1 Samuel 6:14
And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) The field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite.—The great stone—most likely a mass of natural rock rising from the soil—was the occasion of the cart being stopped there, Beth-shemesh and its suburbs being a city of the priests (Joshua 21:16). The presence of Levites, among whom were doubtless priests, is natural. These were, of course, the principal men of the city and its suburbs, and they were familiar with all sacrificial rites prescribed by the Law. The offering of these sacrifices at Beth-shemesh, although the Tabernacle never had been stationed there, was no transgression against the law, for now the Ark of the Covenant was present, the occasional throne of the glory-presence of the Eternal, before which the sacrifices were really offered.

1 Samuel 6:14. The cart came into the field of Joshua, and stood there — This was another marvellous thing, that the kine went no further, but stood, as soon as they were come into the territory of a city belonging to the priests, (for such Beth-shemesh was,) whose office it was to take care of the ark. Where there was a great stone — Which seems to have been the boundary of the two countries. They offered the kine — That is, the Beth-shemites, the priests, did this, and not the lords of the Philistines. The great stone probably served for an altar, and on it they offered a whole burnt-offering, in praise to God for his goodness. But was there not a double error in this ?Acts 1 st, In that they offered females for a burnt-offering, contrary to Leviticus 1:3. 2d, In that they did it in a forbidden place? See Deuteronomy 12:5-6. To this it must be answered, that a case so singular is not to be brought to the test of the general rules. These regulations respected only ordinary offerings, and not such as an extraordinary occasion, like this, might require. Besides, the ark being here, and God having not yet appointed any place for its future residence, now Shiloh was destroyed, they thought in reason their sacrifice might be here acceptable to him. And they the rather chose to offer these cows to God, because they considered them as belonging to him, as having drawn his ark, and been particularly directed by him, and therefore to be his sacrifices.

6:10-18 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.A great stone - (Compare Genesis 28:18; Judges 13:19). This great stone was probably used as an altar on this occasion, and the kine stopping at it of their own accord was understood by the Bethshemites as an intimation that they were to offer sacrifices on it to the Lord God of Israel, who had so wonderfully brought back the ark from its captivity.

And they clave the wood of the cart ... - A similar expedient was resorted to by Araunah 2 Samuel 24:22, and by Elisha 1 Kings 19:21.

14. and they clave—that is, the Beth-shemites, in an irrepressible outburst of joy.

offered the kine—Though contrary to the requirements of the law (Le 1:3; 22:19), these animals might properly be offered, as consecrated by God Himself; and though not beside the tabernacle, there were many instances of sacrifices offered by prophets and holy men on extraordinary occasions in other places.

They clave; not the lords of the Philistines, but the Beth-shemites, to wit, the priests that dwelt there.

A burnt-offering to the Lord: there may seem to be a double error in this act. First, That they offered females for a burnt-offering, contrary to Leviticus 1:3 22:19. Secondly, That they did it in a forbidden place, Deu 12:5,6, into which they might easily be led by excess of joy, and eager desire of returning to their long-interrupted course of offering sacrifices. And some think these irregularities were partial causes of the following punishment. But this case being very extraordinary, may in some sort excuse it, if they did not proceed by ordinary rules. As for the first, though they might not choose females for that use, yet when God himself had chosen, and in a manner consecrated them to his service, and employed them in so sacred and glorious a work, it may seem tolerable to offer them to the Lord, as being his peculiar, and improper for any other use. And for the latter, we have many instances of sacrifices offered to God by prophets and holy men in other places besides the tabernacle, upon extraordinary occasions, such as this certainly was; it being fit that the ark should at its first return be received with thanksgivings and sacrifice; and this place being sanctified by the presence of the ark, which was the very soul of the tabernacle, and that by which the tabernacle itself was sanctified, and for whose sake the sacrifices were offered at the door of the tabernacle.

And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite,.... In that part of the valley where they were reaping wheat which belonged to him, whom we nowhere else read; whether a priest or Levite, which is not improbable, since this was a city of the Levites, or a common Israelite, is not certain:

and stood there where there was a great stone; afterwards called the great stone of Abel, 1 Samuel 6:18. By the providence of God it was so ordered, that the kine made a stop just at this place; and proceeded no further, as if sensible they were come to their journey's end, and had brought the ark into the hands of its friends, and to a proper place for them to express their thankfulness for it; for this stone seemed designed to be, as it was, the altar on which the burnt offering, by way of thanksgiving for the return of the ark, was to be offered; the Jews say (w) this stone was the altar built by Abraham:

and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the Lord; the cart they cut in pieces, and laid the wood of it in order upon the stone, and slew the two cows, and laid their pieces on the wood, and set fire to it, and burnt them with it, as expressive of joy and thankfulness that the ark was returned. This was done, not by the lords of the Philistines, as some of the ancient Jews thought, as Kimchi relates, in which they are followed by some Christian interpreters; but by the men of Bethshemesh, as Kimchi, by the priests there; for though this was not the proper and usual place for sacrifice, nor were cows offered in sacrifice; yet this being an extraordinary case, and thank offerings were necessary as soon as the ark was returned, these things were dispensed with; and the rather, since Shiloh, where the tabernacle was, was destroyed; and besides, the ark of the Lord was here present, which sanctified the place, as it did the tabernacle, and made it fit for such service; and as for these cows, they had been employed in sacred service, and the Lord had a right unto them, and claim upon them; and it seemed not fitting that they should be after employed to any other use and service than his own; nor were the men of Bethshemesh blamed or punished for this, though they afterwards were for looking into the ark.

(w) Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 75. D.

And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and {h} they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.

(h) That is, the men of Bethshemesh, who were Israelites.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. Joshua a Beth-shemite] Joshua the Beth-shemeshite. Our translators have copied the Vulgate in abbreviating the form, as in the case of ‘Benjamite’ for ‘Benjaminite.’

they clave the wood of the cart, &c.] For a similarly extemporised sacrifice see 2 Samuel 24:22. Cp. also 1 Kings 19:21.

Verse 14. - Stood there, where there was a great stone. Probably a mass of natural rock rising through the soil. This they used as an altar, breaking up the cart for wood, and sacrificing the kine. In this joyful work all the people seem to have joined, though the sacrifice would be offered only by the priests. 1 Samuel 6:14The inhabitants of Bethshemesh were busy with the wheat-harvest in the valley (in front of the town), when they unexpectedly saw the ark of the covenant coming, and rejoiced to see it. The cart had arrived at the field of Joshua, a Bethshemeshite, and there it stood still before a large stone. And they (the inhabitants of Bethshemesh) chopped up the wood of the cart, and offered the cows to the Lord as a burnt-offering. In the meantime the Levites had taken off the ark, with the chest of golden presents, and placed it upon the large stone; and the people of Bethshemesh offered burnt-offerings and slain-offerings that day to the Lord. The princes of the Philistines stood looking at this, and then returned the same day to Ekron. That the Bethshemeshites, and not the Philistines, are the subject to ויבקּעוּ, is evident from the correct interpretation of the clauses; viz., from the fact that in 1 Samuel 6:14 the words from והעגלה to גּדולה אבן are circumstantial clauses introduced into the main clause, and that ויבקּעוּ is attached to לראות ויּשׂמחוּ, and carries on the principal clause.
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