And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Even unto Dan.—It has been thought that there is here a corruption of the text, and that words referring to Bethel have fallen out. But there is no sign of such variation in the LXX. (which only adds, in some MSS., “and deserted the house of the Lord”) or other versions. The reason of the mention of Dan only is probably that there the old sanctuary remained, and the priesthood was ready: hence, in this case, “the people went to worship” at once. The verses which follow describe the erection of a temple and the creation of a priesthood at Bethel, necessary before the inauguration of the new worship at what naturally became the more prominent and magnificent sanctuary. This temple is called a “house of high places,” partly perhaps from its actual position, partly to connect it with the use of “the high places” condemned in the Law. Indeed, as we have no notice of any time spent in building it, it is possible that some old “high place” was restored for the purpose.1 Kings 12:30. This thing became a sin — An occasion of great wickedness, not only of idolatry, which is called sin by way of eminence; nor only of the worship of the calves, wherein they pretended to worship the true God; but also of the worship of Baal, and of the utter desertion of the true God, and of all sorts of impiety. The people went to worship before the one even unto Dan — Which is not here mentioned exclusively, for they went also to Beth-el, (1 Kings 12:32-33;) but for other reasons, either because that of Dan was first made, the people in those parts having been long leavened with idolatry, or to show the people’s readiness and zeal for idols; that those who lived in or near Beth-el, had not patience to stay till that calf was finished, but all of them were forward to go as far as Dan, which was in the utmost borders of the land, to worship an idol there; when it was thought too much for them to go to Jerusalem to worship God in the manner he had prescribed. The reader will easily observe here, as we have already intimated, that the sin of Jeroboam and the people did not consist in worshipping strange and false gods, but in setting up images, or representations of the true God, and worshipping him under the similitude of a corporeal form, which he had himself expressly forbidden, (Exodus 20:4,) and had severely punished in the case of Aaron; so that the people did not offend through ignorance, because their sacred records informed them of the terrible punishment which God had inflicted before for the like offence, whereby he made it evident how displeasing it was to him.A sin, i.e. a cause or occasion of great wickedness among that people; not only of idolatry, which is called sin by way of eminency; nor only of the worship of the calves, wherein they pretended to worship the true God; but also of the worship of Baal, and of the utter desertion of the true God, and of all sorts of impiety and abominable sins, as is manifest from the history of that kingdom; in which there was not one good king, and very few of the people who were not guilty of heinous crimes, as the prophets witness.
The people went to worship: the king’s counsel and example seduced them, though it did not excuse their sin; and they willingly walked after this his wicked commandment, Hosea 5:11.
Unto Dan; which is not here mentioned exclusively, for that they went also to Beth-el is evident from 1 Kings 12:32,33, but for other reasons; either because that of Dan was first made, or best frequented, the people in those parts having been long leavened with idolatry; see Judges 18:30; or to show the people’s readiness to comply with the king’s command, and their zeal for idols; that those who lived in or near Beth-el had not patience to stay till that calf was finished, but all of them were forward to go as far as Dan, which was in the utmost borders of the land, to worship an idol there, when it was thought too much for them to go to Jerusalem to worship God.
for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan; which was the furthest off, such was their great zeal for idolatrous worship; or they went thither before that at Bethel was set up; and even they at Bethel would go as far as Dan to worship, such was their veneration for both the calves. Abarbinel is of opinion that these calves were not made by Jeroboam for idolatrous uses, only the altar later mentioned; and that he never worshipped before them, nor sacrificed to them, nor even built the altar before them; but that these were set up as signs, and in memory of his kingdom, like the pillars in Solomon's temple; that he chose the calf or ox as emblems of his family, the family of Joseph, Deuteronomy 33:17 two to represent Ephraim and Manasseh; golden ones, to denote the majesty and perpetuity of his kingdom; and he set these, the one at Bethel, at the entrance of it, and the other at Dan, at the further borders of it; and that he did not call those gods, but the only true God, as he that brought Israel out of Egypt; only signified by that expression, that he was everywhere, there as well as at Jerusalem; but that the Israelites, who were taken with sensible objects, on visiting these out of curiosity, it became a snare to them, and they fell into the worship of them; just as Gideon's ephod, and Moses' brasen serpent, were unto them.And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)30. And this thing became a sin] Being in contradiction of the second commandment.
for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan] It appears as though by these words it was intended to shew how fully the people were led astray. To far-off Dan even did they go. This had been associated with worship aforetime, though it was idolatrous. Jdg 18:30. There was no need to point out that they went to Bethel. That had been a place of worship before, and in consequence had sacred associations. Of course they were not hard to persuade to go there. But Jeroboam’s device was successful in respect of the other shrine also.
The LXX. adds to this verse ‘and they neglected the house of the Lord.’Verse 30. - And this thing became a sin [It was in itself sinful, for it both set at nought the express prohibition of the Decalogue (Exodus 20:4), and also disregarded the one sanctuary of God's choice (Deuteronomy 12:5). And it led to other sins, e.g., the intrusion of a schismatic and irregular priesthood, and the performance of unauthorized rites, and to "an ever-deepening corruption of the national faith" (Ewald). Cf. Hosea 8:5; Hosea 13:2. But the meaning is, it became an occasion of sin to the people ("Quod fuit postea causa gravissimi peccati" - Vatab.) Jeroboam "made Israel to sin" (1 Kings 14:16; 1 Kings 15:26, etc.) It is difficult to conceive, in the face of these and similar words, how any one can seriously maintain that "the church of Israel was the national church" (Stanley, 2:264) ]: for the people went to worship before the one even unto Dan. [The people frequented both sanctuaries; why, then, is that at Dan especially mentioned? Some (Rawlinson, e.g.) have suggested that the text is here corrupt, and that we should read, "before the one to Bethel, and before the other to Dan." According to others, "the one" (הָאֶחַד) refers to the double הָאֶחַד ("the one," "the other"); cf. ver. 29. They would interpret, that is, "the people went to both, even to the distant Dan" (Bahr, Thenius). Keil would force the text and understand, "the people, even unto Dan," i.e., the people throughout the whole kingdom. Similarly, Wordsworth. Ewald understands "before the one" to mean כְּזֶחַד i.e., "as one," sc. man. On the whole it is better to take the words as they stand, literally. It is quite conceivable that, at first, the people resorted almost exclusively to the Danite sanctuary. Having been for long years a seat of worship, and having probably its "house of high places," or temple (see below), already built, it would naturally be in a position to receive worshippers some time before Bethel was prepared for that purpose. Jeroboam's offering in person at Bethel (ver. 32) which marks the inauguration of his new ritual there, may have been partly designed to attract worshippers to a shrine, which, as being nearer Jerusalem, or for some other reason, was neglected. But the verse is patient of another interpretation. It may intend to convey that the rebellious tribes, in their defiant disregard of the old order of things, the order now represented by a hostile kingdom, went en masse to the opposite point of the compass, even to the unhallowed and hitherto despised sanctuary of the Danites. The LXX. (Vat.) addition here is noticeable, "And they forsook the house of the Lord."] 2 Samuel 24:9. But the prophet Shemaiah, a prophet who is not mentioned again, received instructions from God to forbid the king to go to war with their brethren the Israelites, "for this thing was from the Lord." הזּה הדּבר, "this thing, i.e., his being deprived of the sovereignty over ten tribes, but not their rebellion" (Seb. Schmidt). For the fact itself, see the remark on 1 Kings 12:15. The king and the people hearkened to this word. ללכת ישׁוּבוּ, "they turned to go," i.e., they gave up the intended expedition and returned home. In 2 Chronicles 11:4 we have the explanatory phrase מלּכת ישׁוּבוּ.
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