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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 5

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

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

And the Philistines took the ark of God. — Which had been so greatly abused by the Israelites, that God justly suffered it to be taken from them by the Philistines; to whom also it proved as fatal as the gold of Tholouse to the Romans. See 1 Samuel 4:11 .

Verse 2

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

They brought it into the house of Dagon. — Which some Euseb., Lel., Gyral., Arias, Pagnin., Jerome, Abulens, Adrichom. will have to be Iupiter Aratrius sive Frumentarius, - called Dagon of Dagan, which signifieth grain, - because he taught them the use of the plough, and of tillage, Others, Ibid. to be Triton, a sea god, - the Philistines or Phenicians were situate by the sea side, and worshipped fishes, as Xenophon, Siculus, and Cicero testify, - called Dagon of Dagah, a fish, because they made him like a man upward, and downward like a fish, whence that of Virgil,

Frons hominem praefert, in pristin desinit alvus.

And set it by Dagon.Tanquam Iovi Feretrio spolia opima, as consecrating it unto their idol for a chief spoil.

Verse 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.

And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, — viz., To their devotions, the fittest time for which the heathens generally held to be the top of the morning: for they thought that the gods sat in their temples, and waited for their morning salutations.

Behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth. — Before the Lord, who seemed to be asleep all this while, as David elegantly speaketh in Psalms 78:65-66 , but now showeth his power, by beating Dagon upon his own dunghill, and smiting his worshippers on their hinder parts, paying their posteriors, as men use to deal by puny boys.

Before the ark of the Lord. — Who endureth not a co-rival. There is a tradition, that when the child Jesus came into Egypt, all the idols of that nation fell to the ground: according to that of the psalmist, "Worship him, all ye gods." Sure it is, that when Christ, of whom the ark was a type, came in the flesh and sent abroad the gospel, thereby "bringing life and immortality to light," the oracles of Apollo and other heathen idols ceased. Plutarch sweateth in giving some fond reasons of that sudden deep silence among their deities: but the truth is, Christ was "come a light into the world, that whosoever believed on him should not abide in darkness." John 12:46

Verse 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.

Behold, Dagon was fallen, … — This second fall convinced them that it was no chance, but the very finger of God. 1 Samuel 5:7 Woe, woe to our stupidity. Vae, vae stupori nostro.

And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands. — The head, saith Peter Martyr, signifieth wisdom, and the hands power. To show them that he had neither wisdom nor power to help them, was this done.

Upon the threshold. — That those that came to his temple to worship him might now tread upon him, as unsavoury salt, as a dunghill deity. But they made no such good use of it, as appeareth by the sequel.

Only the stump of Dagon was left to him,i.e., The fishy part, whence he had his name; for of his feet there is no mention made, and his shoulders, breast, and belly were battered and mutilated.

Verse 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.

Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, … — This they did either by way of veneration, as accounting the threshold sanctified by the touch of their idol. The Papists at this day, by a like superstition, refrain from treading on that part of mount Garganam, where the print of Michael the archangel’s foot is to be seen in marble. Pet. Martyr. Or else by way of detestation, as thinking that it was the falling of their idol upon that unhappy threshold that had dashed it in pieces. Like as the old Romans declined the dismal gate, Porta Scelerata. as they called it, because three hundred gentlemen going out thereat to fight with some neighbouring enemies perished; and the Pope in his solemn procession shunneth that street in Rome where Pope Joan was delivered, as some report of them. A. Lapide upon this text telleth us out of Tertullian, that the pagans kissed the thresholds of their temples: and in addition, that his papagans do at this day kiss the threshold of Peter’s church in Rome, when they enter into it.

Verse 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.

But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod. — For he will not always serve men for a sinning stock, though he oft bear long with them. Patientia laesa sit furor. These men hardened their hearts; God therefore hardeneth his hand, and hasteneth their destruction.

And he destroyed them. — With mice, say some, from 1 Samuel 6:4 ; with some other mortal disease, say others, besides that next mentioned; but that might give them their passport, and set them going.

And smote them with emerods.In podicibus, so Vatablus rendereth it, which some understand de lue Venerea: others, Josephus. Sidonius. Bernard. of a cancer or fistula: A long, narrow, suppurating canal of morbid origin in some part of the body; a long, sinuous pipe-like ulcer with a narrow orifice. others, of the dysentery or bloody flux: but most, of the emerods or piles, called Mariscae or Ficus, Obscaenus turgenti podice morbus. Let such belly gods, quorum non alia est cura quam cibum ingerere, digerere, egerere, that are good for nothing else but to fill privies, take heed of God’s hand in this kind: as one well warneth shag haired ruffians to beware of the Plica Polonica, that dreadful disease.

Verse 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.

The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us. — They should have rather parted with their sins, than with the ark: and have said unto their idols, "Get ye hence," as Isaiah 30:22 . What have we to do any more with Dagon, who cannot save himself, much less us, from the divine vengeance? Wicked men are upon all occasions glad to be rid of God and his ark, his ordinances, which they, Philistine-like, have rather as prisoners than as privileges, rather in testimonium et ruinam quam salutem, for an utter mischief.

For his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. — So short is the triumphing of the wicked: God can soon alter the scene, turning their mirth into mourning, their laughter into lamentation, …

Verse 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].

What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? — Vexation should have given them understanding: and they should have consulted in this case with the priests and people of God, who could best have directed them what to do: but this they were farthest from. Afflictions, God’s hammers, without the Holy Ghost and his fire, do but beat upon cold iron.

Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about. — It was so, by a providence, through all the five cities of the Philistines, Veluti tributum per singulas poenam violatae religionis exigens, Joseph., lib. vi. cap. 1. thus exacting the tribute of just punishment upon them all, for religion violated.

Verse 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.

And they had emerods in their secret parts. — Much worse than the inhabitants of Ashdod, as being more inward, and therefore more painful, and hard to come at, or to be cured. Secundum genus haemorrhoidis, et multo gravius, ut omnes testantur medici. Such as was that direful disease whereof died Jehoram, Antiochus, Arrius, Arminius, who died of an incessant pain in his belly.

Verse 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.

Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. — Thus they send the plague of God up and down to their neighbours. Wicked men use to draw others into partnership of their condemnation.

The Ekronites cried out, saying. — The Israel, ites did not more shout for joy when they saw the ark come to them, than the Ekronites cry out for grief to see it brought among them. Dr Hall. Spiritual things are either sovereign or hurtful, according to the disposition of the receivers.

Verse 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.

Let it go again to his own place.Hoc magno mercentur Hebraei. It is reported of the people in the East Indies, in the isle Ceylon; that having an ape’s tooth got from them, which was a consecrated thing by them, they offered an incredible mass of treasure to recover it. But what an ape’s face was the devil Satan est Dei Simia. to set Herodotus Joseph., lib. x. cap. 1. the historian a-work, to say that at Ascalon, a city of the Philistines, Venus had a temple, - Dagon is by some thought to be Venus, - which when certain thieves robbed, they were smitten with emerods!

Verse 12

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

And the men that died not were smitten, … — All that were smitten with emerods died not here, as they had done at the other cities, quod petiverant ut arca restitueretur, Piscator. because they had desired that the ark might be restored.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 5". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/1-samuel-5.html. 1865-1868.
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