The Book of Judges

Chapter 18

The Danites send five men to seek out an inheritance 1, 2. At the house of Micah they consult with Jonathan and are encouraged on their way, 3-6. They search Laish and bring back news of good hope, 7-10. Six hundred men are sent to surprise it, 11-14. On their way, they rob Micah of his priest and his consecrated things, 14-26. They win Laish and call it Dan, 27-29. They set up idolatry, wherein Jonathan inherits the priesthood, 30, 31.

1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites sought for themselves an inheritance to dwell in, for to that day all their inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel. 2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their borders, men of valor, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to explore the land and to search it. And they said to them, "Go, search the land." When they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite. And they turned in there and said to him, "Who brought you here? And what do you do in this place? And what do you have here?" 4 And he said to them, "In this manner Micah deals with me and has hired me, and I am his priest." 5 And they said to him, "Ask counsel, we pray you, of God, so that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous." 6 And the priest said to them, "Go in peace. The way in which you go is before the LORD."

7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish and saw the people who were in it, how they dwelt carelessly after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure. And there was no magistrate in the land who might put them to shame in anything. And they were far from the Zidonians and had no business with any man. 8 And they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers said to them, "What do you say?" 9 And they said, "Arise, so that we may go up against them. For we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And are you still? Do not be slothful to go and to enter to possess the land. 10 When you go, you shall come to a secure people and to a large land, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth."

11 And there went from there of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war. 12 And they went up and encamped in Kirjath-jearim, in Judah. Therefore, they called that place Mahaneh-dan to this day. Behold, it is behind Kirjath-jearim. 13 And they passed from there to mount Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.

14 Then the five men who went to explore the country of Laish answered and said to their brothers, "Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, teraphim, an engraved image, and a molten image? Now therefore, consider what you have to do." 15 And they turned there and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even to the house of Micah, and saluted him. 16 And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 And the five men who went to explore the land went up, came in there, and took the engraved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image. And the priest stood in the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men who were appointed with weapons of war. 18 And these went into Micah's house and brought the carved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image. Then the priest said to them, "What are you doing?" 19 And they said to him, "Hold your peace, lay your hand upon your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or that you should be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?" 20 And the priest's heart was glad and he took the ephod, the teraphim, and the engraved image and went in the midst of the people.

21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the cattle, and the goods before them. 22 And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah's house were collected and overtook the children of Dan. 23 And they cried to the children of Dan. And they turned their faces and said to Micah, "What ails you that you come with such a company?" 24 And he said, "You have taken away my gods which I made and the priest, and you have gone away. And what more do I have? And what is this that you say to me, 'What ails you?'" 25 And the children of Dan said to him, "Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows rush upon you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household." 26 And the children of Dan departed. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.

27 And they took the things which Micah had made and the priest which he had, and came to Laish, to a people who were quiet and secure, and they smote them with the edge of the sword and burnt the city with fire. 28 And there was no deliverer because it was far from Zidon and they had no business with any man. And it was in the valley that lies by Beth-rehob. And they built a city and dwelt in it. 29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city was Laish at the first. 30 And the children of Dan set up the engraved image. And Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 And they set up for themselves Micah's engraved image which he made the whole time that the house of God was in Shiloh.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Judges, Chapter 18[➚]


[v.1] - "all their inheritance had not fallen to them" - Joshua 19:47 indicates that the Danites had difficulty with the land of their inheritance. See also, Joshua 19:40-48.

[v.29] - "they called the name of the city Dan" - Reference, Joshua 19:47.

[v.30] - "Moses" - In the WBS/KJV, the name given here was Manasses. From the Pulpit Commentary: "The Hebrew text really has the son of Moses. But a little n is written above the line between the M and the S of Moses (Mosheh), so as to be read Manasseh, as thus: MSH; so that they avoided the pain of reading aloud that the grandson or descendant of Moses was an idolatrous priest, without actually altering the written text."