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The Ark Returned to Israel

Now the ark of the Lord had been in the country of the Philistines seven months. The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.”

They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty. But return to Him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.”

Then said they, “What will be the guilt offering which we will 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. Therefore you will make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land. And you will give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps He will lighten His hand from off you, even from off your gods and from off your land. Why then do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He dealt severely with them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?

“Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milk cows on which there has never been a yoke. Then tie the cows to the cart and bring their calves home, away from them. Then take the ark of the Lord and set it on the cart. And put the images of gold, which you return to Him for a guilt offering, in a box by the side. And send it away, that it may go. See, if it goes up by the way of His own territory to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it is not His hand that struck us; it was by chance that it happened to us.”

10 The men did so. And they took two milk cows, tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they set the ark of the Lord on the cart, as well as the box with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors. 12 Then the cows took the straight way to the way of Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went. They did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left with the lords of the Philistines walking after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.

13 Now Beth Shemesh was reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, and they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua, the Beth Shemite, and stood there where there was a great stone. And they split the wood of the cart, and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was with it, where the articles of gold were, and put them on the great stone. And the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the Lord. 16 When the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.

17 These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a guilt offering to the Lord: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one. 18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities, and of country villages. And the great stone, where they set the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth Shemite.

19 Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men. And the people lamented, because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20 The men of Beth Shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom will He go up from us?”

21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the Lord. Come down, and take it up to you.”