1 Samuel 6:18
And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even to the great stone of Abel, where on they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18)And the golden mice.—We have here a far greater number of “golden mice” mentioned as being offered in expiation than appear specified in the directions of the priests and diviners (1Samuel 6:4). The truth was that whilst the human sickness was confined to the five cities, the plague of field mice no doubt extended over the whole country. The inhabitants of all the villages were anxious to do their part to propitiate the insulted Hebrew God, and to get rid of the plague which was devastating their fields and vineyards; hence this large offering, so much in excess of what was suggested by the diviners.

The great stone of Abel.—The LXX. Version reads here, “And this great stone on which they placed the Ark of Jehovah, which is in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite, is a witness unto this day.” With this reading the Chaldee Targum substantially agrees. The Hebrew text here is hopelessly corrupt; the copies which the Greek translators and the Chaldee Targumist apparently had before them, instead of the word “Avel” (Abel), which signifies mourning, read the word ăven, a stone, and the punctuation of v’ad, “and unto,” in the last clause was evidently (v’ed), “and a witness.” If the reading Avel be the true one (“even unto the great Avel”), then the conjecture of R. D. Kimchi is probably right, that this stone was known as the Great Avel (or Abel), “the great mourning,” owing to the terrible judicial calamity, related in the next three verses (1Samuel 6:19-21), which happened there. With this slight change a very good sense is obtained.

1 Samuel 6:18. Both of fenced cities and country villages — This is added, either to show, that under the name of the five cities were comprehended all the villages and territories belonging to them, in whose name, and at whose charge, these presents were made; or to express the difference between this and the former present, the emerods being only five, according to the five cities mentioned 1 Samuel 6:17; the cities, perhaps, being chiefly afflicted with that disorder; and the mice being many more, according to the number of all the cities and villages, as here expressed. Abel — This is mentioned as the utmost border of the Philistines’ territory, to which the plague of mice extended. And this place is here called Abel by anticipation, from the great mourning mentioned in the following verse. It is desirable to see the ark in its habitation, in all the circumstances of solemnity. But it is better to have it on a great stone, and in the fields of the wood, than to be without it. The intrinsic grandeur of divine ordinances ought not to be diminished in our eyes, by the meanness and poverty of the place where they are administered.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 great stone of Abel ... - Probably so called from the "lamentation" described in 1 Samuel 6:19. 18. unto the great stone of Abel—Abel, or Aben, means "stone," so that without resorting to italics, the reading should be, "the great stone." Both of fenced cities, and of country villages: this is added for explication of that foregoing phrase,

all the cities; either to show that under the name of the five cities were comprehended all the villages and territories belonging to them, in whose name and at whose charge these presents were made; or to express the difference between this and the former present, the emerods being only five, according to thee five cities mentioned 1 Samuel 6:17, because it may seem the cities only, or principally, were pestered with that disease; and the mice being many more, according to

the number of all the cities, as is here expressed; the word city being taken generally so, as to include, not only fenced cities, but also the country villages, as is here added, and the fields belonging to them, these being the parts where the mice did most mischief.

The great stone of Abel; which is mentioned as the utmost border of the Philistines’ territory to which the plague of mice did extend; the word stone being easily understood out of 1 Samuel 6:14, where this great stone is expressly mentioned, as the place on which the ark was set which is also here repeated in the following words. And this place is here called

Abel, by anticipation, from the great mourning mentioned in the following verse. And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords,.... That is, as many golden mice as there were cities under the jurisdiction of the five lords, which are the same before mentioned:

both of fenced cities and of country villages; walled and unwalled towns; it seems by this, as it was but reasonable it should be, that the several villages adjacent and belonging to the five principal cities contributed their part towards the expense of the five golden emerods, and five golden mice, since they were afflicted both in their persons, and especially in their fields, as well as those in the cities; though Kimchi and others think that the country villages sent each of them a golden emerod, and a golden mouse, fearing the presents of the five cities would not serve for them; and therefore, though the priests and diviners only ordered five of each, according to the number of the principal cities, yet they of themselves sent more: all the country villages that reached

even unto the great stone of Abel; the Targum is,"unto the great stone'';and so the Septuagint version, reading Eben instead of Ebal; or "lamed" is put for "nun", as "nun" for "lamed", Nehemiah 13:7. The Vulgate Latin version is unto great Abel, taking it for a city, as does Procopius Gazaeus, who calls it the great city Abel, through which they carried the ark of the Lord; so Jerom (y), who takes it to be the same with Bethshemesh, called Abel because of the mourning in it for the men of Bethshemesh after slain; or to distinguish it from another Abel is called "great", 2 Samuel 20:15 but it seems plainly to be the same with the great stone, 1 Samuel 6:14, here called Eben Gedolah, here Abel Gedolah, by the change of a letter, having its latter name by anticipation from the great mourning hereafter made, next mentioned:

whereon they set down the ark of the Lord; when it was taken out of the cart, as also the coffer in which were the presents, 1 Samuel 6:15,

which: stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua the Bethshemite: the supplement, which stone remaineth, seems necessary, lest it should be thought the ark remained there unto the time of the writing this book, which was not true, for it was soon after this fetched to Kirjathjearim; but the stone remained, and might be seen; and posterity in following times were told that was the stone on which the ark was put when it returned to Israel.

(y) Trad. Heb. ut supra. (Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 75. D.)

And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
The God of Israel actually did what the idolatrous priests hardly considered possible. When the Philistines, in accordance with the advice given them by their priests, had placed the ark of the covenant and the expiatory gifts upon the cart to which the two cows were harnessed, "the cows went straight forward on the way to Bethshemesh; they went along a road going and lowing (i.e., lowing the whole time), and turned not to the right or to the left; and the princes of the Philistines went behind them to the territory of Bethshemesh." בּדּרך ישּׁרנה, lit., "they were straight in the way," i.e., they went straight along the road. The form ישּׁרנה for יישׁרנה is the imperf. Kal, third pers. plur. fem., with the preformative י instead of ת, as in Genesis 30:38 (see Ges. 47, Anm. 3; Ewald, 191, b.). Bethshemesh, the present Ain-shems, was a priests' city on the border of Judah and Dan (see at Joshua 15:10).
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