This is a story about a failure of the Israelites to overcome the Philistines. It is an important story about death and birth, with Eli, and both of his sons dying and Phineas’ wife gave birth after she found out that both Phineas and his brother Hophni had died at the hands of the Philistines. The Israelites set out under the leadership of Hophni and Phineas to defeat the Philistines. They thought that if they had the ark of the covenant with them they would be certain to win the battle. So they directed it to be brought, and the Philistines were very afraid and said we will have to fight our best to overcome the Israelites with the ark. It worked like a motivational speech to a football or basketball team and the Philistines defeated the Israelites and killed 30,000 men that day including Phineas and Hophni. Their evilness in the holy places and their presumption that the ark would bring them victory were probably behind God not supporting them.
The Philistines then found the arc was not a good thing for them as it caused tumors in the people of Ashdod so they passed it to the other cities and the same thing happened so they said the gods of Israel are too powerful and we need to give it back, so they made 5 golden mice and 5 golden tumors and put it on a cart to go back to Beth-Shemish. Hal said that some scholars think that the disease was the Bubonic plague, hence the mouse or rats and the tumors. The Levites took charge of the Ark at that point when it got to Beth-shemish. It is interesting that although the Philistines thought the god of the Israelites was super powerful, they did not convert or begin to worship God. God seemed to abandon them in battle, but then came to bring disease to their enemies.