1 Saul became king and he ruled over Israel. 2 Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with him in Michmash and in the hills of Bethel, and a thousand with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul sent the rest of the people away, every man to his home. 3 Jonathan killed the Philistine governor in Geba and the Philistines heard of this. Saul then blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 And the news spread throughout Israel, “Saul has killed the Philistine governor and now Israel is at war with them.” And they called everyone out to join Saul at Gilgal.
The “sin” of Saul
5 The Philistines gathered to fight with Israel—three thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and troops as many as the sand on the sea shore. They went up and encamped in Michmash, east of Bethaven. 6 When the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble, they hid themselves in caves, in holes, in rocks, in tombs and in cisterns, 7 or crossed the fords of the Jordan River to the land of Gad and Gilead.
8 Saul was still at Gilgal and all the people with him were afraid. He waited seven days—the time ap pointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not arrive at Gilgal and the people were beginning to disperse. 9 So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings as well.” Saul then offered the burnt offering. 10 He had just finished offering it when Samuel arrived. Saul went out to greet Samuel 11 who threw him this question, “What have you done?” Saul answered him, “When I saw the people beginning to disperse because of your failure to arrive on time, and considering that the Phi listines have mustered their forces at Michmash, 12 I said to myself, ‘The Philistines will launch their attack against me before I get Yah weh’s blessings and so I decided to offer the burnt offerings.” 13 Samuel told Saul, “You have done a foolish thing by not obeying the command of Yahweh your God who would have established your rule forever. 14 But now your kingship will not last, for Yahweh has chosen someone else more pleasing to him, whom he has appointed to be commander over his people because you have not done what Yahweh commanded you.” 15 Sa muel then left Gilgal and went on his way. Meanwhile the people went up from Gilgal with Saul to join the warriors at Gibeah of Benjamin.
15 Saul reviewed his men numbering some six hundred. 16 While Saul and his son Jonathan stayed in Gebah of Benjamin with the men, the Philis tines pitched camp in Michmash. 17 Raiders came out of the Philistine camp in three companies—one com pany turned to Ophrah, to the land of Shual; 18 the other, to Betho ron; and the third, to the border overlooking the valley of Zeboim, toward the wilderness.
19 The Israelites had no smith anywhere in their land, for the Philistines did not want the Hebrews to make swords or spears. 20 To have their plowshare, mattock, axe or sickle sharpened, the Israelites had to go down to the Philis tines 21 who would charge them two-thirds of a shekel for plowshares and mattocks, and a third of a she kel for sharpening axes and setting goads. 22 And so, on the day of battle, the Israelites had neither sword nor spear. Only Saul and Jonathan had them.
23 Yet the Philistine raiders had moved on toward the pass of Mich mash.