1 Samuel 6:1
And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
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1 Samuel 6:1. The ark was in the country of the Philistines seven months — So long they kept it, as being loath to lose so great a prize, and willing to try all ways to keep it.

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!The "lords" (see Judges 3:3) were very unwilling to give up their triumph, and, with the common pagan superstition, imagined that some local bad luck was against them at Ashdod. The result was to bring the whole Philistine community under the same calamity. CHAPTER 6

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.The Philistines consult with the priests how they shall return the ark: they advise to send with it for a trespass-offering five golden emerods and mice, on a new cart which they do: the kine tied to the cart, go straightway to Beth-shemesh; which was for a sign to the Philistines, 1 Samuel 6:1-12. They of Beth-shemesh rejoice: the Levites offer sacrifice for it, 1 Samuel 6:13-15. The people are smitten for looking into the ark; and request them of Kirjath-jearim to fetch it thence into their own city, 1 Samuel 6:19-21.

So long they kept it, as loth to lose so great a prize, and willing to try all ways to keep it, and yet free themselves from the mischiefs accompanying its presence.

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.

And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines {a} seven months.

(a) They thought by continuance of time the plague would have ceased, and so would have kept the ark still.

Ch. 1 Samuel 6:1-9. The Philistines resolve to send back the Ark

1. The Sept. adds, at the end of the verse, “And their land swarmed with mice,” probably an explanatory gloss in anticipation of 1 Samuel 6:4.

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). 1 Samuel 6:1The Ark of God Sent Back. - 1 Samuel 6:1-3. The ark of Jehovah was in the land (lit. the fields, as in Ruth 1:2) of the Philistines for seven months, and had brought destruction to all the towns to which it had been taken. At length the Philistines resolved to send it back to the Israelites, and therefore called their priests and diviners (see at Numbers 23:23) to ask them, "What shall we do with regard to the ark of God; tell us, with what shall we send it to its place?" "Its place" is the land of Israel, and בּמּה does not mean "in what manner" (quomodo: Vulgate, Thenius), but with what, wherewith (as in Micah 6:6). There is no force in the objection brought by Thenius, that if the question had implied with what presents, the priests would not have answered, "Do not send it without a present;" for the priests did not confine themselves to this answer, in which they gave a general assent, but proceeded at once to define the present more minutely. They replied, "If they send away the ark of the God of Israel (משׁלּחים is to be taken as the third person in an indefinite address, as in 1 Samuel 2:24, and not to be construed with אתּם supplied), do not send it away empty (i.e., without an expiatory offering), but return Him (i.e., the God of Israel) a trespass-offering." אשׁם, lit. guilt, then the gift presented as compensation for a fault, the trespass-offering (see at Leviticus 5:14-6:7). The gifts appointed by the Philistines as an asham were to serve as a compensation and satisfaction to be rendered to the God of Israel for the robbery committed upon Him by the removal of the ark of the covenant, and were therefore called asham, although in their nature they were only expiatory offerings. For the same reason the verb השׁיב, to return or repay, is used to denote the presentation of these gifts, being the technical expression for the payment of compensation for a fault in Numbers 5:7, and in Leviticus 6:4 for compensation for anything belonging to another, that had been unjustly appropriated. "Are ye healed then, it will show you why His hand is not removed from you," sc., so long as ye keep back the ark. The words תּרפאוּ אז are to be understood as conditional, even without אם, which the rules of the language allow (see Ewald, 357, b.); this is required by the context. For, according to 1 Samuel 6:9, the Philistine priests still thought it a possible thing that any misfortune which had befallen the Philistines might be only an accidental circumstance. With this view, they could not look upon a cure as certain to result from the sending back of the ark, but only as possible; consequently they could only speak conditionally, and with this the words "we shall know" agree.
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