God's Covenant Box causes trouble for the Philistines
1 When the Philistines took God's Covenant Box, they took it from Ebenezer to the town called Ashdod. 2 They carried it into the temple of Dagon, their god. They put the box next to the idol of Dagon. 3 The next morning, the people in Ashdod got up early. They saw that Dagon had fallen down in front of the Lord's Covenant Box. The idol's face was touching the ground. So, they took Dagon and they put him back in his place.
5:1Ashdod is about 48 kilometres (30 miles) south of where they had their battle.
4 The next morning, they got up early again. They saw that Dagon had fallen down in front of the Lord's Covenant Box again! His head and both his hands had broken off. They were lying on the step of the temple's door. Only his body remained together. 5 Because of that, even today Dagon's priests and other people never walk on the step of Dagon's temple in Ashdod.
6 The Lord punished the people who lived in Ashdod. He caused them to have a lot of pain, as well as the people in the places near Ashdod. He caused tumours to grow on their bodies. 7 When the people in Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, ‘The Covenant Box of Israel's God must not stay here with us. He is punishing us and our god Dagon.’
5:6A tumour is a lump that grows in your body. It makes you very ill.
8 So the Philistine rulers met together. Ashdod's people asked them, ‘What should we do with the Covenant Box of Israel's God?’
The rulers answered, ‘Take it away to Gath.’ So the men took it to that city.
5:8Gath was a city that belonged to the Philistines.
9 After they had moved the Covenant Box to Gath, the Lord punished the people in that city too. He made them all very afraid. He caused tumours to grow on them, young people as well as old people. 10 So then they took God's Covenant Box to Ekron.
5:10Ekron was another town that belonged to the Philistines.
When God's Covenant Box arrived in Ekron, the people screamed. They said, ‘They have brought the Covenant Box of Israel's God here! They want to kill us all!’ 11 So they called the Philistine rulers to meet together. Ekron's people said to them, ‘Take away the Covenant Box of Israel's God! Send it back to its proper place. If you leave it here, it will kill us and all our families.’
All the people in the town were afraid of death. God had already started to punish them a lot. 12 Many people had already died. All the other people in the town had tumours on their bodies. So they cried loudly up to the skies for help.