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Poole on 1 Samuel 6:1, 2: Consultation with Diviners

[circa 1140 BC] Verse 1:[1] And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.

[The Ark was in the region of the Philistines, בִּשְׂדֵה] Ἐν ἀγρῷ τῶν ἀλλοφύλων, in the field of the foreigners (Septuagint). This is peculiar to those interpreters, that they called the Philistines foreigners, the name of a genus restricted to a certain species (Drusius). In the field (Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus). Since no city would dare to receive the Ark, they left it outside under the heavens (Theodoret and Procopius in Mendoza). But Jonathan has, in the cities. Jerome more correctly has it, in the region. Field and region explain each other. Field is put for region in Genesis 32:3;[2] 36:35;[3] Psalm 78:12.[4] Thus Plautus in “Epidicus”, in the Attic field; that is, in the whole land. Thus ager Romanus, the Roman field, includes all things are contained in that territory (Drusius). In the region (Vatablus).

[Seven months] The stupefaction here is remarkable, that they would hesitate for so long a time, persevering in their own counsel; and would wish to keep up their insanity in the burial of so many men (Sanchez on verse 3).

Seven months: So long they kept it, as loth to lose so great a prize, and willing to try all ways to keep it, and yet free themselves from the mischiefs accompanying its presence.

Verse 2:[5] And the Philistines (Gen. 41:8; Ex. 7:11; Dan. 2:2; 5:7; Matt. 2:4) called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.

[They called the Priests and the diviners] Because they were judging this question to pertain to the Sacerdotal, or augural, science, in which question there was some hesitation over a sacred matter (Menochius out of Sanchez). Among all Nations, concerning Priests the opinion both of holiness and of wisdom was great (Mendoza). The Gentiles, and especially the Philistines, had their own diviners, whom they were consulting in difficulties. Hence Procopius on Isaiah 2:6. To the Egyptians belong incantation and magic; as astrology does to the Chaldeans; and divination to the Foreigners [that is, to the Philistines, as it was said on verse 1]; and augury to the Cretians (Drusius). Those that learned sacred rites and ceremonies they call Priests; and those that foreknew and prognosticated future outcomes of affairs, diviners, and, if anything adverse should threaten, they are are thought to be able to avert that (Sanchez).

The diviners; whose art was in great esteem with heathen nations, and especially with the Philistines and their neighbours the Canaanites and Egyptians.

[How we should remit, בַּמֶּ֖ה נְשַׁלְּחֶ֥נּוּ] In what we should remit it; that is, by what method, or in what manner, we ought to remit it (Vatablus).

Wherewith; in what manner, and with what gifts; for to send it they had decreed before, 1 Samuel 5:11.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֧י אֲרוֹן־יְהוָ֛ה בִּשְׂדֵ֥ה פְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים שִׁבְעָ֥ה חֳדָשִֽׁים׃ [2] Genesis 32:3: “And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom (שְׂדֵ֥ה אֱדֽוֹם׃; in regionem Edom, in the Vulgate).” [3] Genesis 36:35: “And Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who smote Midian in the field of Moab (בִּשְׂדֵ֣ה מוֹאָ֔ב; in regione Moab, in the Vulgate), reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Avith.” [4] Psalm 78:12: “Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan (שְׂדֵה־צֹעַן; in campo Taneos, in the Vulgate).” [5] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרְא֣וּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֗ים לַכֹּהֲנִ֤ים וְלַקֹּֽסְמִים֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר מַֽה־נַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה לַאֲר֣וֹן יְהוָ֑ה הוֹדִעֻ֕נוּ בַּמֶּ֖ה נְשַׁלְּחֶ֥נּוּ לִמְקוֹמֽוֹ׃

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