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and images of your mice that mar the land : and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel, acknowledge that the plague came from him, beg pardon for your fault, and seek his help ; Peradvena ture he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods,* and from off your land. Some objected to this offering, as
showing too great respect to the ark, and as too degrading to thema 6 selves; but the priests' exhorted them to it, saying, 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 departo 7 ed ?t Now, therefore, make a new cart, and take two milch
kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the 8 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. This was wonderful advice, and one would think could never have been given without a special providence overruling their minds. They
heard it was dangerous to look into the ark, or they were afraid of .9. it, and therefore put the offering on the side of it. 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. If the kine draw the cart without strug. gling, and go straight forward to Bethshemesh, the first place in the land of Judea on the borders of the Philistines, and do this con. trary to their natural instinct, having left their calves behind, then God's hand hath smitten us ; otherwise it is a chance that hath han.
pened to us. 10 And the men did so ; and took two milch kine, and tied them 11 to the cart, and shut up their calves at home : And they laid the
ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of 12 gold and the images of their emerods. And the kine took the
straight way to the way of Dethshemesh, (and) went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside [to] the right hand or (to) the left ; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh. Thus they
sent the Israelites this monument of their shame and punishment, 13 and of the triumph of the God of Israel over them. And [they
of ] Bethshemesh (were] reaping their wheat harvest in the valley ; and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and re
joiced to see [it] especially coming in such a wonderful manner, 14 without any conductor. And the cart came into a field of Josh
ua a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was) a great stone :$ and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the
They had other gods beside Dagon, and it is probable all the idols in the land wers thrown down and broken.
+ This proves that they had a general acquaintance with the history of the Israelites, and how wide the knowledge of Jehovah was spread by those miracles.
1 This was probably the boundary between the Israelites and Philistines; it was a territo Ty belonging to be priests (Joshua xxi. 16.) who were set apart to take care of the atk of Godia
kine a burnt offering unto the LORD. They thought the cows and the cart were proper to be used on this extraordinary occasion,
und made a sacrifice of the whole, as a burnt offering to God, proba 15 ably on an altar of carth. 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 : and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD. They put the ark to rest
upon the stone, and feasted together on the peace offering, as a to16 ken of their joy. And when the five lords of the Philistines
had seen [it,] they returned to Ekron the same day, and repor!. ed what they kad scen. Probably their plague was stayed, but
they were not reformed ; they thought Jehovah was greater than 17 their gods, but worshipped them still. And these Care] the gold
en emerods which the Philistines returned (for) a trespass offer
ing unto the LORD ; for Ashdod one, for Gaza onc, for Askelon 18 one, for Gath one, for Ekron one ; And the golden mice, [ac
cording 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.* 19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had
looked into the ark of the LORD t even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men :f and the people la
mented, because the Lord had smitten (many) of the people 20 with a great slaughter. And the men of Bethshemesh, acknowl
edging their rashness, said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God, and to whom shall be go up from us? We are not
worthy of his presence, and all people will fear to have the ark 21 among them. 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 ; they said nothing of the miraculous manner in which it came, nor the destruction of their toxunismen, but seemed to wish it gone that they might be safe.
The trespass offerings were according to the number of their cities, and each contributed to furnish then. The stone remained when this book was written, as a memorial of this great event.
+ The ark was held in great veneration ; even the high priest was to see it but once a year, and then through a cloud of incense; yet these men ventured not only to gaze upon it, but to look into it; either to see whether any thing
was taken out, or to view the tables written with God's hand, or some other
sacred monuments. The priests should have know a better, and they were severely punished.
I This translation is very unlikely, for it was but a village, and many were left to lament it. I apprehend it should be rendered, he slew fifty out of a thousand; being fourteen hundred in all who indulged this curiosity, God was so merciful as to stay only a twentieth part, or seventy out of fourteen hundred. It was an mcient custom, when great numbers were capitally convicted, to decimate them, or take every tenth; but God took only every twentieth. Dr. Kennicott observes, that the original number of the men here destroyed, for looking into the ark, was not fifty thousand and seventy, but only seventy : agreeable to the Hebrew MSS. No. 3. confirmed by the authority of Josephus. Vol. III
HE execution of divine vengeance upon sinners should be
The wisest part of the Philistines' conduct, is their arguing from the plagues brought on Pharaoh. This story, with many others in the bible, are recorded for our instruction. God's judgments on impenitent sinners were intended that we might hear, and fear, and do no more wickedly. Let us endeavour to learn by other men's ex. perience, for this is the cheapest and best kind of knowledge,
2. Though the enemies of God's church triumph for a whilc, he will at length overrule all its affairs for his own glory. The ark was in disgrace a long time, but here we see it came back in triumph, accompanied with lasting monuments of the Philistines' disgrace, and the glory of the God of Israel. The church often shines brightest after it has been under a cloud. God can cause the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of that wrath he will restrain. This should encourage us when we have the darkest prospects of affair's, for he can easily overrule the schemes of his enemies, for the honour and security of his cause.
3. The return of God's ark and ordinances, will be matter of true joy to every true Israelite. It was so to the men of Bethshe. mesh ; they left their harvest that they might pay their respect to this symbol of the divine presence. The ark was as glorious on a stone in the field, as in Solomon's temple. May we learn to val. ve the means of grace, and the tokens of divine favour, and give glory to God, who continues them to us.
4. Let us learn to guard against a presumptuous curiosity ; it cost the mert of Bethshemesh very dear. Let us not be desirous of knowing what God has thought proper to conceal, and be sensible that he has the wisest ends in so doing. Let us not intrude into things that are not seen, remembering, that secret things belong to the Lord. Our rule of duty is plain and clear. God is jealous of his honour and the dignity of his institutions ; and therefore it becomes us to pay the greatest veneration to every thing which belongs to him ; and to serve him always with reverence and godly fear ; for our God is a consuming fire.
CHAP. VII. .
We have here an account of the settlement and continuance of the ark
at Kirjathjearim ; the reformation of the people ; their deliverance from the Philistines ; and some further good services which Samuel did for Israel, 1 ND the men of Kirjathjearim received the message that
quas related in the last chapter, and cheerfully and without fear came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it
into the house of Abinadab in the hill,* and sanctified, or set apart, Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD ; not to offer sacrifices, for there was no aliar or tabernacle here, that was at Shiloh ; but to take care of it and guard it, and attend any pious Israelites who came to pay their devotion there. And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years : and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. It was there in the whole about forty six years, but it was twenty years before the Israelites took much notice of it. And then, being oppressed by the Philistines, and turned out of their cities, they began to lament their apostacy from
God, his absence from them, and to entreat his return, 3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye
do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, (then) put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from amor you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only : and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. No doubt Samuel had often advised them to do this before, in a more private manner; but now, when he found some good impressions on their minds, he called them together to strike in with them, to explain to them the nature of repentance, and the condition of their receiving divine mercy ; they must put away from their houses and their hearts all strange gods and goddesses, and prepare themselves by serious considera
tion and firm resolutions, and then they may depend on success. 4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth,
and served the LORD only ; there was a general reformation in
the worship of God; they destroyed their images and altars, and $ served Jehovah only. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to
Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD, that he may ac. cefit your repentance, strengthen your resolutions, and give you
deliverance from your enemies. He thought public prayer most 6 honourable to God, and most useful to them. And they gathered
together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured (it) out before the LORD, to denote their grief and deep repentance, and that if their heads were waters, and their eyes fountains of tears, all would be too little to mourn for their aggravated guilt ; and they fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh ; took upon him the office of a judge from this time forward; to determine differ,
ences, instruct them in the law of God, and punish notorious idolatry. 7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel
were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel ; suspecting that they were forming some scheme to throw off the yoke, they intended to come and surprise them. And when the children of Israel heard [it,] they were afraid of the Philistines, because they were unarmed and unprepared, though they were never better prepared than quhen fasting
Here it was fenced in, and preserved from profanation, but was visible at a di tance, that pious worshippers might direct their prayers to it; and is his place it was kept till Das vid's timo.
8 and praying. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease
not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines ; being afruid and ashamed to Pray themselves, they desire Samuel to continue his prayers for
Them; that God would save them according to his encouragement. 9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered [it for) a burnt
offering wholly unto the LORD :* and Samuel cried unto the
Lord for Israel, and the LORD heard him while praying, and 10 answered even before the lamb was consumed. And as Samuel
was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel : but the LORD thundered with a great
thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them ; II and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel
went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and, taking up the arms cohich the Philistines threw away in their flight, smote them, until (they came) under Bethcar, a strong garrison. Thus
Samuel's prophecy of their success ufron their repentance, was fula 1% filled. Compare Ecclus. xlvi. 16, 17. Then Samuel took a stone,
and set [it] between Mizpeh and Shen ; he set it up as a memo, rial of this victory, gained in the same place where they had been vanquished by the Philistines, and the ark taken from them, and called the name of it Ebenezer, that is, the stone of help, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us i expressing thankfulness
for past deliverances, and hope that he would go on and complete it. 13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into
the cast of Israel : and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. They did not return while
Samuel was judge alone ; but in Saul's time they returned again. 14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were
restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath ; and the coasts, 'thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of Philistines; they recovered their rights and cities, except a few strong holds where the Philistines kept garrisons. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites ; the other inhabitants of Canaan durst
not stir against them when the Philistines were subdued. 15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, partly alone, 16 and partly with Saul. And he went from year to year in cir.
cuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all
those places, making up differences, teaching the law, and punish, 17 ing offenders. And his return (was] to Ramah ; for there
[was] his house ; and there he judged Israel ; and there he built an altar unto the LORD. God having not yet declared where the ark should be fixed, when the people came to consult about important affairs and seek direction, it was proper to do it by sacrifices, as v. 9. thus religion and the worship of God were supported.
Though Samuel was not a priest, yet, being a prophet, this was allowable upon such ara extraordinary occasion.
According to Hannah's prophecy, there was thunder and hallstones; and Josephus says, an earthquake, so that they Bed with great precipitation.