The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 79
The Danite Spies [Judges 18.1-18.6]

 


Scripture (KJV) Judges 18.1-6

The Danites send five men to seek out an inheritance
1 In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.
2 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.
3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here?
4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.
5 And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.


Introduction to Chapter 18

Corruption in the home will eventually spread to society; in this case, it spread to a whole tribe. False doctrine is like yeast: it grows quietly in secret and affects everything it touches (Gal. 5:7–9)[1].
The Danites had claimed their inheritance (Josh. 19:40–48)[2], but the enemy’s invasion had forced them to relocate. Had the tribes stayed true to God, the enemy would not have dispossessed them, and they could have enjoyed their inheritance.

What a way to find a new home! The Danites kidnapped the hireling priest of the false religion and stole the idols. Then they killed innocent people who were living in ignorant isolation, a dangerous thing in that day. The climax came when they set up their own center of idolatrous worship, in open disobedience to the Word of God.

They were living in a place where there was “no lack of anything that is on the earth” (v. 10)[3]; yet they lacked everything that God wanted to give them from heaven. Their false prosperity gave them false security that could not last.

Chapter Outline
The Danish spies call at Micah's house, ver. 1 - 6.
The report they bring back, ver. 7 - 10.
The Danites send forces, which along the way plunder Micah of his gods, ver. 11 - 26.
They take Laish and set up idolatry there, ver. 27 – 31

The significance of this chapter is very great. "In the Danite migration, the apostasy of Micah was expanded to the tribal heresy of Dan, and the establishment of a Danite city (and its illegal shrine) in the northern border of Israel provided the framework for the apostasy of Northern Israel under Jeroboam I, whose idolatrous golden calves were no doubt welcomed in Dan." Furthermore, that renegade Levite, Jonathan, a grandson or great-grandson of Moses himself, led the whole tribe of Dan and later the nation of Northern Israel into a syncretistic[4] worship of Jehovah, contrary to all that God through Moses had revealed to Israel. It required the ability of God Himself to redeem the Chosen People from the apostasy which came so near to swallowing them completely.

The date of the events recorded in this chapter, "In all probability took place SHORTLY AFTER the death of Joshua, as we may infer from Judg. 18:30[5]."


Introduction to verses 1-6

The Danites had a territory assigned them as well as the others. But either through laziness, or a lack of energy, they did not acquire the full possession of their allotment, but allowed a considerable portion of it to be wrested out of their hands by the encroachments of their powerful neighbors, the Philistines. The result of their failure to defend their land was that there wasn’t enough room for them to live in their own land. The best solution they could come up with was to seek a home where they would have enough room for the whole tribe; and would be far from their Philistine neighbors. A small deputation was dispatched to reconnoiter the country they hoped would meet their needs. The group traveled north until they arrived at the residence of Micah. When they recognized his priest as one of their former acquaintances, they eagerly enlisted his services in ascertaining the prospect for success of their current expedition. His answer, though apparently promising, was deceptive, and really as vague as those of the heathen oracles. This misuse of a bogus priest brings out still more clearly and fully than the heresy of Micah the sad degeneracy of the times. The Danites expressed no emotions either of surprise or of indignation at a Levite daring to assume the priestly functions, and at the existence of a rival establishment to that of Shiloh. They were ready to seek, through means of the teraphim, the information that could only be lawfully applied for through the high priest's Urim. Now we see they were just as erroneous in their views and habits as Micah was in his; they show the low state of religion, and how much superstition prevailed in all parts of the land.

The Danites determined to take Micah's gods with them. Oh the folly of these Danites! How could they imagine those gods would protect them, when they could not keep themselves from being stolen! To take them for their own use, was a double crime; it showed they neither feared God, nor regarded man; but had lost both godliness and honesty.

__________________introduction notes____________________
[1](Gal. 5:7–9; NLT)[1] You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! A little leaven (yeast)—the false teaching of the Judaizers. A small portion of legalism, if it be mixed with the Gospel, corrupts its purity. To add legal ordinances and works in the least degree to justification by faith, is to undermine "the whole." So "leaven" is used of false doctrine (Mt 16:12: compare Mt 13:33). In 1Co 5:6 it means the corrupting influence of one bad person; so BENGEL understands it here to refer to the person (Ga 5:7, 8, 10) who misled them. Ec 9:18, "One sinner destroyeth much good" (1Co 15:33). I prefer to refer it to false doctrine, answering to "persuasion" (Ga 5:8).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[2](Josh. 19:40–48; KJV) And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families.  And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh,  And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah,  And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,  And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath,  And Jehud, and Beneberak, and Gathrimmon,  And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho.  And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.  This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages.
[3](Judg 18.10; KJV) When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.
[4]syncretistic…Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is mixed. Here the means of worshipping Jehovah was mixed with the methods of worshipping the false gods of the Philistines.
[5](Judg. 18:30; NKJV)  Then the children of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. the children of Dan set up the graven image -- Their distance secluded them from the rest of the Israelites, and doubtless this, which was their excuse for not going to Shiloh, was the cause of perpetuating idolatry among them for many generations.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary


Commentary

1 In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.—Judges 18.1 (KJV) 
1 Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place where they could settle, for they had not yet moved into the land assigned to them when the land was divided among the tribes of Israel.—Judges 18.1 (NLT)

In those days there was no king in Israel…
This chapter begins by noting again that there was no king in Israel, reminding us that much of the spiritual and political confusion of this time was due to a lack of unified leadership in the nation. There can be no doubt that these appendices (ch. 17-21) were intended to bridge the gap and pave the way from the time of the judges to that of the monarchy which would be introduced in I Samuel. The territory of the tribe of Dan originally consisted of a western part of Canaan between the territories of Judah and Ephraim. This land, however, was attacked and settled by the Philistines and the Amorites, thus forcing the Danites to move north. There they were confined in an area too small for them and since they were unable to drive out the Amorites and Philistines, the Danites were trying to find a more suitable location. According to Numbers 26:43, the tribe of Dan had sixty-four thousand men. However, they were still unable to occupy the territory that was allotted to them because of the oppression of the Amorites and the Philistines. It should be remembered that the Samson narrative also relates to the tribe of Dan. Samson, the strongest man, came from Dan, the weakest tribe! The difficulties in the conquest and settlement of the land had caused a lack of accuracy regarding tribal boundaries. There was no supreme magistrate and no judge in Israel to punish vice according to God’s word, because it was before the time of the judges and after the death of Joshua and before Othniel the first judge. This was pointed out before (Judges 17:6)[6], and here it is repeated in order to account for the evil things done by the Danites; their consulting with Micah's oracle, taking away his priest and his gods, and setting up his graven image in Dan. It was through these acts and others that idolatry was spread throughout Israel, and that brought on their servitude to Chushanrishathaim, from which Othniel the first judge was their deliverer.

and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in;…
In those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance.
This does not mean that the whole tribe of Dan was still seeking their inheritance. The bulk of the tribe, as we read in Joshua 19:40-48[2], did receive their inheritance by lot before the death of Joshua and Eleazar. But as long as any part of the tribe[7] was not settled, the tribe as such, as far as its unity is concerned, was still unsettled. There was a part, consisting only of six hundred men of war, with their families, that couldn’t live within their inheritance. The land of their inheritance was still under the control of the Philistines and Amorites. This is mentioned very early in their history (See Judges 1:34)[8]; that the Amorites would not allow the children of Dan to come down to the valley, therefore they were crowded into other parts of the tribal territory. The Danites, we are reading about here, were dwelling in Zorah and Eshtaol as we see by verse 2.

for unto that day [all their] inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel:…
We can rightly supply the words "all their"; since they received an inheritance, by lot, like the other tribes (Joshua 19:40 )[9], but that was not only too little for them (Joshua 19:47)[10], it was also not in their possession because it remained unsubdued; and some parts they had possession of they could not keep, either because of the superior strength of the Amorites, or their own laziness and cowardice, or because their brethren were unwilling to help them; (See Judges 1:34, 35)[11].

These Danites had their eye upon Laish—not the whole tribe of Dan, but one family of them, to whose lot, in the subdivision of Canaan, that city fell. Thus far this family had sojourned with their brethren, who had taken possession of their lot, which lay between Judah and the Philistines. But this family had refused to go to their own city, because there was no king in Israel to rule over them, (v. 1). It was a long way off, separate from the rest of their tribe; it was entirely in the enemy’s hand, and therefore they sponged-off their brethren rather than provide for themselves, which meant a long march and a battle with the Amorites. But eventually, necessity forced them to consider improving their situation, and they began to think of an inheritance to dwell in. It is better to have a little of one’s own than always to hang onto what belongs to others.

Article 18.2: Dan (a judge)
1.     The fifth son of Jacob, and the first of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. Gen. 30:6. (B.C. after 1753.) The origin of the name is given in the exclamation of Rachel. The records of Dan are unusually meager. Only one son is attributed to him, Gen. 46:23; but his tribe was, with the exception of Judah, the most numerous of all. In the division of the promised land Dan was the last of the tribes to receive his portion, which was the smallest of the twelve. Josh. 19:48. But notwithstanding its smallness it had eminent natural advantages. On the north and east it was completely embraced by its two brother tribes Ephraim and Benjamin, while on the southeast and south it joined Judah, and was thus surrounded by the three most powerful states of the whole confederacy. It was a rich and fertile district; but the Amorites soon “forced them into the mountain,” Judges 1:34, and they had another portion granted them. Judges 18. In the “security” and “quiet,” Judges 18:7, 10, of their rich northern possession the Danites enjoyed the leisure and repose which had been denied them in their original seat. In the time of David Dan still kept its place among the tribes. 1 Chron. 12:35. Asher is omitted, but the “prince of the tribe of Dan” is mentioned in the list of 1 Chron. 27:22. But from this time forward the name as applied to the tribe vanishes; it is kept alive only by the northern city. In the genealogies of 1 Chron. 2-12 Dan is omitted entirely. Lastly, Dan is omitted from the list of those who were sealed by the angel in the vision of St. John. Rev. 7:5-7.
2.     The well-known city is as familiar as the most northern landmark of Palestine, in the common expression “from Dan even to Beersheba.” The name of the place was originally LAISH or LESHEM. Josh. 19:47. After the establishment of the Danites at Dan it became the acknowledged extremity of the country. It is now Tell el-Kadi, a mound, three miles from Banias, from the foot of which gushes out one of the largest fountains in the world, the main source of the Jordan.
DAN´ITES, THE. The descendants of Dan and the members of his tribe. Judges 13:2; 18:1, 11; 1 Chron. 12:35.

______________verse 1 notes___________________
[6[(Judg 17.6; KJV) In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. From want of a settled government, there was no one to call him to account. No punishment followed any crime.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[7] tribe…It should be noted that a family is sometimes identified as a tribe, (Joshua 7:17); likewise a tribe designated a family, (Judges 20:12).
[8](Judges 1:34; NKJV)  And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley; The Amorites forced the children of Dan, etc.—Just as the ancient Britons were driven into the mountains of Wales by the Romans; and the native Indians driven back into the woods by the British settlers in America.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[9](Joshua 19:40; KJV)  And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families. the seventh lot came out for the tribe . . . Dan -- It lay on the west of Benjamin and consisted of portions surrendered by Judah and Ephraim. Its boundaries are not stated, as they were easily distinguishable from the relative position of Dan to the three adjoining tribes—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[10](Joshua 19:47; KJV)  And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.  the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem -- The Danites, finding their inheritance too small, decided to enlarge its boundaries by the sword; and, having conquered Leshem (Laish), they planted a colony there, calling the new settlement by the name of Dan.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[11] (Judges 1:34, 35; KJV) And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley: But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries. The Amorites forced the children of Dan, etc.—just as the ancient Britons were driven into the mountains of Wales by the Romans; and the native Indians driven back into the woods by the British settlers in America. The Amorites would dwell in Mount Heres—they perhaps agreed to dwell in the mountainous country, being unable to maintain themselves on the plain, and yet were so powerful that the Danites could not totally expel them; they were, however, laid under tribute, and thus the house of Joseph had the sovereignty. The Septuagint has sought out a literal meaning for the names of several of these places, and they render the verse thus: "And the Amorites began to dwell in the mount of Tiles, in which there are bears, and in which there are foxes." Thus they translate Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim.—Adam Clarke's Commentary


2 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.—Judges 18.2 (KJV)
2 So the men of Dan chose from their clans five capable warriors from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol to scout out a land for them to settle in. When these warriors arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they came to Micah’s house and spent the night there.—Judges 18.2 (NLT)

And the children of Dan sent of their family five men…
According to Abarbinel there was one chosen from each family (as Moses sent out one from each of the twelve tribes to spy-out the land); and so there must be five families involved in this affair (therefore the entire tribe was not involved.).

from their coasts, men of valour from Zorah, and from Eshtaol[12], to spy out the land, and to search it;…
The five men that were sent on this mission came from along the borders of the tribe, where perhaps the most crowded conditions existed. The tribe of Dan is not described by its boundaries, as with the other tribes, but by its cities, which were chiefly, at least several of them, taken out of the tribe of Judah, which happened to be how Dan acquired Zorah and Eshtaol. They were the principle cities in their lot, and were situated on the coast of their inheritance. The tribe of Dan was squeezed between these two cities; it was their habitat during the days of Samson.
Some take the phrase rendered "from their coasts" to signify persons of extreme insignificance, men of the lowest class among them; but there are Bible scholars who interpret it to mean just the opposite; that they were princes, such as Moses sent to spy the Promised Land; and this fits better with the next clause, "men of valour": and the word used signifies not only nobility and fortitude of mind, but wealth and riches. They were men, who, if they fell into their enemies’ hands, knew how to look danger in the face. It is prudent to look before we leap. These men were not to scout the land of Canaan, but reconnoiter some places belonging to their tribe, but possessed by the Canaanites; and their task was to observe, and report on the condition on the people and the cities; particularly, how they might get possession of any of them, the force needed and the best way to attack them.

and they said unto them, search the land;…
The portion of their inheritance that Joshua gave them was not large enough for all their tribe because of the native population living in that area, so they were to reconnoiter the land and see if some convenient place can be found to enlarge their inheritance, and give them more room for their families, and pasturage for their flocks and herds. The people of Dan assumed that if they could find an attractive locality, where the people holding it were not strong enough to defend it, it was theirs for the taking.

who when they came to Mount Ephraim;…
The hill country of Ephraim would be north of Eshtaol. They would naturally avoid the plain where the Amorites and Philistines were strong. 

to the house of Micah, they lodged there;…
They came to the mountains of Ephraim, and went as far as Micah's house, where they passed the night. This indicates that Micah extended the hospitality of his establishment to aid his fellow Israelites in their search. His generous hospitality was treacherously betrayed by the Danites. According to Bunting, this place was twenty four miles from Zorah and Eshtaol, where they came from.

_____________verse 2 notes___________________
[12]ESH´TAOL (a pass), a town in the low country—the Shefelah—of Judah, afterwards allotted to Dan. Josh. 15:33; 19:41. Here Samson spent his boyhood, and here after his last exploit his body was brought. Judges 13:25; 16:31; 18:2, 8, 11, 12.

 


3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here?—Judges 18.3 (KJV)
3 While at Micah’s house, they recognized the young Levite’s accent, so they went over and asked him, “Who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”—Judges 18.3 (NLT)

When they were by the house of Micah
When (rather, while) they were at their inn, which might be next to Micah’s house, or as they were passing by his house (rather, in or at the house). All of these interpretations have been offered, but I, as I always will, take the line literally; while they were nearby the house of Micah.

they knew the voice of the young man the Levite;…
There have been several explanations offered for how these spies came to recognize this Levite:
1. They knew the voice, having, as some think, known him before he left Bethlehem. Abarbinel conjectures, that he was singing to Micah's idol, or giving voice to his prayers before it: They knew, by his dialect or mode of pronunciation, that he was not an Ephraimite. We have already seen (v.12:6)[13] that the Ephraimites could not pronounce certain letters.
2. But this line may merely mean that they discerned his voice as he was singing or reciting prayers in the house of God. Micah’s house seems to have been a collection of houses (veers. 14, 22)[14], approached by one gateway (ver. 16)[15], and the Levite lived in one of them.
3. Perhaps they detected a southern accent or a particular brogue that gave the indication he was not a native of these mountains,
4. He may have been in their country at some time and had a conversation with one or more of them, and they knew the tone of his voice when they heard it. There is no hint in the text of where that acquaintance had taken place, but the fact of this young man's having been a grandson, great grandson, or a descendant of Moses himself, suggests that he might possibly have been rather widely known throughout Israel.

and they turned in thither;…
This seems to have happened the next morning, when they were resuming their journey. Upon hearing the Levite’s voice, they left the road and went into Micah’s house and into the apartment where the young man was.

and said unto him, who brought thee hither?...
They knew he was from Bethlehemjudah, and were surprised to find him so far away from there; so, they asked him, "Who brought you here, what is it that you do, and how do you support yourself?”

and what makest thou in this place?...
They knew he was a Levite, and that Levites had no business ministering any place other than at the tabernacle at Shiloh. Therefore they ask him, “What is it that you do here, and how do you live?”

and what hast thou here?...
Finally, they ask him, “How do you support yourself, and how do you live?” They seem to be getting personal; perhaps they are attempting to ascertain how they can get him to be their priest and prophet.

                           ______________verse 3 notes___________________
[13](Judges 12:6; KJV)  Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.  The method adopted for discovering an Ephraimite was by the pronunciation of a word naturally suggested by the place where they stood. Shibboleth, means "a stream"; Sibboleth, "a burden." The Eastern tribe had, it seems, a dialectical provincialism in the sound of Shibboleth; and the Ephraimites could not bring their organs to pronounce it.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[14](Judges 18:14, 22; KJV) Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have to do…  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.
[15](Judges 18.16; NKJV) The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate.

 

4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.—Judges 18.4 (KJV)
4 He told them about his agreement with Micah and that he had been hired as Micah’s personal priest.—Judges 18.4 (NLT)

And he said unto them, thus and thus dealeth Micah with me,…
He told them the whole story, how he went to the door of Micah's house; that Micah asked him who he was, where he came from, and where he was going, and then he invited him into his house to stay with him.

and hath hired me;…
The Levite told them his yearly maintenance was ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, meat and drink, and lodging.

This man was nothing but a hired preacher. (God have mercy on the church that has a hired preacher who chooses to be a messenger boy for a little group, rather than to teach and preach the Word of God without fear, without favoritism, and without compromise.)

and I am his priest;…
He was in a very unusual position, since he was one man’s priest. As such, his business was to offer sacrifice for his family, and to consult his oracle for him, and to perform the priestly functions for anyone else wanting to use his services.

 


5 And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.—Judges 18.5 (KJV)
5 Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.”—Judges 18.5 (NLT)

And they said unto him, ask counsel, we pray thee, of God…
They knew he was a Levite, and yet they did not reprimand him for assuming the priestly office; which is an indication of the corruption of those times, and the great depravity and degradation they had fallen into. They didn’t even scold him for the idolatry he was guilty of, but they encourage him instead, and thought they had an excellent opportunity to entice him to ask guidance from God about the success of the mission they were on. They were inspired to make this request when they saw his ephod, which was like the one in the tabernacle, and the teraphim, and the images which, according to a notion that prevailed at the time, could foretell the future.

It’s not clear what they meant by “God,” whether they expected to hear from the true God, or Micah's gods, but according to the Targum of Jonathan, they meant the true God. That claim is supported by the Danites use the word Elohim here for God, which necessarily leads us to believe that they meant the true God; especially since the Levite answers, Before the LORD (Yehovah) is your way (v 6). Though the former word may be applied sometimes to idols, which their devotees clothed with the attributes of God; yet the latter is only applied to the true God, alone. Since the Danites continued on to the town of Laish and went on to complete their mission before returning to Zorah and Eshtaol, it is a strong presumption that the worship established by Micah was not of an idolatrous kind. It is really begging the question to assert, as many commentators have done, that the answer was either a trick of the Levite, or suggested by the devil; and that the success of the Danites was merely accidental. This is taking the thing by the worst handle, to support a hypothesis, and to serve a system. See the end of the preceding chapter.

That we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous;…
The spies should have sought God's counsel before leaving on their journey, but finding it so convenient to do so here, they asked the Levite to seek an answer from God as to whether their journey would be successful; that is, would they find a proper place to dwell in, and be able to get possession of it. Can you see here their carelessness and lack of regard for God and his providence; they would not have enquired of the Lord at all if this Levite had not mentioned the teraphim he had with him, since that’s what put it into their heads? Many never think of religion except when it falls in their way and they cannot avoid it, like chance customers. It becomes evident that they were ignorant of the divine law, and that they thought God, who had forbidden the religious use of graven images, would allow them to consult an image, and then give them an answer of encouragement and success. They seem to have had a greater opinion of Micah’s teraphim than of God’s urim; for they had passed by Shiloh without making any enquiries of God’s high priest, but they accepted Micah’s shabby Levite for an oracle to them. He conducted himself in his usual manner when consulting his teraphim; and, whether he himself believed it or not, he performed his part so well that he made them believe he had an answer from God encouraging them to go on, and assuring them of good success. Men on a sinful mission meet with a sinful Levite, and want to know from a righteous God if their mission will be successful, and the sinful Levite sends these sinning men on their way with God's blessing!

 


6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.
—Judges 18.6 (KJV)
6 “Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the LORD is watching over your journey.”—Judges 18.6 (NLT)

And the priest said to them, go in peace
After the priest had consulted the Lord, or after he had asked God for guidance by means of the ephod and teraphim, he got an answer; either in his own head, or by a voice he heard, which Satan might be permitted by God to utter. He told them very plainly, having first; it is to be presumed, put on the ephod that they could proceed on in their journey with their minds at ease, and with the full assurance of success. He tells them, “Go in peace, you will be safe, and your mind will be at ease, for before the Lord is your way,” that is, “he approves of it’’ (doesn’t it say The Lord knows the way of the righteous), “and therefore he will make it prosperous, his eye will be upon you for good, he will direct your way, and preserve your going out and coming in.”

You know the saying; “be careful for what you ask for, because you just might get it.” With that in mind I would add, sometimes God grants the idolaters requests, which eventually leads to the destruction of those who delight in such things.

Since the Levite uses the word Jehovah, and the Danites succeeded according to the revelation delivered by him, some learned men are of the opinion, that the worship established by Micah was not of an idolatrous kind.

Note, our great desire should be that our life is one that God approves of, and, if it is, we may go in peace. If God cares for us, we should cast all our cares on Him, and be satisfied with the knowledge that we cannot lose our way if he goes before us.

before the Lord is your way wherein ye go;
Here, the Levite continues to address the five spies— before the Lord is your way wherein ye go. In other words, he says; “Your plans have been seen, observed, and taken notice of by Jehovah, and he approves of it; it is according to his will, and under his care, protection and direction, and you can be sure He will bring success to your mission.” Though some contend that this answer is delivered in ambiguous terms, which is generally how the oracles of demons spoke, since they are led by the Father of Lies, who may have transformed himself into an angel of light, and in God's name gave him answers.  Whether the Levite had a genuine answer from the Lord or not, he told the spies what they wanted to hear, and they took that assurance with them on their mission.


Summary

God had already revealed His will by giving each tribe its own original territory. But the Danites were unfaithful to this covenant and decided to search for new territory through their own methods. Their cynical inquiry of the Lord was matched by an equally cynical priest who reassured them in their unjust exploits and who proved to be more interested in money than in true worship of the Lord (see vv. 18–20)[16].


______________verse 6 notes___________________
[16](Judges 18:18-20; KJV)  And these went into Micah's house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye?  And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?  And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people. These went unto Micah's house—the five men went in, while the six hundred armed men stood at the gate. Lay thine hand upon thy mouth—this was the token of silence. The god of silence, Harpocrates, is represented on ancient statues with his finger pressed on his lips. Went to the midst of the people—He was glad to be employed by the Danites; and went into the crowd, that he might not be discovered by Micah or his family.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

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