Leaping Over The Threshold

J. D. Conley
February 28, 2016

If the title of this article seems odd or even silly, that's because it is! Yet leaping over the threshold, was a centuries' old practice of the idolatrous Philistines. How did such an absurd practice get started? In 1 Samuel 5, we read of the Philistines capturing of the ark of the covenant. They then ensconced God's holy chest in the house of Dagon next to the image of Dagon, which proved to be a embarrassing mistake. The next morning, they found Dagon sprawled out face down on the ground, so, the Philistines had to help their god up, dust him off, and set him back in his place. The next morning Dagon was once again face down in the dirt, but this time he was. decapitated with his hands also being cut off. Dagon, the "grain god," and the alleged mighty father of Baal, was reduced to a stump. Even though this incident shined the spotlight on the absurdity of idolatry, (cf. Isaiah 44:16-17; Psalm 115:4-7), it had no effect on the Philistines. Instead of renouncing and repenting of their idol worship, the Philistines do something else irrational. They proclaim the threshold of Dagon as holy, (1 Samuel 5:5). How did they show this? By refusing to walk upon the threshold of Dagon for many years to come. How many years? We shall see.

This leads us to what the prophet Zephaniah wrote which is the intriguing text from where the title of this article comes. "In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit." (Zephaniah 1:9). The book of Zephaniah was written around 625 B.C., whereas the book of 1 Samuel, around 1100 B.C. So the ridiculous practice of "leaping over the threshold of Dagon," spanned a period of nearly five hundred years! All because it was at the threshold Dagon toppled and lost his head. Therefore, the entrance to the house of Dagon was considered sacred and the threshold dare not to be stepped upon. If one wanted to come into the house of Dagon, they had to jump over the threshold. The stupidity of it all staggers the imagination! But that's the way it is with idolatry.

Idolatry is foolishness and leads only to more absurdities. Through the prophet Zephaniah, God warned treacherous Judah to stop imitating this irrational act of the heathen, otherwise He would punish them.

Christians today may not physically leap over thresholds or bow down to images of wood, stone or metal, but that does not mean we're immune from idolatry. Common covetousness, is idolatry, (Colossians 3:5). Let us guard against putting anything or anyone before Almighty God, because when we do, we have in a figurative way jumped over the threshold. Such unreasonable conduct will not be met with Divine impunity.