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(day' gihn) Name of god meaning, “little fish,” or “dear.” Dagon is a god associated with the Philistines. However, his origins were in Mesopotamia during the third millennium B.C. By 2000 B.C. a major temple was erected for him in the maritime city of Ugarit. Ugaritic commerce carried his cult into Canaan when Canaan was still a part of the Egyptian empire. When the Philistines conquered the coastal region of Canaan, they adopted Dagon as their chief deity.

According to a popular etymology of Dagon, the name came from the Hebrew word for fish, and so it was postulated that he was a sea god. However, archaeological evidence does not support this view. The name probably was derived originally from the word for grain, or possibly from a word for clouds. Thus Dagon was a grain god or a storm god, much like Baal. According to Ugaritic documents from the fourteenth century B.C., Dagon was the father of Baal. Little else is known about his mythology or cult.

After the Philistines subdued Samson, they credited the victory to Dagon (Judges 16:23 ). However, when Samson collapsed Dagon's temple upon himself and the Philistines, he proved the superiority of Israel's God. Likewise the overthrow of the idol of Dagon before the ark of the covenant demonstrated God's predominance (1 Samuel 5:1-7 ). Nevertheless the Philistines, later, displayed the head of Saul as a trophy in the temple of Dagon (1 Chronicles 10:10 ). See Philistines.

LeBron Matthews

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Dagon'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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