Who Was Dagon In The Bible

The origins of Dagon are shrouded in mystery. No one knows who he was, and there are more theories than I care to list right here. Most of them aren’t even worth the time to provide you an overview because they don’t add anything of value to the conversation about Dagon. This article will shed some light on who Dagon was and his importance in ancient history.

Dagon is the name of a Philistine god. He was depicted as half-man, half-fish, reflecting the nature of Dagon as both a fertility god and a god of the sea.[1] He first appears in Judges 16:23 as one of the deities who did not come into the house of Yahweh (the temple in Jerusalem) with the children of Israel. The existence, rank, and gender of this deity are uncertain. The local Philistine population worshipped Dagon long after the other Israelites stopped doing so.

The ancient Phoenicians had a god named Hadad. The Biblical prophets Hosea and Amos both connect the name of this deity with the Greek word, Zeus (1). In the book of Hosea, the prophet speaks against this god and in the books of Amos (2), we find the following quote: “But I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving them an example of what will happen to the wicked. Thus they committed adultery and practiced homosexuality [literal interpretation: ‘Ashtoreth worship’], as well as the worship of Baal” (Amos 4:11). Interestingly enough, in 2 Kings 23:13-14 we learn that there was a place where Israelites worshipped a god by the name Dagon.

The passage from Jeremiah 32 makes it clear that Yahweh is not pleased with Dagon worship. This connection between Dagon and Hadad seems rather obvious to me. The name Dagon comes from a root word dag-, which means “grain.” It is also interesting that in Arabic languages today, such as Hebrew, there are words that are found in Arabic dictionaries but have been forgotten by Hebrew speaking Jews.

Who Was Dagon In The Bible

Dagon was the chief deity of the Philistines, and the worship of this pagan god dates back the third millennium BC. According to ancient mythology, Dagon was the father of Baal. He was the fish god (dag in Hebrew means “fish”), and he was represented as a half-man, half-fish creature. This image furthered an evolutionary belief that both men and fish had evolved together from the primal waters. Dagon may also have been the provider of grain. So Dagon was similar to many other idols in that he personified natural forces that had supposedly produced all things.

There are three places where Dagon is mentioned in the Bible. The first mention is Judges 16:23, where we are told that Dagon was the god of the Philistines. The Philistines offered “a great sacrifice” to Dagon, believing that their idol had delivered Samson into their hands. First Chronicles 10:10 mentions a temple of Dagon in which the head of King Saul was fastened. Then, in 1 Samuel 5, Dagon is brought to humiliation by the True God of the Israelites.

What an interesting story is found in 1 Samuel 5! The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, and they “carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of [the city of] Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold. The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, ‘The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god’” (verses 2-7). Who says God does not have a sense of humor? This has to be one of the more funny passages in the entire Bible. For further reading, see 1 Samuel 6 for the account of the Philistines’ attempt to solve their dilemma—with golden rats and golden tumors (or, as some translations put it, “golden hemorrhoids”)!

Dagon figures into the story of Jonah, as well, although the deity is not mentioned by name in Jonah’s book. The Assyrians in Nineveh, to whom Jonah was sent as a missionary, worshiped Dagon and his female counterpart, the fish goddess Nanshe. Jonah, of course, did not go straight to Nineveh but had to be brought there via miraculous means. The transportation God provided for Jonah—a great fish—would have been full of meaning for the Ninevites. When Jonah arrived in their city, he made quite a splash, so to speak. He was a man who had been inside a fish for three days and directly deposited by a fish on dry land. The Ninevites, who worshiped a fish god, were duly impressed; they gave Jonah their attention and repented of their sin.

Who Was Dagon In The Bible

Dagon in the Bible (also known as Dagan) was one of the oldest deities in Mesopotamia, with evidence as far back as 3,000 BC. Dagon was known as a father of other gods, so he was a major figure of worship of most of the people groups in what we call the Cradle of Civilization, where farming is thought to have first started (also the area some call the Fertile Crescent). Dagon was primarily associated with fertility, including abundant crop harvests, but also dealt with anointing kings and leaders.

As a biblical connection, ancient texts from the region connect Dagon as the father of Baal, another false god highlighted throughout later Old Testament history.

The statue of Dagon was like a large man. Some depictions of him made him like a merman, a fish from the waist down. Some scholars have called him a fish god, which seems logical, especially for the Philistines along the coast, but other scholars have disputed it since there’s more evidence he was responsible for crops and grain. Even his name is connected to an old noun for “grain.”

Dagon in the Bible was worshipped by the Philistines through Judges and the time of Samuel and King Saul.

How Was Dagon Worshipped?

Dagon had temples all throughout Mesopotamia. In the Bible, the major temples were in the cities of Beth-dagon, Gaza, and Ashdod. He was worshipped through sacrifices and feasts. Sacrifices were common in the ancient world, even to the God of Israel, through food and animals. Israel specifically prohibited the sacrifice of humans and drinking of blood, common to most other religions at the time. It is highly likely human sacrifice was common for Dagon, as well.

One interesting account of Dagon worship had people making a master weapon and sending it as a gift.

In the account of Samson, there was singing and dancing to praise Dagon, and part of the worship was to bring Samson up before 3,000 people, mocking him and showing how great their god was to give them victory over the mighty warrior Samson.

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