1 Samuel 6:8
And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
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(8) In a coffer by the side thereof.—The reverent awe with which these Philistines treated the Ark, which had, they supposed, wrought them such great evil, presents a strong contrast to the careless curiosity of the men of Beth-shemesh with regard to the same sacred object—a careless curiosity, which was punished, as we so often find in the case of acts of sacrilege, with extreme severity.

1 Samuel 6:8. In a coffer by the side thereof — They had either heard, or by their present sufferings were made to fear, that it was dangerous to look into the ark; and therefore they did not open it to put their present within it.

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!A new cart ... kine on which there hath come no yoke - This was so ordered in reverence to the ark, and was a right and true feeling. See Mark 11:2; Matthew 27:60. For the supposed special virtue of new things, see Judges 16:7, Judges 16:11. 8. take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart—This mode of carrying the sacred symbol was forbidden; but the ignorance of the Philistines made the indignity excusable (see on [238]2Sa 6:6).

put the jewels … in a coffer by the side thereof—The way of securing treasure in the East is still in a chest, chained to the house wall or some solid part of the furniture.

Lay it upon the cart; which God winked at in them, both because they were ignorant of God’s law to the contrary, and because they had no Levites to carry it upon their shoulders.

In a coffer by the side thereof; for they durst not presume to open the ark, to put them within it.

And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart,.... Which was dispensed with in these uncircumcised Philistines, there being no other to do this service:

and put the jewels of gold; or rather "vessels of gold" (p); the five golden emerods, and the five golden mice:

which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; in a basket, as the Syriac version: in a scrip, as the Arabic; in a purse, or bag, as Josephus (q); which latter is probable enough:

and send it away, that it may go; that is, set it a going, without any driver or guide; but leave it to take its course of itself to the land of Israel. Josephus (r) says it was set in a place where three ways met, that it might take which it might; and the taking of the right way must be a strong evidence of its being under the direction of God.

(p) "vasa aurea", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, &c. (q) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 2.((r) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 2.

And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the {d} jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.

(d) Meaning, the golden emerods and the golden mice.

8. jewels of gold] Jewel is here used in a general sense = “any precious or costly object.” The Heb. word simply means “articles” or “vessels.”

Verse 8. - Put the jewels of gold... in a coffer. Instead of jewels the Hebrew word signifies any article of workmanship, and so figures, images wrought in gold. They were to be placed reverentially at the side of the ark, for it had wrought them so great evil that they had learned to look upon it with awe. 1 Samuel 6:8Accordingly they arranged the sending back in such a manner as to manifest the reverence which ought to be shown to the God of Israel was a powerful deity (1 Samuel 6:7-9). The Philistines were to take a new cart and make it ready (עשׂה), and to yoke two milch cows to the cart upon which no yoke had ever come, and to take away their young ones (calves) from them into the house, i.e., into the stall, and then to put the ark upon the cart, along with the golden things to be presented as a trespass-offering, which were to be in a small chest by the side of the ark, and to send it (i.e., the ark) away, that it might go, viz., without the cows being either driven or guided. From the result of these arrangements, they were to learn whether the plague had been sent by the God of Israel, or had arisen accidentally. "If it (the ark) goeth up by the way to its border towards Bethshemesh, He (Jehovah) hath done us this great evil; but if not, we perceive that His hand hath not touched us. It came to us by chance," i.e., the evil came upon us merely by accident. In עליהם, בּניהם, and מאחריהם (1 Samuel 6:7), the masculine is used in the place of the more definite feminine, as being the more general form. This is frequently the case, and occurs again in 1 Samuel 6:10 and 1 Samuel 6:12. ארגּז, which only occurs again in 1 Samuel 6:8, 1 Samuel 6:11, and 1 Samuel 6:15, signifies, according to the context and the ancient versions, a chest or little case. The suffix to אתו refers to the ark, which is also the subject to יעלה (1 Samuel 6:9). גּבוּלו, the territory of the ark, is the land of Israel, where it had its home. מקרה is used adverbially: by chance, or accidentally. The new cart and the young cows, which had never worn a yoke, corresponded to the holiness of the ark of God. To place it upon an old cart, which had already been used for all kinds of earthly purposes, would have been an offence against the holy thing; and it would have been just the same to yoke to the cart animals that had already been used for drawing, and had had their strength impaired by the yoke (see Deuteronomy 21:3). The reason for selecting cows, however, instead of male oxen, was no doubt to be found in the further object which they hoped to attain. It was certainly to be expected, that if suckling cows, whose calves had been kept back from them, followed their own instincts, without any drivers, they would not go away, but would come back to their young ones in the stall. And if the very opposite should take place, this would be a sure sign that they were driven and guided by a divine power, and in fact by the God whose ark they were to draw into His own land. From this they would be able to draw the conclusion, that the plagues which had fallen upon the Philistines were also sent by this God. There was no special sagacity in this advice of the priests; it was nothing more than a cleverly devised attempt to put the power of the God of the Israelites to the text, though they thereby unconsciously and against their will furnished the occasion for the living God to display His divine glory before those who did not know Him.
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