1 Samuel 6


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.
offered the kine--Though contrary to the requirements of the law ( Leviticus 1:3 , 22:19 ), these animals might properly be offered, as consecrated by God Himself; and though not beside the tabernacle, there were many instances of sacrifices offered by prophets and holy men on extraordinary occasions in other places.

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.

18. unto the great stone of Abel--Abel, or Aben, means "stone," so that without resorting to italics, the reading should be, "the great stone."

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 themselves.
he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men--Beth-shemesh being only a village, this translation must be erroneous, and should be, "he smote fifty out of a thousand," being only fourteen hundred in all who indulged this curiosity. God, instead of decimating, according to an ancient usage, slew only a twentieth part; that is, according to JOSEPHUS, seventy out of fourteen hundred (see Numbers 4:18-22 ).

21. Kirjath-jearim--"the city of woods," also called Kirjath-baal ( Joshua 15:60 , 18:14 , 1 Chronicles 13:6 1 Chronicles 13:7 ). 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."

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