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Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them and smote them, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, the ark of the Gon of Israel shall not abide with us ; for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
They sent therefore, and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel ? and they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gain. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
And it was so, that after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against them; and he smote the men of the city both small and great.
Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
And the men that died not were smitten; and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
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
And ye shall give glory to the God of Israel ; peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, from off your gods, and from off your land.
Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts ? when Jie had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? 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-offeraing, 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 Beth-shemesh, 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.
And the men did so: and took two milch-kine, and tied them 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 jewels of gold.
And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the high-way, 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 Beth-shemesh.
And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheatharvest in the valley; and they lifted up their eyes,
and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
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 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 Beth-shemesh offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD.
And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, 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.
And the men of Beth-shemesh 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
And the men of Kirjath-jearim came and fetched up the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
And it came to pass while the ark abode in Kirjath. jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
ANNO. ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
appears from Scripture *, that the true God was known and worshipped by the Philistines in the days of Abraham, for Abimelech their king was a religious and just person ; but they afterwards degenerated into idolatry, and each of their five cities seems to have had a separate idol. Dagon appears to have been the most ancient and favourite god they had ; to him they as. cribed the invention of agriculture. Some authors suppose, that the upper part of Dagon's image was in the form of a man, the lower like a fish; but others think it entirely resembled the human figure..
“ As the Philistines + were delivered from their fears of the ark, it is likely they imagined that the God of Israel was inferior to Dagon, therefore they carried the ark into the temple dedicated to that idol, as a trophy of victory; but iheir triumph was of short duration, for God having punished Israel, who betrayed the ark, proceeded to chastise those who abused it..
“How must the worshippers of Dagon be astonished, when they beheld their mighty idol fallen before the ark? directing, as it might seem, his followers, to adore the God of Israel; but they perhaps imagined, that the: fall of Dagon was accidental, they therefore put him in: his place again : without doubt, they fastened 'him in the strongest manner, but soon found that it was in vain to contend with God, for the next day Dagon appeared more contemptible than ever, with his hands and face broken to pieces; which ought to heve taught his fol. lowers, that lie was destitute of wisdom and power :')
* See vol. i. Section 15.
+ Henry's Annotations.
but, instead of being reformed, they were hardened in their idolatry, therefore the Lord afflicted them with dreadful diseases and sudden death.
The priests of the Philistines seem to have been acquainted with some of the ceremonials of the Jewish religion, for they knew that the Israelites were required to offer trespass-offerings, and to give glory to God. Instead of receiving a ransom for the ark, the Philistines were glad to give rich gifts to deliver themselves from it, which remained as lasting memorials of their disgrace.
The cows leaving their calves, and taking the road to the land of Israel, is a wonderful instance of the power of God over the brute creation.
As the cart and cows were sanctified to the Lord, it would have been improper to use them otherwise than as a sacrifice.
Those who presumed to look into the ark, shewed that they had but little reverence for God and His holy ordinances. It is said *, “that the LORD smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men; but several learned authors are of opinion, that the passage is translated wrong, and that it should be, the LORD smote Among the people who amounted to fifty thousánd threescore and ten men.” We do not find that they humbled themselves to God for their sin, but that they only expressed their fear of his power, and fell from presumption to despair.
Kirjath-jearim was in the road to Shiloh, so we may suppose
that the men of Beth-shemesh thought that the elders of Shiloh would fetch the ark from thence: but, through the neglect of religion, and the disturbances of the times, it seems they did not, for we do not find
* Essay for a New Translation.