The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 81
Response of the Danites [Judges 18.11-18.13]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 18.11-13

11 And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.
12 And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim. 13 And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.


Commentary


11 And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.—Judges 18.11 (KJV) 
11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.—Judges 18.11 (NLT)

And there went from thence of the family of the Danites,
The Hebrew word for family is mishpat (pronounced mish•pawt) occurs 300 times in the Old Testament; 289 times it is translated “families,” “kindred” nine times, and “kinds” twice. Possibly, a reason for the use of the singular word family here and in verse 18.2[1], as applied to Dan, may be that there was only one family in the tribe of Dan, that of the Shuhamites (Numbers 26:42[2]). One or more of the clans that made up the tribe (or family) of Dan had been assigned to the city of Laish, but had held off taking it because of the strength of the Philistines who lived between them and the city, and because they knew little about the city. Now that they have received a positive report from the five spies who had scouted Laish and the surrounding area, an expedition is formed to take the city and they make their way towards it.
out of Zorah, and out of Eshtaol;

The spies were sent from these two places, and now they had returned there and given their report. The report was favorable to them being able to take the city of Laish and encouraged them to act now; therefore, certain Danites departed from Zorea and Eshtaol. The expedition consisted of 600 men, outfitted with weapons of war, with their families and their possessions in cattle and goods (see Judges 18:21[3]),

six hundred men appointed (Heb. Girded) with weapons of war;
Six hundred armed fighting men set out from Zorah, and Eshtaol, on the expedition to take Laish. The military men were only 600 in all, which was a hundredth part of that tribe, because when they entered Canaan the Danites exceeded 64,000, (Numbers 26:43[4]). It was strange that none of their brethren, men of their own tribe, much less volunteers from the other tribes, were willing to join the expedition. It was long after Israel came to Canaan before there appeared among them anything resembling a public spirit, or concern for a common interest, which was the reason why they seldom united in a common cause, and this kept them trivial and inconsequential. It appears (from verse 21[3]) that these 600 were the sum total of the fighting men that would eventually settle there, since they had their families and possessions with them. They were so confident of their success that they brought along their little ones and cattle. With their wives and sisters and children (see verse 21[3]), the whole company, must have amounted to two or three thousand souls. The other tribes gave them a free passage through their country.

It seems strange, they could assemble an army of 600 men to fight for the city of Laish in the land of the tribe of Ephraim, which was more than one hundred miles distant; but they could not fight for land in their own tribal allotment. For some reason, to them and often to us, a distant battle seemed easier

                    ______________verse 11 notes___________________
[1](Judges 18.2; KJV) And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.
[2](Numbers 26.42; KJV)  These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham, the family of the Shuhamites. These are the families of Dan after their families.
[3](Judges 18:21; KJV)  So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.
[4]Numbers 26:43; NKJV) 43 All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those who were numbered of them, were sixty-four thousand four hundred.


12 And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim.—Judges 18.12 (KJV)
12 They camped at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah, which is called Mahaneh-dan to this day.—Judges 18.12 (NLT)

And they went up and pitched in Kirjathjearim[5] in Judah
Their journey led them through the territory of Judah, and their first camp was "behind," that is, on the west of Kirjath-jearim, on a spot later called "the camp of Dan." According to Bunting Kirjathjearim was sixteen miles from Zorah and Eshtaol.

wherefore they called the name of that place Mahanehdan[7] unto this day;
Their first day’s march brought them to Kirjath-jearim[5], and at this time it was indeed rare for a military force to set-up an encampments in Israel. It was in fact so rare that the place where they rested that first night was given the name Mahaneh-dan [7], the camp of Dan or of the Danites, and it’s interesting that the place between Zorah and Eshtaol, where they began their march had the same name, (Judges 13.25[6]). It was still called Mahaneh-dan when Samson was the judge, and that is a proof that this expedition was before his time; and it is true that the name was continued in the time of Samuel, the writer of this book. The reality of that place where this company camped behind Kiriath-Jearim being named MahanehDAN would seem to indicate that the Danites might have stayed there for a considerable length of time.

behold, it is behind (to the west of) Kirjathjearim;
Kirjath-jearim (city of forests), otherwise called Kirjath-Baal and Kirjath-Baalah, in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:60[8]), and near the border of Benjamin. The 600 Danites made their first camp, after leaving the area of Zorah and Eshtaol, in the fields to the west of Kirjathjearim; which was the most suitable and convenient  location for a camp. It was given a permanent name; Mahaneh-dan [7], the camp of Dan or of the Danites. The exact site of Mahaneh-dan has not been identified with certainty; however, Mr. Williams was shown a site called Beit-Mahanem in the Wady Ismail which corresponds well with it as far as its location is concerned, but it has not been noticed by any other traveler (‘Dictionary of Bible’). Its modern representative in all probability is Kurit-el-enab, nine miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Joppa and by Conder with Soba. Eusebius gives the location as nine miles from Ælia or Jerusalem, when going towards Diospolis or Lydda The district is still very woody.

________________verse 12 notes_________________
[5]Kirjath-jearim… City of jaars; i.e., of woods or forests, a Gibeonite town (Jos 9:17) on the border of Benjamin, to which tribe it was assigned (Jos 18:15, 28). The ark was brought to this place (1Sa 7:1, 2) from Beth-shemesh and put in charge of Abinadab, a Levite. Here it remained till it was removed by David to Jerusalem (2Sa 6:2, 3, 12; 1Ch 15:1-29; Compare Ps 132). It was also called Baalah (Jos 15:9) and Kirjath-baal (Jos 15:60). It has been usually identified with Kuriet el-'Enab (i.e., "city of grapes"), among the hills, about 8 miles north-east of 'Ain Shems (i.e., Beth-shemesh). The opinion, however, that it is to be identified with 'Erma, 4 miles east of 'Ain Shems, on the edge of the valley of Sorek, seems to be better supported. (See KIRJATH.)
The words of Ps 132:6, "We found it in the fields of the wood," refer to the sojourn of the ark at Kirjath-jearim. "Wood" is here the rendering of the Hebrew word jaar, which is the singular of jearim.—Easton's Illustrated Dictionary
[6]Judges 13:25 (KJV)  And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
[7]Mahaneh-dan: "The camp of Dan or of the Danites;" named for the incident of the 600 armed warriors bivouacking there. This camp was near Kirjath-jearim, in the tribal territory of Judah, and was situated behind, or more accurately, to the west of it. The fact that this locality received a permanent name due to the encampment that was there compels us to assume that the Danites had encamped there for a considerable time, for reasons which we cannot determine, because of the limited information we are given. One suggestion though, is that the emigrants may have assembled here, where they prepared and equipped themselves for their expedition to Laish.
[8]( Joshua 15:60; KJV)  Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, and Rabbah; two cities with their villages:

 


13 And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah. —Judges 18.13 (KJV)
13 Then they went on from there into the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.
 Go at once and take the land.—Judges 18.13 (NLT)

And they passed thence unto Mount Ephraim
They journeyed northward eight miles from Kirjathjearim[10] or Mahanehdan, to Mount Ephraim. According to Bunting, this brought them close to Micah's house, but, as yet, they couldn’t see it (Judges 18:15[9]).

and came unto the house of Micah.
On the second day’s march, taking the northern route, they skirted the base of the Ephraimite hills and found they were approaching the neighborhood of Micah's residence (Judges 18:15[9]); they must stay there for awhile.

This time, they would rob Micah of his "gods" and threaten to exterminate him and his entire family if he decided to resist their crime and intimidation against their former host and benefactor.

In the list of the redeemed from each of the "Twelve Tribes of Israel," mentioned in Rev. 7, it appears as a mystery that the name of Dan is conspicuously omitted from that sacred list. We cannot resist the thought that that omission might have something to do with what is recorded in this passage.


              ________________verse 13 notes_________________
[9](Judges 18:15; KJV)  And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.
[10] Joshua 9.17; KJV)  And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. In the days of the conquest, Kirjathjearim was one of the cities of the Gideonite confederacy.

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