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Verses 1-12

The Ark among the Philistines

1. Ashdod] on an elevation overlooking the Philistine plain midway between Gaza and Joppa, and 3 m. from the Mediterranean. Its importance consisted in the fact that it commanded the high road from Palestine to Egypt.

2. Dagon] seems to have been worshipped in all the Philistine cities. His name is probably merely the Canaanite pronunciation of the word for ’corn,’ and designates him as the god of agriculture. The Philistines were not a maritime people, like the Phoenicians, but depended on agriculture. Stanley writes: ’The most striking and characteristic feature of Philistia is its immense plains of cornfields... These rich fields must have been the great source alike of the power and value of Philistia.’ They brought it] The Philistines considered that their god, Dagon, had shown himself stronger than Jehovah, and so they brought him the symbol of bis conquered rival.

3. Fallen upon his face] in an attitude of homage. Set him in his place] they would think it was an accident.

4. This time all possibility of accident was excluded. The stump of Dagon] AV is right in thinking that some word must have fallen out of the Hebrew text.

6. In 1 Samuel 6 we have a plague of mice as well as of haemorrhoids. Some regard the introduction of this second plague as due to a scribe. On the other hand, LXX inserts a notice of the mice also in 1 Samuel 5:6, 1 Samuel 5:10; 1 Samuel 6:1. Well-hausen thinks that ’mice’ are symbolical of misfortune in general, and do not denote a second plague. Herodotus attributes the disaster which overtook Sennacherib’s army and the deliverance of Jerusalem in 701 b.c. (2 Kings 19:35-37) to a host of mice, which destroyed the bowstrings of the Assyrian soldiers: cp. on 1 Samuel 6:5.

12. So the protest of the Ekronites was not attended to. The Philistines were unwilling to part with their trophy.

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