs upon their enemies, was bad; and that they should turn their backs on such enemies as the

Philistines, was yet worse; for now they might expect the chains of their slavery to be strengthened and riveted more closely.

2. There hath also been a great slaughter among the people.

A rout might have taken place without any great previous slaughter; but in this case the field was warmly contested, thirty thousand were laid dead on the spot. This was a deeper cause of distress than the preceding; as if he had said, "The flower of our armies is destroyed; scarcely a veteran now to take the field."

3. Thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead.

This was still more afflictive to him as a father, to lose both his sons, the only hope of the family; and to have them taken away by a violent death when there was so little prospect of their having died in the peace of God, was more grievous than all.

4. The ark of God is taken.

This was the most dreadful of the whole; now Israel is dishonored in the sight of the heathen, and the name of the Lord will be blasphemed by them. Besides, the capture of the ark shows that God is departed from Israel; and now there is no farther hope of restoration for the people, but every prospect of the destruction of the nation, and the final ruin of all religion! How high does each wo rise on the back of the preceding! And with what apparent art is this very laconic message constructed! And yet, probably, no art at all was used, and the messenger delivered the tidings just as the facts rose up in his own mind.

How vapid, diffused, and alliterated, is the report of the messenger in the Persae of Aeschylus, who comes to the queen with the tremendous account of the destruction of the whole naval power of the Persians, at the battle of Salamis? I shall give his first speech, and leave the reader to compare the two accounts.

Ω γης ἁπασης Ασιδος πολισματα,

Ω Περσις αια, και πολυς πλουτου λιμην,

Ὡς εν μιᾳ πληγῃ κατεφθαρται πολυς

continued...

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Israel

1 Samuel 4:10,11 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter...

1 Samuel 3:11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that hears it shall tingle.

Library
Faithlessness and Defeat
'And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2. And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3. And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Form and Spirit of Religion
Now, three points this morning inferred from our narrative. The first point is this--that the outward form of religion is to be carefully and reverently observed. But my second and most important head is this--you will notice that the very men who have the least of the spirit of religion are the most superstitiously observant of the form of it; just as you find the people here, who did not care for God, had a very superstitious regard for that chest called the ark of the covenant. And then, my third
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

Cross References
1 Samuel 2:34
"'And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you--they will both die on the same day.

1 Samuel 4:16
He told Eli, "I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day." Eli asked, "What happened, my son?"

1 Samuel 4:18
When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.

Psalm 78:61
He sent the ark of his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy.

Psalm 78:64
their priests were put to the sword, and their widows could not weep.

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