What does 1 Samuel 5:5 mean?
ESV: This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
NIV: That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon's temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
NASB: For that reason neither the priests of Dagon nor any who enter Dagon’s house step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
CSB: That is why, still today, the priests of Dagon and everyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod do not step on Dagon's threshold.
NLT: That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
The Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant when they defeated Israel in battle (1 Samuel 4:1–11). Keeping with the custom of the time, they brought the ark to the temple of their false god, Dagon, to demonstrate what they saw as their defeat of Israel's God. But the following morning, the statue of Dagon lay prostrate in front of the ark. They reset the statue only to return the next day to find it thoroughly desecrated: face down in front of the ark with head and hands cut off and lying on the floor to be walked on. These events reflect more than victory; they imply utter contempt.

The threshold of the doorway into a temple was often thought to be an important dividing line between what was common and what was sacred. That the head and hands of the idol were on the "threshold" increased the humiliation of what the Lord had done. The Philistines' sacred idol had been shown in submission to Yahweh, defeated before Him, forced into proximity with the common world, stripped of power and authority, shamed and humbled, literally in pieces on the floor.

Instead of deciding Dagon must not be worthy of worship since he had been dismembered by the Lord, the Philistines in Ashdod did the opposite and continued to revere their idol. They declared the spot where his head and hands were found to be a kind of holy ground that they must now step over instead of walking on. The writer says they were still observing this practice when the book of Samuel was written. Depending on exactly which "threshold" was meant, this implies they either never entered that building again, or that they began treating that part of the temple as especially sanctified.

Soon the Lord went even further to demonstrate to the Philistines in Ashdod that He was no empty god like Dagon. They would know the power of the God of Israel to be real and terrible (1 Samuel 5:6–8).
Verse Context:
First Samuel 5:1–6 describes the arrogance of the Philistines as they place the captured ark of the Lord in the temple of their false god, Dagon. That arrogance is followed by dread: the following morning, the Dagon idol is found face down before the ark. The idol is set back in place, only to fall into the same position overnight, this time with its head and hands cut off and laying on the temple's threshold. The following passage details a wave of tumors and terror among the Philistines, as they move the ark while attempting to halt the plague.
Chapter Summary:
The captured ark of the Lord is placed in the temple of Dagon. On consecutive nights, the Dagon idol is found on the floor, face down before the ark. On the second night, its head and hands are removed. The Lord sends a plague of terror and tumors on the people of Ashdod. The ark is sent to Gath and then Ekron, where the suffering grows even more intense. Some men in Ekron die from sheer panic, and the rest are struck with tumors. The people cry out to send the ark away, back to the Israelites.
Chapter Context:
In the prior chapter, Israel lost badly in battle against the Philistines, who even captured the ark of the covenant. First Samuel 5 dispels any suspicion that the Israelites' defeat means the god of the Philistines is more powerful than the Lord. In Ashdod, the idol of the god Dagon is supernaturally humiliated in its own temple. A plague of terror and tumors follows, first in Ashdod and then in Gath and Ekron as the ark is moved closer and closer to Jerusalem. The people of Ekron cry out for their leaders to send it back to the Israelites. Chapter 6 details their plan to be free from the ark and God's wrath.
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
Accessed 3/1/2024 10:26:41 PM
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