I Samuel 5
A Philistine Soldier's Journal
Our god, Dagon, fell to the ground right in front of the Israelite's Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and smashed to a million pieces.
If that wasn't enough, the people from our city became sick, really sick, so sick many died. And not just the people from our city, but from whole territory around us! We couldn't figure out what caused the problem.
I'm thinking we shouldn't have taken the Israelites ark and maybe their God is punishing us. No matter what medicines we gave to the sick people, they didn't get better.
The lords from our city must have thought the same thing, too. After a couple of days they met together and asked, "What should we do with the ark of the God of Israel? It's making our people sick and many are dieing."
They decided to send the ark southeast about ten miles to the Philistine city, Gath. I was chosen to help carry the ark. We set it up in the city where the priest said then left.
Good, no more problems for us.
A few days later a messenger came to our captain and reported the men from Gath had been struck with a great illness. Everyone, young and old, rich or poor became sick. No one escaped the plague. The captain called me to his office. "That ark of the God of Israel is causing more problems than the people of Israel. Go to Gath, get the Israelite ark of God, and take it to Ekron.
The people of Gath cheered when we carried the ark of God away. We marched north only a few miles to Ekron. Citizens from Ekron formed a line and stood in our way shouting, "No! You have brought the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people! We won't let you in."
They wouldn't let us in the city at all. The other soldiers and I had to stand outside the city gate with the ark of God until a decision could be made. While we stood there, doing absolutely nothing, bored...bored...bored, the people of Ekron sent for all the Philistine lords.
Even with the ark not inside the city, some men died, others became deathly sick.
A few days later the lords arrived. The people of Ekron raised their fists and shouted, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel. Let it go back to its own place and its own people so it does not kill us." .
Our army had stolen the ark of the God of Israel about seven months ago. It caused us nothing but trouble. If the lords asked me, I'd say get rid of it.
The lords met and talked about what should be done with the ark. One suggested we send it back to the Israelites.
Another lord said, "If you send it away, don't send it empty. Return it with a sin offering. Then you will be healed."
Another said, "What should we send for an offering to their God?"
The lords decided five golden tumors and five golden rats. Five because there were five Philistine lords. Golden rats and tumors because that was the plague sent. "If we give glory to the God of Israel instead of ignoring Him like the Egyptians did, perhaps He will not punish us with many plagues like He did to them."
We made a new cart, hitched two milk cows who had never worn a yolk before, and took their calves away from them. Last, we set the ark on the cart along with the golden offerings.
To make sure the sickness came from the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, the lords thought of this test: if the cows returned the cart to the Israelite city by themselves instead of leaving the road to search for their calves then the Israelite Lord punished us. If the cows turn back to search for their calves or refuse to move then the sickness came for a different reason.
We followed all the instructions the lords gave. Yolk milking cows, take calves away, put ark on cart with offereings and watch. I couldn't believe my eyes. The cows went straight for the road to Beth Shemesh and kept walking along the highway crying with each step until they reached the Israeliteas city.
I sneaked behind the cart the whole way. It really went there!
1. What happened to the people of the Ashdod?
2. What did they do with the Ark of the Covenent?
3. What happened to the people of Gath?
4. What did they do with the Ark of the Covenant?
5. What did the people of Ekron do when they saw the Ark of the Covenant?
6. What did the Philistine Lords say?
7. What was the test and what was the result?
Photo is of the city of Ashdod. Courtesy of Visualbiblealive.com