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1 Samuel 7:12

ESV Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.”
NIV Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the LORD has helped us.'
NASB Then Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, 'So far the Lord has helped us.'
CSB Afterward, Samuel took a stone and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, "The Lord has helped us to this point."
NLT Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means 'the stone of help'), for he said, 'Up to this point the Lord has helped us!'
KJV Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

What does 1 Samuel 7:12 mean?

After the Israelites' sudden and overwhelming victory against the attacking Philistine army (1 Samuel 7:10–11), Samuel commemorates the event by setting up a large stone between Mizpah and a place either Shen, or Jeshanah in some records. The location of Shen is not known.

Samuel called the monument Ebenezer, which means "stone of help." He gave the stone that named because the Lord had helped His people up to this point. The idea is that God has been helping Israel all along even to this moment in history. He has not gone away. He has not been absent. The Lord is still Israel's helper.

This stone called Ebenezer is not likely at the place called Ebenezer where the Philistines defeated the Israelites and captured the ark of God about twenty years earlier (1 Samuel 4:1; 5:1). It's possible that Samuel also named the stone Ebenezer to show that the Lord was still Israel's helper despite what happened at the other place known as Ebenezer.

It was common for Israelites to memorialize acts or encounters involving God by using stones of remembrance. For example, at God's command, Jacob set up an altar at Bethel (Genesis 35:1). It is also referred to as a "pillar in the place where [God] had spoken with him, a pillar of stone" (Genesis 35:14). Joshua set up twelve stones in the Jordan river where the Israelites had miraculously crossed (Joshua 4:9). He also set up a stone as a witness of the covenant renewal at Shechem after the Israelites had largely conquered the promised land (Joshua 24). The people had chosen to serve the Lord, and the stone would be "a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God" (Joshua 24:27). Stones also served as visual indicators of covenants between people, such as between Jacob and Laban (Genesis 31:44–54). Even today people use tangible objects as markers of important events or reminders of God's faithfulness.
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