Judges 18:14
Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said to their brothers, Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what you have to do.
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(14) Answered.—Equivalent to they said, as in Job 3:2, Zechariah 1:10.

Consider what ye have to do—i.e., whether, and how, you would possess yourselves of them. We notice in these Danite freebooters the same strange mixture of superstition and lawlessness, robbery, and devotion which has often been observed in Greek and Italian brigands.

17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.In these houses - This agrees with what we saw at Judges 18:2-3 that the "house of God" and Jonathan's house were detached from Micah's. There were other houses besides Judges 18:22. The whole settlement was probably called Beth-Micah, contained in one court, and entered by one gate Judges 18:16. 11-21. there went from thence of the family of the Danites … six hundred men—This was the collective number of the men who were equipped with arms to carry out this expeditionary enterprise, without including the families and furniture of the emigrants (Jud 18:21). Their journey led them through the territory of Judah, and their first halting place was "behind," that is, on the west of Kirjath-jearim, on a spot called afterwards "the camp of Dan." Prosecuting the northern route, they skirted the base of the Ephraimite hills. On approaching the neighborhood of Micah's residence, the spies having given information that a private sanctuary was kept there, the priest of which had rendered them important service when on their exploring expedition, it was unanimously agreed that both he and the furniture of the establishment would be a valuable acquisition to their proposed settlement. A plan of spoliation was immediately formed. While the armed men stood sentinels at the gates, the five spies broke into the chapel, pillaged the images and vestments, and succeeded in bribing the priest also by a tempting offer to transfer his services to their new colony. Taking charge of the ephod, the teraphim, and the graven image, he "went in the midst of the people"—a central position assigned him in the march, perhaps for his personal security; but more probably in imitation of the place appointed for the priests and the ark, in the middle of the congregated tribes, on the marches through the wilderness. This theft presents a curious medley of low morality and strong religious feeling. The Danites exemplified a deep-seated principle of our nature—that men have religious affections, which must have an object on which these may be exercised, while they are often not very discriminating in the choice of the objects. In proportion to the slender influence religion wields over the heart, the greater is the importance attached to external rites; and in the exact observance of these, the conscience is fully satisfied, and seldom or never molested by reflections on the breach of minor morals. Then answered, i.e. spake, the word answering being oft used in Scripture of the first speaker, as 1 Kings 1:28 13:6 Ezra 10:2 Isaiah 14:10.

In those houses, i.e. in one of these houses, the plural number for the singular, as Judges 12:7.

Consider what ye have to do, i.e. whether it be not expedient, either,

1. To consult them again for your own satisfaction; or rather,

2. To take them away for your further use, as you shall have occasion; for their action is the best comment upon their words. Then they answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish,.... That were sent by their brethren, Judges 18:5 and, as it seems from hence, were sent particularly to Laish; they had some notion of that place as proper for them, and therefore sent those men to reconnoitre it; and now as they had passed this way before, when they came within sight of Micah's house, it put them in mind of what they had seen there; wherefore one in the name of the rest, and with their approbation, acquainted the company with it:

and said unto their brethren, do ye know that there is in those houses; in one of them, pointing to the houses of a village or town in sight:

an ephod and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? of which see Judges 17:4 and no doubt but they acquainted them, only that they had seen them, and so were certain but had consulted them, and that with success:

now therefore consider, say they:

what ye have to do; whether it may not be proper to consult them again, or rather to take them with us, to consult as occasion may require, and as tokens and pledges of God being with us, and so may the rather hope that everything will succeed to our wishes.

Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, {f} 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 to do.

(f) Because before they had had good success, they wanted their brethren to be encouraged by hearing the same tidings.

14. the country of Laish] The Hebr. can only be rendered the country, Laish. Obviously the last word is a marginal note, and it is omitted in some mss. of the LXX

in these houses] Apparently Micah’s establishment was almost a small village, cf. Jdg 18:22.

and a molten image] See on Jdg 17:3.

consider what ye have to do] Cf. 1 Samuel 25:17. The Danites recognize that the God of Micah is none other than their own God.

14–18. The repetition of identical phrases leads us to suspect that the text has been encumbered by glosses. To some extent, also, the confusion may be due to the double narrative; note the young Levite in Jdg 18:15 and the priest in Jdg 18:17-18; but other criteria fail us, and any clear separation of sources is impossible. The temptation to gloss the passage was no doubt encouraged by the inevitable, but rather clumsy, repetition of defining clauses, such as an ephod and teraphim, the six hundred men, the spies etc. Thus Jdg 18:16 seems to be wholly an addition; in Jdg 18:17 came in thither … molten image is simply a doublet from Jdg 18:18.Verse 14. - In these houses, showing that Beth-Micah, the house of Micah, was in fact a small village (see ver. 22). On their return, the spies said to their fellow-citizens, in reply to the question אתּם מה, "What have you accomplished?" "Up, let us go up against them (the inhabitants of Laish), for the land is very good, and ye are silent," i.e., standing inactive (1 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 7:9). "Be not slothful to go (to proceed thither), to come and take possession of the land!"
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