I Samuel – Chapter 5

God: 5, Dagon: 0

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Having captured the Ark from the Jews, the Philistines took it to the city of Ashdod and put it in the house of their idol, Dagon, who was possibly in the form a merman. The logic behind this move was that the “gods” would probably enjoy hanging out together. The next day, however, the Philistines found the idol of Dagon face down on the floor. They righted it, but the next day it was again fallen, only this time its head and hands were severed. The Philistines sanctified the place where the idol had fallen.

Seeing that the Philistines were a stubborn lot and just not getting the message, G-d sent the people of Ashdod a message that was harder to miss. He struck the entire city and its suburbs with hemorrhoids, a painful and embarrassing condition. The people of Ashdod responded by forwarding the Ark to the city of Gath. G-d struck Gath with even worse hemorrhoids, so they sent it to Ekron. The people in Ekron stared to die as a result of the affliction, so the Philistine rulers gathered together to plan a course of action. They decided that it might be a better idea to get rid of the Ark altogether.

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