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Dagon, meaning little fish, became a major Philistine idol after they adopted it from other non-Israelite people in The Land Of Canaan, who themselves got it from the Babylonians (see Ancient Empires - Babylon). The Philistine Dagon was usually portrayed as half man and half fish, as was the earlier Babylonian version, examples of which have been found showing a creature with the lower half of the body as a fish and the upper half as a classic ancient Babylonian. A number of famous incidents of Bible History involved Dagon idolatry, including the death of Samson, the attempted looting of the Ark of the Covenant and the beheading of King Saul.

"The Ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god"

After Samson was captured and blinded by the Philistines, they brought him into their temple of Dagon as a public spectacle.


"Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand."

"And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us."

"And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars" (Judges 16:23-25 KJV)

With The Lord's help, Samson was still dangerous to the enemies of the only True God.

"And Samson called unto The Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." (Judges 16:28-30 KJV)

When the Philistines defeated the Israelites in battle, they captured The Ark Of The Covenant, not because they were stronger than The Lord, but as an object lesson by The Lord to the Israelites. They had grown corrupt, but they still regarded themselves as invincible because they were "God's people." They pretentiously took the Ark into battle with them, to which The Lord provided them with the lesson that "God's people" are those who truly obey Him, not those who merely do as they please in His Name.

"And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 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. 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. 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." (1 Samuel 5:1-5 KJV)

The Philistines also learned a lesson from The Lord about who The Lord commanded were to be the only people authorized to even touch The Ark. When God's wrath fell upon them, the Philistines were very eager to send The Ark back to Israel.

"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. 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." (1 Samuel 5:6-7 KJV)

When King Saul was killed in battle, his body was mutilated and the head was hung as a "trophy" in the Philistines' temple of Dagon (the taking of an enemy's head as a Trophy was something that Israelites also did, as in the example of David taking the head of Goliath; the murderers of John the Baptist also beheaded him by the same principle - see also John's Last Days).

"So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together." And when all the men of Israel that were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, then they forsook their cities, and fled: and the Philistines came and dwelt in them."

"And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his sons fallen in Mount Gilboa. And when they had stripped him, they took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry tidings unto their idols, and to the people. And they put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon." (1 Chronicles 10:6-10 KJV)

Fact Finder: How was God's wrath upon the Philistines another proof of who could not have looted the Ark of the Covenant when it went missing to history?
See Raiders Of The Lost Ark

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