Unto Dagon their god - Diodorus Siculus describes their god thus:
Το μεν προσωπον εχει γυναικος, το δ ' αλλο σωμα παν ιχθους ;
"It had the head of a woman, but all the rest of the body resembled a fish."
Dagon was called Dorceto among the heathens. Horace, in the following lines, especially in the third and fourth, seems to have in view the image of Dagon: -
Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam
Pingere si velit; et varias inducere plumas,
Undique collatis Inembris; ut turpiter atrum
Desinat in piscem mulier formosa superne;
Spectatum admissi risum teneatis amici?
De Art. Poet., V. 1.
"Suppose a painter to a human head
Should join a horse's neck; and wildly spread
The various plumage of the feather'd kind
O'er limbs of different beasts, absurdly join'd;
Or if he gave to view a beauteous maid,
Above the waist with every charm array'd,
Should a foul fish her lower parts infold,
Would you not smile such pictures to behold?"
Dagon was the national idol of the Philistines 1 Chronicles 10:10, so called from Dag, a fish. The description of Dagon, in his temple at Ashdod 1 Samuel 5:4, exactly agrees with the representations of a fish-god on the walls of Khorsabad, on slabs at Kouyunjik, and on sundry antique cylinders and gems. In these the figures vary. Some have a human form down to the waist, with that of a fish below the waist; others have a human head, arms, and legs, growing, as it were, out of a fish‘s body, and so arranged that the fish‘s head forms a kind of mitre to the man‘s head, while the body and fins form a kind of cloak, hanging down behind.
Day by day Delilah urged him, until “his soul was vexed unto death;” yet a subtle power kept him by her side. Overcome at last, Samson made known the secret: “There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” A messenger was immediately dispatched to the lords of the Philistines, urging them to come to her without delay. While the warrior slept, the heavy masses of his hair were severed from his head. Then, as she had done three times before, she called, “The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!” Suddenly awaking, he thought to exert his strength as before and destroy them; but his powerless arms refused to do his bidding, and he knew that “Jehovah was departed from him.” When he had been shaven, Delilah began to annoy him and cause him pain, thus making a trial of his strength; for the Philistines dared not approach him till fully convinced that his power was gone. Then they seized him and, having put out both his eyes, they took him to Gaza. Here he was bound with fetters in their prison house and confined to hard labor. PP 566.1
What a change to him who had been the judge and champion of Israel!—now weak, blind, imprisoned, degraded to the most menial service! Little by little he had violated the conditions of his sacred calling. God had borne long with him; but when he had so yielded himself to the power of sin as to betray his secret, the Lord departed from him. There was no virtue in his long hair merely, but it was a token of his loyalty to God; and when the symbol was sacrificed in the indulgence of passion, the blessings of which it was a token were also forfeited. PP 566.2
In suffering and humiliation, a sport for the Philistines, Samson learned more of his own weakness than he had ever known before; and his afflictions led him to repentance. As his hair grew, his power gradually returned; but his enemies, regarding him as a fettered and helpless prisoner, felt no apprehensions. PP 566.3
The Philistines ascribed their victory to their gods; and, exulting, they defied the God of Israel. A feast was appointed in honor of Dagon, the fish god, “the protector of the sea.” From town and country throughout the Philistine plain the people and their lords assembled. Throngs of worshipers filled the vast temple and crowded the galleries about the roof. It was a scene of festivity and rejoicing. There was the pomp of the sacrificial service, followed by music and feasting. Then, as the crowning trophy of Dagon's power, Samson was brought in. Shouts of exultation greeted his appearance. People and rulers mocked his misery and adored the god who had overthrown “the destroyer of their country.” After a time, as if weary, Samson asked permission to rest against the two central pillars which supported the temple roof. Then he silently uttered the prayer, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines.” With these words he encircled the pillars with his mighty arms; and crying, “Let me die with the Philistines!” he bowed himself, and the roof fell, destroying at one crash all that vast multitude. “So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” PP 566.4Read in context »
Samson Failed Where Joseph Overcame—Samson in his peril had the same source of strength as had Joseph. He could choose the right or the wrong as he pleased. But instead of taking hold of the strength of God, he permitted the wild passions of his nature to have full sway. The reasoning powers were perverted, the morals corrupted. God had called Samson to a position of great responsibility, honor, and usefulness; but he must first learn to govern by first learning to obey the laws of God. Joseph was a free moral agent. Good and evil were before him. He could choose the path of purity, holiness, and honor, or the path of immorality and degradation. He chose the right way, and God approved. Samson, under similar temptations, which he had brought upon himself, gave loose rein to passion. The path which he entered upon he found to end in shame, disaster, and death. What a contrast to the history of Joseph! (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.1
(Galatians 6:7, 8). Samson's History a Lesson for Youth—The history of Samson conveys a lesson for those whose characters are yet unformed, who have not yet entered upon the stage of active life. The youth who enter our schools and colleges will find there every class of mind. If they desire sport and folly, if they seek to shun the good and unite with the evil, they have the opportunity. Sin and righteousness are before them, and they are to choose for themselves. But let them remember that “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.... He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.2
4. Precious Hours Squandered—In the society of this enchantress, the judge of Israel squandered precious hours that should have been sacredly devoted to the welfare of his people. But the blinding passions which make even the strongest weak, had gained control of reason and of conscience (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.3
Philistines Knowing Divine Law, Watched Samson—The Philistines were well acquainted with the divine law, and its condemnation of sensual indulgence. They kept a vigilant watch over all the movements of their enemy, and when he degraded himself by this new attachment, and they saw the bewitching power of the enchantress, they determined, through her, to accomplish his ruin (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.4
15-17. Samson Deliberately Walked Into Net of Betrayer—Samson's infatuation seems almost incredible. At first he was not so wholly enthralled as to reveal the secret; but he had deliberately walked into the net of the betrayer of souls, and its meshes were drawing closer about him at every step (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.5
15-20. Samson Lost Sense of Sacredness of His Work—Samson, that mighty man of valor, was under a solemn vow to be a Nazarite during the period of his life; but becoming infatuated by the charms of a lewd woman, he rashly broke that sacred pledge. Satan worked through his agents to destroy this ruler of Israel, that the mysterious power which he possessed might no longer intimidate the enemies of God's people. It was the influence of this bold woman that separated him from God, her artifices that proved his ruin. The love and service which God claims, Samson gave to this woman. This was idolatry. He lost all sense of the sacred character and work of God, and sacrificed honor, conscience, and every valuable interest, to base passion (The Signs of the Times, July 1, 1903). 2BC 1007.6
20. Willful Sin Caused Loss of Strength—Had Samson's head been shaven without fault on his part, his strength would have remained. But his course had shown contempt for the favor and authority of God as much as if he had in disdain himself severed his locks from his head. Therefore God left him to endure the results of his own folly (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.7
28. Real Contest Between Jehovah and Dagon—The contest, instead of being between Samson and the Philistines, was now between Jehovah and Dagon, and thus the Lord was moved to assert His almighty power and His supreme authority (The Signs of the Times, October 13, 1881). 2BC 1007.8Read in context »