The Ark in Philistine Hands
1After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod, 2brought it into the temple of Dagon and placed it next to his statue. 3When the people of Ashdod got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen with his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and returned him to his place. 4But when they got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen with his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. This time, Dagon’s head and both of his hands were broken off and lying on the threshold. Only Dagon’s torso remained. 5That is why, still today, the priests of Dagon and everyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod do not step on Dagon’s threshold.
6The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod. He terrified the people of Ashdod and its territory and afflicted them with tumors. 7When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of Israel’s God must not stay here with us, because his hand is strongly against us and our god Dagon.” 8So they called all the Philistine rulers together and asked, “What should we do with the ark of Israel’s God?”
“The ark of Israel’s God should be moved to Gath,” they replied. So they moved the ark of Israel’s God. 9After they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against the city of Gath, causing a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, from the youngest to the oldest, with an outbreak of tumors.
10The people of Gath then sent the ark of God to Ekron, but when it got there, the Ekronites cried out, “They’ve moved the ark of Israel’s God to us to kill us and our people!”
11The Ekronites called all the Philistine rulers together. They said, “Send the ark of Israel’s God away. Let it return to its place so it won’t kill us and our people!” For the fear of death pervaded the city; God’s hand was oppressing them. 12Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.