5

Among the Romans there were three gods which made up the entrance of a door - "Cardea (Hinge-goddess), called after hinges, and Forculus (Door-god) after doors, and Limentinus (Threshold-god) after the threshold, and Janus himself (Gate-god) after the gate" - Tertullian

Was there a Philistine, Canaanite, Summarian, or Ugaritic equivalent for the Roman Threshold-god, Limentinus, that could have been associated with or given a different significance to the passage of 1 Samuel 5:5?

1 Samuel 5:4-5 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.<

  • Is this a question about Old Testament syncretism? – KorvinStarmast Nov 6 '16 at 15:19
  • No, I think the time and culture gap would make any syncretism unlikely. Specifically since they were a polytheistic society I was wondering if they may have had a diety similar to a Limentinus in that the threshold held some significance. Most commentaries I've read IMO offer a weak explanation or argument for their theories if they offer one at all – Tonyg Nov 6 '16 at 16:33
  • See also Zephaniah 1:9, "On that day I will punish everyone who leaps over the threshold, and those who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud" (ESV). Note possibly related in some way OT commandments regarding doorposts, such as Deuteronomy 6:9, "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (ESV). – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Nov 9 '16 at 16:06
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim I think in Zeph 1:9 it is possible there are some correlations but I doubt seriously that the mezuzah of Deuteronomy 6:9 would have anything to do with it. Though, I'm not sure and thus my question. – Tonyg Nov 10 '16 at 10:17
3

The account in 1 Samuel is not referring to the threshold of an ordinary household, such as what Tertullian refers to, but rather the threshold of a house that had been especially set up just for Dagon (v.1-2):

And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

I don't think there is any relevance of this particular account to what you are suggesting.

  • 1
    user33515 - +1 I really think this is a strong answer, given the context you point out. A.) I think it raises another question - whether it was common in Semtic cultures for any dedicated house, to a particular god, to have some sort of "altar" to another god. B.) Perhaps not material, but I recall reading some place about a particular sanctuary dedicated to a Greek goddess that had some idols to other gods. Semitic theology, I think, would be more relevant here. – elika kohen Apr 7 '17 at 2:15
  • I read the Old Testament with my son every night at bedtime. We happened to have read this passage a couple days ago (the LXX version in English translation). Bad things happen when you steal the Ark of the Covenant. :) – user33515 Apr 7 '17 at 2:18

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