1 Samuel 5

Dagon falls and the Philistines suffer  because of the ark 
 1 ¶ And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
.2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
 3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
  Took the ark Israel lost 30,000 men. The rest fled to their tents which implies that the enemy chased them all the way to their tents which may have been home 1sa0410. From passages beginning at ps07860 and je0712, je2606. we understand that Shiloh was destroyed or perhaps desecrated as the city where the tabernacle was.
  Dagon The national god of the Philistines jg1623. His "house" was a temple. The name "Dagon" is apparently a form of the word "fish." They probably thought of the ark as Israel's god. Hophni and Phinehas apparently considered it as such when they took it to battle 1sa0403. Above the mercy seat of the ark God was present. That glory may have been withdrawn. See note about Dagon below.
  Fallen upon his face As if in submission to the God of the Israelites.
 4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. 
.5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
  Head ... hands You can understand the message the true God was sending to the Philistines. See note below.
  Tread on the threshold Apparently, according to a belief they held, they jumped over or bypassed the temple threshold. See on zp0109. The threshold was a "marked spot" of special significance. It had porters (doorkeepers) 2ki2204, 1ch0922, 2ch2304, je3504. "There is a wide-spread custom of making family sacrifices at the threshold in addition to those at the hearth. Even to the present day it is considered unlucky to tread on the threshold." The Philistines apparently had similar ideas and probably had this one first. The Israelites  tended to pick up customs from those around them jos2307, 2ch1309, 2ki1734. This taboo has no base in the instructions given to Israel. Quotations indicated are from a Jewish Encyclopedia.com, article on "threshold" by Joseph Jacobs, copied 12/02.
 6 ¶ But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
 7.And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
  Emerods "bleeding piles known to the ancient Romans as mariscae, but more probably malignant boils of an infectious and fatal character." (Easton's Bible Dictionary). Or "hemorrhoids" (ATS Dictionary)
.8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither. -
     It was in accordance with the prevailing superstition that the Philistine lords directed the people to make representations of the plagues by which they had been afflicted--"five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for," said they, "one plague was on you all, and on your lords."
     These wise men acknowledged a mysterious power accompanying the ark a power which they had no wisdom to meet. Yet they did not counsel the people to turn from their idolatry to serve the Lord. They still hated the God of Israel, though compelled by overwhelming judgments to submit to His authority. Thus sinners may be convinced by the judgments of God that it is in vain to contend against Him. They may be compelled to submit to His power, while at heart they rebel against His control. Such submission cannot save the sinner. The heart must be yielded to God must be subdued by divine grace before man's repentance can be accepted. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 587.)
 9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
 10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
  Cried out Literally "cried out in alarm."
 11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 
.12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
  Cry Literally "cry for help."
  Heaven We may see here their cry to the God of the Israelites. Might the answer have been given to their priests? 1sa0602.
   This interesting picture of Dagon was sketched from a picture in Jewish Encyclopedia.com. I would like permission to copy their image which was from a bas relief from the Louvre museum in Paris. It is on a background of curls apparently representing waves and includes four more fish pictures. One is a fish to which the god is appealing. One is a fish below the god. One is a fish with a crab biting its head and one is a fish with no head. The whole picture may represent the experience of Dagon with the ark and the positioning of the images might have some lost significance, too. Keep in mind that people who reject the creator God, are open to deception from Satan who advances his cause through false gods and other forms of the supernatural 2th0210, ga0408. To see the story about Dagon, begin in the preceding chapter.1sa04.

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