Judges 18:12
And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: why they called that place Mahanehdan to this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) In Kirjath-jearim.Joshua 9:17. The name means “city of forests.” The modern name is “city of grapes” (Kuriet el Enab). It is nine miles from Jerusalem, on the Jaffa road. Its original names were Baalah and Kirjath-Baal (Joshua 15:9; Joshua 15:60). It was here that the ark remained for twenty years when sent back by the Philistines (1Samuel 6:20-21; 1Samuel 7:2). “We found it in the fields of the wood” (Psalm 132:6).

Mahaneh – dani.e., the camp of Dan (Judges 13:25). They must have probably encamped here for some little time, as we can hardly suppose that the place would have received the name permanently from the bivouac of one night.

Behindi.e., to the west of. So “the hinder sea” is the western or Mediterranean Sea (Deuteronomy 9:24; Zechariah 14:8). The site of Mahaneh-dan cannot be identified with certainty, as the position of Eshtaol is unknown.

Jdg 18:12-14. Mahaneh-dan — That is, the camp of Dan. They came unto the house of Micah — That is, to the town in which his house was, for they had not yet entered into it. Then answered the five men — That is, they spake; the word answering being often used in Scripture of the first speaker. There is in these houses — That is, in one of these houses. Consider what ye have to do — Whether it be not expedient to take them for your further use. Perhaps the remembrance of the ark being carried before their ancestors in former times, in all their expeditions, as a mark of God’s presence being among them, might incline them to the foolish and impious thought of taking with them Micah’s ephod and teraphim.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.Kurjath-jearim - "City of forests," otherwise called "Kirjath-Baal" (marginal reference.), identified by Robinson with the modern "Kurit-el-Enab," on the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem and by Conder with Soba. 11-21. there went from thence of the family of the Danites … six hundred men—This was the collective number of the men who were equipped with arms to carry out this expeditionary enterprise, without including the families and furniture of the emigrants (Jud 18:21). Their journey led them through the territory of Judah, and their first halting place was "behind," that is, on the west of Kirjath-jearim, on a spot called afterwards "the camp of Dan." Prosecuting the northern route, they skirted the base of the Ephraimite hills. On approaching the neighborhood of Micah's residence, the spies having given information that a private sanctuary was kept there, the priest of which had rendered them important service when on their exploring expedition, it was unanimously agreed that both he and the furniture of the establishment would be a valuable acquisition to their proposed settlement. A plan of spoliation was immediately formed. While the armed men stood sentinels at the gates, the five spies broke into the chapel, pillaged the images and vestments, and succeeded in bribing the priest also by a tempting offer to transfer his services to their new colony. Taking charge of the ephod, the teraphim, and the graven image, he "went in the midst of the people"—a central position assigned him in the march, perhaps for his personal security; but more probably in imitation of the place appointed for the priests and the ark, in the middle of the congregated tribes, on the marches through the wilderness. This theft presents a curious medley of low morality and strong religious feeling. The Danites exemplified a deep-seated principle of our nature—that men have religious affections, which must have an object on which these may be exercised, while they are often not very discriminating in the choice of the objects. In proportion to the slender influence religion wields over the heart, the greater is the importance attached to external rites; and in the exact observance of these, the conscience is fully satisfied, and seldom or never molested by reflections on the breach of minor morals. Kirjath-jearim, called Kirjath-baal, Joshua 15:60; a city lying in the northern parts of Judah, in the road to Laish; yet not in the city, but in the fields belonging to it, as the following words evince.

Behind Kirjath-jearim, i.e. westward from it, as the western sea is called the hindermost sea, Deu 11:24; and as, on the contrary, the east is called Keedem, which signifies the forepart. And they went up and pitched in Kirjathjearim in Judah,.... Of which place see Joshua 15:9. According to Bunting (a) it was sixteen miles from Zorah and Eshtaol, and this was their first day's march:

wherefore they called the name of that place Mahanehdan unto this day; which signifies the camp of Dan, or of the Danites; so it was called in the times of Samson, Judges 13:25 and is a proof that this expedition was before his time; and it was so called, it seems, in the time of Samuel, the writer of this book:

behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim; to the west of it; for though they are said to pitch in that place, the meaning is, that they pitched near it, in the fields adjacent to it, which were the most proper and convenient for a camp.

(a) Ut supra. (Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 112.)

And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. Kiriath-jĕârim] i.e. city of woods; cf. Joshua 9:17 P and 1 Samuel 6:21; 1 Samuel 7:1 f. Eusebius (Onom. 109, 27. 271, 40) places it 9 Roman miles from Jerusalem on the road to Lydda; hence it is generally identified with Ḳirjat el-‘enab, which is just this distance. The site would fit in well with the present narrative, making the first encampment a short day’s march from the Danite seats. The identification cannot be regarded as certain; but there is more to be said for Ḳirjat el-‘enab than for ‘Erma, a ruined site to the S.W., which some prefer. ‘Erma has nothing whatever to do with jearim. The camp of Dan is said to have been behind, i.e. west of Kiriath-jearim; contrast Jdg 13:25, where it is placed between Zorah and Eshtaol. Local tradition may well have preserved the memory of this first halting-place in an expedition which involved a lasting effect upon the life of the district.Verse 12. - Kirjath-jearim (city of forests), otherwise called Kirjath-Baal and Baalah, in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:60). It, lay on the border of Benjamin (Joshua 18:14, 15). Its modern representative in all probability is Kurit-el-enab, nine miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Joppa. The district is still very woody. Mahaneh-dan, i.e. the camp of Dan (see ch. 13:25). Behind, i.e. to the west cf. The exact site of Mahaneh-dan has not been identified with certainty. Mr. Williams was shown a site called Beit-Mahanem in the Wady Ismail which answers well in position, but it has not been noticed by any other traveller ('Dictionary of Bible'). When they were at Micah's house and recognised the voice of the young Levite, i.e., heard his voice, and perceived form his dialect that he was not a native of these mountains, they turned aside there, sc., from the road into the house, near to which they rested, and asked him, "Who brought thee hither, and what doest thou at this place? what hast thou to do here?" When he told them his history ("thus and thus," lit. according to this and that; cf. 2 Samuel 11:25; 1 Kings 14:5), they said to him, "Ask God, we pray thee, that we may learn whether our way will be prosperous." בּאלהים שׁאל, used for asking the will of God, as in Judges 1:1, except that here the inquiry was made through the medium of the imitation of the ephod and the worship of an image. And he said to them, sc., after making inquiry of the divine oracle, "Go in peace; straight before Jehovah is your way," i.e., it is known and well-pleasing to Him (vid., Proverbs 5:21; Jeremiah 17:16).
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