Dagon and the Ark of the Covenant

Notes and References 3/25/01

Dagon and the Ark of the Covenant

It has been called the Ark of Yahweh, the Ark of the Covenant, The Ark of the Testimony, The Ark of God and the Ark of the Testimony of Yahweh. Some say it was made of gold others say wood. Some contend that it was a small portable temple or shrine that contained the invisible presence of Yahweh (the word of God) and others thought it to be a container for the Hebrew decalogue (the tablets of law or Ten Commandments. All agree that the top was engraved witht he word Yahweh. Regardless, it is the star of this week’s lesson and has a rich and adventurous history.

It is this very Ark that led Joshua and the Israelites to Jericho, the walled city in the story below. They believed that the very word of God laid the wall flat as Yahweh went before them and the rear guard came behind with their trumpets and might shouts. It is this same Ark which the Philistines battled over and stole from the Israelites and took to a temple in Ashdod where Dagon was worshipped in the story in Samuel below. Later the Philistines took the Ark to Gath. Gath should sound familiar because it was Goliath’s home. And, it was David who, after slaying Goliath of Gath went to Gath and retook the Ark and finally brought it back to its home in Jerusalem.

Josh 6:1-6

Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord.

I Sam 5:2-4 (to 2nd ;)

When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold;

It is against this rich history of the Ark and this backdrop that we look at what Mrs. Eddy tells us about Temple, Ark and Covenant. When the stories are reread with her definitions they take on new and deeper meanings and guide us to healing. She tells us in Miscellany (My 188:7-12),

"Your feast days will not be in commemoration, but in recognition of His presence; your ark of the covenant will not be brought out of the city of David, but out of "the secret place of the most High," whereof the Psalmist sang, even the omniscience of omnipotence;"

Now lets look at the stories of Jericho and Dagon. First the wall of Jericho: Who is it that has need of a wall to surround them? The strong or the weak; the confident or the insecure? It is the fearful, weak and insecure that build walls around themselves so the world will not be able to see in. What walls have you built lately? The way we dress, act, talk; our cars, our image, etc. all are walls that speak to the world, try to impress the world and hide what we don’t want the world to see. Such acts are cowardly. We should never act from the perspective of the world control over us. Instead we should act from inspiration, with an integrity to our true selfhood and then let that light shine. Are you hiding your spiritual identity because you think the world will reject it, laugh or ridicule you. Maybe you think that a spiritual purpose is simply no cool or popular. Let the word of God tear down those walls (false beliefs). Circle those walls 7 times and on the seven time shout the word. That means daily study and coming to church on Sunday to celebrate the week’s dominion over matter.

Now Dagon: Ever read that story before? I hadn’t! In preparing for our class I found that Dagon was originally a Hebrew God of vegetative growth; a God of living things. The Philistines adopted this God and made an idol of stone in the temple at Ashdod. When they stole the Ark of the Covenant they brought it to the same temple when Dagon was housed and worshipped. They were quite surprised when Dagon had tipped over the next morning. They put it back and they next morning it not only fell over but this time its head and hands were broken off leaving just a stump. When you are sick, need money, want a car, a job, romance, whatever don’t you find yourself making a God of your wants. You know, that sentence that starts, "If only I had this or if only I was healed of that. If I could just get that job or if I could only find the right person, then everything would be all right." Then what do we do? Well, some of us pray in a way that tells God about our desires as though God heard or knew about human needs and wants. The mistake is obvious—we are humanizing God. That is exactly what the Philistines did. They humanized the word of God into just another idol. What happened? The then had two idols, two opposite beliefs and one could not stand. Belittling God ruined the very thing they desired.

The answer is always in spiritualizing our thought not humanizing God. How do we spiritualize thought, you ask? Paul gives us the answer in II Cor 10:4,5:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Mrs. Eddy adds in Mis 204:23-25:

By purifying human thought, this state of mind permeates with increased harmony all the minutiae of human affairs.

She also adds in My 131,

Beloved, that which purifies the affections also strengthens them, removes fear, subdues sin and endues with divine power; that which refines character at the same time humbles, exalts, and commands a man, and obedience gives him courage, devotion, and attainment.

And again in our textbook, S&H 241:23

One's aim, a point beyond faith, should be to find the footsteps of Truth, the way to health and holiness. We should strive to reach the Horeb height where God is revealed; and the corner-stone of all spiritual building is purity. The baptism of Spirit, washing the body of all the impurities of flesh, signifies that the pure in heart see God and are approaching spiritual Life and its demonstration.

Mrs. Eddy ends the paragraph with telling us that this purification "seals the covenant of Love"!

Look how consistent the next two passages are. One is the definition of ARK and the other is a sentence from Miscellany that tells us the one needful thing for success.

My 126:28

One thing is eternally here; it reigns supreme to-day, to-morrow, forever. We need it in our homes, at our firesides, on our altars, for with it win we the race of the centuries. We have it only as we live it. This is that needful one thing — divine Science, whereby thought is spiritualized, reaching outward and upward to Science in Christianity, Science in medicine, in physics, and in metaphysics.


ARK. Safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle; the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter.

God and man coexistent and eternal; Science showing that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him and exist forever. The ark indicates temptation overcome and followed by exaltation.

Now the punchline to our mornings class. The Ark was taken to the temple in Ashdod. Temple is another very interesting word. Look again at Mrs. Eddy’s instruction:


TEMPLE. Body; the idea of Life, substance, and intelligence; the superstructure of Truth; the shrine of Love; a material superstructure, where mortals congregate for worship.


(Rev) And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

There was no temple, — that is, no material structure in which to worship God, for He must be worshipped in spirit and in love. The word temple also means body.


The chief stones in the temple of Christian Science are to be found in the following postulates: that Life is God, good, and not evil; that Soul is sinless, not to be found in the body; that Spirit is not, and cannot be, materialized; that Life is not subject to death; that the spiritual real man has no birth, no material life, and no death.

Let’s dissect the explanation of the five chief stones looking most carefully at the third chief stone in our temple:

S&H 288:20-21 (to :)

The chief stones in the temple of Christian Science are to be found in the following postulates:


...that Life is God, good, and not evil;


...that Soul is sinless, not to be found in the body;


...that Spirit is not, and cannot be, materialized;


...that Life is not subject to death;


...that the spiritual real man has no birth, no material life, and no death.

I Cor 3:16-19

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

I Cor 6:19

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

S&H 576:12

There was no temple,--that is, no material structure in which to worship God, for He must be worshipped in spirit and in love. The word temple also means body. The Revelator was familiar with Jesus' use of this word, as when Jesus spoke of his material body as the temple to be temporarily rebuilt (John ii. 21). What further indication need we of the real man's incorporeality than this, that John saw heaven and earth with "no temple [body] therein"? This kingdom of God "is within you,"--is within reach of man's consciousness here, and the spiritual idea reveals it. In divine Science, man possesses this recognition of harmony consciously in proportion to his understanding of God.

S&H 595:7

TEMPLE. Body; the idea of Life, substance, and intelligence; the superstructure of Truth; the shrine of Love; a material superstructure, where mortals congregate for worship.

So there we have it. Our bodies are our temples. We must spiritualize our thought about our bodies and not let our bodies be used as so many Dagons for which we end up humanizing God in search of a cure. You are all shrines of Love, and as pointed out in our last reference, living stones in the universal temple of Spirit and worthy members of The Mother Church before men!

My 64:15

In all her writings, through all the years of her leadership, she has been teaching her followers both by precept and example how to obey this commandment and rule, and her success in so doing is what constitutes the high standing of Christian Science before the world. Fearlessly does she warn all her followers against the indulgence of the sins which would prevent the realization of ideal manhood --the reign of the Christ--and now it is ours to address ourselves with renewed faith and love to the high and holy task of overcoming all that is unlike God, and thus prove our worthiness to be "living stones" in the universal temple of Spirit, and worthy members of The Mother Church before men.

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