The tribe of Dan migrates to the north.
NOTE. These final five chapters of the Book of Judges provide glimpses into the cultural milieu during the times of the judges, revealing the religious apostasy and social degradation of the people.
VERSE 1. In those days there was no king in Israel. In those days the tribe of the Danites sought an inheritance to dwell in; for to that day, their inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel.
there was no king in Israel. The author repeats this refrain.
It might reflect a desire for a central authority to muster the army. Or it might stem from a desire to be like other nations.
the tribe of the Danites sought an inheritance to dwell in. They were being pushed eastward by the Amorites, and later by the Philistines.
That pushed them into the territory of Benjamin and Ephraim.
VERSE 2. The children of Dan sent five men of their family from their whole number, men of valor, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search it. They said to them, “Go, explore the land!” They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.
Micah. That is, Micah the Ephraimite. We met him in the previous chapter.
He stole a large sum of money from his mother. He owned a shrine filled with idols. And he paid a levitical priest to conduct idolatry.
and lodged there. The spies stay overnight in the house of Micah the Ephraimite.
VERSE 3. When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite; so they went over there and said to him, “Who brought you here? What do you do in this place? What do you have here?”
the young man the Levite. This is the levitical priest paid to conduct idolatry
VERSE 4. He said to them, “Thus and thus has Micah dealt with me, and he has hired me, and I have become his priest.”
I have become his priest. This was forbidden by the Law:
Numbers 3:10. You shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall keep their priesthood, but the stranger who comes near shall be put to death.”
VERSE 5. They said to him, “Please ask counsel of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.”
our way which we go shall be prosperous. They see the purpose of having the LORD God in their lives as to make them rich.
That is like many of today’s professing Christians. For them, being blessed by the LORD God means becoming wealthy.
Richness, they say, is evidence of God’s favor. And poverty, they say, is evidence of God’s disfavor.
Your way in which you go is before the LORD. That is, “Your journey has the Lord’s approval.”
The levitical priest was not speaking the truth. In fact, their mission will establish a major center of idolatry.
VERSE 7. Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in safety, in the way of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was no one in the land possessing authority, that might put them to shame in anything, and they were far from the Sidonians, and had no dealings with anyone else.
VERSE 8. They came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol; and their brothers asked them, “What do you say?”
VERSE 9. They said, “Arise, and let’s go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. Do you stand still? Don’t be slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land.
VERSE 10. When you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people, and the land is large; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”
VERSE 11. The family of the Danites set out from Zorah and Eshtaol with six hundred men armed with weapons of war.
six hundred men. The tribe of Dan arms 600 men for battle.
VERSE 12. They went up and encamped in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. Therefore they call that place Mahaneh Dan to this day. Behold, it is behind Kiriath Jearim.
VERSE 13. They passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
VERSE 14. Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish answered and said to their brothers, “Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a carved image, and a molten image? Now therefore consider what you have to do.”
teraphim. These were household idols.
They might have been associated with inheritance rights.
VERSE 15. They went over there and came to the house of the young Levite man, even to the house of Micah, and asked him how he was doing.
VERSE 16. The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate.
VERSE 17. The five men who went to spy out the land went up, and came in there, and took the engraved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image; and the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.
VERSE 18. When these went into Micah’s house, and took the engraved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
VERSE 19. They said to him, “Hold your peace, put your hand on your mouth, and go with us. Be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?”
Be a father and a priest to us. That is the calling of a levitical priest.
VERSE 20. The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the teraphim, and the engraved image, and went with the people.
VERSE 21. So they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods before them.
VERSE 22. When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house gathered together and overtook the children of Dan.
VERSE 23. As they called to the children of Dan, they turned their faces, and said to Micah, “What ails you, that you come with such a company?”
VERSE 24. He said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away! What more do I have? How can you ask me, ‘What ails you?’ ”
VERSE 25. The children of Dan said to him, “Don’t let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall on you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household.”
VERSE 26. The children of Dan went their way; and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.
VERSE 27. They took that which Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword; then they burned the city with fire.
VERSE 28. There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone else; and it was in the valley that lies by Beth Rehob. They built the city and lived in it.
VERSE 29. They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel; however the name of the city used to be Laish.
VERSE 30. The children of Dan set up for themselves the engraved image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.
The children of Dan set up for themselves the engraved image. They immediately fall into idolatry.
VERSE 31. So they set up for themselves Micah’s engraved image which he made, and it remained all the time that God’s house was in Shiloh.
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