πŸ“–

Judges 17-18: Micah and the Tribe of Dan

Original Publication Date
September 24, 2016
Updated
Nov 5, 2022 3:49 PM
Tags
JudgesChapter StudyDanMoneyLeviFalse Deities and ProphetsTheft
Bible References
Judges 17-18
Status
Done
πŸ“
Table of Contents
πŸ“…
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on September 24, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

The final person discussed in Judges is Micah, who lived in mount Ephraim. Note, this is not the same man as the prophet Micah who has a book named after him.[1]

The first thing we learn about Micah is that he stole 1100 pieces of silver from his mother. Possibly unaware that her son is the culprit, the woman curses the thief, thus cursing Micah. Micah confesses his sin and returns the money, though it appears to be more out of concern for his mother's curse than his dedication to God. 1100 pieces of silver was a fortune back then, so it is not surprising that Micah's mom was thrilled to receive her savings back. However, it is a bit odd that she never condemns Micah for his actions. Micah's mom praises theΒ LordΒ and decides to use the money to dedicate it to God; however, she does this by having an image made with only a portion of the money.

A Deeper Thought

Reading that the woman attempted to dedicate money to God by building an idol sounds absolutely crazy since the 2nd commandment clearly forbids idols. Reading the words written out makes it easy for us to ask why she would think this was ok. However, Israel suffered from the same problem we suffer now: tradition. The average person didn't have a copy of the Pentateuch sitting in their house to be read whenever they wanted. Just like today, the Israelites' primary method of learning was through tradition. Whatever they saw around them is what they thought was correct. So, if they saw the priests and other Israelites doing something that deviated from God's law, it would seem more normal than God's law. Today, we still have pastors who teach things that are not Biblical; we also have pastors who simply leave out parts of the Bible. Another issue is that often God's Words are not put into context and they become meaningless to us. An example is the fact that there are churches with pictures of a man they claim to be Jesus hanging on the walls; this is an image. It's no more wrong or crazy that church leaders are willing to pay for and adorn the sanctuary with an image, than it is for the mother in Judges 17 to adorn her house with an image. Just as most people don't object to the picture of this random man, she may not have even recognized her image as an idol.

We have to define what an idol or "image" is. Obviously worshipping statues or pictures is crossing the line. Exodus 20:4-5 tells us not to bow down or worship such things, but it also says not to create them. The interesting part comes at the word "serve." Generally, we recite this commandment assuming it is talking about worship when the connotation of worship is quite different from serve. To worship is to exalt and revere. To serve says nothing about how we feel about the action. We can serve without desire, quite easily. Serving can be explicit, but it can also be very subtle. For instance, when we acknowledge that image as though it is actually a picture of Jesus, we serve traditions of the world. If we place something before God in our lifeβ€”be it our spouse, our job, or our wealthβ€”we have created an image to serve. Each time we choose that aspect of our life over God's law, we are serving an image, even if we don't think about it that way.

We are often removed from what our actions mean spiritually, because we aren't brought up to think this way and we haven't built up our relationship with God. This leads us to sin while thinking we are doing right, which is a dangerous and unfortunate place to be, since then we won't repent.

Micah's Priest

Now that Micah's house was full of false gods, he needed a priest to conduct worship of these false gods (at least in his mind that's what he needed). Micah makes an ephod (without God's permission), which parallels the Israelites making a special ephod for Aaron, to be worn by each high priest. On top of this, he consecrates his son to be a priest. We know only the sons of Aaron could fill the role of high priest to God (and wear an ephod). Micah was either consciously rejecting God or terribly confused. Today, we have tons people claiming to be messengers of God that really aren't, and only serve to bring confusion to the world. We have to be cautious of false priests and false gods disguised as the true God.

Micah's son didn't get to keep the job for long. A Levite from Bethlehem-judah eventually comes to town. Micah offers him 10 shekels of silver a year plus rationing provided the man will be a priest and father to him. Interestingly, when the man stays, it is Micah who becomes like a father. Also, the Bible cautions us not to call any man father (Matthew 23:9). The title of Father is reserved for the Father in heaven, which is probably significant in this passage. There are clear examples in the Bible where a human man is described as a father, so we know that that God wasn't against calling our birth father by the term "father." I'll dive into that topic when I get to Matthew, but for now, I'll say that I think God, basically, didn't want people to give humans the same authority as our everlasting Father has. Despite not being a son of Aaron, Micah ordains this man as a priest, and believes this will bring him favor. Again, this proves that he has some twisted logic. This reminds me of Jesus telling us not everyone who says "Lord, Lord!" will be heard. Micah was doing his own thing and it was totally against God's commandments.

The Tribe of Dan

Meanwhile, the tribe of Dan still hadn't secured their inheritance. Hoping to finally inherit land, they send 5 men of valor to spy for them. When the men reach mount Ephraim, they lodge with Micah. The men of Dan, though not particularly seeking out God for their own problems, are shocked and confused to see a Levite in a house loaded with idolatryβ€” or so it seems.

They question him about what he is doing there, and when the man says he is a priest, the men of Dan ask him to seek out God to determine if they will be successful. They trusted the man at his word that he really was a messenger of God. Today, people will often listen to anyone who claims to be a messenger of God which is exactly what Jesus warned us about. This isn't a new problem. Just because someone says they are a pastor, preacher, or priest, doesn't mean they are actually a messenger of God. The New Testament tells us we can identify them by the fruits of their labor (Matthew 7:15-20). The fact that this priest was amongst idols should have told the men of Dan that he wasn't following God.

The Levite tells them to be at peace and that God goes before them, which is exactly what the men of Dan want to hear. Unfortunately there was never any appeal to God, so it wasn't necessarily true. Some preachers today are also guilty of telling us what we want to hear without consulting God. It is much better to hear the truth of God and correct ourselves to be inline with Him, than to continue to believe our wrongdoing is ok.

Satisfied, just as we are often satisfied by such answers, the 5 men go on their way until they come to Laish. The people there were careless and under the protection of the Zidonians. However, the Zidonians were far away from the land, leaving the people of Laish vulnerable. The men of Dan decide this is the perfect land to take. This proves that they, too, were not following God closely. God delighted in giving the Israelites victories that no one would have seen coming. Raising the underdog to victory proved that He was in power. No one wants to hear about someone being kicked while they're down, or being decimated by an army that out numbered them. We would be quick to call this unfair. Yet, the men of Dan decided this was the best way to gain their inheritance for some reason.

Regardless, the Danites are actually quick to take action. 600 men form the army and begin the journey to Laish. During the journey, they come again to Micah's home. Despite an explicit commandment against theft and another commandment against idolatry, the men steal Micah's idols, ephod, and teraphim. When they are caught by the Levite, they steal him too! They entice him to join them by suggesting that it is more prestigious to be the priest of a nation (the Tribe of Dan), than for just one man (Micah).

The neighboring men overtook the men once they have made it some distance from Micah's houseβ€”talk about a neighborhood watch! When Micah finds out, he asks what he has left now that they've stolen his false gods and priest. This tells you how confused Micah truly was. He confined God to an object God didn't approve of and a priest God didn't appoint! We do the same thing today with church services and pagan holiday traditions.

What's more, the Danites were quite bold. They didn't recant or repent when confronted about their actions. In fact they threatened Micah. Apparently they were following the adage "you snooze you lose," but that's not what God said at all. Looking in from the outside, it seems obvious that these men had no desire to serve the real God of Israel. However, from experience, it's hard to say that these men realized the absurdity of their own actions. History has seen people commit heinous crimes in the name of God and truly believe they are in the right despite the Word of God speaking to the contrary. We have to spend time with God daily to see the truth.

After this ordeal, the Danites sweep through Laish and conquer the city with fire. When they take possession of the city, they rename it Dan. Here, they set up the false idols and create their own lineage of priests through the Levite they rounded up from Micah. We finally learn that this Levite is named Jonathan. This system of false worship, led by Jonathan, becomes a rival to the real worship done at Shiloh.

From the beginning, the major misstep for God's people was a false religion. This makes sense because as long as you follow God you will repent and work toward a sinless life, but once you begin following a false god, you will sin without remorse, maybe even without knowledge.

Moses' Grandson?

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.

One of the controversial parts of Judges 18 stems from the origins of Jonathan. Judges 18:30 tells us that he is the son of Gershom, who is the son of Manasseh. No son named Gerhsom is attributed to Manasseh, son of Joseph, but one is attributed to Moses. In addition, there is odd rendering the word Manasseh in this particular verse found in the original copies. The original has the "n" that gives us the word Manasseh suspended above the text so that the word may actually be read Moses.[2]

Authors of the NIV gave in to this theory and render the text "Moses" while the KJV reads "Manasseh." The question is, which is correct? As discussed by Hebeart,[3] there are plenty of dually named characters in the Bible. In fact there is already clear evidence of another Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33. Perhaps this man isn't related to Joseph's son Manasseh or Moses.

Also, since Jonathan is a Levite, the likelihood of him being the son of Manasseh the son of Joseph is slim; this would make him from the tribe of Manasseh not the tribe of Levi. However, there could have been a Levite named Manasseh. Further with all of the name changes in the Bible (Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Saul/Paul), perhaps this his father's name was both Manasseh and Moses. Furthermore, "son of Manasseh" could simply identify the tribe.

Another possibility is that one of the women from the tribe of Manasseh married a Levite and birthed Jonathan. This would make him a Levite, but he would still be a descendant of Manasseh and could be called the son of Manasseh.

References and Footnotes

  1. "Micah".Β Bible Hub. 2016
  2. Gills, John. "Commentary on Judges 18:30".Β Bible Study Tools. 2016
  3. Hubeart, T.L. "Judges 18:30: "Manasseh" or "Moses"?".Β Pennuto. 1996

Back to

overview

Other Pages to View

Related Studies

4 views

Related Studies

Related Podcasts

Related Experiences

Related History

πŸ“–
Isaiah 24: All the Earth
IsaiahChapter StudyProphecyJudgementFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Isaiah 5: The 6 Woes
IsaiahChapter StudyMetaphorParableJudgementMoneyFalse Deities and ProphetsProphecy
πŸ“–
Isaiah 3: Judgment of Israel (Pt. 2)
IsaiahChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsWomenProphecyJudgement
πŸ“–
Isaiah 2: Judgment of Israel
IsaiahChapter StudyJudgementTempleProphecyFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 2)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsLeviPriesthoodIsraelJusticeJudgementTithesClean and Unclean
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 1)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyCommandmentsLawIsraelLeviFalse Deities and ProphetsCovenant
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 1-4: The First Address
DeuteronomyChapter StudyMoabAmmonFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsMosesJoshuaRepentance and Forgiveness
πŸ“–
Numbers 25: Idolatry & Israel
NumbersChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMoabRelationships
πŸ“–
Numbers 22-24: Balak, Balaam, and the Talking Donkey
NumbersChapter StudyMoabAnimalsMessianic ProphecyProphecyFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Numbers 8-10: Instructions
NumbersChapter StudyLeviPassover
πŸ“–
Numbers 1-3: The First Census
NumbersChapter StudyAngelsIsraelDanJudahEphraimLeviRueben
πŸ“–
Numbers 35: Special Cities
NumbersChapter StudyMurderPovertyLeviRepentance and Forgiveness
πŸ“–
Leviticus 21-22: More on Priests
LeviticusChapter StudyPriesthoodLeviRelationships
πŸ“–
Leviticus 17-18: Immorality
LeviticusChapter StudySacrificeFalse Deities and ProphetsSexual Imorality
πŸ“
S.O.A.P. Method
ExodusTithesMoneyStudy the Word
πŸ“
Do Not Steal
DeuteronomyExodusCommandmentsLawTheft
πŸ“–
Exodus 32: The Golden Calf
ExodusChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMosesAaronCommandmentsRepentance and ForgivenessIntercessory Prayer
πŸ“
No Other Gods
CommandmentsLawFalse Deities and ProphetsExodusDeuteronomy
πŸ“–
Exodus 21-23: Expansion of the Law
Chapter StudyExodusPovertyRacismMoneyLawWitchcraftMurderAnimals
❓
Would You Rather?: Fatherly Treatment
Would You RatherEdomJacobJosephGenesisRelationshipsTheft
πŸ‘€
The Life of Leah
LeahJacobGenesisRelationshipsLeviJudahZebulunIssacharDinahSimeonRuebenCharacter StudyRachel
πŸ‘€
Dinah
Character StudyGenesisWomenSexual AssaultDinahJacobLeahLeviSimeonYouTube
πŸ“–
Genesis 37-50: The 12 Tribes of Israel
GenesisChapter StudyJosephBenjaminLeviJudahRuebenSimeonZebulunIssacharGadDanManassehEphraimAsherNaphtaliRepentance and ForgivenessFamineEgyptWomenSexual ImoralityGenealogyIncestTamarDreams and Visions
πŸ“–
Genesis 27-36: Jacob & Esau, Two Nations
GenesisChapter StudyWomenJacobLeahEdomRachelTithesFalse Deities and ProphetsDinahSexual AssaultCircumcisionLeviSimeonGenocideTheft
πŸ“–
Numbers 33: Record of the Journey
NumbersChapter StudyCanaanFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Numbers 31: Spoils of War
NumbersChapter StudyClean and UncleanFalse Deities and ProphetsMidian
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 4-7: The Ark of the Covenant
1 SamuelChapter StudyPlaguesBenjaminPhilistineFalse Deities and ProphetsTemple Furnishings
πŸ“–
Ezra 7-8: Introducing Ezra
EzraChapter StudyLeviTemplePersia
πŸ“–
Nehemiah 4-6: Opposition
NehemiahChapter StudyMoneySatan
πŸ“
Do Not Bear False Witness
CommandmentsFalse Deities and ProphetsLaw
πŸ“–
Judges 1: Judah’s Conquest
Chapter StudyJudgesCanaanJudah
πŸ“–
Judges 2: Provoking God
JudgesChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsCanaan
πŸ“–
Judges 3: Othniel and Ehud
JudgesChapter StudyCanaanFalse Deities and ProphetsRelationshipsCaptivityBenjaminMoabAmalakites
πŸ“–
Judges 4-5: Deborah, Jael, and Barak
JudgesChapter StudyDeborahWomenLeadership
πŸ“–
Judges 6-8: Gideon
JudgesChapter StudyManassehMidianAmalakitesHoly SpiritEphraim
πŸ‘€
The Unnamed Concubine
Character StudyJudgesWomenSexual Assault
πŸ“–
Judges 9-10: Abimelech
JudgesChapter Study
πŸ“–
Judges 10-12: Jephthath
JudgesChapter StudyAmmonEphraimOaths and Vows
πŸ“–
Judges 13-16: Samson
JudgesChapter StudyRelationshipsSamsonWomenPhilistineOaths and VowsDan
πŸ“–
Acts 1-5: The Early Days of the Church
Chapter StudyActsCainAbelDiscipleshipLyingProphecyMoneyThe ChurchPeterTheft
πŸ“–
Acts 9: From Saul to Paul
ActsChapter StudyPaulRepentance and ForgivenessHoly SpiritTheft
πŸ“–
Judges 19-21: A Call to War
JudgesChapter StudySexual AssaultWomenLeviBenjamin
πŸ“–
Acts 6-8 & 10-11: The Transition
ActsChapter StudyCommunicationPaulLeadershipBaptismThe ChurchPeterEthiopiaFalse Deities and ProphetsSymbolism
πŸ“
No Graven Images
CommandmentsLawFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ™πŸ½
PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says β€œMy people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.
image