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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Judges 18

Verse 2

This identity of locality with the scene of Samson’s birth and death indicates that both narratives are drawn from the same source, probably the annals of the tribe of Dan.

Verse 3

It does not follow that they had known him before, and recognized his voice, though it may be so. But the Hebrew equally bears the sense that they heard the voice of the Levite; and, attracted by it, went into the chapel Judges 18:18 where Jonathan was. They were probably just starting on their journey, but were still within the court or precincts of Micah’s house. Micah had evidently not told them of his house of God, and his Levite. Their questions indicate surprise.

Verse 5

The sight of the ephod and teraphim suggested the notion of inquiring of God.

Verse 6

Before the Lord ... - i. e. He looks favorably upon it. (Compare Ezra 8:21-22.)

Verse 7

Laish - Afterward called “Dan” Judges 18:29. The exact site has not been identified, but it was the northern extremity of Israel, near the sources of the Jordan, and about four miles from Panium, or Caesarea-Philippi. It is thought to have stood where the village Tell-el-Kadi now stands.

After the manner of the Zidonians - The genius of the Zidonians being mechanical and commercial, not military, their colonists were apt to neglect fortifications and similar warlike precautions. In Solomon’s time the Zidonians were especially skillful in hewing timber 1Ki 5:6; 1 Chronicles 22:4, and it is highly probable, from their proximity to Lebanon, that such was the occupation of the men of Laish.

Quiet and secure ... - This is a very obscure and difficult passage. Translate thus: “Quiet and secure, and none of them doing any injury in the land, possessing wealth,” or “dominion.”

Verse 12

Kurjath-jearim - “City of forests,” otherwise called “Kirjath-Baal” (marginal reference.), identified by Robinson with the modern “Kurit-el-Enab,” on the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem and by Conder with Soba.

Verse 14

In these houses - This agrees with what we saw at Judges 18:2-3 that the “house of God” and Jonathan’s house were detached from Micah’s. There were other houses besides Judges 18:22. The whole settlement was probably called Beth-Micah, contained in one court, and entered by one gate Judges 18:16.

Verse 17

The five went back to Micah’s chapel (Micah’s house, Judges 18:18) and took the ephod, teraphim, etc., and brought them to the gate where the priest was talking to the 600 men.

Verse 21

And put the little ones, etc., before them - They expected a pursuit from Micah’s people, and arranged their order of march accordingly.

The carriage - Rather, “the valuables.” Some interpret it “the heavy baggage.”

Verse 22

Were gathered together - literally, “were called together.” The men, who were all Micah’s workmen, were probably in the fields with their master at the time of the robbery. When the women saw what was done they gave the alarm, and Micah called the men together as quickly as possible, and pursued the Danites and overtook them.

Verse 27

The things which Micah had made - Rather, from Judges 18:24, “the gods which Micah had made.” See Judges 18:31; Deuteronomy 27:15; Exodus 20:4.

Verse 28

Rehob (as Dan afterward) is mentioned as the northernmost point of the land of Canaan Numbers 13:21, and its position is defined with reference to the entering in of Hamath.

A city - Rather, “the” city. They rebuilt Laish, which they had burned down Judges 18:29.

Verses 30-31

In the Hebrew text the name here rendered Manasseh is written MN)- SH. Without the “N” (nun) suspended over the line, the word may be read: Moses, whose son was Gershom Exodus 2:22, whose son or descendant Jonathan clearly was. The Masoretes, probably grieved that a descendant of Moses should have been implicated in idolatrous worship, adopted this expedient for disguising the fact without absolutely falsifying the text. The Vulgate has “Moses”, the Septuagint “Manasses”.

These verses seem to tell us that Jonathan’s descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan until the captivity 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6; and that the graven image was in their custody until David’s time, by whose order, perhaps, it was destroyed, though the idolatrous worship continued, or was revived, at Dan.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Judges 18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/judges-18.html. 1870.