I did not do my Bible reading/ blog post yesterday… I was off hiking, crawling into crevices, getting rained on, eating pickle flavored chips, enjoying pleasant company, and generally having a way better time than the Bible can provide.
Chapter 4- The Philistines attack the Israelites and kill 3000 men. The Israelites decide to take the ark of the covenant into battle with them so God will protect them, but the Philistines still win. They kill 30,000 men, including the two sons of Eli the priest, and capture the ark. One man steals away from the battle and brings the news to Eli, who is so shocked he keels over dead. The news also sends Eli’s daughter-in-law into labor, which kills her. Her son, Ichabod survives.
I feel badly for little Ichabod. His name means “Inglorious” and he is named such because of the capture of the ark. What a heavy thing to saddle a kid with.
Chapter 5- The Philistines put the ark in the temple of Dagon (one of their idols). The next morning, Dagon is face down in front of the ark. They set him back up, but then next day he has fallen over again and his hands and head have broken off. The ark gets shuffled between 5 different cities, but every city where the Philistines try to store the ark gets plagued with tumors and rats.
The footnotes here say that the “tumors” might have been bubonic plague. For what that’s worth. It only serves to make the next chapter a little more confusing, though.
Chapter 6- The Philistines decide to send the ark back to the Israelites, along with a trespass offering. They make five golden tumors and golden rats, include them with the ark on cart attached to two young milk cows. They separate the calves from the mother cows as a test to see if God was responsible for the bad things that keep happening to them. The cows go to Beth Shemesh (back to the Israelites) instead of toward their calves. The people of Beth Shemesh are happy to have the ark back, and they turn the cart and cows into a burnt offering to God. However, they also looked in the ark, which displeased God, so He killed 50,070 of them. They ask the people of Kirjath Jearim to come get the ark.
So, golden tumors and rats are a thing. That’s weird in and of itself, but then when you consider that “tumors” might mean “bubonic plague”… how do you make a golden bubonic plague? Maybe the swollen lymph nodes that often accompany the plague.
“Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them. Then take the ark of the lord and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go. And watch: if it goes up the road to 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 happened to us by chance.” (7-9)
This confused me. At first I thought that “if it goes up the road to it’s own territory” meant if the cows go home to their calves, but I think it is referring to if the ark returns back to the Israelites. It kinda has to mean that, since the cows went to the Israelites instead of to their calves. Oh Bible and your vague pronouns.
The Philistines killed 33,000 Israelties before stealing the ark. God killed 50,000+ Israelites for looking in the ark. Who’s the bigger bad buy here?
Chapter 7- The men of Kirjath Jearim come and get the ark, and consecrate Eleazar son of Abinadab to be its care taker. Samuel convinces the Israelites to repent and get rid of their false gods. Next time the Philistines attack, God helps the Israelites defeat them. Samuel was judge to the Israelites for for the rest of his life.
Wanna know how the Israelites were able to defeat the Philistines? Verse 10, “But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.” That must have been some serious thunder to be able confuse a whole army.
Chapter 8- When Samuel gets old, he appoints his sons as judges over Israel. They turn out to be dishonest and the people come to Samuel to ask for a king instead. Samuel asks God if he should, and God has him tell the people what bad things a king will do in the land. The people still want a king. God tells Samuel to go ahead and give them a king.
Back in the book of Judges, when things started to get really whack at the end, the excuse the Bible gives for the Israelites egregious behavior is that “in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” But here we are told that a king is a bad idea. I don’t think both of those statements can be true.
I was going to go ahead and do the next section of 1st Samuel, to make up for slacking yesterday. But I think 5 chapters in one day is sufficient, and I’ll survive being a day behind.