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down off his seat and broke his neck, and died. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and had judged Israel forty years.
So died Eli's sons for their wickedness, and so died Eli, because he had not been earnest enough in rebuking his wicked children.
Nor hare we yet heard the whole of this sorrowful tale, for the wife of Phinehas was ill at the time, and on hearing of his death and of the taking of the ark, she died also, leaving a son, whom in memory of these painful events she called Ichabod, which means The glory is departed, for “she said, The glory is departed from Israel ; for the ark of God is taken."
The Philistines now foolishly thought that they had got the God of the Israelites, and they carried the ark in triumph to Ashdod, one of their five cities, and there they put it in the temple of their idol Dagon, either to worship it themselves, or rather as a trophy of victory. The next morning they found that Dagon had fallen on his face before the ark, and they set their idol up again. And the next morning after that, they found that he had fallen again, and was so broken that only his stump remained.
The Philic departed from Israel - Ons The glory is departo
DAGON. This idol of the Philistines was made like one of our fanciful pictures called a mermaid ; the upper part being a human shape to the middle, and the lower like a fish: as Horace, a Roman poet, describes it, “ a handsome woman with a fish's tail.”
The Philistines would now have done wisely to return the ark, or worship the God of Israel, whose presence was often with it, or who chose to show his power where it was; but they were blind idolaters, and they were punished for hurting Israel, though Israel deserved punishment from God. Having therefore done that work, they are now punished for their own crimes in slaying the favoured nation, and God sent a disease among them, and destroyed great numbers. Then they sent the ark away to Gath, another of their cities, supposing, perhaps, they should be more lucky there, but there the people died in the same way; and, last of all, they sent it to Ekron; but the people were greatly afraid of it, and they had reason to be so, for there they were smitten like the others, and their cry “ went up to heaven;" that is, it was very loud and piteous, and, as we say, rent the air.
After this the Philistines kept the ark no more in their cities, but sent it into the fields, and there God punished them, for there is no escaping from his judgments when he visits the wicked. He caused mice to spring up in great multitudes, and destroy their corn.
So at the end of seven months the Philistines asked their priests and conjurors what they should do with the ark. And they advised that it should be sent away. And as they knew that the God of Israel accepted of trespass-offerings from his people, they thought that one should now be given to him—though they mistook its nature, for without shedding of blood there was no remission of sin; the death of the creatures slain, showing the death of Christ, who was to come and atone for sin. They resolved that this trespass-offering should be in a shape which should acknowledge God's hand in their sufferings, and as they had been smitten with a disease called emerods, they would have five golden emerods made like the shape of a spot marked by the disease, and five would be one for each of their cities; and then as God had sent what was clearly a miraculous number of mice to plague them, they would send of these as many golden ones as they had cities and villages. Then they would take two milch-kine, or cows that gave milk, and tie the kine to a new cart, and bring the calves home from them; and putting the ark in the cart, with the golden mice and emerods in a coffer or chest by its side, they would let the kine go their way without a driver.
Now in doing this they thought wisely. For they reasoned that if the cows did not go home to their calves, as they are always exceedingly fond of them,-why then they should be sure that something wonderful was about the ark, and that God did all that they suffered ; but, if they did go home, then it was all mere chance,—though this last idea was very foolish, because they had seen enough to convince any but the most obstinate that there was no mere chance in what had come upon them.
Well, though the cows had never been trained for the yoke,--and had no driver,--and were left to go their own way,--and had lost their calves, and
went on lowing for them,-instead of turning where they were gone, they took the straight way to Beth-shemesh, the next city in the land of Israel, and though it was eight or ten miles off, they never stopped, and the lords of the Philistines, who watched their motions, saw them cross the border of Bethshemesh : “And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley : and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone : and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt-offering unto the Lord;" for having carried the sacred ark, they could no more be used for common purposes.
The Philistines saw all this done, and returned. And now a dreadful punishment befel the men of Beth-shemesh. They did not treat the ark with that reverence which God ordered it to have, as the sign that he was among the people, and he visited them with severe punishment ; for “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.” Well might the men of Beth-shemesh say, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God ?”
The men of Beth-shemesh left the ark on a stone in an open field; and the men of Kirjath-jearim fetched it away, and took it to the house of Abinadab, and sanctified or set apart Eleazar his son to keep it, so that it might not be seized by the Philistines, nor looked into again by curious Israelites. Here the ark remained till it was fetched away many years afterwards by king David.
No wonder that the ark of God was taken away, and that it was not restored for the use of the people at Shiloh. For with that foolish inclination to idolatry which the wicked nations had around, they had now among them worshippers of idols called Baalim and Ashtaroth. And Samuel told them to put away these idols, and then, and not till then, would God deliver them from the Philistines. So they put them away, and met Samuel at a place called Mizpeh, to worship the Lord.
As soon as the Philistines heard of this, they gathered their troops together, and marched against Israel, and Israel were afraid, and entreated Samuel to pray for them. And Samuel offered a lamb for a burnt-offering, here was a reference, my dear reader, to the only Lamb that could take away sin, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whom it shadowed forth; and on account of this sacrifice the Lord heard Samuel.
And now, even while the sacrifice was offering up, the Philistines approached, but just as they probably thought they should slay all their victims, “the Lord thundered with a great thunder,"—and they fed in affright, and were smitten before Israel. Josephus, a Jewish writer, says, that the earth quaked under them, when first they made their onset, and in many places opened and swallowed them up; and that, besides the terror of the thunder, their faces and hands were burnt with lightning, which obliged them to shift for themselves by flight.
To keep up the remembrance of this wonderful deliverance, in which God had so plainly fought for Israel, “Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it, Ebenezer, which means—the stone of help, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
This victory kept the Philistines out of the coast of Israel all the days of Samuel, and the cities which had been taken from Israel were now restored to them.
Saul chosen to be the First King of Israel.
I SAMUEL VIII.-.. Samuel had two sons whom he made judges, because he began to grow old and unfit for all the cares of his office. But these sons, like those of Eli, turned out bad ; they“ turned aside after filthy lucre,” that is, gain,—they took bribes, and perverted judgment, giving their opinions, in cases of dispute, in favour of those who would pay them best, and not according to right. It was not Samuel's fault, as it was Eli's, that he did not properly notice their conduct, for he was ready to hear any public complaint against them. .
However, the people made the conduct of Samuel's sons an excuse to ask for a king, which they had never had. God designed that they should have one after his own heart, when Samuel should die, but they would not wait till then, and must have one instantly, and so be like the heathen nations around them.
This behaviour displeased Samuel, and he prayed to God for wisdom to direct him what to do. And God told Samuel that they should have a king, but they should feel for their rash choice. Till this time he had been their king, and had appointed them governors who had made them pay no tribute, nor had vexed them by any tyranny; but now, as they had rejected him by rejecting his servant Samuel, and wanted a king, “like all the nations," they should know what sort of kings theirs were. Not such as govern the people of England, who are a free people, but such as still govern in the
Eastern parts of the world, who keep all their subjects under them as so many slaves; what we call absolute monarchs, governed by no law or parliament gathered from the people, but doing everything according to their own pleasure.
Samuel told the people all this, but they would not mind what he said, and so God said to him, “ Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king."
Now there was a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who was rich and mighty, and he had a son, who was a very handsome young man, and so tall that he was a head and shoulders above the height of men in general. The ancient nations usually chose such men for kings; and this man was suited to the taste of Israel, who seemed more disposed to look for a great man than a good man, to rule over them.
Saul's father, whose name was Kish, being “a mighty man of power," had, it appears, some of the asses of the East, so beautiful and valuable, and which formed a portion of the wealth of Job and other rich men.
By some means these creatures went astray, “ And Kish said to Saul, his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses." It was quite agreeable to the simplicity of those times, for persons of equal or greater substance to be employed in such an affair ; asses were ridden upon by persons of quality, and were fed and taken care of by the sons of dukes and princes.
Though Saul was now a man, and had children grown up, yet he obeyed his father's orders; and so he set an example worthy of imitation, for parents are always to be respected.
He travelled through various places, which, it is supposed, took about three days' journey; but he could hear no news of the asses.
Not being able to find them in this time, he determined to return with the servant to his father, thinking of his father's tender concern for him ; supposing “ that if they stayed out any longer, the old gentleman would begin to fear, as Jacob concerning Joseph, that an evil beast had devoured them, or some other mischief had befallen them.”
Saul's servant, however, recollected that they were now near Ramah, the place where Samuel lived, and so he proposed to go and see this “man of God," and as he was a prophet, perhaps he would be able to tell where the beasts were to be found.
But according to long-established custom, which still continues in the East, great persons were not to be approached by strangers without a present; and as all their provision was gone, what could they present ? However,