Judges Chapter 18 - In Those Days the Danites Had No King
Judges Chapter 18 – In Those Days the Danites Had No King
In those days the Danites were seeking a place of their own where they might settle. They had not yet come into an inheritance amid the tribes of Israel
In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. Judges 18:1
The assigned inheritance for the tribe of Dan is described in Joshua 19:40-46. Although their territory had been assigned to them, they had not been able to conquer it completely because of the fierce opposition of the Philistines and the Amorites. The Danites did not acquire the full possession of their allotment, since a considerable portion was wrested out of their hands by the encroachments of their powerful neighbors. As a result of the need for more territory, a number of Danites sought a new and additional settlement in a remote part of the land.
As we shall see, without a king to serve as supreme magistrate, and before the time of the judges, there was no deterrent or accountability for the evil actions of the Danites.
So the Danites sent five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, “Go, explore the land.” So they entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. Judges 18:2
Zorah and Eshtaol were the first cities that were assigned to the Danites when the territory of their inheritance was determined by lot. These cities were located on Dan’s border adjacent to the territory of the Philistines. The frequent raids by the Philistines provoked the Danites of Zorah and Eshtaol to seek territory in the north of Canaan. Five of the leading men of these cities were sent to spy out the land. When they entered into the hill country of Ephraim, they bedded down for the night in the vicinity of Micah’s house.
When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”
He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, “He has hired me and I am his priest.” Judges 18:3-4
It is obvious that the Danite men were personally familiar with this Levite since they recognized his voice. The young Levite told the five men that Micah paid him ten shekels of silver a year and provided him with clothes and food in return for his serving as Micah’s priest.
Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.”
The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.” Judges 18:5-6
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2
Since the priest was serving in a household where there were teraphim (household gods) and a silver covered idol, it is quite doubtful that Yehovah actually responded to his inquiry. The LORD had already determined the Danite’s territory by lots. It is improbable that He would approve a different location for their habitation.
So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, at peace and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else. Judges 18:7
Laish was situated at the furthest northern border of the land of Canaan. Unlike the ten spies who returned from searching out the Promised Land and spread a bad report because they were in fear of the great size of the people there, these five men were encouraged that the people of Laish were peaceful, prosperous and located far from any potential allies.
When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their fellow Danites asked them, “How did you find things?”
They answered, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over. When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever.” Judges 18:8-10
Hearing their report, their fellow Danites concluded from both the Levite’s claim of God’s approval, and from the peaceful state of an unsuspecting population that God made the people of Laish easy prey for the Danites.
Then six hundred men of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan to this day. From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house. Judges 18:11-13
The six hundred armed warriors set up their camp near Kiriath Jearim which means the “city of woods.” After their encampment the place west of Kiriath Jearim was named Mahaneh Dan which means “the camp of Dan.” From that location in Judah, they travelled to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at Micah’s house.
Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their fellow Danites, “Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, some household gods and an image overlaid with silver? Now you know what to do.” Judges 18:14
These lawless adventurers were covetous idolaters.
So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and greeted him. The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance of the gate. The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate. Judges 18:15-17
These Danites who cowered in fear of the Philistines and sought to live as far away from them as possible, are emboldened by their overwhelming numbers and brazenly steal Micah’s possessions.
When the five men went into Micah’s house and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
They answered him, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people. Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left. Judges 18:18-21
The Danites were so assured of their ability to defeat the unsuspecting people of Laish and take their land and goods by force that they brought their families, livestock and possession with them confident that they would not return to Zorah and Eshtaol. The priest was very pleased with their offer and went along with them.
When they had gone some distance from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?”
He replied, “You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, ‘What’s the matter with you?’”
The Danites answered, “Don’t argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.” So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home. Judges 18:22-26
Like most bullies, these Danites were cowards. They fled from their fight with their Philistine neighbors but were bold and brash when the odds were overwhelmingly in their favor.
Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. Judges 18:27-28a
Not only did these Danites steal from a fellow Israelite but they had no compunction slaughtering a peaceful people and burning down their city.
The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh. Judges 18:28b-31
Beth Rehob means the “house of spaciousness.” This city was located in a valley within the territory of the tribe of Asher, in the extreme north of the Holy Land. Moses’ grandchildren were priests for the tribe of Dan who continued in idolatry until the defeat and dispersion of the northern ten tribes by the Assyrians.
Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. Revelation 7:4-8
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. Revelation 14:4-5
The tribe of Dan is not listed among the 144,000 – the firstfruits of Israel. The Danites were disobedient to the LORD’s command to possess their allotted portion of the Promised Land (Jdg 18:27-31), and they continued in idolatry until the time of the Assyrian captivity.
Jacob’s blessing over his children includes a prophetic description of Dan as a serpent and a viper that bites the horse’s heels causing the rider to tumble backwards (Gen 49:16-17).
Deuteronomy 33:22 contains the account of Moses’ prophetic blessing of Dan which describes Dan as a lion’s cub springing out of Bashan. Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm which describes the future crucifixion. Verses 12-13 is a symbolic picture of the enemies of Christ:... strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing at their prey…. Dan is described as a serpent and a roaring lion seeking to devour.
Antiochus Epiphanes, a type of Antichrist, was a Selucid King (Greek ruler of Syria). The city of Dan is the northernmost city in Israel, just below the Syrian border. Idolatry marks the worship of the beast and the Danites were idol worshippers. Based on these facts concerning the tribe of Dan, It is speculated that the Antichrist may be a Danite. In any case, the tribe of Dan is excluded from the listing of those who were sealed from all the tribes of Israel.