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1 Samuel , CHAPTER 13

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[Saul was…years old when he became king and he reigned…-two years over Israel.]

Saul Offers Sacrifice.

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Saul chose three thousand of Israel, of whom two thousand remained with him in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and one thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. He sent the rest of the army back to their tents.

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Now Jonathan struck the Philistine garrison in Gibeah, and the Philistines got word of it. Then Saul sounded the horn throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!”

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Then all Israel heard the report, “Saul has struck the garrison of the Philistines! Israel has become odious to the Philistines!” Then the army was called up to Saul in Gilgal.

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The Philistines also assembled for battle against Israel, with thirty thousand chariots,* six thousand horsemen, and foot soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They came up and encamped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven.

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When the soldiers saw they were in danger because the army was hardpressed, they hid themselves in caves, thickets, rocks, caverns, and cisterns.

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Other Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul, however, held out in Gilgal, all his army trembling in fear behind him.

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He waited seven days, until the appointed time Samuel had set, but Samuel did not come, and the army deserted Saul.

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He then said, “Bring me the burnt offering and communion offerings!” Then he sacrificed the burnt offering.

King Saul Reproved.

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As he finished sacrificing the burnt offering, there came Samuel! So Saul went out toward him in order to greet him.

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Samuel asked him, “What have you done?” Saul explained: “When I saw that the army was deserting me and you did not come on the appointed day, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash,

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I said to myself, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not yet sought the LORD’s blessing.’ So I thought I should sacrifice the burnt offering.”

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Samuel replied to Saul: “You have acted foolishly! Had you kept the command the LORD your God gave you, the LORD would now establish your kingship in Israel forever;

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but now your kingship shall not endure. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart to appoint as ruler over his people because you did not observe what the LORD commanded you.”

Philistine Invasion.

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Then Samuel set out from Gilgal and went his own way; but what was left of the army went up after Saul to meet the soldiers, going from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul then counted the soldiers he had with him, about six hundred.

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Saul, his son Jonathan, and the soldiers they had with them were now occupying Geba of Benjamin, and the Philistines were encamped at Michmash.

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Meanwhile, raiders left the camp of the Philistines in three bands.g One band took the Ophrah road toward the district of Shual;

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another turned in the direction of Beth-horon; and the third took the road for Geba that overlooks the Valley of the Hyenas toward the desert.

Disarmament of Israel.

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Not a single smith was to be found anywhere in Israel, for the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.”

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All Israel, therefore, had to go down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles.

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The price for the plowshares and mattocks was two thirds of a shekel, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the ox-goads.

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And so on the day of battle neither sword nor spear could be found in the hand of any of the soldiers with Saul or Jonathan. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Jonathan’s Exploit.

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An outpost of the Philistines had pushed forward to the pass of Michmash.