Thoughts on Judges 18

We’re reading through Judges at Oak Tree Church, and I’m posting some observations from my daily readings here within a day or two after the reading. I’d love for you to join in the discussion.

Thoughts on Judges 18

The story we began in chapter 17 continues. Honestly, the tribe of Dan was pretty much a loser tribe from the beginning. Jacob noticed it in Dan himself, before he turned into a whole tribe (Genesis 49:17).

In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the Danite tribe was looking for a place to settle, because at that time they did not yet have a place to call their own among the tribes of Israel. Judges 18:1 NET

The reason they didn’t “have a place to call their own” was because, not only did they not conquer the inhabitants of the land given to them, they were actually run off by the Amorites (Judges 1:34). Their disobedience up front caused them decades and centuries of problems.

They said to him, “Shut up! Put your hand over your mouth and come with us! You can be our adviser and priest. Wouldn’t it be better to be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for just one man’s family?” The priest was happy. He took the ephod, the personal idols, and the carved image and joined the group. Judges 18:19-20 NET

This priest had already been bought off once (by Micah – “be a priest just for my family”); now he found a better deal (“be the priest for our whole tribe”). Why was this better? Because the priests got a cut (literally) of the sacrifices offered to God. This guy would have exclusive rights to all of the Danites sacrifices, and they would do pretty much whatever he said, because he spoke for “God”, of course.

The Danites worshiped the carved image. Jonathan, descendant of Gershom, son of Moses, and his descendants served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the exile. They worshiped Micah’s carved image the whole time God’s authorized shrine was in Shiloh. Judges 18:30-31 NET

These verses give us two examples of the depths of their rebellion against God:

  1. “until the time of the exile” – We may tend to gloss over this, but it’s important. Judges 18 probably happened around 1100 B.C. The exile referred to happened in 722 B.C. This entire tribe of God’s people worshiped this stupid little carved image for about 400 years until God finally just took them out of the land!
  2. And it’s not like God wasn’t around. There was a legitimate place to worship God at Shiloh (about 85 miles south of Dan). They just weren’t interested in doing things God’s way. That’s ultimately while they were taken captive and exiled in the first place (see 2 Kings 17 for the story of the first captivity in 722 B.C.)

What did you see in these verses? What was important to you in Judges 18 that I did not see?

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Daniel Goepfrich

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