JUDGES - CHAPTER 18
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of
the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their
inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.”
the Lordship of Christ is refused the result must always be anarchy, for only He is
capable of reigning.
KJ rendering of this verse obscures the correct meaning.
It isn’t that Dan’s inheritance hadn’t been allotted (it had, see Jos
19:40-48); they had failed to take possession (see Jg 1:34-35; 5:17).
Their lot was “too little” (Jos 19:47) simply because they had refused to
expel the enemy, and had allowed that enemy to drive them out of the valley and into
the mountain (Jg 1:34). There is every
reason to believe that Jos 19:47 describes, not what was in the days of Joshua, but
what developed after his death.
“And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts,
men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it;
and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to
the house of Micah, they lodged there.”
is the number of responsibility, something Dan had signally failed to fulfill; but as
always, they would cloak their delinquency under the guise of much activity which God
had not commanded. Christendom is guilty
of the same dissimulation. And there is
peculiar irony in their being described as “men of valor,” the very quality so
obviously lacking in the tribe that had failed to take possession of its God-given
inheritance. Many professing Christians
are also regarded by their fellows as men of valor in spiritual things, when, in
fact, their activity is wholly of the flesh.
is instructive to note that the two places mentioned in connection with their
disobedient mission, Zorah and Eshtaol, are also the very first two places mentioned
as boundary points of their proper inheritance (Jos 19:41), for Zorah means she
was smitten with leprosy; and Eshtaol, I will be entreated. As
has been noted already, this is the symbolic assurance that the God Who had appointed
their lot in Canaan, was He Who has never failed to respond to the entreaty of even
the vilest spiritual leper. Had they
been obedient, there would have been no need to seek an inheritance outside the
boundaries He had appointed. Instead of
having to send men to “search the land,” they could have been living in the
enjoyment of what God had already given.
knowledge that we too live in covenant relationship with that same gracious God,
should preserve us from the folly of walking in Dan’s disobedient footsteps.
a good context Ephraim double ash-heap: I shall be doubly fruitful, speaks of
fruitfulness in the things of God; but in a bad context, it speaks simply of the
“religious busyness” that is so frequently mistaken for true spiritual
fruitfulness. It isn’t surprising
therefore that they should have arrived in mount Ephraim, nor that they should have
found lodging in the house of Micah. The
believer’s disobedience very often brings him to the same destination spiritually.
Refusing to do what has been commanded, he busies himself with what God has not
commanded; and forsaking the fellowship of a Scripturally ordered assembly, he
“lodges” in what man’s disobedience has substituted - a “house” associated
with idolatry, and the travesty of a manmade priesthood.
“And when they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young
man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee
hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here?”
isn’t surprising that they “knew the voice of the young man the Levite,” for
the language of disobedience is universal; nor is it surprising that they should have
“turned in thither,” for as obedience has a common center, Christ, so does
disobedience have a common center: Satan.
brought thee hither?” is a question that young Levite would have done well to
ponder, for since God certainly hadn’t sent him there, he had no business being
there. We too would be well advised to
consider that same question relative to our own positions, for no matter how warm and
friendly, and no matter how much its religious activity, if that fellowship isn’t
functioning according to Scripture, God didn’t bring us there, and we have no
business being in it.
first question had to do with his authority for being there, and the other two had to
do with the business that had brought him, and that had kept him in that place; and
as with the first question, so also with these two: we too would do well to ponder
them. What was the purpose in our first
coming to the place where we now fellowship? Was
it so that we could worship, serve, and fellowship according to God’s Word; or was
it so that we could enjoy the social activities for ourselves, and the programs for
our children? And what keeps us in that
fellowship, particularly if we have learned that much of its activity lacks the
sanction of a “Thus saith the Lord.”
“And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired
me, and I am his priest.”
absent is any reference to God’s direction in the whole matter.
As noted already, it was self-will that had brought him there; and it was
self-will and cupidity that kept him there. His
whole talk was of how Micah had hired him, and made him a priest; his ignorance of
God’s order so great, that not only did he not mention God, but obviously neither
he nor Micah saw anything wrong in connection with the whole ungodly arrangement.
is it in much of Christendom today.
“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.”
ignorance of God’s ways was universal. So
steeped had the nation become in idolatry, that they had long since passed the point
where they had any awareness of wrongdoing. Disobedience
long practiced had so seared the national conscience that it no longer functioned.
We would do well to consider the lesson relative to our own lives.
they retained any knowledge of God, they would never have made such a
statement, for their disobedience was so blatant as to be obvious to all but
spiritually blind eyes. To engage in the
pretense of seeking divine guidance in such circumstances simply declared their
utterly deadened spiritual state. An
equally spiritually deadened professing church is also unconscious of its own
“And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord is your way
wherein ye go.”
ignorant of God as those who sought the guidance of the charlatan “priest,” the
Levite gave the answer they wanted to hear, and thus assured, they went on their
disobedient way, even though the assurance was utterly groundless.
So also today does a spiritually blind Christendom pursue its rebellious path,
being assured by its equally blind priests that the blessing of God rests upon every
activity. They the people, having
“itching ears” (2 Tim 4:3), hire those who will preach what they want to
hear, not what they need to hear.
“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.”
means a lion, and is connected also with the thought of kneading or crushing
(as under a lion’s paw); while Zidon means a hunting: fishery.
The place was also called Leshem (Jos 19:47), meaning a gem, possibly a
jacinth. There is much connected
with these names to suggest that in this city we have a symbolic picture of the world
under the dominion of him of whom Peter writes, “Your adversary the devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pe 5:8).
The hunting and fishing associated with the name Zidon, reminds us that this
world is not only the place where Satan hunts for men’s souls to destroy them, but
where God fishes for men’s souls to save them; while the gem would remind us
that this world is also the place where God has His “gems” - Israel, the treasure
hid in the field; and the Church, the pearl of great price (Mt 13:44-46). Their being “careless ... quiet and secure,” gratifying their
lusts, with no one to “put them to shame in anything,” continues to paint the
picture of this present evil world. The
sudden destruction that came upon them at the hand of Dan judging: a judge
reminds us that similar destructive judgment is soon to descend upon this whole
corrupt world system.
being “far from the Zidonians” is taken by many to indicate that they may have
been also Zidon-ians, but living in independence of the parent city; while their
having “no business with any man” is understood also by many to mean that they
had no treaties (of mutual protection) with their neighbors.
“And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren
said unto them, What say ye?”
of the need to know what God had to say, their whole attention was focused on the
report of the returned spies, man’s word alone being deemed sufficient, even though
they ought to have remembered the disastrous results that had attended the failure of
Israel to consult God when another team of spies had returned from Ai in the days of
Joshua (Jos 7:2-5). And, as noted
already, the meanings of Zorah and Eshtaol should have reminded them of their
spiritually leprous state, and of the urgent need to entreat God.
apostate church, however, as spiritually leprous, and also as spiritually blind and
deaf, is equally ready to heed the voice of mere men suffering from the same
spiritual malaise, as ignorant as were those Danites, of the enormity of their
offense against God.
“And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the
land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go, and to
enter to possess the land.”
very men who had displayed such apathy relative to taking possession of their
God-appointed lot, evinced amazing zeal when it came to taking possession of a lot
that God hadn’t given them. The
same anomaly is seen everywhere in Christendom today.
The command of Christ is “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to
every creature,” yet most professing Christians seem to be eager to do everything
is interesting to note the contrast between the report of these spies and those who
had been sent to reconnoiter Canaan in the days of Moses (Nu 13:31-33).
When it concerned what was the will of God, man would discourage obedience,
but when it involved what was contrary to God’s will, he would encourage
should note too that the experience of the five spies is very similar to that of Lot
as recorded in Ge 13:10, when he beheld the plain of Jordan as being also a very
desirable place. He too failed to
consult God, and learned the folly of that failure when that same well watered plain
became a smoking desolation.
is a fool who fails to consult God relative to every event of life.
“And when ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land:
for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing
that is in the earth.”
beyond the literal, we see in this a picture of the world today, and as it will be in
the first half of the Tribulation, resting in the flimsy security of a false peace,
saying “Peace, peace,” when, in fact, sudden destruction is about to fall.
Even today, though confronted with incontrovertible evidence that the very
foundations of society are crumbling, a world estranged from God, continues to delude
itself that there will yet be recovery, and that man himself will eventually create a
Utopia. The Tribulation beast ruler will
in fact appear to be the very man through whom that Utopia will be brought into
what, then, does Dan portray in this context. It is difficult to see him as
representing anything other than the judgment of which his name speaks.
fact that their camping place in Judah was called Mahaneh-dan camping place of Dan
may be to emphasize the spiritual lesson that judgment had come to Judah, and to
remind us that judgment is in the midst of professing Christendom, the day fast
approaching when the true Church will be raptured to heaven, and the full storm of
divine wrath will break upon the apostate harlot system that will be left behind on
being “behind” i.e., west of, or in the western part of Kirjath-jearim should
hold some message relative to approach to God, for that is what is associated with
the west, just as departure from God is associated with the east, but it is difficult
to see how the rebellious activity of Dan could be associated in any way with
approach to God, unless it is meant to point to the fact, that not only Dan, but the
whole nation had fallen into such a terrible spiritual state that they imagined
themselves drawing near, even though the worship by which they approached Jehovah was
an empty ritual practiced in conjunction with their worship of the Baals of Canaan.
being a “large land” would speak, in a good context, of freedom and blessing; but
in the present context it is much more likely to speak of liberty to live in
independence of God. There being no want
of anything “that is in the earth” suggests also the carnal state of the Danites.
They were more interested in earthly things than in spiritual, and so are many
professing believers today.
“And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and
out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.”
have already noted the evil significance of their leaving Zorah and Eshtaol, and the
number six hundred continues to speak of evil, for six is the number of man, sin,
“And they went up, and pitched in Kirjath-jearim, in Judah: wherefore they
called that place Mahaneh-dan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjath-jearim.”
trace here in symbol the progress of rebellion.
First, these Danites had left the portion assigned them by God, abandoning it
to the enemy whom they had been commanded to destroy.
Next they were found in Ephraim, the tribe that represents fruitfulness, but
in the case of a disobedient Ephraim, the dead works which are the substitute
produced by carnality and unbelief. The
presence of those Danites in Ephraim is the symbolic announcement that the judgment
of God had come to Ephraim, but since each tribe is but the portrait of a
characteristic of Israel as a nation, it declares that the judgment of God lay upon
the whole rebellious nation.
in mind that Judah represents praise or worship, the presence of the Danites in their
midst declares that the judgment of God lay upon the empty ritual that passed in
Israel for true worship. That same
judgment lies no less upon the travesty which an equally apostate professing church
specific place where they camped in Judah was Kirjath-jearim, meaning city of
forests, but since trees are one of the Biblical symbols of humanity, this would
speak of their coming to mere men just as rebellious as themselves, for Judah had
also been delinquent in expelling the enemy from the valleys (Jg 1:19), i.e., from
the place that represents the sphere of fruitfulness and service.
means the camp of Dan, but I can’t read the spiritual significance of this,
other than that since Dan represents judgment, it may point to the fact that as Dan
was to be the instrument for the destruction of Laish, so in the Tribulation will man
also be one of the instruments used by God to execute His judgment upon the
being behind Kirjath-jearim is literally west, the direction that speaks of approach
to God, but since Kirjath-jearim was itself west of Jerusalem and of Shiloh, the two
places associated with the presence of God, Dan’s going even farther west speaks
symbolically of going beyond what God has authorized relative to worship and service.
This is the sin of the professing but apostate church today.
She too has gone beyond what God has ordered. Man’s order has replaced God’s.
“And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of
we have already looked at the spiritual significance of this in verse 2, we need only
note here that their rebellious steps had brought them back to Micah’s idolatrous
house in Ephraim, the spiritual lesson being that both carnality and mere empty
profession almost invariably follow the same path - they will busy themselves with
religious activity of their own invention, while worshipping the idols revered by the
rest of the world - money, fame, pleasure, ease, education, etc.
“Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and
said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and
teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have
ephod is the symbolic announcement of the fact that today’s apostate church has
sought to hide the evil within it under the mask of religion, while the teraphim
(household gods) remind us that that same church is also filled with the things men
worship in place of God. The graven
image and the molten image direct attention to what passes for corporate worship in
the apostate travesty that calls itself the church of God, the graven image being the
symbolic announcement of the fact that as the smith labored in forming it, so has the
apostate church labored in producing a form of worship which is an abomination to
God. The molten image, on the other
hand, produced by pouring the molten metal into a mold, or over a carved image,
portrays the truth that what passes for worship in the harlot church is largely the
result of heated emotion divorced from the control of God’s Word as ministered by
the Holy Spirit. It is sensual, and
designed to appeal to man’s fallen, corrupt emotional nature.
in mind that they were in Ephraim, which we have already seen to speak (in a good
context) of fruitfulness and service, but in the present context, of mere busy
religious activity, their intention to take from there to Laish, all the idolatrous
trappings associated with Micah’s house, would remind us that the self-willed
religious activity of carnality, or of mere profession, is also associated with the
idolatry discussed in our study of the preceding verse.
words “consider what ye have to do” very obviously imply that their intention was
indeed to appropriate for their own use, all of Micah’s idolatrous paraphernalia.
This would remind us how quickly evil spreads.
The idolatry of one man soon became that of a tribe.
“And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the
Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.”
continues to focus attention on the potential for the spread of evil through the
disobedience of just one man. Had this
young Levite maintained his proper place, he would never have come to Micah’s
house, and would therefore never have become the link that brought the Danites into
contact with Micah’s idolatry. Each of
us has a very great responsibility as to how we live, lest we cause others to
“And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of
the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.”
six hundred Danites continue to point to the fact that the spiritual lesson here is
related to judgment, with man as the instrument in the hand of God, for as noted
already, six is the number of man; Dan represents judgment, and the gate is
associated with government.
“And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in
thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten
image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that
were appointed with weapons of war.”
is emphasized that it was the five spies who actually purloined the images, etc.,
from Micah’s house, while the six hundred stood guard. Since five is the number of responsibility, this points to the
truth that God would hold them, as He will all men, responsible for what they do; and
as Israelites, their sin was compounded, for they had been given direct revelation
from God relative to His abhorrence of idols. Responsibility
is in proportion to light given. We who
have been given His revelation in fuller measure than the men of any other age, have
a corresponding responsibility to obey God.
readiness of the hireling priest to stand with those who robbed his benefactor, is
simply the disclosure of the character of the present day hireling clerics of whom he
is the type. Having no loyalty to God,
it is not to be expected that these clerics will have any to man; and experience, in
fact, shows that like their OT type, they too are governed by self-interest.
It is the Lord Himself Who has declared “I am the good shepherd: the good
shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But
he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the
wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and
scattereth the sheep. The hireling
fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (Jn 10:11-13).
“And these went into Micah’s house, and fetched the carved image, the
ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then
said the priest unto them, What do ye?”
regard to the kindness and generosity with which Micah had treated him, this base
Levite was a contemptible unprincipled wretch, and a disgrace to the tribe whose name
he bore, but all of this simply points to the fact that his is the character of all
hirelings, no matter how pious their profession. In the light of verse 20, his question “What do ye?” can
hardly be considered a protest.
“And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and
go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: 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
this verse is summed up the philosophy of apostate Christendom, for she is as blind
to her fallen spiritual state as was Dan in the days of the Judges.
In the view of the apostate church bigger is better, so that success is
measured, not by spirituality, but by numbers.
“And the priest was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the
graven image, and went in the midst of the people.”
his hireling counterpart of today, that wretched Levite was blind to everything
except his own advancement. Idolater
though Micah was, he had been kind and generous to this ingrate who cared nothing
that his benefactor’s house was being plundered, and who in fact helped to carry
off the stolen property. Such is the
hireling in every age. As he had been
“a father and a priest” to Micah, so would he be also now to the tribe of Dan.
It is to be noted, however, that this was his promotion to a position of
authority over the very men who hired him, and who were his masters.
So is it also in Christendom today. Unconverted,
or spiritually ignorant believers will ordain their own priests to positions of
authority, submitting themselves to their hirelings in what they deem to be spiritual
things, yet retaining authority over the hirelings in what they regard as temporal
affairs, the whole unscriptural arrangement being, by its very
conducive to abandonment of sound doctrine, for the hireling is well aware that his
position is tenuous, lasting only as long as he doesn’t offend his masters.
He therefore preaches only what will please the itching ears of those who have
made him their priest. This possibility
is eliminated when the Scriptural pattern is followed, for the gifted servants given
to the Church by her risen Head, are neither subject to human ordination nor
dismissal. Such a man is servant of all,
but employee of none.
“So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the
carriage before them.”
strategy implies that they anticipated pursuit, and were ensuring that they
themselves, armed, would be between their families and goods, and the pursuers.
The same astute care for temporal things marks apostate Christendom, there
being a corresponding lack of care relative to spiritual matters.
“And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in
the houses near to Micah’s house were gathered together and overtook the children
was noted at the beginning of our study of chapter 17, Micah represents the spiritual
state of Israel at the time of the Lord’s earthly ministry, and his pursuit of the
Danites who had robbed him of all that constituted his religious life, speaks of the
determination of unbelieving Israel to cling to the empty religious form (so dear to
them, but so abhorrent to God) taken from them in the judgment which Dan represents.
But Israel is the mirror in which God bids every man see his own reflection,
so that Micah’s determination to recover what Dan had plundered, reminds us of the
evil tendency in each one of us to retain the empty religious form after spiritual
reality has gone. The houses “near to
Micah’s house” represent all the religious forms which unbelieving men have
substituted for divine order.
“And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth
thee, that thou comest with such a company?”
Micah represents apostate Israel, particularly at the time when Judaism was being
replaced by Christianity, Dan may well represent, not only the judgment that ended
Judaism, but also the “Christian” travesty that replaced the Jewish, for the
professing church has simply carried off and adapted for its own use the same empty
ritual as characterized Jewish religion. Micah’s crying unto the Danites depicts the bitter antagonism of
Judaism against, not only mere professing Christianity, but also against genuine
believers. The haughty response of Dan
portrays the disdainful attitude of professing Christianity against Judaism.
“And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and
ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What
continues to picture the chagrin of apostate Israel at the adoption of their empty
religious forms by an equally apostate professing Christianity. To deprive the Jew of his religion is to rob him of his most
valued possession, his estimate of its worth being measured in the fanatical
determination with which he has clung to it for almost two thousand years, even
though it is his religion that has so often provoked the animosity of the Gentiles
amongst whom he has been scattered.
“And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us,
lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy
Dan’s arrogant threatening response we are being shown the attitude which apostate
Christianity has adopted towards the Jew for the past two thousand years, history
revealing that many times during those years “angry fellows” have indeed “run
upon” him taking his life and the lives of his household.
“And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were
too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.”
Jew likewise, finding apostate Christianity “too strong for him” has also
“turned and (gone) back unto his house,” a house, which his rejection of Christ
has made desolate, as declared by the Lord Himself, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou
that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would
I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her
wings, and ye would not! Behold, your
house is left unto you desolate, for I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth,
till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt
Micah’s returning to his desolated house, God would teach all men the worthlessness
of mere religion.
“And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had
, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote
them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.”
this may be seen what developed in the fifth century out of apostate Christianity’s
seizure of Judaism’s empty religious forms. When
political Rome fell in 476 A.D., an unsuspecting world, represented by Laish,
suddenly found itself the hapless victim of a religious Rome whose tyranny was far
more terrible than that of the Caesars, for that iniquitous system ruled, not only
the bodies, but also the souls of men.
incidentally, means a lion, a meaning which seems to confirm the view that
Laish is a type of the world as the domain of Satan, who is described in Scripture as
a lion, see 1 Pe 5:8. In Dan’s seizure
of Laish we are presented with the symbolic picture of Satan’s imposing upon his
duped slaves the murderous tyranny of religious Rome.
in Dan’s destruction of the unsuspecting Laish, God would remind men that similar
unexpected judgment is soon about to fall upon an equally complacent world, “For
when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as
travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Th 5:3).
is instructive to note that Laish was also known as Leshem, meaning a gem.
As Laish it portrays the world of apostate religion; but as Leshem it reminds
us that in that same world God has two gems: one, Israel, the treasure hid in the
field; and the Church, the pearl of great price.
In the Millennium Israel, God’s treasure, repentant and converted,
will be lifted up to her proper place of exaltation and glory over the
nations; but before the Millennium, and before the Tribulation which will bring
Israel to repentance, the Church, the pearl of great price, will be caught up to her
proper place of exaltation and glory: to heaven, from which she will reign with
Christ over the millennial earth.
“And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no
business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Beth-Rehob.
And they built a city, and dwelt therein.”
noted in earlier studies, Zidon meaning a hunting: a fishery, represents the
world as the place where Satan hunts for men’s souls to destroy them; but where
God, through the Gospel, fishes for men’s souls to save them.
Since this hunting and fishing are related to what men label religion,
the spiritual lesson of Laish’s being far from Zidon, is that the world which Laish
represents, is “far from” i.e., has no interest in spiritual things.
The absence of a deliverer being linked with their being far from Zidon, is
the symbolic announcement that he who has no interest in spiritual things is far from
Christ, the only One Who can deliver men from destruction.
having “no business with any man” is generally taken to mean that they had dwelt
in such isolation from others that they had no mutual treaties of defence with their
neighbors, so there was no one to come to their aid, and in this God would remind us
that in the matter of the soul’s salvation, man is incapable of redeeming even his
own soul, much less that of another, as it is written in Ps 49:7-8 “None of them
can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the
redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever).”
being “in the valley that lieth by Beth-rehob” has also something to teach us,
for Beth-rehob means house of the broad way, a meaning which immediately
recalls the Lord’s words relative to the path upon which sinners travel towards
death, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way,
that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Mt 7:13).
The men of the world which is represented by Laish, travel that “broad”
way, its breadth signifying the moral latitude that permits the indulgence of every
lust. And since the valley is the Scriptural symbol of the sphere of
man’s activity, their dwelling in that valley lying by “the house of the broad
way” reminds us that all the activity of the unconverted is marked by the same
rebuilding of Laish, but changing its name, declares that apostate Christendom
permits itself the same sinful latitude as do those who make no profession, but they
would disguise the evil under the cloak of religion. It shouldn’t be forgotten that it was in the name of religion
that papal Rome has slaughtered countless multitudes of true believers who refused to
deny their Lord, and accept Rome’s false teaching.
“And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their
father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the
more fitting name could have been given the city, for the wrong judgment that had led
them to build it, guaranteed that the judgment of God would fall upon them and their
city; but since it represents apostate Christendom, the assurance extends also to
that evil system similarly conceived and built by man’s wrong judgment.
should we miss the significance of its being said that Dan was the son of Israel,
rather than of Jacob as we might have expected.
The lesson is plain. The
righteous character of the father wasn’t automatically transmitted to the son.
The evil portrayed by the activity of Dan in relation to Laish warns us that
present good is no protection from future evil, a fact attested by the presence on
earth of Christendom’s apostate system. That
too developed out of what had been good, the true Church.
And there is further warning in the reminder that the city had formerly been
Laish, symbolic, as already noted, of what belongs to, and is under the control of
the ravening lion, Satan. The change of
name did nothing to alter that fact; nor does its Christian name alter the fact that
apostate Christendom belongs to, and is controlled by Satan.
“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.”
self-willed departure from the southern portion allotted him by God, to this northern
place which he himself had chosen, is the symbolic revelation of the truth that in
his case faith, which the south represents, had given place to human intelligence,
which is Biblically associated with the north. It
is the same with Christendom’s apostate system.
It too is the result of having exchanged the path of faith, for the road
dictated by human intelligence functioning apart from the will of God, a road in
regard to which Scripture warns, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pr 14:12).
setting up the graven image was simply the culmination of the rebellion that had
begun long before, when they had failed to expel the Canaanites as instructed by God.
And so is it with professing Christendom.
The flagrant rebellion apparent everywhere didn’t just appear suddenly. It too began with disobedience in small things related to the
And so is it in our individual lives. Rebellion
almost always develops by slow degrees, its encroachment so subtle as to be scarcely
is generally assumed that this Jonathan is the young Levite, and if so, then in him
too we see the development of evil, beginning with a disobedience that grew until it
became full blown idolatry. This brings
the lesson down to individual level, and we are reading this verse wrongly if we fail
to recognize that it has been preserved to warn us against similar folly.
name Jonathan has a good meaning Jehovah is giver, reminding us that the good
name, Christ, called over us, is no guarantee against the folly which attends
likewise has a good connotation, for it means a stranger there: a stranger
desolate, and was the name of the son of Levi who had charge of transporting the
curtains, cords, etc., of the Tabernacle. And
the third name in the genealogical line is Manasseh, but it is to be noted that it is
generally agreed that the proper name here is Moses rather than Manasseh, the change
being attributed to a scribe who sought to dissociate the name of Moses from
should we fail to note the long continuation of the evil begun with the first
disobedient step taken by the young Levite. It
was perpetuated through his sons “until the day of the captivity of the land.”
Scholars are disagreed as to which captivity this is, nor is it of vital
importance for us to know, though many believe that the reference is to the
destruction of Shiloh by the Philistines, and their carrying away the Ark in the days
of Eli the priest. The truth being declared is that sin continued in, leads to the
same end - captivity. We find ourselves
become the captives of whatever leads us away from God, as Paul warns in Ro 6:16
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye
are to whom ye obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto
“And they set themselves up Micah’s graven image, which he made, all the
time that the house of God was in Shiloh.”
exact date of the establishment of that idolatrous worship by Dan isn’t known,
though there is reason to believe that it was early in the days of the Judges.
There were therefore for a long time, two centers of worship in Israel: the
divinely authorized center at Shiloh, and this idolatrous center established by Dan.
It is significant also that it was at Dan that Jeroboam set up the two
idolatrous golden calfs, and established a center of false worship in opposition to
that established by God in Shiloh, see 1 Ki 12:26-30.