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1Sa 6:1-9. THE PHILISTINES COUNSEL HOW TO SEND BACK THE ARK.
1. the ark . . . was in the country of the Philistines seven months--Notwithstanding the calamities which its presence had brought on the country and the people, the Philistine lords were unwilling to relinquish such a prize, and tried every means to retain it with peace and safety, but in vain.
2, 3. the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners--The designed restoration of the ark was not, it seems, universally approved of, and many doubts were expressed whether the prevailing pestilence was really a judgment of Heaven. The priests and diviners united all parties by recommending a course which would enable them easily to discriminate the true character of the calamities, and at the same time to propitiate the incensed Deity for any acts of disrespect which might have been shown to His ark.
4. Five golden emerods--Votive or thank offerings were commonly made
by the heathen in prayer for, or gratitude after, deliverance from
lingering or dangerous disorders, in the form of metallic (generally
silver) models or images of the diseased parts of the body. This is
common still in Roman Catholic countries, as well as in the temples of
the Hindus and other modern heathen.
5. give glory unto the God of Israel--By these propitiatory presents,
the Philistines would acknowledge His power and make reparation for the
injury done to His ark.
6. Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?--The memory of the appalling judgments that had been inflicted on Egypt was not yet obliterated. Whether preserved in written records, or in floating tradition, they were still fresh in the minds of men, and being extensively spread, were doubtless the means of diffusing the knowledge and fear of the true God.
7. make a new cart--Their object in making a new one for the purpose
seems to have been not only for cleanliness and neatness, but from an
impression that there would have been an impropriety in using one that
had been applied to meaner or more common services. It appears to have
been a covered wagon
8. take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart--This mode of
carrying the sacred symbol was forbidden; but the ignorance of the
Philistines made the indignity excusable
9-12. Beth-shemesh--that is, "house of the sun," now Ain Shems [ROBINSON], a city of priests in Judah, in the southeast border of Dan, lying in a beautiful and extensive valley. JOSEPHUS says they were set a-going near a place where the road divided into two--the one leading back to Ekron, where were their calves, and the other to Beth-shemesh. Their frequent lowings attested their ardent longing for their young, and at the same time the supernatural influence that controlled their movements in a contrary direction.
12. the lords of the Philistines went after them--to give their tribute of homage, to prevent imposture, and to obtain the most reliable evidence of the truth. The result of this journey tended to their own deeper humiliation, and the greater illustration of God's glory.
14. and they clave--that is, the Beth-shemites, in an irrepressible
outburst of joy.
17, 18. And these are the golden emerods . . . and the mice--There were five representative images of the emerods, corresponding to the five principal cities of the Philistines. But the number of the golden mice must have been greater, for they were sent from the walled towns as well as the country villages.
19. he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the
ark--In the ecstasy of delight at seeing the return of the ark, the
Beth-shemesh reapers pried into it beneath the wagon cover; and instead
of covering it up again, as a sacred utensil, they let it remain
exposed to common inspection, wishing it to be seen, in order that all
might enjoy the triumph of seeing the votive offerings presented to it,
and gratify curiosity with the sight of the sacred shrine. This was the
offense of those Israelites (Levites, as well as common people), who
had treated the ark with less reverence than the Philistines
21. Kirjath-jearim--"the city of woods," also called Kirjath-baal (Jos 15:60; 18:14; 1Ch 13:6, 7). This was the nearest town to Beth-shemesh; and being a place of strength, it was a more fitting place for the residence of the ark. Beth-shemesh being in a low plain, and Kirjath-jearim on a hill, explains the message, "Come ye down, and fetch it up to you."