|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-9 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 1, 2. - The ark of Jehovah was in the country - literally, the field, i.e. the territory - of the Philistines seven months, during which long time the people wherever the ark was deposited were afflicted in their persons with a most painful malady. The princes determined, therefore, to restore it to Israel, and convened the priests and the diviners, that they might advise them as to the manner in which this purpose should be best carried out, lest some error or want of due reverence might only serve to increase their sufferings. It would be the duty of the priests to see that the proper ceremonial was observed in moving the ark, while the diviners would decide what day and hour and special method would be lucky. The importance of the diviner, qosem, is shown by his being mentioned in Isaiah 3:2 in an enumeration of the leading orders in the state. He is placed there between the prophet and the elder or senator; but the A.V., displeased perhaps at finding one who practised a forbidden art nevertheless described as practically so valued, translates the word prudent. Literally it means a divider or partitioner, because it was his office to separate things into the two classes of lucky and unlucky. Tell us wherewith, etc, Though this translation is tenable, the right rendering is probably how. The princes did not assume that gifts must accompany the ark, but inquired generally as to the best method of restoring it. So the answer of the priests and diviners is not merely that expiatory offerings are to be made, but that the ark is to be sent back in such a way as to give proof that Jehovah had intervened, or the contrary (vers. 7, 8, 9).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. Or "in the field" (c) of the Philistines; hence Procopius Gazaeus observes, that none of the cities daring to receive the ark, they left it without under the open air, so thinking they should be delivered from their calamity. But the word is often used for country, and is generally so understood here; the Targum is,"in the cities of the Philistines;''in one or other of them, first for a while in Ashdod, and then for some time in Gath, and last in Ekron, and in all seven months from the time of its being taken; and it being in wheat harvest when it was returned, 1 Samuel 6:13, these seven months will carry us back to the beginning of winter, or towards the end of autumn, when the battles between Israel and the Philistines were fought, and the ark was taken. Josephus (d) says it was with the Philistines four months only, contrary to the text.
(c) , Sept. "in agro", Pagninus, Montanus. (d) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Sa 6:1-9. The Philistines Counsel How to Send Back the Ark.
1. the ark … was in the country of the Philistines seven months—Notwithstanding the calamities which its presence had brought on the country and the people, the Philistine lords were unwilling to relinquish such a prize, and tried every means to retain it with peace and safety, but in vain.
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