What does 1 Samuel 7:12 mean?
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.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
First Samuel 7:3–14 begins with Samuel's instructions for the people to throw away their foreign gods and serve the Lord only. The nation gathers at Mizpah to confess and repent. Seeing what looks like an amassed army, the Philistines plan an attack. Samuel offers a sacrifice and cries out to the Lord, who thunders against the Philistines and throws them into confusion. The Israelites strike them down and drive them out of Israelite territory. Israel also has peace with the local Amorites.
Chapter Summary:
Twenty years after the ark of the Lord is taken to Kiriath-jearim, Samuel calls for the people to repent. They should discard foreign gods and serve the true Lord. Gathered at Mizpah, the people confess their sin. With the Philistines approaching to attack, Samuel offers a sacrifice and cries out to God. The Lord responds with loud thunder against the Philistines and throws them into confusion. The Israelites strike them down and drive them out of Israelite territory. Samuel serves as judge over Israel for the rest of his life.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 7 begins with the arrival of the previously captured ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4—6) at Kiriath-jearim. There it sits for twenty years. Samuel then calls the people to repent and throw away the foreign gods they have been worshiping. At Mizpah, the nation is gathered to confess their sin and fast. With the Philistines approaching, Samuel offers a sacrifice and cries out to God. The Lord confuses the Philistines, and the Israelites strike them down and force them out of Israelite territory. Unfortunately, after this, Israel will seek to appoint a king so they can be like the other nations in the area (1 Samuel 8).
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
Accessed 4/18/2024 6:58:30 PM
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