New Heart English Bible
1The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, "What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it to its place." 3They said, "If you are going to send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return him a trespass offering: then you shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you." 4Then they said, "What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him?" They said, "Five golden tumors, and five golden mice, for the number of the lords of the Philistines; for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. 5Therefore you shall make images of your tumors, and images of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. 6Why then do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he had worked wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? 7"Now therefore take and prepare yourselves a new cart, and two milk cows, on which there has come no yoke; and tie the cows to the cart, and bring their calves home from them; 8and take the ark of the LORD, and lay it on the cart; and put the figures of gold, which you return him for a trespass offering, in a box by its side; and send it away, that it may go. 9And watch; if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth Shemesh, then he has done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it was a chance that happened to us."
10The men did so, and took two milk cows, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home; 11and they put the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the box with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors. 12The cows took the straight way by the way to Beth Shemesh; they went along the highway, mooing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the territory of Beth Shemesh.
13And those of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there, where there was a great stone. And they split the wood of the cart, and offered up the cows for a burnt offering to the LORD. 15The Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the chest that was with it, in which the articles of gold were, and put them on the great stone. And the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to the LORD. 16When the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
17These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering to the LORD: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one; 18and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages, even to the great stone, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD. That stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.
19But the sons of Jeconiah did not rejoice with the people of Beth Shemesh when they saw the ark of the LORD. So he struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned, because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20And the men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before this holy thing? And to whom should he go up from here?" 21They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath Jearim, saying, "The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down, and bring it up to yourselves."