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First Reading for the Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time Cycle 2

1 Samuel 4:1-11

Summary: In a fierce battle with the Philistines, Israel, bringing the ark for aid, suffered a devastating defeat, losing thirty thousand men. The ark was captured, and Eli's sons perished.

Defeat and Loss of the Ark

The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel. Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek.

The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel. After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield. When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said “Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the Lord from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”

So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God.

When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded. The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked, “What can this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?”

On learning that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, the Philistines were frightened. They said, “Gods have come to their camp.”

They said also, “Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods that struck the Egyptians with various plagues and with pestilence. Take courage and be manly, Philistines; otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they were your slaves. So fight manfully!”

The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated; every man fled to his own tent. It was a disastrous defeat, .in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.

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