17:1-21:25 TRIBAL DISORDER WITHIN ISRAEL
The writer of the book has now finished his account of the activity of the judges. To this he adds an appendix consisting of two stories (not necessarily placed in their correct chronological position in the book) that illustrate the disorder that existed in Israel during that period. The nation had no central government and people in the various tribes did as they pleased (see 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). The stories record important changes that occurred in two tribes, Dan and Benjamin.
The migration of the Danites (17:1-18:31)
Micah, a man who lived in the tribal area of Ephraim, had stolen some money from his mother. When he heard the frightening curse she placed on the thief, he thought it wise to confess his guilt and return the money. To show her thanks, the mother made a silver idol to add to the other idols that were kept in the household shrine. Micah made matters worse by appointing his son, an Ephraimite, as priest (17:1-6). When a young Levite who lived in the tribal area of Judah later passed that way, Micah hired him to be priest instead of his son (7-13).
People of the tribe of Dan had never won complete control over their tribal inheritance on the Philistine coast. Squeezed between Israel's two most powerful tribes, Judah and Ephraim, and pushed back from the coast by the Philistines and the Amorites, they were left with very little area to call their own (see 1:34). They therefore sent a group of representatives to look for a better dwelling place elsewhere. The men's journey took them through Ephraim, where they stayed overnight with Micah (18:1-2). They asked Micah's guidance concerning their mission and were encouraged by his favourable reply (3-6).
Moving on, the Danite spies eventually arrived at Laish in the far north of Palestine. There they found a suitable area, fertile and well watered. It was inhabited by a quiet-living people who had made no preparations against attack, and who were so cut off from the big cities on the coast that they had no way to get help if they were suddenly attacked. Enthusiastic about what they had seen, the spies returned with their report. Soon the people of Dan were on the move, eager to conquer Laish and make it the centre of their new homeland (7-10).
On the way the Danites stopped at the house of Micah (11-13). Ignoring Micah's previous kindness to them, they raided his shrine, robbed him of his images, and bribed his priest to go with them (14-21). When Micah protested, they threatened him with swift destruction if he tried to resist them (22-26). They journeyed on to Laish, where they ruthlessly slaughtered the people and burnt the town. They then rebuilt the town according to their own plans, renamed it Dan, and used Micah's priest and images to establish their own idolatrous religion (27-31).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Judges 17". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany