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Tweets-cum-Notes on 1 Sam. 4.pdf

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Tweets-cum-Notes on 1 Sam. 4.pdf Summary: Below are some scattered notes on 1 Sam. 4-7, which started out life as a series of tweets after one week’s theology class with Steve Jeffery. \ \ Date: Jan. 2019. Keywords: 1 Samuel 4, The Ark is Taken
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  Tweets-cum-Notes on 1 Sam. 4 Summary : Below are some scattered notes on 1 Sam. 4-7, whichstarted out life as a series of tweets after one week’s theology classwith Steve Jeffery. Date : Jan. 2019.  Keywords :  1 Samuel 4 ,  The Ark is Taken Captive  ,  KBD  ,  The Hand of God  ,  OT Narratives  .In 4.1, Israel go out to do battle against the Philistines. They camp next to aplace named Ebenezer, while the Philistines camp in Aphek. The names of theselocations are significant.The Israelites assume God will be an Ebenezer, i.e., ‘a rock who helps’ them (cp.Gen. 49.24). He will not. God will instead be Aphek, i.e., ‘one who has withheld’.The Israelites are hence defeated. In their initial skirmish with the Philistines,they lose 4,000 men.What, then, to do? The Israelites decide to fetch the ark from Shiloh. Perhapsit will have the same effect on the Philistines as it did on the men of Jericho,which is the last time it is specifically mentioned.Initially, things looks good. As the ark arrives, the Israelites give a great shout( הָלוֹד  הָעוּר תּ ), as they did at Jericho (Josh. 6), which is met with confusion andfear in the Philistine camp.But things soon turn sour. The presence of a holy vessel cannot make up for anunholy mindset. Israel will not gain the victory until God himself gives a shoutand brings about confusion among the Philistines (cp.   לודג  לוקבהוהי  ערי : 7.10).As a result, the Philistines are able to take the fight to Israel. A further 30,000Israelites fall; the ark is captured; and Eli’s two sons are slain.That makes a total of 34,000 Israelites slain by the Philistines. (The word‘Philistines’ occurs 34 times in chs. 4-7.)In 4.13, news from the battlefield reaches Shiloh. Just as the arrival of the arkcaused commotion in the Philistine camp, so its loss now causes confusion inIsrael. And just as the Philistines cried out   ת            זּַההָלוֹד  ַההָעוּר תּַהלוֹקהֶמ ? in 1  dismay, so those at Shiloh now cry out, which leads Eli to ask,   ה  ַה  וֹמָהֶהלוֹקהֶמ ?= ‘What is this sound of commotion?’.In response to Eli’s question, the ‘bearer of news’ approaches him. Since thebearer is referred to as a   ר  ַב מ , it looks as if Eli is about to receive good news.But the news he receives is far from good.When Eli hears about his sons’ slaughter and the ark’s capture, he falls backwardsfrom his seat, breaks his neck, and dies. These events are (literally) ‘the beginningof birth pains’.Eli’s daughter-in-law goes into labour, bears a son, and dies soon afterwards. Thechild is named Ichabod since God’s glory has clearly departed from Israel. (Intruth, God’s glory has long been absent from Israel.)The verses mentioned above contain some noteworthy uses of the consonants   דבכ .Eli is referred to as   דֵב   = ‘heavy’; the ark represents God’s   דֹב   = ‘glory’; andEli’s grandson is named   דוֹב  יִ  due to the departure of God’s glory. (Many moreoccurrences are found in chs. 5-7.)The connection between ‘weight/heaviness’ and ‘glory/honour’ is not an insignif-icant etymological detail. To give ‘weight’ to someone is to ‘honour’ them, whileto treat them lightly ( ללק ) is to ‘dishonour’ them.Only a few verses ago, God promised Eli,   וּלּָק  י  ֹבוּדֵבּַכֲ י  ד בּַכ מ , i.e., ‘Those whohonour me, I will honour, while those who despise me, I will dishonour’. Eli’s sonsdespised God; as a result, the offered blessing (   דכב ) became a curse ( דובכ  י ).The text of chs. 4-7 is arranged in order to reflect these and other key themes.Chs. 4-7 revolves around the ark of   YHWH  and its glory. The gematrial valueof    דבכ is 26, which is also the gematrial value of    הוהי . The total number of occurrences of    דבכ and of ‘the ark of   YHWH ’ amounts to 26.The word ‘hand’ ( די ) is also important. (For instance, the ‘hand’ of God isfrequently said to be ‘heavy’ on the Philistines.) 14 different ‘hands’ are referencedin our text, 1 and the gematrial value of    די is 14. 1 4.8, 5.4 (2 x ), 5.6, 5.7, 5.9, 5.11, 6.3, 6.5, 6.9, 7.3, 7.8, 7.13, 7.14. 2  In 4.3, the Israelites avoid the more common term for ‘hand’. They instead askto be delivered   וּניֵב  ֹ   ַכּִמ = ‘from the (lit.) palm of their enemies’. Otherwise,the word count (of 14) would be ruined.Meanwhile, the preposition   ל is employed rather strangely (e.g., 4.19, 5.4, 5.6,6.11), and the ark is treated as both a masc. and fem. noun in quick succession(cp. 4.17’s   החקלנ  ור with 4.22’s   חקלנ  ור ).Why? Because both the ark and God himself ( ל ) are treated strangely andinconsistently by the Israelites. The Israelites disobey the very commandmentscontained within the ark, and yet expect its Owner to deliver them from evil.In 4.3, the Israelites say to themselves   וּנֵע  שׁֹי  הוהי  ור ת החקנ , the most naturaltranslation of which is ‘Let us take the ark of   YHWH  so *it* may deliver us’. (Notgood theology.)Meanwhile, in 5.7, the Philistines say,  ודיהתשקיכונמעל רשייהל  ור בשי ל   ונילע , i.e., ‘The ark of Israel’s God must not remain with us for *his* hand is hardupon us’, which is not as neat grammatically but is far better theology.Ultimately, however, the only creations to treat the ark with any reverence in ourtext are an idol named Dagon who falls before it in worship, and two cows whoreturn it to its rightful place. 3
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