Judges 16-18

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 2, 2001


As we look at the life of Samson, there are some things to keep in mind. First, God considered him one of the heroes of faith –

(Heb 11:32 KJV) And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

We believe that the time of Samson was very close to the end of the period of the Judges. It’s possible that Samson might have been alive at the same time as the prophet Samuel, possibly even overlapping.

Samson was a “Nazarite”. This means a person who has a special dedication to God. Samson was dedicated to the Lord by his parents, even before he was born. A Nazarite demonstrated his dedication to God by abstaining from wine, or anything that was made from grapes. A Nazarite could be picked out from the crowd because of his long hair. As long as a Nazarite kept his special promised of dedication to the Lord, he was not to cut his hair.

We usually think of Samson as the “strong man” of the Bible. He was known for having performed great feats of strength. But he was also quite a tragic figure.

Already, in Judges 13-15, we’ve seen a disturbing trend in the life of Samson. He was a man who seemed to enjoy “living on the edge”. He seemed to revel in getting as close to sin as he could. Yet God continued to use Samson.

Warren Wiersbe writes about Samson,

Bold before men, Samson was weak before women and couldn’t resist telling them his secrets. Empowered by the Spirit of God, he yielded his body to the appetites of the flesh. Called to declare war on the Philistines, he fraternized with the enemy and even tried to marry a Philistine woman. He fought the Lord’s battles by day and disobeyed the Lord’s commandments by night. Given the name Samson, which means “sunny,” he ended up in the darkness, blinded by the very enemy he was supposed to conquer.

Context: Samson asked his parents to arrange a marriage for him to a Philistine girl. When a little bet with the people at the wedding feast turned sour, 30 Philistines ended up dead, the grain fields of the Philistines were burnt up, and Samson’s in-laws paid the price by being burned by the Philistines. Later, the Philistines pursued Samson, and he killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. To the Philistines, Samson is public enemy number one.

Judges 16

:1-3 Samson and the harlot

:1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Gaza – One of the five main cities of the Philistines, located on the coast of Israel. See Samson Map.

Samson is pushing the edge.

First, he is deep inside Philistine territory, all by himself. I think he has this idea that he’s invincible.

Second, if he is “dedicated to God”, what is he doing with a prostitute?

:2 In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

The people of Gaza decide that they’ll wait until morning to capture Samson.

:3 took the doors of the gate of the city … carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Hebron – the city 37 miles away from Gaza. The phrase here could mean a “hill that overlooks Hebron”. The local tradition says that Samson took the gates to a hill called El Montar, about a forty-five minute walk outside of Gaza. See Samson Map.

Either way, Samson turns what might have been a “close call” into a joke.


Don’t mistake God’s patience with His approval

Samson has gotten away with all kinds of things in his life. And he still continued to be used by God. He still had his amazing strength.
There are times in our lives where we kind of have this idea that we’re doing the wrong thing. In fact, we KNOW we’re doing the wrong thing. But we never seem to get caught or suffer too badly for our sin. And sometimes we can even fall into the trap of thinking that it’s no big deal that we continue in sin.

:4-21 Samson and Delilah

:4 he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

he loved‘ahab – to love; human love for another, includes family, and sexual; human appetite for objects such as food, drink, sleep, wisdom; human love for or to God

Sorek – a valley near where Samson grew up.

Delilah[email protected] – There is dispute over what her name means. Some say it means “feeble”, appropriate since this is what she made Samson, “feeble”. Others say her name means “devotee” and suggest that she may have been a temple prostitute. This is now the third woman Samson has been involved with.

:5 Entice him

Enticepathah – (Piel) to persuade, seduce; to deceive

There were five lords of the Philistines, one for each of the major Philistine cities. This means that Delilah would receive 5500 pieces of silver.

:6 Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth

She isn’t very subtle, is she?

Why would Samson even give the time of day to someone who seems interested in finding out how to destroy him?

It seems he thinks he’s invincible.

:7 If they bind me with seven green withs

green withs – Vine tendrils, pliant twigs, or twists made of crude vegetable stalks used in many Eastern countries for ropes. “cords” (NAS), “thongs” (NIV), “bowstrings” (NLT).

:9 there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber

the chambercheder – chamber, room, parlour, innermost or inward part, within

tow[email protected]‘oreth – a strand of flax, tow (as shaken from flax when beaten)

I wonder if Samson was aware that the Philistines were actually in the house with him.

:10 Behold, thou hast mocked me

mockedhathal – (Piel) to mock, deceive

Where has Samson’s senses gone?


Playing with temptation makes us incredibly stupid.

There’s no other way to put it.
There is kind of a high that comes from getting close to temptation. But you run away at the last minute and are okay. Until you want to fill the thrill of that high again.
It’s like a moth and a flame. It flies closer and closer until it’s burned.

:13 If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.

mockedhathal – (Piel) to mock, deceive

seven locks – this gives us an idea of what Samson did with all that hair. He wore his hair in “locks” or “braids”.

(Judg 16:13-14 NLT) Samson replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric on your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I will be as weak as anyone else."

JFB: Working at the loom was a female employment; and Delilah’s appears to have been close at hand. It was of a very simple construction; the woof was driven into the warp, not by a reed, but by a wooden spatula. The extremity of the web was fastened to a pin or stake fixed in the wall or ground; and while Delilah sat squatting at her loom, Samson lay stretched on the floor, with his head reclining on her lap—a position very common in the East.

He’s starting to get a little closer to the truth.

I think he can see that she’s not going to be satisfied until he gets a little closer to the flame.


Each Temptation gets worse.

They say that this is what happens with drugs. It starts with something small like marijuana, but it never seems to end there. You need a stronger high, and move on to the next step.

:14 And he awaked out of his sleep …

 (Judg 16:14 NIV) He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.


Wake up

We don’t know if Samson was asleep before, but we’re told that he’s gone to sleep this time.
I think that one common result of being “backslidden” is that you lose your sense of spiritual clarity. You fall asleep spiritually. God doesn’t seem quite as close as before. You don’t hear from the Lord as much as you used to.
(Rev 3:1-2 NASB) "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. {2} 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

:15 How canst thou say, I love thee


Mr. or Mrs. Right?

Delilah is definitely not the person Samson should be with.
The net effect of her presence in his life is to destroy him, not to build him up. She is only out for what she can get from Samson, not what she can give to him. She is continually tempting him to sin, not encouraging him towards God.

:16 she pressed him daily with her words

This is exactly what happened earlier with his Philistine fiancé –

(Judg 14:17 KJV) And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.


Flee Temptation.

There was another man in the Bible who was “pressed daily” by a woman, but who handled it correctly. Joseph on the other hand was a man who finished well in his life because he learned to flee FROM temptation –
(Gen 39:7-13 KJV) And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. {8} But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; {9} There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? {10} And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. {11} And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. {12} And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. {13} And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
Samson seems to be a good runner when it comes to temptation, but he always seems to be running the wrong way. Samson tends to run TO temptation rather than away from it.
The Bible says,
(1 Cor 6:18 KJV) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
(2 Tim 2:22 KJV) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

:17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb

As we talked about last Sunday night (Judges 13-15) – a Nazarite was a person who had made a special commitment (a vow) to follow the Lord. This commitment was shown in the person not drinking alcohol and in not cutting their hair.

He finally tells her his “secret”.


No Secret Christians

I wonder why Samson’s dedication to God had to be a “secret”.
There should be nothing secret about a person’s relationship with God. Some people say, “I don’t want to talk about religion, it’s a personal thing with me.”
Samson may be thinking that he needs to keep the source of his strength a secret so Delilah won’t take advantage of him, but he’s got it backwards. There should be no secret about his strength. And he has no business hanging around a woman who wants to take advantage of him.
Samson’s danger is not in sharing his “secret”. Samson’s danger is in being with Delilah in the first place.
God doesn’t want us keeping our relationship with Him a “secret”.
People ought to see something in us that shows we’re Christians.
Jesus said,

(John 13:34-35 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. {35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

People will know we belong to Jesus when they see God’s love in our lives.

People ought to hear something from us, that we belong to Jesus.
Jesus said,

(Mat 10:32-33 KJV) Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

People will know we belong to Jesus because we will tell them so.


Strength comes from commitment.

Samson’s strength did not come from his hair. It came from his special commitment to God, which was symbolized by his long hair.

:18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart

She can tell that he’s told her the truth this time.

:19 And she made him sleep upon her knees … shave off  … she began to afflict him

shave offgalach – to poll, shave, shave off, be bald. It may be that Samson simply got a hair cut, or it may be that he was hairless as a cue ball.

she began to afflict him‘anah – (Piel) to humble, mishandle, afflict; to humble, be humiliated

Perhaps this is her way of testing him to see if his strength is still there.

This is not a woman who loves Samson. She is using him.

:20 And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

wist – knew

It seems that when Samson’s hair was cut, God decided that Samson had gone far enough. God left him.

To me, this is one of the most tragic verses in Scripture.


The work of the Spirit isn’t always so obvious.

And that’s why when it left, Samson couldn’t tell.
Sometimes we think that the Holy Spirit is always going to send electrical charges down our spines and make our hair stand up straight. We think that someone speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit has to have some kind of weird, altered voice.
When we think of Samson, we think of huge feats of supernatural strength. But in reality, Samson’s strength apparently came in such a natural, subtle way, that Samson was totally unaware when it had left him.

The truth is that the Spirit likes to work in a quiet, natural way!


Don’t keep pushing the limit.

It seems that there can be a point where you can go too far.
David prayed,
(Psa 51:11 KJV) Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Am I saying a person can lose their salvation? Maybe.
Paul writes,
(Gal 5:19-21 NLT) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, {20} idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, {21} envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

It’s those who make a way of life, who “practice” these things that are in serious danger.

“Have I lost my salvation?”

Whether or not you have it not really the issue. The issue is to repent from your sin and stay close to Jesus!

If your life looks too much like the things Paul describes, I would take this VERY seriously.

:21 put out his eyes … bound him with fetters of brass … he did grind

put out his eyes – The punishment was inflicted in various ways, either by scooping out the eyeballs, piercing the eye, or poking the eyes with a red-hot iron.

fetters of brass[email protected] – copper, bronze shackles. The word also has an interesting secondary meaning – lust, harlotry


Sin brings tragic results

We don’t often think about this when we’re in that exciting moment of temptation with Delilah teasing us or letting us sleep on her lap.
I think it wouldn’t hurt to think of the consequences of our actions.
Where is your sin leading you? What is its ultimate result?
Sin blinds us, binds us, and grinds us.

:22-31 Samson’s Revenge

:22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again

This is kind of an obvious statement. Of course his hair began to grow. But I think the point is that Samson didn’t have it cut anymore. He let it grow. It would seem that he renewed his Nazarite vow.


God’s second chances

There would continue to be horrendous consequences to Samson’s sin. He was still a slave to the Philistines. He was still blind.
But God began to work again in his life.
This is grace.

:23 to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god

Dagon – a West Semitic grain god adopted by the Philistines from the Amorites (1 Sam. 5:2-7; 1 Chron. 10:10). Dagon’s upper body was human and the lower body was that of a fish. Sounds something like a mermaid or a merman.

:25 Call for Samson, that he may make us sport

may make us sportsachaq – (Piel) to make sport; to jest; to play (including instrumental music, singing, dancing)

:27 there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women

(Judg 16:27 NLT) The temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine leaders were there, and there were about three thousand on the roof who were watching Samson and making fun of him.

I’m not sure I understand exactly how the layout of the temple was, but the idea is that there are two main beams that hold up the place, and three thousand people are going to be affected when the temple collapses.

:30 the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

Samson had killed 30 Philistines in the matter of the riddle/game that went bad. Samson had killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey when they tried to capture him. This time he kills 3,000 when he pulls the temple down on himself and them.


Finish well

Samson did have a victory of sorts at the end of his life, but I’m not sure his is the example we want to follow.
(1 Cor 9:24-27 NLT) Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. {25} All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. {26} So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. {27} I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
In the end, Samson’s life wasn’t nearly as effective as it could have been because he did not exercise self-control.
Lord Joseph Duveen, American head of the art firm that bore his name, planned in 1915 to send one of his experts to England to examine some ancient pottery.  He booked passage on the Lusitania.  Then the German Embassy issued a warning that the liner might be torpedoed. Duveen wanted to call off the trip.
“I can’t take the risk of your being killed,” he said to his young employee.  “Don’t worry,” said the man, “I’m a strong swimmer, and when I read what was happening in the Atlantic, I began hardening myself by spending time every day in a tub of ice water.  At first I could sit only a few minutes, but this morning, I stayed in that tub nearly two hours.”
Naturally, Duveen laughed.  It sounded preposterous.  But his expert sailed, and the Lusitania was torpedoed.  The young man was rescued after nearly five hours in the chilly ocean, still in excellent condition.  Just as this young man did, so Christians should condition themselves by practicing devotional discipline, behavioral discipline, and discipline in doing good.

-- Cited in Christianity Today, February 1979, p. 25.

Samson Map

Judges 17

This story (Judges 17-18) along with the next (Judges 19-21) are an appendix to the book of Judges.  They appear to take place at an earlier time of history than that of Samson.

:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.

mount Ephraim – the mountainous area of the tribe of Ephraim.  See Micah Map.

Micah[email protected] – “who is like God”.  This is NOT the same man that wrote the book of Micah.

:2 The eleven hundred shekels of silver … I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son.

eleven hundred shekels of silver – Delilah received 1,100 pieces of silver from each of the lords of the Philistines.  Coincidence?

(Judg 17:2 NLT)  One day he said to his mother, "I heard you curse the thief who stole eleven hundred pieces of silver from you. Well, here they are. I was the one who took them." "The LORD bless you for admitting it," his mother replied.

The idea is that the mom had all this money stolen from her, and she pronounced a curse upon whoever stole it.  When Micah heard it, he was afraid and confessed to his mother.

Blessed be thou …– I kind of like the way Micah’s mom handles this.  Sometimes we get a bit too angry with our kids when they confess their sin to us and end up making them afraid to ever admit the truth to us again.

:3 I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image

graven image – a statue carved from either wood or stone.

molten image – a statue formed by pouring liquid metal into a mold.

Note:  I don’t think that Micah’s mom is intending to make statues of Baal or Molech.  Her idea is that she is going to make a statue of or for Yahweh.

:4 gave them to the founder

founder – someone who makes statues.

:5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.

an house of gods – a little chapel for the family

ephod – a tunic, usually associated with religious usage, something a priest would wear

teraphim[email protected] – idolatry, idols, image(s), teraphim, family idol

:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

There was no central government in Israel, and so everyone did whatever they wanted to.  There was no accountability.  If someone broke the law, there was no one to enforce it.


The danger of doing your own way

Micah is breaking several of God’s laws in what he is doing.
Commandment Number Two (out of Ten) –

(Exo 20:4 KJV)  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

God doesn’t want us making statues of what we think He looks like.  We’ll always get it wrong.

About priests –

(Num 3:10 KJV)  And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

Only the descendants of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi, were allowed to be priests.  Micah was from Ephraim.  He shouldn’t have made his son a priest.

You will find in the world that people have this idea that they can worship God “in their own way”.  This usually means that they will spend their weekends at the Colorado River, going to the mountains, things like that.
God doesn’t want to be worshipped in “your own way”.  He wants to be worshipped in “His own way”.
It’s important to follow the rules –
VISITORS: Quickly determine which guest is afraid of dogs. Charge across the room, barking loudly and leap playfully on this person. If the human falls down on the floor and starts crying, lick its face and growl gently to show your concern.
BARKING: Because you are a dog, you are expected to bark. So bark--- a lot. Your owners will be very happy to  hear you protecting their house.  Especially late at night while they are sleeping safely in their beds.  There is no more secure  feeling for a human than to keep waking up in the middle of the night and earing your protective bark, bark, bark...
LICKING: Always take a BIG drink from your water dish immediately before licking your human. Humans prefer clean tongues. Be ready to fetch your human a towel.
HOLES: Rather than digging a BIG hole in the middle of the yard and upsetting your human, dig a lot of smaller holes all  over the yard so they won't notice. If you arrange a little pile of dirt on one side of each hole, maybe they'll think it's gophers. There are never enough holes in the ground. Strive daily to do your part to help correct this problem.
THE ART OF SNIFFING: Humans like to be sniffed.  Everywhere. It is your duty, as the family dog, to accommodate them.
HOUSEBREAKING: Housebreaking is very important to humans, so break as much of the house as possible.
PLAYING: If you lose your footing while chasing a ball or stick, use the flower bed to absorb your fall so you don't injure yourself.

:7 And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.

This young man is from Bethlehem in Judah, the same town where David would be from, the same town where Jesus was born.

Unlike the other tribes, the Levites were scattered throughout the entire nation.  They did not have any one single area for their tribe.

Though this man was from a city in Judah, he was a descendant of the tribe of Levi.  The Levites were the “priestly” tribe, but even within this tribe, only those from the family of Aaron could be priests.  The rest of the tribe were allowed to help with priestly duties, but only descendants of Aaron could be priests.  (Num. 3:10)

At the end of the chapter (18:30), we find out that the Levite’s name was Jonathan, and he apparently was the grandson of Moses.

:8 And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place

This Levite was out of work, so he leaves home in search of a job.

:10 Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest

be unto me a father – a spiritual father.

:12 And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest

Micah actually had no authority to be ordaining this Levite to be a priest.

:13 Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.

Apparently Micah knew that having his own son to be a priest was a violation of the Law of God.  Now he feels better about things.

Note:  Micah’s heart seems to be to please the Lord.

But he’s going about it all wrong.


Good intentions aren’t enough

Micah and his mom seem to have some pretty good intentions.  They have dedicated this money “unto Yahweh” (vs.3). Micah hopes that having a Levite for a priest will “do me good” before the Lord.
But the problem is that they are taking their “good intentions” and breaking God’s laws.
Superstition versus true worship
When Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at the well …

(John 4:19-24 KJV)  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. {20} Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. {21} Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

The Samaritans had a perverted religion.  They had taken the Scriptures and twisted them, creating their own “close but no cigar” kind of religion.  They didn’t know what they were doing when they worshipped, whereas the Jews did.

{23} But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

God wants people not only to worship Him in the spirit, but in TRUTH.

He wants us to be on track to do things the way He wants them done.

This is one of the things that concerns me about people who grow up in a religious atmosphere such as growing up in a Catholic home.  People get comfortable thinking that they must be pleasing God, but they don’t have a clue as to what is truth or what God desires.

Judges 18

:1  the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance

The tribe of Dan had received a portion of land after Joshua had conquered the Promised Land (Josh. 19:40-48), but for some reason it didn’t seem to be enough for them.  Joshua records that they claimed that the land was too small for them –

(Josh 19:47 KJV)  And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.

We’re going to see the actual events that surrounded the increase of their territory.

:2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol

Zorah … Eshtaol – this was the same area that Samson grew up.  Samson was from the tribe of Dan, but lived in a later time than this story.  By Samson’s day, the tribe of Dan was split between this area and the area in the north that they would conquer. See Micah Map.

Five men are sent out to spy out more land for the Danites to settle in.

:3 they knew the voice of the young man the Levite

The spies recognized the Levite who was Micah’s priest.

:5 Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God

These spies claim to want to know whether God will be blessing their endeavor.

:6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.

Some have suggested that this priest is simply telling them what they want to hear.

:7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish

Laish – apparently the city had been a colony from the city of Sidon (Zidon).  Joshua calls the city “Leshem”.  The city looks like a great place to conquer. See Micah Map.

:11 six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.

The Danites put together an army of 600 men.

:12 And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim

Kirjathjearim – This was the city closest to the first place the Danites stop and camp at. See Micah Map.

:18 And these went into Micah's house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image.

The Danites march themselves into Micah’s house and steal his idols.


Man is by nature religious

These men have something in them that is drawn to religion.
But their problem is that they have a slightly twisted view of what is right in the sight of God.

:19 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?

They make the priest a deal he can’t refuse.  He’s moving up in the world.

:21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.

Apparently, these Danites had taken their families with them.  They were planning on settling right into Laish after conquering it.

They put themselves between Micah and their families.

:24 Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more?

(Judg 18:24 NIV)  He replied, "You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?'"

It’s pretty bad when someone can steal your god.

:27 they smote them with the edge of the sword

Though we might be tempted to think that these Danites were doing a barbaric thing, they are actually fulfilling God’s plan for Israel to conquer and possess the land.

:29 And they called the name of the city Dan

Dan – Dan becomes the northernmost point in the land of Israel.  There will be a phrase that comes up from time to time, “from Dan to Beer-sheba”, referring partly to this.

:30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.

Jonathan – Apparently, this was the name of the Levite from Micah’s house. Some of the translations read a little different here about Jonathan’s lineage –

(Judg 18:30 NIV)  Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses

Jonathan was apparently the grandson of Moses, but not a descendant of Aaron.  This means that he could have functioned as a Levite, but not as a priest.  The priests were to be descendants of Aaron.

These people are making up their own rules.

God said that only the descendants of Aaron could be priests.  These people think, “Hey, this guy’s the grandson of Moses, how good can it get?”

If this is Moses’ grandson, and he’s a “young man”, this would indicate that this whole story took place very early during the time of the judges.

:31 And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.

Shiloh – a city in Ephraim.  See Micah Map.

At the time of Joshua, the city of Shiloh was chosen to be the one place where Israel was to gather and worship.  This was where the tabernacle had been set up:

(Josh 18:1 KJV)  And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

The tabernacle was still in Shiloh at the time of Samuel (1Samuel 1).

While the rest of Israel was commanded to go to Shiloh to celebrate the feasts of the Lord (Deut. 12), the Danites didn’t go because they had their own private place of worship.


Follow God’s rules

While it may seem in a sense kind of a harmless little thing, these people are setting the stage of falling away from God big time.
They have taken the first steps away from following the Lord by making up their own set of rules.
I have a Mormon acquaintance tell me about how their family had mostly stopped going to the Mormon church for various reasons.  Apparently for some, it was because they didn’t like the idea that the Mormon Church taught that premarital sex was wrong.

The interesting thing is that the Mormon church itself is a little like these Danites, having strayed from the truth.  And now these people who have been indoctrinated into straying from the truth, have strayed even further, simply because it suited their fancy.

When you start picking and choosing what you want to believe in and not believe in simply because something suits you or offends you, you start on a slippery slope.

Micah Map