The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 83
Pursuit of the Danites [Judges 18.21-18.26]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 18.21-26

21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.
22 And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.
23 And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?
24 And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?
25 And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.
26 And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.

Commentary

21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.—Judges 18.21 (KJV) 
21 When they left, they put their children, livestock, and property in front of them.—Judges 18.21 (GW)

So they turned and departed
The six hundred Danites turned their backs upon Beth-Micah, and went on their way to the north, but now their company included a priest and his idols and all the paraphernalia used in worshipping these idols as gods. With the assistance of these gods they were more confident than ever they would accomplish their mission to make Laish their city. 

and put the little ones, and the cattle, and the carriage, before them;
The 600 men were so confident they would take Laish, and the country around it, and settle there, that when they emigrated they took along their families and possessions. Although their wives are not mentioned, they were definitely with them. They never expected to return to Zorah and Eshtaol, so they took everything they owned with them; household goods, cattle, their children, and their flocks and herds,

The Danites suspected that Micah would pursue them, and they were determined to fight him if he did so; therefore, they put their children, their cattle, and their valuable possessions in front, because they were afraid of being attacked by Micah and his people from behind. This meant that the six hundred armed men provided the rear-guard, indicating they expected Micah to pursue them.

"The little ones," as it’s used here, includes women and children, as the members of the family who were in need of protection (see Exodus 12:37[1]). Compare to Jacob’s care for his wives and children (Genesis 33:1-5[2]); only Jacob expected Esau to attack him from the front, whereas the Danites expected Micah to attack from behind.

“Cattle” here, refers to cattle, livestock; any purchasable domestic animal, such as cows, sheep, goats (in herds and flocks).

The carriage was also placed in front of the procession. Carriage is the KJV word for baggage that is carried on a journey. The Targum renders the word as “whatever they possessed that was movable; their vessels, silver and gold, and other movables;” and Kimchi interprets it, “whatever was weighty, valuable and glorious, as the word signifies, or that was of any importance and worth.” NKJV translations of this word include “supplies” (1 Samuel 17:22[3]), “equipment” (Isaiah 10:28[4]), “goods” (Judges 18:21[5]), and “carriages” (Isaiah 46:1[6]). It would no doubt include the precious images and ephod which they had just stolen.

                 ______________verse 21 notes___________________
[1]Exodus 12:37-38; GW)  The Israelites left Rameses to go to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, plus all the women and children.  Many other people also went with them, along with large numbers of sheep, goats, and cattle.
[2](Genesis 33:1-5; NKJV)  Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants.  And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.  Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.  But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.  And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, "Who are these with you?" So he said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant."
[3](1 Samuel 17:22; NKJV)  And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Verse 22. left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage -- to make his way to the standard of Judah.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[4](Isaiah 10:28; NKJV)  He has come to Aiath, He has passed Migron; At Michmash he has attended to his equipment. laid up . . . carriages -- He has left his heavier baggage (so "carriages" for the things carried, Ac 21:15) at Michmash, so as to be more lightly equipped for the siege of Jerusalem. So 1Sa 17:22 1Sa 25:13 1Sa 30:24 [JEROME and MAURER].—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[5](Judges 18:21; NKJV)  Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods in front of them. And the carriage—‏כבודה‎  kebudah, their substance, precious things, or valuables; omne quod erat pretiosum, VULGATE: or rather the luggage or baggage; what Caesar calls in his commentaries impedimenta; and what the Septuagint here translate βαρος, weight or baggage. We are not to suppose that any wheel carriage is meant.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[6](Isaiah 46:1; NKJV)  Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; Their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle. Your carriages were heavily loaded, A burden to the weary beast. carriages -- in the Old English sense of the things carried, the images borne by you: the lading (Ac 21:15), "carriages," not the vehicles, but the baggage. Or, the images which used to be carried by you formerly in your solemn processions [MAURER].—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary


 

22 And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.—Judges 18.22 (KJV)
22 When they had already gone some distance from Micah's house, Micah's neighbors were called together to help him catch up to the people of Dan.—Judges 18.22 (GW)

And when they were a good way from the house of Micah
It might have taken Micah awhile before he discovered his gods were stolen, and his priest had been lured away from him; and it must have taken still more time to get his servants and neighbors together to pursue after those that robbed him. The Danites were probably a great distance from Beth-Micah, before Micah was able to make all the preparations for stopping the Danites and fighting them for what rightly belonged to him.

the men that were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together;
As soon as the robbery of the chapel was detected, a hot pursuit was immediately commenced by Micah, at the head of a considerable body of followers. The willingness with which his neighbors and tenants joined in the attempt to recover the stolen articles gives the impression that the chapel had been open to the entire neighborhood, and they probably joined him for devotions, since they were deeply involved in the same superstition and idolatry, and strongly addicted to it. The importance which Micah, like Laban, attached to his teraphim is seen by the urgency with which he pursued the thieves, and his willingness to risk his life in attempting to get them back from the Danites who stole them.

and overtook the children of Dan;
The Danites placed their wives, children, livestock and possessions in front, so that the six hundred could act as a rear guard, but this arrangement slowed them down. It didn’t take long for Micah and his men to overtake them. He hoped to recover what was stolen simply by reasoning with the Danites, because he knew that he didn’t have enough men to force the six hundred Danites to give him back the articles they stolen from him.

 


23 And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?—Judges 18.23 (KJV)
23 They shouted at them. But the people of Dan turned around and said to Micah, “What's your problem? Why did you call your neighbors together to attack us?”—Judges 18.23 (GW)

And they cried unto the children (tribe or nation) of Dan
When they (i.e., Micah and his people, whom he had called together) had overtaken the Danites, and were near enough to be heard, they called to them aloud, and appealed to them to stop, because they had something to say to them.

and they turned their faces;
The Danites who were marching in the rear, turned around and looked at them, and stopped to hear what they had to say.

and said unto Micah;
who was at the head of the men that followed him from Beth-Micah.

what aileth thee that thou comest with such a company?
To the uninformed, it would appear that Micah was going to attack the rear guard, but that was out of the question, because the numbers were too disproportionate in favor of the Danites. To make matters worse they probably posted the fiercest and strongest of their company at the rear, expecting that any attack would come from behind.

Micah called to them and asked them to stop so he could have a word with them. The Danites’ response, What aileth thee, indicates their despicable attitude toward the one from whom they had stolen these things. They must have laughed at him when they asked this question, because they knew why he had come; they had taken his religious articles and lured away his priest.

What aileth thee could be restated in several ways—“How have we offended you?”  “Have we injured you in any way?” “What provoked you to come out and follow us in such a manner?” “What was the reason you gathered together all these people?”


 

24 And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?—Judges 18.24 (KJV) 
24 Micah answered, “You've taken away the gods I made as well as my priest. What do I have left? How can you say to me, ‘What's your problem?'”—Judges 18.24 (GW)

And he said, ye have taken away my gods that I made,
He argues with them, and makes the case that he has been victimized; "You have taken away my gods, my images of God, which I have an incontestable title to, for I made them myself,” and therefore they should return his gods which they have illegally removed from his house and currently have in their possession. He thought that he should prevail; but they, in answer, plead their might to keep them, which they must have proved, since they did prevail; for it is generally true that might overcomes right.  He insists they had certainly done him wrong: "You have taken away my gods, my images of God, which I have an incontestable title to, for I made them myself. Thus, Micah declares the opinion all idolaters have of their idols.
ye have taken away my gods that I made. Meaning his graven and molten images, which he had made, or caused to be made, out of the silver his mother gave him, or however he had paid for the making of them. How sad that an Israelite should assume that he could make a god; and how strange that a man should have to rescue his god! How deplorable that Micah's life was so wrapped up in his so-called gods that he thought he had nothing left when they were taken away from him. Although Micah has presented a strong case for the return of what is legally his, it was a very poor one in favor of their deity.

my gods. It is astonishing he should call them gods since he knew what they were made of, and now he knows they could not save themselves from being stolen and carried off. Why does Micah have to rescue his own god? Shouldn't his god be able to take care of himself? But Micah's god is nothing; perhaps he sensed the irony when he said, You have taken away my gods which I made. Micah was a worshipper of the true God, as we have seen; he cannot mean any kind of idols by the word elohai used here. He undoubtedly means those representations of Divine things, and symbols of the Divine presence such as the teraphim, and ephod, for they are all evidently included under the word elohai, which we translate my gods.
Each of us will either worship a god of our own making, or we will worship the true God who made us. But the gods we make are always less than us; it's all a way of worshipping ourselves

and the priest and ye are gone away;
It was bad enough, they took away his gods, but they also took his priest; the priest that sacrificed for him, and assisted him in acts of devotion to them, or to God by them.

and what have I more?
With these words he signifies, that all he has in the world, wife, children, and possessions, were nothing at all in comparison with his images and religious garments; there was nothing he valued as much as he did these, and if he is deprived of them he would be miserable. His life, which was lived after false gods made him empty; his false gods didn't bring him any lasting good.

This particular statement by Micah points up the folly of idolaters, and the power that Satan has over them. What foolishness it was for him to call those images he made, his gods, when the true God has said that only He is to be worshipped by us as a God! It is foolishness indeed, to love such silly idle things, and to become overcome with grief when he has lost them. 

As we study this man, we may be able to identify our spiritual identity. Am I like Micah? Are you? Are you guilty of spiritual idolatry?  What is it that makes you happy; your relationship with Jesus Christ or have you allowed someone or something to usurp Him? It may be that you are guilty of spiritual idolatry if all your happiness is derived from someone or something other than Him, and you can’t stand to be without Him. Now, if most people will walk in this manner in the name of their god, shouldn’t we be affected in a like manner towards our God, the true God?

As for the Danites, they exemplify a deep-seated principle of our nature--that men have religious affections, which must have an object on which they may be exercised, while they are often not very discriminating in the choice of the objects. In proportion to the slender influence religion wields over the heart, compared to the importance attached to external rites, it’s no wonder that doing good deeds and observing certain religious activities is enough to make some men happy, since they believe they are covering  a multitude of sins.

and what is this that ye say unto me, what aileth thee?
“What a question this is for you to ask me, ‘what’s your problem;’ it is as if you don’t think I have been harmed in any way, and that I have no reason to complain; that it was a trifling insignificant thing, worthy of no regard, when, in reality, it is a matter of great importance to me.”

 


25 And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.—Judges 18.25 (KJV)
25 The people of Dan replied, “Don't make another sound, or some violent men will attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives.” —Judges 18.25 (GW)

And the children of Dan said unto him, let not thy voice be heard among us
The Danites were angry and you can hear it in their reply as they accuse Micah of complaining of them being unjust, charging them with theft and sacrilege, insisting they return everything they had stolen, calling them hateful names and slandering their character; so they proclaim hatefully “Let not thy voice be heard among us.” This was indeed a brutal answer. What the Danites said, if we may paraphrase it, was, "Look, Bud, you had better keep your mouth shut and quit making false accusations against us, and if you don't, we will simply knock you down and kill you and then return to your residence and exterminate your entire family!"

lest angry fellows run upon thee:
In the Hebrew, the literal words from which the words angry fellows are translated are literally, “men of acid temper.”  It is suicidal idiocy to provoke such men; men with a bitter soul and passionate spirits, who, when provoked by accusations against their character might draw their swords and fall upon them.

They resolved to justify their robbery with murder if he did not immediately drop his claims. “Take heed lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, and that is worse than losing thy gods.” Wicked and unreasonable men look at it as a great affront to be asked to be fair and honest, and support themselves by applying their power for right and reason. Micah’s crime is asking for his own things, and, for this, he is in danger of losing his life and the lives of his family.

and thou lose thy life, and the life of thy household (family of descendents);
And when he replied, "Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest,” they ordered him to be silent, or he would forfeit his life: "Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest men of savage disposition [7](2 Samuel 17:8) should fall upon thee [8](Judges 8:21). The threat he received was that they would kill him, and everyone with him; his family, servants, tenants, and neighbors, which ought to have been more precious and valuable to him than his gods.

The Danites argument is called an argumentum ad hominem; he must put up with the loss of his substance, or else lose his life! It was the simple language of a modern highwayman: Your life or your money. These shameful deeds of the Danites exactly fulfilled Jacob's prophecy when he bestowed this blessing upon him:

"Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
An adder in the path,
That biteth the horse's heels,
So that his rider falleth backward.
I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah." (Genesis 49:16-18)

Paraphrasing this "blessing," we read the prophecy of Jacob as a declaration that Dan would not only be a snake, but a POISONOUS one at that, who would bring disaster to those whom he might encounter, concluding that Jacob had prayed and waited for God to bring salvation to Dan.

_____________verse 25 notes_________________

[7](2 Sam 17:8; KJV) For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people. As a bear robbed of her whelps—All wild beasts are very furious when robbed of their young; but we have some remarkable instances of the maternal affection of the bear in such circumstances.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[8](Judges 8:21; KJV)  Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.

 

 

26 And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.—Judges 18.26 (KJV)
26 The people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw they were stronger than he was, so he turned around and went home.—Judges 18.26 (GW)

And the children of Dan went their way
The Danites went on their way, since there was no reason for them to fear the small band of friends and neighbors Micah had assembled; as for Micah himself, they considered him to be an impertinent man, and unworthy of their regard, so they would not waste any more time talking to him.

The verse tells us what the two parties did, but not in the Order in which an English writer would express it; for no doubt the Danites, encumbered with their women, and children, and baggage, did not go on their way until Micah and his party had turned back. The Hebrew merely puts the actions side by side, and leaves the order to be inferred.

and when Micah saw they were too strong for him;
He quickly discovered that he could not prevail against them with words and arguments, and that it would be foolish to pick a fight with them, since they were more numerous and more mighty than he and his neighbors.

he turned and went unto his own house;
He found his party was no match for the Danites, therefore he thought it was prudent to give up his quest to retrieve his gods and his priest. He knew the rule which was prevalent in the land at that time:

"They should take who had the power,
And they should keep who could."

Micah doesn’t have courage enough to risk his life by attempting to rescue his gods, so He turned and went back to his house; and if the loss of his idols convinced him (as, one would think, it should) of their impotency, and of his own folly in regarding them so highly, and send him back to the true God from whom he had revolted; in that case it was well for him they were taken away. If the loss of our idols cures us of our love for them, and makes us say, “What have we to do any more with idols?” the loss will be for us unspeakable gain. See [9]Isaiah 2:20. Perhaps Micah learned a deeper and richer kind of worship not dependent on an idol or a priest, but conducted at the alter within his heart.

Idolaters worship gods they can carry, but Christians worship a God that can carry them.

The story has a definite note of irony to it in that Micah paid the silversmith to build the idol, bought the priest and the cult objects hoping they would bring him good luck, and then lost them. The Danites now take the same objects, assuming they will bring them good luck; but instead, the tribe turns to blasphemous idolatry.

          _______________verse 26 notes_________________
[9](Isaiah 2:20; KJV)  In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;


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