Pastoral Commentary for Judges 17-18
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
These two chapters of Judges illustrate just what a dark period in Israel's history the period of the Judges was, and why the Lord allowed Israel to be oppressed over and over again as a result of their spiritual (and moral) rebellion. The state of God's people in those days is described in one verse (17:6): "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Sadly, the second sentence is also an apt description of spirituality and morality in our contemporary culture. An Ephraimite by the name of Micah set up a shrine with idols and consecrated one of his own sons as priest of this imitation house of worship. Sometime later, however, a Levite was travelling there and Micah asked the Levite to become priest of his shrine. Foolishly Micah thought, "Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest." Later, some Danites made the Levite a better offer and he accepted, since he was delighted to be priest over a whole tribe instead of just one man. The Danites captured the city of Laish and renamed it Dan, setting up their false place of worship there. Their "sanctuary" remained in place just as long as the tabernacle, Israel's true house of worship, was in Shiloh. Thus, not only did Israel fall into the idolatry of their pagan neighbors, joining in the rites of Baal and Ashteroth, but they even created their own false gods and set up their own idolatrous shrines.