THE ARK AMONG THE PHILISTINES 83
the rulers of the Philistines and asked, "What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?" They answered, "Let it be carried around to Gath."
So they carried the ark of the God of Israel around to Gath. Then Jehovah punished the men of that city, both young and old, with boils. Therefore they sent the ark of the God of Israel to Ekron; but when it came to Ekron, the Ekronites cried out, "They have brought around the ark of the god of Israel to kill us and our people!" They sent, therefore, and gathered all the rulers of the Philistines and said, "Send the ark of the god of Israel back to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people!"
Then the Philistines called the priests and diviners and asked, "What shall we do with the ark of Jehovah? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place." They said, "If you send back the ark of the god of Israel, you must not send it away empty, but must return to him an offering to repay him for all that you have done to the ark. Then you shall be healed, and you shall know why he has continued to punish you." They said, "What offering shall we send back in order to repay him?"
They said, "Five golden boils and five golden mice, the same number as the rulers of the Philistines; for one plague was upon you as well as upon your rulers. Now therefore prepare a new cart and two milch cows that have never worn a yoke, and fasten the cows to the cart, but leave their calves behind them at home. Then take the ark of Jehovah and place it upon the cart and put in a box at its side the golden objects which you are sending to them as an offering to repay him. Then send it away. If it goes on the way to its own border, to Bethshemesh, then it is Jehovah who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not he who has punished us; it was only an accident."
The men did so, and the cows took a straight course along the Bethshemesh road. They went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right nor to the left. The rulers of the Philistines also went after them as far as Bethshemesh.
The inhabitants of Bethshemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. When the ark came into the field of Joshua, the Bethshemeshite, it stood still there. And a great stone was