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The Philistines and the Ark

When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod;(A) then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon.(B) When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.(C) But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of[a] Dagon was left to him.(D) This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and struck them with tumors, both in Ashdod and in its territory.(E) And when the inhabitants of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is heavy on us and on our god Dagon.” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” The inhabitants of Gath replied, “Let the ark of God be moved on to us.”[b] So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath.[c](F) But after they had brought it to Gath,[d] the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic; he struck the inhabitants of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them.(G) 10 So they sent the ark of the God of Israel[e] to Ekron. But when the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “Why[f] have they brought around to us[g] the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our[h] people?” 11 They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our[i] people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there;(H) 12 those who did not die were stricken with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

The Ark Returned to Israel

The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. Then the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us what we should send with it to its place.”(I) They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return it with a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and forgiven;[j] will not his hand then turn from you?”(J) And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall send to him?” They answered, “Five gold tumors and five gold mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was upon all of you and upon your lords.(K) So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land and give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand on you and your gods and your land.(L) Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had made fools of them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?(M) Now then, get ready a new cart and two milch cows that have never borne a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them.(N) Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold that you are sending to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way.(O) And watch: if it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.”(P)

10 The men did so; they took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. 11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors. 12 The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.(Q)

13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they went with rejoicing to meet it.[k] 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A large stone was there; so they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.(R) 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box beside it in which were the gold objects and set them on the large stone. Then the people of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and presented sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.(S)

17 These are the gold tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron;(T) 18 also the gold mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone, beside which they set down the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.(U)

The Ark at Kiriath-jearim

19 The descendants of Jeconiah did not rejoice with the people of Beth-shemesh when they greeted[l] the ark of the Lord, and he killed seventy men of them.[m] The people mourned because the Lord had made a great slaughter among the people.(V) 20 Then the people of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom shall he go so that we may be rid of him?”(W) 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”(X)


  1. 5.4 Gk Syr Tg Vg: Heb lacks the trunk of
  2. 5.8 Gk Compare Q ms: MT They replied, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.”
  3. 5.8 Gk: Heb lacks to Gath
  4. 5.9 Q ms: MT lacks to Gath
  5. 5.10 Q ms Gk mss: MT lacks of Israel
  6. 5.10 Q ms Gk: MT lacks Why
  7. 5.10 Heb me
  8. 5.10 Heb me and my
  9. 5.11 Heb me and my
  10. 6.3 Q ms Gk: MT and it will be known to you
  11. 6.13 Gk: Heb rejoiced to see it
  12. 6.19 Gk: Heb And he killed some of the people of Beth-shemesh, because they looked into
  13. 6.19 Cn: Heb killed seventy men, fifty thousand men