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The Ark Returned to Israel

The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and athe diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him ba guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why chis hand does not turn away from you.” And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden dtumors and five golden mice, eaccording to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. So you must make images of your dtumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, fand give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps ghe will lighten his hand from off you hand your gods and your land. Why should you harden your hearts as ithe Egyptians and jPharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, kdid they not send the people away, and they departed? Now then, take and prepare la new cart and two milk cows mon which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side nthe figures of gold, which you are returning to him as ba guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to oBeth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not phis hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.”

10 The men did so, and took two milk cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12 And the cows went straight in the direction of qBeth-shemesh along rone 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 qBeth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of qBeth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. sA great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon sthe great stone. And the men of qBeth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 And when tthe five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17 These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a uguilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, vboth fortified cities and unwalled villages. wThe 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.

19 xAnd he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them,1 and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, y“Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of zKiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

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