The Hebrews, then, as I have narrated above, were living according to their own will, without any judge or general. Eli was priest; and in his days Samuel was born. His fathers name was Elchana, and his mothers, Anna. She having long been barren, is said, when she asked a child from God, to have vowed that, if it were a boy, it should be dedicated to God. Accordingly, having brought forth a boy, she delivered him to Eli the priest. By and by, when he had grown up, God spoke to him. He denounced wrath against Eli the priest on account of the life of his sons, who had made the priesthood of their father a means of gain to themselves, and exacted gifts from those who came to sacrifice; and, although their father is related to have often reproved them, yet his reproofs were too gentle to serve the purpose of discipline. Well, the Philistines made an incursion into Judæa, and were met by the Israelites. But the Hebrews, being beaten, prepare to renew the contest: they carry the ark of the Lord with them into battle, and the sons of the priests go forth with it, because he himself, being burdened with years, and afflicted with blindness, could not discharge that duty. But, when the ark was brought within sight of the enemy, terrified as if by the majesty of Gods presence, they were ready to take to flight. But again recovering courage, and changing their minds (not without a divine impulse), they rush into battle with their whole strength. The Hebrews were conquered; the ark was taken; the sons of the priest fell. Eli, when the news of the calamity was brought to him, being overwhelmed with grief, breathed his last, after he had held the priesthood for twenty 297 years.
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