1 Samuel 4-6
The Last Judge: Samuel, cont’d. 1 Samuel 1-8
1 Samuel 4:1-11-Israel goes to battle against the Philistines at Ebenezer (means: stone of help)...and were defeated. They decide to bring the Ark from Shiloh to Ebenezer. They thought it was something like a good luck charm. The Philistines knew the history of Israel and said, "God has come into the camp...Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods?" It is interesting that they refer to the LORD as the "gods" of Israel. However, the plan of the Israelites didn’t work and the Philistines won the battle. In doing so, they captured the Ark and killed Hophni and Phinehas.
For information on the Philistines see:
1 Samuel 4:12-18-Eli was 98 years old, blind (:15), and overweight (:18). When he received the report of the battle...he fell backward off of his seat, broke his neck and died. He had judged Israel for 40 years (:18).
1 Samuel 4:19-22-When Phinehas' wife heard the news she went into labor and gave birth. She named the child "Ichabod"...which means, "no glory" because the glory of the LORD had departed from Israel.
1 Samuel 5:1-12-The Philistines send the Ark to Ashdod (one of their 5 major cities), and place it in the house of Dagon, their god…next to a statue of him. That night, the statue of Dagon fell over. They stood him back up. But the next night it fell over again and his head and hands were cut off. But not only that…the Philistines broke out with tumors on their skin (perhaps these were boils). They moved the Ark to Gath...but the people there broke out with tumors. So, they moved it to Ekron...but they also broke out with tumors. Gath and Ekron were also among the 5 major cities.
1 Samuel 6:1-7:2-After 7 months, the Philistines couldn’t take it any more. They went to their priests and asked what to do. They were told to make images of mice and tumors and offer them to the LORD. There are several matters to be considered here. First, why were they instructed to make an image of mice? It has been suggested that there had been a swarm of mice and the Philistines connected their presence with the tumors (could this have been the pneumonic plague?). Second, when Jewish translators translate this passage in 1 Samuel into English…the Hebrew word translated as “tumor” in the NASV, or “emerod” in the KJV, is translated as “hemorrhoid”. Skeptics and critics of the Bible take great delight in pointing this out with an attitude akin to the humor of adolescents making jokes about bodily functions. The simple fact is that the term “hemorrhoid” was used in days past as a description of a swelling on various parts of the body (cf. http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/E/EMERODS/). Third, when the Philistines sent the Ark back they wanted to make certain that it had been the real cause of their problems. So, they placed it on a cart that was pulled by cows that were still nursing calves. Normally, a cow will not leave her calf. Their line of thought was that if the cows left their calves and headed directly to a city of Israel…then it had to be a supernatural act…and, they had been right to send the Ark back. Finally, in 6:19, it says that when the Ark arrived some of the Jews from the town of Beth-shemesh looked into it (this was a sin punishable by death, cf. Numbers 4:5-6,15-20) and 50,070 people died. Most conservative Bible scholars doubt that this number is correct. It was probably an error made by one of the Hebrew scribes who copied the Bible by hand. When the Jews translated the Old Testament into Greek (this is called the LXX), instead of “50,070” they wrote “70”. This was also the way that the Jewish historian Josephus wrote it (cf. Antiquities 6.1.4) (see Ryrie Study Bible, 1 Samuel 6:19 footnote, p. 419).
- 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.
For information on the Philistine god Dagon see:
Prayer: Lord, I know some people who treat You like a lucky charm. They wear a cross around their neck, or have a fish on their car and think that somehow that means that You will bring them good luck. It also seems that they feel that they can turn to You when they need You…but otherwise, You have little place in their life. Lord, don’t ever let me treat You that way. I am Your servant, You are not mine. And You are not just an inanimate talisman, or charm. You are living and personal. Help me to love You in a manner that is in keeping with Your nature and to reverence You in a manner that is appropriate for Your glory.