Shmuel Alef 6

1 And the Aron Hashem was in the teritory of the Pelishtim (Philistines) shivah chodashim.
2 And the Pelishtim (Philistines) called for the [Dagon] kohanim and the kosemim (sorcerers), saying, What shall we do with the Aron Hashem? Tell us wherewith we shall send it to its makom (place).
3 And they said, If ye send away the Aron Elohei Yisroel, send it not away empty; but ye shall surely return to Him an asham (trespass offering); then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why His Yad is not removed from you.
4 Then they said, What shall be the asham (trespass offering) which we shall return to Him? They answered, Five techorim of zahav, and five akhbarim (rats) of zahav, according to the number of rulers of the Pelishtim: for one magefah (plague) was on you all, and on your rulers.
5 So ye shall make tzalmei techorim (likenesses of tumors) of yours, and tzalmei akhabarim (likenesses of rats) of yours, of that which mar the land; and ye shall give kavod unto Elohei Yisroel; perhaps He will lighten His Yad from off you, and from off eloheichem (your g-ds), and from off your land.
6 Now then why do ye harden levavchem, as the Mitzrayim and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not send them away, so that they departed?
7 Now therefore make an agalah chadashah (new cart, wagon), and take two milch [milk-yielding] cows, [i.e., nursing cows] on which there hath come no ol (yoke), and hitch the cows to the agalah, and take their calves home, away from them;
8 And take the Aron Hashem, and lay it upon the agalah; and put the kelei hazahav, which ye send back to Him for an asham (trespass offering), in a box by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
9 And see: if it [the Aron Hashem] goeth up by the derech of its own territory [i.e., Eretz Yisroel] toward Beit Shemesh, then He hath done us this ra’ah hagedolah (great disaster); but if not, then we shall know that it is not His Yad that struck us; the evil came upon us mikreh (by chance, by accident).
10 And the anashim did so; and took two milch cows, and hitched them to the agalah, and penned up their calves babayit;
11 And they laid the Aron Hashem upon the agalah, and the box with the akhbarim of zahav and the tzalmei techorim (likenesses of tumors) of theirs.
12 And the cows took the straight derech to the derech Beit Shemesh, and went along the path, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the yamin or to the semol; and the rulers of the Pelishtim went after them as far as the border of Beit Shemesh.
13 And they of Beit Shemesh were kotzerim (harvesting) their ketzir chittim (wheat harvest) in the valley; and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the Aron, and they rejoiced to see it.
14 And the agalah came into the sadeh of Yehoshua, a man of Beit Shemesh, and stopped there, where there was an even gedolah (a large rock); and they chopped up the wood of the agalah, and offered the cows as an olah (burnt offering) unto Hashem.
15 And the Levi’im took down the Aron Hashem, and the box that was with it, wherein were the kelei zahav, and put them on the even hagedolah (large rock); and the anashim of Beit Shemesh offered olot (burnt offerings) and sacrificed zevakhim (sacrifices) on that day unto Hashem.
16 And when the five rulers of the Pelishtim saw it, they returned to Ekron on that same day.
17 And these are the techorim (tumors) of zahav which the Pelishtim (Philistines) returned for an asham (trespass offering) unto Hashem; for Ashdod one, for Azah (Gaza) one, for Askelon one, for Gat one, for Ekron one;
18 And the akhbarim of zahav, according to the mispar of all the towns of the Pelishtim (Philistines) belonging to the five rulers, both of fortified cities and of country villages, even unto Avel HaGedolah, whereon they set down the Aron Hashem; it (the even hagedolah [See verse 15]) remaineth unto this day in the sadeh of Yehoshua, the man of Beit Shemesh.
19 And He struck down the anashim of Beit Shemesh, because they had looked into the Aron Hashem [Num 4:20], even He struck down of HaAm shivim ish [and chamishim elef ish]; and HaAm mourned, because Hashem had struck down many of HaAm with a makkah gedolah (a great stroke, blow).
20 And the anashim of Beit Shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Hashem HaElohim HaKadosh Hazeh (Hashem this holy G-d)? And to whom shall He [Hashem dwelling with the Aron Hashem] go up from us?
21 And they sent malachim to the inhabitants of Kiryat Ye’arim saying, The Pelishtim (Philistines) have returned the Aron Hashem; come ye down, and take it up to you.

Shmuel Alef 6 Commentary

Chapter 6

The Philistines consult how to send back the ark. (1-9) They bring it to Bethshemesh. (10-18) The people smitten for looking into the ark. (19-21)

Verses 1-9 Seven months the Philistines were punished with the presence of the ark; so long it was a plague to them, because they would not send it home sooner. Sinners lengthen out their own miseries by refusing to part with their sins. The Israelites made no effort to recover the ark. Alas! where shall we find concern for religion prevail above all other matters? In times of public calamity we fear for ourselves, for our families, and for our country; but who cares for the ark of God? We are favoured with the gospel, but it is treated with neglect or contempt. We need not wonder if it should be taken from us; to many persons this, though the heavies of calamities, would occasion no grief. There are multitudes whom any profession would please as well as that of Christianity. But there are those who value the house, the word, and the ministry of God above their richest possessions, who dread the loss of these blessings more than death. How willing bad men are to shift off their convictions, and when they are in trouble, to believe it is a chance that happens; and that the rod has no voice which they should hear or heed!

Verses 10-18 These two kine knew their owner, their great Owner, whom Hophin and Phinehas knew not. God's providence takes notice even of brute creatures, and serves its own purposes by them. When the reapers saw the ark, they rejoiced; their joy for that was greater than the joy of harvest. The return of the ark, and the revival of holy ordinances, after days of restraint and trouble, are matters of great joy.

Verses 19-21 It is a great affront to God, for vain men to pry into, and meddle with the secret things which belong not to them, De. 29:29 ; Col. 2:18 . Man was ruined by desiring forbidden knowledge. God will not suffer his ark to be profaned. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Those that will not fear his goodness, and reverently use the tokens of his grace, shall be made to feel his justice. The number smitten is expressed in an unusual manner in the original, and it is probable that it means 1170. They desire to be rid of the ark. Foolish men run from one extreme to the other. They should rather have asked, How may we have peace with God, and recover his favor? ( micah 6:6 micah 6:7 ) . Thus, when the word of God works with terror on sinners' consciences, they, instead of taking the blame and shame to themselves, quarrel with the word, and put that from them. Many stifle their convictions, and put salvation away from them.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 6

In this chapter we are told the Philistines advised with their priests what to do with the ark, and wherewith to send it home, 1Sa 6:1,2 whose advice was to send with it a trespass offering, golden images of emerods and mice, and to put it on a new cart, and the images in a coffer on the side of the ark, and draw it with two cows, 1Sa 6:3-8, and gave them a token whereby they might know whether they had been smitten by the God of Israel or not, 1Sa 6:9 which advice they took, and acted in all things according to it; and the lords of the Philistines accompanied the ark to the border of Bethshemesh, 1Sa 6:10-12, where they of Bethshemesh received it with joy, and offered the kine for a burnt offering to the Lord, and the Levites took care of the ark and presents in it, and the lords of the Philistines returned home, 1Sa 6:13-18, but they of Bethshemesh looking into the ark were smitten of God, upon which they sent to the men of Kirjathjearim to fetch it from them, 1Sa 6:19-21.

Shmuel Alef 6 Commentaries