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And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheatharvest in the valley : and they lifted up
their saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
And the cart came into the field of Joshua a Beth. shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone : and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt-offering unto the Lord.
And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone : and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt-offerings, and sacrisiced sacrifices the same day unto the Lord.
And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day,
And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men, And the people lamented because the LORD had ontitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kir. jathjearim, saying the Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD ;. come ye downy, and fetch it up
And the men of Kirjath-jearim came and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.
And it came to pass while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long ; for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It appears from Scripture *, that the true God was known and worshipped by the Philistines in the days of Abraham, for Abimelech their king was a religious and just person ; but they afterwards degenerated into idolatry, and each of their five cities seems to have had a separate idol.. Dagon appears to have been the most ancient and favourite god they had; to him they ascribed the invention of agriculture. Some author's suppose, that the upper part of Dagon's image was in the form of a man, the lower like a fish; but others think it entirely, reseinbled the human figure.
“ As the Philistines † were delivered from their fears of the ark, it is likely they imagined that the God of Israel was inferior to Dagon, therefore they carried the ark into the temple dedicated to that idol, as a trophy of victory; but their triumph was of short duration, for God having punished Israel, who betrayed the ark, proceeded to chastise those who abused it.
“ How must the worshippers of Dagon be astonished, when they beheld their mighty idol fallen before the ark? directing, as it might seem, his followers, to adore the God of Israel; but they perhaps imagined, that the fall of Dagon was accidental, tlrey therefore put him in his place again : without doubt, they fastened him in the strongest manner, but soon found that it was in vain to contend with God, for the next day Dagon appeared more contemptible than ever, with his hands and face broken to pieces; which ought to have taught his fol. lowers, that he was destitute of wisdom and power :"
* See vol, í. Section15.
+ Henry's Annotations.
but, instead of being reformed, they were hardened ia their idolatry, therefore the LORD afflicted them with dreadful diseases and sudden death.
The priests of the Philis:ines seem to have been acquainted with some of the ceremonials of the Jewish religion, for they knew that the Israelites were required to offer trespass offerings, and to give glory to God. Instead of receiving a ransom for the ark, the Philistines were glad to give rich gifts to deliver themselves from it, which remained as lasting memorials of their disgrace.
The cows leaving their calves, and taking the road to the land of Israel, is a wonderful instance of the power of God over the brute creation.
As the cart and cows were sanctified to the LORD, it would have been improper to use them otherwise than as a sacrifice.
Those who presumed to look into the ark, shewed that they had but little reverence for God and His holy ordinances. It is said *, " that the LORD smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men; but se veral learned authors are of opinion, that the passage is translated wrong,
and that it should be, the LORD smote AMONG the people who amounted to fifty thousand threescore and ten men." We do not find that they humbled themselves to God for their sin, but that they only ex. pressed their fear of his power, and fell from presumption to despair.
Kirjath jearim was in the road to Shiloh, so we may suppose that the men of Beth-shemesh thought that the elders of Shiloh would fetch the ark from thence': buty through the neglect of religion, and the disturbances of the times, it seems they did not, for we do not find that it was ever restored to its ancient seat. The mer of Kirjath-jearim joyfully received the ark; by which it seems, that they perfectly understood the offence of the Bethshemites. Abinadab, in whose house the ark was deposited, was a man of distinction amongst them, and eminent for his piety, and they sanctified his son to keep it, who entirely devoted himself to the care of the ark, and applied to no other business. Eleazar was not a regular priest, nor was it necessary he should be so, because here was no altar, either for sacrifice or in
* Essay for a new Trnaslation.
We need not dwell upon these circumstances, because they relate principally to those parts of the law of Moses which concerned the Jews only; the general instruction they give is this, that in all religious acts we must pay constant regard to the honour of God, and not wish to search into those mysteries which He, for wise reasons, has concealed from us.
It surely must have been a great mortification and disgrace to the Israelites to have their tabernacle de. prived of its greatest ornament and treasure, the ARK of the TESTIMONY, from which the Divine PRESENCE was manifested between the cherubims, but this people were so degenerated, and had' so little regard for religion, that they were contented with lamenting the absence of their God, without endeavouring to invite his PRESENCE, though, according to their coverane, they had no claim to His Divine assistance, unless they observed His holy institutions.
May we never imitate them in this respect, but en. deavour, by a regular attendance on the worship of Gon, and the discharge of our duty, to secure His fae vour tous ; of which we may then be as fulły assured, as if we should behold His GLORY from the mercy seat'; for the ark was only an emblem of God's heavenly
throne, intended to intimate, that though the Divine Being is surrounded with angels, and dwelleth in brightness, which no one can approach, He will graciously receive the sacrifices of prayer and thanksgiving, and bless those who offer them with sincerity and humility of heart.
SAMUEL EXHORTETH THE ISRAElites--THEY REPENT
AND TURN UN TO THE LORD.
From 1 Sam. Chap. vii. AND Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If
ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
Then the children of Israel did put #way Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.
And Samuel s.id, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mipzeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines,
And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not