Judges 18:7
Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.
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(7) Laish.—It is called Leshem in Joshua 19:47, and is now called Tel el-Kadi, “the mound of the judge,” possibly (though not probably) with some reference to the name of Dan (Genesis 49:16). It is four miles from Paneas and Cæsarea Philippi, and was the northernmost city of Palestine (Judges 20:1). As such, its name recurs in Isaiah 10:30, if our version is there correct. It is sometimes called el-Leddan, because it is at the source of the Leddan, the chief stream of the Jordan. The position of the town, on a round hill girt with trees, is very striking, and fully bears out the description of this chapter (Robinson, Bible Res. 3:392). The name “Dan” in Genesis 14:14 may have been altered from Laish at a later date (Ewald, Gesch. 1:73).

After the manner of the Zidoniansi.e., in luxurious commercial ease. There can be little doubt that they were a colony from Zidon.

Quiet and secure . . . There are three peculiarities in this clause:—(1) Although the word for “people” (am) is masculine, yet the word for “dwelling” (yoshebeth) is feminine, perhaps because the writer had the word “city” in his mind, just as αὺτὴν is feminine in Acts 27:14, though the word for “ship” has been neuter, because the writer has ναῦς in his mind. (2) The word for “careless” and the word for “secure” are from the same root, and are tautological. (3) The clause “no magistrate,” &c., is curiously expressed. It is difficult not to suppose that the text is in some way corrupt.

There was no magistrate . . . This difficult clause seems to mean, “no one possessing wealth” (LXX., “heir of treasure”) “among them doing harm in the land in any matter.” The various versions differ widely from each other, and the text is almost certainly corrupt.

They were far from the Zidonians.—As Josephus says, the town is a day’s journey distant from Zidon.

No business with any man.—The reading of some MSS. of the LXX., “They had no business with Syria,” rises from reading Aram for Adam.

Jdg 18:7. After the manner of the Zidonians — Who, dwelling in a very strong place, and abounding in wealth, lived securely in peace and luxury, and were imitated therein by the people of Laish, who were grown secure and careless, because they perceived that the Israelites never attempted any thing against them. There was no magistrate that might put them to shame — That is, rebuke or punish them for any thing they did. Putting to shame seems to be used for inflicting civil punishment, because shame is generally the effect of it. They were far from the Zidonians — Who otherwise could have succoured them, and would have been ready to do it. Had no business with any man — No commercial connection, or any alliance with the neighbouring nations, nor much intercourse or converse with other cities, the place being in a pleasant and plentiful soil, between the two rivulets of Jor and Dan; not needing supplies from others, and therefore minding only their own ease and pleasure.

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.Laish - Afterward called "Dan" Judges 18:29. The exact site has not been identified, but it was the northern extremity of Israel, near the sources of the Jordan, and about four miles from Panium, or Caesarea-Philippi. It is thought to have stood where the village Tell-el-Kadi now stands.

After the manner of the Zidonians - The genius of the Zidonians being mechanical and commercial, not military, their colonists were apt to neglect fortifications and similar warlike precautions. In Solomon's time the Zidonians were especially skillful in hewing timber 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Chronicles 22:4, and it is highly probable, from their proximity to Lebanon, that such was the occupation of the men of Laish.

Quiet and secure ... - This is a very obscure and difficult passage. Translate thus: "Quiet and secure, and none of them doing any injury in the land, possessing wealth," or "dominion."

7-10. the five men departed, and came to Laish—or, "Leshem" (Jos 19:47), supposed to have been peopled by a colony of Zidonians. The place was very secluded—the soil rich in the abundance and variety of its produce, and the inhabitants, following the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, lived in their fertile and sequestered valley, according to the Zidonian style of ease and security, happy among themselves, and maintaining little or no communication with the rest of the world. The discovery of this northern paradise seemed, to the delight of the Danite spies, an accomplishment of the priest's prediction. They hastened back to inform their brethren in the south both of the value of their prize, and how easily it could be made their prey. Laish, called also Leshem, Joshua 19:47.

After the manner of the Zidonians, who living in a very strong place, and abounding in wealth, and understanding that they were not a part of that land which God gave to his people, and perceiving that the Israelites never attempted any thing against them, were grown secure and careless.

That might put them to shame in any thing, or, that might rebuke or punish any thing, i.e. any crime; Heb. that might put any thing to shame, or, make any thing shameful. Putting to shame seems to be used metonymically for inflicting civil punishment, because shame is generally the adjunct or effect of it.

They were far from the Zidonians, who otherwise could have succoured them, and would have been ready to do it.

Had no business with any man; no league of confederacy, nor much converse with other cities, it being in a pleasant and plentiful soil, between the two rivulets of Jor and Dan, not needing supplies from others, and therefore minding only their own ease and pleasure.

And the five men departed,.... From Mount Ephraim, and Micah's house there:

and came to Laish; which, according to Bunting (s), was one hundred and four miles from Mount Ephraim, and so many he makes it to be from Jerusalem; it lay at the furthest northern border of the land of Canaan, at the foot of Mount Lebanon, near the fountain of Jordan; it was four miles from Paneas, as Jerom says (t), as you go to Tyre; it is the Caesarea Philippi of the New Testament, and the same that is called Leshem; see Gill on Joshua 19:47,

and saw the people that were therein; went into the city, and made their observations on the inhabitants of it, their number, strength, and manner of living:

how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; the inhabitants of Zidon, whose customs they might imitate, whose laws they might use, and might be under their government, since they are said to have no magistrate within themselves; and their carelessness and confidence might arise from their strong fortresses; or rather because they thought their city, and the land adjacent to it, did not belong to the land of Israel, and did not know that the Israelites made any pretensions to it, and therefore were quite easy, and in no fear of them; had no watchmen to guard their city, and did not take care to furnish themselves with weapons of war for their defence, even as the Zidonians; who, besides their city being a strong and fortified one, were in no fear of the Israelites, because their city was not in the land of Canaan, only the border of it reached to it:

and there was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame in anything; to restrain them from vice, and punish them for it, or even to reprove and correct them, and so put them to shame; or put any mark of infamy and disgrace upon them in a public manner, that might shame them; hence they lived in a disorderly and dissolute manner, whereby they became the more easy prey to others: or the sense is, there was no king, nor an heir of the kingdom, as Kimchi interprets it, so that there were none to contest his right to the government of the place, or to accuse another, and put him to shame for taking it away from him. Jarchi takes the sense to be, that none needed to turn back his neighbour empty, when he asked anything of him for his relief, since there was no want of anything in the land, as after observed; but the first sense seems best:

and they were far from the Zidonians; who were the only people that could help them, being in friendship with them; and it may be they were under their government, as before observed; they are said (u) to be about eleven miles from them; Josephus (w) says, a day's journey:

and had no business with any man; no trade or commerce, but lived independent of others, and within themselves, their land affording them everything sufficient for them. Some understand it of their not being in any league or alliance with any other people, and so had none to call in to their assistance in case of any attack upon them.

(s) Ut supra. (Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 112.) (t) De loc. Heb. fol. 90. H. (u) Adrichom. Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 105. (w) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 3. sect. 1.

Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.
7. Laish] In Joshua 19:47 Leshem. After the place was occupied by the Danites and re-named, it became the most northerly of Israelite settlements; cf. 2 Samuel 24:6, Jeremiah 4:15, and the expression ‘from Dan to Beer-sheba’ Jdg 20:1, 1 Samuel 3:20 etc. Josephus defines the situation of Laish-Dan as ‘near the springs of the lesser Jordan’ (Ant. viii. 8, 4, cf. i. 10, 1; Jdg 18:3; Jdg 18:1). Does this mean the source at Tell el-Ḳâḍi, or the other source 3½ m. to the S.E., at Bânias (the Caesarea Philippi of the Gospels1[62])? Most authorities adopt the identification with Tell el-Ḳâḍi, where the Jordan, at this point called by the Arabs Nahr Leddan, gushes in powerful volume out of the western side of the Tell. G. A. Smith, however, prefers the other site (Hist. Geogr., pp. 473, 480 f.). In the background of the district rises the imposing snow-capped mountain of Hermon; cf. Psalm 42:6. The modern names Tell el-Ḳâḍi (Ḳâḍi = Dan = judge) and Nahr Leddan may preserve a reminiscence of ancient associations, but we cannot be sure.

[62] The reference in Eusebius, Onomasticon 275, 33 and 249, 32 is not decisive.

the people … how they dwelt in security] So LXX, correcting the text; how they dwelt is fem. and cannot agree with the people (mas.). Either, then, read the verb as mas., or suppose that the text originally ran ‘and they found the city inhabited (lit. sitting, cf. Isaiah 47:8, Zephaniah 2:15) in security, and the people that were therein … quiet and secure.’

after the manner of the Zidonians] of Zidonians; the civilization was Phoenician in character. Apparently Laish was a dependency of Zidon (cf. Jdg 18:28). Though remote from the suzerain city, the inhabitants felt secure enough, and never suspected attack from outside.

for there was … in any thing] The text is overloaded and partially corrupt. Read perhaps … quiet and secure, and there was no want of any thing that is in the earth (as in Jdg 18:10), in possession of wealth (?). The phrase possessing authority, lit. restraint (?) cannot be right. The LXX took the word rendered restraint (?), i.e. ‘eṣer, to mean treasure, i.e. ’ôṣar; altering one letter we might read ‘osher = wealth, but the corruption may well be deeper.

with any man] The LXX., cod. A and Luc., reads with Syria, i.e. Aram for adam. The change is not necessary but it gives more force to the expression. The people of Laish were not only far from the friendly power of Phoenicia, but they had not allied themselves with their Syrian neighbours (cf. 2 Samuel 10:6); this explains more distinctly why they fell such an easy prey to the Danites.

Verse 7. - To Laish. Called in Joshua 19:47 Leshem, which is perhaps a corruption caused by the statement that they called it after the name (Ke-shem) of Dan, or it may be only another form. The name is strangely corrupted in the Septuagint of ver. 29 of this chapter into Oulamais, and in Joshua 19:47 into Lesem-dan. St. Jerome, misled by the Septuagint, has Lesem Dan. Laish was situated four Roman miles from Bahias, on the road to. Tyre, on one of the sources of the Jordan. Robinson identifies it unhesitatingly with Tell-el-Kady, "the mount of the judge" (where Kady has the same meaning as Dan), close to the great fountain, "one of the largest fountains in the world," called el-Leddan, which is the source of the lesser Jordan (Josephus), and which may very possibly be the ultimate form of ed-Dan, corrupted into Eddan, el-Eddan, Led-dan, el-Leddan, by successive incorporations of the article el into the word itself, of which there are other examples. The remainder of this verse is exceedingly obscure; a probable translation is as follows: "And they saw the people that was in the midst of it dwelling in security after the manner of the Zidonians, 'quiet and secure, and none doing any injury to any one in the land, possessing wealth;' and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man." The words in italics are probably a poetical quotation, descriptive of the people of Laish, which would account for the peculiar diction and the grammatical changes; for whereas the word dwelling is in the feminine gender, agreeing with people, the words quiet and secure and possessing are in the masculine, which can be readily accounted for if they are a quotation. This would also account for the tautology, "dwelling in security," "quiet and secure," and for the poetical character of the phrase "possessing wealth," and for the unusual form of the word here rendered wealth (etzer with an ain, instead of the usual otzar with an aleph), in accordance with the Septuagint and Vulgate and Gesenius, who derive the meaning of wealth from collecting, from which the common word atzereth derives its meaning of a collection or congregation of people. Judges 18:7Thus the five men proceeded to Laish, which is called Leshem in Joshua 19:47, and was named Dan after the conquest by the Danites-a place on the central source of the Jordan, the present Tell el Kadi (see at Joshua 19:47)-and saw the people of the town dwelling securely after the manner of the Sidonians, who lived by trade and commerce, and did not go out to war. יושׁבת is the predicate to את־העם, and the feminine is to be explained from the fact that the writer had the population before his mind (see Ewald, 174, b.); and the use of the masculine in the following words וּבטח שׁקט, which are in apposition, is not at variance with this. The connection of יושׁבת with בּקרבּהּ, which Bertheau revives from the earlier commentators, is opposed to the genius of the Hebrew language. וּבטח שׁקט, "living quietly and safely there." וגו ואין־מכלים, "and no one who seized the government to himself did any harm to them in the land." הכלים, to shame, then to do an injury (1 Samuel 25:7). דּבר מכלים, shaming with regard to a thing, i.e., doing any kind of injury. עצר, dominion, namely tyrannical rule, from עצר, imperio coercere. The rendering "riches" (θησαυρός, lxx), which some give to this word, is founded simply upon a confounding of עצר with אוצר. ירשׁ does not mean "to possess," but "to take possession of," and that by force (as in 1 Kings 21:18). "And they were far from the Sidonians," so that in the event of a hostile invasion they could not obtain any assistance from this powerful city. Grotius draws the very probable conclusion from these words, that Laish may have been a colony of the Sidonians. "And they had nothing to do with (other) men," i.e., they did not live in any close association with the inhabitants of other towns, so as to be able to obtain assistance from any other quarter.
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