The Meaning of 1 Samuel 4:4 Explained

1 Samuel 4:4

KJV: So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

YLT: And the people sendeth to Shiloh, and they take up thence the ark of the covenant of Jehovah of Hosts, inhabiting the cherubs, and there are two sons of Eli, with the ark of the covenant of God, Hophni and Phinehas.

Darby: So the people sent to Shiloh, and they brought from thence the ark of the covenant of Jehovah of hosts, who sitteth between the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there by the ark of the covenant of God.

ASV: So the people sent to Shiloh; and they brought from thence the ark of the covenant of Jehovah of hosts, who sitteth above the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

What does 1 Samuel 4:4 Mean?

Context Summary

1 Samuel 4:1-11 - Trusting In The Ark, Not In God
The predictions against Eli's house now begin to be fulfilled. It was fitting for Israel to institute an inquiry into the causes of defeat. This is always the first step toward victory. There was no doubt as to the ancient Covenant with Israel; the one question was to ascertain what had suddenly neutralized that divine assistance which in former days had always been forthcoming. Failure often indicates that something has happened to cut off the supply of God's saving help.
In this instance, however, Israel did not carry the inquiry into God's presence, but endeavored to supply the lapse of divine help by introducing the symbol of the Covenant. "Fetch the Ark!" they cried. They supposed that, in some mysterious way, it would bring God into their camp and ally Him with their arms. In the same manner a brigand might expect an amulet or charm to preserve his life, while violating the laws of God and man. These materialized views of the Israelites' relations with God had to be corrected; and hence defeat ensued. Our only safety lies, not in an outward act or token, but in simple, pure-hearted and unbroken fellowship with God. Then we become invincible. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Samuel 4

1  The Israelites are overcome by the Philistines at Ebenezer
3  They fetch the ark unto the terror of the Philistines
10  They are smitten again, the ark taken, and Hophni and Phinehas are slain
12  Eli at the news, falling backward, breaks his neck
19  Phinehas's wife, discouraged in her travail with Ichabod, dies

What do the individual words in 1 Samuel 4:4 mean?

So sent the people to Shiloh that they might bring from there - the ark of the covenant of Yahweh of hosts who dwells [between] the cherubim and [were] there two the sons of Eli with the ark of the covenant of God Hophni and Phinehas
וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח הָעָם֙ שִׁלֹ֔ה וַיִּשְׂא֣וּ מִשָּׁ֗ם אֵ֣ת אֲר֧וֹן בְּרִית־ יְהוָ֛ה צְבָא֖וֹת יֹשֵׁ֣ב הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־ עֵלִ֗י עִם־ אֲרוֹן֙ בְּרִ֣ית הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים חָפְנִ֖י וּפִֽינְחָֽס

וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח  So  sent 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: שָׁלַח  
Sense: to send, send away, let go, stretch out.
הָעָם֙  the  people 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: עַם 
Sense: nation, people.
שִׁלֹ֔ה  to  Shiloh 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: שִׁילֹו 
Sense: a city in Ephraim and temporary home of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle, the place where Samuel grew up.
וַיִּשְׂא֣וּ  that  they  might  bring 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: נָשָׂא  
Sense: to lift, bear up, carry, take.
מִשָּׁ֗ם  from  there 
Parse: Preposition-m, Adverb
Root: שָׁם  
Sense: there, thither.
אֵ֣ת  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
אֲר֧וֹן  the  ark 
Parse: Noun, common singular construct
Root: אֲרֹון  
Sense: chest, ark.
בְּרִית־  of  the  covenant  of 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct
Root: בְּרִית  
Sense: covenant, alliance, pledge.
יְהוָ֛ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: Jehovah—used primarily in the combination ‘Lord Jehovah’.
צְבָא֖וֹת  of  hosts 
Parse: Noun, common plural
Root: צָבָא 
Sense: that which goes forth, army, war, warfare, host.
יֹשֵׁ֣ב  who  dwells 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: יָשַׁב 
Sense: to dwell, remain, sit, abide.
הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים  [between]  the  cherubim 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: כְּרוּב  
Sense: cherub, cherubim (pl).
וְשָׁ֞ם  and  [were]  there 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb
Root: שָׁם  
Sense: there, thither.
שְׁנֵ֣י  two 
Parse: Number, mdc
Root: שְׁנַיִם  
Sense: two.
בְנֵֽי־  the  sons 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: בֵּן 
Sense: son, grandson, child, member of a group.
עֵלִ֗י  of  Eli 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: עֵלִי  
Sense: descendant of Aaron through Ithamar and high priest and judge of Israel when Samuel entered service as a child.
אֲרוֹן֙  the  ark 
Parse: Noun, common singular construct
Root: אֲרֹון  
Sense: chest, ark.
בְּרִ֣ית  of  the  covenant 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct
Root: בְּרִית  
Sense: covenant, alliance, pledge.
הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים  of  God 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: אֱלֹהִים  
Sense: (plural).
חָפְנִ֖י  Hophni 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: חָפְנִי  
Sense: one of the two sons of Eli who were priests at Shiloh and were noted for their brutality and lust; their sinfulness provoked a curse against their father’s house and were judged by the Lord when they took the ark into battle; the ark was lost and both brothers were killed and Eli died when he heard the news.
וּפִֽינְחָֽס  and  Phinehas 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: פִּינְחָס  
Sense: son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron; his zealousness for the Lord averted a plague on Israel and gained him the promise of the Lord of an everlasting priesthood in his family.