And there was a man of Mount Ephraim
This and the four following chapters contain an history of facts, which were done not after the death of Samson, as some have thought, and as they may seem at first sight, by the order in which they are laid; but long before his time, and indeed before any of the judges in Israel, when there was no king, judge, or supreme governor among them, as appears from ( Judges 17:6 ) ( 19:1 ) ( 21:25 ) even between the death of Joshua and the elders, and the first judge of Israel, Othniel; and so Josephus F5 places them in his history, and the connection of them is with ( Judges 2:10 ) and so accounts for the rise of idolatry in Israel, how it got into the tribe of Dan, and spread itself over all the tribes of Israel, ( Judges 2:11 ) which brought on their servitude to Cushanrishathaim, in which time the Jewish chronology F6 places those events; but they were certainly before that, for the idolatry they fell into was the cause of it; yet could not be so early as the times of Joshua, and before his death; because in his days, and the days of the elders, Israel served the Lord; the reasons why they are postponed to the end of this book, and the account of them given here, are, according to Dr. Lightfoot F7, that the reader observing how their state policy failed in the death of Samson, who was a Danite, might presently be showed God's justice in it, because their religion had first failed among the Danites; that when he observes that 1100 pieces of silver were given by every Philistine prince for the ruin of Samson, ( Judges 16:5 ) he might presently observe the 1100 pieces of silver that were given by Micah's mother for the making of an idol, which ruined religion in Samson's tribe; that the story of Micah, of the hill country of Ephraim, the first destroyer of religion, and the story of Samuel, of the hill country of Ephraim, the first reformer of religion, might be laid together somewhat near. That the facts after related were so early done as has been observed, appears from the following things; the priest of the idol Micah made was a grandson of Moses, ( Judges 18:30 ) , the Danites' seeking to enlarge their possessions, related in the same chapter, was most probably as soon as they were driven into the mountains by the Amorites, ( Judges 1:34 ) . Mahanah Dan, from whence they marched, and had its name from their expedition, ( Judges 18:12 ) is mentioned before in the history of Samson, ( Judges 13:25 ) and therefore the expedition must be before his time. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, was alive at the battle of Gibeah, ( Judges 20:28 ) and Deborah speaks of the 40,000 Israelites slain by Benjamin at it, ( Judges 5:8 ) . This man with whom the idolatry began was of the tribe of Ephraim, and dwelt in the mountainous part of it:
whose name was Micah;
in the original it is Micajehu, with part of the name Jehovah affixed to it, as Dr. Lightfoot F8 remarks, till he set up his image, and thenceforward was called Micah; but, according to Abarbinel, the former was his name while he was a child, and in his youth, and with his mother, being a diminutive term, and when he became a man be was called Micah, ( Judges 17:5 ) .
F5 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 8
F6 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 12. p. 33.
F7 Works, vol. 1. p. 46.
F8 Works, vol. 1. p. 45.