Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1Sa 5:1, 2.
ARK INTO THE
1. Ashdod--or Azotus, one of the five Philistine satrapies, and a
place of great strength. It was an inland town, thirty-four miles north
of Gaza, now called Esdud.
2. the house of Dagon--Stately temples were erected in honor of this
idol, which was the principal deity of the Philistines, but whose
worship extended over all Syria, as well as Mesopotamia and Chaldea;
its name being found among the Assyrian gods on the cuneiform
[RAWLINSON]. It was represented under a monstrous
combination of a human head, breast, and arms, joined to the belly and
tail of a fish. The captured ark was placed in the temple of Dagon,
right before this image of the idol.
3, 4. they of Ashdod arose early--They were filled with consternation
when they found the object of their stupid veneration prostrate before
the symbol of the divine presence. Though set up, it fell again, and
lay in a state of complete mutilation; its head and arms, severed from
the trunk, were lying in distant and separate places, as if violently
cast off, and only the fishy part remained. The degradation of their
idol, though concealed by the priests on the former occasion, was now
more manifest and infamous. It lay in the attitude of a vanquished
enemy and a suppliant, and this picture of humiliation significantly
declared the superiority of the God of Israel.
5. Therefore neither the priests . . . nor any . . . tread on the
threshold of Dagon--A superstitious ceremony crept in, and in the
providence of God was continued, by which the Philistines contributed
to publish this proof of the helplessness of their god.
unto this day--The usage continued in practice at the time when this
history was written--probably in the later years of Samuel's life.
6. the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod--The presumption
of the Ashdodites was punished by a severe judgment that overtook them
in the form of a pestilence.
smote them with emerods--bleeding piles, hemorrhoids
in a very aggravated form. As the heathens generally regarded diseases
affecting the secret parts of the body as punishments from the gods for
trespasses committed against themselves, the Ashdodites would be the
more ready to look upon the prevailing epidemic as demonstrating the
anger of God, already shown against their idol.
7. the ark of God shall not abide with us--It was removed successively
to several of the large towns of the country, but the same pestilence
broke out in every place and raged so fiercely and fatally that the
authorities were forced to send the ark back into the land of Israel
11. they sent--that is, the magistrates of Ekron.
12. the cry of the city went up to heaven--The disease is attended
with acute pain, and it is far from being a rare phenomenon in the
Philistian plain [VAN