1 Samuel 6)
1: And the ark of the Lord (Yahaveh, the Ark now gets its own divine title) was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
K M 2-12-. Dismissal of Ark. N -12. Lords of Philistines following. M 13-15. Reception of Ark. N 16. Lords of Philistines returning.
M e 2-8. Consultation of Philistines. f 9. Test suggested. e 10,11. Consultation. Result. f 12-. Test applied.
e g 2. Questions. What? Wherewith? h 3. Answer. Trespass offering. g 4-. Question. What? h -4-8. Answer. A new cart.
2: And the Philistines called for the priests (not God's 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.”
3: And they said, “If you all send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return Him a trespass offering: then you all shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” (they are trying to work things to their favor)
4: Then said they, “What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?”
They answered, “Five golden hemorrhoids (see 5:5: i.e. models of them in gold; of which, modern "votive offerings" are the lineal descendants. Cp. v.5), and five golden mice (these 2 things very unclean to place near holy things), according to the number of the princes of the Philistines (cp. Josh. 13:3): for one plague was on you all, and on your princes.
5: Wherefore you all shall make images of your hemorrhoids, and images of your mice that mar the land; and you all shall give glory to the God of Israel: perhaps He will lighten His hand from off you (see 5:6), and from off your gods, and from off your land. (The Philistines were not punished for what they did to the Ark because it was done in ignorance)
6: Wherefore then do you all harden your hearts, according 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?
7: Now therefore make a new cart (this was done in ignorance of God's requirements [Num.4:15; 7:9; 10:21]. They could not have complied with the Law, even if they had known it; hence, no judgment fell on them. But contrast David's "new cart", and see note on 2 Sam.6:3), and take two milch kine (= milk cows. Milk cows will go to where calves are: this is deception by their priests), on which there has come no yoke, and tie the cows to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
8: And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which you all return Him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
9: And see, if it (i.e. the "ark", which is masc.; not the "cart", which is fem.) goes up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh (= House of the sun, now Ain Shems, on the borders of Judah and Dan. Cp. Josh.15:10), then He has done us all this great evil (= tumult): but if not, then we shall know that is not His hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.”
10: And the men did so; and took two milk cows, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
11: And they laid the ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their hemorrhoids.
12: And the sows took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went (calling for their calves), and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left;
and the princes of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth-shemesh. (their plan didn't work)
13: And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. (God brought it home, not man)
14: And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone (an altar): and they clove the wood of the cart, and offered up the cows a burnt offering to the Lord.
15: And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone (this was a great insult and an abomination. See v.19): and the men of Beth-shemesh offered up burnt offerings and made great sacrifices the same day to the Lord.
16: And when the five princes of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
17: And these are the golden hemorrhoids which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering to the Lord; for Ashdod one (see Gen.10:14), for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
18: And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five princes, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even to the great stone of Aben, whereon they set down the ark of the Lord: which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite.
19: And He smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord (these people were not ignorant like the Philistines, they knew better), even He smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men (= 50,070. This number being out of all proportion to the size of Beth-shemesh, has led to various readings. Some codices omit 50,000. The Syr. and Arabic versions read "five" instead of fifty. Josephus reads "seventy". The Heb. text reads "seventy men two fifties and one thousand" = 70 + 100 + 1,000 = 1,170): and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great smiting.
20: And the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before this set apart (see Ex.3:5) the Lord God? and to whom shall he (i.e. the ark, see v.9) go up from us?”
21: And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come you all down, and fetch it up to you.”