1 Samuel 6:15
And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.The word "Levites" here probably means priests Exodus 4:14, sons of Levi, since Bethshemesh was one of the cities of the priests Joshua 21:13-16. The burnt offering of the kine was not in any sense the offering of the men of Bethshemesh, but rather of the Philistine lords to whom the cart and the kine belonged. But the Bethshemites themselves, in token of their gratitude for such a signal mercy, now offered both burnt offerings and sacrifices, probably peace offerings, and doubtless feasted together with great joy and gladness (see 1 Kings 8:62-66; Ezra 6:16-17). There is nothing whatever in the text to indicate that these sacrifices were offered otherwise than in the appointed way by the priests. 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.

And the Levites took down, or, for the Levites had taken down; for this, though mentioned after, was done before the sacrifices were offered. And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord,.... Or, "had took it down" (x); for this, though here related, was done as soon as the ark came into the field, or quickly after, and before the burnt offering could be made, which was burnt with the wood of the cart; and though the persons that took it down are called Levites, they were priests, who were of the tribe of Levi; for it was the work of the priests to take it down, though the Levites then might carry it; and it is remarkable that Bethshemesh was given to the Kohathite Levites, whose business it was to carry the ark on their shoulders; see Joshua 21:10.

and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were; the purse or bag in which were the five golden mice, and the five golden emerods:

and put them on the great stone; both the ark and the coffer, by which the cart stood, and on which the sacrifice of burnt offering was probably offered:

and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed sacrifices, the same day unto the Lord; besides the burnt offering of the two cows, they offered others to testify their thankfulness for the return of the ark; and also peace offerings, on which they feasted with one another, to express their greater joy.

(x) "deposuerant", Meudoza; so Pool.

And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. And the Levites took down] Rather, in accordance with 1 Samuel 6:14, Now the Levites had taken down. As Beth-shemesh was a priestly city, “Levites” appears to be used here in a general sense to mean “members of the tribe of Levi,” not in its technical sense of “Levites” as distinguished from “priests.” Cp. Exodus 4:14; Joshua 3:3.

the men of Beth-shemesh, &c.] In addition to the offering of the kine mentioned in the previous verse, the inhabitants of the town brought offerings of their own. The burst-offerings symbolized renewed consecration of the worshippers to the service of Jehovah: the sacrifices were thank-offerings to Jehovah for His goodness in restoring the Ark.Verse 15. - The Levites took down the ark. Naturally, in a city of which priests formed the ruling caste, the people would be acquainted with the general nature of the regulations of the law. Apparently it was only after the sacrificial feast that they forgot the reverence due to the symbol of Jehovah's presence among them. Accordingly they arranged the sending back in such a manner as to manifest the reverence which ought to be shown to the God of Israel was a powerful deity (1 Samuel 6:7-9). The Philistines were to take a new cart and make it ready (עשׂה), and to yoke two milch cows to the cart upon which no yoke had ever come, and to take away their young ones (calves) from them into the house, i.e., into the stall, and then to put the ark upon the cart, along with the golden things to be presented as a trespass-offering, which were to be in a small chest by the side of the ark, and to send it (i.e., the ark) away, that it might go, viz., without the cows being either driven or guided. From the result of these arrangements, they were to learn whether the plague had been sent by the God of Israel, or had arisen accidentally. "If it (the ark) goeth up by the way to its border towards Bethshemesh, He (Jehovah) hath done us this great evil; but if not, we perceive that His hand hath not touched us. It came to us by chance," i.e., the evil came upon us merely by accident. In עליהם, בּניהם, and מאחריהם (1 Samuel 6:7), the masculine is used in the place of the more definite feminine, as being the more general form. This is frequently the case, and occurs again in 1 Samuel 6:10 and 1 Samuel 6:12. ארגּז, which only occurs again in 1 Samuel 6:8, 1 Samuel 6:11, and 1 Samuel 6:15, signifies, according to the context and the ancient versions, a chest or little case. The suffix to אתו refers to the ark, which is also the subject to יעלה (1 Samuel 6:9). גּבוּלו, the territory of the ark, is the land of Israel, where it had its home. מקרה is used adverbially: by chance, or accidentally. The new cart and the young cows, which had never worn a yoke, corresponded to the holiness of the ark of God. To place it upon an old cart, which had already been used for all kinds of earthly purposes, would have been an offence against the holy thing; and it would have been just the same to yoke to the cart animals that had already been used for drawing, and had had their strength impaired by the yoke (see Deuteronomy 21:3). The reason for selecting cows, however, instead of male oxen, was no doubt to be found in the further object which they hoped to attain. It was certainly to be expected, that if suckling cows, whose calves had been kept back from them, followed their own instincts, without any drivers, they would not go away, but would come back to their young ones in the stall. And if the very opposite should take place, this would be a sure sign that they were driven and guided by a divine power, and in fact by the God whose ark they were to draw into His own land. From this they would be able to draw the conclusion, that the plagues which had fallen upon the Philistines were also sent by this God. There was no special sagacity in this advice of the priests; it was nothing more than a cleverly devised attempt to put the power of the God of the Israelites to the text, though they thereby unconsciously and against their will furnished the occasion for the living God to display His divine glory before those who did not know Him.
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