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pleased the Lord, who was angry with Eli and his house, for their disregard of the spiritual service which they owed, and the sins of Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, to suffer Israel to fall before their enemies; and to disappoint the expectations of aid in their trans
The goddess alluded to by Tacitus was Hertha, Terra Mater, or Astagood, (Astarte,) the Cetis of the Thracians, (the Ceti of the Druids,) to whom a hog was offered in sacrifice :
“ Tellurem porco.”-Horat. ad August. This is another link in the chain, for the sun was sacred to Ceres, not only on account of its prolificness, but also because her nose ploughs the ground (De Gebelin. Monde Primitif. iv. 579); and the boar was a symbol used by the Estyi
, in the worship of the Mater Deorum, and one of the incarnations of the Hindoo Vishnu (see Mysteries of the Cabiri, i. 220); it was also, as shown by Davies, (Mythology, 426
-- 432,) connected with the sacred ark of Ceti, or, under an allegorical form, it gives the history of the arrival of a Phenician ship in Cornwall.
The story Ovid tells about the foxes is also connected with Ceres, for the destruction of the foxes at Rome took place from the 15th to the 19th April, the period of the Cerealia, &c. Bochart and Bryant, (see Observations upon some Passages of Scripture, &c., by Jacob Bryant, p. 153,) both suggest that the legend could not have an Italian origin, and that it is difficult to conceive how it got to Rome, if it came from Palestine, and the custom prevailed in several parts. But if, as I believe, Hercules is the Scripture Samson, there is no reason to doubt that his fame went abroad correctly in this, as in other respects; moreover Ovid expressly says—
“ Factum abiit : monumenta manent.”—(709). This story, therefore, strengthens the universality of the worship of Ceres in Philistia. But Bryant, in another place, quotes Pliny respecting Joppa, which was but a little to the north of Philistia, who says, “Colitur illic fabulosa Ceto," (Derceto,) (Nat. Hist. v. 13), which he endeavours to show was Venus, the same as the mother of the gods (Hertha), under the character of a fish; or, according to Diodorus, as a mermaid at Askelon and Ashdod, the Dercete in question, whence Dagon, from Dag, a fish. The other name of the idol Atargatis, he says, has a similar origin-Atar-ceto, (Venus Piscis), and was found in the worship of that deity at a place mentioned in 2 Maccab. xii. 26. Now Atar is the Phenician name of Assyria, and it was from Assyria the superstition came. Besides Dagon was worshipped generally in Phi. listia. (See Joshua xv. 41, and xix. 27.) “ The Magna Mater,” says Dr. E. D. Clarke, (Testimonies respecting the Ceres of Eleusis, p. 18), "was Isis, Luna, Juno, Vesta, Ceres, Proserpine, Minerva or Diana, according as their respective rites and appellations suited the customs and the language of the countries in which they were worshipped.” The Dagon of Philistia may now, I think, be added as another form of Ceres, with the attributes of Venus, representing the gods of the antient Britons and other Keltic people under every distinction, pointed out by Dr. Clarke ; for Strabo tells us (lib. iv.) “Ceres and Proserpine are worshipped in an island near Britain;" and the Moon (whose figure is on ancient British coins) was an emblem of Ceridwen, and was worshipped conjointly with the ark: and thus, under the images of Baalzebub and Dagon, &c. were the sun and the moon, as well as the earth, portrayed as objects of divine worship, and therefore opposed to the very principle of the Divine law, the acknowledgment of Him who“ in the beginning created the heaven and the earth.” (Judges ii. 11–13.)
Mr. Faber has deduced the conclusion, that Noah was worshipped in conjunction with the sun, and the ark in conjunction with the moon; and according to Mr. Taylor, Dagon is Dag Ann, or Dag Nau, the fish of Noah; and we have the testimony of Porphyry, Anaxagoras, and other heathens, that the names of the heathen gods and goddesses are but different designations of the same deity under various characters, in which Hercules, Attis, Adonis, Apollo, Ceres, &c. are included. Dagon, however, the same as Ceto, or Ceti, Ceres (the goddess of corn), was brother to Saturn, as Ceres was sister; and Atergatis (also sister to Saturn) being another name for Dagon, shows, what other evidence confirms, that it was from Assyria the superstition came to Palestine, whence it went to the Greeks-varied according to
gressions, the ark itself was permitted to be taken. The Philistines appear to have respected the ark, not only out of fear, remembering the success of Israel against the Egyptians, which they attributed to the presence of the Deity, whom Israel worshipped (1 Sam. iv. 8,) but from a superstitious reverence for the ark; for there is little doubt that they themselves worshipped the ark of Noah, of which their idol Dagon was the visible representative. (See the note below.) Whatever may have been their motives, whether to contemn or to honour the “ark of God," though I think it was the latter motive, they sent the ark, when taken, to the temple of Dagon, and placed it by the side of that idol. But “the glory" of the Lord, though it was departed from Israel (iv. 21, 22,) was still to be manifested upon the Philistines; and it was, no doubt, providentially ordered, that they who had fought against Israel, in fear of the "mighty Gods that smote Egypt with all the plagues in the wilderness" (iv. 8,) should fear still further through the effects of that victory which they had gained, in feeling the plagues upon themselves.
The ark of God was no sooner placed in the temple of Dagon, than that idol was destroyed, by what invisible means is not declared; but as I surmise and shall attempt to show, by shocks of earthquake, judicially produced at that time, in connexion with other collateral phenomena, to trouble and perplex and punish the Philistines.
Twice was Dagon thrown down in the night,-first merely dislodged, next broken into fragments,* (v. 3, 4.) Besides this, a plague or pestilence fell upon the people of Ashdod,--and they were destroyed through all that principality, those that fell not by sickness being smitten with emerods. (v. 6, 7.) Upon this, a council of the princes was held at Ashdod, and the ark was ordered to be removed to Gath, but no sooner had it arrived there, than the same calamities afflicted that city; and “the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction ; and he smote the men of the city, both small and great,” &c. “Therefore they sent the ark to Ekron." (v. 8—10.) At Ekron, where was the idol of Baalzebub, and the oracle to which Ahaziah sent in his sickness, it pleased God that the destruction should be emphatically severe, either to condemn particularly that idol superstition which obtained there,+ or to show that the vengeance was
the genius of the people—and also to the British and other Keltic nations, who adopted the implied belief adapted to their peculiar notions. But however varied, under whatever form, the superstition may be traced, through the respective mythologies, up to the worship of Noah and the ark of the deluge. (See the articles in Taylor's Calmet
, on Beelzebub, the Deluge, Dagon, for arguinents for and against the above conclusions.)
There was a statue of Venus Victrix, at Cameludonum, which Venus Victrix was no doubt the Phenician Astarte (see Cicero Nat. Deor. 3.23); and Tacitus (Ann. xiv. 32) says of it, “Nulla palam causa, delapsum Camuloduni simulacrun Victoriæ, ac retro conversum, quasi cederet hostibus." The effects of the superstitions about this, the historian says, were very singular.
+ It must be remembered, that the oracle of Jehovah was within or upon the" ark of God," so that the oracle of the "God of Ekron" met with an appropriate punish
A similar remark belongs to the case of the mice. If Dagon were a Jupiter frumentarius, as Philo says, the mice destroying the land were fit emblems of God's wrath against that particular idolatry of the Philistines, and were equally emphatic upon the worship of Dagon in the one character, as the pestilence was upon it in VOL. XX. NO. X.
increasing in proportion to the stay of the ark in Philistia, -and accordingly we read that " there was a deadly destruction throughout the city ;* the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men that died not were smitten with emerods : and the cry of the city went up to heaven." (v. 11, 12.) Struck by these manifest proofs of Divine vengeance, the Philistines called another council, and it was determined to send the ark back to the Israelites, with a trespass-offering ;-to wit, five golden emerods, according to the advice of the priesthood of Philistia, who, no doubt, followed herein the custom received from the earliest antiquity of offering votive offerings,t (continued to this day in continental countries, where the Romanists retain the remnants of those superstitions which they have kept since they took them at the hands of heathen,) to the God who saved them from destruction, each golden emerod representing the offering of one of the five Philistine principalities ; " for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one,g for Gath one, for Ekron one." (vi. 17.)
Thus far we have seen that the vengeance of God was visited upon the Philistines by the secret destruction at night of Dagon, and by an epidemic, which went from place to place slaying the people, and by an accompanying affliction, which fell upon small and great, as the ark travelled from city to city, thereby distinctly proving, that the visitation, though obeying, in other general respects, the laws of the natural world, and the observed course of epidemic complaints, was a positive infliction of the hand of the Lord, at a particular time, in a particular country, and for a particular purpose. Il
the character of an oracular god of healing. The disgusting reason given by one of the authors in Poole's Synop., —" Veniebant mures terræ et intestinum arrodebant,”-requires no further mention.
• Philo says, the amount of deaths was 220,000. (Ant. Bib.)'
+ The Greeks called this sort of representation, sendouata; and it is said, the first example was adopted from the image of the serpent Moses erected in the wil. derness. That, however, was of a different nature. The serpent there healed, by sight, the bite of a real serpent; but the offering of the mice was an acknowledgment of what they suffered from, and not a means of repairing the damage.
There are various examples so near as in the church of Calais, where legs and arms in silver are suspended around a figure of the Virgin.
§ At Askelon, the worship of Dagon seems also to have obtained. Fish and pigeons were there kept consecrated to Derceto. Here we have again a reference to the ark of Noah; and the pigeons answer well to the dove, as represented in the coins of Apamea. Now Askelon is supposed to be derived from words signifying the seat of active heat (Ash-kel-lun). Herodotus tells us (1. 105), here was a city to Venus, the oldest extant. Of Venus the dove was an emblem. Again, Semiramis, according to Diodorus, was the daughter of Derceto, and was nourished there by doves. Agreeing with this, the Hindoo mythology tells us, that Sami Rama (Semiramis) appeared in the shape of a dove, and abode at Asc'halanosthan. The derivation of Sami Rama and Asc'halanosthan leads to a similar meaning with Ash-kel-kun, viz the abode of fire. Emblems of the Venus of Askelon were a branch, a dove, and a ship; so that we are by this deity again brought back, to say nothing of the consecrated fish and pigeons, to the ark. (See Asiatic Researches, iv. 168, quoted in Taylor's Calmet.)
li As it is my intention to consider other scriptural examples of a similar kind, I do not now dwell upon the priciple here involved, though it is one of my chief objects to show this, in the course of these discussions. The doctrine I have here stated is, I am persuaded, the correct one ; and for want of its consideration, men, on the one hand, have fallen into the danger of denying miraculous agency, and on the other, But this was not the only visitation which befel the Philistines. The inhabitants of the towns had suffered by pestilence and disease, and the fruits of the country were also doomed to destruction. Seven months had the ark been in Philistia, (vi. 1,) and from the incidental allusion in the verses immediately under consideration, we learn that, during that period, the land had been overrun and desolated by mice; and as the suffering occasioned by these destructive foragers, in the consumption of the fruits of the land, must have been severely felt by the people, the diviners properly suggested, that five golden mice should be added to the five golden emerods, in token of their affliction; for, as in the former case, the whole land participated, and one plague was upon the people and their lords. (ver. 4.) This they must have felt bitterly, for it was now wheat-harvest (ver. 13,) and the crops were destroyed in the ground; and the mournful language of advice which the priests and diviners used was suitable to the occasion. “Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and of your mice that mar the land, and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel : peradventure ye will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.” Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts ? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed ?" (ver. 5, 6.)
I stay not to suggest anything concerning the nature or origin of such a trespass-offering as the Philistine priests and diviners proposed, nor shall I say more than has been stated in a preceding note respecting the sending of the ark of God away, with a new cart and the two milch kine (for David did the same, 2 Sam. vi. 2-6 ;) nor do I propose more
into the fanatical excess of denying the influence of general laws in the production of particular influences. The principle I contend for, as regards the employment of general physical agents to produce especial visitations,-in
other words, the purposed use of natural phenomena in the ordinary course of God's providential care and support of the earth, and his merciful or wrathful visitations upon its inhabitants,is admitted in questions of moral character; the free agency of man, and the particular orderings of man's ways by Jehovah, not clashing : why then should we doubt or deny the same principle, when physical agencies of the natural world are similarly employed to work the will of the Lord ? He who denies this, appears to me to have very contracted views of the Divine economy: and to admit that, in an invisible case of action upon the spirit and faculties of the mind of man, which is denied when made apparent to the senses by visible occurrences, is the height of inconsistency. The case of the Philistine plagues is more striking than that of the Egyptian plagues, because the agencies are more collateral, as I shall endeavour to show in the sequel.
* It is recorded by Ælian, that at the oracular temple of Apollo in the Troad there was the figure of a mouse, in token of deliverance by him from a plague of mice και παρά το τρίποδι του Απόλλωνος έστηκε μυς, (Ν. Α. xii. 5 ;) besides white mice kept there, and publicly fed under the altar. T'he living mice, like the Brah. min bulls and apes of India of the present day, were naturally enough the pets of the idolatrous priests.
Herodotus tells a story (II. 141) of a similar kind; he says, that at Pelusium an immense number of mice (uùs dpovpalovs) gnawed in pieces the bows, quivers, and shields of the Arabian army under Sennacherib, so delivering Sethos, the king of Egypt, who had been priest of Vulcan; and the historian adds, kal vûv oitos ο βασιλεύς έστηκε εν τω ιρώ του Ηφαίστου λίθινος έχων επί της χειρός| MYN, λέγων δια γραμμάτων ταδε EΣ EΜΕ ΤΙΣ ΟΡΕΩΝ ΕΥΣΕΒΗΣ ΕΣΤΩ.
than a general remark on the conduct of the Philistine priests in alluding to the case of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. That allusion does not imply, any more than the placing of the ark beside Dagon, that there was a scriptural knowledge of God on their part: it merely shows, that they attributed some superstitious idea of power (perhaps necromantic power) to the ark of the God of Israel ;—that they knew the ark had been an object of reverence with the Israelites ;— that they believed the God of the Israelites dwelt therein, (just as they supposed Dagon to be the tutelary guardian of their own mysterious ark,*) and that they attributed the calamities of the Egyptians to the presence of the “ark of God,” of which, living so near to Egypt, they could not but have heard. Why the neighbouring nations, who had witnessed the career of Israel, and had such proof of the power of God accompanying that people in their wanderings and final settlement in a stranger land (a circumstance stupendously grand in the history of colonization,) should have remained idolaters, we cannot attempt to explain : we can only see and confess in that unhallowed conviction of truth, that, as with individuals, so with nations, and as with nations so with individuals, the mind may be brought into a state when, if prejudice be set aside, conversion must follow; but because of prejudice and the natural bias of the human heart, since the Fall, to acknowledge no claim beyond the necessities of the present moment, conversion does not take place, and the half-heathen and halfJew, as well as semi-infidel and semi-christian, is well-nigh persuaded to be almost and altogether saved, but cannot embrace salvation because he wills not. The sending back of the ark with a trespass-offering, was merely an act of national policy; and being accomplished, the Philistines returned to Ekron, to continue their hostility ;--for we are told in the next chapter, (vii. 7,) that twenty years after, when, repenting of their crimes, an assembly of the Israelites was held for prayer at Mizpeh, the Philistines, (probably mistaking the nature of their meeting) attacked them: and it was only by the interference of the Lord, who assisted them by a thunder-storm,—for “the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines and discomfited them," (vii. 10,)—that the courage of the Israelites was restored,—and the Philistines were pursued, conquered, and made to restore the territory they had before acquired, (ver.10–14.) This latter judgment of God we are not called on to consider, though thunder is a natural phenomenon, and not uncommon in the country where it occurred : and it may fully parallel the case of the red waters of Edom,+ which came at the time of the meat-offering, exactly as the thunder came, whilst Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering at Mizpeh, (ver. 10; compare 2 Kings iii. 20.)
But the plagues of mice, in connexion with the fall of Dagon, and the occurrence of pestilence, I conceive, will furnish a favourable proof of the position I maintain, that it is from the derangements of the earth's organism all these and similar phenomena arise ; and that the
• See a former notemp. 603.
See Physica Sacra, No. III. CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER, vol. xix. p. 490. i “Putabant hunc cladem Azotiis non accidisse ex area, sed ex naturâ loci: v.g. ex infecto aere, vel ex influxu astrorum." Theod. et Procap. (Poli Synopsis in 1 Sam. v. 8.)