Now that the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they brought it to Ashdod and took it into the house of their “god” Dagon. When they woke early the next day, they found their idol face down on the ground in front of the ark, as if their “god” was bowing to the Lord. They put it back in place, only to find the next day that the head and both hands were cut off and laying on the threshold – with only its trunk left (verse 4).
Done toying with them, verse 6 says that the Lord afflicted the people with tumors. The men had enough and sent the ark to Gath, where the Lord caused a great panic, afflicting young and old with tumors. So they sent it to Ekron, where verse 11 says there grew a deathly panic which verse 12 says was quite literal. Those who did not die were struck with tumors.
By chapter 6, the ark had been in their land for seven months, and they were ready to get rid of it. Their priests and diviners advise to send it back with golden images of their tumors and of mice. Verse 5 speaks of the mice that had ravaged the land. Some people think that this could indicate that the bubonic plague had been at work in all of this. Whatever the case, verse 6 makes it clear that the word of the plagues on the Egyptians and Pharaoh so long ago had spread, and was not forgotten. The ark is finally returned and ends up in Kiriath-jearim.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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