The ark of Yahweh was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, 'What shall we do with the ark of Yahweh? Show us with which we shall send it to its place.'
They said, 'If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, don't send it empty; but by all means return him a trespass-offering: then you shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.'
Then they said, 'What shall be the trespass-offering which we shall return to him?' They said, 'Five golden tumors, and five golden mice, [according to] the number of the lords of the Philistines; for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
Therefore you shall make images of your tumors, and images of your mice that mar the land; and you shall give glory to the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
Why then do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he had worked wonderfully among them, didn't they let the people go, and they departed?
Now therefore take and prepare yourselves a new cart, and two milk cattle, on which there has come no yoke; and tie the cattle to the cart, and bring their calves home from them;
and take the ark of Yahweh, and lay it on the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which you return him for a trespass-offering, in a coffer by the side of it; and send it away, that it may go.
Behold; if it goes up by the way of its own border 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 was a chance that happened to us.'
The men did so, and took two milk cattle, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home;
and they put the ark of Yahweh on the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors.
The cattle took the straight way by the way to Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and didn't turn aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth-shemesh.
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.
The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they split the wood of the cart, and offered up the cattle for a burnt offering to Yahweh.
The Levites took down the ark of Yahweh, and the coffer that was with it, in which the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to Yahweh.
When the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a trespass-offering to Yahweh: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages, even to the great stone, whereon they set down the ark of Yahweh, [which stone remains] to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.
He struck of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh, he struck of the people fifty thousand seventy men; and the people mourned, because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter.
The men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought back the ark of Yahweh; come you down, and bring it up to you.