1 The ark of Yahweh was in the coun- try of the Philistines for seven months. 2 The Philistines called their priests and diviners and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of Yah weh? Tell us how we shall send it back to its place.” 3 The priests and diviners answered, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it away empty. Instead, provide him with a guilt offering. Then you may be healed and you will know why God dealt with you so severely.” 4 The chiefs then asked, “What guilt offering shall we provide him with?” The priests and diviners answered, “Make five golden figures of hemorrhoids and five golden figures of mice corresponding to the number of Philistine cities, for the same plague was on all of you and on your chiefs. 5 So you must make images of your hemorrhoids and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will remove his hand from you, your gods and your land. 6 But do not harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did. After Yahweh had afflicted them, did they not have to let the people go?
7 Now, then, prepare a new cart and take two milking cows which have never carried a yoke. Yoke the cows to the cart but take their calves away from them. 8 Then, take the ark of Yahweh and place it on the cart. Put in a box beside it the golden figures which you are giving him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way. 9 Then, watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, through Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm. If not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us, that all these things happened to us by chance.”
10 The people carried out these in struc tions. They took two milking cows and yoked them to the cart and shut their calves in their shed. 11 They then put the ark of Yahweh on the cart, along with the box with the golden mice and the images of their hemorrhoids. 12 The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along the way; they went mooing and they turned neither to the right nor to the left. Meanwhile, the chiefs of the Philistine cities followed them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.
13 The people of Beth-shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley when they saw the ark drawing near, and they rejoiced greatly. 14 The cart arrived in Beth-shemesh in Joshua’s field and stopped there. A big stone lay nearby, so the people split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows over the stone as a burnt of fering to the Lord. 15 Meanwhile, the Levites took down the ark of Yahweh and the box con taining the golden figures, and they set these up on the big stone.
15 That day the people of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrifices to Yahweh. The five chiefs of the Philistine cities, however, 16 upon seeing what happened, immediately returned to Ekron.
17 These are the Philistine cities which gave golden figures of hemorrhoids as a guilt offering to Yahweh: Ashdod, Gaza, Ashke lon, Gath and Akron. 18 Similarly, there were golden figures of mice corresponding in number to all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five leaders, counting fortified cities and unwalled villages. The big stone beside which the people set down the ark of Yahweh in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh, is a witness to this day.
19 Yahweh caused the death of seventy men of Beth-shemesh who had looked at the ark of Yahweh. On seeing this, the people mourned greatly. 20 The people of Beth-shemesh then said, “Who can stand before Yahweh, this holy God? And where can we send the ark away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim with this word, “The Phi listines have returned the ark of Yahweh. Come down and take it up with you.”