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5
Capture of the Ark Provokes God
1 Then the Philistines took the ark of God, and they brought it from Ebenezer to #One of the five major Philistine cities.Ashdod.2 They took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it beside [the image of] Dagon [their chief idol].3 When the people of Ashdod got up early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and returned him to his place.4 But when they got up early the next morning, behold, Dagon had [again] fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and his head and both palms of his hands were [lying] cut off on the threshold; only the trunk [portion] of [the idol of] Dagon was left on him.5 This is the reason neither the priests of Dagon nor any who enter Dagon’s house step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
6 Then the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He caused them to be dumbfounded and struck them with #It is possible that this was a type of bubonic plague or infection spread by rats (or fleas hosted by rats), as intimated in 6:4f.tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.7 When the men of Ashdod saw what had happened, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.”8 So they sent word and gathered all the lords (governors) of the Philistines to them and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to #Gath was another major Philistine city and the home of their giant warrior, Goliath. Faced with the humiliation of surrendering the ark to Israel, the Philistine governors decided instead to treat it like a dangerous “hot potato” and simply get rid of it by sending it to another city.Gath.” So they took the ark of the God of Israel there.9 But it happened that after they had taken it to Gath, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing an extremely great panic [because of the deaths from the plague], for He struck the people of the city, both young and old, and tumors broke out on them.10 So they sent the ark of God to #A major Philistine city north of Ashdod and near the territory of Israel.Ekron. And as the ark of God came to Ekron, the Ekronites cried out, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel [from Gath] to #A major Philistine city north of Ashdod and near the territory of Israel.us, to kill us and #A major Philistine city north of Ashdod and near the territory of Israel.our people.”11 So they sent word and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel; let it be returned to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly panic throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy (severe) there.12 The men who had not died were stricken with tumors and the cry of the city [for help] went up to heaven.
5
The Covenant Box among the Philistines
1After the Philistines captured the Covenant Box, they carried it from Ebenezer to their city of Ashdod, 2took it into the temple of their god Dagon, and set it up beside his statue. 3Early the next morning the people of Ashdod saw that the statue of Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground in front of the Lord's Covenant Box. So they lifted it up and put it back in its place. 4Early the following morning they saw that the statue had again fallen down in front of the Covenant Box. This time its head and both its arms were broken off and were lying in the doorway; only the body was left. ( 5That is why even today the priests of Dagon and all his worshipers in Ashdod step over that place and do not walk on it.)
6The Lord punished the people of Ashdod severely and terrified them. He punished them and the people in the surrounding territory by causing them to have tumors.#5.6: tumors: The association of tumors with an abundance of mice suggests that this was a case of bubonic plague (see 6.5). 7When they saw what was happening, they said, “The God of Israel is punishing us and our god Dagon. We can't let the Covenant Box stay here any longer.” 8So they sent messengers and called together all five of the Philistine kings and asked them, “What shall we do with the Covenant Box of the God of Israel?”
“Take it over to Gath,” they answered; so they took it to Gath, another Philistine city. 9But after it arrived there, the Lord punished that city too and caused a great panic. He punished them with tumors which developed in all the people of the city, young and old alike. 10So they sent the Covenant Box to Ekron, another Philistine city; but when it arrived there, the people cried out, “They have brought the Covenant Box of the God of Israel here, in order to kill us all!” 11So again they sent for all the Philistine kings and said, “Send the Covenant Box of Israel back to its own place, so that it won't kill us and our families.” There was panic throughout the city because God was punishing them so severely. 12Even those who did not die developed tumors and the people cried out to their gods for help.