Life And Writings Of Sulpitius Severus by Sulpitius Severus
Chapter XXXI. The Philistines, victorious in this prosperous battle, brought the ark of God√†
The Philistines, victorious in this prosperous battle, brought the ark of God, which had fallen into their hands, into the temple of Dagon in the town of Azotus. But the image, dedicated to a demon, fell down when the ark was brought in there; and, on their setting the idol up again in its place, in the following night it was torn in pieces. Then mice, springing up throughout all the country, caused by their venomous bites the death of many thousand persons. The men of Azotus, constrained by this source of suffering, in order to escape the calamity, removed the ark to Gath. But the people there being afflicted with the same evils, conveyed the ark to Ascalon. The inhabitants, however, of that place, the chief men of the nation having been called together, formed the design of sending back the ark to the Hebrews. Thus, in accordance with the opinion of the chiefs, and augurs, and priests, it was placed upon a cart, and sent back with many gifts. This remarkable thing then happened, that when they had yoked heifers to the conveyance, and had retained their calves at home, these cattle took their course, without any guide, towards Jud√¶a, and showed no desire of returning, from affection toward their young left behind. The rulers of the Philistines, who had followed the ark into the territory of the Hebrews, were so struck by the marvelousness of this occurrence that they performed a religious service. But the Jews, when they saw the ark brought back, vied with each other in joyously rushing forth from the town of Betsamis to meet it, and in hurrying, exulting, and returning thanks to God. Presently, the Levites, whose business it was, perform a sacrifice to God, and offer those heifers which had brought the ark. But the ark could not be kept in the town which I have named above, and thus severe illness fell by the appointment of God, upon the whole city. The ark was then transferred to the town of Cariathiarim, and there it remained twenty years.