The Meaning of 1 Samuel 6:12 Explained

1 Samuel 6:12

KJV: And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh.

YLT: And the kine go straight in the way, on the way to Beth-Shemesh, in one highway they have gone, going and lowing, and have not turned aside right or left; and the princes of the Philistines are going after them unto the border of Beth-Shemesh.

Darby: And the kine went straight forward on the way to Beth-shemesh; they went by the one high way, lowing as they went; and they turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.

ASV: And the kine took the straight way by the way to Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh.

What does 1 Samuel 6:12 Mean?

Context Summary

1 Samuel 6:1-12 - Returned With A Trespass-Offering
There is reason to suppose that when the Philistines got possession of the Ark, they destroyed Shiloh. See Psalms 78:60; Psalms 78:64; Jeremiah 26:9. They could not imagine how to rid themselves of the sacred emblem, which brought only destruction in its train, until they had consulted the priests. These priests appear to have been well acquainted with the previous history of the Israelites, though centuries had passed since the passage of the Red Sea. How ignorantly men think of God! He is not their enemy, but the enemy of their sin.
What a striking illustration is afforded by these lowing kine! Their maternal instincts yearned for their young, detained behind; but they were urged forward by a supernatural impulse. So the missionary may leave wife and child, that he may carry the Gospel to the heathen; so the slum-worker may abandon all that others hold dear, in order to change some wretched district into a city of God. Our weak heart clings, but the love of Christ constrains us, and we go forward, urged by a divine and overmastering motive. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Samuel 6

1  After seven months the Philistines take counsel how to send back the ark
10  They bring it on a new cart with an offering unto Beth Shemesh
19  The people are smitten for looking into the ark
21  They send to them of Kiriath Jearim to fetch it

What do the individual words in 1 Samuel 6:12 mean?

And the cows headed straight for the road to in Beth Shemesh along highway one [and] went as they went and lowing and not did turn aside to the right hand or the left and the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh
וַיִשַּׁ֨רְנָה‪‬ הַפָּר֜וֹת בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ עַל־ דֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ בֵּ֣ית שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ בִּמְסִלָּ֣ה אַחַ֗ת הָלְכ֤וּ הָלֹךְ֙ וְגָע֔וֹ וְלֹא־ סָ֖רוּ יָמִ֣ין וּשְׂמֹ֑אול וְסַרְנֵ֤י פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ הֹלְכִ֣ים אַחֲרֵיהֶ֔ם עַד־ גְּב֖וּל בֵּ֥ית שָֽׁמֶשׁ

הַפָּר֜וֹת  the  cows 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine plural
Root: פָּרָה  
Sense: cow, heifer.
בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ  headed  straight 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Noun, common singular
Root: דֶּרֶךְ  
Sense: way, road, distance, journey, manner.
דֶּ֙רֶךְ֙  the  road  to 
Parse: Noun, common singular construct
Root: דֶּרֶךְ  
Sense: way, road, distance, journey, manner.
שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ  Beth  Shemesh 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ  
Sense: a town in southwest Judah.
בִּמְסִלָּ֣ה  along  highway 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, feminine singular
Root: מְסִלָּה  
Sense: highway, raised way, public road.
אַחַ֗ת  one 
Parse: Number, feminine singular
Root: אֶחָד  
Sense: one (number).
הָלְכ֤וּ  [and]  went 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.
הָלֹךְ֙  as  they  went 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Infinitive absolute
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.
וְגָע֔וֹ  and  lowing 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Infinitive absolute
Root: גָּעָה  
Sense: (Qal) to low, bellow (of cattle).
וְלֹא־  and  not 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb, Negative particle
Root: הֲלֹא 
Sense: not, no.
סָ֖רוּ  did  turn  aside 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: סוּר 
Sense: to turn aside, depart.
יָמִ֣ין  to  the  right  hand 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular
Root: יָמִין  
Sense: right, right hand, right side.
וּשְׂמֹ֑אול  or  the  left 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine singular
Root: שְׂמֹאל  
Sense: the left, the left hand, the left side.
וְסַרְנֵ֤י  and  the  lords 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: סֶרֶן 
Sense: lord, ruler, tyrant.
פְלִשְׁתִּים֙  of  the  Philistines 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine plural
Root: פְּלִשְׁתִּי  
Sense: an inhabitant of Philistia; descendants of Mizraim who immigrated from Caphtor (Crete?) to the western seacoast of Canaan.
הֹלְכִ֣ים  went 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine plural
Root: הָלַךְ  
Sense: to go, walk, come.
אַחֲרֵיהֶ֔ם  after  them 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural
Root: אַחַר 
Sense: after the following part, behind (of place), hinder, afterwards (of time).
גְּב֖וּל  the  border 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: גְּבוּל  
Sense: border, territory.
שָֽׁמֶשׁ  Beth  Shemesh 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ  
Sense: a town in southwest Judah.

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