Judges 18

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1 In those days there is no king in Israel, and in those days the tribe of the Danite is seeking for itself an inheritance to inhabit, for [that] hath not fallen to it unto that day in the midst of the tribes of Israel by inheritance.

2 And the sons of Dan send, out of their family, five men of them, men, sons of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to traverse the land, and to search it, and they say unto them, `Go, search the land;' and they come into the hill-country of Ephraim, unto the house of Micah, and lodge there.

3 They [are] with the household of Micah, and they have discerned the voice of the young man, the Levite, and turn aside there, and say to him, `Who hath brought thee hither? and what art thou doing in this [place?] and what to thee here?'

4 And he saith unto them, `Thus and thus hath Micah done to me; and he hireth me, and I am to him for a priest.'

5 And they say to him, `Ask, we pray thee, at God, and we know whether our way is prosperous on which we are going.'

6 And the priest saith to them, `Go in peace; over-against Jehovah [is] your way in which ye Go.'

7 And the five men go, and come in to Laish, and see the people which [is] in its midst, dwelling confidently, according to the custom of Zidonians, quiet and confident; and there is none putting to shame in the land in [any] thing, possessing restraint, and they [are] far off from the Zidonians, and have no word with [any] man.

8 And they come in unto their brethren, at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brethren say to them, `What -- ye?'

9 And they say, `Rise, and we go up against them, for we have seen the land, and lo, very good; and ye are keeping silent! be not slothful to go -- to enter to possess the land.

10 When ye go, ye come in unto a people confident, and the land [is] large on both hands, for God hath given it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything which [is] in the land.'

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

12 And they go up and encamp in Kirjath-Jearim, in Judah, therefore they have called that place, `Camp of Dan,' till this day; lo, behind Kirjath-Jearim.

13 And they pass over thence [to] the hill-country of Ephraim, and come in unto the house of Micah.

14 And the five men, those going to traverse the land of Laish, answer and say unto their brethren, `Have ye known that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and graven image, and molten image? and now, know what ye do.'

15 And they turn aside thither, and come in unto the house of the young man the Levite, the house of Micah, and ask of him of welfare, --

16 (and the six hundred men girded with their weapons of war, who [are] of the sons of Dan, are standing at the opening of the gate), --

17 yea, the five men, those going to traverse the land, go up -- they have come in thither -- they have taken the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image -- and the priest is standing at the opening of the gate, and the six hundred men who are girded with weapons of war --

18 yea, these have entered the house of Micah, and take the graven image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image; and the priest saith unto them, `What are ye doing?'

19 and they say to him, `Keep silent, lay thy hand on thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us for a father and for a priest: is it better thy being a priest to the house of one man, or thy being priest to a tribe and to a family in Israel?'

20 And the heart of the priest is glad, and he taketh the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and goeth into the midst of the people,

21 and they turn and go, and put the infants, and the cattle, and the baggage, before them.

22 They have been far off from the house of Micah -- and the men who [are] in the houses which [are] near the house of Micah have been called together, and overtake the sons of Dan,

23 and call unto the sons of Dan, and they turn round their faces, and say to Micah, `What -- to thee that thou hast been called together?'

24 And he saith, `My gods which I made ye have taken, and the priest, and ye go; and what to me more? and what [is] this ye say unto me, What -- to thee!'

25 And the sons of Dan say unto him, `Let not thy voice be heard with us, lest men bitter in soul fall upon you, and thou hast gathered thy life, and the life of thy household;'

26 and the sons of Dan go on their way, and Micah seeth that they are stronger than he, and turneth, and goeth back unto his house.

27 And they have taken that which Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and come in against Laish, against a people quiet and confident, and smite them by the mouth of the sword, and the city have burnt with fire,

28 and there is no deliverer, for it [is] far off from Zidon, and they have no word with [any] man, and it [is] in the valley which [is] by Beth-Rehob; and they build the city, and dwell in it,

29 and call the name of the city Dan, by the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel; and yet Laish [is] the name of the city at the first.

30 And the sons of Dan raise up for themselves the graven image, and Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Manasseh, he and his sons have been priests to the tribe of the Danite, till the day of the removal of [the people] of the land.

31 And they appoint for them the graven image of Micah, which he had made, all the days of the house of God being 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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