And the five men departed
From Mount Ephraim, and Micah's house there:
and came to Laish;
which, according to Bunting F19, was one hundred and four miles from Mount Ephraim, and so many he makes it to be from Jerusalem; it lay at the furthest northern border of the land of Canaan, at the foot of Mount Lebanon, near the fountain of Jordan; it was four miles from Paneas, as Jerom says F20, as you go to Tyre; it is the Caesarea Philippi of the New Testament, and the same that is called Leshem, (See Gill on Joshua 19:47),
and saw the people that were therein;
went into the city, and made their observations on the inhabitants of it, their number, strength, and manner of living:
how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and
the inhabitants of Zidon, whose customs they might imitate, whose laws they might use, and might be under their government, since they are said to have no magistrate within themselves; and their carelessness and confidence might arise from their strong fortresses; or rather because they thought their city, and the land adjacent to it, did not belong to the land of Israel, and did not know that the Israelites made any pretensions to it, and therefore were quite easy, and in no fear of them; had no watchmen to guard their city, and did not take care to furnish themselves with weapons of war for their defence, even as the Zidonians; who, besides their city being a strong and fortified one, were in no fear of the Israelites, because their city was not in the land of Canaan, only the border of it reached to it:
and there was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame in
to restrain them from vice, and punish them for it, or even to reprove and correct them, and so put them to shame; or put any mark of infamy and disgrace upon them in a public manner, that might shame them; hence they lived in a disorderly and dissolute manner, whereby they became the more easy prey to others: or the sense is, there was no king, nor an heir of the kingdom, as Kimchi interprets it, so that there were none to contest his right to the government of the place, or to accuse another, and put him to shame for taking it away from him. Jarchi takes the sense to be, that none needed to turn back his neighbour empty, when he asked anything of him for his relief, since there was no want of anything in the land, as after observed; but the first sense seems best:
and they were far from the Zidonians;
who were the only people that could help them, being in friendship with them; and it may be they were under their government, as before observed; they are said F21 to be about eleven miles from them; Josephus F23 says, a day's journey:
and had no business with any man;
no trade or commerce, but lived independent of others, and within themselves, their land affording them everything sufficient for them. Some understand it of their not being in any league or alliance with any other people, and so had none to call in to their assistance in case of any attack upon them.
F19 Ut supra. (Travels of the Patriarchs p. 112.)
F20 De loc. Heb. fol. 90. H.
F21 Adrichom. Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 105.
F23 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 3. sect. 1.