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1 Samuel 6:1--7:17

Context
The Philistines Return the Ark

6:1 When the ark of the Lord had been in the land 1  of the Philistines for seven months, 2  6:2 the Philistines called the priests and the omen readers, saying, “What should we do with the ark of the Lord? Advise us as to how we should send it back to its place.”

6:3 They replied, “If you are going to send the ark of 3  the God of Israel back, don’t send it away empty. Be sure to return it with a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and you will understand why his hand is not removed from you.” 6:4 They inquired, “What is the guilt offering that we should send to him?”

They replied, “The Philistine leaders number five. So send five gold sores and five gold mice, for it is the same plague that has afflicted both you and your leaders. 6:5 You should make images of the sores and images of the mice 4  that are destroying the land. You should honor the God of Israel. Perhaps he will release his grip on you, your gods, and your land. 5  6:6 Why harden your hearts like the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? 6  When God 7  treated them harshly, didn’t the Egyptians send the Israelites on their way? 8  6:7 So now go and make a new cart. Get two cows that have calves and that have never had a yoke placed on them. Harness the cows to the cart and take their calves from them back to their stalls. 6:8 Then take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a chest beside it the gold objects you are sending to him as a guilt offering. You should then send it on its way. 6:9 But keep an eye on it. If it should go up by the way of its own border to Beth Shemesh, then he has brought this great calamity on us. But if that is not the case, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us; rather, it just happened to us by accident.”

6:10 So the men did as instructed. 9  They took two cows that had calves and harnessed them to a cart; they also removed their calves to their stalls. 6:11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, along with the chest, the gold mice, and the images of the sores. 6:12 Then the cows went directly on the road to Beth Shemesh. They went along, mooing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left. The leaders of the Philistines were walking along behind them all the way to the border of Beth Shemesh.

6:13 Now the residents of Beth Shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they were pleased at the sight. 6:14 The cart was coming to the field of Joshua, who was from Beth Shemesh. It paused there near a big stone. Then they cut up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 6:15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the chest that was with it, which contained the gold objects. They placed them near the big stone. At that time the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 6:16 The five leaders of the Philistines watched what was happening and then returned to Ekron on the same day.

6:17 These are the gold sores that the Philistines brought as a guilt offering to the Lord – one for each of the following cities: Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. 6:18 The gold mice corresponded in number to all the Philistine cities of the five leaders, from the fortified cities to hamlet villages, to greater Abel, 10  where they positioned the ark of the Lord until this very day in the field of Joshua who was from Beth Shemesh.

6:19 But the Lord 11  struck down some of the people of Beth Shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the Lord; he struck down 50,070 12  of the men. The people grieved because the Lord had struck the people with a hard blow. 6:20 The residents of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark 13  go up from here?”

6:21 So they sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down here and take it back home with you.”

7:1 Then the people 14  of Kiriath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord; they brought it to the house of Abinadab located on the hill. They consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord.

Further Conflict with the Philistines

7:2 It was quite a long time – some twenty years in all – that the ark stayed at Kiriath Jearim. All the people 15  of Israel longed for 16  the Lord. 7:3 Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really turning to the Lord with all your hearts, remove from among you the foreign gods and the images of Ashtoreth. 17  Give your hearts to the Lord and serve only him. Then he will deliver you 18  from the hand of the Philistines.” 7:4 So the Israelites 19  removed the Baals and images of Ashtoreth. They served only the Lord.

7:5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord on your behalf.” 7:6 After they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted on that day, and they confessed 20  there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” So Samuel led 21  the people of Israel at Mizpah.

7:7 When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, the leaders of the Philistines went up against Israel. When the Israelites heard about this, they were afraid of the Philistines. 7:8 The Israelites said to Samuel, “Keep 22  crying out to the Lord our 23  God so that he may save us 24  from the hand of the Philistines!” 7:9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb 25  and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Samuel cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

7:10 As Samuel was offering burnt offerings, the Philistines approached to do battle with Israel. 26  But on that day the Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines. He caused them to panic, and they were defeated by 27  Israel. 7:11 Then the men of Israel left Mizpah and chased the Philistines, striking them down all the way to an area below Beth Car.

7:12 Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen. 28  He named it Ebenezer, 29  saying, “Up to here the Lord has helped us.” 7:13 So the Philistines were defeated; they did not invade Israel again. The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

7:14 The cities that the Philistines had captured from Israel were returned to Israel, from Ekron to Gath. Israel also delivered their territory from the control 30  of the Philistines. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites. 7:15 So Samuel led 31  Israel all the days of his life. 7:16 Year after year he used to travel the circuit of Bethel, 32  Gilgal, and Mizpah; he used to judge Israel in all of these places. 7:17 Then he would return to Ramah, because his home was there. He also judged 33  Israel there and built an altar to the Lord there.

1 tn Heb “field.”

2 tc The LXX adds “and their land swarmed with mice.”

3 tc The LXX and a Qumran ms add “the covenant of the Lord.”

4 tn Heb “your mice.” A Qumran ms has simply “the mice.”

5 tn Heb “Perhaps he will lighten his hand from upon you and from upon your gods and from upon your land.”

6 tn Heb “like Egypt and Pharaoh hardened their heart.”

7 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn Heb “and they sent them away and they went.”

9 tn Heb “and the men did so.”

10 tc A few Hebrew mss and the LXX read “villages; the large rock…[is witness] until this very day.”

11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tc The number 50,070 is surprisingly large, although it finds almost unanimous textual support in the MT and in the ancient versions. Only a few medieval Hebrew mss lack “50,000,” reading simply “70” instead. However, there does not seem to be sufficient external evidence to warrant reading 70 rather than 50,070, although that is done by a number of recent translations (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). The present translation (reluctantly) follows the MT and the ancient versions here.

13 tn Heb “he” or “it”; the referent here (the ark) has been specified in the translation for clarity (cf. also NIV, CEV, NLT). Others, however, take the referent to be the Lord himself.

14 tn Heb “men.”

15 tn Heb “house” (also in the following verse).

16 tn Heb “mourned after”; NIV “mourned and sought after”; KJV, NRSV “lamented after”; NAB “turned to”; NCV “began to follow…again.”

17 tn Heb “the Ashtarot” (plural; also in the following verse). The words “images of” are supplied for clarity.

sn The Semitic goddess Astarte was associated with love and war in the ancient Near East. The presence of Ashtarot in Israel is a sign of pervasive pagan and idolatrous influences; hence Samuel calls for their removal. See 1 Sam 31:10, where the Philistines deposit the armor of the deceased Saul in the temple of the Ashtarot, and 1 Kgs 11:5, 33; 2 Kgs 23:13, where Solomon is faulted for worshiping the Ashtarot.

18 tn Following imperatives, the jussive verbal form with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose/result.

19 tn Heb “the sons of Israel.”

20 tn Heb “said.”

21 tn Heb “judged”; NAB “began to judge”; TEV “settled disputes among.”

22 tn Heb “don’t stop.”

23 tc The LXX reads “your God” rather than the MT’s “our God.”

24 tn After the negated jussive, the prefixed verbal form with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose/result.

25 tn Heb “a lamb of milk”; NAB “an unweaned lamb”; NIV “a suckling lamb”; NCV “a baby lamb.”

26 tn Heb “approached for battle against Israel.”

27 tn Heb “before.”

28 tn Cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT “Jeshanah.”

29 sn The name Ebenezer (אֶבֶן הָעָזֶר) means “stone of help” in Hebrew (cf. TEV); NLT adds the meaning parenthetically after the name.

30 tn Heb “hand.”

31 tn Heb “judged” (also in v. 17).

32 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

33 tn Or perhaps “settled disputes for” (cf. NLT “would hear cases there”; NRSV “administered justice there”).



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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