The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Samuel

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1 Samuel 5

1Sa 5:1

1Sa 5: The captured ark proves to be a very uncomfortable prize.

1Sa 5:2

DAGON: "Temples are reported for Dagon as a Philistine deity (1Sa 5:1–7; Jdg 16:23; 1Ch 10:10; 1Ma 10:83,84; 11:4) in the cities of Ashdod, Beth-shan, and perhaps Gaza. Yet, no archaeological evidence has independently confirmed such a temple to Dagon in any of these sites. Several place names also include Dagon's name, thus confirming the deity's importance for the area. This importance may also be assumed from the use made of Dagon in Biblical texts through the end of the 2nd century BC...

"Three major theories have been posited for the function of Dagon. It was long thought the god was related to the Semitic root 'dg' or 'fish'; this understanding was supported by references in Jerome and in the Talmudic tradition. A case was made that Dagon was related to Odakon, a fish-man character... Though both arguments were rejected early in the 20th century, they were later revived. The fish aspect is still argued to be a secondary attribute, while the Odakon connection is now considered highly improbable...

"The Semitic root 'dgn', when translated as 'grain,' is also seen as the original meaning of the name Dagon... yet the notion of Dagon as a god of grain finds no solid evidence in the ANE. Albright, followed by several others, argues that Semitic 'grain' may have been named after the god Dagon rather than the other way around... [Poss} Dagon was named as a storm god on the basis of an Arabic root dg, which he translated "be cloudy, rainy," and argued that the fertility aspect of Dagon was related to this weather aspect. This theory has been widely accepted" (ABD).

1Sa 5:4

What happened to Dagon also happened to Goliath (1Sa 17:49) -- as though he were merely one more "god" of the Philistines!

For that matter, consider also the fate of Eli: 1Sa 4:18n.

HIS HEAD AND HIS HANDS HAD BEEN BROKEN OFF: Cp Goliath's head, cut off by David; and his sword (that is, his "hands" or "arms") confiscated by the enemy.

1Sa 5:6

TUMORS: Also in vv 9,11; 1Sa 6:5. KJV has "emerods", or hemorrhoids -- which is incorrect. Prob a species of bubonic plague (Tes 33:280). The northeast corner of the Egyptian delta was the source of many plagues of ancient times. "High temperatures, mingled salt and fresh water... the Philistines -- a trading people by nature -- occupied the open door by which plague entered Syria" (HistGeo 118,119).

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