1Sa 5:1, 2.
The Philistines Bring the Ark into the House of
1. Ashdod—or Azotus, one of the five
Philistine satrapies, and a place of great strength. It was an inland
town, thirty-four miles north of Gaza, now called Esdud.
2. the house of Dagon—Stately temples
were erected in honor of this idol, which was the principal deity of
the Philistines, but whose worship extended over all Syria, as well as
Mesopotamia and Chaldea; its name being found among the Assyrian gods
on the cuneiform inscriptions [Rawlinson]. It was represented under a monstrous
combination of a human head, breast, and arms, joined to the belly and
tail of a fish. The captured ark was placed in the temple of Dagon,
right before this image of the idol.
Dagon Falls Down.
3, 4. they of Ashdod arose early—They
were filled with consternation when they found the object of their
stupid veneration prostrate before the symbol of the divine presence.
Though set up, it fell again, and lay in a state of complete
mutilation; its head and arms, severed from the trunk, were lying in
distant and separate places, as if violently cast off, and only the
fishy part remained. The degradation of their idol, though concealed by
the priests on the former occasion, was now more manifest and infamous.
It lay in the attitude of a vanquished enemy and a suppliant, and this
picture of humiliation significantly declared the superiority of the
God of Israel.
5. Therefore neither the priests … nor any
… tread on the threshold of Dagon—A superstitious
ceremony crept in, and in the providence of God was continued, by which
the Philistines contributed to publish this proof of the helplessness
of their god.
unto this day—The usage continued in
practice at the time when this history was written—probably in
the later years of Samuel's life.
The Philistines Are Smitten with
6. the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of
Ashdod—The presumption of the Ashdodites was punished by a
severe judgment that overtook them in the form of a pestilence.
smote them with emerods—bleeding
piles, hemorrhoids (Ps 78:66),
in a very aggravated form. As the heathens generally regarded diseases
affecting the secret parts of the body as punishments from the gods for
trespasses committed against themselves, the Ashdodites would be the
more ready to look upon the prevailing epidemic as demonstrating the
anger of God, already shown against their idol.
7. the ark of God shall not abide with
us—It was removed successively to several of the large towns
of the country, but the same pestilence broke out in every place and
raged so fiercely and fatally that the authorities were forced to send
the ark back into the land of Israel [1Sa 5:8-10].
11. they sent—that is, the magistrates
12. the cry of the city went up to
heaven—The disease is attended with acute pain, and it is far
from being a rare phenomenon in the Philistian plain [Van De Velde].