Hebrew In Israel | Dagon, Dagan and Misunderstood Names – Learn Torah

god fish, god of the phillistines, Dagon, fish god

Hebrew In Israel | Dagon, Dagan and Misunderstood Names – Learn Torah

Yoel Halevi No Comments

וַיִּקְחוּ פְלִשְׁתִּים אֶתאֲרוֹן הָאֱלֹהִים, וַיָּבִאוּ אֹתוֹ בֵּית דָּגוֹן; וַיַּצִּיגוּ אֹתוֹ, אֵצֶל דָּגוֹן

The Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the temple of Dagon, where they positioned it beside Dagon” 1Sam 5:2

The name Dagon has been always associated with the fish like god which many try to depict as a merman–a half man, half fish.  It is understood that the word דָּג-Dag-fish is incorporated into his name.  However, this is probably a misunderstanding and the name is actually דָּגָן-Dagan-Grain.

Dagan-Dagon is a Canaanite God from the early gods prior to Ba’al.  Dagan was the brother of El and was associated with fertility and worshiped by the Canaanites, and later on by the Philistines.  The Philistines of this story were Greek people who arrived at the shores of Israel as part of the colonizing Greeks who spread to the east, or it could be that they arrived at the shores of Israel as part of the Egyptian army.  When arriving in the land they were introduced to Dagon which resembled their Poseidon.  Poseidon was originally a land god (chthonic) connected to fertility, and only later in time became associated with the sea.  The Greeks had a very open religion, and the introduction of a “new” god was not an issue.  In fact, the Greeks never saw their gods as one dimensional, and many of them had more than one manifestation.

Due to the lack of knowledge of the Greek and Canaanite mythology, the first idea that came to mind by commentators was that the word hiding in the deity’s name was fish.  Equating Dagon to Poseidon was only natural to them.  Though they were probably correct, they did not understand what he was, which led them to believe he was a fish god and therefore Dagon was also a fish.  However, Dagon is the Canaanite form for the word Dagan where the long accented A became a long O in the Canaanite-Hebrew language.  The word originally was spelled without the Vav (דגן), and the Vav was added to represent the long O sound in Hebrew. 


Originally Published: November 7, 2014

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