From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Diminutive (expressing endearment) of Dag , "a fish." The male god to which Atargatis corresponds ( 2 Maccabees 12:26), the Syrian goddess with a woman's body and fish's tail, worshipped at Hierapolis and Ascalon. Our fabulous mermaid is derived from this Phoenician idol. She corresponds to the Greek foam-sprung Aphrodite. The divine principle supposed to produce the seeds of all things from moisture. Twice a year, water was brought from distant places and poured into a chasm in the temple, through which the waters of the flood were said to have been drained away (Lucian de Syr. Dea, 883). Derived from Tarag , Targeto , "an opening," the goddess being also called DERCETO; or else Addir , "glorious," and Dagto , "a fish."

The tutelary goddess of the first Assyrian dynasty, the name appearing in Tiglath. Dag-on was the national god of the Philistines, his temples were at Gaza and Ashdod ( Judges 16:21-30;  1 Samuel 5:5-6). The temple of Dagon, which Samson pulled down, probably resembled a Turkish kiosk, a spacious hall with roof resting in front upon four columns, two at the ends and two close together at the center. Under this hall the Philistine chief men celebrated a sacrificial meal, while the people assembled above upon the balustraded roof. The half-man half-fish form (found in bas-relief at Khorsabad) was natural to maritime coast dwellers. They senselessly joined the human form divine to the beast that perishes, to symbolize nature's vivifying power through water; the Hindu Vishnu; Babylonian Odakon.

On the doorway of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik there is still in bas-relief representations of Dagon, with the body of a fish but under the fish's head a man's head, and to its tail women's feet joined; and in all the four gigantic slabs the upper part has perished, exactly as  1 Samuel 5:4's margin describes: now in the British Museum. The cutting off of Dagon's head and hands before Jehovah's ark, and their lying on the threshold (from whence his devotees afterward did not dare to tread upon it), prefigure the ultimate cutting off of all idols in the great day of Jehovah ( Isaiah 2:11-22). Beth-Dagon in Judah and another in Asher ( Joshua 15:41;  Joshua 19:27) show the wide extension of this worship. In his temple the Philistines fastened up Saul's head ( 1 Chronicles 10:10).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

DAGON . A god whose worship was general among the Philistines (at Gaza,   Judges 16:23 , 1Ma 10:83-84; 1Ma 11:4; at Ashkelon,   1 Samuel 5:2; prob. at Beth-dagon [wh. see], which may at one time have been under Philistine rule). Indeed, the name Baal-dagon inscribed in PhÅ“nician characters upon a cylinder now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the modern place-name Beit Dajan (S.E. of Nablus), indicate an existence of his cult in PhÅ“nicia and Canaan. An endeavour to identify the god with Atargatis (wh. see) is responsible for the explanation of the name as a diminutive (term of endearment) of dag (‘fish’), and also for the rendering of ‘only Dagon was left’ (  1 Samuel 5:4 ) as ‘only the fishy part was left.’ Though there is nothing to contradict the supposition that Dagon was a fish-god, it is more probable that originally he was an agricultural deity (named from dagan = ‘grain,’ cf.   1 Samuel 6:4-5 ), from which position he developed into a war-god (  1 Chronicles 10:10 ) and apparently even into a national deity (  1 Samuel 5:8 to   1 Samuel 6:18 ). An identification of this god with the Babylonian Dagan is doubtful (see Jensen, Kosmologie , 449 ff.; and Jastrow, Rel. of Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] and Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] , Index).

N. Koenig.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Da'gon. (A Fish). Apparently the masculine,  1 Samuel 5:3-4, correlative of Atargatis, was the national god of the Philistines. The most famous temples of Dagon were at Gaza ,  Judges 16:21-30, and Ashdod .  1 Samuel 5:5-6;  1 Chronicles 10:10. The latter temple was destroyed by Jonathan in the Maccabaean wars.

Traces of the worship of Dagon, likewise, appear in the names Caphar-dagon, (near Jamnia), and Beth-dagon in Judah ,  Joshua 15:41, and Asher .  Joshua 19:27. Dagon was represented with the face and hands of a man and the tail of a fish.  1 Samuel 5:5. The fish-like form was a natural emblem of fruitfulness, and as such was likely to be adopted by seafaring tribes in the representation of their gods.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

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

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Dagon ( Dâ'Gon ), Fish. The national deity of the Philistines. There was a temple of Dagon at Gaza,  Judges 16:23, and one at Ashdod,  1 Samuel 5:1;  1 Samuel 5:7; the latter was destroyed by Jonathan Maccabæus. Probably the worship of the male (Dagon) and female (Derceto) deities was conjoined in the same sanctuary.  1 Samuel 31:10;  1 Chronicles 10:10. There are places called Beth-dagon, where doubtless this idolatrous worship prevailed.  Joshua 15:41;  Joshua 19:27. Dagon was represented with the face and hands of a human being, and with a fishy tail. Some representations of a fish-god have been discovered among the Assyrian sculptures.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

דגון , corn, from דגן , or דג , a fish, god of the Philistines. It is the opinion of some that Dagon was represented like a woman, with the lower parts of a fish, like a triton or syren. Scripture shows clearly that the statue of Dagon was human, at least, the upper part of it.   1 Samuel 5:4-5 . A temple of Dagon at Gaza was pulled down by Samson,  Judges 16:23 , &c. In another, at Ashdod, the Philistines deposited the ark of God,  1 Samuel 5:1-3 . A city in Judah was called Beth-Dagon; that is, the house, or temple, of Dagon,  Joshua 15:41; and another on the frontiers of Asher,  Joshua 19:27 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

Fish-god, a national idol of the Philistines, with temples at Gaza, Ashdid, etc.,  1 Chronicles 10:10 . The temple at Gaza was destroyed by Samson,  Judges 16:21-30 . In that at Ashdod, Dagon twice miraculously fell down before the ark of God; and in the second fall his head and hands were broken off, leaving only the body, which was in the form of a large fish,  1 Samuel 5:1-9 . See  Joshua 15:41;  19:27 . There were other idols of like form among the ancients, particularly the goddess Derceto of Atergatis; and a similar form or "incarnation" of Vishnu is at this day much worshipped in India, and like Dagon is destined to be prostrated in the dust before the true God.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

The national god of the Philistines, whose principal temples were at Gaza and Ashdod. The name has been traced by some to dag, a fish; others however associate the fish-god with EA, the water-god; and trace Dagon to dagan 'corn' as a god of agriculture. This was the idol that fell to pieces before the ark of Israel, and it was in its temple subsequently that the Philistines hung the head of Saul. A representation of a god found at Khorsabad has the head and hands of a man, and the body and tailof a fish.  Judges 16:23;  1 Samuel 5:2-7;  1 Chronicles 10:10 .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [9]

Dagon was a Canaanite Baal god, and biblical references to it are all connected with the Philistines. There were temples for the worship of Dagon in the Philistine towns of Gaza and Ashdod ( Judges 16:21-23;  1 Samuel 5:1-5; see also  1 Chronicles 10:10). (For details see Baal ; Philistia .)

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

The dunghill god of the Philistines. We have the relation concerning this idol,  Judges 16:23 and again,  1 Samuel 5:2, etc. The name seems well suited for such a purpose, being derived from Dag, fish. Some historians say, that the idol was formed like a fish.

Webster's Dictionary [11]

(1): The national god of the Philistines, represented with the face and hands and upper part of a man, and the tail of a fish.

(2): ( n.) A slip or piece.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Judges 16:23 Judges 16:23-30 1 Samuel 5:1-7Fish

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [13]

See Pagan Gods And Goddesses

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

da´gon ( דּגון , dāghon  ; apparently derived from דּג , dāgh , "fish"): Name of the god of the Philistines (according to Jerome on  Isaiah 46:1 of the Philistines generally); in the Bible, Dagon is associated with Gaza (Jdg 16) but elsewhere with Ashdod (compare   1 Samuel 5:1-12 and 1 Macc 10:83 f; 11:4); in   1 Chronicles 10:10 there is probably an error (compare the passage   1 Samuel 31:10 ). The god had his temple ("the house of Dagon") and his priests. When the ark was captured by the Philistines, it was conducted to Ashdod where it was placed in the house of Dagon by the side of the idol. But on the morrow it was found that the idol lay prostrate before the ark of the Lord. It was restored to its place; but on the following day Dagon again lay on the ground before the ark, this time with the head and both hands severed from the body and lying upon the miphtān (the word is commonly interpreted to mean "threshold"; according to Winckler, it means "pedestal"); the body alone remained intact. The Hebrew says: "Dagon alone remained." Whether we resort to an emendation (דּגו , dāghō , "his fish-part") or not, commentators appear to be right in inferring that the idol was half-man, half-fish. Classic authors give this form to Derceto. The sacred writer adds that from that time on the priests of Dagon and all those that entered the house of Dagon refrained from stepping upon the miphtān of Dagon. See  1 Samuel 5:1-5 . The prophet Zephaniah ( Zephaniah 1:9 ) speaks of an idolatrous practice which consisted in leaping over the miphtān ̌ . The Septuagint in 1 Samuel indeed adds the clause: "but they were accustomed to leap." Leaping over the threshold was probably a feature of the Philistine ritual which the Hebrews explained in their way. A god Dagon seems to have been worshipped by the Canaanites; see Beth-Dagon .


Commentaries on Judges and 1 Samuel; Winckler, Altoriental. Forschungen , III, 383.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Da´gon is the name of a national god of the Philistines at Gaza and Ashdod (;; sq.; ). As to the meaning of the name, it is probably derived from a word signifying fish, and there is every reason to believe that it had the body of a fish with the head and hands of a man. That such was the figure of the idol is asserted by Kimchi, and is admitted by most modern scholars. It is also supported by the analogies of other fish deities among the Syro-Arabians. Besides the Atergatis of the Syrians, the Babylonians had a tradition, according to Berosus, that at the very beginning of their history an extraordinary being, called Oannes, having the entire body of a fish, but the head, hands, feet, and voice of a man, emerged from the Erythraean sea, appeared in Babylonia, and taught the rude inhabitants the use of letters, arts, religion, law, and agriculture; that, after long intervals between, other similar beings appeared and communicated the same precious lore in detail, and that the last of these was called Odakon. Selden is persuaded that this Odakon is the Philistine god Dagon. The temple of Dagon at Ashdod was destroyed by Jonathan the brother of Judas the Maccabee, about the year B.C. 148 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Dagon'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/dagon.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [17]

The national god of the Philistines, represented as half-man, sometimes half-woman, and half-fish; appears to have been a symbol to his worshippers of the fertilising power of nature, familiar to them in the fruitfulness of the sea.