בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם אֵין מֶלֶךְ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וּבַיָּמִים הָהֵם שֵׁבֶט הַדָּנִי מְבַקֶּשׁ־לוֹ נַחֲלָה לָשֶׁבֶת כִּי לֹא־נָפְלָה לּוֹ 18:1
עַד־הַיּוֹם הַהוּא בְּתוֹךְ־שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּנַחֲלָה׃
Judg. 18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel and in those days the tribe of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance for dwelling, for an inheritance had not been allotted to it until that day in the midst of the tribes of Israel.
Isn’t this interesting? I wonder why Dan had not yet been alloted its inheritance. We will probably never know. But it makes for a fascinating and gory tale, as we shall see.
וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ בְנֵי־דָן מִמִּשְׁפַּחְתָּם חֲמִשָּׁה אֲנָשִׁים מִקְצוֹתָם אֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵי־חַיִל מִצָּרְעָה וּמֵאֶשְׁתָּאֹל לְרַגֵּל 18:2
אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וּלְחָקְרָהּ וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם לְכוּ חִקְרוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וַיָּבֹאוּ הַר־אֶפְרַיִם עַד־בֵּית מִיכָה וַיָּלִינוּ שָׁם׃
Judg. 18:2 And the children of Dan sent five men from their families from their coast, men of sons of valor, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search, and they said to them, “Go search the land.” And they came into the hill country of Ephraim up to the house of Micah, and they stopped there.
הֵמָּה עִם־בֵּית מִיכָה וְהֵמָּה הִכִּירוּ אֶת־קוֹל הַנַּעַר הַלֵּוִי וַיָּסוּרוּ שָׁם וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ מִי־הֱבִיאֲךָ הֲלֹם 18:3
וּמָה־אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה בָּזֶה וּמַה־לְּךָ פֹה׃
Judg. 18:3 They were by the house of Micah and they perceived the voice of the young man, the Levite, so they turned in there and said to him, “What brought you here? And what are you doing in this place? And what is there for you here?”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם כָּזֹה וְכָזֶה עָשָׂה לִי מִיכָה וַיִּשְׂכְּרֵנִי וָאֱהִי־לוֹ לְכֹהֵן׃ 18:4
Judg. 18:4 And he said to them, “Micah had done like this and like that for me, and he had hired me and I have become to him for a priest.”
וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ שְׁאַל־נָא בֵאלֹהִים וְנֵדְעָה הֲתַצְלִיחַ דַּרְכֵּנוּ אֲשֶׁר אֲנַחְנוּ הֹלְכִים עָלֶיהָ׃ 18:5
Judg. 18:5 And they said to him, “Please consult with God that we may know if our way will be prosperous on which we are going.”
וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַכֹּהֵן לְכוּ לְשָׁלוֹם נֹכַח יְהוָה דַּרְכְּכֶם אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכוּ־בָהּ׃ 18:6
Judg. 18:6 And the priest said to them, “Go to peace; your way on which you go is before the Lord.”
וַיֵּלְכוּ חֲמֵשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים וַיָּבֹאוּ לָיְשָׁה וַיִּרְאוּ אֶת־הָעָם אֲשֶׁר־בְּקִרְבָּהּ יוֹשֶׁבֶת־לָבֶטַח כְּמִשְׁפַּט צִדֹנִים 18:7
שֹׁקֵט וּבֹטֵחַ וְאֵין־מַכְלִים דָּבָר בָּאָרֶץ יוֹרֵשׁ עֶצֶר וּרְחֹקִים הֵמָּה מִצִּדֹנִים וְדָבָר אֵין־לָהֶם עִם־אָדָם׃
Judg. 18:7 Then the five men left, and they came into Laish. And they saw the people who was living securely in its midst after the fashion of the Zidonians, tranquil and confident, possessing restraint, so there was no shameful thing in the land; and they, being far from the Zidonians, so they did not have dealings with men.
וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל־אֲחֵיהֶם צָרְעָה וְאֶשְׁתָּאֹל וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָהֶם אֲחֵיהֶם מָה אַתֶּם׃ 18:8
Judg. 18:8 And they came to their brethren in Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brethren said to them, “What is with you?”
וַיֹּאמְרוּ קוּמָה וְנַעֲלֶה עֲלֵיהֶם כִּי רָאִינוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְהִנֵּה טוֹבָה מְאֹד וְאַתֶּם מַחְשִׁים אַל־תֵּעָצְלוּ 18:9
לָלֶכֶת לָבֹא לָרֶשֶׁת אֶת־הָאָרֶץ׃
Judg. 18:9 And they said, “Arise and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land and behold, it is very good. Yet you are speechless. Do not delay to go to enter to possess the land.”
כְּבֹאֲכֶם תָּבֹאוּ אֶל־עַם בֹּטֵחַ וְהָאָרֶץ רַחֲבַת יָדַיִם כִּי־נְתָנָהּ אֱלֹהִים בְּיֶדְכֶם מָקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אֵין־שָׁם 18:10
מַחְסוֹר כָּל־דָּבָר אֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ׃
Judg. 18:10 “When going, you will come to a secure people, and the land is very spacious which God has delivered into your hand, a place where there is not lacking anything that is on the earth.”
וַיִּסְעוּ מִשָּׁם מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת הַדָּנִי מִצָּרְעָה וּמֵאֶשְׁתָּאֹל שֵׁשׁ־מֵאוֹת אִישׁ חָגוּר כְּלֵי מִלְחָמָה׃ 18:11
Judg. 18:11 And six hundred men, girded with weapons of battle, from the families of the Danites set forth from there, from Zorah and from Eshtaol.
וַיַּעֲלוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּקִרְיַת יְעָרִים בִּיהוּדָה עַל־כֵּן קָרְאוּ לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא מַחֲנֵה־דָן עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הִנֵּה 18:12
אַחֲרֵי קִרְיַת יְעָרִים׃
Judg. 18:12 And they went up and camped by Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore, they gave the name to that place of Mahaneh-dan until this day. Behold, it is behind Kiriath-jearim.
וַיַּעַבְרוּ מִשָּׁם הַר־אֶפְרָיִם וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד־בֵּית מִיכָה׃ 18:13
Judg. 18:13 And they went from there to the hill country of Ephraim and they came to the house of Micah.
וַיַּעֲנוּ חֲמֵשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הַהֹלְכִים לְרַגֵּל אֶת־הָאָרֶץ לַיִשׁ וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־אֲחֵיהֶם הַיְדַעְתֶּם כִּי יֵש 18:14
בַּבָּתִּים הָאֵלֶּה אֵפוֹד וּתְרָפִים וּפֶסֶל וּמַסֵּכָה וְעַתָּה דְּעוּ מַה־תַּעֲשׂוּ׃
Judg. 18:14 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish announced, and said to their brethren, “Have you found out that there is in these houses an Ephod and teraphim and an engraved image and a molten image? So now consider what you will do.”
וַיָּסוּרוּ שָׁמָּה וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל־בֵּית־הַנַּעַר הַלֵּוִי בֵּית מִיכָה וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ־לוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם׃ 18:15
Judg. 18:15 So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young man who was the Levite, the house of Micah, and they inquired of him as to welfare.
וְשֵׁשׁ־מֵאוֹת אִישׁ חֲגוּרִים כְּלֵי מִלְחַמְתָּם נִצָּבִים פֶּתַח הַשָּׁעַר אֲשֶׁר מִבְּנֵי־דָן׃ 18:16
Judg. 18:16 And the six hundred men who were from the children of Dan, girded with their weapons of battle, were standing at the entrance to the gate.
וַיַּעֲלוּ חֲמֵשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הַהֹלְכִים לְרַגֵּל אֶת־הָאָרֶץ בָּאוּ שָׁמָּה לָקְחוּ אֶת־הַפֶּסֶל וְאֶת־הָאֵפוֹד וְאֶת־ 18:17
הַתְּרָפִים וְאֶת־הַמַּסֵּכָה וְהַכֹּהֵן נִצָּב פֶּתַח הַשַּׁעַר וְשֵׁשׁ־מֵאוֹת הָאִישׁ הֶחָגוּר כְּלֵי הַמִּלְחָמָה׃
Judg. 18:17 And the five men who went to spy out the land went up, they came in there, took the engraved image and the ephod and the teraphim and the molten image, and the priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men who were girded with the weapons of war.
וְאֵלֶּה בָּאוּ בֵּית מִיכָה וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־פֶּסֶל הָאֵפוֹד וְאֶת־הַתְּרָפִים וְאֶת־הַמַּסֵּכָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם הַכֹּהֵן 18:18
מָה אַתֶּם עֹשִׂים׃
Judg. 18:18 When those went in the house of Micah and took the engraved image, the ephod and the teraphim and the molten image, then the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ הַחֲרֵשׁ שִׂים־יָדְךָ עַל־פִּיךָ וְלֵךְ עִמָּנוּ וֶהְיֵה־לָנוּ לְאָב וּלְכֹהֵן הֲטוֹב הֱיוֹתְךָ כֹהֵן לְבֵית אִישׁ 18:19
אֶחָד אוֹ הֱיוֹתְךָ כֹהֵן לְשֵׁבֶט וּלְמִשְׁפָּחָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל׃
Judg. 18:19 And they said to him, “Keep silent, place your hand over your mouth, and come with us and be to us for a teacher and for a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man or for you to be a priest to a tribe and to a family in Israel?”
וַיִּיטַב לֵב הַכֹּהֵן וַיִּקַּח אֶת־הָאֵפוֹד וְאֶת־הַתְּרָפִים וְאֶת־הַפָּסֶל וַיָּבֹא בְּקֶרֶב הָעָם׃ 18:20
Judg. 18:20 And the heart of the priest was glad and he took the ephod and the teraphim and the engraved image and he came into the midst of the people.
וַיִּפְנוּ וַיֵּלֵכוּ וַיָּשִׂימוּ אֶת־הַטַּף וְאֶת־הַמִּקְנֶה וְאֶת־הַכְּבוּדָּה לִפְנֵיהֶם׃ 18:21
Judg. 18:21 So they turned and departed, and placed the children and the cattle and the wealth before them.
הֵמָּה הִרְחִיקוּ מִבֵּית מִיכָה וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר בַּבָּתִּים אֲשֶׁר עִם־בֵּית מִיכָה נִזְעֲקוּ וַיַּדְבִּיקוּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־ 18:22
Judg. 18:22 They were a good way from the house of Micah when the men who were in the houses that were with the house of Micah assembled and overtook the children of Dan.
וַיִּקְרְאוּ אֶל־בְּנֵי־דָן וַיַּסֵּבּוּ פְּנֵיהֶם וַיֹּאמְרוּ לְמִיכָה מַה־לְּךָ כִּי נִזְעָקְתָּ׃ 18:23
Judg. 18:23 And they called to the children of Dan. And they turned their faces and said to Micah, “What is it to you that you have pursued?”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֶת־אֱלֹהַי אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂיתִי לְקַחְתֶּם וְאֶת־הַכֹּהֵן וַתֵּלְכוּ וּמַה־לִּי עוֹד וּמַה־זֶּה תֹּאמְרוּ אֵלַי מַה־ 18:24
Judg. 18:24 And he said, “You have taken my god that I made, and the priest, and you left, and what else is there for me? So what is this you have said to me, ‘What is it to you?’”
וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו בְּנֵי־דָן אַל־תַּשְׁמַע קוֹלְךָ עִמָּנוּ פֶּן־יִפְגְּעוּ בָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים מָרֵי נֶפֶשׁ וְאָסַפְתָּה נַפְשְׁךָ 18:25
Judg. 18:25 Then the children of Dan said to him, “Do not declare your claim with us lest men of bitterness of lust could fall on you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household.”
וַיֵּלְכוּ בְנֵי־דָן לְדַרְכָּם וַיַּרְא מִיכָה כִּי־חֲזָקִים הֵמָּה מִמֶּנּוּ וַיִּפֶן וַיָּשָׁב אֶל־בֵּיתוֹ׃ 18:26
Judg. 18:26 And the children of Dan continued along their way, and Micah saw that they were stronger than he, so he turned and went back to his house.
וְהֵמָּה לָקְחוּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה מִיכָה וְאֶת־הַכֹּהֵן אֲשֶׁר הָיָה־לוֹ וַיָּבֹאוּ עַל־לַיִשׁ עַל־עַם שֹׁקֵט וּבֹטֵחַ 18:27
וַיַּכּוּ אוֹתָם לְפִי־חָרֶב וְאֶת־הָעִיר שָׂרְפוּ בָאֵשׁ׃
Judg. 18:27 So they took what Micah had made and the priest who had been his, and they came upon Laish, upon a people settled and secure, and smote them by the edge of the sword, and they burned the city with fire.
וְאֵין מַצִּיל כִּי רְחוֹקָה־הִיא מִצִּידוֹן וְדָבָר אֵין־לָהֶם עִם־אָדָם וְהִיא בָּעֵמֶק אֲשֶׁר לְבֵית־רְחוֹב וַיִּבְנוּ 18:28
אֶת־הָעִיר וַיֵּשְׁבוּ בָהּ׃
Judg. 18:28 And there was no deliverer, for it was remote from Zidon, and they had no communications with men, and it was in the valley that is by Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it.
וַיִּקְרְאוּ שֵׁם־הָעִיר דָּן בְּשֵׁם דָּן אֲבִיהֶם אֲשֶׁר יוּלַּד לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְאוּלָם לַיִשׁ שֵׁם־הָעִיר לָרִאשֹׁנָה׃ 18:29
Judg. 18:29 And they called the name of the city Dan after the name of Dan, their father, who was born to Israel. But Laish was the name of the city at its beginning.
וַיָּקִימוּ לָהֶם בְּנֵי־דָן אֶת־הַפָּסֶל וִיהוֹנָתָן בֶּן־גֵּרְשֹׁם בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁה הוּא וּבָנָיו הָיוּ כֹהֲנִים לְשֵׁבֶט הַדָּנִי 18:30
עַד־יוֹם גְּלוֹת הָאָרֶץ׃
Judg. 18:30 And the children of Dan set up the engraved image for themselves, and Jonathan son of Gershom son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.
Does the phrase the captivity of the land refer to the conquest of Israel (the Northern kingdom)? An affirmative answer seems reasonable. Now there is no way to know when this story took place, but we can assume that it was recorded some time between the Assyrian conquest of Israel and the Babylonian conquest of Judah.
וַיָּשִׂימוּ לָהֶם אֶת־פֶּסֶל מִיכָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה כָּל־יְמֵי הֱיוֹת בֵּית־הָאֱלֹהִים בְּשִׁלֹה׃ 18:31
Judg. 18:31 So they set up the engraved image of Micah's, that he had made, for themselves all the days of existence of the house of God in Shiloh.
In this chapter and the previous one we learn the following interesting facts: (1) So-called houses of God were set up wherever anyone desired; (2) self-made priests could set them up and they “consecrated” whomever and whatever they desired; (3) they could produce their own ephod and teraphim; (4) idols were present in these so-called houses of God, and (5) one of these so-called houses of God was set up in Shiloh (the capital of the future northern kingdom?). It was the Tabernacle (Josh. 18:1); (6) Corruption was rampant throughout Israel during the period of the judges.
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