5 The Philistines took the sacred chest from near Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2 They brought it into the temple of their god Dagon and put it next to the statue of Dagon, which they worshiped.
3 When the people of Ashdod got up early the next morning, they found the statue lying facedown on the floor in front of the sacred chest. They put the statue back where it belonged. 4 But early the next morning, it had fallen over again and was lying facedown on the floor in front of the chest. The body of the statue was still in one piece, but its head and both hands had broken off and were lying on the stone floor in the doorway. 5 This is the reason the priests and everyone else step over that part of the doorway when they enter the temple of Dagon in Ashdod.
6 The Lord caused a lot of trouble for the people of Ashdod and their neighbors. He made sores break out all over their bodies,[a] and everyone was in a panic.[b]7 Finally, they said, “The God of Israel did this. He is the one who caused all this trouble for us and our god Dagon. We’ve got to get rid of this chest.”
8 The people of Ashdod had all the Philistine rulers come to Ashdod, and they asked them, “What can we do with the sacred chest that belongs to the God of Israel?”
“Send it to Gath,” the rulers answered. But after they took it there, 9 the Lord made sores break out on everyone in town. The people of Gath were frightened, 10 so they sent the sacred chest to Ekron. But before they could take it through the town gates, the people of Ekron started screaming, “They’ve brought the sacred chest that belongs to the God of Israel! It will kill us and our families too!”
The Philistines Send Back the Sacred Chest
11 The people of Ekron called for another meeting of the Philistine rulers and told them, “Send this chest back where it belongs. Then it won’t kill us.”
Everyone was in a panic, because God was causing a lot of people to die, 12 and those who had survived were suffering from the sores. They all cried to their gods for help.
5.6sores. . . bodies: Or “He struck them with bubonic plague.”
5.6panic: Two ancient translations add “Rats came from their ships, and people were dying right and left.”
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