|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. - Went out, i.e. from their several homes to the place of meeting. The congregation. The technical term (not, however, found in Samuel and Kings, except in 1 Kings 12:20) for the whole Israelitish people (Exodus 12:3; Exodus 16:1, 2, 9; Leviticus 4:15; Joshua 18:1, etc.). From Dan to Beersheba. Dan, or Laish (Judges 18:29), being the northernmost point, and Beersheba (now Bir-es-saba, the springs so called) in the south of Judah the southernmost. It cannot be inferred with certainty from this expression that the Danite occupation of Laish had taken place at this time, though it may have done so, because we do not know when this narrative was written, and the phrase is only used as a proverbial expression familiar in the writer's time. The land of Gilead. In its widest sense, meaning the whole of trans-Jordanic Israel (see Judges 10:8; Judges 11:1, etc.). Mizpeh, or, as it is always written in Hebrew, ham-Mizpeh, with the article (see Judges 21:1). The Mizpeh here mentioned is not the same as the Mizpeh of Judges 10:17; Judges 11:11, 29, 34, which was in Gilead, but was situated in the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:26). That it was a national place of meeting in the time of Samuel is clear from 1 Samuel 7:5-12, and we learn from ver. 16 of that same chapter that it was one of the places to which Samuel went on circuit. We find it a place of national meeting also in 1 Samuel 10:17, and even so late as 2 Kings 25:23, and in the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 3:46). Its vicinity to Shiloh, where the tabernacle was, was probably one reason why it was made a centre to the whole congregation (see especially 1 Samuel 10:17, 22, 25). Its exact site is not known with certainty, but it is thought to be that of Nebi Samuil, from which Jerusalem is seen at about two hours' distance to the south-east. Unto the Lord, i.e. in the presence of the tabernacle, which was doubtless brought there, on so solemn an occasion, from Shiloh (cf. Exodus 34:34; Leviticus 1:3; Judges 11:11; Judges 21:2, and ver. 26 of this chapter).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then all the children of Israel went out,.... Of their tribes, cities, habitations, not every individual of them, but some of the chief of them, with a select company with them:
and the congregation was gathered together as one man; with as much unanimity and ease met together in one place, at the same time, as if only one man had been pitched upon and deputed for that purpose:
from Dan even to Beersheba, from the city Dan, lately built, which was in the most northern parts of the land of Canaan, to Beersheba, a city in the most southern part, which included all the tribes in the land of Canaan, who all, excepting Benjamin, assembled:
with the land of Gilead; which lay on the other side Jordan, inhabited by the two tribes of Reuben and Dan, and the half tribe of Manasseh, who also came on this occasion:
unto the Lord in Mizpeh; a city which lay upon the borders of Judah and Benjamin, and is therefore assigned to them both, Joshua 15:38 for this was not Mizpeh in the land of Gilead, but a city near to Shiloh; and, according to Fuller (b), eight miles from Gibeah, and so was a convenient place to meet at: it is not to be thought the tribes met here, by a secret impulse upon their minds, but by a summons of some principal persons in one of the tribes, very probably in the tribe of Ephraim, where the Levite dwelt, and in which was the tabernacle of the Lord, and of which the last supreme magistrate was, namely, Joshua; and all having notice of the occasion of it, met very readily; and because they assembled in the name and fear of God, and it was in the cause of God, and as a solemn assembly, a judicial one, in which God was usually present, they are said to be gathered unto him, and the rather, as they sought for direction and counsel from him in the affair before them.
(b) Pisah-Sight, B. 2. c. 12. p. 259.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jud 20:1-7. The Levite, in a General Assembly, Declares His Wrong.
1, 2. all … the congregation was gathered as one man—In consequence of the immense sensation the horrid tragedy of Gibeah had produced, a national assembly was convened, at which "the chief of all the people" from all parts of the land, including the eastern tribes, appeared as delegates.
Mizpeh—the place of convention (for there were other Mizpehs), was in a town situated on the confines of Judah and Benjamin (Jos 15:38; 18:26). Assemblies were frequently held there afterwards (1Sa 7:11; 10:17); and it was but a short distance from Shiloh. The phrase, "unto the Lord," may be taken in its usual sense, as denoting consultation of the oracle. This circumstance, together with the convention being called "the assembly of the people of God," seems to indicate, that amid the excited passions of the nation, those present felt the profound gravity of the occasion and adopted the best means of maintaining a becoming deportment.
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