Samson and the temple of Dagon (Judges 16)

Bilderesultat for dagon ancient

Illustration: The Mesopotamian fish god Dagon

Only limited excavation has been undertaken at Gaza, so we have little idea of what the city of Samson’s day was like. However, grinding houses (Judges 16:21) and a temple (Judges 16:23-30) similar to those referred to in Judges 16 have been unearthed at other sites. Grinding houses, known both from ancient texts and excavated examples, were places where prisoners would grind grain for their masters. The tools were simple, hand grinding stones – a loaf-shaped upper stone and  larger, slightly concave, lower stone called a saddle quern. Samson spent his days kneeling in front of quern, pushing an upper stone back and forth, grinding grain into meal.

Samson’s greatest feat was the destruction of the temple of Dagon. The only definite Philistine temples found to date are those at Tell Qasile, on the outskirts of modern Tel Aviv. Three temples, each larger than the previous, were built on the same spot over a period of 150 years. The latest, from the eleventh century B.C., approximately the time of Samson, measured 7,8 m by 14,6 m. Two pillars supported the roof, just as in the temple of Dagon described in Judges 16. They were made of cedar wood approximately 30,5 cm in diameter and rested on stone bases set in the floor. It would have been possible to dislodge the centre pillar in the Tell Qasile temple, since it was held in place on the stone base only by the weight of the roof. A larg man with his arms extended could have spanned the 2,1 m distance between the two pillars. Also, it is conceivable that the pillars of Dagon’s temple were closer together than those of the Tell Qasile temple.


%d bloggers like this: