1 Samuel 6

1 After the Ark of Jehovah had been in Philistia for seven months,

2 the Philistines called in their priests and fortunetellers, and asked: »What should we do with this Ark of Jehovah? Tell us how to send it back where it belongs!«

3 They answered: »If you return the Ark of the Covenant of the God of Israel, you must send with it a gift guilt offering to him to pay for your sin. The Ark must not go back without a gift. In this way you will be healed. You will find out why he continues to punish you.«

4 »What guilt offering trespass gift shall we send him?« The people asked. They answered: »Five gold models of tumors and five gold mice, one of each for each Philistine king. The same plague was sent on all of you and on the five kings.

5 »You must make these models of the tumors and of the mice that are ravaging your country. You must give honor to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will stop punishing you, your gods, and your land.

6 »Why are you as stubborn as the Egyptians and their Pharaoh were? When he did terrible mighty things among them did he let the Israelites go?

7 »Now get a new cart ready for two dairy cows that have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart. Take their calves away and leave them in their stall.

8 »Take the Ark of Jehovah and put it on the cart. Put the gold objects that you are giving him as a guilt offering in a box beside the Ark. Send the cart on its way.

9 »Then watch where it goes. If it goes up the road to its own country toward Beth Shemesh, then this disaster is Jehovah’s doing. But if not, we will know it was not his hand that struck us, but what happened to us was an accident.«

10 The men did this. They took two milk cows and tied them to the cart. They placed their calves in pens at home.

11 They laid the Ark of Jehovah on the cart, and the box with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors.

12 The cows went straight ahead to Bethshemesh. They went on the highway lowing as they went. They did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Bethshemesh.

13 The people of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. They looked up and saw the ark. They rejoiced to see it.

14 The cart came to the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there. There was a great stone. They cut the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to Jehovah.

15 The Levites removed the cart the Ark of Jehovah and the box that contained the gold objects. They put them on the large rock. The people of Bethshemesh presented burnt offerings and sacrifices to Jehovah that day.

16 After the five rulers of the Philistines saw this, they went back to Ekron that same day.

17 The Philistines sent the five gold tumors to Jehovah as a gift guilt offering to pay for their sins. They included one for each of the cities of Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.

18 They also sent gold mice, one for each of the cities ruled by the five Philistine kings, both the fortified towns and the villages without walls. The large rock in the field of Joshua of Bethshemesh, on which they placed the Ark of Jehovah’s Covenant, is still there as a witness to what happened.

19 Some of the men of Bethshemesh looked inside the Ark. Jehovah killed seventy of them. This made the people of Bethshemesh very sad.

20 They said: »No other God is like Jehovah! Who can go near him and still live? We must send the chest away from here. But where can we send it?«

21 They sent messengers to tell the people of Kiriath-Jearim: »The Philistines have returned the Ark of Jehovah. Will you take it and keep it there with you?«