Ma'ale Michmas
Settling the Land of Israel - In the heart of the Binyamin region
Hebrew

The Battle of Michmas in Samuel I

[I Samuel 13:1] Saul was ... years old when he began to reign; and he reigned ... and two years over Israel.

[13:2]  Saul chose three thousand men of Israel; two thousand were with Saul in Michmas and the hill country of Bet-El, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibe'ah of Benjamin; the rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent.

[13:3]  Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines which was at Geba; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, "Let the Hebrews hear."

[13:4]  And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

[13:5]  And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped in Michmas, to the east of Bet-Aven.

[13:6]  When the men of Israel saw that they were in straits (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns,

[13:7]  or crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

[13:8]  He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him.

[13:9]  So Saul said, "Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering.

[13:10]  As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him.

[13:11]  Samuel said, "What have you done?" And Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmas.

[13:12]  I said, `Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of the Lord; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering."

[13:13]  And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you; for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever.

[13:14]  But now your kingdom shall not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."

[13:15]  And Samuel arose, and went up from Gilgal to Gibe'ah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

[13:16]  And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people who were present with them, stayed in Geba of Benjamin; but the Philistines encamped in Michmas.

[13:17]  And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies; one company turned toward Ofrah, to the land of Shual.

[13:18]  another company turned toward Bet-Horon, and another company turned toward the border that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

[13:19]  Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears."

[13:20]  but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle.

[13:21]  and the charge was a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.

[13:22]  So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them.

[13:23]  And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmas.

[14:1]  One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on yonder side." But he did not tell his father.

[14:2]  Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibe'ah under the pomegranate tree which is at Migron; the people who were with him were about six hundred men.

[14:3]  and Ahiyah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

[14:4]  In the pass, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side; the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.

[14:5]  The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmas, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

[14:6]  And Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few."

[14:7]  And his armor-bearer said to him, "Do all that your mind inclines to; behold, I am with you, as is your mind so is mine."

[14:8]  Then said Jonathan, "Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.

[14:9]  If they say to us, `Wait until we come to you,' then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them.

[14:10]  But if they say, `Come up to us,' then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us."

[14:11]  So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, "Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hid themselves."

[14:12]  And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer, and said, "Come up to us, and we will show you a thing." And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, "Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel."

[14:13]  Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 

[14:14]  and that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, was of about twenty men within as it were half a furrow's length in an acre of land. 

[14:15]  And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.

[14:16]  And the watchmen of Saul in Gibe'ah of Benjamin looked; and behold, the multitude was surging hither and thither.

[14:17]  Then Saul said to the people who were with him, "Number and see who has gone from us." And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.

[14:18]  And Saul said to Ahijah, "Bring hither the ark of God." For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel.

[14:19]  And while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more; and Saul said to the priest, "Withdraw your hand."

[14:20]  Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle; and behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion.

[14:21]  Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.

[14:22]  Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hid themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle.

[14:23]  So the Lord delivered Israel that day; and the battle passed beyond Bet-Aven.

[14:24]  And the men of Israel were distressed that day; for Saul laid an oath on the people, saying, "Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies." So none of the people tasted food.

[14:25]  And all the people came into the forest; and there was honey on the ground.

[14:26]  And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no man put his hand to his mouth; for the people feared the oath.

[14:27]  But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; so he put forth the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and dipped it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes became bright.

[14:28]  Then one of the people said, "Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, `Cursed be the man who eats food this day." And the people were faint.

[14:29]  Then Jonathan said, "My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have become bright, because I tasted a little of this honey.

[14:30]  How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great."

[14:31]  They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmas to Ayalon. And the people were very faint;

[14:32]  the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slew them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood.

[14:33]  Then they told Saul, "Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord, by eating with the blood." And he said, "You have dealt treacherously; roll a great stone to me here."

[14:34]  And Saul said, "Disperse yourselves among the people, and say to them, `Let every man bring his ox or his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood." So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night, and slew them there.

[14:35]  And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

[14:36]  Then Saul said, "Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave a man of them." And they said, "Do whatever seems good to you." But the priest said, "Let us draw near hither to God."

[14:37]  And Saul inquired of God, "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Wilt thou give them into the hand of Israel?" But he did not answer him that day.

[14:38]  And Saul said, "Come hither, all you leaders of the people; and know and see how this sin has arisen today.

[14:39]  For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die." But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.

[14:40]  Then he said to all Israel, "You shall be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side." And the people said to Saul, "Do what seems good to you."

[14:41]  Therefore Saul said, "O Lord God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord, God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in thy people Israel, give Tummim." And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped.

[14:42]  Then Saul said, "Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan." And Jonathan was taken.

[14:43]  Then Saul said to Jonathan, "Tell me what you have done." And Jonathan told him, "I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die."

[14:44]  And Saul said, "God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan."

[14:45]  Then the people said to Saul, "Shall Jonathan die, who has wrought this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he has wrought with God this day." So the people ransomed Jonathan, that he did not die.

[14:46]  Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.

[14:47]  When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines; wherever he turned he put them to the worse.

[14:48]  And he did valiantly, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.

[14:49]  Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the first-born was Merav, and the name of the younger Michal.

[14:50]  and the name of Saul's wife was Ahino'am the daughter of Ahima'az. And the name of the commander of his army was Avner the son of Ner, Saul's uncle.


Some photographs © Eli File.
Last Updated Sunday, April 15, 2012.

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