Eli’s end had been telegraphed the last two chapters, and here it is.
The Israelites are losing in battle with the philistines. Rather than pray for victory, claiming god’s promise that they would be a great nation they summoned the arc of the covenant. The symbol of the promise has become a magic box who’s presence gives power. It’s Steven Speilbergs arc. The irony if making it an idol is lost on them it seems.
The battle where they use it becomes the day of Eli’s end in a dramatic series of events. His sons are killed in the battle.
Upon hearing the news of their defeat and the capture of the ark eli falls beverages and breaks his neck.
His daughter in law, pregnant, is thrown into early labour, dies in childbirth, never having seen the baby. They call I him Ichabod: god’s glory has departed.
This is narrative of the fulfillment of the prophesy. It also shows how superstitious the Israelites have become. It paints a picture of the nation ripe for spiritual transformation.