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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



JUDGES 18

 

CHAPTER XVIII.

 

Ver. 1.  Days, after the death of Josue and the ancients.  Debbora speaks of the tribe of Dan, as addicted to navigation.  C. v. 17.  C. --- It had now conquered most of the enemies who had formerly forced some to seek fresh settlements, (H.) as it is hinted at, Jos. xix.  The particulars are here given in detail.  C. --- Received, &c.  They had their portions assigned them, Josue xix. 40.  But through their own sloth, possessed as yet but a small part of it.  See Judges i. 34.  Ch.  W. --- Prot. supply, "all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel."  H.

 

Ver. 2.  Family.  Heb. "From their extremity."  Which may denote such as came to hand, (C.) or princes, (De Dieu) or people of mean appearance, (Castalion) unless we explain it "from their coasts," with Montanus, Prot. &c.  H.

 

Ver. 4.  Voice.  His pronunciation was different from that of the Ephraimites.  C. xii. 6.

 

Ver. 5.  Lord (Elohim.)  A title sometimes given to false gods.  The Levite answered in the name of Jehova; whence it is inferred that they all adored the true God, though their worship was not clear of superstition.  C.

 

Ver. 6.  Looketh with approbation.  H. --- It is uncertain whether this prediction proceeded from God, from the devil, or from the crafty Levite, (C.) who might answer as he thought the messengers wished him to do.  M. --- Their undertaking proved successful.  But the devil, who knew the valour of the Danites, and the security of the citizens of Lais, or even a man of moderate prudence and sagacity, might have told what would be the probable event of an attack in such circumstances.  C. --- Whether God approved or condemned the Levite's worship, he might speak by his mouth, as he did by that of Balaam.  H. --- But it is generally supposed that Jonathan was the organ of the devil, (C.) who answered with a degree of obscurity, as he was accustomed, (W.) that, in any case, his credit might subsist.  H.

 

Ver. 7.  Lais, four miles from Paneas, towards Tyre.  It is called Lesem Dan; (Jos. xix 47.) both the ancient and the new name being joined together. --- Rich, Heb. has almost as many different meanings as interpreters.  De Dieu, "There was no one to put them to shame, no chief magistrate."  C. --- Prot. "and there was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame in any thing."  H. --- The citizens of Lais were perhaps a colony, and followed the manners and religion of Sidon, but were at a day's journey from their territory; (Josephus) so that the latter could not come to their assistance at a very short warning.  The Danites were therefore encouraged to make the attack, (C.) particularly as this city was confident in its own strength and riches, and made no alliance with any other.  H. --- Sept. Alex. &c. read, Aram instead of Adam.  "They had no commerce with Syria."  But the Roman edition (C.) has, "they are far off from the Sidonians, and have no (word or) commerce with man."  The edition of Grabe repeats a great part of this verse again; v. 9, with an obelus.

 

Ver. 9.  There will, &c. is added to signify, that it will be necessary only to go to take possession.  H.

 

Ver. 10.  Secure.  "No one is sooner overcome than the man who has no fear; and security is generally the forerunner of ruin."  Velleius 2. initium est calamitatis securitas.

 

Ver. 11.  War, besides their wives, &c. v. 21.

 

Ver. 12.  Behind, on the west.  C.

 

Ver. 14.  To do.  Whether we must take them by force or by craft.  H. --- It seems they had a premeditated design to seize them.  C.

 

Ver. 17.  They.  Heb. and Sept. "and the five men that went to spy out the land."  H. --- Off.  The Levite's attention was drawn off for a while by the 600 men, till the five, who had formerly become acquainted with him, had ransacked his little temple.  C. --- Perceiving them as they came out, he began to complain, but was soon persuaded to follow the Danites, and to abandon his former protector.  So little dependence can be had on those who are faithless to their God!  H.

 

Ver. 19.  Mouth; to signify that silence must be observed.  Job xxix. 9.  Eccli. v. 12.  Angerona, among the Romans, and Harpocrates, in Egypt, were represented in this posture; digitoque silentia suadet.  Ovid, Met. ix.

 

Ver. 22.  Houses.  Heb. "near the house of Michas."  The poor fellow called his neighbours, and pursued the Danites, (H.) despising as it were all his other effects, in comparison with his god.  M.

 

Ver. 25.  House.  The violence and injustice of the Danites cannot be excused, particularly as they were stealing what they deemed sacred.  C.

 

Ver. 27.  And, &c.  Heb. "and they took what Michas had made, and the priest,...and came."  H. --- Fire, as they could not make themselves masters of it otherwise.  They were forced afterwards to rebuild it.  Some Rabbins have supposed, that Sidon and its colonies were not given by God to Israel: but their proofs are unsatisfactory.  Lais was inhabited by the Chanaanites; and though it was in the territory of Aser, as the people of Dan had made the conquest, they were suffered to keep quiet possession of it.  See Jos. xvii. 10.

 

Ver. 28.  Rohob, which stood at the foot of Libanus.  The vale belonging to this city, extended for about twenty miles.

 

Ver. 29.  Lais.  Heb. Ulam Layish, as the Sept. express it.  C. --- But the former term is explained by the Alex. and other copies in the sense of the Vulgate, before.  H. --- Dan is often placed for the  northern boundary of Palestine.  C.

 

Ver. 30.  Idol.  Heb. pasel.  W. --- Grabe's Sept. "the graven thing of Michas, and Jonathan the son of Gersam, of the son of Manasses."  The Roman copy omits "of Michas," but retains Manasses, as the present Hebrew reads, instead of Moses.  H. --- It is suspected that the Jews have inserted an n over the word Mose, that it might not be known that a grandson of their lawgiver had been guilty of such impiety.  They have not dared, however, to place the letter in the same rank as the others, but have suspended it, (C.) as if it were suspected, says Michaelis.  Abendana relates, that by (or on) the authority of the ancients, this nun was added from the honour of Moses, lest his granson might appear to be the first little sacrificing priest of an idol.  The Latin Vulgate reads the name of Moses; and I am convinced that Moses, and not Manasses, ought to be understood: for how could a Levite have Manasses for his ancestor?  Got. Comm. 1753.  The Jews pretend that this relationship to the idolatrous king of Juda was not real, but figurative, in as much as Jonathan acted like him.  But thus the reproach would fall on Gersam, who is said to be the son of Manasses, while the idolatrous priest is only placed as the son of Gersam.  It is surely very absurd to say that he was the son of Manasses, because Manasses acted like him 800 years afterwards; and Sol. Jarchi honestly confesses that, "for the honour of Moses nun was written, on purpose to change the name, and it was written suspended, to indicate that it was not Manasses, but Moses."  See Talmud Bava. fol. 109.  The letter has, however, sometimes been suspended half way, and sometimes uniformly inserted, so that it has at last supplanted the genuine word.  Some copies of the Sept. agree with the Vulg.  Brug. --- Theodoret reads, "Jonathan, the son of Manasses, of the son (uiou) of Gersam, of the son of Moses," retaining both words, in order to be sure the right one, as the copies varied.  Kennicott, Dis. 2. see Deut. xxvii. 4.  Here we have a plain proof of the liberties which the Jews have taken with their text.  But the providence of God has left us means to detect their fraud, by the Vulg. &c.  In other difficulties of a like nature, the collation of ancient MSS. and versions will generally remove the uncertainty, and we may pronounce that the word of God has not been adulterated, though perhaps no one copy may now represent it in all its genuine beauty and integrity.  See Pr┼ôlog. in SS. Mariana, C. xxiii. T. iii.  Menoch. &c.  Prot. here follow the corrupted Heb. "Manasseh."  H. --- Captivity, under the Philistines, when many of their brethren were taken prisoners, (Ps. lxxvii. 61.  T.) and when Samuel obliged all Israel to renounce idolatry.  1 K. vii. 4.  E. --- Serarius, (q. 7.) or the sacred penman, speaks of a captivity, the particulars of which are not recorded.  Salien understands it of the captivity of Nephthali, 35 years before the rest of the kingdom of Israel was destroyed: (4 K. xv. 29.  H.) though Lyran and Bonfrere explain it of the latter event, under Salmanaser.  ib.  C. xvii.  M. --- We may allow that some interruptions took place under Samuel, David, &c.  Salien. --- In effect, Jonathan and his posterity might serve the idol of Michas till it was destroyed, at the same time as the ark was removed from Silo; (v. 31.) and afterwards they might relapse into their wonted impiety, and act in the character of priests to the golden calves of Jeroboam; who, no doubt, would prefer such of the tribe of Levi as would come over to him, (Ezec. xliv. 10.) though he was generally forced to select his priests from the dregs of the people.  3 K. xii.  In this sense they might be priests in Dan, till Salmanaser led them captives.  But substituting galoth or geloth, we might translate, "till the deliverance of the land," which was effected by Samuel; (C.) who not only repressed the Philistines, (1 K. vii. 13.) but also persuaded all Israel to renounce the service of idols.  ib. v. 4.  H.

 

Ver. 31.  In Silo.  The ark was taken by the Philistines, (1 K. iv.) after remaining at Silo 349 years, and 217 from the idolatry of Michas and of Dan.  Salien.  H. --- In those.  The Heb. here commences the following chapter, which contains an account of another instance of licentiousness, which probably took place after the two former.  Phinees was high priest; but there was no civil head.  C.

 

 








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