Battle of Aphek

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Battle of Aphek
Weltchronik Fulda Aa88 209r detail.jpg
The battle depicted in Rudolf von Ems' Weltchronik
Location Aphek
Result Decisive Philistine victory
Ark of the Covenant captured
Israelite Army Philistines
Commanders and leaders
Saul Achish
34,000 soldier
2700 archer
28,000 soldier
560 archer
Casualties and losses
5,600 Israelite soldiers
Two Priests
7,900 Philistines soldier

The Battle of Aphek is a biblical episode described in 1 Samuel 4:1-10 of the Hebrew Bible. During this battle the Philistines defeated the Israelite army and captured the Ark of the Covenant.

Biblical account[edit]

The Book of Samuel records that the Philistines were camped at Aphek and the Israelites at Eben-Ezer. The Philistines defeated the Israelites during the first battle, killing 4,000 Israelites. The Israelites then brought up the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh, and the Philistines again defeated the Israelites, this time killing 30,000 and capturing the Ark.

Samuel records that the two sons of the judge Eli, Hophni and Phineas, died that day, as well as Eli, who "[a]s soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years." (1 Samuel 4:18)

Most scholars agree that there were more than one Aphek. C.R. Conder identified the Aphek of Eben-Ezer[1] with a ruin (Khirbet) some 3.7 miles (6 km) distant from Dayr Aban (believed to be Eben-Ezer[2]), and known by the name Marj al-Fikiya; the name al-Fikiya being an Arabic corruption of Aphek.[3] Eusebius, when writing about Eben-ezer in his Onomasticon, says that it is "the place from which the Gentiles seized the Ark, between Jerusalem and Ascalon, near the village of Bethsamys (Beit Shemesh),"[4] a locale that corresponds with Conder's identification.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The account in 1 Samuel 4:1 of the battle at Aphek and Eben-ezer
  2. ^ C.R. Conder, Notes from the Memoir, Palestine Exploration Quarterly, vol. 18, London 1876, p. 149; Conder & Kitchener, The Survey of Western Palestine, vol. iii (Judaea), London 1883, p. 24
  3. ^ North, Robert (1960). "Ap(h)eq(a) and 'Azeqa". Biblica. 41 (1): 61–63. JSTOR 42637769. (registration required (help)). 
  4. ^ Eusebius Werke, Erich Klostermann (ed.), Leipig 1904, p. 33,24.