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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Dagons House

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(1 Samuel 5:5), or the HOUSE (1 Samuel 5:2) or TEMPLE OF DAGON (1 Chronicles 10:10), בֵּיתאּדָּגוֹן, i.e. Beth-Dagon, as it is elsewhere rendered (Joshua 15:41; Joshua 19:27; so Βηθδαγών, Maccabees 10:83), or the sanctuary of Dagon, the god of the Philistines, mentioned in Judges 16:23, and other places. See this etymology defended against the older one (which Furst retains, Heb. Lex. p. 286) in Gesenius, Monument. Phan. p. 387, and Thesaur. p. 204. In the first two (and possibly also the third) of the above passages, the temple of Dagon, situated in or near Ashdod (as stated under the foregoing article DAGON), is evidently intended; the other collocations of these words, (See BETH)- require a fuller elucidation than could well be given in the article BETH-DAGON (q.v.).

1. BETH-DAGON, in Joshua 15:41, was one of the second group of "sixteen cities with their villages," which the sacred writer places in the lowlands (שְׁפֵלָה ) of the tribe of Judah, apparently on the actual plain which stretches westward towards the Philistine coast from "the hill country" so often mentioned. This does not (as in Reland, Paloestina, p. 636) designate a Gederoth-bethdagon, as the name Gederoth occurs alone in 2 Chronicles 28:18, with the same description as it has in this place, as one of the cities of the lowlands of Judah. Gesenius and Fü rst identify this Bethdagon with the Caphar-dagon, which in the time of Eusebius was a very large village (κώμη μεγίστη, inter Jamniam et Diospolin) in the neighborhood of Joppa; but modern research has shown that this latter place, of which still remain some traces in Beit-Dejan, a village between Yafa and Ludd, is considerably above the northern boundary of Judah, Our Bethdagon, indeed, no longer exists by the same name (Van de Velde's Map of Palestine and Memoir; p. 294). The same must be said of 2. BETH-DAGON, mentioned in Joshua 19:27, as one of the border cities of the tribe of Asher. Though, however, no modern landmark points out the site of this north Beth-dagon, it is not difficult to discover, from the precise topographical statement of the sacred writer, that this city was situated at the point where the boundary-line of the tribe, after crossing the ridge south of the promontory of Carmel towards the east, intersects the stream of the Kishon, on the confines of Zebulon. It is remarkable that, as there is a modern Beit-Dejan in the south which yet cannot be identified with, but is far to the north-west of, the southern Beth-dagon, so there is still, in the central district of the Holy Land, a second Beit-Dejan, which is equally far distant from our northern Beth-dagon, only in the opposite direction of southeast. In the fertile and beautiful plain of Salim, a little to the east of Nabulus (Shechem), Dr. Robinson descried at the east end of it, on some low hills, a village-called Beit-Deja (Bibl. Researches, 3, 102; Later Researches, p. 298). This Beit-Dejan, Robinson thinks, has no counterpart in the Beth-dagons of the Bible. The French traveler, De Saulcy, is not of this opinion, but identifies the village near Nabulus with the Beth-dagon of Chronicles 10:10; because "this village is only one day's march from Jilboun, the locality in the mountain to the north-east of Jenin, which was unquestionably the scene of Saul's disaster" (Dead Sea, 1:101). If his conjecture be right, we must indicate this as the

3. BETH-DAGON of 1 Chronicles 10:10 (Sept. οϊ v κος Δαγών ), in the western half-tribe of Manasseh (some distance from Mount Gilboa), where the Philistines after their victory, placed Saul's head in the temple of their god-his body and those of his sons having been carried (the same distance north-east) to Bethshan, whence the Jabesh-Gileadites afterwards rescued them. It no doubt aids this view that we are not otherwise informed where the temple was in which they deposited their ghastly trophy; moreover, the phrase (in 1 Chronicles 10:9) בָּאֶרֶוֹאּפ 8 סָבִיב, denoting a circuit of the adjacent country, which had been evacuated by Israel, and was then occupied by the enemy (1 Chronicles 10:7), very well suits the relative positions of this Beit-Dejan and Bethshan, equally distant from the fatal field, and in different directions.

4. With regard to the Beth-dagon of 1 Maccabees 10:83, Gesenius (Thes. p. 194) expresses a doubt whether this passage means only Dagon's temple at Azotus, or a Beth-dagon, a town so called in the neighborhood. In that case we might regard this as a city in the vicinity of Azotus (or Ashdod), answering probably to Dr. Robinson's western Beit-Dejan, and Eusebius's Caphardagon, already mentioned. It will be observed that in the 84th verse Beth-dagon occurs as a proper name, as it also does in the original, Βηθδαγών, whereas, in the next verse, the temple of the Philistine god is described by the appellative τὸ ἱερὸν Δαγών . On the whole, however, there does not appear to be sufficient reason for the distinction.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Dagons House'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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