False Gods and Emerods
1 Samuel 5:1-12
(1) And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
(2) When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(12) And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
In this chapter we observe the perpetual reproach (PSA 78:66) that was put upon the Philistines for their presumptuous setting of the image of a dead dunghill deity (Dagon) before the ark of the Living God. But the LORD was not kidding when He said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (EXO 20:3), not even before His ark (vs.1-5). Although God had judged Israel by the ark's seizure yet there was an honor that went with it. The articles and ordinances of God's religion are sacred to it and neither the exploiting of them by the heathen, nor the mingling of them by God's people with heathen ways shall be accepted (DEU 12:29-32 c/w 2CO 6:14-18). Years later, the Babylonians similarly took the articles of God's temple which He had allowed them to seize and presumed to use them in their revelous praise of their idol gods (DAN 5:1-4). God took their kingdom away that very night (DAN 5:30-31). The Philistines paid dearly here for their superstition and transgression. There was a general destruction of three of their cities as well as a painful plague of emerods (hemorrhoids) in their secret/hinder parts. It may be noted that God associates idolatry and false religion with filthy dung (PHIL 3:6-8 c/w MAL 2:1-3; 1KI 14:10; 2KI 10:27). It seems therefore quite appropriate that these foolish idolaters should be smitten with such a loathsome anatomical discomfort. The marginal rendering in v.4 suggests that the phrase, "...only the stump of Dagon was left..." could also read, "...only the fishy part was left..." According to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, Dagon was the name of the fish god deity of the Philistines and evidently his idol priests donned a headdress of a large gape-mouthed fish. Some historians have noted the curious similarity between that and the strange papal mitre sometimes worn by the supposed heir to the office of the lowly fisherman (Peter, supposed by Catholicism as the first bishop of the church of Rome). Why would a true Christian minister wear such a thing since it begs the question as to whether the papal chair of the Roman Catholic church is the legacy of the leading banal fisherman or that of a bleeding anal fissure, man? The student of Scripture would be hard pressed to find a Biblical warrant for such a ministerial hat and are not men supposed to approach God with their head uncovered anyway (1CO 11:4)? It may also be observed from our chapter that God had ordained that Israel should transport the ark by carrying it (NUM 7:9 c/w 1CH 15:2) but when the Philistines tried to carry it (vs.8-9), destruction came upon them. That ark happened to house the commandments of the living God (HEB 9:4). His holy word and ministers thereof are ever a "...sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?" (2CO 2:15-16).