The Ark in Philistia
1After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. 3But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. 4But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. 5That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.
6Then the Lord’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of tumors.*5:6 Greek version and Latin Vulgate read tumors; and rats appeared in their land, and death and destruction were throughout the city. 7When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, “We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god.” 8So they called together the rulers of the Philistine towns and asked, “What should we do with the Ark of the God of Israel?”
The rulers discussed it and replied, “Move it to the town of Gath.” So they moved the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the Lord’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of tumors, and there was a great panic.
10So they sent the Ark of God to the town of Ekron, but when the people of Ekron saw it coming they cried out, “They are bringing the Ark of the God of Israel here to kill us, too!” 11The people summoned the Philistine rulers again and begged them, “Please send the Ark of the God of Israel back to its own country, or it*5:11 Or he. will kill us all.” For the deadly plague from God had already begun, and great fear was sweeping across the town. 12Those who didn’t die were afflicted with tumors; and the cry from the town rose to heaven.