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Micah and the Lost Tribe of Dan (Judges 17,18)

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Micah in Judges Chapters 17 and 18

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CHAPTER 18 Jun. 16 
The Danites Invade Laish
In those days there was no king in Israel, and at that time the tribe of the Danites looked for a place to live in, because up until then they had not come into their inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 2The children of Dan sent five men of their family, men of valour, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search it, and they said to them, Go, explore the land! They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3When they were near the house of Micah they recognised the voice of the young Levite, so they went in there and said to him, Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here? 4He said to them, This is what Micah has done with me, and he has hired me to be his priest. 5They said to him, Please enquire of God to find out whether our journey will be successful. 6The priest said to them, Go in peace. Your way has the approval of Yahweh. 7Then the five men departed and came to Laish. They saw that the people there lived in security like the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, and they were prosperous, lacking nothing. Also they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone else. 8The men returned to their brothers to Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers asked them, What did you find? 9They said, Come on, let us go up against them, because we have seen the land, and it is very good. Do you doubt? Don’t hesitate; go in to take possession of the land. 10When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people, and the land is large. God has given it to you, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth. 11Six hundred armed men of the family of the Danites set out from there, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol. 12They went up and encamped in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why they called that place The Camp of Dan, to this day; it is behind Kiriath Jearim. 13They went from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
The Levite Joins the Danites
14Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish said to their brothers, Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod and household gods, an engraved image and a molten image? Now therefore consider what you have to do. 15They turned in there and came to the house of the young Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him how he was. 16The six hundred armed men of Dan stood by the entrance of the gate. 17The five men who had gone to spy out the land went in there and took the engraved image, the ephod, the household gods and the molten image; and the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred armed men. 18When these men went into Micah’s house and fetched the engraved image, the ephod, the household gods and the molten image, the priest said to them, What are you doing? 19They said to him, Keep quiet, put your hand on your mouth and go with us, and be unto us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel? 20The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the household gods and the engraved image, and went with the people. 21So they turned and departed, putting the little ones, the livestock and the goods in front of them. 22When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near to Micah’s house were gathered together and overtook the Danites. 23They shouted after the Danites, who turned round and said to Micah, What is the matter with you that you come with such a company? 24He said, You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what else do I have? How then can you say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’ 25The Danites said to him, Don’t argue with us, or angry fellows might attack you, and you will lose your life, with the lives of your household. 26The Danites went on their way, and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house. 27They took what Micah had made and his priest and came to Laish, to a people unsuspecting and secure, and attacked them with the sword, and they burnt the city with fire. 28There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone else; it was in the valley that lies by Beth Rehob. They built the city and lived there. 29They called the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel, but the name of the city before was Laish. 30The Danites set up for themselves the engraved image, and Jonathan the son of Gershom the son of Moses and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the time of the captivity of the land. 31So they set up for themselves Micah’s engraved image which he had made, using it all the time that God’s house was in Shiloh.


18:2 Again we see the quasi spirituality of the people at this time; this sending out of spies was framed in the language of Joshua sending out spies and then taking the land. They likewise say that the land is “good” (:9) just as the faithful spies said; and their description of the land as lacking nothing good (:10) is quoting Moses’ words about the land in Dt. 8:9. But these Danites hadn’t taken the land assigned to them by Joshua (:1). Mixing the flesh and the spirit is the way to total destruction; unless we are completely devoted to God’s ways we will fail.
18:6 The men ask him to enquire of “God” but he immediately replies that “Yahweh” is blessing their plans. He didn’t know the true God in practice but he used all the right language. There are other examples of men assuming all too quickly that they are speaking on God’s behalf (2 Sam. 7:3; 1 Kings 22:15-17). We aren’t to assume that we instinctively, intuitively know what God’s will is, but to base our view upon His revealed word.
18:19- see on 17:10,11.
18:24 What else do I have- This man’s false religion meant everything to him; he was very religious, but didn’t know the true God. Sincerity of devotion won’t save us if we are devoted to the wrong understanding of God; those like Cornelius who sincerely seek the true God will find Him, but religious devotion of itself isn’t serving God in spirit and truth as He requires (Jn. 4:24).