🔼The name Beth-dagon: Summary
- House Of Dagon, House Of [Cultivation Of] Natural Abundance
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) the name Dagon, which means abundant (fish or grains).
🔼The name Beth-dagon in the Bible
There are two towns named Beth-dagon mentioned in the Bible, and both are mentioned only once:
- A town in the lowlands of the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:41)
- A town in the land of Asher, all the way in the north of Israel (Joshua 19:27, spelled without waw and maqqep: בית דגן).
The phrase בית־דגון occurs once more, in 1 Samuel 5:5, where it refers to the temple of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:2 and 1 Chronicles 10:10 speak of בית דגון in that same context).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-dagon
The name Beth-dagon consists of two elements. The first part is identical to the common Hebrew word בית (bayit) meaning house or temple:
The noun בית (bayit) means house. It sometimes merely denotes a domestic building, but mostly it denotes the realm of authority of the house-father, or אב (ab). This ab is commonly the living alpha male of a household, but may very well be a founding ancestor (as in the familiar term the "house of Israel"). The אב (ab) may also be a deity, in which case the בית (bayit) is that which we know as a temple.
In the larger economy, a house interacts with other houses. These interactions are governed by the אב (ab), or "father" and executed by the בנים (benim), or "sons": those people living in the house, irrespective of any biological relation with the אב (ab). The "sons" combined add up to אם ('em), which means both "mother" and "tribe".
The second part of our name is the same as that of Dagon, the Philistine deity and patron of agriculture. The ultimate meaning of the name Dagon is a bit of a long story; please see our article on that name. It derives from the root דגה:
The verb דגה (daga) means to multiply or increase. Nouns דג (dag) and דגה (daga) refer to fish, which in turns symbolizes natural abundance. Verb דיג (dig) means to fish (or to harvest natural abundance).
Nouns דוג (dawwag) and דיג (dayyag) mean fisherman, and noun דוגה (duga) refers a fishing or a fishery. But as is evidenced by many ancient depictions of men dressed like fish, these words obviously also referred to a wisdom tradition that emphasized appreciating and possibly cultivating natural abundance. It may very well be that this wisdom tradition gave birth to agriculture.
Noun דגן (dagan), denotes cereal crop in general, and again first refers to the natural abundance of grains and such, and secondly to the importance of devotees who develop procedures and technologies to cultivate natural abundance.
The name Beth-dagon means House Of Dagon, or House Of The Cultivation Of Natural Abundance.