The Ark of the Covenant was a chest containing the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written. The Philistines captured the Ark, but God punished them. They are shown returning the Ark as far as the land of the Bethsamites, who are rejoicing.
An inscription on the back of the original canvas which includes the date 1659 suggests the picture's date.
This picture once belonged to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who praised it in his Fourteenth Discourse of 1788, as a work 'in which the poetical style of landscape may be seen happily executed'.
This picture was presented by Sir George Beaumont in 1826.