1 Samuel 5:4
And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen on 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 on the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) When they arose early on the morrow.—Strange to say, on the next day a new and startling circumstance aroused and disturbed the exultant Philistines. The idol was again fallen, but this time broken. No mere accident could account for what had happened. The head and hands were severed from the image, and thrown contemptuously on the threshold of the temple, upon which the foot of every priest or worshipper as he passed into the sacred house must tread.

Only the stump of Dagon.—The Hebrew, rendered literally, would run, only Dagon was left to him: that is to say, only “the fish,” the least noble part of the idol image, was left standing; the human head and hands were tossed down for men as they passed in to trample on; “only the form of a fish was left in him.”—R. D. Kimchi.

1 Samuel 5:4-5. Behold Dagon was fallen &c. — Which showed that his former fall was not by chance, but by the power of God, before whom he could not stand. The head of Dagon, and both his hands, were cut off — The head is the seat of wisdom; the hands the instruments of action; both are cut off, to show that he had neither wisdom nor strength to defend himself or his worshippers. Thus the priests, by concealing Dagon’s shame before, make it more evident and infamous. The stump — Hebrew, only Dagon; that is, saith Rabbi Kimchi, that part of it from which it was called Dagon, namely, the fishy part; for dag, in Hebrew, signifies a fish. Upon it Upon the threshold; there the trunk abode in the place where it fell, but the head and hands were flung to distant places. Neither the priests tread on the threshold of Dagon — Out of reverence to it, looking upon it as a holy thing, by the touch of Dagon’s head and hands. So foolishly did they pervert the meaning of God, that instead of being convinced that Dagon was no god, they even honoured the threshold which his broken limbs had fallen upon! Unto this day — When this history was written, which, if written by Samuel toward the end of his life, was a sufficient ground for this expression.5:1-5 See the ark's triumph over Dagon. Thus the kingdom of Satan will certainly fall before the kingdom of Christ, error before truth, profaneness before godliness, and corruption before grace in the hearts of the faithful. When the interests of religion seem to be ready to sink, even then we may be confident that the day of their triumph will come. When Christ, the true Ark of the covenant, really enters the heart of fallen man, which is indeed Satan's temple, all idols will fall, every endeavour to set them up again will be vain, sin will be forsaken, and unrighteous gain restored; the Lord will claim and possess the throne. But pride, self-love, and worldly lusts, though dethroned and crucified, still remain within us, like the stump of Dagon. Let us watch and pray that they may not prevail. Let us seek to have them more entirely destroyed.They brought it into the house of Dagon (see the marginal reference) in order to enhance the triumph of the gods of the Philistines over the God of Israel. (Compare 1 Samuel 31:9; Judges 16:23; Isaiah 37:12.) 1Sa 5:3-5. Dagon Falls Down.

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.

The

head is the seat of wisdom; the hands, the instruments of action: both are cut off, to show that he had neither wisdom nor strength to defend himself nor his worshippers. This the priests, by concealing Dagon’s shame before, make it more evident and infamous.

Only the stump of Dagon, Heb. only Dagon, i.e. that part of it from which it was called Dagon, to wit, the fishy part, for dag in Hebrew signifies a fish. And hence their opinion seems most probable, that this idol of Dagon had in its upper parts a human shape, and in its lower parts the form of a fish; for such was the form of divers of the heathen gods, and particularly of a god of the Phoenicians, (under which name the Philistines are comprehended,) as Diodorus Siculus and Lucian both witness, though they call it by another name.

Was left to him, or, upon it, i.e. upon the threshold; there the trunk abode in the place where it fell, but the head and hands being violently cut off, were flung to distant and several places. And when they arose early on the morrow morning,.... For the same purpose as before; unless they had any curiosity to indulge, to see whether the ark and Dagon agreed better together, if they had any suspicion that the former mischance was to be attributed to some variance and disagreement between them:

behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord: again, and in a worse condition than before:

and the head of Dagon, and both the palms of his hands, were cut off upon the threshold; of the temple, upon which he fell with such force, that the threshold cut off his head, and both his hands; which signified he had neither wisdom to contrive for his own safety, nor strength and power to defend himself; and therefore of what advantage could he be to his votaries? This may be an emblem of the fall of idolatry in the Gentile world, before the preaching of Christ and his Gospel in it; or of the idol of man's righteousness, which is set up, though it cannot stand, against the righteousness of Christ, and of man's renouncing that, when convinced of the weakness and insufficiency of it, and submitting to the righteousness of Christ:

only the stump of Dagon was left to him: his body, as the Targum, his head and hands being cut off; or, as it is in the Hebrew text, only Dagon was left; that is, the fishy part of this idol; for "Dag" signifies a fish; and, as Kimchi relates, this idol, from the navel upwards, had the form of a man, and from thence downwards the form of a fish; and it was the lower part that was left; See Gill on Judges 16:23.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. cut off upon the threshold] i.e. cut off and lying upon the doorsill, probably not of the main entrance to the temple, but of the chapel or recess in which the statue stood. In this position they would be liable to the indignity of being trampled upon by the priests and worshippers who entered the shrine.

only the stump of Dagon was left to him] Lit., only Dagon was left upon him. Either some word for ‘trunk’ or ‘body’ has been lost in the original, or ‘Dagon’ is used to denote the fish-shaped body of the idol, from which the god derived his name.

“Next came one

Who mourned in earnest, when the captive ark

Maimed his brute image, head and hands lopped off

In his own temple, on the grunsel edge,

Where he fell flat, and shamed his worshippers.”

Paradise Lost, I. 457.The judgment which fell upon Eli through this stroke extended still further. His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was with child (near) to be delivered. ללת, contracted from ללדת (from ילד: see Ges. 69, 3, note 1; Ewald, 238, c.). When she heard the tidings of the capture (אל־הלּקח, "with regard to the being taken away") of the ark of God, and the death of her father-in-law and husband, she fell upon her knees and was delivered, for her pains had fallen upon her (lit. had turned against her), and died in consequence. Her death, however, was but a subordinate matter to the historian. He simply refers to it casually in the words, "and about the time of her death," for the purpose of giving her last words, in which she gave utterance to her grief at the loss of the ark, as a matter of greater importance in relation to his object. As she lay dying, the women who stood round sought to comfort her, by telling her that she had brought forth a son; but "she did not answer, and took no notice (לב שׁוּת equals לב שׂוּם, animum advertere; cf. Psalm 62:11), but called to the boy (i.e., named him), Ichabod (כבוד אי, no glory), saying, The glory of Israel is departed," referring to the capture of the ark of God, and also to her father-in-law and husband. She then said again, "Gone (גּלה, wandered away, carried off) is the glory of Israel, for the ark of God is taken." The repetition of these words shows how deeply the wife of the godless Phinehas had taken to heart the carrying off of the ark, and how in her estimation the glory of Israel had departed with it. Israel could not be brought lower. With the surrender of the earthly throne of His glory, the Lord appeared to have abolished His covenant of grace with Israel; for the ark, with the tables of the law and the capporeth, was the visible pledge of the covenant of grace which Jehovah had made with Israel.
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