Hannah was sad. More
than anything else she wanted a baby.
This year when
Hannah went with her husband to take their offering, she opened
her heart to the Lord. "O Lord," she prayed, "if
you will give me a baby boy, I will give him back to you to serve
you the rest of his life."
year passed, God gave Hannah and Elkanah a baby boy. Hannah named
him Samuel which means "asked of God."
When Samuel was
old enough to help in the tabernacle, Hannah packed his clothes in
a neat bundle and took him to Shiloh. Every year thereafter, when
Elkanah came to present his offerings at Shiloh, Hannah came too.
Each time she brought a new coat for Samuel. Hannah was always
glad that God had answered her prayer. And God gave Hannah other
children besides Samuel.
Later, God spoke
to Samuel one night. Samuel did not know it was God speaking. When
he heard a voice calling him, he thought it was Eli. Quickly
Samuel got up out of bed and ran to Eli, "Here I am," he
said, and he waited for Eli to say what he wanted.
But Eli had not
called Samuel. He said, "I did not call you, my boy. Go back
and lie down again." And Samuel obeyed.
Soon the voice
spoke again, "Samuel!" The boy rubbed his sleepy eyes
and hurried to Eli's bedside. "Here I am, he said, "for
I heard you call." Again Eli told him, "I did not call.
You may go back to bed."
The voice Called
Samuel a third time. When Samuel ran to Eli, the old man knew that
God wanted to speak to the boy. Eli said, "Go and lie down.
If the voice calls you again, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant
listens.' " Samuel went back and lay down again. Soon he
heard the voice of God calling, "Samuel! Samuel!" And
the boy answered, "Speak, Lord, for your servant
Now Eli had two
sons who were priests. They did many things that displeased God.
Because Eli's sons did so much wrong, the good people of Israel
dreaded to go to Shiloh with their offerings. Even though Eli knew
his sons did wrong, he still allowed them to serve as priests at
the tabernacle. He tried to get them to change their ways, but
they would not listen to him.
God talked with
Samuel that night and told him that Eli and his sons would soon be
the Lord tell you?" Eli asked. "Do not hide it from
me." And Samuel told him the words of the Lord. Eli bowed his
head and said, "Let the Lord do what he sees is best."
As Samuel grew
older, God spoke to him again and again. And Samuel always told
the people what God said. Finally throughout all Israel people
began to say to each other, "Surely Samuel is God's
came to the Israelites. The Philistines, their old-time enemies,
fought against them and killed many Israelites. Eli's wicked sons
decided to do battle against them and to take the ark of the Lord
into battle so the Philistines would not be able to beat them. But
God did not help them. God had forsaken them because they had
not only soundly defeated the Israelites, they also took the ark
and carried it away.
When a messenger
came into the city, he reported that the Philistines had beaten
the Israelites, killed Eli's sons, and taken the ark of God. Eli
was saddened by the defeat and the death of his sons. This was bad
enough, but when he heard that the ark of God had been taken, he
For forty years
Eli had been judge and high priest of Israel. He was ninety-eight
years old when he died.
rejoiced greatly in their victory over the Israelites. Now they
thought their god was greater than the God of the Israelites. They
carried the ark from the battlefield to their capital city. Here
they placed it in the temple of Dagon, the fish god.
At once trouble
began for Dagon and his worshipers. When the people came to
worship their god early the next morning, they found Dagon lying
face down before the ark. They put him back in his place and
returned to their homes.
The next morning
they found Dagon on the floor. This time his head an his hands had
broken off in the fall. And the people began to be afraid.
Before long all
the people in that city and the country round about broke out in
painful sores. The people suffered a great deal. Finally the men
of the city said, "Let's not keep the ark of the Lord any
And the rulers
asked, "But what shall we do with the ark?"
"Send it to
Gath," the men decided.
When the ark
reached Gath, the people there began to suffer with painful sores.
The people became so afraid of the ark that they sent it to
another city called Ekron. The people of Ekron saw the ark coming.
How afraid they were! They asked, "Have you brought this ark
here to kill us? Send it back to Israel where it belongs."
thought the wise men advised, "Build a new cart and yoke two
cows to pull it. Put the ark on the cart. With it put a box of
golden jewels as a present. Then send the cows down the road
toward Israel." And so they did.
The Israelites of
Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat in the valley. They looked up
and saw the cows and cart returning the ark and they rejoiced. Now
the men of Bethshemesh were very curious to see what was inside
the ark. They knew God had commanded that only the priests should
touch it. Perhaps they wondered if the Philistines had stolen the
Ten Commandments. Lifting the lid, they looked inside. Each man
died who disobeyed God's command and opened the ark.
Now the men of
Bethshemesh did not even want the ark in their town. They sent
messengers to the people at Kirjathjearim, saying "The
Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and get
The ark was taken
to the home of Abinadab, a Levite. He charged his son Eleazar to
care for it.
After this time
the Israelites never went to Shiloh again to worship God.