I am conversant with the big parts of David's life, and even the highlights of Saul's life before him. However, I haven't ever read these books from beginning to end. Therefore, I don't know a lot of the details other than knowing about Hannah's plea to God for a son (hellooo Samuel), God calling to Samuel when he was small, and a few choice bits of scolding to the kings (well-deserved, I might add).
In other words, I know the basics as much as any Catholic who attends weekly Mass and pays reasonable attention to the readings.
So, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I read this at the beginning of chapter 5.
And the Philistines took the Ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it up alongside Dagon. And the Ashdodites arose on the next day and, look, Dagon was fallen forward to the ground before the Ark of the Lord.Dagon! Wait, I know that name!
I think I'd have listened more intently in Mass if they ever read these bits of 1 Samuel.
Hey, I may only know the basics about the books of Samuel, but I know much more about the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Dagon is an early Lovecraft story and is mentioned again in The Shadow Over Innsmouth, which I just listened to recently (a fine and free narration by Mike Bennett).
Alter's note, which I read with extra interest, points out that once it was widely imagined that Dagon used to be associated with fish (aha! Lovecraft, you clever fellow, no wonder those horrible worshippers were from the bottom of the sea). However, they now believe Dagon was actually a vegetation or fertility god.
I might be kind of freaked out if my god mysteriously fell at the feet of the Hebrew's Ark of God.
But wait. Maybe Dagon's statue just happened to fall over. That could happen to any statue, right?
So the Philistines thought (and hoped and prayed, probably). Read on...
And they took Dagon and set him back in his place. And they arose the next morning and, look, Dagon was fallen forward to the ground before the Ark of the Lord, and Dagon's head and both his hands were chopped off upon the threshold--his trunk alone remained on him. ... And the hand of the Lord was heavy upon the Ashdodites and He devastated them, and he struck them with tumors, Ashdod and all its territories.Not just tumors, y'all. Tumors "in their secret parts."
Fish god or fertility god, when the hand of the Lord falls heavy upon you, there's no mistaking it. Time to send that Ark back where you got it.
Alter's note once again adds context.
This second incident, in which the hands and head of the idol have been chopped off, offers to the Philistines clear proof of divine intervention. Hacking the hands and feet off war prisoners was a well-known barbaric practice in the ancient Near East, and similar acts of mutilation are attested in the Book of Judges.Uh huh. Message sent. And received.