<< Judges 17, 18: Micah and the Danites >>
The Book of Judges gives us sad pictures of the life muting the children of Israel. “In those days there was no King in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his iiwn eyes.” Many of the people had forgotten the Lord and His labernacle in Shiloh, and worshipped idols.
Micah lived among the hills of Ephraim, the very tribe where Shiloh was, yet he had a room in his house as a little temple of his own, and two images of silver, a molten and a graven image. For the molten image the metal was melted and cast, the graven image was carved with a tool. The ephod was strictly the sacred vest made for the priest; but il scorns sometimes to mean an image dressed in sacred garments. Teraphim also means an idol. At first Micah made one of his sons his priest, but afterwards a Levite from Bethlehem who was looking for a home became his priest. The tribe of Levi, to which Moses and Aaron belonged, had been appointed to be priests and to care for the sacred things. They had no home by themselves, but were given certain towns among the other tribes.
There came one day five men who knew the priest and recognized his voice, and they lodged at Micah’s house. They were Danites from Samson’s town Zorah and from Eshtaol near by, who had been sent out to look for a new home for their tribe, because the lot that had fallen to Dan on the border of the Philistine country was too small. The Philistines and Amorites were strong, and the Danites never got possession of all the land thatwas given them.
The men went on from Micah ‘s house towards the north, to the beautiful valley under Mount Hermon, where streams from the great springs come together to form the Jordan. It is a broad, sunny valley with plenty of water. There are many trees and homelike flowers. Out in the middle of the valley is a rounded hill with a great oak tree on it; a large spring comes from the thick bushes, and on the hill are ruins of an old town. The town was Laish, a dependent of Zidon, the Phoenician city on the Mediterranean shore. It was far from Zidon, but the people felt secure.
The messengers of the Danites saw how good the place was, and they went back to bring their people; and they came with six hundred armed men, and took the city of Laish, and when they built it again they called it Dan.
I must not tell the story, except to say that as the tribe of Danites went on their way, they took with them the priest from Micah’s house and stole his images. What lawless times these were when a tribe could go and take a home where they pleased, and when those that were stronger could carry away the treasures of others! We feel sorry for Micah when his images were stolen away, but he ought to learn to worship the Lord and not idols.
And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah. And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son. And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother tooktwo hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah. And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said untohim, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place. And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in. And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons. And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest. 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.
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. 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? 18:4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest. 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. And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go. 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. And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye? 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. 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. 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. And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim. And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah. 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 they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him. 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.
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 weaponsof war. 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. So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them. 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. 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? 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. And they set them up Micah’s graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.—Judges XVII., XVIII.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Tribe of Dan >> Literal external Knowledge of the Lord and his Word
Dan on the North of the Tabernacle >> Obscure Intelligence
Danites stealing Micah’s idols >> They only believe in the external forms of worship