The house of Dagon - On this idol, which was supposed to be partly in a human form, and partly in that of a fish, see the note on Judges 16:23. Some think that this idol was the same with Dirceto, Attergatis, the Venus of Askelon, and the Moon. - See Calmet's Dissertation on the gods of the Philistines.
The motive which induced the Philistines to set up the ark in the temple of Dagon, may be easily ascertained. It was customary, in all nations, to dedicate the spoils taken from an enemy to their gods: As a gratitude-offering for the help which they supposed them to have furnished; and,
As a proof that their gods, i.e., the gods of the conquerors, were more powerful than those of the conquered.
It was, no doubt, to insult the God of Israel, and to insult and terrify his people, that they placed his ark in the temple of Dagon. When the Philistines had conquered Saul, they hung up his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, 1 Samuel 31:10. And when David slew Goliath, he laid up his sword in the tabernacle of the Lord, 1 Samuel 21:8, 1 Samuel 21:9. We have the remains of this custom in the depositing of colors, standards, etc., taken from an enemy, in our churches; but whether this may be called superstition or a religious act, is hard to say. If the battle were the Lord's, which few battles are, the dedication might be right.