5 The Philistines brought the captured covenant chest of the True God from Ebenezer to one of their capital cities called Ashdod. 2 There the Philistines took the chest of the True God into the house of their god, Dagon, and placed it in a place of honor beside the idol of Dagon. 3 When the people of the city anxiously awoke early the next morning, there was Dagon, lying on his face on the ground, as if bowing before the covenant chest of the Eternal. So they grabbed the idol and put it back in its proper place. 4 But when they awoke the next morning, only the trunk of the idol was untouched. Dagon had fallen to the ground on his face before the covenant chest of the Eternal One again, and this time his head and hands had been cut off and were lying across the threshold. 5 That is why the priests and worshipers of Dagon in the house of Dagon in Ashdod refused to step on the threshold even till this day.
6 The hand of the Eternal One came down hard with punishment on the people of Ashdod while the covenant chest rested there. He ravaged the people of Ashdod and the surrounding territory and struck them with swollen, painful growths like tumors. 7 When the people of Ashdod saw how they were cursed, they said,
People of Ashdod: We can’t let the chest of the True God of Israel remain here because their God continues to punish us and our god Dagon.
8-9 So they gathered together all the rulers of the Philistines to ask what should be done with the covenant chest of Israel’s God.
People of Gath: Send this chest of Israel’s God to us.
They did so. But after they had moved the chest of the True God of Israel to Gath, another of the capital cities, the hand of the Eternal One began to punish the people of Gath and sent them into a panic. He also struck them with swollen, painful, tumor-like growths—the young and old alike. 10 So then they sent the covenant chest of the True God of Israel on to a third capital city, Ekron; but when the people of Ekron saw that the covenant chest was coming, they protested.
People of Ekron: Have you brought this chest of the Israelite God here to kill us now?
11 So they gathered together all the rulers of the Philistines.
People of Ekron: Send away this covenant chest of the God of Israel. Send it back where it came from so that it doesn’t kill us all!
For there was great panic throughout the city. The True God’s hand rested heavily on them; 12 and those He did not kill, He struck with swollen, painful tumors. Their suffering was so intense their cries could be heard in the heavens.
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