Judges 18



1 In those days there was no king in Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought for itself an inheritance in which to dwell; for even·​·to that day an inheritance had not fallen to it in the midst of the tribes of Israel.

2 And the sons of Dan sent from their family five men from their borders*, men that were sons of valor, from Zorah and from Eshtaol to spy·​·out the land, and to search· her ·out; and they said to them, Go, search·​·out the land; and they came to Mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and passed·​·the·​·night there.

3 They were by the house of Micah and they recognized the voice of the lad, the Levite; and they turned·​·aside there, and said unto him, Who brought· thee ·in hither? and what doest thou in this place? and what hast thou here?

4 And he said to them, As thus and as this is Micah doing with me, and he hired me and I am to him for a priest.

5 And they said unto him, Ask, we pray thee, of God, that we may·​·know, whether our way which we go shall prosper.

6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace; before Jehovah is your way in which you Go.

7 And the five men went and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, dwelling securely as the judgment of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was none possessing any thing restraining in the land to humiliate them; and they were far from the Zidonians, and they had no thing with man.

8 And they came to their brothers to Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers said unto them, What have you?

9 And they said, Arise and let us go·​·up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold it is very good: and are· you ·silent? Be not slothful to go, to come·​·in to possess the land.

10 When you come, you shall come to a people who are·​·secure, and to a land broad in spaces; for God has given her into your hand; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.

11 And there journeyed thence of the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men girded with weapons of war.

12 And they went·​·up and encamped in Kiriath-jearim, in Judah; therefore they called that place Machaneh-dan until this day; behold it is behind Kiriath-jearim.

13 And they passed thence unto Mount Ephraim, and came even·​·to the house of Micah.

14 And the five men, who went to spy·​·out the land of Laish, answered and said to their brothers, Do you know that there·​·is in these houses an ephod and teraphim, and a carved image and a molten image? And now know what you will do.

15 And they turned·​·aside thither, and came to the house of the lad, the Levite, the house of Micah, and asked him for peace.

16 And the six hundred men, girded with their arms of war, stood·​·up by the entrance of the gate; they were from the sons of Dan.

17 And the five men going to spy·​·out the land went·​·up, and came·​·in thither; they took the carved image and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood·​·up at the entrance of the gate, and the six hundred men girded with the weapons of war.

18 And these came·​·into the house of Micah, and took the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. And the priest said to them, What are you doing?

19 And they said to him, Be·​·silent; set thy hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us for a father and for a priest; is it better for thee to be a priest for the house of one man, or that thou be a priest for a tribe and a family in Israel?

20 And in the heart of the priest it was·​·good, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the carved image, and came into the midst of the people.

21 And they turned and went, and they set the infant and the livestock and what was heavy before them.

22 When they were far from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses which were by the house of Micah, were called·​·up, and stuck close to the sons of Dan.

23 And they called to the sons of Dan. And they turned· their faces ·around, and said unto Micah, What ails thee, that thou hast been called·​·up?

24 And he said, The gods which I made, you have taken, and the priest; and you are gone; and what have I more? And what is this that you say unto me, What hast thou?

25 And the sons of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard with us, lest men bitter of soul fall on thee and thou gather thy soul and the soul of thy house.

26 And the sons of Dan went their way; and Micah saw that they were too strong for him, and he turned and returned unto his house.

27 And they took what Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people quiet and secure; and they smote them with the mouth of the sword, and burnt·​·up the city with fire.

28 And there was no rescuer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no word with any man; and it was in the valley which is by Beth-rehob; and they built the city and dwelt there.

29 And they called the name of the city, Dan, by the name of Dan, their father, who was·​·born to Israel; nevertheless the name of the city was Laish at the first.

30 And the sons of Dan raised·​·up for themselves the graven image; and Jehonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danite until the day of the exile of the land.

31 And they set up for themselves the graven image of Micah, which he made, all the days that the house of God was in Shiloh.


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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.