1 Samuel 5-6 continues the biblical saga of the loss of the ark of the covenant to the Philistines. Specifically, the chapters detail the fallout upon the Philistines as Yahweh chooses to punish them for taking the ark. The episode includes an interesting scene of cosmic geography and spiritual warfare (1 Sam 5:1-5). Most of the content, however, details Yahweh’s judgment of the Philistines, a judgment that involves the Philistines offering a “guilt offering” to Yahweh. This offering included objects or emblems that were designed to cajole Yahweh into relenting, and so the objects in some way telegraph what the punishments included. English translations have these objects as golden mice and golden “tumors” or “hemorrhoids” (Hebrew term: ʿophalim). This episode follows recent archaeological research that demonstrate there is a better way to understand the nature of the ʿophalim, one that makes this episode for adults only.
Aren Maier, “Did Captured Ark Afflict Philistines with E.D.?” BAR 34:3 (2008)