Danites Take the Levite and the Idol
18 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.”
Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking nothing that is in the earth and possessing wealth, and how they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. And when they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, to enter in and possess the land. As soon as you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”
So 600 men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. And they passed on from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. And when these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to 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 clan in Israel?” And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.
So they turned and departed, putting the little ones and the livestock and the goods in front of them. When they had gone a distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the people of Dan. And they shouted to the people of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” And he said, “You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then do you ask me, ‘What is the matter with you?’” And the people of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home.
But the people of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the city and lived in it. And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first. And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.
Judges 18 Commentary
by Hank Workman
During the taking of the land under Joshua, the Danites were given land to meet their needs. However, this tribe failed to follow God’s direction and did not eradicate the enemy from the land. (Joshua 19:40-48; Judges 1:34) Consequently, they were forced by the Amorites to the hill country who wouldn’t let them settle. This tribe decided to lay down, not trust God for the win and in time decided they would rather try and find an easier way to have land. So they ventured north where it wouldn’t be so challenging when they passed Micah’s home.
As Judges 17 revealed, Micah was a renegade. Actually, he sums up a lot of Israel at that time who did what they wanted. Micah had made idols for worship, hired his own priest. He was essentially doing religion the way that pleased him. Compounding to the matter, this priest who was a defector of the faith, was completely disobedient to God’s laws and ways. He too was doing what was for personal satisfaction and fed into Micah’s waywardness. He was so lost I wonder if he had convinced himself even of God’s commands of what his role was and had justified his behavior.
It seems apparent that in these days of this story no one wanted to worship God out of love or respect but it was all for selfish gain. On every level both of these men were running a personal religion. Today some go to church for the wrong reasons. They attend a worship service to relieve guilt, fit into some crowd, feel better, or just have friends. These things alone speak toward the selfish of our own hearts and who is on the throne.
We have this insane knack of justifying our behavior in just about every arena. Sometimes we cloak it with religion so we look good. These things are not only deceiving to ourselves, which I think is a whole other aspect to tackle, but on every level is not pleasing to God. Jesus desired relationship with each and every one of us and came not only to make the way easier to the Father, but for an abundant life found in Him. We can convince ourselves we’re good people by simply attending a church or even serving on some level in a ministry or mission. These still don’t cut it. Jesus wants a relationship. Outward success does not dictate inward growth.
Judges 18 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
I recently heard of an episode that Dr. Phil did about a religious cult. What began as a typical 60’s communal-type gathering became a den of alleged sexual molestation, prostitution and extreme physical abuse that was all done in the name of God. The horrific story outlined how the sin of this organization escalated to extreme acts of perversion beyond comprehension. Infants and toddlers were subjected to abuse by the “congregation” behind the mask of being “in God’s name.” It is completely heart-wrenching and infuriating at the same time.
Judges 18 shows us how quickly things can go astray when we abandon the ways of God. Consider what started as a seemingly innocent individual act by Micah led to an entire tribe’s false worship. All of it was justified as “in God’s name,” even though it directly contradicted the process God established when he gave the land to Israel.
This brings up another interesting point.
The tribe of Dan struggled to secure their land from the very beginning. The sad part is that this tribe had all the resources to do what God desired. Like many tribes, they allowed fear, a lack of faith, and disobedience to stunt their calling.
Eventually, they decided to take matters into their own hands just like Micah. Remember the theme? In those days there was no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Does it surprise you to learn that Samson came from the tribe of Dan? These were people who seemingly wanted to do their own thing without any accountability from God.
We face the same battle today. The mantra of “follow your heart” bombards us from every direction. People who do what’s right in their own eyes are applauded in our society – regardless of if that decision matches with God’s truth. Humanity has attempted to “progress” in society with new ideas stemming from following their heart. It never works.
When we choose more of ourselves and less of God, destruction is only a few steps away. The path to healing, purity, and righteousness always runs through God.