And they said, if ye send away the ark of the God of Israel,
send it not empty
As they perceived they had either resolved upon, or at least were inclined to do; and which they also thought advisable and therefore would have them by no means send it away as it was, but with some presents along with it; for the meaning of this word "empty" is not that they should take care that all that were in it when taken should go with it, and nothing be taken out of it, or it be stripped of its contents; but that some gifts and offerings should be sent along with it: perhaps they might have some notion of, or respect unto a law in Israel, ( Exodus 23:15 ) or might say this from a common principle received among Heathens, that deities were to be appeased by gifts F5:
but in any wise return him a trespass offering;
here again they seem to have some notion of the sorts and kinds of sacrifice among the Israelites; and advise to a trespass offering, to make satisfaction and atonement for the offence they had committed in taking away the ark; and that they should make restoration not only by returning the ark, but by sending an expiatory offering along with it:
then ye shall be healed;
of the disease with which they were smitten; for it seems it still continued on them, at least on many:
and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you;
which was because the ark was detained by them; but when that should be sent home, and they be healed upon it, then it would be a plain case that the reason why the disease was inflicted and continued was because of that.
F5 "Munera crede mihi" Ovid. de arte amandi, l. 3.