Judges 18

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1 In those days there was no king in Israel, and the tribe of Dan sought them an inheritance to dwell in: for unto that day they had not received their lot among the other tribes.

2 So the children of Dan sent five most valiant men of their stock and family from Saraa and Esthaol, to spy out the land, and to view it diligently: and they said to them: Go, and view the land. They went on their way, and when they came to mount Ephraim, they went into the house of Michas, and rested there:

3 And knowing the voice of the young man the Levite, and lodging with him, they said to him: Who brought thee hither? what dost thou here? why wouldst thou come hither?

4 He answered them: Michas hath done such and such things for me, and hath hired me to be his priest.

5 Then they desired him to consult the Lord, that they might know whether their journey should be prosperous, and the thing should have effect.

6 He answered them: Go in peace, the Lord looketh on your way, and the journey that you Go.

7 So the five men going on came to Lais: and they saw how the people dwelt therein without any fear, according to the custom of the Sidonians, secure and easy, having no man at all to oppose them, being very rich, and living separated, at a distance from Sidon and from all men.

8 And they returned to their brethren in Saraa and Esthaol, who asked them what they had done? to whom they answered:

9 Arise, and let us go up to them: for we have seen the land which is exceeding rich and fruitful: neglect not, lose no time: let us go and possess it, there will be no difficulty.

10 We shall come to a people that is secure, into a spacious country, and the Lord will deliver the place to us, in which there is no want of any thing that groweth on the earth.

11 There went therefore of the kindred of Dan, to wit, from Saraa and Esthaol, six hundred men, furnished with arms for war,

12 And going up they lodged in Cariathiarim of Juda: which place from that time is called the camp of Dan, and is behind Cariathiarim.

13 From thence they passed into mount Ephraim. And when they were come to the house of Michas,

14 The five men, that before had been sent to view the land of Lais, said to the rest of their brethren: You know that in these houses there is an ephod, and theraphim, and a graven, and a molten god: see what you are pleased to do.

15 And when they had turned a little aside, they went into the house of the young man the Levite, who was in the house of Michas: and they saluted him with words of peace.

16 And the six hundred men stood before the door, appointed with their arms.

17 But they that were gone into the house of the young man, went about to take away the graven god, and the ephod, and the theraphim, and the molten god, and the priest stood before the door, the six hundred valiant men waiting not far off.

18 So they that were gone in took away the graven thing, the ephod, and the idols, and the molten god. And the priest said to them: What are you doing?

19 And they said to him: Hold thy peace and put thy finger on thy mouth and come with us, that we may have thee for a father, and a priest. Whether is better for thee, to be a priest in the house of one man, or in a tribe and family in Israel?

20 When he had heard this, he agreed to their words, and took the ephod, and the idols, and the graven god, and departed with them.

21 And when they were going forward, and had put before them the children and the cattle and all that was valuable,

22 And were now at a distance from the house of Michas, the men that dwelt in the houses of Michas gathering together followed them,

23 And began to shout out after them. They looked back, and said to Michas: What aileth thee? Why dost thou cry?

24 And he answered: You have taken away my gods which I have made me and the priest, and all that I have, and do you say: What aileth thee?

25 And the children of Dan said to him: See thou say no more to us, lest men enraged come upon thee, and thou perish with all thy house.

26 And so they went on the journey they had begun. But Michas seeing that they were stronger than he, returned to his house.

27 And the six hundred men took the priest, and the things we spoke of before, and came to Lais to a people that was quiet and secure, and smote them with the edge of the sword: and the city was burnt with fire,

28 There being no man at all who brought them any succour, because they dwelt far from Sidon, and had no society or business with any man. And the city was in the land of Rohob: and they rebuilt it and dwelt therein.

29 Calling the name of the city Dan after the name of their father, who was the son of Israel, which before was called Lais.

30 And they set up to themselves the graven idol, and Jonathan the son of Gersam the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests in the tribe of Dan, until the day of their captivity.

31 And the idol of Michas remained with them all the time that the house of God was in Silo. In those days there was no king in Israel.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 18      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

The Tribe of Dan Adopts Micah’s Idolatry

This chapter shows the way in which one person’s distortion of truth, turning it into a falsity, can have severe consequences on a larger scale.

The tribe of Dan – one of the twelve tribes of Israel – was given land to the west, by the coast, but they found it hard to hold on to. The name of the tribe of Dan means ‘to judge’, but if judgment isn't based on the Word there will be chaos. (Arcana Caelestia 842)

Faced with competition for their homeland, the tribal leaders of Dan went looking for a place for themselves elsewhere. They sent five men of valour to spy out the land. These men came to Micah’s house, and they recognised the voice of the young Levite there. They questioned him about his situation, and he told them that Micah had hired him to be a priest to his household. The men of Dan asked the Levite to ask the Lord if their search would be prosperous, and he told them that it would be.

The spiritual meaning of this part of the chapter is to do with an intensifying wrongness. At the textual level, there is reference to the Lord, and an apparent normality in what takes place. But underlying it, there's a wrongness, which will become apparent later in the chapter. The pointers to it here are the five men from Dan, them coming straight to Micah’s house, and the hiring of a priest.

The number ‘five’ has a good meaning in many parts of the Word, but it can also have a bad meaning, as it does here. In this context, it stands for only a little, for disunion and the destruction of the Word (Apocalypse Revealed 738).

Coming directly to Micah’s house and recognising the Levite brings together two evil intentions: Micah’s idol and the men of Dan’s search to take a home for themselves. An example for us could be where two people plot to seek the harm of a third person. (Arcana Caelestia 4724)

The hiring of a priest is something disallowed, for priests are there to serve the Lord and they are provided for by the people, not to be hired. Hiring, spiritually, stands for seeking reward for what you do, whereas the true reward is heaven for those who serve without expecting a reward. (Arcana Caelestia 8002)

The five men leave Micah's house, and go on to Laish in the far north, where there are people who dwell securely in peace and without rulers, far from others and with no ties. Laish means ‘fearless and kneaded together’. It is a picture of perfection, of heaven. (Divine Love and Wisdom 200)

The five men then return to their tribe of Dan and report about Laish. They say that it is ideal for the taking because it has plenty of land and its people are secure. They say that “God has given it into your hands”.

Six hundred men of the tribe of Dan set out and they too, come to the house of Micah. The five spies tell them about the idols and they meet and greet the young Levite. Then the five spies go in and take all the idols in the house. The Levite joins up with the men from Dan and they go on together.

One spiritual meaning in the story is that evil (Dan, gone bad) loves to destroy peace and innocence (Laish).

The complete loss to Micah of all his idols and his hired priest, shows, too, that in fully turning to evil, there is the final loss of everything that might bring a person back. (Arcana Caelestia 9039)

People living near Micah go and accost the men of Dan about what they have taken -- but Micah is told to stop complaining or his household will be killed.

The Danites leave, and go and capture Laish, killing and burning, and re-naming the city Dan. There they set up the images and appoint priests. These images remain in Dan all the time that the house of God is in Shiloh.

The spiritual meaning of one evil or falsity becoming greater or more numerous is in the way that we might hold a negative emotion or a distorted view in our mind where it then spreads to other emotions and views we have and brings them into greater evil and falsity. This is the intention of evil and also of hell’s influence, to extend it to be as widespread as possible.

This is the outcome of everything that has developed through this and the previous chapter. It describes the spread of evil to become a terrible force for destruction and spiritually, for an individual person, for self-destruction. In the context of the decline of Israel to where ‘everyone did what was right in their own eyes’ this progression presents the pathway and process of that spiritual loss. (Divine Providence 19)

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