1 Samuel 6:4
Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, 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.
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(4) Five golden emerods, and five golden mice.—It was a general custom in the nations of antiquity to offer to the deity, to whom sickness or recovery from sickness was ascribed, likenesses of the diseased parts; so, too, those who had escaped from shipwreck would offer pictures, or perhaps their garments, to Neptune, or, as some tell us, to Isis. (See, for instance, Horace, Carm. i. 5.) Slaves and gladiators would present their arms to Hercules; captives would dedicate their chains to some deity. This practice has found favour in more modern times. In the fifth century Christians—Theodoret tells us—would often offer in their churches gold or silver hands and feet, or eyes, as a thank-offering for cures effected in reply to prayer. Similar votive offerings are still made in Roman Catholic countries.

1 Samuel 6:4. Five golden emerods — Figures in gold representing the disease. Five golden mice — Images of the mice which had marred their land by destroying its fruits. According to the number of the lords of the Philistines — Who were five, and were to be at the charge of offering one for each of them. These things they offered, not in contempt of God, for they sought to gain his favour hereby; but in testimony of their humiliation, that, by leaving this monument of their shame and misery, they might obtain pity from God. It may be observed here, that it appears to have been a custom among the ancient heathen, to consecrate unto their gods such monuments of their deliverances as represented the evils from which they were freed. So the Philistines did on this occasion. And, according to Tavernier, this is still practised among the Indians. When any pilgrim goes to a pagod for the cure of a disease, he brings the figure of the member affected; made either of gold, silver, or copper, according to his quality; which he offers to his god, and then falls a singing, as all others do after they have offered. See Travels, page 92.

6:1-9 Seven months the Philistines were punished with the presence of the ark; so long it was a plague to them, because they would not send it home sooner. Sinners lengthen out their own miseries by refusing to part with their sins. The Israelites made no effort to recover the ark. Alas! where shall we find concern for religion prevail above all other matters? In times of public calamity we fear for ourselves, for our families, and for our country; but who cares for the ark of God? We are favoured with the gospel, but it is treated with neglect or contempt. We need not wonder if it should be taken from us; to many persons this, though the heavies of calamities, would occasion no grief. There are multitudes whom any profession would please as well as that of Christianity. But there are those who value the house, the word, and the ministry of God above their richest possessions, who dread the loss of these blessings more than death. How willing bad men are to shift off their convictions, and when they are in trouble, to believe it is a chance that happens; and that the rod has no voice which they should hear or heed!It was a prevalent custom in pagan antiquity to make offerings to the gods expressive of the particular mercy received. Thus, those saved from shipwreck offered pictures of the shipwreck, etc., and the custom still exists among Christians in certain countries.

The plague of the mice is analogous to that of the frogs in Egypt. The destructive power of field-mice was very great.

4. Five golden emerods—Votive or thank offerings were commonly made by the heathen in prayer for, or gratitude after, deliverance from lingering or dangerous disorders, in the form of metallic (generally silver) models or images of the diseased parts of the body. This is common still in Roman Catholic countries, as well as in the temples of the Hindus and other modern heathen.

five golden mice—This animal is supposed by some to be the jerboa or jumping mouse of Syria and Egypt [Bochart]; by others, to be the short-tailed field mouse, which often swarms in prodigious numbers and commits great ravages in the cultivated fields of Palestine.

What shall be the trespass-offering? they desire particular information, because they were ignorant of the nature and manner of the worship of Israel’s God, and they might easily understand that there were some kinds of offerings which God would not accept.

Golden emerods, i.e. figures of that part of the body which was the seat of the disease, which by its swelling, or some other way, represented also the disease itself; which they offered not in contempt of God, for they sought to gain his favour hereby; but in testimony of their humiliation, that by leaving this monument of their own shame and misery they might obtain pity from God, and freedom from their disease.

Golden mice; which marred their land, (as it. is related, 1 Samuel 6:5) by destroying the fruits thereof; as the other plague afflicted their bodies.

Then said they, what shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him?.... They paid a great deference to their priests and diviners, and were willing to be directed in all things by them; being ignorant of what was most proper in this case, and might be acceptable to the God of Israel:

they answered, five golden emerods, and five golden mice; images of these made of gold, as appears from the next verse; the reason of the former is easy, from the above account of the disease they were afflicted with; but of the latter no hint is given before: indeed in the Vulgate Latin and Septuagint versions of 1 Samuel 5:6 is inserted a clause, that"mice sprung up in the midst of their country;''which is not in the Hebrew text, nor in the Chaldee paraphrase; yet appears to be a fact from the following verse, that at the same time their bodies were smitten with emerods, their fields were overrun with mice, which destroyed the increase of them; wherefore five golden mice were also ordered as a part of the trespass offering, and five of each were pitched upon:

according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; who were five, and so the principalities under them; see Joshua 13:3.

for one plague was on you all, and on your lords; the lords and common people were equally smitten with the emerods, and the several principalities were alike distressed and destroyed with the mice; and therefore the trespass offering, which was a vicarious one for them, was to be according to the number of their princes and their principalities; five emerods for the five princes and their people smitten with emerods, and five mice on account of the five cities and fields adjacent being marred by mice.

Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, 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.
4. emerods] Or, boils. See note on ch. 1 Samuel 5:6.

according to the number of the lords of the Philistines] The number of the confederate cities was naturally chosen to represent the whole people.

1 Samuel 6:4The trespass-offering was to correspond to the number of the princes of the Philistines. מספּר is an accusative employed to determine either measure or number (see Ewald, 204, a.), lit., "the number of their princes:" the compensations were to be the same in number as the princes. "Five golden boils, and five golden mice," i.e., according to 1 Samuel 6:5, images resembling their boils, and the field-mice which overran the land; the same gifts, therefore, for them all, "for one plague is to all and to your princes," i.e., the same plague has fallen upon all the people and their princes. The change of person in the two words, לכלּם, "all of them," i.e., the whole nation of the Philistines, and לסרניכם, "your princes," appears very strange to us with our modes of thought and speech, but it is by no means unusual in Hebrew. The selection of this peculiar kind of expiatory present was quite in accordance with a custom, which was not only widely spread among the heathen but was even adopted in the Christian church, viz., that after recovery from an illness, or rescue from any danger or calamity, a representation of the member healed or the danger passed through was placed as an offering in the temple of the deity, to whom the person had prayed for deliverance;

(Note: Thus, after a shipwreck, any who escaped presented a tablet to Isis, or Neptune, with the representation of a shipwreck upon it; gladiators offered their weapons, and emancipated slaves their fetters. In some of the nations of antiquity even representations of the private parts, in which a cure had been obtained from the deity, were hung up in the temples in honour of the gods (see Schol. ad Aristoph. Acharn. 243, and other proofs in Winer's Real-wrterbuch, ii. p. 255). Theodoret says, concerning the Christians of the fourth century (Therapeutik. Disp. viii.): Ὅτι δὲ τυγχάνουσιν ὧνπερ αἰτοῦσιν οἱ πιστῶς ἐπαγγέλλοντες ἀναφανδὸν μαρτυρεὶ τὰ τούτων ἀναθήματα, τὴν ἰατρείαν δηλοῦντα, οἱ μὲν γὰρ ὀφθαλμῶν, οἱ δὲ ποδῶν ἄλλοι δὲ χειρῶν προσφέρουσιν ἐκτυπώματα καὶ οἱ μὲν ἐκ χρυσοῦ, οἱ δὲ ἐξ ὕλης ἀργύρου πεποιημένα. Δέχεται γὰρ ὁ τούτων Δεσπότης καὶ τὰ σμικρά τε καὶ εὔωνα, τῇ τοῦ προσφέροντος δυνάμει τὸ δῶρον μετρῶν. Δηλοῖ δὲ ταῦτα προκείμενα τῶν παθημάτων τὴν λύσιν, ἧς ἀνετέθη μνημεῖα παρὰ τῶν ἀρτίων γεγενημένων. And at Rome they still hang up a picture of the danger, from which deliverance had been obtained after a vow, in the church of the saint invoked in the danger.)

and it also perfectly agrees with a custom which has prevailed in India, according to Tavernier (Ros. A. u. N. Morgenland iii. p. 77), from time immemorial down to the present day, viz., that when a pilgrim takes a journey to a pagoda to be cured of a disease, he offers to the idol a present either in gold, silver, or copper, according to his ability, of the shape of the diseased or injured member, and then sings a hymn. Such a present passed as a practical acknowledgement that the god had inflicted the suffering or evil. If offered after recovery or deliverance, it was a public expression of thanksgiving. In the case before us, however, in which it was offered before deliverance, the presentation of the images of the things with which they had been chastised was probably a kind of fine or compensation for the fault that had been committed against the Deity, to mitigate His wrath and obtain a deliverance from the evils with which they had been smitten. This is contained in the words, "Give glory unto the God of Israel! peradventure He will lighten His (punishing) hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land." The expression is a pregnant one for "make His heavy hand light and withdraw it," i.e., take away the punishment. In the allusion to the representations of the field-mice, the words "that devastate the land" are added, because in the description given of the plagues in 1 Samuel 5:1-12 the devastation of the land by mice is not expressly mentioned. The introduction of this clause after עכבּריכם, when contrasted with the omission of any such explanation after עפליכם, is a proof that the plague of mice had not been described before, and therefore that the references made to these in the Septuagint at 1 Samuel 5:3, 1 Samuel 5:6, and 1 Samuel 6:1, are nothing more than explanatory glosses. It is a well-known fact that field-mice, with their enormous rate of increase and their great voracity, do extraordinary damage to the fields. In southern lands they sometimes destroy entire harvests in a very short space of time (Aristot. Animal. vi. 37; Plin. h. n. x. c. 65; Strabo, iii. p. 165; Aelian, etc., in Bochart, Hieroz. ii. p. 429, ed. Ros.).

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