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Highlights of 1 Samuel 5-9 - Theocratic Ministry School

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Study information for Theocratic Ministry School

Bible reading: 1 Samuel 5-9 (8 min.)


1 SAMUEL 5:2


“The Phi•lisʹtines took the Ark of the true God and brought it into the house of Daʹgon and set it beside Daʹgon.”

*** w03 7/15 p. 25 Ugarit—Ancient City in the Shadow of Baal ***
While opinions vary, some identify the temple of Dagan as the temple of El. Roland de Vaux, a French scholar and professor at the Jerusalem School of Biblical Studies, suggested that Dagan—the Dagon of Judges 16:23 and 1 Samuel 5:1-5—is the proper name of El. The Encyclopedia of Religion comments that possibly “Dagan was in some sense identified with or assimilated to [El].”

1 SAMUEL 5:4


“When they got up early in the morning on the following day, there was Daʹgon fallen facedown on the ground before the Ark of Jehovah. The head of Daʹgon and the palms of both his hands were cut off and were lying on the threshold. Only the fish part had been left intact.”

*** it-1 p. 570 Dagon ***
There is no agreement as to the derivation of the name Dagon. Some scholars associate it with the Hebrew word dagh (fish), while others favor linking the name with the Hebrew word da•ghanʹ (grain). At 1 Samuel 5:4 it is stated concerning the fallen Dagon, “Only the fish part [literally, “Only Dagon”] had been left upon him,” his head and the palms of his hands having been cut off. The Hebrew word literally meaning “Dagon” in this text has been variously rendered “body” (NIV, TEV), “Dagon’s body” (NE), and “Dagon himself” (Ro) by some translators, while others have translated it as “fish portion” (Le), “fish-stump” (Da), “fishy part” (Yg), or “fish part” (NW).

1 SAMUEL 5:5


“That is why to this day, the priests of Daʹgon and all those who enter the house of Daʹgon do not walk on the threshold of Daʹgon in Ashʹdod.”

*** it-1 p. 570 Dagon ***
At the house of Dagon in Ashdod, the Philistines deposited the sacred ark of Jehovah as a war trophy. Twice the image of Dagon fell on its face before the Ark. The second time the idol itself was broken. Perhaps in order not to defile the place where the pieces of their god had lain, the priests and others entering the temple of Dagon at Ashdod were careful not to tread upon the threshold. (1Sa 5:2-5)

1 SAMUEL 6:4


“So they asked: “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They said: “According to the number of the lords of the Phi•lisʹtines, send five golden piles and five golden mice, for the same scourge has afflicted every one of you and your lords.”

*** it-2 pp. 641-642 Piles ***
The five Philistine axis lords returned the Ark to Israel with a guilt offering to Jehovah, consisting partly of five golden images of the piles, that is, representations of these swellings. (1Sa 6:4, 5, 11, 17) In a somewhat similar manner, certain ancient peoples (particularly the Greeks and the Romans) invoked their deities for cures by presenting to them replicas of afflicted body parts, or they presented models thereof in gratitude for supposed cures.
Since jerboas (mouselike jumping rodents) were bringing the land to ruin (1Sa 6:5), some scholars believe the Philistines were afflicted with bubonic plague, a highly fatal infectious disease marked by such symptoms as fever, chills, prostration, and painful enlargement of the lymphatic glands, or buboes. This plague is transmitted chiefly through bites by fleas that have bitten infected rats or other rodents that are dying or dead.
“A death-dealing confusion” occurred when the Ark was in Ekron, where “the men that did not die had been struck with piles.” (1Sa 5:10-12) Both pile and jerboa images are mentioned at 1 Samuel 6:4, where the Philistine priests and diviners are quoted as saying, “every one of you and your axis lords have the same scourge.” But this may mean only that the entire nation, the axis lords and people alike, had suffered a common calamity, “the same scourge,” not necessarily that the rodents and the piles were associated in one epidemic disease or plague. The Bible seems to indicate only that the jerboas destroyed vegetation throughout Philistia, thus ruining the land, and does not specifically state that they were carriers of infection to the Philistines stricken by Jehovah.

1 SAMUEL 6:5


“You should make images of your piles and images of your mice that are bringing the land to ruin, and you should honor the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten the weight of his hand that is on you and your god and your land.”

*** it-2 pp. 641-642 Piles ***
The five Philistine axis lords returned the Ark to Israel with a guilt offering to Jehovah, consisting partly of five golden images of the piles, that is, representations of these swellings. (1Sa 6:4, 5, 11, 17) In a somewhat similar manner, certain ancient peoples (particularly the Greeks and the Romans) invoked their deities for cures by presenting to them replicas of afflicted body parts, or they presented models thereof in gratitude for supposed cures.
Since jerboas (mouselike jumping rodents) were bringing the land to ruin (1Sa 6:5), some scholars believe the Philistines were afflicted with bubonic plague, a highly fatal infectious disease marked by such symptoms as fever, chills, prostration, and painful enlargement of the lymphatic glands, or buboes. This plague is transmitted chiefly through bites by fleas that have bitten infected rats or other rodents that are dying or dead.
“A death-dealing confusion” occurred when the Ark was in Ekron, where “the men that did not die had been struck with piles.” (1Sa 5:10-12) Both pile and jerboa images are mentioned at 1 Samuel 6:4, where the Philistine priests and diviners are quoted as saying, “every one of you and your axis lords have the same scourge.” But this may mean only that the entire nation, the axis lords and people alike, had suffered a common calamity, “the same scourge,” not necessarily that the rodents and the piles were associated in one epidemic disease or plague. The Bible seems to indicate only that the jerboas destroyed vegetation throughout Philistia, thus ruining the land, and does not specifically state that they were carriers of infection to the Philistines stricken by Jehovah.

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