Judges 18:19
And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?
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(19) Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.—Comp. Job 21:5; Job 29:9; Proverbs 30:32. The laying of the finger on the lip is one of the most universal of gestures. It is the attitude of Horus, the Egyptian god of silence. (See Apul. Metamorph. 1: at ille digitum, a pollice proximum ori suo admovens . . . tace. tace, inquit.)

A father and a priest.Judges 17:10.

Unto a tribe and a family.—Both to a shebet and a mishpecah. (See Note on Judges 18:1.)

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.The five went back to Micah's chapel (Micah's house, Judges 18:18) and took the ephod, teraphim, etc., and brought them to the gate where the priest was talking to the 600 men. 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. Lay thy hand upon thy mouth, i.e. be silent, as this phrase is used, Job 21:5 29:9 40:4 Proverbs 30:32. The same thing repeated in other words.

A father and a priest: see Poole on "Judges 17:10".

A family in Israel, to wit, a tribe that is (and being oft put for that is) a family. For it is certain this was not an expedition of the whole tribe, which numbered 64,000 men, Numbers 26:43, but only of one family, which it seems were more vexed with the Philistines or Amorites, and therefore resolved to seek new habitations at a great distance from them. And after this time we find the body of the Danites in their old and proper portions in Samson’s time, which, though placed before this, was long after it.

And they said unto him, hold thy peace,.... Be silent, make no disturbance, be quiet and easy:

lay thy hand upon thy mouth; as a token of silence; so the Egyptians used to paint Harpocrates, the god of silence, with his fingers pressing his lips:

and go with us; for they wanted him as well as his gods, not knowing well how to make use of them without him:

and be to us a father and a priest; to direct them, instruct them, perform acts of devotion for them, and ask counsel on their account; it seems as if it was common in those days to call a priest a father, see Judges 17:10.

is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel? suggesting, that it must be much more honourable for him, and more to his advantage, to officiate as a priest to a body of people, that might be called a tribe, or to a family consisting of various houses, than in the house of a private person; this they left him to consider and judge of.

And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?
19. lay thine hand upon thy mouth] Cf. Micah 7:16, Job 21:5; Job 29:9 etc.

a father and a priest] See Jdg 17:10 n.

Verse 19. - Lay thine hand upon thy mouth. Cf. Job 21:5; Job 29:9; Job 40:4. A father and a priest. See Judges 17:10, note. Judges 18:19Then the five spies went up, sc., into Micah's house of God, which must therefore have been in an upper room of the building (see 2 Kings 23:12; Jeremiah 19:13), and took the image, ephod, etc., whilst the priest stood before the door with the 600 armed men. With the words וגו בּאוּ the narrative passes from the aorist or historical tense ויּעלוּ into the perfect. "The perfects do not denote the coming and taking on the part of the five men as a continuation of the previous account, but place the coming and taking in the same sphere of time as that to which the following clause, 'and the priest stood,' etc., belongs" (Bertheau). But in order to explain what appears very surprising, viz., that the priest should have stood before the gate whilst his house of God was being robbed, the course which the affair took is explained more clearly afterwards in Judges 18:18, Judges 18:19, in the form of a circumstantial clause. Consequently the verbs in these verses ought to be rendered as pluperfects, and the different clauses comprised in one period, Judges 18:18 forming the protasis, and Judges 18:19 the apodosis. "Namely, when those (five) men had come into Micah's house, and had taken the image of the ephod, etc., and the priest had said to them, What are ye doing? they had said to him, Be silent, lay thy hand upon thy mouth and go with us, and become a father and priest to us (see Judges 17:10). Is it better to be a priest to the house of a single man, or to a tribe and family in Israel?" The combination האפוד פּסל (the ephod-pesel), i.e., the image belonging to the ephod, may be explained on the ground, that the use of the ephod as a means of ascertaining the will of God presupposes the existence of an image of Jehovah, and does not prove that the ephod served as a covering for the Pesel. The priest put on the ephod when he was about to inquire of God. The או in the second question is different from אם, and signifies "or rather" (see Genesis 24:55), indicating an improvement upon the first question (see Ewald, 352, a.). Consequently it is not a sign of a later usage of speech, as Bertheau supposes. The word וּלמשׁפּחה (unto a family) serves as a more minute definition or limitation of לשׁבט (to a tribe).
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