Judges 18:20
And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the middle of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) The priest’s heart was glad.Judges 19:6; Judges 19:9; Ruth 3:7. The disgraceful alacrity with which he sanctions the theft, and abandons for self-interest the cause of Micah, is very unworthy of a grandson of Moses. Dean Stanley appositely compares the bribe offered in 1176 to the monk Roger of Canterbury:—“Give us the portion of St. Thomas’s skull which is in thy custody, and thou shalt cease to be a simple monk; thou shalt be Abbot of St. Augustine’s.”

In the midst of the people.—That they might guard his person. It is not necessarily implied that he carried all these sacred objects himself; he may have done so, for the molten image, which was perhaps the heaviest object, is not here mentioned.

Jdg 18:20-21. The priest’s heart was glad — As he was promised promotion, he not only consented to the fact, but assisted them in it, being wholly governed by a regard to his own secular interest. He went in the midst of the people — Both for the greater security of such precious things, and that Micah might not be able to come near him to injure or upbraid him; and, perhaps, also, because that was the place where the ark used to be carried. They put the little ones, and the cattle, &c., before them — For their greater security, if Micah should pursue them.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. The priest’s heart was glad; being wholly governed by his own interest, and making all his obligations of justice and gratitude give place to it. But it is not strange, if he who was before perfidious to God, should prove so to men.

In the midst of the people, i.e. among the people; or properly in the midst, both for the greater security of such precious things, and that Micah might not be able to come at him, either to injure or upbraid him; and it may be, because that was the place where the ark used to be carried. And the priest's heart was glad,.... He rejoiced that such an opportunity offered; it suited well with his covetous, ambitious, rambling, and unsettled disposition of mind:

and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image; and no doubt the molten image also, out of the hands of the five men into his own, agreeing to go with them, and officiate for them:

and went in the midst of the people; the six hundred armed men, either for the security of himself, if Micah should raise his servants, and his neighbours, to pursue after him, and fetch him back, with his images; or, as others think, in imitation of the priests bearing the ark, who in journeying marched in the middle of the camp.

And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the {h} people.

(h) With the six hundred men.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20. - The priest's heart was glad, etc. The prospect of greater dignity and greater emolument stifled all sentiments of gratitude and loyalty to Micah, and made him cheerfully connive at an act of theft and sacrilege. Then the five men who had explored the land, viz., Laish (Laish is in apposition to הארץ, the land), said to their brethren (tribe-mates), "Know ye that in these houses (the village or place where Micah dwelt) there are an ephod and teraphim, and image and molten work (see at Judges 17:4-5)? and now know what ye will do." The meaning of these last words is very easily explained: do not lose this opportunity of obtaining a worship of our own for our new settlement.
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