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 unto the LORD.
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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.
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. 1 Samuel 6:151 Samuel 6:15 contains a supplementary remark, therefore הורידוּ is to be translated as a pluperfect. After sacrificing the cart, with the cows, as a burnt-offering to the Lord, the inhabitants of Bethshemesh gave a further practical expression to their joy at the return of the ark, by offering burnt-offerings and slain-offerings in praise of God. In the burnt-offerings they consecrated themselves afresh, with all their members, to the service of the Lord; and in the slain-offerings, which culminated in the sacrificial meals, they sealed anew their living fellowship with the Lord. The offering of these sacrifices at Bethshemesh was no offence against the commandment, to sacrifice to the Lord at the place of His sanctuary alone. The ark of the covenant was the throne of the gracious presence of God, before which the sacrifices were really offered at the tabernacle. The Lord had sanctified the ark afresh as the throne of His presence, by the miracle which He had wrought in bringing it back again. - In 1 Samuel 6:17 and 1 Samuel 6:18 the different atoning presents, which the Philistines sent to Jehovah as compensation, are enumerated once more: viz., five golden boils, one for each of their five principal towns (see at Joshua 13:3), and "golden mice, according to the number of all the Philistian towns of the five princes, from the fortified city to the village of the inhabitants of the level land" (perazi; see at Deuteronomy 3:5). The priests had only proposed that five golden mice should be sent as compensation, as well as five boils (1 Samuel 6:4). But the Philistines offered as many images of mice as there were towns and villages in their five states, no doubt because the plague of mice had spread over the whole land, whereas the plague of boils had only fallen upon the inhabitants of those towns to which the ark of the covenant had come. In this way the apparent discrepancy between 1 Samuel 6:4 and 1 Samuel 6:18 is very simply removed. The words which follow, viz., וגו עליה הגּיחוּ עשׁר, "upon which they had set down the ark," show unmistakeably, when compared with 1 Samuel 6:14 and 1 Samuel 6:15, that we are to understand by הגּדולה אבל the great stone upon which the ark was placed when it was taken off the cart. The conjecture of Kimchi, that this stone was called Abel (luctus), on account of the mourning which took place there (see 1 Samuel 6:19), is extremely unnatural. Consequently there is no other course left than to regard אבל as an error in writing for אבן, according to the reading, or at all events the rendering, adopted by the lxx and Targum. But ועד (even unto) is quite unsuitable here, as no further local definition is required after the foregoing הפּרי כּפר ועד, and it is impossible to suppose that the Philistines offered a golden mouse as a trespass-offering for the great stone upon which the ark was placed. We must therefore alter ועד into ועד: "And the great stone is witness (for ועד in this sense, see Genesis 31:52) to this day in the field of Joshua the Bethshemeshite," sc., of the fact just described.
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