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Chapter 5

The Ark in the Temple of Dagon. [a](A)The Philistines, having captured the ark of God, transferred it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.(B) They then took the ark of God and brought it into the temple of Dagon, placing it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next morning, Dagon was lying face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they picked Dagon up and put him back in his place. But early the next morning, when they arose, Dagon lay face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord, his head and hands broken off and lying on the threshold, his trunk alone intact. For this reason, neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter the temple of Dagon tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this very day.

The Ark Is Carried About. Now the hand of the Lord weighed heavily on the people of Ashdod, ravaging them and afflicting the city and its vicinity with tumors.[b](C) On seeing how matters stood, the people of Ashdod decided, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand weighs heavily on us and Dagon our god.” So they summoned all the Philistine leaders and inquired of them, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” The people of Gath replied, “Let them move the ark of the God of Israel to us.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath. But after it had been brought there, the hand of the Lord was against the city, resulting in utter turmoil: the Lord afflicted its inhabitants, young and old, and tumors broke out on them. 10 The ark of God was next sent to Ekron; but as it entered that city, the people there cried out, “Why have they brought the ark of the God of Israel here to kill us and our kindred?” 11 Then they, too, sent a summons to all the Philistine leaders and pleaded: “Send away the ark of the God of Israel. Send it back to its place so it does not kill us and our kindred.” A deadly panic had seized the whole city, since the hand of God lay heavy upon it. 12 Those who escaped death were afflicted with tumors. Thus the outcry from the city went up to the heavens.

Footnotes

  1. 5:1–12 The Philistines take the ark to Dagon’s temple in Ashdod to confirm their victory. Their action, however, underscores Dagon’s impotence and the Lord’s power. The narrator relates the transfer of the ark from Ashdod to Gath and then Ekron as the progress of a conquering warrior king through the Philistine cities along the central plain. The Philistines’ humiliation recalls the climax of the Samson story (Jgs 16:13–21).
  2. 5:6 Tumors: the Septuagint adds that mice, suggestive of bubonic plague, infested their fields, thus anticipating the golden mice in 6:4–5. One symptom of bubonic plague is swollen lymph nodes (“tumors”).

The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron

After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer(A) to Ashdod.(B) Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.(C) When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen(D) on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken(E) off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.(F)

The Lord’s hand(G) was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation(H) on them and afflicted them with tumors.[a](I) When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers(J) of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.(K)” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic.(L) He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors.[b] 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.(M)

As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers(N) of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it[c] will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die(O) were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Samuel 5:6 Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate tumors. And rats appeared in their land, and there was death and destruction throughout the city
  2. 1 Samuel 5:9 Or with tumors in the groin (see Septuagint)
  3. 1 Samuel 5:11 Or he

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