What does 1 Samuel 6:7 mean?
ESV: Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them.
NIV: "Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up.
NASB: Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never been a yoke; and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves back home, away from them.
CSB: "Now then, prepare one new cart and two milk cows that have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up.
NLT: Now build a new cart, and find two cows that have just given birth to calves. Make sure the cows have never been yoked to a cart. Hitch the cows to the cart, but shut their calves away from them in a pen.
KJV: Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
NKJV: Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them.
Verse Commentary:
It seems certain that most Philistines understood the plague was sent by the Lord God of Israel, because they held His ark captive in their territory (1 Samuel 5:6–12; 6:2). However, others wondered if it was all a coincidence (1 Samuel 6:9). Would they have experienced all the same suffering even without the ark of the Lord in their land?

The priests and diviners produced a test to find out which was true. The first step was to build a new cart to carry the ark. This was done out of respect for the ark of the Lord. They likely did the same when transporting idols of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:2–5).

The real test, though, involved selecting two milk cows that had never been harnessed to pull the cart. The calves belonging to the cows were to be left at a home, something the cows would not like. Normally, without any human direction or experience of being yoked to a cart, the milk cows would be expected to head for home to take care of their calves. If, instead, they headed for the border with Israel, the priests would take it as evidence that the plague had truly come from the Lord (1 Samuel 6:9).
Verse Context:
First Samuel 6:1–18 describes the Philistine plan to send the ark of the Lord back to Israel. They hope to stop the plague and panic with which God d afflicted them (1 Samuel 5). At the advice of their priests and diviners, the Philistines place the ark and a guilt offering of five golden mice and five golden tumors on a new cart pulled by two milk cows. The cows head straight for the Israelite town of Beth-shemesh. There, the rejoicing people offer the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites living in the town place the ark and the golden images on a large rock. The lords of the Philistines see the sacrifice and return to Ekron.
Chapter Summary:
The Philistine religious leaders advise the five lords of the Philistines to send the ark of the Lord back to Israel with a guilt offering to stop the plague of tumors ravishing their land (1 Samuel 5:6–12). The Philistines place the ark along with five golden mice (or five golden tumors and five golden mice) on a new cart hitched to two untrained milk cows whose calves are shut up at home. The cows head straight for the Israelite border town of Beth-shemesh. There, the people rejoice and offer the cows before the ark as a burnt offering to the Lord. The Lord kills seventy men of the town because the people looked at the ark. Frightened, the people send to Kiriath-jearim and ask them to take the ark.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 6 finds most of the Philistines convinced that the plague and panic (1 Samuel 5:6–12) are from the Lord. They place the ark of the Lord and a guilt offering of golden mice on a cart pulled by two milk cows. The cows pull the ark straight to the Israelite town of Beth-shemesh, where the rejoicing people offer the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord before the ark. The Lord kills seventy men of the town for looking at (or in) the ark. The people of Beth-shemesh send word to those in another town to take the ark away.
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
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