From the death of Moses to the death of Eli
Text in Greek and English, click here
1. Joshua defeats the Canaanites & divides up their land by lot
2. After Joshua's death, great lawlessness; the people suffered severely
3. Israel under Assyrian rule. Saved by God, through Keniazos
4. Under the Moabites; then saved by Ehud, for eighty years
5. Rescued by Barak and Deborah, from Canaanite rule
6. Rescued by Gideon, from the Madianites
7. Other judges, including Abimelech, Jephtha, Jair and Abdon
8. Samson tames the Philistines; is deceived by Delilah; final vengeance
9. The story of Ruth, ancestor of king David
10. Samuel's childhood. He foretells the disaster to happen to Eli's sons
11. Defection of Eli's sons; Philistines capture the Ark; Eli dies miserably
Chapter 1. [001-119]
Joshua defeats the Canaanites and divides their Land by Lot
001 When Moses was taken away from mankind as we have described, and all the solemnities of mourning were completed and the grieving for him was over, the people were told to get ready to set off. 002 Joshua sent spies to Jericho to find out their forces and their intentions, and he put his camp in order, intending to cross the Jordan at the first opportunity. 003 Calling the officers of the tribe of Rubel and of the tribe of Gad and Manasses, for half of this tribe had been allowed to live in the region of the Amorites, which was the seventh part of the land of Canaan, he reminded them what they had promised Moses. 004 He urged them not to forget the concern of him who even when he was dying had not wearied in his care for them, and for the sake of the common good, to willingly do what they had promised. Then with fifty thousand of his followers he marched the sixty furlongs from Abila to the Jordan.
005 As soon as he had encamped, the spies came to him, well informed about the whole state of the Canaanites, for at first, before anyone noticed them, they got a full view of the city and saw which parts of the ramparts were strong and which were less so, and which of the gates was weak enough to offer access to their army. 006 Those who met and saw them took no notice of them, thinking of them as strangers, who usually are very curious in observing everything in the city, rather than as enemies. 007 At nightfall they retreated to a hotel near the wall, where they had their supper. 008 After the meal, as they considered how to get away, the king was told as he dined, that some spies had come from the Hebrews' camp to view the city and that they were at the hotel kept by Rahab and were trying to stay in hiding. Immediately he sent some with orders to arrest them and bring them to him, to find out from them under torture what was their business there. 009 When Rahab heard that these messengers were coming, she hid the spies under stalks of flax, laid out to dry on the roof of her house, and told the king's messengers that some unknown strangers had supped with her a little before sunset but had gone away. They could easily be captured, if they caused any anxiety to the city, or were a danger to the king. 010 Being so tricked by the woman, and suspecting no deceit, these messengers went off without even searching the hotel. They rushed along the roads they thought the men most likely to take, especially those leading to the river, but heard no news of them, and did not bother with any further pursuit. 011 When the fuss was over, Rahab brought the men down and asked them, when they took the land of Canaan, and it was in their power to pay her back for saving them, to remember the risk she had run on their behalf, for if she had been caught hiding them, she could not have escaped a cruel fate, with all her family. 012 So she sent them home, having gotten them to swear to save her and her family when they captured the city and destroyed all its inhabitants, as they had decided to do, for she knew this would happen, through the divine miracles of which she had been informed. 013 They admitted their debt of thanks for what she had done and swore to repay her kindness, not only in words, but in deeds. They advised her that when she saw the city about to be taken, to shut up her goods and all her family securely within her hotel, and hang out scarlet threads at the doors, so that the general would know her house and protect it from harm. 014 "For we will inform him of this," they said, "because of your concern to save us. But if anyone of your family fall in the battle, do not blame us, and we beg God, by whom we have sworn, not to blame us then either, as though we had broken our oaths." 015 With this agreement, they left, letting themselves down by a rope from the wall, and escaped and came and told their own people what they had done in their journey to this city. Joshua told Eleazar the high priest and the elders what the spies had sworn to Rahab, and they ratified the oath.
016 He was anxious about the army crossing over, for the river ran with a strong current and could not be crossed with a bridge, for up to this no bridge had been put over it, and suspected that if he tried to build a bridge, the enemy would not let them finish it, and they had no boats to ferry them, but God promised to reduce the river by half, so they could pass over it. 017 Two days later, Joshua made the army and the whole people cross over as we shall describe. The priests went first, bringing the ark; then came the Levites bearing the Tent and the vessels belonging to the sacrifices. After this the entire people followed, according to their tribes, with their children and their wives in the centre, fearing that the current might carry them away. 018 When the priests first entered the river, it appeared fordable, as the depth of the water was restrained and sand was visible at the bottom, for the current was neither strong or swift enough to carry it away with its force. So all crossed the river without fear, finding it in the very state that God had foretold. 019 The priests stood in the middle of the river until the people had crossed and got safely to the bank, and when all had crossed, the priests also came out, allowing the current to run as freely as it used to do. When the Hebrews had come out of it, the river rose again to its usual size.
020 They went on for fifty furlongs and encamped ten furlongs from Jericho, and Joshua built an altar of those stones which all the heads of the tribes, at a prophetic command, had taken from the riverbed, to serve later as a memorial of how the stream of this river divided, and upon it he offered sacrifice to God. 021 In that place they celebrated the passover and had great plenty of all the things they had lacked up to this. They reaped the corn of the Canaanites, which was now ripe and took other things as spoils, and their former food, the manna that they had eaten for forty years, now ceased.
022 As the Canaanites did not attack while the Israelites were doing this, but kept quietly within their own walls, Joshua resolved to besiege them. On the first day of the feast the priests carried the ark round about, guarded by some infantry. 023 They went forward, blowing with their seven trumpets and urging the army to take heart, going around the city, followed by the elders, with only the priests blowing the trumpets, and returned to the camp. 024 After they had done this for six days, on the seventh day Joshua assembled the infantry and all the people and announced the good news that the city would now be taken, for God would give it to them that day, by the walls falling down of their own accord and without effort on their part. 025 He told them to kill everyone they could capture and neither from weariness or pity, to stop slaughtering the enemy, and not to collect the spoil and thereby be distracted from pursuing their fleeing foes. 026 They were to destroy all the animals and take nothing for their personal gain, but to collect all the silver and gold taken from the city they first captured, to be set apart as first-fruits to God from this exploit, but to keep Rahab and her relatives alive, because of the oath the spies had sworn to her.
027 After this and setting his army in order, he brought it against the city. They went around the city again, with the ark before them and the priests encouraging the people to be eager in the action, and when they had gone round it seven times and had stood still a while, the wall fell down, while no instruments of war, nor any other force, was applied to it by the Hebrews.
028 So they entered into Jericho and killed all the men in it, as these were shocked at the surprising destruction of the ramparts and their courage failed and they were unable to defend themselves. So they were killed and their throats cut, some in the streets and others caught in their houses. 029 Nothing availed them but they all died, even to the women and the children; the city was filled with corpses and not one person escaped, and they burned the whole city and the region about it. 030 However, they saved the lives of Rahab and her family, who had fled to her hotel. When she was brought to him, Joshua thanked her publicly for saving the spies, and said he would not want to seem less generous than she, in rewarding her. So he immediately gave her some lands and from then on held her in high esteem.
031 If any part of the city escaped the fire, he destroyed it from its foundations, and he pronounced this curse against its inhabitants, if any should try to rebuild it: how, upon laying the foundation of the ramparts, he would lose his eldest son, and upon finishing it, he would lose his youngest son. But we shall speak later about what happened on this account.
032 There was a large amount of silver and gold and brass heaped together from the city when it was taken, for no one broke the decree, or pilfered for their own private gain. These spoils Joshua handed over to the priests, to be laid up among their treasures. So was Jericho destroyed.
033 But a man named Achar, the son of Zebedias, of the tribe of Judas, found a royal vestment woven entirely of gold and a piece of gold weighing two hundred shekels. Thinking it very hard that what he had found at some risk to himself, must now be given away to God, who stood in no need of it, while he who needed it must do without it, he dug a deep hole under his own tent and hid it there, thinking to conceal it not only from his fellow soldiers, but also from God himself.
034 The place where Joshua encamped was called Galgala, meaning liberty, for since they had crossed the Jordan they now felt free from all they had suffered from the Egyptians and in the wilderness.
035 A few days after the disaster that came upon Jericho, Joshua sent three thousand infantry to take Ai, a city situated above Jericho, but coming in sight of the people of Ai, they were driven back by them and lost thirty-six of their men. 036 When the Israelites heard this it made them very sad and disconsolate, because of their relationship to the men who were killed, though those who were killed were all good men and deserved their esteem, but even more by the despair it caused. 037 They thought themselves already in possession of the land and about to bring the army back from the battles without loss, as God had promised, but now unexpectedly they saw the enemy bold with success, so they put sackcloth over their clothing and continued all day in tears and lamentation, with no interest in food, greatly affected by the disaster.
038 When Joshua saw the army so grieved and full of forebodings of evil about their whole expedition, he spoke freely with God and said, 039 "We have not come so far based on any presumption of our own, as though thinking ourselves able to subdue this land with our own weapons, but at the behest of Moses your servant. It was for this purpose, for you promised us, by many signs, to give us this land as a possession and to make our army always superior in war to our enemies. 040 and indeed we have enjoyed some success already, just as you promised. But now that we are unexpectedly foiled and have lost some men from our army, we are grieved at it, fearing that we cannot depend on what you promised us and what Moses foretold us, and our expectation of the future troubles us the more, having met with such a disaster in this our first attempt. 041 O Lord, free us from these suspicions, for you can resolve these setbacks, by giving us victory, which will both take away our present grief and prevent our distrust as to what is to come."
042 These intercessions Joshua raised up to God, lying prostrate on his face, therefore God replied that he should rise up and purify his army from the pollution that had got into it, for "things consecrated to me have been impudently stolen from me," and "this was why this defeat had happened to them;" and that when they searched out and punished the offender, he would see they had victory over their enemies. This is what Joshua said to the people. 043 Then calling for Eleazar the high priest and the men of authority, he cast lots, tribe by tribe, and when the lot showed that this crime was done by one of the tribe of Judas, he then again used the lots on the various families belonging to it, so the truth of this crime was found to belong to the family of Acharos. 044 When the inquiry was made man by man, they took Achar, who, upon God's bringing him to a terrible state, could not deny the fact. He confessed the theft and produced among them what he had taken, and was therefore instantly put to death, and was granted no more than burial in the night in a disgraceful manner, suitable to a condemned criminal.
045 Joshua purified the army and led them against Ai, and having set ambushes round around the city by night, attacked the enemy at daylight. Because of their former victory these advanced boldly on the Israelites, who pretended to flee and so drew them a long way from the city, as they still thought they were in pursuit and scorned their enemies, as they had in the former battle. 046 Then he ordered his forces to turn around and face them and gave the agreed sign to those who lay in ambush and so roused them to fight, while he made a sudden dash to the city. The inhabitants were up on the ramparts and many of them were puzzled and came to see the people outside the gates. 047 These took the city and killed all they met, but Joshua pressed hard on those who came out against him and defeated them and put them to flight, and when they were driven towards the city thinking it had not been touched, as soon as they saw it had been taken and burned, along with their wives and children, they wandered dazed about the fields quite unable to defend themselves, with no one to rally them. 048 When this befell the men of Ai, the Hebrews took many children and women and servants and a large amount of furniture as booty, and herds of livestock and a large amount of money, for this was a rich region. Joshua came to Galgala and divided all these spoils among the soldiers.
049 But the Gibeonites, who lived very near Jerusalem, seeing what woes had befallen the people of Jericho and those of Ai, and suspecting that a similar severe disaster would overtake themselves, did not think fit to ask mercy from Joshua, for they expected to find little mercy from one who made war intending to entirely destroy the Canaanite nation. 050 Instead, they invited the people of Cephirah and Kariathjearim, their neighbours, to join in league with them. They said that none of them could avoid the danger they were all in, if the Israelites should take the initiative and and seize them; persuading them of this, they resolved to try to escape the forces of the Israelites. 051 When they agreed to the proposal, they sent the most reputable citizens, most capable in what was to the people's best advantage, as envoys to Joshua to make a treaty of friendship with him. 052 These felt it dangerous to confess themselves as Canaanites, but thought of this plan to avert the danger, to claim they were not at all related to the Canaanites, but that they lived far away from them; and that because of his reputation for virtue they had come a long way, to prove which they showed him the state of their clothing. 053 they claimed that their clothes were new when they left home, but were worn out by the long time they had been on their journey, and had brought torn clothing with them, to make him believe this. 054 So they stood there claiming to be sent by the people of Gibeon and of the surrounding cities, very far from where they were, to make a treaty of friendship with them, on conditions that were traditional among their ancestors. For understanding that by God's favour and gift they [the Hebrews]
were to have possession of the land of Canaan bestowed upon them, they said they were very glad to hear it and asked to be admitted into the number of their citizens. 055 This is what the envoys said. Then showing them the signs of their long journey, they begged the Hebrews to make a treaty of friendship with them. Joshua, believing them when they said they were not of the nation of the Canaanites, entered into friendship with them, and Eleazar the high priest, along with the elders, swore to them to esteem them their friends and associates and undertake nothing unfair against them; the people also assented to the oaths that were made to them. 056 Having obtained their request by deceit they went home. When Joshua led his army to the region at the foot of the mountains in this part of Canaan, he learned that the Gibeonites lived not far from Jerusalem and that they were of Canaanite stock, so he sent for their officers and rebuked them for their deceitfulness. 057 They claimed that they had no other way to save themselves and so were forced to have recourse to it. Then he called for Eleazar the high priest and the elders, who thought it right to make slaves of these people, so as not to break the oath they had made to them, and so they ordained it. This was the method by which these men found safety and security from the disaster that was about to overtake them.
058 But the king of Jerusalem, angry that the Gibeonites had gone over to Joshua, called the kings of the neighbouring nations to join in a campaign against them. When the Gibeonites saw how these kings, four in number, besides the king of Jerusalem had encamped at a spring not far from their city and were ready besiege them, they called on Joshua for help. 059 Their situation led them to expect nothing but destruction [from their neighbours], but to expect to be saved by those who came for the destruction of the Canaanites, because of the alliance between them. 060 Joshua hurried to help them with his whole army, and marching day and night, at dawn he attacked the enemy, routed them, and pursued them down the slopes of the place called Bethhora. There too he experienced God's help, declared by thunder and thunderbolts, and by the falling of usually large hailstones. 061 The day was also lengthened so that night did not come on too soon and obstruct the zeal of the Hebrews in pursuing the enemy. Joshua captured the kings, who were hiding in a certain cave at Makkedah, and punished them all. How that day was protracted to be longer than ordinary, is told in the Scriptures laid up in the temple.
062 After defeating those kings who made war on the Gibeonites, Joshua returned to the hill country of Canaan, and after killing many of the people there he took their spoils and came to the camp at Galgala. 063 Word of the courage of the Hebrews went round among the neighbouring peoples, who were greatly fearful on hearing how many they had defeated. So the Canaanite kings who lived about Mount Libanus, and those Canaanites who lived in the plains region, with allies from the land of the Philistines, encamped at Beroth, a city of Upper Galilee, not far from Cadesh, which itself is also in Galilee. 064 The whole army numbered three hundred thousand armed infantry and ten thousand cavalry and twenty thousand chariots, so that the sheer numbers of the enemies seemed fearful to Joshua and the Israelites, and they, instead of expecting success, were stricken with great terror. 065 God reprimanded them for their fear and asked whether they needed more help than he could give them. He promised them that they would overcome their enemies, and also told them to make their enemies' horses useless and burn their chariots. At these promises of God, Joshua regained courage and instantly went out against the enemy. 066 When, after a march of five days he came upon them and fought them, the fight was tremendous and so many were killed that those who heard it could not be believe it. He pursued them a long way and destroyed the entire enemy army, apart from a few, and all the kings fell in the battle. 067 When there were no more men to kill, Joshua killed their horses and burned their chariots and crossed through all their region without opposition, with no one daring to meet him in battle. He still went forward, taking their cities by siege and again killing whatever he took.
068 By the end of the fifth year none of the Canaanites remained except some who had retreated to places of great strength. So Joshua moved his camp to the mountainous region and placed the Tent in the city of Shiloh, for that seemed a suitable place for it, because of the beauty of its location, until such time as affairs would permit them to build a temple. 069 From there he went with all the people to Sikima, and raised an altar where Moses had previously directed. Then he divided the army and placed one half of them on Mount Garizim and the other half on Mount Ebal, on which the altar stood. He also placed there the tribe of Levi and the priests. 070 When they had sacrificed and proclaimed the curses and had left them engraved upon the altar, they returned to Shiloh.
071 Joshua was old and saw that the cities of the Canaanites were not to be taken easily, not only because they were situated in such strong places, but because the strength of the ramparts built round them which, along with the naturally strong location of the cities stood, prevented enemies from besieging them and made them despair of taking them. 072 Once the Canaanites learned that the Israelites had come out of Egypt in order to destroy them, they spent all the time busily fortifying their cities; so he gathered the people together to a meeting at Shiloh. 073 When they had willingly and quickly gathered there, he reminded them of the prosperous successes they had already had and what glorious things had been done by those who were worthy of that God who enabled them to do such things and worthy of the virtue of those laws which they followed. He noted also, that thirty-one of those kings who ventured to into battle against them had been overcome and every army, however great, that trusted their own power and fought with them, was utterly destroyed so that none of their descendants remained. 074 Since some of the cities were taken, but others must be still taken by long sieges, due to the strength of their walls and the confidence the inhabitants had in them, he thought it reasonable that, being their own clan, those tribes that came along with them from beyond the Jordan and had shared in dangers with them should now be left free and sent home with thanks for the efforts they had made along with them. 075 He also thought it reasonable to send from every tribe one man of outstanding virtue to faithfully measure the land and tell them its real size without any fraud or deceit.
076 When Joshua had said this to them, the people approved his proposal, so he sent men to measure their region and sent with them geometricians, unlikely to get things wrong, due to their skill in that art. He also told them to estimate what part of the land was most fruitful and what was not so good. 077 For it is the nature of the land of Canaan that one may see large and productive plains, which could be reckoned very fruitful when compared to other parts of the region, but if compared with the fields around Jericho and around Jerusalem, will appear to be worthless. 078 So although it so happens that these people have but a very little of this sort of land and that it is mainly mountainous, yet in its surpassing goodness and beauty it is not inferior to other parts. Therefore Joshua thought the land for the tribes should be divided by estimation of its goodness, rather than just measuring its size, as it often happens that one acre of one sort of land can equal a thousand acres in some other place. 079 The ten men who were sent travelled all around making an estimation of the land and in the seventh month came to him to the city of Shiloh, where they had set up the Tent.
080 So Joshua took both Eleazar and the elders and with them the heads of the tribes and distributed the land to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasses, appointing the dimensions according to the size of each tribe. 081 When he had cast lots, Judas had assigned him by lot the upper part of Judea, reaching as far as Jerusalem and its breadth extending to the Lake of Sodom. Within the lot of this tribe were the cities of Askalon and Gaza. 082 The lot of Simeon, which was second, included the part of Idumaea bordering on Egypt and Arabia. The territory of the Benjamites extended from the river Jordan to the sea, but its other boundaries were Jerusalem and Bethel, and this lot was the narrowest of all, because of the goodness of the land, for it included Jericho and the city of Jerusalem. 083 The tribe of Ephraim had by lot the land reaching from the river Jordan to Gezer, but its width was from Bethel to the Great Plain. The half-tribe of Manasses had the land from the Jordan to the city of Dora and reached as far as Bethsan, which is now called Scythopolis. 084 After these came Issachar, which stretched from Mount Carmel to the river, and one of its boundaries was Mount Itaburion. The tribe of Zebulon's lot included the land as far as the Lake of Genesareth and the area of Carmel to the sea. 085 The tribe of Asseron had that part called the Valley, for that was its shape, and all the area across from Sidon. The city of Arce, also called Actipus, was part their share. 086 The Nephthalites got the eastern areas from the city of Damascus and the Upper Galilee as far as Mount Libanus and the Jordan springs flowing from it, that is, the portion of it whose limits belong to the nearby city of Arce. 087 The Danites' lot included the section of the valley which points west, with Azotus and Dora as its limits, and all of Jamnia and Gitta, from Akkaron to the mountain where the tribe of Judas begins.
088 In this way Joshua divided the six nations that bear the name of the sons of Canaan, with their land, as a possession for the nine and a half tribes. 089 Moses had already distributed the land of the Amorites, which itself was so called also from one of the sons of Canaan, to the other two and a half tribes, as we have shown already. But the parts about Sidon, and those belonging to the Arkites and the Amathites and the Aradians, were not yet properly divided out.
090 As Joshua was now hindered by his age from carrying out his plans, and the leaders coming after him cared little for the common good, he called on every tribe to leave no trace of the race of the Canaanites in the land he had apportioned out to them, for as Moses had foretold and they should accept, only so could they be secure and their own laws be observed. 091 He ordered them to give thirty-eight cities to the Levites, for they had already received ten in the region of the Amorites, and three of these he assigned to those who fled from the man-hunters, who were to live there, for he was most anxious that nothing be neglected which Moses had ordained. These cities were: of the tribe of Judas, Hebron, of that of Ephraim, Sikima, and of that of Naphthali, Cadesh, which is a place of the Upper Galilee. 092 He also distributed among them the share of the spoils not yet distributed, which was great; by which they had an affluence of great wealth, both all in general and each one in particular, of gold and of vestments and of other furniture, besides an innumerable amount of livestock.
093 After this he held a meeting of the whole force and to those tribes that had their settlement in the land of the Amorites beyond the Jordan, for fifty thousand of them had armed themselves and had gone to the war along with them, he said: "Since God, who is the Father and Lord of the Hebrew nation, has now given us this land for our own and promised to preserve us in its possession for ever, 094 and since according to his command you have offered yourselves with commitment to help us on all occasions when we needed that help, it is only fair, now that all our ordeals are over, to allow you to enjoy rest and that we no longer trespass on your willingness to help us. So, if we should again need it in future emergency, we may readily have it and not now weary you so much as to make you slower in assisting us another time. 095 We thank you therefore, for the dangers you have borne with us and we do it not only for the present, but shall always be so disposed and remember our friends and keep in mind the advantages we have had from them; 096 how you posponed the enjoyment of your own prosperity for our sakes and have laboured for what now, by the goodwill of God, we have obtained and resolved not to enjoy your own prosperity until you had given us that help. However, by joining your toil with ours, you have gotten plenty of wealth and will bring home with you much booty, with gold and silver, and, more than all these, our goodwill towards you and a mind disposed to reward your kindness to us, whenever you need it. You have left nothing undone which Moses asked of you before, nor have you despised him when he is dead and gone from you, so that there is nothing to lessen the gratitude we owe to you. 097 We therefore send you joyfully to your own inheritances, and ask you to believe there is no limit to the close link between us. Do not imagine, just because this river is between us, that you are of a different race from us and not Hebrews, for we are all descendants of Abraham, both we living here and you living there, and it is the same God who gave life to our ancestors and to yourselves. 098 We must carefully observe his worship and form of government as he has appointed us. While you continue in those laws, God will also show himself merciful and supportive to you, but if you imitate the other nations and forsake those laws, he will reject your nation." 099 When he had said this and greeted them all, individually those in authority and the whole people in general, he stayed where he was, but the people sent those tribes on their way, not without tears in their eyes, and indeed they hardly knew how to separate from each other.
100 When the tribes of Rubel and Gad and the Manassites who followed them, had crossed the river, they built an altar on the banks of the Jordan as a monument for their descendants and a sign of their relationship with those who living on the other side. 101 When those on the other [western]
side heard how those they had sent away had built an altar, but did not hear with what intention they built it, they supposed it to be by way of novelty and to introduce foreign gods. 102 They were not inclined to doubt it, so giving credence to this libel that it was built for divine worship, they appeared in arms, to take revenge on those who built the altar. 103 They were even about to pass over the river to punish them for subverting their ancestral laws, for instead of respecting as relatives those who had done this thing, they gave priority to the will of God and how He wished to be worshipped, and so they got ready for war. But Joshua and Eleazar the high priest and the elders restrained them, persuading them to first test the others' intention by words and only after that to proceed to war against them, if them intending to do evil. 104 So they sent as envoys Phineas the son of Eleazar and ten others well-esteemed Hebrews, to learn from them what they meant when, having crossed the river, they built an altar upon its banks. 105 When these envoys had crossed over and come to them and held a meeting, Phineas stood up and said that the offense they had committed was too grievous to be punished by mere words, or only to be amended by them in the future; still, they did not regard the gravity of their transgression as so grave that they need instantly take up arms and go to war to punish them, but that, due to their kinship and the prospect of their conversion, they chose this method of sending them an embassy, 106 "So that when we have learned the true reasons that moved you to build this altar, we may not too rashly attack you with weapons of war, if it proves that you made the altar for justifiable reasons, and still may justly punish you if the accusation prove true. 107 For we can hardly suppose that you, who are aware of the will of God and have heard those laws which he himself has given us, can forget him now that you are separated from us and gone to your patrimony, which through the grace of God and his providence over you, you have obtained by lot, and abandon the ark and altar that are special to us, in order to introduce foreign gods and imitate the wicked practices of the Canaanites. 108 This will be a significant crime even if you repent now and proceed no further in your madness and pay due reverence and keep in mind the ancestral laws, but if you persist in your sins, we will spare no effort to preserve our laws; we will cross across the Jordan and defend them, and God too, treating you no way differently from the Canaanites, and destroying you just as we destroyed them. 109 Do not imagine that, because you have crossed the river, you are beyond the reach of God's power; everywhere you are in places belonging to him and it is impossible to outrun his power and the punishment he will thereby bring upon people. If you think that your settling here can save you from conversion to what is good, there is nothing to hinder us from dividing the land anew and leaving this old area merely to feed sheep. 110 You will do well to return to your duty and to leave aside these wicked novelties, and we beg you, by your children and wives, not to force us to punish you. Take measures in this assembly, knowing that it affects your own safety and the safety of your dear ones, and realise that it is better for you to be conquered by words than to continue in your purpose and so to experience battle and war."
111 When Phineas had said this, the officers of the assembly and the whole population began to defend themselves against the accusation. They said they had no wish to abandon their relationship with them, nor had they built the altar by way of revolt. 112 They professed loyalty to one and the same God in common with all the Hebrews and to the bronze altar in front of the Tent, on which they would offer their sacrifices; that the altar they had raised, on whose account they were so suspected, was not intended for worship, 113 "but as a sign and a memorial of our relationship to you for ever and an essential caution to us to act wisely and continue in the our ancestral laws, not an excuse for neglecting them, as you suspect. Let God be our true witness, that this was the reason we built this altar. Therefore we beg you to think better of us and not impute such a thing to us as would be damnable in any of Abraham's descendants, if they attempted to bring in new rites, different from our usual practices."
114 When they gave this answer, Phineas commended them for it, and came to Joshua and explained before the people the answer they had received. Now Joshua was glad not to have to lead them into battle and shed blood and make war against their own relatives, and accordingly offered thank-offerings to God for this. After that Joshua dissolved this great assembly of the people and sent them to their own inheritances, while he himself lived in Sikima. 115 In the twentieth year after this, when he was very old, he sent for those of the greatest dignity in the various cities, with those in authority and the elders and as many of the common people as could be present. When they had come, he reminded them of all the benefits God had given to them, which must be many, since from a low estate they were advanced to such high glory and plenty. 116 He urged them to hold to God's election, who had been so gracious towards them. He told them that God would continue as their friend simply because of their piety, and that it was his duty, now that he was about to depart from this life, to leave such an admonition to them, and he asked them to keep in mind his exhortation to them.
117 After telling them all this, Joshua died, having lived a hundred and ten years; forty of them in company with Moses, in order to learn what would benefit him later; and after Moses's death he commanded them for twenty-five years. 118 He was a man not lacking in wisdom or eloquence and excellent in declaring his mind to the people. He was very brave and magnanimous in action and amid danger, wise in securing the peace of the people, and great in virtue on all occasions. 119 He was buried in the city of Timnab, belonging to the tribe of Ephraim. About the same time Eleazar the high priest died, leaving the high priesthood to his son Phineas. His monument and burial vault are in the city of Gabatha.
Chapter 2. [120-174]
After Joshua's death, great lawlessness, for which the people suffer
120 When they had died, Phineas prophesied that in order to wipe out the Canaanite race God willed them to entrust the leadership to the tribe of Judas, for at that time the people wanted to learn what was the will of God. They also enlisted the tribe of Simeon so that when those assigned to Judas's tribe had been uprooted, the tribe of Simeon should do likewise.
121 But the Canaanites were flourishing at that time and with a large army they waited for the Israelites at the city of Bezek, having assigned the leadership to Adonibezek, a name denoting Lord of Bezek, for Adoni in the Hebrew tongue means Lord, expecting to get the better of the Israelites now that Joshua was dead. 122 But the Israelites, through the two above-named tribes, attacked and fought gloriously and killed over ten thousand of them and put the rest to flight, and took Adonibezek during the pursuit. As they cut off his fingers and toes he said, 123 "I could not to lie hidden from God forever, as I find by what I now endure, for I was not ashamed to do likewise to seventy two kings." 124 So they brought him alive to Jerusalem, where he died and was buried in the earth. They continued capturing the cities and after taking most of them they besieged Jerusalem. When they had taken the lower city, which took a long time, they killed all the inhabitants, but the upper city could not be taken without great difficulty because of the strength of its walls and the nature of the place.
125 For this reason they moved camp to Hebron and having captured it, they killed them all. At that time a race of giants still lived there, with bodies so large and faces so totally different from other men, that they were dreadful to see and frightful to hear. The bones of these are still shown to this day, unlike anything one could imagine. 126 The city was given to the Levites as a special reward, with an extension of two thousand feet out from it, but following the instructions of Moses gave its lands as a gift to Caleb, one of the spies whom Moses sent into the land of Canaan. 127 They also gave dwelling land to the descendants of Jethro the Madianite, the father-in-law of Moses, who had left their own region to follow and accompany them in the wilderness.
128 The tribes of Judas and Simeon took the cities in the mountain district of Canaan, and Askalon and Azotus of those on the plain near the sea, though Gaza and Ekron escaped them, for being in the plan and having many chariots, they made it hard for the invaders. Much enriched by this war, these tribes retreated to their own cities and laid down their arms.
129 The Benjamites however, to whom Jerusalem belonged, let its inhabitants off with a tax. So they all ceased killing and risking danger and had time to cultivate the land. The other tribes imitated Benjamin and did likewise, and let the Canaanites live in peace, satisfied with the tributes being paid to them.
130 The tribe of Ephraim besieged Bethel, but achieved nothing worthy of the time and effort they put into it though they persisted in it, camped in front of the city despite the great trouble it cost them. 131 After a while they captured one of its citizens who came out to get provisions and promised to spare him and his relatives if he delivered the city to them, and on those terms he agreed to hand it over. So the traitor was saved with his family, but they killed all the inhabitants and occupied the city.
132 Then the Israelites grew too soft to fight their enemies, but applied themselves to working the land, and as it produced great plenty and wealth for them, they neglected their constitution and no longer listened to their laws. 133 The Deity was provoked to anger and reminded them how against his directions they had spared the Canaanites, and how these had taken their chance to ill-treat them. 134 Though saddened by God's words they were still reluctant to go to war, since they got so much from the Canaanites and luxury had made them unfit for effort, 135 and they let their aristocracy wither and did not appoint a council or the other officers formerly required by their laws, but devoted themselves pleasantly to tilling their fields to gain wealth. Their great indolence led to a terrible malaise which went so far as to cause internal strife for reasons I shall explain.
136 A Levite of lower rank from the district of Ephraim who lived there married a woman from Bethlehem, a place that belongs to the tribe of Judas. While deeply in love with his wife and captivated by her beauty, he was unhappy that she did not return his affection. 137 Her alienation further inflamed his passion for her, so that they were always quarrelling until finally the woman was so weary that she left her husband in the fourth month, to return to her parents. The husband took it badly and, still fond of her, went to his parents-in-law and resolved their quarrels and was reconciled with her. 138 He spent four days with them, cordially treated by her parents. On the fifth day he decided to go home and left at evening, as the parents had delayed them all day, loath to part with their daughter. They were attended by one servant and an ass on which the woman rode. 139 When, having travelled thirty furlongs, they were near Jerusalem, the servant advised them to find some lodgings, in case some misfortune might happen them if they travelled at night, as they were not far from enemies and that hour often makes one suspect dangers even from people who are friends. 140 The husband did not like this advice, and was unwilling to take lodging among strangers, for the city belonged to the Canaanites, but wished to go on another twenty furlongs to decent lodgings. His wishes prevailed and they reached Gaba, a city of the tribe of Benjamin, when evening had fallen. 141 As nobody in the public square offered him lodgings, he met an old man coming from the fields, of the tribe of Ephraim but residing in Gaba, who asked him who he was and why he arrived so late and was looking for supper when it was already dark. 142 He replied that he was a Levite and was bringing his wife back from her parents and was going home, and that he lived in the tribe of Ephraim. The old man, because of their ties of kinship and because of their chance meeting, took him to lodge with him. 143 Now some young men living in Gaba, after seeing the woman in the public square and admiring her beauty, knew she was lodging with the old man and came to the doors, scorning the weakness and smallness of her company. When the old man implored them to go away and not to resort to violence or abuse, they said he must hand over his female guest to them if he wished to avoid trouble. 144 When the old man said the Levite was related to him and that it would be an outrage if lust caused them to sin against the laws, they scorned what was right and laughed at him, threatening to kill him if he thwarted their desires. 145 Being in a dilemma and yet unwilling to let his guests be abused, he offered them his own daughter, as it was a lesser crime to satisfy their lust with her than to abuse his guests, thinking that this would prevent them from being harmed in any way. 146 As their desire for the visiting woman did not abate but they insisted on having her, he implored them not to commit any outrage, but they took her away by force and fully indulging the force of their lust, took the woman to their house and after satisfying their wanton desires all night they let her go about daybreak. 147 Humiliated by her experience, she came to the lodging house and was so upset with grief that she was ashamed to look at her husband. Then, thinking that he would never forgive her for this episode, she fell down and her life slipped away. 148 Her husband thought his wife was only asleep and not suspecting anything worse, tried to waken her, intending to speak words of comfort to her, since she had not freely exposed herself to these men's lust but had been raped by them when they came to the inn. 149 When he saw that she was dead, he acted as prudently as his great woes would allow and put his wife's corpse upon the beast and brought her home. Then cutting her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, he sent them to every tribe getting the bearers to tell them about those responsible for his wife's death and about that tribe's decadence.
150 Shocked by what they had seen and heard, as they had never before known anything like it, moved by strong and righteous anger they gathered at Shiloh and meeting before the Tent, resolved to take to arms instantly and treat the people of Gaba as enemies. 151 The elders tried to stop them doing so and not go to war so quickly against people of their own nation, without first accusing them verbally about the charge, for it was part of their law not to bring an army even against foreigners who seem to have offended, without first sending envoys to see whether or not they would repent. 152 So they urged them to act according to their laws, and send to the people of Gaba to find if they would hand over the offenders, and if so to limit themselves to punishing them, but if they scorned them, then to punish them with war. 153 So they sent to the people of Gaba accusing the young men of the wrong they had done to the Levite's wife and demanding that the lawbreakers be punished, as they deserved death for what they had done. 154 The people of Gaba would not hand over the young men unwilling to submit to others' threats and demands for fear of war. They prided themselves as inferior to none in arms, in terms of numbers or courage. With the rest of their tribe they set to preparing for war, roused by the idea of defending themselves against aggression.
155 When news of the people of Gaba was reported to the Israelites they swore that none of them would give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite, but make war on them even more fiercely than our ancestors did against the Canaanites. 156 Instantly they sent an army against them, four hundred thousand strong, while the Benjamites' army was twenty five thousand six hundred, of whom five hundred could sling stones left-handed. 157 In the battle fought at Gaba the Benjamites defeated the Israelites, two thousand of whom fell, and probably more would have been killed if nightfall had not separated the fighters. 158 The Benjamites went back happy to the city and the Israelites returned to their camp shocked by their defeat. The following day, when they attacked again, the Benjamites again won and eighteen thousand of the Israelites were killed and the rest abandoned their camp, afraid of being slaughtered. 159 So they came to Bethel, the nearest city, and fasted on the following day, imploring God, through Phineas the high priest, to cease his anger against them and, satisfied with these two defeats, to grant them victory and power over their enemies; and by a prophecy of Phineas, God promised to do so.
160 They divided the army into two parts, and set one half of them in ambush by night around the city of Gaba, while the other half attacked the Benjamites. As they drew back the Benjamites pursued them, while the Hebrews, seeking to draw them all away from the city retreated by slow stages, with others pursuing them, 161 until even the weak old men and children who were left behind in the city joined in the rush, wanting to beat down the enemy. But when they were well out from the city the Hebrews ceased running away, but turned back to fight them and gave the agreed signal to those who lay in ambush. 162 Rising up with a roar these attacked the enemy, who, seeing themselves misled, did not know what to do, and were driven into a steep valley and shot at by the men surrounding them until they were all destroyed, apart from six hundred. 163 These formed themselves into a close rank and forced their way through the enemy and fled to the neighbouring mountains, which they took and where they established themselves, while all the others, about twenty-five thousand of them, were killed. 164 The Israelites burned Gaba and killed the women and the males who were under age. They did the same to the other cities of the Benjamites and were so furious that they sent twelve thousand from their ranks with orders to destroy Jabesh Gilead, because it had not joined them in fighting the Benjamites. 165 Those who were sent killed the warriors, with their children and wives, except four hundred virgins, avenging in their rage not only the suffering of the Levite's wife but the murder of their own soldiers.
166 Even though they believed the Benjamites had suffered justly for their lawlessness, they later regretted the disaster they had inflicted on them and ordered a fast on account of it, and sent envoys to recall the six hundred fugitives who had taken refuge at a rock called Rhoas, in the wilderness. 167 The envoys expressed regret not only for the loss these had suffered but for their own loss too, as the dead were their relatives. They persuaded them to bear it patiently, and to come and join them and not cause the utter destruction of the tribe of Benjamin. They said, "We allow you to retain the whole land of Benjamin and as much booty as you can take away with you." 168 So these men confessed with regret that their woes had come by God's decree for their own injustice, and were persuaded by the invitation and came down to their ancestral tribe. The Israelites also gave them as wives the four hundred virgins of Jabesh Gilead, and sought to provide wives for the remaining two hundred, so that they might have children. 169 While they had sworn before the war began that no one would let his daughter marry a Benjamite, some advised them to disregard the oath, as sworn not wisely or judiciously but in a passion; and thought it would not offend God if they could save a whole tribe in danger of extinction, for perjury was only bad and dangerous when not done out of necessity, but out of malice. 170 However, as the elders objected to the very hint of perjury, someone said there was a way to get wives for the Benjamites while keeping their oath. When they asked about his idea he said, "Three times a year, when we meet in Shiloh, our wives and our daughters accompany us. 171 At that time let the Benjamites be allowed to seize and marry such of them as they can catch, while we neither incite nor forbid them, and if their parents take it badly and want us to punish them, we will blame it on themselves for neglecting to guard the daughters and that they must not be too angry at the Benjamites, since that anger had already overflowed." 172 They were persuaded by this advice and voted that the Benjamites be allowed to marry by stealing wives. When the festival was near, these two hundred Benjamites lay in ambush outside the city in twos and threes, and hid in the vineyards and other places for the coming of the young women. 173 The girls arrived in a merry mood, not suspecting what lay in store and going on their way without a care, when the men who were scattered by the roadside rose up and caught them; and that is how they took wives for themselves and set to farming, working to regain their former prosperity. 174 So the tribe of Benjamin, after being in danger of dying out as described, was saved by the wisdom of the Israelites, and soon flourished and grew in numbers and in all other ways. And that was how this war ended.
Chapter 3. [175-184]
Israel under harsh Assyrian rule.Saved by God, through Keniaz
175 The tribe of Dan suffered in the same way as the tribe of Benjamin, for the following reason. 176 When the Israelites had abandoned the practise of war and took to farming the land, the Canaanites looked down on them and mustered an army, not because any trouble was brewing but wanting to be able to ill-treat the Hebrews as they pleased, and so live the more securely in their own cities. 177 They got ready their chariots and gathered their soldiers, and their cities were in alliance and won over Askalon and Ekron from the tribe of Judas and many other cities in the plain, and forced the Danites to flee into the mountains, leaving them not the smallest place to settle in the lowlands. 178 Since these could not fight them in war and had not enough land to live on, they sent five of their men into the midlands to look for somewhere to move to. They went to a place near Mount Libanus and the sources of the Lesser Jordan, near the great plain of Sidon, a day's journey from the city. Then, reviewing the land and finding it good and fruitful, they reported it to their people, who invaded it in force and built there the city of Dan, named after the son of Jacob and their own tribal name.
179 Things began to go badly for the Israelites due to losing the habit of effort and neglecting the divinity. After falling away from their orderly way of life they took to living for pleasure according to each one's caprice, until they were full of the vices practiced by the local Canaanites. 180 God was therefore angry with them because of their luxury and they lost the happy state they had won with such difficulty. When invaded by Chusarathos, king of the Assyrians, they lost many of their soldiers in battle and were taken by force after a siege. 181 Some were willing to yield to him from fear, and submitted to an unbearable tax and to all kinds of indignities for eight years, until they were set free as follows.
182 There was an active and brave man, Keniaz, of the tribe of Judas, who felt inspired not to leave the Israelites in such a plight but to to take a risk to help them regain their freedom; and he found some others to share in this dangerous undertaking, since they too were eager for change, being ashamed at their present state. 183 First he destroyed the garrison Chushan had imposed on them, and more people came to help him when they saw that his first attempt was not in vain. So they fought the Assyrians and drove them all before them, across the Euphrates. 184 After such proofs of his bravery, Keniaz received the authority to judge the people, and after ruling them for forty years, he died.
Chapter 4. [185-197]
Under the Moabite Rule for eighteen years.Saved by Judes, who reigned for eighty years
185 When he died the affairs of the Israelites again fell into anarchy and things grew worse for them because they neither paid due honour to God nor obeyed the laws, 186 until Eglon the king of the Moabites so despised the disorder of their government that he went to war with them and overcame them in several battles and defeated their bravest men and entirely humbled their army and forced them to pay him tribute. 187 He built a palace in Jericho and omitted no means of oppressing the people and kept them in penury for eighteen years. Then God took pity of the sufferings of the Israelites, moved to pity by their prayers and set them free from their harsh treatment under the Moabites. This is how He set them free.
188 There was in Jericho a young man of the tribe of Benjamin, named Judes, son of Gera, a man very daring and physically strong and active and especially proficient with his left hand, where all his strength was concentrated. 189 He became friendly with Eglon through gifts by which he obtained his favour and won his good opinion and also made him popular with the king's companions. 190 Once when along with two servants he was bringing gifts to the king he had a dagger hidden on his right thigh as he went in to him. It was at the middle of the day in summertime, when the guards were not alert on their watch because of the heat and were having their lunch. 191 So the young man, having offered his gifts to Eglon, who was staying in a special chamber to avoid the heat, got into private conversation with him, as the king had sent his attendants away in order to talk with Judes. 192 He was seated on his throne and Judes was afraid to miss his stroke and not give him a deadly wound, so he got up and said he had a dream to tell him at God's command. 193 Full of joy about the dream, the king jumped up from his throne and Judes struck him to the heart and leaving his dagger in his body, went out and shut the door behind him. But the king's servants did not stir, thinking that the king had settled himself for sleep.
194 Judes reported it privately to the people of Jericho and urged them to regain their liberty. They heard it gladly and went for their armour and sent messengers over the region to sound trumpets of rams' horns, for it was our custom to call the people together in this way. 195 For a long while Eglon's attendants were unaware of what had happened to him; but towards evening, suspecting something was amiss, they entered his parlor and finding him dead they were greatly troubled, not knowing what to do, and before the guards could be gathered, the people of Israel came upon them. 196 Some of them were killed instantly and more than ten thousand were put to flight and fled for their lives toward the region of Moab. The Israelites seized the ford of the Jordan and pursued and massacred them, killing many at the ford, and not one escaped their hands. 197 In this way the Hebrews were freed from slavery under the Moabites. On this account too Judes was honoured as leader of the whole people and died after being leading them for eighty years. He was a man worthy of praise, apart from the merits of the aforesaid exploit. After him Sanagar, the son of Anath, was elected as ruler, but died in the first year of his government.
Chapter 5. [198-208]
Rescued from Canaanite rule, by Barak and Deborah
198 Even before they had recovered after their slavery to the Moabites, and failing to learn from their former troubles to amend their manners, and not honouring God or obeying the laws, the Israelites were brought under slavery by Jabin, the king of the Canaanites. 199 This man stormed down from Hazor, a city above lake Semechonitis, with an army of three hundred infantry and ten thousand cavalry and no fewer than three thousand chariots. In the battle, Sisera, who commanded all his army and was high in the king's favour, beat the Israelites so soundly that they had to pay tribute.
200 They continued in that plight for twenty years, unable to learn wisdom from the troubles by which God willed to further subdue their pride and ingratitude. When finally they repented and wisely learned that their troubles arose from their contempt of the laws, they begged Deborah, a prophetess among them, (her name in the Hebrew tongue means a Bee,) 201 to pray God to take pity on them and not ignore how the Canaanites were destroying them. So God promised them salvation and chose them a general, Barak, who was of the tribe of Naphtali. Now Barak in the Hebrew tongue means Lightning.
202 Deborah sent for Barak with orders to choose ten thousand young men to go against the enemy, since God had said that this was a sufficient number and had promised them victory. 203 When Barak would not take charge unless she took charge with him, she said angrily, "It is ignoble for you to hand over to a woman the authority God has given you, but I do not reject it!" So they collected ten thousand men and pitched their camp at Mount Itaburion. 204 At the king's command, Sisera went against them and camped not far from the enemy. The Israelites, and Barak himself, were so fearful at the number of the enemy, that they thought of leaving, but Deborah held them back with orders to fight the battle that day, for with God's help they would defeat them.
205 So they did, and when it came to close fighting there came down from heaven a great storm, with huge amounts of rain and hail, and the wind blew the rain in the faces of the Canaanites and dimmed their sight so that their arrows and slings were of no advantage to them, nor did the freezing air allow the soldiers to use their swords. 206 This storm troubled the Israelites less, as it came in their backs. They were also took so encouraged by their belief in God's help that they attacked the very centre of the enemy and killed many of them. Some were felled by the Israelites, and some by their own horses, which were panicking, and not a few were killed by their own chariots. 207 Sisera, seeing what was going on, jumped down from his chariot and fled. He came to a woman named Jael, a Kenite, who welcomed him when he asked to hide, and gave him sour milk when he asked for something to drink. 208 He drank so unrestrainedly that he fell asleep, and as he slept, Jael took an iron nail and with a hammer drove it through his temples into the floor. When Barak came a little later, she showed him the man nailed to the ground. 209 And so this victory was gained by a woman, as Deborah had foretold. Barak also fought Jabin at Hazor, and meeting him, killed him and after the general had fallen, destroyed the city to its foundations, and was commander of the Israelites for forty years.
Chapter 6. [210-232]
Rescued by Gideon, from the Madianites
210 After Barak and Deborah died around the same time, the Madianites, with help from the Amalekites and the Arabs, made war on the Israelites and defeated them in battle, and after burning the fruits of the earth, they went off with booty. 211 When this had gone on for seven years, the people of Israel retreated to the mountains and forsook the area of the plain. They also made themselves hollows under ground and caves, to store whatever had escaped the enemy. 212 For the Madianites made expeditions in harvest-time, but let them plough the land in winter, so that after the others had done the work, they could steal away the crops, resulting in food scarcity and famine. At this point, they turned to God in prayer and implored him to save them.
213 Gideon, son of Jasos, one of the distinguished few in the tribe of Manasses, brought his sheaves of corn secretly and threshed them at the wine-press, too fearful of the enemy to do so publicly in the threshing-floor. An apparition came to him in the shape of a young man to tell him that he was fortunate and beloved of God. Instantly he replied, "What a sign of his favour that I am forced to use this wine-press instead of a threshing-floor!" 214 The apparition urged him to take heart and strive to recover their freedom, but he replied that it was impossible, as the tribe he belonged to was small and he himself was too young and insignificant to think of deeds so great. The other promised him that God would supply whatever he was lacking and give the Israelites victory under his leadership.
215 When Gideon told this to some young men they believed him and without delay an army of ten thousand men got ready for the fight. God came to Gideon in his sleep to say that human nature was too fond of itself and opposed those who excelled in virtue, and instead of assigning the victory to God, they would imagine it was due to their own power, their large numbers and their skill against the enemy. 216 So, to learn that it was due to his help, he told him to bring his army to the river at the hottest time of day, about noon, and to count as valiant the men who bent down on their knees to drink, but if any drank hastily and noisily, he should reckon they were doing so out of fear and dread of the enemy. 217 When Gideon did as God prompted him three hundred men were found who knelt and took water from their hands fearfully and noisily, and God told him to take these men to attack the enemy. So they encamped at the Jordan, ready to cross over it the next day.
218 Gideon was afraid, for he had been told by God to attack his enemies in the night, so to free him from his fear God told him to take one of his soldiers and approach the Madianites' tents, which would give him insight and courage. 219 He obeyed and went, along with his servant Phurah, and as he approached one of the tents he found that those who were in it were awake and one of them was telling his fellow soldier a dream he had, so clearly that Gideon could hear him. The dream was this. He thought he saw a barley-cake, so vile that people could hardly eat it, rolling through the camp and knocking down the royal tent and the tents of all the soldiers. 220 The other soldier explained this vision to mean the destruction of the army, and why he thought so. The seed called barley was reckoned as the lowliest of seeds and the Israelites were known as the lowliest of all the people of Asia, like the seed of barley. 221 What seemed to look big among the Israelites was this Gideon and the army with him; "and since you say you saw the cake overturning our tents, I am afraid that God has given Gideon victory over us."
222 Hearing this dream, he took new hope and courage and ordered his men to get armed, telling them of this vision of their enemies. They were ready to do as he told them, encouraged by what he had said. 223 So Gideon divided his army into three parts and about the fourth watch of the night he led them out, each part containing a hundred men, all carrying empty pitchers and lighted lamps in their hands, that their attack might not be noted by the enemiy. Each of them also had a ram's horn in his right hand, to use as a trumpet. 224 The enemy's camp took up a large space of ground, for they had many camels; and though divided into different nations, they were all in one great circle. 225 The Hebrews had orders that when approaching the enemy, at a given signal to sound their trumpets and break the pitchers and attack their enemy with their lamps and shouting aloud: "Victory to Gideon, with the help of God!" 226 Disorder and fear seized the others while they were half asleep, for it was night-time as God willed. Some of them were killed by the enemy, but most by their own soldiers, due to their diversity of languages, and when once they were put into disorder, they killed anyone they met thinking them to be enemies also, and so there was a great slaughter. 227 When the Israelites got the news of Gideon's victory they took their weapons and pursued the enemy and overtook them in a certain valley surrounded with torrents, a place which these could not get over, so they surrounded them and killed them all, with their kings, Oreb and Zeeb. 228 Their remaining officers led the surviving soldiers, about eighteen thousand of them, and camped far from the Israelites. But Gideon spared no pains, but pursued them with all his army and joining battle with them, cut off the whole enemy army and took the other officers, Zeba and Zalmuna, as prisoners. 229 In this battle about a hundred and twenty thousand of the Madianites and of their allies the Arabs were killed, and the Hebrews took a huge booty of gold and silver and clothing and camels and donkeys. When Gideon arrived at his own region of Ophrah, he killed the kings of the Madianites.
230 But the tribe of Ephraim was so displeased at Gideon's success that they resolved to make war on him, accusing him of not telling them of his expedition against their enemies. As a man of good temperament excelling in every virtue, Gideon pleaded that it was not by his own authority or plan that he had attacked the enemy without them, but at God's command, and that the victory still belonged to them as well as those in the army. 231 By so cooling their tempers, he brought the Hebrews even more benefit than by his success against they enemy, for he thereby saved them from a revolt arising among them. Still this tribe later suffered the punishment of this rash treatment of Gideon, as in due time we will report.
232 At this, Gideon wanted to lay aside the leadership but was persuaded to keep it, which he did for forty years, dispensing justice as the people came to him with their differences, and what he decided was reckoned valid by all. When he died, he was buried in his own region of Ophrah.
Chapter 7. [233-274]
Other Judges: Abimelech, Jephtha, Jair and Abdon
233 Gideon had seventy legitimate sons, for he had many wives, but by his concubine Drumah he also had one who was illegimate, named Abimelech, who, after his father's death, retreated to his mother's relatives in their native Sikima. When he had got money from people who were noted for many cases of injustice, 234 he came with them to his father's house and killed all his brothers, except Jotham, who had the good fortune to escape and save his life. Abimelech conducted a tyranny and instead of obeying the laws, made himself master to do whatever he pleased, and acted most severely against the supporters of justice.
235 One day, when there was a public festival at Sikima and all the people were assembled there, his brother Jotham, whose escape we have already reported, went up on Mount Garizim, which overlooks the city of Sikima, and cried aloud so as to be heard by the people, who were listening attentively, and asked them to consider what he was about to say. 236 When there was silence, he told them that when the trees had a human voice a group of them got together and asked the fig-tree to rule over them. As that tree refused to do so, since it was content to enjoy the special honour due to its fruit, over any that could come from elsewhere, the trees did not give up their plan to have a ruler, so they decided to offer that honour to the vine. 237 When the vine was chosen, it used the same words as the fig-tree earlier, refusing the leadership. After the olive-tree had done the same, and the trees offered the kingdom to the briar, 238 a sort of wood good only for burning, it promised to take up the leadership and exercise it with vigour, but that they must sit down under its shadow, and if they should plot to destroy it, the fiery force within it would destroy them. 239 He told them that what he said was no joke; that after they had experienced many blessings from Gideon, they condoned Abimelech, who lorded over all, and though he was no better than a fire, they had even joined in killing his brothers. Saying this, he went away and lived secretly in the mountains for three years, for fear of Abimelech.
240 Shortly after this festival, the Sikimites, who now regretted having killed the sons of Gideon, expelled Abimelech from their city and their tribe; so he plotted against their city. So at the season of vintage, the people were afraid to go out and gather their fruits, for fear of the harm Abimelech might do to them. 241 Now a man of authority, named Gaal, had come and lodged with them, accompanied by his infantry and his relatives, so the Sikimites asked him to protect them during their vintage; when he agreed, the people went out and Gaal with them at the head of his soldiers. 242 So they gathered their fruit in safety, and when they were at supper in various groups, they ventured to openly curse Abimelech, and the officers set ambushes in places around the city and caught and killed many of Abimelech's followers.
243 Zebul, a leading Sikimite who had entertained Abimelech, sent messengers telling him how much Gaal had roused the people against him and urging him to set ambushes before the city, and then persuade Gaal to go out against him, which would enable him to take revenge on him; when it was done, he would ensure he was reconciled to the people. 244 So Abimelech lay in wait for Gaal who lived in the suburbs with little little protection, in the company of Zebul. When he saw the infantry on their way Gaal told Zebul that some armed men were coming towards them. 245 The other replied that they were just the shadows of huge stones, but when they had come nearer, Gaal saw the reality and said that they were not shadows, but men lying in ambush. Then Zebul said, "Did you not accuse Abimelech of cowardice? Then why not show the extent of your courage and go and fight him?" 246 Somewhat shaken, Gaal fought Abimelech and some of his men fell, so he fled into the city, bringing the others with him. But Zebul arranged for them to banish Gaal from the city, accusing him of cowardice in this action with the soldiers of Abimelech. 247 Abimelech, when he had learned that the Sikimites were again coming out to gather their grapes, set ambushes near the city and when they were coming out, one third of his army captured the gates, to block the citizens from getting back in, while the rest followed those who were outside and so there was slaughter everywhere. 248 As the city could not withstand a siege and he had destroyed it to its very foundations, and had sown its ruins with salt, he went on with his army until all the Sikimites were killed. Those who had been scattered about the region and so escaped the danger gathered at a strong rock where they settled and prepared to fortify it with a wall. 249 when Abimelech learned their intentions, he forestalled them and attacked them with his forces and set torches of dry wood round the place, bringing some of these himself and by his example encouraging the soldiers to do the same. When the rock was fully surrounded with these torches, they lit them, throwing in the most combustible materials so that a mighty fire flared up. 250 Nobody could escape from the rock, but all were lost with their wives and children, about fifteen hundred men plus all the others. This disaster befell the Sikimites, and people would have grieved more for them if they had not deserved it by what they did to a man who had done them such good.
251 Having terrified the Israelites with what he did to the Sikimites, Abimelech was clearly seeking greater authority and seemed to set no bounds to his violence, short of destroying them all. He marched to Thebes and took the city in one assault, and when the whole population fled to a great tower he prepared to besiege it. 252 As he came rushing near the gates, a woman threw a piece of a millstone upon his head and as he fell down Abimelech asked his armour-bearer to kill him, so that his death should not be thought the act of a woman, and the man did as he was ordered. 253 He suffered this death in punishment for his crime against his brothers and his brutality to the Sikimites; and their disaster was in accordance with the prediction of Jotham. After Abimelech's fall his army split up and went to their own homes.
254 Then Jair the Galadene, of the tribe of Manasses, took up the leadership. He was a fortunate man in many ways but particularly in his thirty children of good character, who were superb with horses and were entrusted with ruling the cities of Gilead. Having held the leadership for twenty-two years he died an old man, and was buried in Kamon, a city of Gilead.
255 All the affairs of the Hebrews were drifting and disorderly, tending to despise God and the laws; and the Ammanites and Philistines looked down on them and ravaged the region with a large army, and having taken all of Perea, they boldly attempted to cross over and take the rest. 256 But the Hebrews were sobered by their losses and turned to imploring God, offering sacrifices and imploring him not to spare them, and hear their prayers and set aside his anger against them. So God returned to mildness and prepared to help them.
257 When the Ammanites invaded the land of Galaditis, the local people prepared to meet them in the mountains but were in need of a leader. A man called Jephtha had some claim to power due to his ancestors' virtue and the army which he maintained at his own expense. 258 The Israelites sent to beg him to come to their help and promised that he could be their ruler for the rest of his life, but he refused their petition, accusing them of not coming to his help when he was publicly wronged by his brothers, 259 who had scorned him as a weakling for being of a different mother, an outsider whom his father had foisted on them out of erotic passion. 260 So he lived in the region of Galaditis, as it is called, and received as mercenaries all who came to him from any place whatever. Now, when they pressed him to accept the leadership and swore to let him rule over them forever, he led them to the war.
261 He immediately took charge, stationed his army at the city of Masphath and sent a message to the Ammanite, objecting to the occupation. The latter retorted by complaing of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and demanding that they leave the Amorite lands which were his ancestral heritage. 262 But Jephtha replied that he should not blame his ancestors about the Amorites' land but rather be grateful that they had left them Ammanitis, since Moses could have taken it too, and that he would not leave the land God had given them, where they had now lived for three hundred years, but would fight them for it.
263 He sent off the envoys with this answer and prayed for victory and vowed to perform sacred rites if he got safely home, and to offer in sacrifice whatever living thing would meet him first. So he fought and gained a great victory, and pursued and killed the enemy all the way as far as the city of Minnith. He then crossed to the land of the Ammanites and destroyed many of their cities and took their booty and freed his own people from the slavery they had suffered in the past eighteen years. 264 But as he returned, he met with a calamity that clashed with his great achievements, for it was his own daughter who came to meet him and she was his only child and still a virgin. He groaned in anguish at his loss and blamed his daughter for coming out meet him, since he had dedicated her to God. 265 But she met her impending fate without dismay, since she would fall for the sake of her father's victory and the freedom of the citizens, and asked her father to allow her two months to bewail her youth with the citizens, and was prepared at the agreed time for him to do with her according to his vow. 266 When that aforesaid time elapsed, he sacrificed the child as a holocaust, a sacrifice that was neither lawful or acceptable to God, regardless of what opinion the hearers may have of such a practice.
267 The tribe of Ephraim opposed him, as he had not made them part of his campaign against the Ammanites, and had kept the booty and the glory for himself alone. About this he said, first, that they knew of his relatives' opposition to him and that they did not come to his help when they were asked, whereas even without being asked they should have come. 268 Further, that they were going to act unjustly, for while they dared not fight their enemies they were quick to oppose their own relatives. He threatened that if they did not grow wiser he would punish them with God's help. 269 When this did not persuade them, he fought them with the forces he had recalled from Gilead and made a great slaughter among them, and after their defeat pursued them and, with a part of his army he had sent ahead, captured the fords of the Jordan and killed about forty-two thousand of them.
270 After ruling for six years, he himself died and was buried in his native district of Sebee, in the Galadene.
271 After Jephtha's death, the leadership passed to Ibzan, of the tribe of Judas and the city of Bethlehem. He had sixty children, thirty of them sons and the rest daughters, all of whom lived on after him when he had given the daughters to men in marriage and having taken wives for his sons. In the seven years of his rule he did nothing worth recording or recalling, but he died an old man and was buried in his own region.
272 After Ibzan died, Helon, of the tribe of Zebulon, succeeded him in the leadership and held it for ten years, and likewise did nothing of significance.
273 After Helon, Abdon, the son of Hillel, of the tribe of Ephraim and born at the city of Pyrathon, was appointed their commander. He is only recorded to have been happy in his children, for public affairs were then so calm and secure that he did not perform any brilliant action either. 274 He had forty sons and by them left thirty grandchildren, and he rode in state with these seventy, who were all very skilled riders, and he left them all alive after him. He died an old man and had a magnificent burial in Pharathon.
Chapter 8. [275-317]
Samson tames the Philistines. He is deceived by Delilah and blinded. Dying in Gaza, he has his revenge
275 After his death, the Philistines overcame the Israelites and took tax from them for forty years; but from this distress they were saved as follows.
276 Manoah, a man of rare virtue and first among the influential people of his region, had a most beautiful wife who excelled among her friends. Having no children, and unhappy at being childless, he came constantly with his wife into the suburbs, in the Great Plain, and begged God for legitimate offspring to succeed them. 277 He was madly fond of his wife, and his jealousy of her knew no bounds. Once when his wife was alone, she saw an apparition, an angel of God, like a beautiful, tall young man, who brought her the good news that she would have a son, born by God's providence. He would be handsome and strong, and as a man would afflict the Philistines. 278 He warned her not to cut his hair and that, at God's command, avoiding all other kinds of drink, he should stick to water only. Having said this, by the will of God the angel went away as he had come.
279 When her husband arrived she told him what the angel had said, but she so praised the beauty and tallness of the young man who had appeared to her that her husband was angry and beside himself for jealousy and the suspicions her feeling roused in him. 280 Wanting to remove her husband's groundless sorrow, she begged God to send the angel again, so as to be seen by her husband. So, while they were in the suburbs, by God's favour the angel came again and appeared to her when she was alone without her husband. She prayed the angel to stay until she could bring her husband, and when he agreed, she went to call Manoah. 281 When he saw the angel he was still not free from suspicion and asked him to tell him all he had told his wife, but when he said it was enought for her alone to know it, he asked to know who he was, so that when the child was born they could thank him and give him a gift. 282 He said he did not want any gift, because it was not from any need that he brought them the good news of the birth of a son. When Manoah implored him to stay and share his hospitality, he would not, but was persuaded, at Manoah's request, to stay until he brought him one mark of his hospitality, 283 so he killed a kid goat and got his wife to boil it. When all was ready, the angel told him to set the loaves upon the rock, away from the vessels, 284 and when they had done this, he touched the meat with the staff he had in his hand, and a flame broke out and it was consumed, along with the loaves. Then, within the smoke, as by a vehicle, the angel ascended to heaven clearly in their sight. Manoah feared that something would happen them because of this apparition of God, but his wife encouraged him, for God had appeared to them for their good.
285 The woman was duly pregnant and kept her instructions, and when he was born they called the child Samson, which means one who is strong. The child quickly grew and it was clear he would be a prophet, both in the sparseness of his diet and by letting his hair grow.
286 Once when he came with his parents to Timhath, a city of the Philistines, during a great festival, he fell in love with a girl of that region and he asked his parents to get her as his wife. They refused, because she was not of the stock of Israel, but as this marriage was willed by God, who intended it for the benefit of the Hebrews, he managed to force them to betroth the girl to him. 287 As he was visiting her parents as usual, he met a lion and though he was unarmed, he faced his charge and strangled him with his hands and threw the beast into a woody piece of ground aside from the road.
288 As he was going to the girl another time, he came upon a swarm of bees making their combs in the lion's breast, and taking three honey-combs, he gave them to the child, with the rest of his gifts. 289 During the time of the wedding, when he treated them all to a feast, the people of Timnath, fearful of the young man's strength, assigned him thirty of the strongest young men, pretending to be his companions, but in reality to keep guard on him, to prevent him giving them any trouble. As they were drinking merrily and having fun, Samson said, as was usual at such occasions, 290 "Let me propose you a riddle and if you can expound it within seven days, I will give each man fine linen and a shirt as the reward for your wisdom." Keen to win a reputation for wisdom, along with the reward, they asked him to propose his riddle. He said, "The eater produced sweet food from itself, though it was totally distasteful." 291 When in three days they could not find the meaning of the riddle, they asked the girl to find out from her husband and tell it to them, threatening to burn her if she did not do so. As the girl begged Samson to tell it to her, he tried to refuse at first, 292 but when she pressed him hard and resorted to tears and called his refusal to tell her a lack of affection, he told her how he had killed the lion and how he took away three honey-combs and brought them to her. 293 Suspecting nothing, he told her all and she told it to her petitioners. On the seventh day, when they were to expound the riddle proposed to them, they met him before sunset and said, "Nothing is more disagreeable than a lion to those who meet it and nothing is sweeter than honey to those who use it." 294 Samson replied: "Nothing is more deceitful than a woman, for she brought my words to you." But he gave them the gifts as promised, taking them from Askalonites who met him on the road, who were also Philistines. Then he divorced his wife, but the girl cared nothing for his anger and married his friend, who had made the match between them.
295 Samson was so provoked by this insult that he decided to punish all the Philistines along with her. Since it was summer and the fruits of the land were almost ready for reaping, he caught three hundred foxes and binding lighted torches to their tails, sent them into the Philistines' fields, so that the fruit of their fields was destroyed. 296 The Philistines knew this was Samson's doing and they also knew why he did it, so they sent their officers to Timhath where his former wife and her relatives lived, and burned them for being the cause of their troubles.
297 After killing many of the Philistines in the plains region, Samson lived in Etam, a stronghold of the tribe of Judas. At that time the Philistines made war on that tribe, and when the people of Judas said it was wrong to punish them simply for Samson's offenses, although they paid their taxes, their answer was that if they did not want to be blamed, they must hand Samson over to them. 298 Not wanting to be guilty they came to the rock with three thousand warriors and blamed Samson for the insults he had given the Philistines, who could bring disaster upon the whole Hebrew nation. They told him they had come to take him and to give him up to them and put him into their power, so they asked him to agree to this. 299 When he had received their oath of assurance to do him no harm other than to hand him over to his enemies, he came down from the rock and put himself into the power of his own people. They bound him with two cords and led him off to give him to the Philistines. 300 When they reached a certain place, now called the Jaw-bone after the great action Samson did there, though formerly it was nameless, the Philistines, who had encamped not far off, came to meet them with joy and shouting, as though having achieved some great objective, but Samson broke his chains asunder and snatching up the jaw-bone of an ass that lay at his feet, attacked his enemies and hitting them with the jaw-bone, killed a thousand and put the rest, terrified, to flight.
301 But Samson became too proud of this, claiming it had not happened by the help of God, but that it was due to his own courage, and boasted that it was from dread of him that some of his enemies fell to the jaw-bone while the rest ran away. 302 But when a great thirst came upon him, he reckoned that human courage is nothing and testified that all should be attributed to God and implored him not to be angry at anything he had said, nor give him up into the hands of his enemies, but to give him help in his misfortune and save him from from his misfortune. 303 God was moved by his plea and raised up for him a plentiful fountain of sweet water at a certain rock, which is why Samson called the place the Jaw-bone, and so it is called to this day.
304 After this fight, Samson despised the Philistines and came to Gaza and took up lodgings in a certain hotel. When the officers of Gaza were told of his coming there, they guarded the gates and placed men in ambush around them, so that he could not escape without being noticed. 305 Knowing their scheme, Samson rose about midnight and ran violently against the gates, their posts and beams and the rest of their wooden furniture, and carried them away on his shoulders to the mountain that is over Hebron and there laid them down.
306 But in the end he broke the ancestral laws and changed his lifestyle to imitate the customs of foreigners, which proved the beginning of his downfall. He fell in love with a Philistine prostitute named Delilah and lived with her. 307 The presiders of the Philistines came to her and induced her with promises to find out from Samson the cause of his strength, which made him invincible to his enemies. So when they were drinking and such-like intercourse, she pretended to admire his exploits and managed to get from him the reason why he so much exceeded others in strength. 308 To mislead Delilah, for he had not yet lost his senses, Samson replied that if he were bound with seven green cords of a vine that could be used for a wreath, he would be weaker than all others. 309 She said no more at the time, but told the Philistine officers and hid some soldiers in ambush within the house, and when he was drunk, she bound him tightly with the cords, and then awakening him, told him some were right upon him; 310 but he broke the cords and set to defend himself, as though under attack. Now in her regular intercourse with Samson she pretended to take it very badly that he had such little confidence in her feelings for him, not to tell her what she needed, as though she would not keep secret whatever she knew it was in his interest to conceal. 311 But he again tricked her and told her that if they bound him with seven cords, he would lose his strength. When she gained nothing from this, he told her, the third time, that his hair should be woven into a web, 312 but when she did this, the truth was still not revealed. Finally, at Delilah's petition, for he was doomed to fall into some misfortune, Samson wishing to please her told her that God took care of him; that he was born by divine providence and that "that is why I let my hair grow, for God charged me never to cut my hair, and therefore my strength depends on its increase and continuance." 313 When she had learned this and had removed his hair, she gave him up to his enemies as he no longer had the strength to defend himself from their attack, so they put out his eyes and bound him and had him led about among them.
314 But in the course of time Samson's hair grew again... Now there was a festival among the Philistines, when the officers and their most distinguished men were at a feast in a room whose roof was supported by two pillars, and they sent for Samson and he was brought to their feast, that they might insult him during their drinking. 315 But thinking it the worst of his woes if he could not revenge himself for the insults, he told the boy leading him by the hand that he was tired and wanted to rest, and got him to bring him near the pillars. 316 On reaching them, he shook them and brought down the house on the three thousand men in it, and all were killed, including Samson himself. Such was the end of this man, when he had ruled over the Israelites twenty years. 317 The man deserves to be admired for his courage and strength and his magnanimity in death, for his anger went so far as to die along with his enemies. As for being ensnared by a woman, that was due to human nature, too weak to resist the temptations to sin, though we should confess that in all other respects he was of extraordinary virtue. His relatives took away his body and buried it in his own region of Sarasat, with the rest of his family.
Chapter 9. [318-337]
Ruth and Naomi settle in Bethlehem. She marries Boaz, ancestor of king David
318 After the death of Samson, Eli the high priest ruled the Israelites. Under him, when the region was racked with famine, Elimelech of Bethlehem, a city of the tribe of Judas, was unable to support his family in that severe crisis, so he took his wife Naomi and the children she had borne him, Chillon and Mahlon, and went to live in the land of Moab. 319 When his affairs prospered there to his satisfaction, he got Moabite wives for his sons, Orpah for Chillon and Ruth for Mahlon. But Elimelech died within ten years, and not long afterwards the sons too. 320 Embittered by these losses and finding her loneliness unbearable after the death of those dearest to her, for whom she had left her own region, Naomi returned to her homeland, for she had heard it was now doing well. 321 The two brides could not bear to part from her, and when they planned to leave with her she did not argue with them. But when they persisted, she prayed for them more fortunate marriages than they had with her sons and that they might prosper in every respect. 322 However, given her own situation, she urged them to stay where they were and not to think of leaving their native land to share in her uncertain future. So Orpah stayed, but unable to persuade Ruth to stay she took her along, for she wished to share her fate, whatever it be.
323 When Ruth arrived in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Boaz, who was near of kin to Elimelech, received them as guests, and people when called Naomi by her proper name, she said, "You can more truly call me Mara," for in the Hebrew tongue Naomi means prosperity and Mara means sorrow. 324 It was now reaping time, and Ruth, with her mother-in-law's permission, went out to glean, to get a supply of corn to feed them. Into Boaz's field she went, and after some time Boaz arrived and when he saw the girl, he asked his steward about the child. The steward had a little earlier learned about her circumstances and told them to his master. 325 He greeted her kindly and wished her well, on account of her affection for her mother-in-law and the memory of the son to whom she had been married. He told her not to glean, but to reap whatever she could, and let her take it home. He also instructed the servant in charge of the reapers not to stop her taking it away and told him to let her eat and drink along with the reapers. 326 Whatever corn Ruth received from him she kept for her mother-in-law and in the evening came to her bringing the ears of corn, and Naomi had kept for her part of the plentiful food her neighbours had given her; and she reported what Boaz had said to her. 327 In turn, Naomi told her that he was next of kin to them and was so dutiful a man that he might make some provision for them, she went out again on the following days, to gather the gleanings with Boaz's servant girls.
328 Not many days later, when the barley was winnowed, Boaz slept in his threshing-floor. When Naomi was told of this, she arranged for Ruth to lie down near him, for she thought it might be for their advantage for him to converse with the girl, so she sent her to sleep near his feet. 329 She went as bidden, not thinking it right to oppose what her mother-in-law told her. At first her presence was unknown to Boaz, for he was fast asleep, but when he woke up about midnight and noticed a woman lying near him, he asked who she was. 330 When she told him her name and asked his pardon, as her master, he said no more at the time, but the morning, before the servants began their work, he woke her and told her to take as much barley as she could carry and go to her mother-in-law before anyone there noticed that she had lain down next to him, to prudently avoid any blame arising from it, especially since nothing had happened. 331 But he dealt with the whole matter as follows: "Whoever is nearer of kin than I am, shall be asked if he wants to take you as his wife. If he says yes, let you go with him, but if he refuses, I will marry you, according to the law."
332 When she told this to her mother-in-law, they were glad in the hope that Boaz would provide for them. About noon Boaz went down to the city and gathered the elders together and after sending for Ruth, he called for her kinsman too. 333 When he arrived, he said, "Don't you hold the inheritance of Elimelech and his sons?" He admitted that he did, but said he was acting within the law, as he was their next of kin. Then Boaz said, "You must not recall just half of the laws but do everything according to them, for Mahlon's wife has arrived here, and according to the law you must marry her, if you want to keep their fields." 334 As he already had a wife and children, the man yielded both the field and the wife to Boaz, who was himself related to the deceased. 335 So Boaz called the elders to witness and bade the woman to loose the man's shoe and spit in his face, according to the law. When this was done, Boaz married Ruth, and within a year they had a male child. 336 Naomi herself nursed this infant, and at the women's advice called him Obed, intending to rear him so as to help her in her old age, for Obed in the Hebrew dialect means servant. The son of Obed was Jesse and David was his son, who became king, and who left his dominions to his sons for twenty one generations. 337 I had to tell this story of Ruth, to prove the power of God, who can easily raise to dignity and splendor people of ordinary parentage, as he advanced David, though born of such people.
Chapter 10. [338-351]
Samuel's childhood. Disaster befalls Eli's sons
338 When things were going badly for the Hebrews they made war again upon the Philistines. The occasion was this: Eli, the high priest, had two sons, Hophni and Phineas. 339 These two were arrogant towards men and impious towards God and refrained from no sort of wickedness. Some gifts they accepted as part of their honourable employment but others they seized by force, and dishonoured women who came for worship, taking some by violence and seducing others with bribes, so that their whole lifestyle was no better than tyranny. 340 Their father took their behaviour badly and was expecting God to punish them for what they had done and the people were also displeased. But when God foretold their impending disaster, which he did to Eli himself and to Samuel the prophet who was still only a child, the father openly grieved for the ruin of his sons.
341 I will first deal with what I have to say about the prophet Samuel and will then speak about the sons of Eli and the miseries they brought on the whole Hebrew people. 342 Alkanes, a Levite of middle rank among his fellow citizens who lived in Ramathaim, a city of the tribe of Ephraim, married two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. He had children by the latter, but he loved the other more, although she was barren. 343 When Alkanes came with his wives to the city of Shiloh to sacrifice, for the Tent of God was situated there, as we have said, after he had sacrificed at the festival he distributed portions of the meat to his wives and children, and when Hannah saw the other's children sitting around their mother, she began weeping and mourned for herself in her barrenness and loneliness. 344 No consoling words from her husband could soothe her grief, so she went to the Tent to beg God to give her offspring and to make her a mother, and vowed to consecrate her first son to the service of God, so that his lifestyle should not be like that of ordinary men. 345 As she continued a long time at her prayers, the high priest, Eli, who was sitting in front of the Tent, told her to go away, thinking her under the influence of wine. She replied that she had drunk only water, but was grieving her lack of children and was imploring God for them, so he told her to be at peace, and that God would send her children.
346 She came back to her husband full of hope, and cheerfully ate her meal; and when they returned to their own region she found herself pregnant, and a son was born to them, to whom they gave the name of Samuel, which means one asked from God. Then they came to the Tent to offer sacrifice for the birth of the child, bringing their tithes. 347 The woman remembered the vows she had made about her child and gave him over to Eli, dedicating him to God to become a prophet, so he let his hair grow long and he drank only water; and so Samuel lived and was brought up in the temple. And Alkanes had other sons by Hannah and three daughters.
348 When Samuel was twelve years old, he began to prophesy. Once when he was asleep, God called to him by his name, and he, thinking he had been called by the high priest, came to him, but the high priest said he had not called him. And God did this three times. 349 Then Eli was inspired to say to him, "I was silent this time, Samuel, as well as before. It is God who iscalling you. Answer him and say, 'Here I am.'" When he heard God speak again, he asked him to speak whatever he pleased to him, for he would not refuse any service he wanted of him. 350 And God said, "Since you are here, learn the woes that are coming on the Israelites, which are beyond words and belief, for the sons of Eli shall die on a single day and the priesthood shall pass to the family of Eleazar. For Eli has loved his sons more than my worship and more than was good for them." 351 Eli forced the prophet under oath to tell him this message, for otherwise he did not want to grieve him by telling it; for now he expected the loss of his sons more surely than before. And Samuel's fame increased more and more, when experience proved that whatever he prophesied came true.
Chapter 11. [352-362]
Defection of Eli's sons.The Philistines capture the Ark. Eli's Death
352 About this time the Philistines made war on the Israelites and encamped at the city of Aphek. When the Israelites had waited for them a little while, they clashed the next day and the Philistines won and killed more than four thousand of the Hebrews and pursued the rest of them to their camp.
353 Fearing a total disaster, the Hebrews sent to the elders and the high priest asking them to bring the ark of God, so that lining up for battle in its presence they could defeat the enemy, not reflecting that He who had condemned them to these woes was greater than the ark, and that it was for his sake this ark came to be honoured. 354 So the ark came and with it the sons of the high priest, having been told by their father that if they tried to survive the capture of the ark, they should no longer come into his presence, for already Phineas officiated as high priest, since his father had passed on his office to him, because of his great age. 355 So the Hebrews were much encouraged, expecting to defeat their enemies because the the ark's arrival. The enemy was greatly concerned and afraid of the ark's coming to the Israelites. 356 However, the upshot did not turn out as both sides expected, for when the battle took place, the victory the Hebrews expected was gained by the Philistines and the defeat feared by the Philistines fell on the Israelites. They found that they had trusted in the ark in vain, for they were defeated as soon as they came to grips with the enemy and lost about thirty thousand men, among them the sons of the high priest, and the ark was carried away to their enemies.
357 When this defeat was reported in Shiloh, with news of the taking of the ark, for a young man of Benjamin who took part in the action came there with the news, the whole city was full of grief. 358 Eli, the high priest, who sat on a high throne at one of the gates, heard their mournful cries and guessed that some odd thing had happened to his family. So he sent for the young man, and when he learned of the battle, he was patient about the fate of his sons and what what had happened to the army, having known in advance from God that those things would happen and having predicted them, for people are more affected when shocks come unexpectedly. 359 But when he heard that the ark had been captured by the enemy, he was so heartbroken and despairing that he he fell from his throne and died, having lived ninety eight years in all, and had held the leadership for forty of them.
360 On the same day his son Phineas's wife also died, unable to survive her husband's misfortune. They told her of her husband's death as she was in labour and she bore a son at seven months, who lived and to whom they gave the name of Icabod, which means disgrace, because the army suffered disgrace at this time.
361 Eli was the first of the family of Ithamar, Aaron's other son, to hold the leadership, for the family of Eleazar had originally held the high priesthood, each son receiving from his father the honour which Eleazar bequeathed to his son Phineas, 362 whose son Abiezer held it after him and passed it on to his son, Bukki, from whom his son Ozi inherited it; after whom Eli, of whom we have been speaking, held the priesthood and so he and his descendants until the time of Solomon's reign, but then the descendants of Eleazar got it back again.