1 Samuel 6:19
Parallel Verses
New International Version
But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them.

New Living Translation
But the LORD killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the LORD. And the people mourned greatly because of what the LORD had done.

English Standard Version
And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the LORD. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great blow.

New American Standard Bible
He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter.

King James Bible
And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
God struck down the men of Beth-shemesh because they looked inside the ark of the LORD. He struck down 70 men out of 50,000 men. The people mourned because the LORD struck them with a great slaughter.

International Standard Version
God struck down the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the Ark of the LORD. He struck down 50,070 men among the people, and the people mourned because the LORD struck down the people with a great slaughter.

NET Bible
But the LORD struck down some of the people of Beth Shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD; he struck down 50,070 of the men. The people grieved because the LORD had struck the people with a hard blow.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
God struck down some of the people from Beth Shemesh because they looked inside the ark of the LORD. He struck down 70 people. The people mourned because the LORD struck them with such a great blow.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Then God smote those of Bethshemesh because they had looked at the ark of the LORD; he smote fifty thousand of the people and seventy principal men. And the people lamented because the LORD had smitten the people with such a great slaughter.

King James 2000 Bible
And he struck the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he struck of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had struck many of the people with a great slaughter.

American King James Version
And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and three score and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

American Standard Version
And he smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, he smote of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand men; and the people mourned, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter.

Douay-Rheims Bible
But he slew of the men of Bethsames, because they had seen the ark of the Lord: and he slew of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand of the common people. And the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten the people with a great slaughter.

Darby Bible Translation
And he smote among the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, and smote of the people seventy men; and the people lamented, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter.

English Revised Version
And he smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand men: and the people mourned, because the LORD had smitten the people with a great slaughter.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and seventy men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

World English Bible
He struck of the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh, he struck of the people fifty thousand seventy men; and the people mourned, because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter.

Young's Literal Translation
And He smiteth among the men of Beth-Shemesh, for they looked into the ark of Jehovah, yea, He smiteth among the people seventy men -- fifty chief men; and the people mourn, because Jehovah smote among the people -- a great smiting.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

6:19-21 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? Mic 6:6,7. 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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 19. - He emote the men of Beth-shemesh, etc. In this verse also the text is undoubtedly corrupt. The Septuagint ascribes the sin not to all the people, but to "the sons of Jeconiah, who were not glad when they saw the ark, and he smote them." But as this reading is not supported by the other versions we may pass it by. The numbers, however, are evidently wrong. Fifty thousand men would imply a population of 250,000 people, whereas Jerusalem itself in its palmiest days never had a population of even 70,000. There were no large cities among the Israelites, but a scattered population living upon their fields, and with a few small walled towns here and there to protect them and their cattle in any sudden emergency. Kennicott, however, has satisfactorily explained the mistake. In the old way of denoting numbers by the letters of the alphabet an ain = 70 had been mistaken for a nun with two dots = 50,000. The Syriac has 5000, that is, a nun with one dot. We must add that the Hebrew is not fifty thousand and threescore and ten men, but "seventy men, fifty thousand men," without any article between, and with the smaller number first, contrary to Hebrew rule. The occasion of the calamity was probably as follows: - As the news of the return of the ark spread from mouth to mouth, the people flocked together to take part in the sacrifice. which would of course be followed by a feast. Heated thereat by wine, perhaps, and merriment, they lost all sense of reverence, and encouraged one another to look into the ark and examine its contents, though the words need not absolutely mean more than that "they looked at the ark." Even so the men of Beth-shemesh, as a city of priests, must have known that death was the penalty of unhallowed gazing at holy things (Numbers 4:20), and it is more than probable that those who were smitten were priests, because in them it would be a heinous sin; for it was a repetition of that contempt for religion and its symbols which had been condemned so sternly in Eli's sons. The mere seeing of the ark was no sin, and had given the people only joy (ver. 13), but as soon as they had received it the priests ought to have covered it with a vail (Numbers 4:5). To leave it without a vail was neglectful, to pry into it was sacrilege. Because Jehovah had smitten many of the people, etc. This clause should be translated, "because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great smiting." The sudden death even of seventy men in an agricultural district, especially if they were the heads of the priestly families there, would be a great and terrible calamity, enough to fill the whole place with grief.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And he smote the men of Bethshemesh,.... That is, God smote them, though they had received the ark with such expressions of joy, and had offered sacrifices on account of it; yet sinning in one particular after mentioned, which was highly resented, they were smitten by him with a thunderbolt, as Josephus says (z):

because they had looked into the ark of the Lord; which was forbidden the Levites, Numbers 4:20 out of curiosity these men opened the ark, to see whether the Philistines had taken anything out of it, or put anything into it; and this, when in the tabernacle, being only to be seen by the high priest; and supposing they should never have the like opportunity again, to look upon the tables of the law which were in it, took it; and the rather they might be emboldened to this action, since it had been in the hands of the uncircumcised Philistines, who had profaned it; and as yet not restored to its pristine purity, holiness, and place:

even he smote of the people fifty thousand and seventy men; but as Bethshemesh was but a small place, a village, as Josephus (a) calls it, and it seems not likely that there should be such a number of persons in it, and especially that should look into the ark; or that God, who is good and merciful, should destroy so large a number for this offence, however he might think fit to make an example of some, it is thought that the case was not as our version represents it. Some who think there were so many slain, yet distinguish them, seventy of the elders of the people, and 50,000 of the congregation, or common people, as the Targum; which accounts not for the difficulty at all: others think that only seventy of the men of Bethshemesh died, and that 50,000 were such as flocked out of the country on this occasion; but as this was on the same day the ark came into those parts, it can hardly be thought that so great a number should be got together so soon; and still less that they should all of them open the ark, and look into it. Abarbinel is of opinion that only seventy men of Bethshemesh were slain, and that the other 50,000 were the Philistines that died on account of the ark while it was among them; and reads the words, "with the men of Bethshemesh he smote--even he smote of the people seventy"; that is, of the men of Bethshemesh; 50,000, that is, of the Philistines, and so this gives the sum of all that died on account of the ark, both while it was in the hands of the Philistines, and when returned to Bethshemesh, which is not an improbable sense: but others, and perhaps more truly, think that only seventy persons were smitten with death; for the order in which this account is given is different from all others in the Hebrew text, the lesser number being put first with a considerable distinguishing accent upon it, whereas the greater number is always expressed first; it stands thus, "of the people seventy men; 50,000 men": 5000, according to the Syriac and Arabic versions. Josephus (b) is express for it that only seventy men were slain, and so some of the ancient Jews (c); who say that these seventy were equal to 50,000, because of their superior excellency and dignity, as Ben Gersom observes, being the priests of the Lord, or the sanhedrim; but Bochart's (d) sense seems to be preferable to all others, that there is a defect of the particle "out of"; and so to be read, either seventy men out of fifty thousand; that out of the 50,000 that flocked on this occasion from various parts, seventy were smitten for the reason before given; or rather seventy men, fifty out of 1000 men; that is, a twentieth part of the number of them, so that, out of 1400, seventy men were struck with death for their curiosity (e). Something of this story seems to be retained by tradition among the Heathens; we are told (f) that when Troy was taken an ark was found, in which was the image of Bacchus; which being opened by Eurypylus, he was struck with madness as soon as he saw the image:

and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter; I see no occasion for the supplement "many"; it was a great slaughter, if we consider the awful manner in which it was made, by thunder and lightning, as may be supposed; however, by an immediate stroke from heaven; and the persons on whom it was made, men of a sacred character, priests and Levites; and a great number, considering it was but a small city. Hence the place was called Abel, which signifies weeping, mourning, lamentation, 1 Samuel 6:18.

(z) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 4. (a) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 3.((b) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 3.((c) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 35. 2. T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 20. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 5. fol. 186. 2.((d) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 36. col. 370. (e) So Noldius, No. 779. (f) Pausan. Achaica, sive, l. 7. p. 435.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

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 Nu 4:18-22).

1 Samuel 6:19 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Ark Returned to Israel
18and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages. The large stone on which they set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite. 19He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20The men of Beth-shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?"…
Cross References
Exodus 19:21
and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.

Numbers 4:5
When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and put it over the ark of the covenant law.

Numbers 4:15
"After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.

Numbers 4:20
But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die."

2 Samuel 6:7
The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.
Treasury of Scripture

And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and three score and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

he smote

Exodus 19:21 And the LORD said to Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they …

Leviticus 10:1-3 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, …

Numbers 4:4,5,15,20 This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle …

Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God: but those things which …

2 Samuel 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote …

1 Chronicles 13:9,10 And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth …

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and …

1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: …

fifty thousand As it is very improbable that the village of Beth-shemesh should contain, or be capable of employing,

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