|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.
Verse 1. - In those days, etc. See Judges 17:6. The tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance, etc. This does not mean that the whole tribe of Dan were still seeking their inheritance. The bulk of the tribe, as we read in Joshua 19:40-48, did receive their inheritance by lot before the death of Joshua (ibid. ver. 49) and Eleazar (ibid. ver. 51). But as long as any part of the tribe was not settled, the tribe as such, in its unity, was still seeking a settlement. The land for their inheritance had not yet fallen to the tribe in its integrity. This is in part accounted for by what we read Judges 1:34, that the Amorites would not suffer the children of Dan to come down to the valley, so that those who could not get possession of their land there would be crowded into other parts of the tribal territory. These Danites, of whom we are here reading, were dwelling in Zorah and Eshtaol (Judges 13:1, 25), as we see by vers. 2, 11. Unto that day, etc. Translate this clause, For unto that day the land (meaning the whole land) had not fallen unto them in the midst of the tribes of Israel for an inheritance. The words the land must be supplied after the analogy of Numbers 34:2. What follows in this chapter is a more detailed account of what was briefly mentioned in Joshua 19:47, where, however, the A.V. went out too little for them is not a translation of the Hebrew text, which is very difficult to explain. Houbigant, by an ingenious conjecture, gives the sense was too narrow for them. Prom the mention of this migration in the Book of Joshua, it is probable that it took place not many years after Joshua's death.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In those days there was no king in Israel,.... No supreme magistrate, no judge, for it was before the time of the judges, after the death of Joshua and before Othniel the first judge; this is observed before, Judges 17:6 and here repeated to account for the evil things done by the Danites, their consulting Micah's oracle, taking away his priest and his gods, and setting up his graven image in Dan, by which means idolatry was spread in Israel, and brought on their servitude to Chushanrishathaim, from which Othniel the first judge was their deliverer:
and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; that is, a family of them, as in the next verse, not the whole tribe; for as a family is sometimes put for a tribe, Joshua 7:17 so a tribe for a family, Judges 20:12.
for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel: we rightly supply the words "all their"; for otherwise an inheritance had fallen to them by lot, as the other tribes. Joshua 19:40, but that was not only too little for them, Joshua 19:47 but all that was allotted to them did not come into their possession, but a part remained unsubdued; and some they had possession of they could not keep, either through the superior strength of the Amorites, or their own sloth and cowardice, or for want of the help of their brethren; see Judges 1:34.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jud 18:1-26. The Danites Seek Out an Inheritance.
1-6. In those days … the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in—The Danites had a territory assigned them as well as the other tribes. But either through indolence, or a lack of energy, they did not acquire the full possession of their allotment, but suffered a considerable portion of it to be wrested out of their hands by the encroachments of their powerful neighbors, the Philistines. In consequence, being straitened for room, a considerable number resolved on trying to effect a new and additional settlement in a remote part of the land. A small deputation, being despatched to reconnoitre the country, arrived on their progress northward at the residence of Micah. Recognizing his priest as one of their former acquaintances, or perhaps by his provincial dialect, they eagerly enlisted his services in ascertaining the result of their present expedition. His answer, though apparently promising, was delusive, and really as ambiguous as those of the heathen oracles. This application brings out still more clearly and fully than the schism of Micah the woeful degeneracy of the times. The Danites expressed no emotions either of surprise or of indignation at a Levite daring to assume the priestly functions, and at the existence of a rival establishment to that of Shiloh. They were ready to seek, through means of the teraphim, the information that could only be lawfully applied for through the high priest's Urim. Being thus equally erroneous in their views and habits as Micah, they show the low state of religion, and how much superstition prevailed in all parts of the land.
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