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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Diminutive (expressing endearment) of dag , "a fish." The male god to which Atargatis corresponds (2 Maccabees 12:26), the Syrian goddess with a woman's body and fish's tail, worshipped at Hierapolis and Ascalon. Our fabulous mermaid is derived from this Phoenician idol. She corresponds to the Greek foam-sprung Aphrodite. The divine principle supposed to produce the seeds of all things from moisture. Twice a year, water was brought from distant places and poured into a chasm in the temple, through which the waters of the flood were said to have been drained away (Lucian de Syr. Dea, 883). Derived from tarag , targeto , "an opening," the goddess being also called DERCETO; or else addir , "glorious," and dagto , "a fish."

The tutelary goddess of the first Assyrian dynasty, the name appearing in Tiglath. Dag-on was the national god of the Philistines, his temples were at Gaza and Ashdod (Judges 16:21-30; 1 Samuel 5:5-6). The temple of Dagon, which Samson pulled down, probably resembled a Turkish kiosk, a spacious hall with roof resting in front upon four columns, two at the ends and two close together at the center. Under this hall the Philistine chief men celebrated a sacrificial meal, while the people assembled above upon the balustraded roof. The half-man half-fish form (found in bas-relief at Khorsabad) was natural to maritime coast dwellers. They senselessly joined the human form divine to the beast that perishes, to symbolize nature's vivifying power through water; the Hindu Vishnu; Babylonian Odakon.

On the doorway of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik there is still in bas-relief representations of Dagon, with the body of a fish but under the fish's head a man's head, and to its tail women's feet joined; and in all the four gigantic slabs the upper part has perished, exactly as 1 Samuel 5:4's margin describes: now in the British Museum. The cutting off of Dagon's head and hands before Jehovah's ark, and their lying on the threshold (from whence his devotees afterward did not dare to tread upon it), prefigure the ultimate cutting off of all idols in the great day of Jehovah (Isaiah 2:11-22). Beth-Dagon in Judah and another in Asher (Joshua 15:41; Joshua 19:27) show the wide extension of this worship. In his temple the Philistines fastened up Saul's head (1 Chronicles 10:10).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Dagon'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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