Wesley's Notes on the Bible
And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
5:2 By Dagon - By way of reproach, as a spoil and trophy set there to the honour of Dagon, to whom doubtless they ascribed this victory.
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.
5:3 They - The priests of Dagon. Set him - Supposing his fall was casual.
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.
5:4 Cut off - The head is the seat of wisdom; the hands the instruments of action: both are cut off to shew 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 - Heb. only dagon, that is, that part of it from which it was called Dagon, namely the fishy part, for Dag in Hebrew signifies a fish. It - Upon the threshold; there the trunk abode in the place where it fell, but the head and hands were slung to distant places.
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.
5:5 This day - When this history was written, which if written by Samuel towards the end of his life, was a sufficient ground for this expression.
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.
5:6 Emerods - The piles.
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.
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.
5:8 To Gath - Supposing that this plague was confined to Ashdod for some particular reasons, or that it came upon them by chance, or for putting it into Dagon's temple, which they resolved they would not do.
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.
5:9 Hidden parts - In the inwards of their hinder parts: which is the worst kind of emerods, as all physicians acknowledge, both because its pains are far more sharp than the other; and because the malady is more out of the reach of remedies.
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.
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.
5:11 The city - In every city, where the ark of God came.
And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.