1At that time, Saul had been king one year. After Saul had ruled over Israel two years, 2he chose 3,000 men from Israel. There were 2,000 men who stayed with him at Micmash in the hill country of Bethel. There were 1,000 men who stayed with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. Saul sent the other men in the army back home. 3Jonathan defeated the Philistines at their camp in Geba. The Philistines heard about this. They said, “The Hebrews have rebelled.” Saul said, “Let the Hebrew people hear what happened.” So Saul told the men to blow trumpets through all the land of Israel. 4All the Israelites heard the news. They said, “Saul has killed the Philistine leader. Now the Philistines really hate the Israelites!” The people of Israel were called to join Saul at Gilgal. 5The Philistines gathered to fight Israel. The Philistines camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. The Philistines had 3,000 chariots and 6,000 horse soldiers. There were so many Philistines that they were like sand on the seashore. 6The Israelites saw that they were in trouble. They felt trapped. They ran away to hide in caves and cracks in the rock. They hid among the rocks, in wells, and in other holes in the ground. 7Some Hebrews even went across the Jordan River to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal. All the men in his army were shaking with fear. 8Samuel said he would meet Saul at Gilgal. Saul waited there seven days. But Samuel had not yet come to Gilgal, and the soldiers began to leave Saul. 9So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offerings and the fellowship offerings.” Then Saul offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as Saul finished offering that sacrifice, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet him. 11Samuel asked, “What have you done?” Saul answered, “I saw the soldiers leaving me. You were not here on time, and the Philistines were gathering at Micmash. 12I thought to myself, 'The Philistines will come here and attack me at Gilgal. And I haven’t asked the Lord to help us yet! So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.’” 13Samuel said, “You did a foolish thing! You did not obey the Lord your God! If you had obeyed God’s command, then he would have let your family rule Israel forever. 14But now your kingdom will not continue. The Lord was looking for a man who wants to obey him! The Lord has found that man—and the Lord is choosing him to be the new leader of his people. You didn’t obey the Lord’s command, so the Lord is choosing a new leader.” 15Then Samuel got up and left Gilgal. Saul and the rest of his army left Gilgal. They went to Gibeah in Benjamin. Saul counted the men who were still with him. There were about 600 men. 16Saul, his son Jonathan, and the soldiers went to Geba in Benjamin. The Philistines were camped at Micmash. 17˻The Philistines decided to punish the Israelites living in that area.˼ So their best soldiers began the attack. The Philistine army split into three groups. One group went ˻north˼ on the road to Ophrah, near Shual. 18The second group went ˻southeast˼ on the road to Beth Horon. And the third group went ˻east˼ on the road to the border. That road looks over the Valley of Zeboim toward the desert. 19None of the people of Israel could make things from iron. There weren’t any blacksmiths in Israel. The Philistines did not teach the Israelites how to make things from iron because the Philistines were afraid the Israelites would make iron swords and spears. 20Only the Philistines could sharpen iron tools. So if the Israelites needed to sharpen their plows, hoes, axes or sickles, they had to go to the Philistines. 21The Philistine blacksmiths charged 1/3 ounce ˻of silver˼ for sharpening plows and hoes. And they charged 1/6 ounce ˻of silver˼ for sharpening picks, axes and the iron tip on oxgoads. 22So, on the day of battle, none of the Israelite soldiers with Saul had ˻iron˼ swords or spears. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had ˻iron˼ weapons. 23A group of Philistine soldiers guarded the mountain pass at Micmash.
1 Samuel 13