Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden tumors, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Five golden emerods, and five golden mice.—It was a general custom in the nations of antiquity to offer to the deity, to whom sickness or recovery from sickness was ascribed, likenesses of the diseased parts; so, too, those who had escaped from shipwreck would offer pictures, or perhaps their garments, to Neptune, or, as some tell us, to Isis. (See, for instance, Horace, Carm. i. 5.) Slaves and gladiators would present their arms to Hercules; captives would dedicate their chains to some deity. This practice has found favour in more modern times. In the fifth century Christians—Theodoret tells us—would often offer in their churches gold or silver hands and feet, or eyes, as a thank-offering for cures effected in reply to prayer. Similar votive offerings are still made in Roman Catholic countries.1 Samuel 6:4. Five golden emerods — Figures in gold representing the disease. Five golden mice — Images of the mice which had marred their land by destroying its fruits. According to the number of the lords of the Philistines — Who were five, and were to be at the charge of offering one for each of them. These things they offered, not in contempt of God, for they sought to gain his favour hereby; but in testimony of their humiliation, that, by leaving this monument of their shame and misery, they might obtain pity from God. It may be observed here, that it appears to have been a custom among the ancient heathen, to consecrate unto their gods such monuments of their deliverances as represented the evils from which they were freed. So the Philistines did on this occasion. And, according to Tavernier, this is still practised among the Indians. When any pilgrim goes to a pagod for the cure of a disease, he brings the figure of the member affected; made either of gold, silver, or copper, according to his quality; which he offers to his god, and then falls a singing, as all others do after they have offered. See Travels, page 92.
five golden mice—This animal is supposed by some to be the jerboa or jumping mouse of Syria and Egypt [Bochart]; by others, to be the short-tailed field mouse, which often swarms in prodigious numbers and commits great ravages in the cultivated fields of Palestine.What shall be the trespass-offering? they desire particular information, because they were ignorant of the nature and manner of the worship of Israel’s God, and they might easily understand that there were some kinds of offerings which God would not accept.
Golden emerods, i.e. figures of that part of the body which was the seat of the disease, which by its swelling, or some other way, represented also the disease itself; which they offered not in contempt of God, for they sought to gain his favour hereby; but in testimony of their humiliation, that by leaving this monument of their own shame and misery they might obtain pity from God, and freedom from their disease.
Golden mice; which marred their land, (as it. is related, 1 Samuel 6:5) by destroying the fruits thereof; as the other plague afflicted their bodies.
they answered, five golden emerods, and five golden mice; images of these made of gold, as appears from the next verse; the reason of the former is easy, from the above account of the disease they were afflicted with; but of the latter no hint is given before: indeed in the Vulgate Latin and Septuagint versions of 1 Samuel 5:6 is inserted a clause, that"mice sprung up in the midst of their country;''which is not in the Hebrew text, nor in the Chaldee paraphrase; yet appears to be a fact from the following verse, that at the same time their bodies were smitten with emerods, their fields were overrun with mice, which destroyed the increase of them; wherefore five golden mice were also ordered as a part of the trespass offering, and five of each were pitched upon:
according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; who were five, and so the principalities under them; see Joshua 13:3.
for one plague was on you all, and on your lords; the lords and common people were equally smitten with the emerods, and the several principalities were alike distressed and destroyed with the mice; and therefore the trespass offering, which was a vicarious one for them, was to be according to the number of their princes and their principalities; five emerods for the five princes and their people smitten with emerods, and five mice on account of the five cities and fields adjacent being marred by mice.Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. emerods] Or, boils. See note on ch. 1 Samuel 5:6.
according to the number of the lords of the Philistines] The number of the confederate cities was naturally chosen to represent the whole people.Joshua 13:3). But the Ekronites, who had been informed of what had taken place in Ashdod and Gath, cried out, when the ark came into their city, "They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to me, to slay me and my people" (these words are to be regarded as spoken by the whole town); and they said to all the princes of the Philistines whom they had called together, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, that it may return to its place, and not slay me and my people. For deadly alarm (מות מהוּמת, confusion of death, i.e., alarm produced by many sudden deaths) ruled in the whole city; very heavy was the hand of God there. The people who did not die were smitten with boils, and the cry of the city ascended to heaven." From this description, which simply indicates briefly the particulars of the plagues that God inflicted upon Ekron, we may see very clearly that Ekron was visited even more severely than Ashdod and Gath. This was naturally the case. The longer the Philistines resisted and refused to recognise the chastening hand of the living God in the plagues inflicted upon them, the more severely would they necessarily be punished, that they might be brought at last to see that the God of Israel, whose sanctuary they still wanted to keep as a trophy of their victory over that nation, was the omnipotent God, who was able to destroy His foes.
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