And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
A. M. 2864. B.C. 1140. An. Ex. Is. 351. the ark
And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
Bochart has collected many curious accounts relative to the terrible devastations made by these mischievous animals. William, Archbishop of Tyre, records, that in the beginning of the twelfth century, a penitential council was held at Naplouse, where five and twenty canons were framed for the correction of the manners of the inhabitants of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, who they apprehended had provoked to bring upon them the calamities of earthquakes, war, and famine. This last he ascribes to locusts and devouring mice, which had for four years together so destroyed the fruits of the earth as to cause an almost total failure of their crops. It was customary for the ancient heathen to offer to their gods such monuments of their deliverance as represented the evils from which they had been rescued; and Tavernier informs us, that among the Indians, when a pilgrim goes to one of the pagodas for a cure, he brings the figure of the member affected, made of gold, silver, or copper, according to his circumstances, which he offers to his god.
Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
or, reproachfully. did they not.
Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us.
not his hand
And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.
the five lords
great stone of
or, great stone.
And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
As it is very improbable that the village of Beth-shemesh should contain, or be capable of employing, 50,070 men in the fields at wheat harvest, much less that they could all peep into the ark, and from the uncommon manner in which it is expressed in the original, it is generally allowed that there is some corruption in the text, or that some explanatory word is omitted. The Hebrew is shivim ish, chamishim aileph ish, literally, "seventy men, fifty thousand men:" so LXX. [ .] Vulgate, septuaginta viros, et quinquaginta millia plebis, "70 (chief) men, and 50,000 common people." Targum, besabey ‚mma, "of the elders of the people 70 men, ovekahala, and in the congregation 50,000 men." But the Syriac, chamsho alphin weshivin gavrin, "5,000 and 70 men;" with which the Arabic agrees; while Josephus has only [ ] seventy men; and three reputable MSS. of Dr. Kennicott's also omit "50,000 men." Some learned men, however, would render, by supplying [MÍm] mem, "70 men; fifty out of a thousand;" which supposes about 1,400 present, and that a twentieth part were slain.
And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.