The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like an incubus upon the brain of the living. — Karl Marx

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut

How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark

While the old priest Eli was still the judge, though he was now very feeble, the Philistines came up against Israel from the plain beside the sea. A battle was fought, and many of the Israelites were slain. Then the chiefs of the people said:

"We have been beaten in the battle, because the Lord was not with us. let us take with us against our enemies the ark of the covenant from the Tabernacle, and then the Lord will be among us."

So they went to Shiloh, and they took out from the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle (see Story Twenty-seven in Part First) the ark of the covenant, and the two sons of Eli the priest went with the ark to care for it. When the ark was brought into the camp of the Israelites all the men of war gave a great shout, so that the earth rang with the sound.

And when the Philistines heard the shouting they wondered what caused it, and some one told them that it was because the God of the Israelites had come into their camp. The Philistines were afraid, and they said to each other:

"Woe unto us, for such a thing as this has never been seen! Who shall save us from this great God who sent plagues on the Egyptians? Let us be bold, and act like men, and fight, so that we may not be made servants to the Israelites, as they have been to us!"

The next day there was a great battle. The Philistines overcame the Israelites and slew thousands of them. They killed the two sons of Eli, and they took the ark of the Lord away with them into their own land.

On the day of the battle Eli, old and blind, was sitting beside the door of the Tabernacle, his heart trembling for the ark of the Lord. A man came from the army running, with his garments torn, and with earth on his head as a sign of sorrow. As the man came near the city and brought the news of the battle a great cry rose up from the people. When Eli heard the noise he said:

"What does this noise mean? What has happened?"

The man came before Eli, and said:

"I have just come from the army. There has been a great battle. Israel has fled before the Philistines, and very many of the people have been killed. Your two sons are dead, and the ark of God has been taken by the enemy."

When the old man heard this last word, that the ark of God was taken, he fell backward from his seat and dropped dead upon the ground. And all the land mourned and wept over the loss of the ark more than over the victory of the Philistines.

The Philistines took the ark of God down to Ashdod, one of their chief cities. They set it in the temple of Dagon, their fish-headed idol. The next morning, when they came into the temple, the image of Dagon was lying upon its face before the ark of the Lord. They stood the image up again; but on the next morning, not only was Dagon fallen down before the ark, but the hands and the head of Dagon had been cut off and were lying on the floor.

Besides all this, in the city of Ashdod, where the ark had been taken, all the people began to have boils and sores. They saw in this the hand of the God of Israel, and they sent the ark to Gath, another of their cities. There, too, the people broke out with boils and sores. They sent the ark to Ekron, but the people of that city said:

"We will not have the ark of God among us. Send it back to its own land, or we shall all die."

Then the rulers of the Philistines resolved to send back the ark of God into the land of Israel. They placed it upon a wagon, and before the wagon they yoked two cows. The cows had calves, but they tied the calves at home, in order to find whether the cows would go home to their calves or would take the ark away. But the cows took the road which led away from their own calves, straight up the hills toward the land of Israel, and they turned neither to the right hand nor the left.

The cows drew the ark up to the village of Beth-shemesh, where the people were reaping their wheat harvest on the hillsides. They saw the ark, and were glad. The cows stopped beside a great stone in the field. Then the men of Beth-shemesh cut up the wagon, and with it made a fire, and on the stone as an altar offered the two cows as an offering to the Lord.

But the men of Beth-shemesh opened the ark and looked into it. This was contrary to God's command, for none but the priests were allowed to touch the ark. God sent a plague upon the people of that place, and many of them died, because they did not deal reverently with the ark of God.

They were filled with fear and sent to the men of Kirjath-jearim, asking them to take the ark away. This did so, and for twenty years the ark stood in the house of a man named Abinadab in Kirjath-jearim.

They did not take the ark back to Shiloh, for after the death of Eli the place was deserted, the Tabernacle fell into ruins, and no man lived there again.


Front Matter

The Story of a Beautiful Garden
The First Baby in the World and His Brother
The Great Ship That Saved Eight People
The Tower That Was Never Finished
The Story of a Long Journey
How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing
The Angel by the Well
The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City
The Boy Who Became an Archer
How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life
The Story of a Journey after a Wife
How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing
Jacob's Wonderful Dream
A Midnight Wrestling Match
The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave
From the Prison to the Palace
How Joseph's Dream Came True
A Lost Brother Found
From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty
The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River
The Voice from the Burning Bush
The River That Ran Blood
The Night When a Nation Was Born
How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre
The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke
How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It
The Tent Where God Lived Among His People
How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle
What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons
The Scapegoat in the Wilderness
The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan
How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an
What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass
How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land
The Story of Job
The Story of a Scarlet Cord
How the River Jordan Became Dry
The Story of a Wedge of Gold
How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan
The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants
The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge
The Story of an Altar Beside the River
The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon
How a Woman Won a Great Victory
Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred
Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It
The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died
The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest
How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz
The Little Boy with a Linen Coat
How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark
The Last of the Judges
The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King
How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh
The Brave Young Prince
Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss
The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant
The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows
Where David Found the Giant's Sword
How David Spared Saul's Life
The Last Days of King Saul
The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King
The Sound in the Treetops
The Cripple at the King's Table
The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb
David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom
Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne
The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah
Solomon on This Father's Throne
The Wise Young King
The House of God on Mount Moriah
The Last Days of Solomon's Reign
The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom
The King Who Led Israel to Sin
The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life
The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire
The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount
The Wounded Prophet and His Story
What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard
The Arrow That Killed a King
Elijah's Chariot of Fire
A Spring Sweetened by Salt
The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison
The Little Boy at Shunem
How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper
The Chariots of Fire around Elisha
What the Lepers Found in the Camp
Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot
Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh
How the Ten Tribes Were Lost
The First Four Kings of Judah
The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King
Three Kings and a Great Prophet
The Good King Hezekiah
The Lost Book Found in the Temple
The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph
What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley
The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King
The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace
The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again
The Writing upon the Wall
Daniel in the Den of Lions
The Story of a Joyous Journey
The New Temple on Mount Moriah
The Beautiful Queen of Persia
The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament
The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem
Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem
The Angel by the Altar
The Manger of Bethlehem
The Star and the Wise Men
The Boy in his Father's House
The Prophet in the Wilderness
Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River
The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast
The Stranger at the Well
The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot
A Net Full of Fishes
The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof
The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand
The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount
The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn
Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea
"Peace, Be Still"
The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life
A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her
The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It
The Answer to a Mother's Prayer
The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain
The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus
At the Feast of Tabernacles
The Man with Clay on His Face
The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan
Lazarus Raised to Life
Some Parables in Perea
The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man
Jesus at Jericho
Palm Sunday
The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple
The Parables on the Mount of Olives
The Last Supper
The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall
The Crown of Thorns
The Darkest Day of All the World
The Brightest Day of All the World
The Stranger on the Shore
The Church of the First Days
The Man at the Beautiful Gate
The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way
Stephen with the Shining Face
The Man Reading in the Chariot
The Voice That Spoke to Saul
What Peter Saw by the Sea
How the Iron Gate Was Opened
The Earliest Missionaries
The Song in the Prison
Paul's Speech on the Hill
Paul at Corinth
Paul at Ephesus
Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
The Speech on the Stairs
Two Years in Prison
The Story That Paul Told to the King
Paul in the Storm
How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There
The Throne of God
The City of God