King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 5

Dagon is broken before the ark. (1-5) The Philistine smitten. (6-12)

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Dagon is broken before the ark

1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.

2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

The Philistine smitten

6 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.

7 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.

8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.

9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.

10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.

11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.

12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Azotus, one of the principal cities of the Philistines. It is astonishing that God permits these infidels to touch the ark, He who resented the conduct of Oza, and of the Bethsamites, with such severity. But the law regarded the Israelites, and the pagans were ignorant of it. C. — The servant, who knows his master will, and does not obey, shall suffer many stripes; and those who have the happiness of professing the true religion, and dishonour it by their immorality, must expect to feel the heavy hand of the judge, much more than ignorant unbelievers. H. — The Philistines could not suppose that they had gained a victory over God, since they knew he might be displeased with the conduct of his people; and they soon began to perceive that they had brought the greatest misfortunes upon themselves.

Ver. 2. Dagon is the same as Derceto, Atergatis, Venus, and the moon, (C.) and was represented like a woman, (T.) as far as the waist, and a fish below. H. Judg. xvi. 23. — The ark was placed near the idol, out of respect; (C.) or as a trophy of the victory, which they attributed to Dagon. M. — Thus they hung up the arms of Saul in the temple of Asteroth; (C. xxxi. 10,) and David placed the sword of Goliah in the tabernacle.

Ver. 3. Lord, as if to acknowledge his superiority. C. — No sooner was the gospel preached, than the power of the idols began to decrease. Bede. W.

Ver. 4. Threshold. The idol is treated worse the second time. M.

Ver. 5. The stump of, seems to be wanting in Heb. H. — Only the lower part, which resembled a fish, (Dag) was left on its pedestal. — Day. The Philistines themselves established this custom, which was a tacit confession of the imbecility of the idol, which they nevertheless continued to adore. The prophet Sophonias, (i. 9,) is supposed to accuse the Jews of imitating this superstition. The ancient Christians, out of respect, kissed the thresholds of the churches of the apostles and martyrs. Prudentius in S. Romano. — The Persians still refrain from treading on those of certain mosques, which are covered with silver. Tavernier i. 5.

Ver. 6. Emerods. The particular disorder which attacked them, (Ps. lxxvii. 66,) is very uncertain. Some say it was the dysentery, or the fistula, or the venereal disease, &c. Eusebius believes that it was in punishment of their incontinency. It was very painful, and sometimes proved mortal, v. 12. Aristophanes assures us that the Athenians were punished with a shameful disorder, because they had not received the mysteries of Bacchus with due respect; and they were ordered, by the oracle, to make and carry aloft some obscene figures, before they could obtain a cure. Acharn. ii. 6. — And in, &c. The remainder of this verse is not found in Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, &c. nor in many Greek and Latin copies. But it is conformable to the truth of history, since we read that figures of these animals were placed beside the ark, in memory of this event. C. vi. 6. — Mice, or rats. Such vermin have often obliged people to abandon their country. Plin. viii. 28. — Bellon. (ii. 78,) testifies that he saw, near Gaza, such multitudes, as to depopulate whole fields; and, if Providence had not caused the birds, called boudres, to destroy them, the people could nav had no harvest.

Ver. 7. God. The ark was terrible to this idol, as the relics of S. Babylas were to Apollo. W.

Ver. 8. Lords, next in dignity to a king, like the Persian surena. Judg. iii. 3. and xvi. 5. — About. Heb. “and they answered, let the ark…be carried unto Geth,” in which sense the Sept. seem to have taken it. But the Vulg. is more natural. Theodoret (q. 10,) concludes, that the people imagined the mortality proceeded from some natural cause; (C.) otherwise it would have been very absurd to give such advice, as the ark would spread the contagion throughout the country, by being removed. From Geth it was sent to Accaron, when the magistrates of the city objected to its being admitted, v. 10. Jospehus says, however, that it visited all the five principal cities, as if to punish them for their impiety. H.

Ver. 9. Came upon, to punish, as on other occasions, to protect. Ezec. i. 3. and xiii. 9. M. — Parts. Lit. “Their lower intestines coming out, rotted,” as v. 6. H. — Heb. “their malady was concealed.” Grot. — The emerods attacked them inwardly, with the most excruciating pains, for which they could find no remedy. — Skins. The ancients knew no greater luxury. Homer, Odys. i. and iii. The Heb. &c. take no notice of this particular; and there are many other omissions in the Books of Kings, which have been supplied from the Sept. C. — The skins were used instead of breeches, and to hold up the plaster and other medicines. T.

Ver. 12. Die, at the sight of the ark, as the Bethsamites did afterwards. M.