Judges 18:5
And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Ask counsel . . . of God.—Doubtless Jonathan showed them the glittering ephod. There were no prophets of whom to inquire, as in 1Kings 22:5; but their unauthorised inquiry was liable to the strong censure expressed in Isaiah 30:1, Hosea 4:12. They might have at least consulted the high priest Phinehas, or some other national representative.

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 sight of the ephod and teraphim suggested the notion of inquiring of God. CHAPTER 18

Jud 18:1-26. The Danites Seek Out an Inheritance.

1-6. In those days … the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in—The Danites had a territory assigned them as well as the other tribes. But either through indolence, or a lack of energy, they did not acquire the full possession of their allotment, but suffered a considerable portion of it to be wrested out of their hands by the encroachments of their powerful neighbors, the Philistines. In consequence, being straitened for room, a considerable number resolved on trying to effect a new and additional settlement in a remote part of the land. A small deputation, being despatched to reconnoitre the country, arrived on their progress northward at the residence of Micah. Recognizing his priest as one of their former acquaintances, or perhaps by his provincial dialect, they eagerly enlisted his services in ascertaining the result of their present expedition. His answer, though apparently promising, was delusive, and really as ambiguous as those of the heathen oracles. This application brings out still more clearly and fully than the schism of Micah the woeful degeneracy of the times. The Danites expressed no emotions either of surprise or of indignation at a Levite daring to assume the priestly functions, and at the existence of a rival establishment to that of Shiloh. They were ready to seek, through means of the teraphim, the information that could only be lawfully applied for through the high priest's Urim. Being thus equally erroneous in their views and habits as Micah, they show the low state of religion, and how much superstition prevailed in all parts of the land.

Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, to wit, by thine ephod, or teraphim, or images, which they knew he had, Judges 18:14.

And they said unto him, ask counsel, we pray thee, of God,.... They did not reprove him for assuming the priestly office, when they knew he was a Levite, such was the corruption of those times, and the great depravity and declensions they were fallen into; nor even for the idolatry he was guilty of, but encourage him in it, and thought they had got a fine opportunity, which they readily laid hold on, to have counsel asked for them of God, about the success of the errand they were sent about; to this they were led at sight of the ephod, which was like that in the tabernacle, and of the teraphim, images which, according to a notion that prevailed, when consulted, foretold future things; whether by God they meant the true God, who they thought would give an answer by these, or Micah's gods, is not certain; according to the Targum of Jonathan, they meant the true God, which paraphrases it,"ask of the Word of the Lord:"

that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous or no; whether they should find out a proper place to dwell in, and be able to get possession of it.

And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Ask counsel … of God] i.e. by means of the ephod or sacred lot. To consult the divine will in this way was one of the special functions of the priesthood; see 1 Samuel 6:2; 1 Samuel 14:18 (RVm.), 1 Samuel 22:10, 1 Samuel 23:9-12 etc. So long as sacrificial acts were freely performed by laymen, the chief distinction of the priest doubtless lay in his qualification to give an oracle: W. R Smith, OTJC., p. 292.

Verse 5. - Ask counsel of God, or simply Ask God, as the identical phrase is rendered in Judges 1:2, where see note. Judges 18:5When 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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