Poole on 1 Samuel 6:16-18: The Trespass Offering of the Philistines

Verse 16:[1] And when (Josh. 13:3) the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.



Had seen it: To wit, when they had seen that prodigious return of the ark to its own country, and the entertainment it found there.


[And they returned on that day] That is, as swiftly as possible: for they were troubled by the sight of so unexpected a thing, and were recoiling from the sight of the almighty God; and they were hastening to report to the others (Malvenda [according to his manner] out of Junius). They had been so blinded by their errors, that they, even after they had seen these prodigies, still reverted to their darkness and idolatries. The worst sort of men, knowing the good, but doing evil (Mendoza).


Verse 17:[2] (1 Sam. 6:4) And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one…



[Now, these are the golden anuses] That is, now, these are the treasures and devoted offerings that were displaying the appearance of anuses, which they paid for the expiation of sin (Vatablus).


Verse 18:[3] And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel (or, great stone[4]), whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite.



[According to the number of the cities (similarly all interpreters), מִסְפַּר] The number (Montanus). [See on verse 4.]


[Of the five provinces, from the walled city, etc., לַחֲמֵ֣שֶׁת הַסְּרָנִ֔ים מֵעִ֣יר וגו״] To the five satraps, from the city,[5] etc. (Montanus). Of the five satraps, from the city, etc. (Septuagint). To the five tyrants, etc. (Jonathan). Of the five tyrants of the cities, etc. (Syriac). Even according to the number of the five princes of the principal cities, etc. (Arabic); according to those satrapies (Junius and Tremellius). That is, according to the five satraps, as much of the cities, etc. (Tigurinus). Of the cities of the Philistines; that is, of the five prefectures, which are maintained by the city, etc. (Castalio). Of the cities…pertaining to the five satraps (Vatablus, English). That is, according to the five princes, and from the city, etc. (Munster). For the five satraps, and from the city, etc. (Pagnine).


[From the walled city, unto the village that was without a wall,מֵעִ֣יר מִבְצָ֔ר וְעַ֖ד כֹּ֣פֶר הַפְּרָזִ֑י[6]] From the city fortified, or of fortification, unto the village without a wall (Montanus, Piscator, Castalio). Or, unto the village of the pagan/villager (Piscator). Or of pagans/villagers (Junius); unto the village not fortified (Munster). From cities fortified, even unto cities open (Jonathan). From cities strengthened, even unto the canton of the Perizzite (Septuagint). Both of the cities fortified, and of country distrincts that were not fortified (Tigurinus, English). In the name, both of the walled cities, as of the hamlets of villagers (Junius and Tremellius). Understanding, mice were furnished (Malvenda out of Junius). It is signified that both walled cities and villages contributed something, so that the golden mice might be made (Menochius, similarly Tirinus, Sanchez, Mendoza). For, it was just that, just as the plague had spread unto all, so also the oblation might come from all (Mendoza, similarly Tirinus, Sanchez). This was given first in the name of the principal cities, or satrapies; then in the name of the other cities and villages that were subsumed under them (Malvenda). Some maintain that, besides those five mice, etc., offered for the primary cities, far more were offered, that is, according to the number of villages (thus Cajetan and Isidore in Mendoza). Men of other cities and places, hearing the counsel of the Priests, also wanted themselves to offer golden anuses and mice to the God of Israel; fearing that the oblation of the five principal cities was not going to cover them. Those also, whose habitation was in the border of the region of the Beth-shemites, and who were dwelling near the rock of weeping, took care to offer their own mouse and anus (Munster). But more correctly only five are fixed for the five satrapies, unto which the other cities and country districts were reduced (Malvenda). Only five mice were made, because only five had been ordered (Menochius).


Both of fenced cities, and of country villages: this is added for explication of that foregoing phrase, all the cities; either to show that under the name of the five cities were comprehended all the villages and territories belonging to them, in whose name and at whose charge these presents were made; or to express the difference between this and the former present, the emerods being only five, according to thee five cities mentioned verse 17, because it may seem the cities only, or principally, were pestered with that disease; and the mice being many more, according to the number of all the cities, as is here expressed; the word city being taken generally so, as to include, not only fenced cities, but also the country villages, as is here added, and the fields belonging to them, these being the parts where the mice did most mischief.


Archeological Site

[Even unto Abel the great (thus Montanus), וְעַ֣ד׀ אָבֵ֣ל הַגְּדוֹלָ֗ה] Even unto the great stone (Septuagint, Jonathan, Junius and Tremellius, English in the Margin, similarly Castalio). So that אָבֵל/Abel might be in the place of אָבֶן/aben/stone (Vatablus); with the ל/l turned into a נ/n, since these letters are exchanged. Thus נִשְׁכֶּה/nishkeh/chamber[7] and לִשְׁכָּה/lishkah/chamber[8] (Drusius). Unto the stone, Abel the great (Syriac). Unto the great stone of mourning (Munster, Tigurinus). Unto mourning. For thus the stone was called, by a related name, from the mourning of the people, verse 19[9] (Junius, Piscator, similarly Sanchez, Lapide, Tirinus, Vatablus, Menochius). אָבֶן/aben/stone, אָבֵל/abel/ mourning. Paronomasia[10] (Piscator). Unto the great plain (Pagnine, Cajetan and Kimchi in Lapide). Thus אָבֵל/abel is taken in Judges 7:22[11] (Lapide). Even unto the plain of that great stone; that is, in which was that great stone, upon which they had placed the Ark, as it was called in verse 15; that is, even the neighboring cities of Beth-shemesh, unto that place in which the Ark stood (Vatablus). So that the border of the cities and Villages, and of the Philistine dominion, might be described; which was a plain, or that great field (Malvenda). Jerome and his devoted follower, Rupertus, and Procopius, maintain that Abel here is the city of Beth-shemesh, so called from the subsequent mourning; and is called great, either from the magnitude of the mourning, or to distinguish it from that Abel in 2 Samuel 20:18.[12] If you should object that the Ark was placed upon Abel, it is answered that upon is often the same thing as near (Mendoza). Some maintain that it is an Elliptical expression, even unto that great stone. Supply, they conveyed the Ark (Malvenda).


The great stone of Abel; which is mentioned as the utmost border of the Philistines’ territory to which the plague of mice did extend; the word stone being easily understood out of verse 14, where this great stone is expressly mentioned, as the place on which the ark was set which is also here repeated in the following words. And this place is here called Abel, by anticipation, from the great mourning mentioned in the following verse.


[Upon which they placed the Ark of the Lord, which was unto that day,אֲשֶׁ֙ר הִנִּ֤יחוּ עָלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֵ֚ת אֲר֣וֹן יְהוָ֔ה עַ֚ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה] Upon which they had reposed the Ark of the Lord unto this day (Pagnine, similarly Montanus, Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus). That, unto this day, they refer, either, 1. To the Ark; in this sense, the Ark was in that place, unto that day in which it was carried into the city. In Hebrew it is: unto this day: that is, through the whole day; for after that day it was carried into the city (Mendoza). They think that there is trajection, which they arrange in this way: upon which they depoited the Ark of Jehovah in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite; unto this day, understanding, the memory of the event remains, or endures (Malvenda). 2. Others refer it to the stone, or rock (thus Vatablus, Junius, Castalio, Mariana, English, Dutch). Unto this day, understanding, it, namely, the stone, unto the current day, or unto this time, is visible and seen in that field (Vatablus). Upon which they had placed the Ark of Jehovah; it is unto this day (Junius and Tremellius).

[1] Hebrew: וַחֲמִשָּׁ֥ה סַרְנֵֽי־פְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים רָא֑וּ וַיָּשֻׁ֥בוּ עֶקְר֖וֹן בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ [2] Hebrew: וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ טְחֹרֵ֣י הַזָּהָ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֙ר הֵשִׁ֧יבוּ פְלִשְׁתִּ֛ים אָשָׁ֖ם לַֽיהוָ֑ה לְאַשְׁדּ֙וֹד אֶחָ֜ד לְעַזָּ֤ה אֶחָד֙ לְאַשְׁקְל֣וֹן אֶחָ֔ד לְגַ֥ת אֶחָ֖ד לְעֶקְר֥וֹן אֶחָֽד׃ [3] Hebrew: וְעַכְבְּרֵ֣י הַזָּהָ֗ב מִסְפַּ֞ר כָּל־עָרֵ֤י פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ לַחֲמֵ֣שֶׁת הַסְּרָנִ֔ים מֵעִ֣יר מִבְצָ֔ר וְעַ֖ד כֹּ֣פֶר הַפְּרָזִ֑י וְעַ֣ד׀ אָבֵ֣ל הַגְּדוֹלָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר הִנִּ֤יחוּ עָלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֵ֚ת אֲר֣וֹן יְהוָ֔ה עַ֚ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה בִּשְׂדֵ֥ה יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ בֵּֽית־הַשִּׁמְשִֽׁי׃ [4] Hebrew: אָבֵ֣ל הַגְּדוֹלָ֗ה. [5] A literal rendering. [6]מִבְצָר signifies fortification, related to בָּצַר, to make inaccessible; פְּרָזִי, a hamlet-dweller. [7] For example, Nehemiah 13:7: “And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber (נִשְׁכָּה) in the courts of the house of God.” [8] For example, Nehemiah 10:37: “And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers (אֶל־לִשְׁכוֹת) of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.” [9] 1 Samuel 6:19: “And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented (וַיִּתְאַבְּלוּ), because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.” [10] That is, a play on words. [11] Judges 7:22: “And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath, andto the border of Abel-meholah (אָבֵ֥ל מְחוֹלָ֖ה, dance-meadow), unto Tabbath.” [12] A city in Northern Israel.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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