1 Now the ark of the Lord was in the region of the Philistines for seven months.
2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying: “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Reveal to us in what manner we should send it back to its place.” And they said:
3 “If you send back the ark of the God of Israel, do not choose to release it empty. Instead, repay to him what you owe because of sin. And then you will be cured. And you will know why his hand did not withdraw from you.”
4 And they said, “What is it that we ought to repay to him because of transgression?” And they responded:
5 “In accord with the number of the provinces of the Philistines, you shall fashion five gold cysts and five gold mice. For the same plague has been upon all of you and your princes. And you shall fashion a likeness of your cysts and a likeness of the mice, which have destroyed the land. And so shall you give glory to the God of Israel, so that perhaps he may lift off his hand from you, and from your gods, and from your land.
6 Why have you hardened your hearts, just as Egypt and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he was struck, did he not then release them, and they went away?
7 Now therefore, fashion and take a new cart, with two cows that have given birth, but on which no yoke has been imposed. And yoke them to the cart, but retain their calves at home.
8 And you shall take the ark of the Lord, and you shall place it upon the cart, with the articles of gold that you have paid to him on behalf of transgression. You shall place these in a little box at its side. And release it, so that it may go.
9 And you shall watch. And if, indeed, it ascends by the way of his own parts, toward Beth-shemesh, then he has done this great evil to us. But if not, then we shall know that it is by no means his hand that has touched us, but instead it happened by chance.”
10 Therefore, they did it in this way. And taking two cows that were feeding calves, they yoked them to the cart, and they enclosed their calves at home.
11 And they placed the ark of God upon the cart, with the little box that held the gold mice and the likenesses of the cysts.
12 But the cows went directly along the way that leads to Beth-shemesh. And they advanced only in one direction, lowing as they went. And they did not turn aside, neither to the right, nor to the left. Moreover, the princes of the Philistines followed them, as far as the borders of Beth-shemesh.
13 Now the Beth-shemeshites were harvesting wheat in the valley. And lifting up their eyes, they saw the ark, and they were glad when they had seen it.
14 And the cart went into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemeshite, and it stood still there. Now in that place was a great stone, and so they cut up the wood of the cart, and they placed the cows upon it as a holocaust to the Lord.
15 But the Levites took down the ark of God, and the little box that was at its side, in which were the articles of gold, and they placed them upon the great stone. Then the men of Beth-shemesh offered holocausts and immolated victims, on that day, to the Lord.
16 And the five princes of the Philistines saw, and they returned to Ekron on the same day.
17 Now these are the gold cysts, which the Philistines repaid to the Lord for transgression: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one.
18 And there were gold mice, according to the number of the cities of the Philistines, of the five provinces, from the fortified city to the village that was without a wall, and even to the great stone upon which they placed the ark of the Lord, which was, at last in that day, in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemeshite.
19 Then he struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had seen the ark of the Lord. And he struck down some of the people: seventy men, and fifty thousand of the common people. And the people lamented, because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter.
20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said: “Who will be able to stand in the sight of the Lord, this holy God? And who will ascend to him from us?”
21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying: “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Descend and lead it back to you.”