Dagon was originally a fertility god, though once these beliefs adapted to Hebrews he evolved into a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of fish and/or fishing. He was worshipped by the early Amorites and by the inhabitants of the cities of Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh, Syria) and Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria) (which was an ancient city near the Mediterranean containing a large variety of ancient writings and pagan shrines). He was also a major member, or perhaps head, of the pantheon of the Biblical Philistines.
His name appears in Hebrew as דגון (in modern transcription Dagon, Tiberian Hebrew Dāḡôn), in Ugaritic as dgn (probably vocalized as Dagnu), and in Akkadian as Dagana, Daguna usually rendered in English translations as Dagan.
In Ugaritic, the root dgn also means grain: in Hebrew dāgān, Samaritan dīgan, is an archaic word for grain.
The Phoenician author Sanchuniathon also says Dagon means siton, that being the Greek word for grain. Sanchuniathon further explains: "And Dagon, after he discovered grain and the plough, was called Zeus Arotrios." The word arotrios means "ploughman", "pertaining to agriculture".
It is perhaps related to the Middle Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic word dgnʾ 'be cut open' or to Arabic dagn (دجن) 'rain-(cloud)'.
The theory relating the name to Hebrew dāg/dâg, 'fish', based solely upon a reading of 1 Samuel 5:2–7 is discussed in Fish-god tradition below.
Etymology: ME < LL(Ec) < LGr(Ec) < Heb < dāgān, grain (hence the god of agriculture) Corn
The god Dagon first appears in extant records about 2500 BC in the Mari texts and in personal Amorite names in which the gods Ilu (Ēl), Dagan, and Adad are especially common.
At Ebla (Tell Mardikh), from at least 2300 BC, Dagan was the head of the city pantheon comprising some 200 deities and bore the titles BE-DINGIR-DINGIR, "Lord of the gods" and Bekalam, "Lord of the land". His consort was known only as Belatu, "Lady". Both were worshipped in a large temple complex called E-Mul, "House of the Star". One entire quarter of Ebla and one of its gates were named after Dagan. Dagan is called ti-lu ma-tim, "dew of the land" and Be-ka-na-na, possibly "Lord of Canaan". He was called lord of many cities: of Tuttul, Irim, Ma-Ne, Zarad, Uguash, Siwad, and Sipishu.
Full article ▸