1 Samuel Chapter 5: The Philistine Plague of Emerods

Dec 30th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Samuel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Samuel Chapter 5: The Philistine Plague of Emerods

1 Sam. 5:1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod.

1 Sam. 5:2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

After the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they brought it from Eben-ezer to Ashdod, one of their principal cities and the site of the Temple of Dagon. The Ark was set down by Dagon, the fish god, which had the body of a fish. Other Philistine cities were Gaza, Gath, Ashkelon, and Ekron.

Dagon of the Philistines, Also Oannes of Chaldea (Ancient Babylon)

1 Sam. 5:3 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.

The next morning Dagon had fallen on its face before the Ark—as if to bow to the Ark. The Philistines set up Dagon in its place again.

1 Sam. 5:4 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.

On the following morning, when the Philistines opened the temple door, they found that the same thing had occurred. However, this time the head was separated from the trunk of the body, and both hands were severed from the wrists and lay on the threshold of the temple. “Only the stump of Dagon was left.” Since the word Dagon means “fish” (just like Nin of Ninevah), the thought is that the “fish” stump (or trunk) of the body, remained. Several nationalities worshipped the same god, using other names. In falling twice, Dagon, the main idol, prostrated twice before the Ark of the Covenant, which was evidently situated near the entrance.

1 Sam. 5:5 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.

Henceforth neither the priests nor any of the people would step on the threshold of Dagon’s house but stepped over it. What is the significance of this incident with its somewhat odd setting? Based on several identifying factors, the antitypical Dagon is Papacy. The severed head and palms of the hands remind us of Jezebel, whose skull, hands, and feet remained when she was accosted by Jehu (2 Kings 9:31-36). When Jehu called up to the eunuchs, they threw her out of the window, and dogs ate her.

Early Christians used the fish as a symbol of Christianity because Jesus called disciples to be “fishers of men” and preached in the area of the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:19). In fact, fish are prominently used in the mosaic tiles of that area. In time, Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church absorbed both the name of Christianity and the symbol of the fish, which is seen in the cardinals’ pointed split “fish” hats, portraying the head of a fish. As the Catholic Church rose in power and influence and was recognized by the Roman Empire, the pagan priesthood, seeing which way the wind was blowing, very conveniently converted to supposedly become consecrated Christian priests. They brought with them a lot of their symbols, one of which was the symbol of Dagon. Cardinal Newman tried to explain the compromise and absorption of pagan customs into the Catholic Church in past centuries and how they became sanctified. An influential Protestant at one time, he converted to Roman Catholicism and wrote a book, trying to explain and justify the pagan idiosyncrasies. Incidentally, the word “nun” is an adaptation of “nin,” meaning the female aspect of a fish.

The idol fell twice. In antitype, the two falls are (1) Papacy’s fall at the end of the 1,260 years of power and (2) the utter destruction yet to come, when the entire system will go into perdition (Rev. 17:8,11).

1 Sam. 5:6 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.

“Emerods” afflicted those in the city of Ashdod and its suburbs. This mysterious illness was fatal, for some died quickly, that is, in the first two mornings that the Ark was in Ashdod. In addition, others were smitten with emerods.

Comment: The RSV has “tumors” instead of “emerods.”

Reply: Some translations use the word “hemorrhoids.” In other words, “emerods” were growths, tumors, hemorrhoids, and lumps (especially in male and female organs and in related sensitive areas such as the rectum—see verse 9). Some tumorous growths are very painful.

1 Sam. 5:7 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 Philistines recognized, at least temporarily, that the God of Israel was superior to their own god, Dagon. They realized the plague was a judgment, yet they did not convert or give up their false religion. How strange! The same was true of the people in Egypt and Babylon.

Instead of becoming worshippers of Jehovah, they kept worshipping their own god(s).

1 Sam. 5:8 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.

1 Sam. 5:9 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.

The lords of the Philistines decided to move the Ark to the city of Gath, but the distressing plague continued. “The hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction” so that “the men of the city, both small and great, … had emerods in their secret parts.” The plague became increasingly severe.

1 Sam. 5:10 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.

1 Sam. 5:11 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.

1 Sam. 5:12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

Meanwhile, the people in Ekron, a third Philistine city, had heard what was happening, so when the Ark was sent to their city, they felt that the God of Israel wanted to slay them. The plague hit Ekron even harder, “for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.” Many died, and the others “were smitten with emerods.”

The cry of the people “went up to heaven.” This experience was like the third strike, and the people, fearing, gathered the lords of the Philistines, demanding that the Ark be sent back to its “own place.”

Incidentally, knowing Biblical city and place names and their location helps to unlock Old Testament prophecies by identifying whom they are against—whether they pertain to Babylon, the Philistines, Edom, the Amalekites, etc. For example, Edom has multiple names such as Idumea, Teman, and Esau.

(1985-1987 Study)

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