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1The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” 3They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you.” 4And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for the same plague was upon all of you and upon your lords. 5So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. 6Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had made sport of them, did not they let the people go, and they departed? 7Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows upon which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way. 9And watch; if it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-sheʹmesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us, it happened to us by chance.”

10The men did so, and took two milch cows and yoked 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 golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-sheʹmesh along one 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 Beth-sheʹmesh. 13Now the people of Beth-sheʹmesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-sheʹmesh, and stopped there. A great stone was there; and they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15And 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 the great stone; and the men of Beth-sheʹmesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17These are the golden tumors, which the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashʹkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18also the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The 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-sheʹmesh.

19And he slew some of the men of Beth-sheʹmesh, because they looked into the ark of the Lord; he slew seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had made a great slaughter among the people. 20Then the men of Beth-sheʹmesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirʹiath-jeʹarim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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