1 Samuel 6:8
And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it on the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which you return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
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(8) In a coffer by the side thereof.—The reverent awe with which these Philistines treated the Ark, which had, they supposed, wrought them such great evil, presents a strong contrast to the careless curiosity of the men of Beth-shemesh with regard to the same sacred object—a careless curiosity, which was punished, as we so often find in the case of acts of sacrilege, with extreme severity.

1 Samuel 6:8. In a coffer by the side thereof — They had either heard, or by their present sufferings were made to fear, that it was dangerous to look into the ark; and therefore they did not open it to put their present within it.6:1-9 Seven months the Philistines were punished with the presence of the ark; so long it was a plague to them, because they would not send it home sooner. Sinners lengthen out their own miseries by refusing to part with their sins. The Israelites made no effort to recover the ark. Alas! where shall we find concern for religion prevail above all other matters? In times of public calamity we fear for ourselves, for our families, and for our country; but who cares for the ark of God? We are favoured with the gospel, but it is treated with neglect or contempt. We need not wonder if it should be taken from us; to many persons this, though the heavies of calamities, would occasion no grief. There are multitudes whom any profession would please as well as that of Christianity. But there are those who value the house, the word, and the ministry of God above their richest possessions, who dread the loss of these blessings more than death. How willing bad men are to shift off their convictions, and when they are in trouble, to believe it is a chance that happens; and that the rod has no voice which they should hear or heed!A new cart ... kine on which there hath come no yoke - This was so ordered in reverence to the ark, and was a right and true feeling. See Mark 11:2; Matthew 27:60. For the supposed special virtue of new things, see Judges 16:7, Judges 16:11. 8. take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart—This mode of carrying the sacred symbol was forbidden; but the ignorance of the Philistines made the indignity excusable (see on [238]2Sa 6:6).

put the jewels … in a coffer by the side thereof—The way of securing treasure in the East is still in a chest, chained to the house wall or some solid part of the furniture.

Lay it upon the cart; which God winked at in them, both because they were ignorant of God’s law to the contrary, and because they had no Levites to carry it upon their shoulders.

In a coffer by the side thereof; for they durst not presume to open the ark, to put them within it. And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart,.... Which was dispensed with in these uncircumcised Philistines, there being no other to do this service:

and put the jewels of gold; or rather "vessels of gold" (p); the five golden emerods, and the five golden mice:

which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; in a basket, as the Syriac version: in a scrip, as the Arabic; in a purse, or bag, as Josephus (q); which latter is probable enough:

and send it away, that it may go; that is, set it a going, without any driver or guide; but leave it to take its course of itself to the land of Israel. Josephus (r) says it was set in a place where three ways met, that it might take which it might; and the taking of the right way must be a strong evidence of its being under the direction of God.

(p) "vasa aurea", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, &c. (q) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 2.((r) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 2.

And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the {d} jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.

(d) Meaning, the golden emerods and the golden mice.

8. jewels of gold] Jewel is here used in a general sense = “any precious or costly object.” The Heb. word simply means “articles” or “vessels.”Verse 8. - Put the jewels of gold... in a coffer. Instead of jewels the Hebrew word signifies any article of workmanship, and so figures, images wrought in gold. They were to be placed reverentially at the side of the ark, for it had wrought them so great evil that they had learned to look upon it with awe. The Ark of God Sent Back. - 1 Samuel 6:1-3. The ark of Jehovah was in the land (lit. the fields, as in Ruth 1:2) of the Philistines for seven months, and had brought destruction to all the towns to which it had been taken. At length the Philistines resolved to send it back to the Israelites, and therefore called their priests and diviners (see at Numbers 23:23) to ask them, "What shall we do with regard to the ark of God; tell us, with what shall we send it to its place?" "Its place" is the land of Israel, and בּמּה does not mean "in what manner" (quomodo: Vulgate, Thenius), but with what, wherewith (as in Micah 6:6). There is no force in the objection brought by Thenius, that if the question had implied with what presents, the priests would not have answered, "Do not send it without a present;" for the priests did not confine themselves to this answer, in which they gave a general assent, but proceeded at once to define the present more minutely. They replied, "If they send away the ark of the God of Israel (משׁלּחים is to be taken as the third person in an indefinite address, as in 1 Samuel 2:24, and not to be construed with אתּם supplied), do not send it away empty (i.e., without an expiatory offering), but return Him (i.e., the God of Israel) a trespass-offering." אשׁם, lit. guilt, then the gift presented as compensation for a fault, the trespass-offering (see at Leviticus 5:14-6:7). The gifts appointed by the Philistines as an asham were to serve as a compensation and satisfaction to be rendered to the God of Israel for the robbery committed upon Him by the removal of the ark of the covenant, and were therefore called asham, although in their nature they were only expiatory offerings. For the same reason the verb השׁיב, to return or repay, is used to denote the presentation of these gifts, being the technical expression for the payment of compensation for a fault in Numbers 5:7, and in Leviticus 6:4 for compensation for anything belonging to another, that had been unjustly appropriated. "Are ye healed then, it will show you why His hand is not removed from you," sc., so long as ye keep back the ark. The words תּרפאוּ אז are to be understood as conditional, even without אם, which the rules of the language allow (see Ewald, 357, b.); this is required by the context. For, according to 1 Samuel 6:9, the Philistine priests still thought it a possible thing that any misfortune which had befallen the Philistines might be only an accidental circumstance. With this view, they could not look upon a cure as certain to result from the sending back of the ark, but only as possible; consequently they could only speak conditionally, and with this the words "we shall know" agree.
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