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  The Great Bible Story #54
The ark gets captured

Jacob Ninan
The Philistines came to attack again, and they killed about 4000 men of Israel. The elders of Israel wondered why they had been defeated, and they thought that if they took the ark of the covenant which was in Shiloh to the battlefield they could win the battle. (Following a form is not the same as following God!) All the army of Israel shouted loudly when they saw the ark arriving. When the Philistines heard that Israel's God had come to the battle they got scared. But then they thought that they had to fight their best to avoid becoming slaves to Israel. So again Israel got defeated. The Philistines took the ark and the two sons of Eli were among those killed. When Eli heard that news he fell backwards and died. One of his daughters in law who was expecting a child delivered due to shock when she heard her husband was dead, and called her son Ichabod, meaning 'the glory has departed'.

The Philistines took the ark to their place and put it in front of their idol Dagon. The next morning they found that Dagon was lying on its face on the floor before the ark. After they put it up again, the next day the same thing happened. God also gave trouble to the Philistines by giving them tumours on their bodies.

The Philistines decided that they could not keep the ark without getting cursed. They tried moving it to different places, but trouble was following them wherever it went. Finally they decided they would return the ark to Israel. They put it on a cart with two oxen pulling it, and let the oxen decide where they would go to see whether God would lead them back to Israel. They watched in amazement as the oxen went straight towards Israel.

The cart came and stopped in a place called Beth-shemesh where the Levite priests took the ark down. They took the wood of the cart and offered a sacrifice to God. Some people tried to look inside the ark, and the Lord struck them down. Then the people of Beth-shemesh got scared and asked the people of Kiriath-jearim to come and take the ark. The ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for twenty years!

Samuel told the people that if they removed all the foreign gods from among them and returned to God He would deliver them from the Philistines. So they obeyed him and started worshipping only God. Samuel gathered them in Mizpah and offered sacrifices to God. Then the Philistines came and attacked them. But God thundered from the sky and confused them, and Israel was able to rout them.

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