1631. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France. Read Note.
Ark of Testimony (Exodus 40:20), the main object of worship of the ancient Israelites, in which the Testament was kept. Moses 'took the Testimony and put it into the Ark, inserted the poles in the Ark, and put the cover over the top of the Ark. He brought the Ark into the Tabernacle, set up the curtain of the screen, and so screened the Ark of the Testimony, as the Lord had commanded him' (Exodus 40:20-21).
During one of the multiple wars of the Israelites with the Philistines the Ark was captured , brought to the city of Ashdod, and put into the temple of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:2). Soon different unhappy events, including plague, started to happen in the city. 'The Lord's hand oppressed the people of Ashdod. He threw them into despair; he plagued them with tumors, and their territory swarmed with rats. There was death and destruction all through the city.' (1 Samuel 5:6). The citizens of Ashdod realized that the reason was in the captured Ark, and sent it off to Gath, where 'the Lord caused great havoc; He plagued everybody, high and low alike, with the tumors which broke out.' (1 Samuel 5:9). So the Ark of God was sent to another Philistine city, Ekron, with the same result. And the citizens demanded from their leaders to return the Ark to the Israelites: 'Send the Ark of the God of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will be the death of us all' (1 Samuel 5:11)