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Jdg 18:1 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.
Ver. 1. There was no king. ] See Judges 17:6 .
All their inheritance had not fallen unto them. ] Because the Amorites were too hard for them, and detained it. See Judges 1:34 , with Joshua 19:47 , where this expedition is briefly set down, by anticipation.
Jdg 18:2 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.
Ver. 2. To the house of Micah, they lodged there. ] He was a wealthy man, it seems, and gave them entertainment. But what a rich man was Pythias, who could entertain a million of men, even Xerxes’s whole army, for three days together! And yet this great rich man died a beggar, whatever Micah did.
Jdg 18:3 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?
Ver. 3. When they were by the house of Micah, ] sc., In or near unto the Levite’s lodging, which was adjoining to the chapel of those idols made by Micah. Jdg 18:14
They knew the voice of the young man. ] Either out of some former acquaintance with this roving leap-land Levite, or by his tone, as Jdg 12:6 Mark 14:70 .
Jdg 18:4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.
Ver. 4. And hath hired me, aud I am his priest. ] He should have been ashamed to tell them thus, since it was directly against God’s word that he had done. But sin had added an impudency in his face, &c.
Jdg 18:5 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.
Ver. 5. Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God. ] Videntur non minus leves fuisse quam Levita ille, saith Lavater. These Danites were as wise as this wandering Levite; and hearing of a teraphim, would needs have an oracle.
Jdg 18:6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD [is] your way wherein ye go.
Ver. 6. Go in peace: before the Lord is your way.] A doubtful answer; as the wary devil useth to be λοξις , equivocal, in his oracles: a that, which way soever things go, he may save his credit; as 1 Kings 22:12 , "For the Lord shall deliver it into the hands of the king." Yea, but of which king, thou lying spirit? - the king of Israel, or the king of Syria? So, Croesus Halyn penetrans magnam disperdet opum vim. And, Aio te Aeacida Romanos vicere posse, &c. So here, "Before the Lord is your way," may be interpreted, either, God seeth what you are going about: or, God will see to your safety, and give you good success. Satan vero et si semel videatur verax, millies est mendax, et semper fallax.
a Ite bonis avibus.
Jdg 18:7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that [were] therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and [there was] no magistrate in the land, that might put [them] to shame in [any] thing; and they [were] far from the Zidonians, and had no business with [any] man.
Ver. 7. Careless, … quiet and secure.] And so, ripe for ruin. See Jeremiah 49:31 . They lived in all pleasure, plenty, and prosperity, like so many Sodomites or Sybarites; or as those Roman nobles at Caprea, which Augustus was wont to call Aπραγοπολις , the city of Do-noughts; or lastly, as the nobles of Naples at this day, who are said of all men to live the most idle and careless lives; having, like the tyrant Polycrates, nothing to trouble them, but that they are troubled with nothing. a
And there was no magistrate in the land. ] Heb., No heir of restraint to repress wickedness, to turn the wheel over the enormous: no officer, but such as they could make and unmake at pleasure.
That might put them to shame in anything. ] Shame is instanced, because many stand more upon shame, than upon either sin or smart.
And they were far from the Zidonians. ] Who should have been their protectors, but could not save them from a sudden surprise, because far remote.
a Erasm., Apophtheg. Mr Clark’s Mirr., 549.
Jdg 18:8 And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What [say] ye?
Ver. 8. What say ye? ] Quid vos? So hasty they were to hear the news, that they utter imperfect speeches.
Jdg 18:9 And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it [is] very good: and [are] ye still? be not slothful to go, [and] to enter to possess the land.
Ver. 9. Be not slothful to go, &c. ] Thus do these spies notably and manfully encourage their contribules to set upon Laish, to secure a city. Captain Gam in like sort bespake our Henry V before the battle at Agincourt, If the French be so numerous, there will be enough to be killed, enough to be taken prisoners, and enough to run away. It proved accordingly, though the French were so confident of a victory, that they sent to King Henry, to know what ransom he would give. a
a Speed, 795.
Jdg 18:10 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.
Ver. 10. A place where there is no want of anything. ] And might therefore have been called Macaria, or Blessed; as the island Cyprus was of old, because of the abundance of commodities which it sendeth to other countries, of whom it craveth no help again. a The people therein generally lived so at ease and pleasure, that therefore the island was dedicated to Venus, who was therehence called Cypria. Sextus Rufus, writing thereof, saith, Cyprus, famous for its wealth, solicited the poverty of the people of Rome to seize upon it. Ita ut ius eius insulae avarius magis quam iustius simus assecuti: so that we got that island more covetously than justly. So did the Danites this city of Laish, if at least, as some will have it, it belonged to the tribe of Asher, and not to them.
a Turk. Hist.
Jdg 18:11 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.
Ver. 11. Six hundred men. ] Picked out for the purpose, and very well appointed: they and their families, a whole colony of them, set forward for Laish, by the persuasion of the spies. Oh that we could as easily prevail with people to take God’s kingdom by force, to storm heaven, and to lay hold upon eternal life! Plutarch a telleth of the Gauls, that after they had once tasted of the grapes that grew in Italy, they never rested till they had possessed themselves of that country. Oh that we would do so for heaven!
a In Camillo.
Jdg 18:12 And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, [it is] behind Kirjathjearim.
Ver. 12. Called that place Mahanehdan. ] That is, The camp of Dan. See Judges 13:25 . Here dwelt Samson’s parents, and here were his Specimina et tyrocinia edita.
Jdg 18:13 And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.
Ver. 13. And came unto the house of Micah. ] Whom the five spies ill requited for his former hospitality and courtesy: Perraro grati reperiuntur, saith Cicero. A thankful man is a rare bird. Ungrateful persons are but like a mouse in a satchel or a snake in one’s bosom, who do ill repay their hosts for their lodging. Xerxes dealt barbarously with the sons of Pythias, who gave free quarter to that whole huge army of his. See Judges 18:2 .
Jdg 18:14 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.
Ver. 14. Consider what ye have to do. ] Here they stir up their fellows to theft. There is little difference faveasne sceleri, an illud facias, whether ye hold the bag, or fill it.
Jdg 18:15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, [even] unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.
Ver. 15. The house of the young man the Levite. ] See Trapp on " Jdg 18:3 "
And saluted him. ] And so did soon insinuate into him who - levitate plus quam desultoria - might be won with an apple, and lost with a nut. These Danites, with their salutations and fair promises, win this hireling Levite insalutato hero suo dacedere, to leave Micah his master without leave taken of him; who yet had used him as one of his sons.
Jdg 18:16 And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which [were] of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.
Ver. 16. Stood by the entering of the gate. ] To aid the thieves, if there should be any opposition made against them. So that here met those two ways of theft mentioned by Nazianzen, επιβουλη , or crafty contrivance, and επιβολη , rapine and violence.
Jdg 18:17 And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, [and] came in thither, [and] took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men [that were] appointed with weapons of war.
Ver. 17. And took the graven image, &c. ] Not out of any hatred of idolatry - as neither did Cambyses when he destroyed the Egyptian idols, nor Dionysius when he spoiled the temple of Jupiter - but to set up those monuments elsewhere, in case they should prosper in their expedition.
Jdg 18:18 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?
Ver. 18. What do ye? ] And with it, perhaps, he was about to call to the neighbourhood, and to raise as great an uproar as Demetrius afterwards did for like cause at Ephesus. Act 19:23-29
Jdg 18:19 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?
Ver. 19. Lay thine hand upon thy mouth. ] Digito compesce labellum. See Job 21:5 ; Job 29:9 .
Or that thou be a priest unto a tribe. ] Thus the Papists offered Luther a cardinalship to be quiet: they sent unto him Vergerius, to put him in mind of the example of Aeneas Sylvius, who following his own opinions, with much slavery and labour, could get no further preferment than to be canon of Trent, but being changed to the better, became bishop, cardinal, and finally Pope Pius II. He called to his memory also Bessarion of Nice, who by complying with the Church of Rome, wanted not much of being Pope. But he answered, I care neither for Rome’s favour nor fury. a
a Hist. of Counc. of Trent, 73.
Jdg 18:20 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.
Ver. 20. And the priest’s heart was glad.] Every wind can raise a bubble: profit and preferment carry those any way that are worldly minded in the ministry. It was therefore excellent counsel Luther gave preachers, to see to it, that these three dogs did not follow them into the pulpit, - ambition, covetousness, and envy or contentiousness.
And went in the midst of the people. ] With all his trash and trinkets; either for his own greater security, or else in an apish imitation of the ark’s marching in the midst of the tribes.
Jdg 18:21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.
Ver. 21. And the cattle and the carriage before them. ] For they feared Micah’s pursuit more than any other enemy that was before them. For "carriage" some render preciosa, the precious things, and interpret it of household stuff, according to that of Solomon, "Thy house shall be full of all precious and pleasant riches."
Judges 18:22 [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.
Ver. 22. The men that were in the houses near to Micah’s.] The whole neighbourhood; and those were not a few, by reason of the idol temple there causing great resort, as now at Loretto and Sichem.
And overtook the children of Dan. ] Heb., Clave unto them, Conglutinati sunt cum filiis Dan, were even at the heels of them; Amor addidit alas.
Jdg 18:23 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?
Ver. 23. What aileth thee, that thou comest? ] They knew well enough what ailed him, and yet they expostulate an injury. This is one of the miseries of war, that might overcometh right. Sic cedit viribus aequum, poor men must suffer wrongs and be thankful.
Jdg 18:24 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?
Ver. 24. My gods which I made. ] Goodly gods that were made by man, and could not save themselves from being stolen! See Isaiah 44:9 . So the breaden god among the Papists: together with their images, those carpenters’ chips, as Mrs. Cotismore called them. a
And what have I more? ] The Vulgate hath it, All that I have: that is, all that I make any account of. He reckoned all the rest of his goods as nothing, having lost his gods; and came forth to fight for them, velut pro aris et focis. This superstitious zealot shall rise up in judgment against our lukewarm Laodiceans, our neuter passive professors, that care not what becomes of true religion, - modo ferveat olla, so the pot boil. God hath many such cold friends now-a-days. 1Ki 18:21
a Act. and Mon., 763.
Jdg 18:25 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.
Ver. 25. Let not thy voice be heard. ] Tace, si sapis. The noise of weapons drowns the voice of right. Lam 2:9 The law is no more.
Lest angry fellows run upon thee. ] Irati et irritati, biliosi et bellicosi. Heb., Men bitter of soul. Gallice, Gens de cholere.
And thou lose thy life, &c. ] Heb., Ne recolligas animam tuam: that is, lest God take thy soul to himself, as Vatablus rendereth it: lest thou be sent to heaven the sooner for thy devotion.
Jdg 18:26 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.
Ver. 26. He turned and went back unto his house. ] But took no notice that God punished him for his idolatry by those injurious Danites. "Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see; but they shall see and be ashamed." Isa 26:11
Jdg 18:27 And they took [the things] which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people [that were] at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.
Ver. 27. And they took the things. ] Chuckering themselves, to think what happiness they should have in them, and little considering that there would be "bitterness in the end." Jer 2:19
Unto a people that were at quiet and secure. ] See Judges 18:10 . This is often repeated, as the root of their wretchedness. Security ushereth in destruction. 1Th 5:3
And they smote them. ] God oft punisheth the wicked by the wicked: and when he hath worn his rod to the stumps, as that martyr said, he casteth it into the fire. Vice may correct sin.
And burnt the city with fire. ] Here we have much in few: as in that of Virgil, so much admired by Macrobius for fulness of matter in fewness of words, Iam seges est ubi Troia fuit.
Jdg 18:28 And [there was] no deliverer, because it [was] far from Zidon, and they had no business with [any] man; and it was in the valley that [lieth] by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.
Ver. 28. Because it was far from Zidon. ] See on Judges 18:7 .
Jdg 18:29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city [was] Laish at the first.
Ver. 29. The name of the city was Laish at the first. ] Laish, or Leshem. Jos 19:47 Afterwards it was called Cesarea Paneadis, and Cesarea Philippi, because rebuilt and beautified by Philip, brother to Herod the Tetrarch, in honour of Augustus Caesar.
Jdg 18:30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
Ver. 30. And the children of Dan set up the graven image. ] Animated, doubtless, by their good success against Laish, foretold them by that oracle. See 2 Thessalonians 2:10 . See Trapp on " 2Th 2:10 "
And Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh. ] Of Moses by nature, but of Manasseh that notorious idolater, by imitation: In accuratissimis libris Nun in "Manasseh" suspensum est supra alias literas, saith learned Buxtorf. a To save the honour of Moses; lest it should reflect upon so good a man to have so bad a grandson, as would rather have beseemed Manasseh than Moses. Manasseh is written in the Hebrew here with Nun elevated above the other letters, and this mark, o, upon the top, and a note in the margin. Hebrew Text Note
Until the day of the captivity of the land, ] viz., By the Philistines, when the ark was taken. 1Sa 4:10-11 Compare Psalms 78:60-62 ; Psalms 78:66 .
a In signum eam adesse vel abesse posse ut sit et filius משׁה et מנשׁה , istius prosapia, huius imitatione. - Buxtorf.
Jdg 18:31 And they set them up Micah’s graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.
Ver. 31. All the time, &c, ] Till Samuel threw down this and other idols. 1Sa 7:3
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 18". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/