The national god of the Philistines, according to the Bible. Judges 16.23 identifies a temple of Dagon at Gaza, which Samson pulls down; the captured ark of Yahweh is placed in another temple of Dagon at Ashdod (1 Sam. 5.2; see also 1 Macc. 10.83). The divine name also appears in the town name Beth‐dagon (Josh. 15.41; 19.27). Dagon is not mentioned in inscriptions from southern Syria or Palestine, but occurs frequently in texts from north Syria and Mesopotamia as Dagan, the chief god of the middle Euphrates region; in the Ugaritic tablets, Baal is often referred to by the patronymic “son of Dagan.” The Philistines thus probably borrowed the Semitic deity through direct contact with the coast of Syria rather than from southern Canaan.

Daniel E. Fleming