1 Samuel 5

God's covenant box causes trouble for the Philistines

1 The Philistines took away God's covenant box. And they took it from Ebenezer to the town called Ashdod. 2 They carried it into the temple of their god. The name of their god was Dagon. They put the box next to the idol of Dagon. 3 The next morning, the people in Ashdod got up early and they went to their temple. They saw that Dagon had fallen down in front of the LORD's covenant box. Dagon's face was touching the ground. So, they picked up Dagon and they put him back in his place. 4 They got up early the next morning and they went to the temple of Dagon. Again, they found that Dagon had fallen down in front of the LORD's box. He lay with his face on the ground. His head and his hands had broken off. They were lying on the step of the temple door. Only the other part of his body was not broken. 5 Dagon's priests and other people still go to the temple at Ashdod. But, since this happened, nobody puts a foot on the step of Dagon's temple.

5:5Ashdod is about 48 kilometres (30 miles) south of where they had their battle.

6 The LORD punished the people in Ashdod and the people in the places near to it. They were very afraid. God caused tumours to grow on them. 7 The men in Ashdod saw what was happening. They said, ‘God's covenant box must not stay here with us. The God of Israel is punishing us and our god Dagon.’ 8 So the Philistine kings met together. The people asked the kings, ‘What should we do with the covenant box of the God of Israel?’

The kings answered, ‘Take it to Gath.’ So the men moved it to the Philistine town called Gath.

9 After they had moved the covenant box to Gath, God punished the people in Gath. He made them all very afraid. He made old and young people ill. And he caused tumours to grow on them. 10 So the people sent God's box to the Philistine town called Ekron.

When the covenant box of God came into Ekron the people in the town shouted. They said, ‘They have brought the God of Israel's box to us. It will kill us. It will kill the people who live here.’ 11 So they asked the Philistine kings to meet together. The people from Ekron said to them, ‘Send away the covenant box of the God of Israel. Send it back to where it should be. If you do not do this, it will kill us. And it will kill all our people.’ All the people in the town were very afraid because God was punishing them. 12 Many people died and all the other people had tumours. So, the people in the town shouted out to heaven.