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1 Samuel 6:19 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And he smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, he smote of the people seventy men, [and] fifty thousand men; and the people mourned, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And 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 seventy men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And he smote among the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, and smote of the people seventy men; and the people lamented, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And, when he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked into the ark of Yahweh, yea smote of the people seventy men [and] fifty thousand men, the people mourned, for that Yahweh had smitten the people with a great smiting.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And He smiteth among the men of Beth-Shemesh, for they looked into the ark of Jehovah, yea, He smiteth among the people seventy men—fifty chief men; and the people mourn, because Jehovah smote among the people—a great smiting.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— But he slew of the men of Bethsames, because they had seen the ark of the Lord, and he slew of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand of the common people. And the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten the people with a great slaughter.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the Arke of the LORD, euen he smote of the people fiftie thousand, and threescore and tenne men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And the sons of Jeconiah{gr.Jechonias} were not pleased with the men of Bethshemesh{gr.Baethsamys}, because they saw the ark of the Lord; and [the Lord] smote among them seventy men, and fifty thousand men: and the people mourned, because the Lord had inflicted on the people, a very great plague.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— And he smote the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because Yahweh had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And he smote 5221
{5221} Prime
נָכָה
nakah
{naw-kaw'}
A primitive root; to strike (lightly or severely, literally or figuratively).
z8686
<8686> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 4046
the men 376
{0376} Prime
אִישׁ
'iysh
{eesh}
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
of B eme בֵּית־שֶׁמֶשׁ, 1053
{1053} Prime
בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ
Beyth Shemesh
{bayth sheh'-mesh}
From H1004 and H8121; house of (the) sun; Beth-Shemesh, a place in Palestine.
because x3588
(3588) Complement
כִּי
kiy
{kee}
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
they had looked 7200
{7200} Prime
רָאָה
ra'ah
{raw-aw'}
A primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitively, intransitively and causatively).
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
into the ark 727
{0727} Prime
אֲרוֹן
'arown
{aw-rone'}
From H0717 (in the sense of gathering); a box.
of Yhw יָהוֶה, 3068
{3068} Prime
יְהֹוָה
Y@hovah
{yeh-ho-vaw'}
From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.
even he smote 5221
{5221} Prime
נָכָה
nakah
{naw-kaw'}
A primitive root; to strike (lightly or severely, literally or figuratively).
z8686
<8686> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 4046
of the people 5971
{5971} Prime
עַם
`am
{am}
From H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock.
fifty 2572
{2572} Prime
חֲמִשִּׁים
chamishshiym
{kham-ish-sheem'}
Multiple of H2568; fifty.
thousand 505
{0505} Prime
אֶלֶף
'eleph
{eh'-lef}
Properly the same as H0504; hence (an ox's head being the first letter of the alphabet, and this eventually used as a numeral) a thousand.
and threescore and ten 7657
{7657} Prime
שִׁבְעִים
shib`iym
{shib-eem'}
Multiple of H7651; seventy.
men: y582
[0582] Standard
אֱנוֹשׁ
'enowsh
{en-oshe'}
From H0605; properly a mortal (and thus differeing from the more dignified H0120); hence a man in general (singly or collectively). It is often unexpressed in the English Version, especially when used in apposition with another word.
x376
(0376) Complement
אִישׁ
'iysh
{eesh}
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
and the people 5971
{5971} Prime
עַם
`am
{am}
From H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock.
lamented, 56
{0056} Prime
אָבַל
'abal
{aw-bal'}
A primitive root; to bewail.
z8691
<8691> Grammar
Stem - Hithpael (See H8819)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 533
because x3588
(3588) Complement
כִּי
kiy
{kee}
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
Yhw יָהוֶה 3068
{3068} Prime
יְהֹוָה
Y@hovah
{yeh-ho-vaw'}
From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.
had smitten 5221
{5221} Prime
נָכָה
nakah
{naw-kaw'}
A primitive root; to strike (lightly or severely, literally or figuratively).
z8689
<8689> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 2675
[many] of the people 5971
{5971} Prime
עַם
`am
{am}
From H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock.
with a great 1419
{1419} Prime
גָּדוֹל
gadowl
{gaw-dole'}
From H1431; great (in any sense); hence older; also insolent.
slaughter. 4347
{4347} Prime
מַכָּה
makkah
{mak-kaw'}
(Plural only) from H5221; a blow (in 2 Chronicles 2:10, of the flail); by implication a wound; figuratively carnage, also pestilence.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

1 Samuel 6:19

_ _ he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark — In the ecstasy of delight at seeing the return of the ark, the Beth-shemesh reapers pried into it beneath the wagon cover; and instead of covering it up again, as a sacred utensil, they let it remain exposed to common inspection, wishing it to be seen, in order that all might enjoy the triumph of seeing the votive offerings presented to it, and gratify curiosity with the sight of the sacred shrine. This was the offense of those Israelites (Levites, as well as common people), who had treated the ark with less reverence than the Philistines themselves.

_ _ he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men — Beth-shemesh being only a village, this translation must be erroneous, and should be, “he smote fifty out of a thousand,” being only fourteen hundred in all who indulged this curiosity. God, instead of decimating, according to an ancient usage, slew only a twentieth part; that is, according to Josephus, seventy out of fourteen hundred (see Numbers 4:18-22).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 Samuel 6:19-21

_ _ Here is, 1. The sin of the men of Beth-shemesh: They looked into the ark of the Lord, 1 Samuel 6:19. Every Israelite had heard great talk of the ark, and had been possessed with a profound veneration for it; but they had been told that it was lodged within a veil, and even the high priest himself might not look upon it but once a year, and then through a cloud of incense. Perhaps this made many say (as we are apt to covet that which is forbidden) what a great deal they would give for a sight of it. Some of these Beth-shemites, we may suppose, for that reason, rejoiced to see the ark (1 Samuel 6:13) more than for the sake of the public. Yet this did not content them; they might see it, but they would go further, they would take off the covering, which it is likely was nailed or screwed on, and look into it, under pretence of seeing whether the Philistines had not taken the two tables out of it or some way damaged them, but really to gratify a sinful curiosity of their own, which intruded into those things that God had thought fit to conceal from them. Note, It is a great affront to God for vain men to pry into and meddle with the secret things which belong not to them, Deuteronomy 29:29; Colossians 2:18. We were all ruined by an ambition of forbidden knowledge. That which made this looking into the ark a great sin was that it proceeded from a very low and mean opinion of the ark. The familiarity they had with it upon this occasion bred contempt and irreverence. Perhaps they presumed upon their being priests; but the dignity of the ministerial office will be so far from excusing that it will aggravate a careless and irreverent treatment of holy things. They should, by their example, have taught others to keep their distance and look upon the ark with a holy awe. Perhaps they presumed upon the kind entertainment they had given the ark, and the sacrifices they had now offered to welcome it home with, for which they thought the ark was indebted to them, and they might be allowed to repay themselves with the satisfaction of looking into it. But let no man think that his service done for God will justify him in any instance of disrespect or irreverence towards the things of God. Or it may be they presumed upon the present mean circumstances the ark was in, newly come out of captivity, and unsettled; now that it stood upon a cold stone, they thought they might make free with it; they should never have such another opportunity of being familiar with it. It is an offence to God if we think meanly of his ordinances because of the meanness of the manner of their administration. Had they looked with an understanding eye upon the ark, and not judged purely by outward appearance, they would have thought that the ark never shone with greater majesty than it did not. It had triumphed over the Philistines, and come out of its house of bondage (like Christ out of the grave) by its own power; had they considered this, they would not have looked into it thus, as a common chest. 2. Their punishment for this sin: He smote the men of Beth-shemesh, many of them, with a great slaughter. How jealous is God for the honour of his ark! He will not suffer it to be profaned. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Those that will not fear his goodness, and reverently use the tokens of his grace, shall be made to feel his justice, and sink under the tokens of his displeasure. Those that pry into what is forbidden, and come too near to holy fire, will find it is at their peril. He smote 50,070 men. This account of the numbers smitten is expressed in a very unusual manner in the original, which, besides the improbability that there should be so many guilty and so many slain, occasions many learned men to question whether we take the matter aright. In the original it is, He smote in (or among) the people three score and ten men, fifty thousand men. The Syriac and Arabic read it, five thousand and seventy men. The Chaldee reads it, seventy men of the elders, and fifty thousand of the common people. Seventy men as valuable as 50,000, so some, because they were priests. Some think the seventy men were the Beth-shemites that were slain for looking into the ark, and the 50,000 were those that were slain by the ark, in the land of the Philistines. He smote seventy men, that is, fifty out of a thousand, which was one in twenty, a half decimation; so some understand it. The Septuagint read it much as we do, he smote seventy men, and fifty thousand men. Josephus says only seventy were smitten. 3. The terror that was struck upon the men of Beth-shemesh by this severe stroke. They said, as well they might, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? 1 Samuel 6:20. Some think this expresses their murmuring against God, as if he had dealt hardly and unjustly with them. Instead of quarrelling with themselves and their own sins, they quarrelled with God and his judgments; as David was displeased, in a case not much dissimilar, 2 Samuel 6:8, 2 Samuel 6:9. I rather think it intimates their awful and reverent adoration of God, as the Lord God, as a holy Lord God, and as a God before whom none is able to stand. This they infer from that tremendous judgment, “Who is able to stand before the God of the ark?” To stand before God to worship him (blessed be his name) is not impossible; we are through Christ invited, encouraged, and enabled to do it, but to stand before God to contend with him we are not able. Who is able to stand before the throne of his immediate glory, and look full upon it? 1 Timothy 6:16. Who is able to stand before the tribunal of his enflexible justice, and make his part good there? Psalms 130:3; Psalms 143:2. Who is able to stand before the arm of his provoked power, and either resist or bear the strokes of it? Psalms 76:7. 4. Their desire, hereupon, to be rid of the ark. They asked, To whom shall he go up from us? 1 Samuel 6:20. They should rather have asked, “How may we make our peace with him, and recover his favour?” Micah 6:6, Micah 6:7. But they begin to be as weary of the ark as the Philistines had been, whereas, if they had treated it with due reverence, who knows but it might have taken up its residence among them, and they had all been blessed for the ark's sake? But thus, when the word of God works with terror on sinners' consciences, they, instead of taking the blame and shame to themselves, quarrel with the word, and put it from them, Jeremiah 6:10. They sent messengers to the elders of Kirjath-jearim, a strong city further up in the country, and begged of them to come and fetch the ark up thither, 1 Samuel 6:21. They durst not touch it to bring it thither themselves, but stood aloof from it as a dangerous thing. Thus do foolish men run from one extreme to the other, from presumptuous boldness to slavish shyness. Kirjath-jearim, that is, the city of woods, belonged to Judah, Joshua 15:9, Joshua 15:60. It lay in the way from Beth-shemesh to Shiloh, so that when they sent to them to fetch it, we may suppose, they intended that the elders of Shiloh should fetch it thence, but God intended otherwise. Thus was it sent from town to town, and no care taken of it by the public, a sign that there was no king in Israel.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 Samuel 6:19

Had looked — Having now an opportunity which they never yet had, it is not strange they had a vehement curiosity to see the contents of the ark. Of the people — In and near Beth — shemesh and coming from all parts on this occasion.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

1 Samuel 6:19

And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they (k) had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter.

(k) For it was not lawful for anyone either to touch or to see it, only to Aaron and his sons (Numbers 4:15, Numbers 4:20).

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
he smote:

Exodus 19:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.
Leviticus 10:1-3 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. ... Then Moses said unto Aaron, This [is it] that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
Numbers 4:4-5 This [shall be] the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, [about] the most holy things: ... And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
Numbers 4:15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear [it]: but they shall not touch [any] holy thing, lest they die. These [things are] the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
Numbers 4:20 But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret [things belong] unto the LORD our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law.
2 Samuel 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for [his] error; and there he died by the ark of God.
1 Chronicles 13:9-10 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. ... And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.
Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
1 Peter 4:17 For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?

fifty thousand:
As it is very improbable that the village of Beth-shemesh should contain, or be capable of employing, 50,070 men in the fields at wheat harvest, much less that they could all peep into the ark, and from the uncommon manner in which it is expressed in the original, it is generally allowed that there is some corruption in the text, or that some explanatory word is omitted. The Hebrew is shivim ish, chamishim aileph ish, literally, "seventy men, fifty thousand men." So LXX εβδομηκοντα ανδρας και πεντηκοντα χιλιαδας ανδρων. Vulgate, septuaginta viros, et quinquaginta millia plebis. "70 (chief) men, and 50,000 common people." Targum, besabey amma, "of the elders of the people 70 men, ovekahala, and in the congregation 50,000 men." But the Syriac, chamsho alphin weshivin gavrin, "5,000 and 70 men;" with which the Arabic agrees; while Josephus has only εβδομηκοντα, seventy men; and three reputable manuscripts of Dr. Kennicott's also omit "50,000 men." Some learned men, however, would render, by supplying מ, mem, "70 men; fifty out of a thousand;" which supposes about 1,400 present, and that a twentieth part were slain.
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Ex 19:21. Lv 10:1. Nu 4:4, 15, 20. Dt 29:29. 2S 6:7. 1Ch 13:9. Col 2:18. 1P 4:17.

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