-In those days there was no king in the land of Israel, and the Danites began seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in. Their possession really had been allotted (Joshua 19:40-48), but they had not taken hold of it like they should have. They sent five of their men out of the whole tribe to spy out the land and to search it for a place to have. Early on in their quest they came to the area where Micah lived in the hill country of Ephraim. They actually lodged in this area and coincidently recognized the voice of the young Levite who was living with Micah (see notes on Judges 17). This made them turn aside to try and figure out what was going on. They asked, “What are you doing here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?” They would have asked these things because they assumedly knew the protocol for worship of Yahweh in the land and perceived something out of order here. When the young priest told them of his hiring by Micah, they used him for their own benefit and asked for his blessings, which he gave. The five spies then came up to Laish in the far north of the Promised Land, and spied out this land where the inhabitants were living securely and quietly like the Sidonians. The biblical commentary says that “there was no ruler humiliating them for anything in the land.” They were secluded away from conflicts and dealings with anyone. So it became a prime area for the Danites to take over in their way of thinking. They came back south and reported these things to their tribe at Zorah and Eshtaol with a recommendation to go and attack this good land without delay. They felt like they had the blessing of the LORD, or at least His appointed priest, so this should be a success (Judges 18:1-9).
-With an ulterior motive, 600 armed men for war then went to camp at Mahaneh-dan (the camp of Dan) in Judah just west of Kiriath-jearim. They passed from there and came back to the house of Micah where the 5 spies had observed their priest, ephod, household idols, graven image, and molten image. The men asked them to consider what they should do, and they decided to go into the house of Micah and ask of his welfare. With the 600 men standing at the gate armed and ready for action, the 5 men went in and took the graven image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molten image. The priest was uniquely situated at the gate under the protection of the armed men of Dan. They covered his mouth and had him come with them. They then petitioned him to come with them saying that it would be better to be a priest over an entire tribe of Israel than a simple house of one man. This actually made the priest’s prideful heart glad, and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the graven image going among the people with a new loyalty. The tribe of Dan then turned and departed with their stolen goods as their little ones and livestock and valuables led the way. When they had gotten some distance from Micah’s house, the men of Micah assembled themselves together and overtook the tribe of Dan. They rightly wanted to know what was going on with them. They rightly accused them of taking their stuff. But before all that the men of Dan put off their discontentment with words of their own wanting to know what was the matter with them by asking them why they had assembled in this manner. There was real conflict here. The sons of Dan then threatened them, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, or else fierce men will fall upon you and you will lose your life, with the lives of your household.” This made the men of Micah frightened because they realized that Dan was too strong for them. Dan went their way uncontested up north to Laish, and the men of Micah simply returned to their house empty handed but safe. The people who had been secure and quiet in Laish soon were attacked with the edge of the sword. Their city was then burned to the ground with fire. There was no one to deliver them because they were a long way from their allies in Sidon. Their isolation proved detrimental indeed. They were in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. After these things, Dan rebuilt the city and proceeded to live in it. The city was named Dan, and still exists today as a relic of antiquity known as Tel-Dan in the upper part of Israel. Dan was their father, but they digressed greatly from the ways of the LORD their God setting up for themselves the graven image. The priest is now named as Jonathan, of the clan of Gershom and son of Moses (Exodus 2:21-22; 18:1-3). He and his sons were heretical priests to the tribe of the Dan up until the time of their captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC. “So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God (Tabernacle) was at Shiloh (Judges 18:10-31).
-*Application* I have been reflecting here the last couple of days on some things that Tony Evans was teaching about Divine revelation verses human determination. The men of Micah and the tribe of Dan give vivid description of doing things by their own human determination (understanding) rather than following the Word of God. Yahweh had clearly laid out His constraints in the Law of Moses, but they willingly choose to gravitate to their preferences according to their own thinking. This proved disastrous in the end. These tribes, of what became the Northern Kingdom, would be exiled and totally lost in the salvation plan of God as a nation. There is only freedom when we have certain restrictions under the Almighty. His ways are higher than our ways, and they will benefit us much better if we simply follow His prescriptions with a whole heart. We just cannot do what seems right in our own eyes. God has been around much longer and has much greater wisdom. We are secure and quiet at rest when we submit to the Deliverer and Savior of our souls without fighting for our own personal system. We are showing our foolishness when we rely on human determination. Our scientific segment claims “God is dead,” but the truth has been and will be revealed. God is NOT dead, and He will accomplish His transcendent will.
Verses to Memorize: Judges 18:30-31