Dagon was the god of the Philistines. The idol was represented in the combination of both man and fish. Although there was a deep affection from Dagon's worshippers to their deity, the symbol of a fish in human form was really meant to represent fertility and the vivifying powers of nature and reproduction.
The Babylonians had a myth that a being emerged from the Erythraean Sea who was part man and part fish and thus adopted the deity into their culture in their earliest days in history. Their have also been discoveries of the fish-god in the sculptures found in Nineveh, Assyria.
"When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only the torso of Dagon was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day."
- 1 Sam 5:2-5: "Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!" When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy, The destroyer of our land, And the one who multiplied our dead."
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